31 May 2008



Job 2:13
Then they [Job's three friends] sat down on the ground with him
for seven days and seven nights
with no one speaking a word to him
for they saw that his pain was very great.

Sometimes...just some times...there is a time...for grieving.

Not despair.

Not pity-parties.

But...simple lamentation.

June, 2007
  • Four years after moving to our town so I can help care for him and my care-giving mother, my step-father's Alzheimer's deteriorates to the point of being a danger to himself and my mother. A tornado of emotions and preparations are made to transition him to a comfortable and caring place for those who are dying ever so slowly due to dementia.
  • We are told that my special needs son may lose his (free) special ed services for the upcoming school year. Private options are around $6000 a year. (!) Once again, it is time to research, advocate...pray through tears.
  • My part-time job ends.
July, 2007:
  • Still working on step-father's placement. Mom barely hanging on. Much time, much emotion, much else in my life neglected.
  • My father shares that he is suicidal. He has lost his sight completely due to an unsuccessful eye surgery. He is legally blind. There seems little hope of a change. He does not know the Lord. Many years of mental illness and misuse of psychiatric drugs combined with unsound spiritual beliefs betray him and he is left...with nothing.
  • Waiting...waiting...waiting...what about my son? We were supposed to hear this month. Now we will not until Sep. or Oct.
August, 2007:
  • Step-father moves into a great place. The move itself is very stressful. Step-brother drives from Florida to help--so very thankful! The depth of emotions are hard to convey. Once again, I say good-bye to one more piece of Dad. We have been saying good-bye for so long...
  • Relief that Mom can now rebuild her strength, stamina, and joy as she pieces her life back together. Except instead, she dives into a severe depression and denial. I hold my mother who is in fetal position in my lap, crying, saying that her hope is gone and her life has no meaning any more because life is pointless.
  • Preparing for the new school year, always stressful. Joy mixed with sadness as my youngest child enters (half-day, thankfully) Kindergarten. A big transition for him...and for Mommy.
  • Financial difficulties...Are we making the right choice? Lord, we heard You so very clearly. We stepped out BIG in faith? Are we doing what's right...? Where is the provision?
  • Father is still very low. He withdraws. He doesn't want help. He doesn't want me to visit. I just...pray.
  • Wait...wait...wait...What will happen to my son? Will he have what he needs, given his disabilities? What will it mean, if not...for all of us as a family?
September, 2007
  • The waiting ends regarding my son and the endless meetings begin. Tests. New people interviewing, testing, observing. The schedule fills. The internal questions...Will they understand? Will they see him as a whole human being, or just a numbered file case to be processed as soon as possible? What will happen?
  • Time to move step-father to a new place. A better place. A closer place to Mom. So much work. Well worth it, but it carries a price. Thankfully, step-sister comes from Hong Kong to help.
  • Mom not doing well. How can this be?
  • I start a new part-time job. Although I am not, I feel like I'm working for my husband's mistress. The reasons why I do it are complicated. I bear it.
October, 2007:
  • My son retains services, albeit more limited. But it is enough.
  • Step-father falls and has a heart attack. To the hospital we go (again). Alzheimer's patients are very difficult in the hospital. I take shifts staying with him. He cannot be left alone. Mom cannot be left alone with him either--she does not remember the doctor's instructions and is not "with it." Doctor says our choices are to let him die a slow and painful death in bed OR operate to fix the broken hip and he'll die on the operating table because of his heart. We wait. Heart improves, barely. We operate. It's successful, but we are told that he will be wheel-chair bound, never to walk again. I say good-bye again to a part of Dad.
  • The same day step-father enters the hospital, while I'm in the ER exam room, my cell phone rings. My husband's mother has been in a motorcycle accident. She's been helicoptered to the hospital. Her lungs collapsed, but they "brought her back." She's in critical condition. Almost all her ribs are broken. The hospital care is so poor that we hire a private duty nurse. It was a hit-and-run.
  • Mom still not doing well.
November, 2007
  • Husband's mother still recuperating in the hospital. Husband very busy hiring an attorney for her, arranging for her care, etc., etc. She will be in the hospital for some time.
  • We visit my dear aunt, my mother's sister, in her home. She is dying. Her third fight with cancer will be her last. It is evident in our visit. It was my aunt who gave me my first bicycle. Who shopped with me for my wedding dress. Who helped me stock up on supplies for my first baby. Who always wanted a daughter and had four sons and I told her in high school that she could sorta "adopt" me. Another slow good-bye.
  • My mother feels it deeply. I watch my mother grieve and grow worse. This pains me greatly.
December, 2007
  • My aunt lays dying in the ICU in the hopsital. I and my mother go to keep vigil with the family. I hold my cousin's hand as he privately, almost imperceptibly cries within, head lowered. He grips it hard. He does not let go for a long time. I am grateful to be able to offer him comfort in the way that he can receive. My dear cousins--two of them teens. I manage not to cry until I see my aunt's only daughter--a delightful surprise give to them late in life. Her tears pour with mine. My dear uncle. It is over. At long last, she has slipped from this life to Heaven. We return with the family to clean the house and prepare for guests. We return for the funeral a few days later, the whole family. I hold children in the pew as they try to take it in. Many in the reception line comment how I look just like my aunt. Yes, in many ways, we had much in common.
  • My mother slips further into depression.
January, 2008:
  • The months have taken their toll. I admit that I am depressed as well. I cannot convey how difficult it is for a child of a parent with a mental illness to accept this. I fight rampant fears that I will share my father's fate. No...I am a new creation in Christ. I will seek the help I need and trust Him...for my very sanity.
  • The years of a husband working a job, plus starting a company take their toll as well. I never see him. I begged him last summer to tell me if I could expect to see him for at least 15 minutes a day. I did not receive a response. I asked again. No promise made. I lose hope.
  • Father has made it this far with the promise of eye procedures. Three occur this month. All fail.
  • Husband says that his boss has told him that his "job is in jeopardy." What?!
  • Mom improves some. Hope for her begins.
February, 2008:
  • Mother spirals down again...again. I am very, very worried for her.
  • What's this? A bump on my youngest son's chin? Like the one three years before that was a very rare mycobacterial infection--only a dozen people get it in our whole state each year. Can this be happening again? Not more surgeries, please! He was barely two years old when he had the two surgeries and several procedures before. Off to the research hospital we go, again, clinging to the goodness of God. Delays, delays in the appointments. We wait. And wait. The bump grows larger. No, Lord...take me instead--I beg You.
  • This is it...will my husband keep his job? This was the month we thought we'd find out. Nothing happens. That's good, right? Will we keep our insurance...and Ryan in his condition...We'll be OK, right? Right?!
  • I put hope against hope and order Created to be His Help Meet book and journal. I can only ask the Lord to show me what He would have me be as a wife. All else...I abandon all expectations. It's all I can do. And, actually, it's the best I can do.
March, 2008:
  • Finally, son's appointment! What will happen to my 5 year old? The many appointments and painful procedures begin. My sweet, little boy...be brave, my son. Be brave, Mommy.
  • Mother says that she's passively killing herself. A hopeful conversation with her in which she responds to some hope, ends in futility. She's given up, really given up. What now?
April, 2008:
  • Step-father again in the hospital. It's the beginning of the end. Palliative care meetings, hospice scheduled. I get him out of that place and in his home. The night we move him back into his room, I hold his head in my lap. He cannot say much, but I know his looks, the way he moves his hand to his head, the guttural noise...he's in bad pain. I go to the nurse. None of his meds arrived in time. There is nothing to give him. I refuse to accept that. The nurse improvises a way to get him the morphine he needs. I stroke his hair waiting, talking to him about the pictures on the wall...His family of 7 siblings, his picture with the Pope when he worked for the United Nations, his autographed photo of one of the three Presidents of the United States of America that he served, the map with pins showing how he traveled every continent, seeking to end world hunger...and the small photo of him, me and Mom. How he took a fractured family of woman and daughter, and made their family whole again. I do not leave his side until I can no longer remain awake and the medicine arrives.
  • The next morning, the phone call comes. His earthly journey is over. His last last words were to my mother that night as she laid by his side: "I love you." It is the final goodbye.
  • Plans, calls, arrangements, tissues...the next few weeks are a blur.
  • My father calls my mother, for the first time in how many decades?, the day after my step-father dies. Providentially, we were at the house together and I answered the phone instead of my mother. Theirs was not an amicable divorce. I cannot believe it. My mother shows me a note he sent her. Now, I understand. He has entered the manic phase of his bipolar disorder and has fixated (in a delusional way) on my mother. Not now. I really don't need this right now.
May, 2008:
  • My father continues on the track of his delusions and sends me a birthday card "from both of us" and signs it as being from him and my mother. They've had no relationship since the divorce in 1974. This brings up so much...only a child of a mentally ill parent would understand.
  • Husband loses job. The details surrounding this bring up very painful issues from early in our marriage. The job loss is nothing compared to the heart issues involved that bruise, bleed and break. Kyrie Eleison.
  • A friend shares that his wife is leaving him, after affairs...and after she is done with her school degree, of course. How convenient for her! He doesn't want her to leave. There are children. We've been praying, waiting. I can barely imagine his pain.
There are many graces of God that have been present in these months. But some times, it is needful just to remember and acknowledge the lament of life. Yes, God is good, but life is also hard. And I need to pause today. To grieve today, not as one without hope, but as one who needs to...simply grieve for a time.

And so...today...I am grieving. Many losses. Many unknowns. Many longings.

Filling Your hands with my tears, oh tender, loving Lord. Thank You for wordlessly holding each one. Words...will come later. Today, they are just being...held.

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