“Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.” Hugh Prather
Without a doubt, the one constant companion that has journeyed with me from Manlius to Cobleskill, to Slippery Rock, to Syracuse, to Chicago, to Poland, back to Manlius, to Wisconsin, and finally to Florida, is my friend, CHANGE. Change has been both friend and foe along the way. We’ve celebrated joyful changes together, like the births of my three sons, the launch of our nonprofit, the welcoming of my daughters-in-law, and the arrival of my five grandchildren. But change has also inflicted deep wounds, none more so than our son David’s diagnosis with Batten Disease. For 13 agonizing years, we cared for David as the disease gradually robbed him of life before he finally passed in 2009. That change was unwelcome and life-altering.
Change is inevitable, just like the changing of the leaves in autumn. Sometimes it’s planned, other times it hijacks you. Change can free you or crush you. But it will come, again and again. One lesson I’ve learned over my 63 years is that when change hits, establishing a “new normal” is essential. The old dashboard no longer works – you need new gauges, switches and lights to embrace this new phase of life.
I remember when David began losing his vision at age 8. We thought the world was ending! How would he read, walk, enjoy life without sight? But David learned braille, played outside with friends, and we adapted. It was our first “new normal.” Challenging yet exciting. Not wrong or abnormal, just new. Once we accepted it, it wasn’t as scary. Every loss meant a new normal for David. When we set the norm, life went on with acceptance and joy.
What was your first “new normal?” What helped you most to establish it? Please share your experiences – they may help someone feeling alone and afraid face their own “new normal.” I hope many of you will share something that just might help someone who is feeling alone and afraid.