The first week on your own at college.
The week you met your life-long love.
The week your first child was born.
The week your best friend died.
Or the week you finally closed the loop and became the parent to your parent.
This was that week for me and my brother. After years of grieving my mother’s passing, months of increasing health concerns and medication juggling, days of emotional wrestling, too many sleepless nights and fearful hours, my dad hit a new phase this week. He has simply been unable to process this new place life has taken him—and so it falls to us to walk it for him.
My grandmother Crys, dad’s mother, faded into Alzheimer’s in her last years. She knew me, the oldest grandson, about as long as anybody, but still the sharing of memories of Christmas dinners with cheese puffs in crystal bowls and chocolate doughnuts at the Kresge’s counter went into the shadows. We certainly don’t know for sure, but all of us suspect that this new struggle with reason, communication and awareness may be her son’s first steps on that same graying road.
There’s fear and wordless anger, need for direction and reassurance, confusion and overwhelmed hearts, questions and few answers– all from both dad and us.
We knew this day was coming, but it came so much sooner than what we expected. It was like there was a gradual slide and then we went over a sheer cliff. Now, it feels like a freefall; the parachutes haven’t opened yet and the ground is getting closer.
There’s the unpredictability of moments. Applying the power of attorney that we prepared a few years ago. The financial questions and digging for information with bankers. The services which he needs, but for which he is not eligible. Getting up to speed on insurance and Medicare and supplements and discount pharmacy cards. Talking with social workers and assisted living centers. All while trying to anticipate what we don’t have clue to know how to ask.
And yes, somehow faith has to figure into all of this. And even though I’ve walked with Jesus for a long time, it’s just not that automatic for me. I sometimes wish there was a soul button that I could push that would release large portions of God’s joy or hope or wisdom or peace or faith into my heart for a specific moment’s need. But there is no such button because faith is chosen in the moments.
In the moments, even the unexpected ones, God is there. In the seasons, the “time for every matter under heaven”, even the less delightful ones like plucking up, breaking down, weeping, mourning, losing, casting away, tearing, silence (Eccl.3:1-8), God is there. And since He is there—even before I get there– I must trust Him in this time.
Why? It’s the only time I have. This time with my dad—with all its pressures and stresses and questions and grieving- is my life and its season. If I do not trust God and his heart, the power of Jesus’ gospel, in this particular time, I will not trust Him at all.
My times are in His hand. (Ps.31:15) He is making all things beautiful in its time. (Eccl. 3:11) I don’t see the beauty at all. But He has eyes for what I cannot see. He knows the end of the journey I want to forget—and remembers His wonders in advance.
So, I will pray with David—even through tears and clenched teeth:
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
How long will all of you attack a man
to batter him,
like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.