They are times when the currents of life seem to threaten to sweep you off your feet. Such is this season in my life.
My Mom died October 8, three weeks shy of her 93 birthday. She was in rehab after weakened by a hospital stay. Two days into her stay there she had a stroke, affecting her right side. Determined, she was making amazing progress, walking and lifting her “bad” arm when she suffered a second stroke. This one was more serious and affected her left side. In the end, her tenacity and determination was simply used up. While her reunions in heaven must have been of the sweetest kind, we, here on earth, are diminished by the loss of her everyday presence. We are mindful and grateful that she did not linger in that state, nor be forced to live out the final days of her life in a nursing home. Still… You might be thinking how lucky I was to have my Mom that long. And you would be right. But no matter the length of days, or the sense that earthly life is coming to a close, it is never easy to lose a parent. If you are 29 or 59, the loss still takes your breath away.
It sneaks up on you. I was home for a week and those days were rich in laughter…and tears. They were busy beyond belief and still offered too much time to ponder. They were filled with a sense of wanting my family right.by.my.side. and knowing I would eventually have to leave and come back to Chicago. The funeral was beautiful. Mom would have loved it. The music, the tributes by my eldest brother and eldest niece, even the stories we told and the laughter that followed at the graveside…it captured the essence of my Mom. Sometime I’ll do a post about that but for now this is a post about the currents of life.
Leaving Grand Rapids was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I wanted to stay, to comfort my Dad, to encourage him on this new journey. But, life, it goes on.
The day of my Mom’s second stroke, (before I knew) I put an offer in on a townhouse in Glenview, just five minutes from work. After months, if not a year of pondering, I knew it was time to make the move closer to work. To move to a place where the mowing and shoveling would no longer be my responsibility. To downsize from the house where I have filled every available inch of space. To change location after 15 years of life here in this house and some 30+ years in this neighborhood. The day I arrived back in Michigan for my Mom’s funeral I got word that my offer had been accepted with a closing date of October 30. I should probably add that my current house is not sold…or even listed at this point. Most houses in this neighborhood go by word of mouth and so it is some folks with ties here will come to see the house next week. God must have a sense of humor…
So I’ve been sorting, tossing, moving boxes to storage, working, tossing and sorting some more. There is NO order in my life. Boxes stand in every room. The garbage and recycle cans in the alley are full to overflowing. The cat is a mess, wondering what is happening. Sometimes in the fist breath of the new day, I wonder that too. There is no second guessing. I am strangely content that life is unfolding just as it should. But this is not the timing I would have chosen.
So I’m busy, exhausted, overwhelmed and trying to keep all the plates spinning in the air. And then, I get in the car to drive home, down that slow expressway with too much traffic and suddenly I have too much time to think and the tears come. They are tears of gratitude and grief. They are tears of exhaustion and excitement. They are the tears that come from knowing I can’t call my Mom to see how rehab is going. (Her rehab is done completely and she is whole again.) Then I feel the hole in my heart.
Gratitude comes from having the gift of my parents together for just shy of 69 years! In fact tomorrow would be their 69 wedding anniversary. It is rare to have both of your parents live into their 90’s. It is rare to have them live out those years in the house my Dad built and we moved into when I was 2 years old. It is even more rare to have for parents live into their 90’s, together. I am blessed.
Dad, if you are reading this, I think tomorrow you should tell Ryan and Jack and who ever is around your honeymoon story again, if you can manage.
The memories are rich and tender.