Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Setbacks

"I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
2 Samuel 12:23 (KJV)

This thing called grief is a funny thing.
Not funny in a laughing, "ha-ha" kind of way.
Funny in an odd, strange, mysterious way.

One minute, I feel like I am possibly healing....just the slightest bit.
Then something happens that violently rips the fragile scab away from the wound, and it is April 28th again.
The cut-to-the-heart is brand-new...gaping, bleeding, raw, and extremely painful.
It is like I am transported there...by her bed...in ICU...watching the monitor...seeing her vitals dropping.
Until, at last, she takes that last little breath....the monitor shows no heart rate, the ever-fluctuating line goes perfectly flat, and she is gone.

The other day, I had to make a phone call to take care of the last of Mom's earthly business.
As I sat there at our kitchen table....on hold.....waiting for the customer service representative to finish my request, I dared to open her wallet....Mom's wallet....that I held in my hand.

There it was....the drivers license with her picture on it...staring back at me.
I remember the day I took her to get it.
Memories of that day flooded over me.
We had fun, and she had smiled for the DMV camera.

Now her smile made me cry...as I sat there staring at her license.

I flipped through her other cards, and a steady flow of memories trickled unbidden.
Trips to the doctor's and Emergency Rooms...when I had handed her insurance cards to the receptionist.
Fear welled up fresh within me....I felt anxiety....just thinking of all those times.
I was always worried about her....dreading the worst.
During some of those trips, my fears were well-founded.
She would end up being admitted to the hospital.
Other times, God in His great mercy, allowed her to be okay.
She would return home, and I would be granted "bonus" time with her.

I'm glad I never took any of that time for granted.
I'm thankful I took advantage of every opportunity.
I'm grateful I spent every possible moment with her I could...and we made each of those moments count.

I picked up her ATM card...from her wallet, and I thought of the countless times she had handed it to me as we drove into the ATM to withdraw money.
I would hand her the money, and she would hand me $20.00 back for gas.
I'd argue with her that I didn't want it, and she would insist. 

Mom was one of the most generous, unselfish people I have ever known.
She always wanted to pay her own way.
She worried and fretted constantly about being a burden on someone.
There will never be another Mom.
Never.

I opened her checkbook register....I knew if I went any further, I was going to fall apart.
I knew every line...every entry....into her register....would resurrect a memory.
I did it anyway.
I looked at all of the entries...in her familiar handwriting.
Outings we'd enjoyed...going to Publix, to get her groceries.
Out to eat.
Walmart.
Toys R Us....a special treat for Zach.
A check to my sister for her birthday.
A check to me to repay something I had picked up for her.
On and on and on the river of memories flowed....
and with each memory, the steady flow of my tears mingled....and dropped...on the table...in front of me.

How I long to go back!
To the days when life was "normal".
When I had a mother.
To days when I could talk to her...whenever I wanted to.
However many times a day I felt like it.
When Zach and I could just get in the car, drive to her apartment, and just sit down with her...and talk...and visit...and pray.
What I wouldn't give to hear her pray....just one....more....time.
What I wouldn't give to hear her pray for me and feel the comfort of that security wrap itself around me....just one....more....time.
What I wouldn't give to sit at her table....one....more....time.....and chat as we enjoyed a sub from Subway.

Oh, dear Lord, does this pain ever stop???
How could it?
The one who has loved me longer than anyone else on earth....is gone.
Just gone.
Without a trace.
Without communication.
Without instructions....as to how I am supposed to do this.

Zach and I got in the car and drove to the bank.
To deposit her last earthly check.
The refund of her rental deposit.
I remember when she paid that deposit.
Almost six years ago.
I wish it was then.

The teller asked me to sign the back.

"Do you mean you want me to sign her name?"

"Well, can she sign it?" 
Obviously, she didn't know....what has happened.

I explained.

"Did this just happen?  Recently?"
She was so kind....sincere.

"Yes" was all I could manage.

"I am so sorry.  I lost my mother six years ago."
Shared sorrow....between two hearts who know the pain...firsthand.

I told her I was sorry to hear that..
She told me she was sorry, too.

I pulled away and looked down at the receipt....the last one.

I started crying....again.

Zach and I drove to my sister, Debbie's house.
She and her family took us out...on a little trip...to some places we've never been.
We so enjoyed the time together.
They are hurting, too....their pain runs deep.
We stopped at a store.
We laughed and had fun looking at things, acting silly...just enjoying each other.

All of a sudden, everything changed....about our day.

A little white-haired lady walked slowly by...on a walker.
She was frail...and feeble....about Mom's age.
We all stood and stared....as she slowly made her way to the front of the store....to sit and wait on whoever was with her....on the bench in the vestibule.

We needed no words.
The void...the vacancy....the hole in each one of our hearts was gaping wide open.
After we paid for our purchases, we made our way past her.

How I wanted her to be Mom!
How I longed to take her by the arm, lead her to the car, fold up her walker, put it in the trunk,and take her home.
How many times have I done that?

The other day, I finally got the nerve....to take it....her walker.....out of the trunk of the car.
It has been there since April 18th....the night she rode to the ER in the ambulance.
Each time I have opened the trunk, I have worked around it.
I could not bear to take it out.....and not have her there to hand it to.
So, it has remained.
I finally took it out and placed it with all of her other things....in the garage.

Somehow, if I see them, it seems like maybe she will be back.
In some sort of way, it seems like she is just away...on a trip...to my brother's house in Ohio.
Somehow, it feels like this...all of this is only temporary.
Then, it occurs to me....that it is.

It is temporary.
Oh, she will never return to me.
As much as she loved me, she would not want to.
She has made it...to her desired destination.
I haven't the slightest doubt.
It is true.
She is at rest.
She is at peace.
She suffers no more.
She never cries.
She is not afraid.
She is in the very best of hands....ones that are nail-scarred....ones that hold the universe in place,
yet hold her safe all at the same time.

When David uttered the words in today's passage of Scripture, his precious child had died.
He prayed and hoped with all his heart that it wouldn't happen.
After it did, he realized that his loved one would never return to him.
But, he knew that one day....in eternity, he would go to his loved one.

Mom will not return to me.
But, I will go to her.
One day, we will be together again.

There will be setbacks.
On this lonely path of grief.
I will take two steps forward, only to fall back at least one....some days two.
I've accepted that.
Every time I see something that reminds me of her, I will inevitably go to pieces.
When I hear a song she liked, I will more than likely fall apart.

It is the little things I miss.
It is the little things that set me back.

But, midst the setbacks, I am determined to press forward.
Until one day, Jesus will say, "Okay, Cheryl.
It's time for you now.
They're waiting for you.
Come and join us."

No more setbacks.

I can only imagine the look on her and Dad's face when I get home.
















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