The world just fell and I’m looking at all the pieces, trying to fit them back together again so they make sense. But some things cannot be understood this side of eternity. I lay the pieces back down and steal away to sit in My Father’s lap so I can soak in His love. It’s the only thing that’s going to help me right now. Like a child who just limped away from a bicycle crash, jarred by bruising and the breath knocked out of her, I know the only way I can get through this is to let God embrace me and take the pain away. This is too heavy for me. It brings back the day 16 years ago when we learned that my Father had Alzheimer’s. It felt like someone died that day. And now it feels like someone has died again.
My Mother has dementia.
She took it better than I did. I didn’t want to tell her, thinking maybe there was a better time. But there never is a good day for a bad diagnosis. I methodically relayed all the information the nurse gave me from her bloodwork and CT scan. But when I got to the part where I had to tell her the diagnosis, I hesitated.
Are we really doing this again? Are we really going down this road twice? I’ve been on an incredibly long and difficult journey and instead of making progress, I feel like I’m right back at the starting point again.
My voice started shaking and I tried to hold back the tears.
“You have dementia.”
She sat there calmly, actually relieved that she now knew the reason for her memory loss and falls. God had already prepared her heart. I have no idea what’s going on with mine. I cannot help but picture it riddled with bullet holes.
I know the answer to this. No matter the crisis, you give it to God. You hand it over to Him. You don’t take it out of His hands, try to make sense of it or turn it over and over in your mind. You just give it to Him. It’s too heavy for me. It’s too heavy for anyone. Two parents with dementia. I’m already broken from the 10 years I’ve taken care of my Father. My body is breaking down and I’m searching for Rivendell. A place to soothe my soul and let my body heal.
God knows I can’t keep doing this. He knows I’m broken and desperate for rest. Not just a break but a lifestyle of rest – a year of Sabbaths. Every seventh year, Jewish land is to lie fallow for an entire year so the soil can rest. That’s what I need. I need the soil of my heart to rest for a year.
I want to push this news aside. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to dwell on it. I just want to give myself time to breathe, time to let it settle and time to hear God’s voice. Because that’s what I really want. That’s what I’m longing for. I want to hear His voice. Just give me Jesus. Give me the Living Water, the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, my Salvation and the Lover of my Soul. Let Him ease this into my frame so His thoughts and promises can be sifted in with the diagnosis.
I know that neither I nor my family is being punished. It’s just life. Life is happening to my parents and I have a front row seat. I’m at the 50-yard line and I can see the action better than anyone. The battle rages on and I don’t know who or what to root for. I’m still wondering how I got where I am. How did I get these seats? I cheer for my Dad, and now my Mom. And a cure.
It’s as if I’m in a coffee shop and I’ve been handed a drink with my name on it but it’s not what I ordered. It’s the drink no one would order. But there it is, in my hand. A double dose. Two parents with dementia. I’ve actually been drinking from a similar cup for years. But this one is twice as bitter. I don’t want to give this to anyone, but I certainly don’t want to keep it. Can I just throw it away and pretend this never happened? Pretend we didn’t get the diagnosis?
I’ve learned not to walk down the road of blame. This is not fate. This is not bad karma or punishment. This is life. A large helping of life. And I’m going to soldier on because that’s what I do. That’s what I learned from hard-working parents and ancestors who never quit. It’s in my DNA. I am just so incredibly tired.
We are still trying to get my Father admitted to a facility as soon as possible and one of the many things required for entry is burial plans. So less than 24 hours after learning of Mom’s diagnosis, I drove to a cemetery and met with a rep to discuss grave plots, coffins and everything that goes with the business of dying. The timing, of course, was horrible, but the meeting was already scheduled. The following day I was so emotionally exhausted that I never got out of my pajamas. My only goal, besides taking care of my parents, was to string the hours together with a series of naps.
Then on Sunday evening, I managed to slip into church, and it was what I wanted more than anything. As a follower of Christ, I know that God is with me, but what I wanted was His manifest presence, up close and personal. I wanted to be ushered into His throne room with other believers worshipping as one. Get my mind off myself and only onto Him. And something amazing happened.
During that service, God spoke to me specifically about my Mother and it gave me such incredible peace. The heaviness was gone and I felt lighter. I had joy in my heart, knowing that everything was going to be okay. Perhaps the best way to explain what happened to me that night is what the psalmist wrote ~ When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God… Psalm 73:16-17
As far as what He showed me, some things God reveals to us so we can share with others. Other things He reveals to us so that we can hold onto them and keep to ourselves. And what He showed me Sunday is just for me, like a secret.
What isn’t a secret is that this is a very, very hard road. And as difficult as it is to watch my Mother go through this disease, I know it’s going to be okay. Not because I want it to be or because I need it to be. But because when I entered the sanctuary of God, He told me that it’s going to be okay.