Almost two years. That’s how long I’ve been looking forward to this weekend. That’s when my mom and I learned of the Mississippi River Readers Retreat. A retreat with some of our favorite authors? Yes please! We signed up and made plans for a long girls weekend in Little Falls, MN. Then Covid hit and the retreat was postponed until this weekend.
Patiently we waited another year… or maybe not so patiently. We were SO excited! The beautiful B&B we had reservations at went out of business so we booked a cute historic house through Airbnb. We found a friend to come with us and planned to take the scenic route on the way there and back, stopping at cute little places along the way. After a year of not going anywhere, we were going somewhere FUN!
Until we weren’t.
This week my mom and I both caught a summer cold. Any other year, we’d have gone anyway. It’s just a cold and I highly doubt we’re contagious anymore. However, with everything that has happened in the last year, sitting in a room full of people with coughs that could rattle the bones in a graveyard doesn’t seem like a good idea. We made the incredibly hard decision to keep our germs to ourselves and stay home.
Honestly, it’s killing us a little. We’re both used to disappointment. Chronic illness often changes plans and causes us to miss out on things we’d been looking forward to. But some disappointments are more bitter than others and this is one of those times.
We were going to meet one of our very favorite authors and several others we really enjoy reading. I was going to meet writers and readers I’ve connected with online and finally get to be real life friends with. I was going to get to hang out with other people who are my kind of crazy. Who love books and reading and getting lost in another world.
And now I have to stay home while everyone else gets to experience these amazing things without me.
I’m trying really hard not to have a pity party, but the balloons have already arrived. Is that cake I smell?
I don’t know why I have to miss out again. I don’t know why I had to get a cold this week, of all weeks. I don’t know why I keep making plans and keep looking forward to things when I keep getting disappointed. Sometimes life just stinks!
And do you know what? That’s okay.
It’s okay to be disappointed. It’s okay to feel the pain of missed experiences.Tweet
When we live with chronic illness, I think it’s easy to get used to missing things and just gloss over the pain of missing out. Others expect us to bounce back and handle disappointment well because, honestly, did we even really expect to make it?
Here’s what I’ve learned over my years with chronic illness. I can’t give up hope. I can’t quit trying. I can’t quit planning fun things, even when I end up cancelling. Because sometimes I do get to go. Sometimes I do get to experience something amazing. And if I gave up all hope and quit planning fun things, I’d miss out on even more than what I already miss out on.
Are you still with me or did that last paragraph only make sense in my head?!
The second thing I’ve learned is that I have to allow myself to feel the emotions when they come. So this weekend I’m going to let myself be sad. I’m going to acknowledge the disappointment. I’m not going to pretend it’s okay because it’s not. I’ll probably indulge in some ice cream and get lost in a good book. I’ll tell God how I feel and ask Him to meet me in my pain.
And then I’ll look for joy in my journey. I’ll look for the joy that God is going to give me this weekend right where I am. I’ll look for reasons to laugh and I’ll look for the butterflies in the garden. And I’ll pray for the women at the Mississippi Rivers Readers Retreat – and that they’ll have it again next year and we can go!
Friends, if you’re facing a bitter disappointment, I’m sorry. I know how hard it is and I pray that you’ll be encouraged to keep hoping, keep dreaming, and keep looking for joy on your own journey through life.
Until next time,