I feel like Sam Gamgee again. "Well, I'm back"
What a month March has been. A lot has happened and much of it was unexpected.
Mother and I traveled to Vermont to see her sister. After talking to my Aunt's nurses on Thursday, we put together a trip and on the following Wednesday I drove to South Carolina. By Thursday, Mother and I were on the train for our two-day journey to see Aunt Roberta. We had a good visit. Roberta seemed to be doing better than I expected and we had a good time together. There were necessary business kinds of things that were all taken care of. We got to meet Roberta's pastor and pray together. Wednesday was the day we were leaving to drive back over and catch the train home. By noon, it was clear that my Mother was not well. We drove over to Burlington and checked into a hotel. Within an hour I had mother in the Emergency Room. She was admitted. We spent three days in the hospital, followed by two more days resting and recuperating at the hotel. Friends made it possible for us to fly home, as Mother was not up to another two day train trip. Thankfully, the prayers of many kept that from being a problem for me. I have medical accoutrements that make TSA nervous and make flights physically challenging. TSA were accommodating and the accoutrements functioned throughout the flight without a problem. Relief is not a strong enough word for what Mom and Dad and I all three felt to get her safely back home again!
Meanwhile, back in Birmingham, Nancy started chemo. This time is different. It lasts for 8 hours or so. The side effects are a little more harsh. I was taking care of Mom and I knew that was where I was supposed to be. My job for this round of chemo was to care for Mom and pray for Nancy. Nancy and Robert have decades worth of friends in Birmingham, and they are the kind of people that everyone loves and delights in serving. I am not so arrogant as to think that Nancy could not get through this process without me. It still hurt not to be here.
As Mother and I were waiting at the hotel, my Aunt's nurse called to let me know that she had taken a turn for the worse. Again, my place was with Mother. There was no question of leaving her to go and see my Aunt one more time. It would not have been good for my Aunt to have to go through another Good-bye. It still hurt.
I have learned so much this month about surrendering people I love into God's hands. I have known this but in March I deepened in my understanding of this.
It is one thing to daily place my parents into God's hands when they are safely ensconced in their own familiar home and neighborhood. In a pinch there are numerous people we can call to go and check on them and be with them until we get there. It is another matter when I have taken Mother 1011 miles away from her home where neither of us know anyone and have her in the hospital and not be able to stay with her at night. Or when Dad is 1011 miles away trying not to worry over her.
It is one thing to place Nancy in God's hands when she is off traveling with her girls, enjoying a fun trip to the beach for sand and sun therapy. It is another matter when she is in the hospital having chemo pumped in.
It is one thing to daily trust my beloved Aunt to God when physically she is well and she is surrounded by caring nurses. It is another matter when the doctor says she suspects cancer and is not sure what her life-expectancy is.
It is one thing to trust my son to God when he leaves the house to drive to work every day. It's another matter when he packs up his possessions into his car and drives off to his new apartment.
In each of these circumstances there is absolutely nothing that I can do to change things. I am powerless to "fix" things and for a fixer, that is hard. I tend to be a Jacob in my prayer life, wrestling with God and desperately trying to get a hold on the situation. I am learning to be a Mary; to sit down quietly and listen to Jesus with a bold trust.
Surrender. If I am still planning how to help my parents "in a pinch", have I truly surrendered them to God's loving, tender, faithful care? If I am making plans for what I think Nancy needs and making arrangements for her (whether she asked me to or not!), have I truly surrendered her care to the One who can take the best care of her? If I am figuring out what to tell the nurses and doctors to do for my beloved Aunt, have I really surrendered her to His tender provision? If I still have my hands in my son's business and am trying to manipulate his life to be what I think it should be....well!
As I finish this up, I will take up the work that God has given me to do today (that's another blog post). With each step, each stroke of the vacuum cleaner, each load of laundry lifted in and out and sorted and folded, I will again surrender my loved ones into His care. I will ask His forgiveness for having taken them back into my own care and by the help of His Spirit, leave them with Him. I will rest in the peace and the assurance that He keeps His promises and cares for His own. In this, I find His peace and His light.
His peace to your homes, my friends.