I haven’t written for nearly two years. For an author, this admission is not a particularly good omen. Well on my way to a third publishing, a divine intervention was about to occur that would usher in an abrupt change of course. Banish book-writing, editing, and marketing. This was a higher calling, one that required writing to be placed on hold for as long as necessary. My new mission; to care for my sweet, aging parents. My commission; to help them finish well.
The next two-plus years were nothing short of blessed. Even though there was the normal fatigue, worry, and frustration that frequently accompanies caregiving, there was also a heavenly bounty of grace, mercy, love, and pure joy that proved immeasurable. I will never regret a single moment.
I’ve given my heart three months before attempting to compose a few sentences here and there, quite sure that my writing will reflect a very personal journey of the soul from time to time. My precious mother passed away in October 2017. Some days, it’s hard to breathe. The “firsts” still catch me off guard; Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday (and the traditional “Mama Cake”), New Year’s, and the cold, gray trip to the cemetery for the first time where I wept uncontrollably. Not far from me stood an elderly stranger, stooped over a granite grave marker who was doing the same. My heart hurt more so for him. Perhaps he reminded me of my sweet Dad who is now a resident at a nearby memory care facility, no longer able to live alone or with me because of the level of care required for advanced dementia. The sad difference is that the elderly man at the cemetery was grieving deeply – my precious Dad doesn’t remember my mother, his wife of seventy-two years. The combined loss of both parents, though different in nature, is immense.
Yesterday, I reluctantly left the house for a dental procedure that would no longer tolerate my procrastination. Three hours later, I stood up with numbness from my nose to my chin. The dentist congratulated me for being such a good patient and putting up with a long, and complicated procedure. He didn’t even chastise me for the procrastination. I suspect he knew I had suffered sufficiently. He smiled and left the room.
I put on my coat and picked up my purse. Out of the blue, the dental assistant shared with me that her father’s death was likely imminent and that she didn’t know how she would eventually deal with the loss and grief. The moments that followed felt surreal. I saw my hand reach for hers – and then heard the sound of my voice, “Honey, some days you’ll feel like you can’t breathe. The pain of loss will be great. Grief is the price we pay for loving someone with all of our heart.” She cried and reached out for comfort. “I know how you feel right now,” I assured her. “But, trust me, in time you will smile again.” Listen to me. Me, whose heart is still breaking from my own sense of loss. Comforting a hurting soul who is grieving someone who has not yet passed. But, grieving nonetheless. I told her that I would remember to pray for her and her family. Strangely, I turned and walked out the door with a lightness in my step that has long been absent. I can’t help but recall a familiar Scripture that talks about ‘bearing one another’s burdens.’ Isn’t that precisely what lightens our own?