Thursday, September 29, 2011

When There's Nothing to Be Grateful For

Children don't understand this strand of spider's silk we all walk between life and death, the thin veil that separates two co-existing worlds of spirit and flesh, visible and invisible.

Innocence allows them to accept the invisible, the world of spirit, as equally as they accept the world their fleshly senses touch, hear, taste each day. Everything just "is," nothing to be dwelt upon too long lest it take away from the joy of reading, playing Candy Land, or filling another load of laundry with dirt and rocks from the great outdoors.I envy their easy acceptance of the difficult, their ability to just live in the moment, their lack of concern over the "what if's," the unknown.

My mind has been far different from theirs this week, unable to catch their excitement except for a few fleeting moments each day, precious moments stolen from more serious contemplation of weighty matters where I am the daughter trying to help parents navigate through the storm without overstepping my bounds.

It started this past Saturday morning when husband's Maw Maw had another spell, one in a steady stream of short-lived episodes that have baffled every doctor she's met over the past few months. No one really knows what's happening to her body except the obvious--that it's dying, like we all are.

There are no surprises here. Husband, father-in-law, and I have talked of her physical condition, knowing it foreshadowed what was to come. Her time in assisted living would soon come to an end, if not by her death than by her needs exceeding what her care givers could provide.

We three knew the inevitable. Yet, my mother in law has not been ready or emotionally able to make the decision to put her mother in the home with all its negative connotations of abandonment, not even when I brought the packet of information to her and set it gently on the kitchen table. She thanked me, then simply put it away for later.

Saturday, Maw Maw's spell was her worst yet. This time, she hasn't recovered fully, her dementia suddenly worse, causing her memory to crackle on and off like a light bulb before it finally burns out. Sometimes, she doesn't even remember that the woman by her side is her own daughter, that her husband died a decade ago.

And yet, in the sadness, the concern, God has shown Himself gracious, once again. The doctor made the decision that my mother in law could not. Maw Maw could not return to her home. It was time to put her in the nursing home.

This is what Ann Voskamp speaks of in her poetry in prose book, One Thousand Gifts, the learning to give thanks even when it seems there is nothing to be thankful for, to see God's goodness even in the hard, the pain, and transform it into joy, to learn to "give thanks for all things at all times because He is all good."

She reminds me, "all is grace," and in this moment, I see it--grace in the hard decision being made by someone else so my mother in law didn't have to make it. This is grace, His grace.

I know what is to come will not be easy--it's not easy now and hasn't been for quite some time, each visit with Maw Maw leaving me draped in cloaks of heavy sadness. I miss the stories she used to tell repeatedly that now I cannot remember. This once feisty woman now just sits without speaking until spoken to, trapped behind a wall of medication and deteriorating neural connections. I do not know her.

And yet...and yet, I cling to this moment of recognition of what He has done. In my kitchen, I set the phone in its cradle and lift hands high, my head bowed against the chaos of children's laughter in the adjoining room as I whisper a quick thanks to Him.

Photos: BotheredbyBees on flickr.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jennifer
    It feels good to be back on your blog and to catch up on the latest about you and your loved ones.

    How the children have grown! I watched part of the video where they were joyfully dancing in the kitchen. Brought a big smile to my face!

    Yes, you are right. Everything is by grace. Kay Arthur's book sounds like one book I might want to read.

    I appreciated reading your thoughts today.

    Much love