Monday, June 17, 2013

Shirley is home

"It is important to identify the many ways in which we think, speak, or act with fatalism and, step by step, to convert them into moments of faith.  This movement from fatalism to faith is the movement that will remove the cold darkness from our hearts and transform us into people whose trust in the power of love can, indeed, make mountains move."

-Henri Nouwen

It took me five days to walk across the yard to Shirley's house.  Eight to surrender to the idea that I cannot be the hands to help.  Not the way she needed.  It was eight days ago that her daughter was moving clothes back into her house.  I left the groceries in the van and ran between the yards, Ian bouncing on my hip, to make sure all was ok.  "She is coming home on Monday." The words broke a smile across my face.  A smile that eased into concern as she explained that nothing had changed.  She was not getting better.  She just could not handle one more night away from home.  One more night in the long term care facility with florescent lighting.  The smell of sanitized sickness.  The noises that echo off the hard floors and bare walls.  She wanted to come home to green trees, and soft sheets and surrounded by the full life she lived before all this happened.  

Ian wiggled on my hip and I let him down to pick clovers.  She asked if I could help. Shirley needs twenty four hour care and split between two siblings with full time jobs and families of their own it is hard to know what to do.  I fumbled with words spilling out unorganized.  I couldn't.  I wanted to, would love to, life is too full now.  Too many needs pulling me into too many directions.  I am often feeling overwhelmed with life now.  And I am already dreaming of more cold streams to swim in with boys and adventures in woods.  Adventures far from my own house full of dirty clothes and needs that never end.  She understood.  I felt the lurch in my stomach, the tightening of the chest reminding me I am not enough.  I cannot fix this or even offer the help they need right now.

I saw the ambulance bring her Monday.  Watching through my window.  I stayed home and my chest tightened again.  Each day looking out across the yard as kids asked for help, needs were met, games played.  Evenings smearing into mornings.  There were always cars.  Always people.  I didn't want to intrude.  To let down.  To show up only to say all that I could not.  My mom called twice to see if I had seen her yet.  Excuses tumbled out of me.  Saturday only one truck was in the driveway.  Jeff was home and all was quiet.  With a heavy heart I trudged through the patch of grass carrying clipped flowers and cards.  Small gifts in the face of great need.

I knocked and creaked open the glass storm door.  Her hospital bed set up in the closed-in sun room.  The room she would watch us sled in the winter and watch the boys run through the sprinkler in the summer.  Her bed was facing the road and the stoop where she would sit each evening after the yard work.  Behind her the now green cherry trees, as close to the outdoors as she could get.  I walked in and she smiled.  Her son pulled up a chair and left us alone.  It is still hard for Shirley to talk.  Muscles are weak and saying a few words leaves her breathless.  She still always asks about the boys, the neighbors, which flowers are blooming outside.  She still can only move one hand and her toes.  She still smiles and says this too is God's will and she is trying to trust Him and His plan no matter what it holds.  Most of all she still longs to get up and walk and drive to church and help others.  But there are no tears this time.  And her cheeks hold the pale pink of life.  Her children are doing for her what she has done for others her whole life.  The giving without receiving, the loving as water poured out and not held back and rationed.  

And as we talked I felt foolish for thinking my hands were a part of the answer in this new stage.  I was to sit and listen.  To tell stories of the boys and read words of Life.  To take Ian and make sure he does not try to climb on her bed to talk close.  To remind her that she was made in love with a purpose of love and that lack of movement or speech does not hinder that plan.  And to leave after a visit thanking God for each step taken back to our house.  For each moment given to live and love the ones around me.  Without fear of their needs or my weakness.  But with a full knowledge of His grace and mercy.  

Please continue to pray for Shirley.  Doctors do not know what the recovery will look like. The time frame of recovery or if it is even possible.  She is living each day with grace in bed surrounded by flowers in glass jars.  Nights are the hardest.  Waking up from dreams that are good she said can be harder than waking up from bad ones.  Loss of freedom can be more crushing than the pain.  Pray that the boys and I will not waste the time we have.  Walking across the small side yard to share stories of cold creeks and frogs caught.  Flowers picked  and some love we are so richly given.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who morn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
Matthew 5:3-5

After I wrote this Luke came over with me to see Shirley for the first time since her stroke in March.  He was convinced it was better to remember the old Shirley.  Terrified to see her in pain and not able to move.  We sat and talked.  We remembered all the visits he made on his own to her house.  His shoulders relaxed and his smile deepened.  By the time we left her house he was filled with deep joy, deep compassion, and most of all hope.  The blessing of loving another.  There is no better gift to give the boys.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ian is three

 He makes us laugh out loud at his antics.  He reminds us that we still don't know what we are doing.  He helps us to live in the now, every sweet and hard moment of it.  He stretches our hearts deeper and our minds wider.  We cannot imagine Team Stables without our #3.  Happy Birthday Ian!