Finally done! A two-year long scholastic adventure closed with long-awaited pomp, circumstance, and enthusiastic celebration of family and friends. It is finished, and the Lupus Adventurer is returning to her blogging home, after sojourning long in the land of learning. Graduation came as a sweet finish to a college degree put on hold for over thirty-five years. Returning to college after a 34 year gap was a deeply fulfilling, challenging, and mentally invigorating experience. Concern that the risk of lupus flares might increase with the added stress of school studies fueled some real trepidation at the beginning, and could have been a valid reason not to try. However, after being on Benlysta infusions for several years, my health had never been more stable.
Over the years our children grew up, married, and five beautiful grandchildren graced our lives. Finally health, family needs, and personal priorities were in a place where it made sense. Personal values put the needs of children and family first, so with great peace of heart college held lowest priority. Just like many other lupus patients, the years are peppered with various milestone health challenges. Always thankful for the education received over four years of attending college, a lingering desire to tie a bow on the unfinished degree never lapsed.
With all the credits aging quickly, after ten years had passed without going back, traditional college degree programs required starting all over again. Until schools began offering degree completion programs, there was little opportunity to consider reviving a quiet personal dream to finish it. By the time our children were in school, my career was in full stride and lupus was flaring as an unwelcome life companion. Keeping up with the demands of home front and work took daily doses of love from husband and family, and the abiding strength gifted though the daily grace and mercy of a walk with God.
With a husband’s support and encouragement from all the corners of life that mattered the most, it is finally done. After deferring my desire to finish my college degree for many years due to the events and obstacles of life, choosing the priority of putting my husband and family first, and waiting contentedly upon God unless and until He showed me a time when it was right for me to do it.
So, I prayed my way through countless long nights of arduous study, and stretched my brain and heart to embrace and comprehend new ideas and understand new concepts. Scores of papers were written, supported by hours and hours of academic research. This was the type of college experience that made me better and my work, and helped me professionally grow. My husband, family, friends, employer, and co-workers cheered me only continually.
College was harder work for me being a lupus patient in my late 50’s who works a full time in government management. My sleep hours were often deprived, and the hours of study almost always went beyond midnight. As a result, perhaps, there were some increased health challenges along the way. But, now at age 59 it is clear that it was a deeply rejuvenating experience. Study at night after my demanding day job, together with class time, reading text books, and writing innumerable papers were difficult at times. During the second year of my studies, our son and his wife and family moved in with us and we spent a blessed year as a full household of nine.
Our five young grandchildren brought joyful love and laughter into our hearts, and they prayed for me and encouraged me daily with their hugs and kisses, warmth and smiles. I felt like my cup of family love was overflowing and spilling out all around me – my heart was full of joy, despite the normal stresses and challenges of sharing our household. We got to know and love our grandchildren even more deeply and intimately that was ever before possible, and so this will be an ongoing gift to all of our lives for years to come.