Monday, January 30, 2012

Mom's hard battle

This morning I went to Windsor to see Mom. I'd visited in December for the Christmas party and she had no idea who I was then. I didn't know what to expect, but figured she wouldn't know me.

But without the glitz of decorations, confusion of overly loud carols, and general over-bearing good will of the season, Mom seemed less anxious and more aware. This saddened me. I'd hoped she didn't know what was going on around her. She knows.

It wasn't difficult to convince her I was me. She kept repeating, "I can't believe it's you," as she hung onto my hand. "Life is so frustrating . . ." her voiced trailed off many times to a humming she did to try to focus. "I just sit for hours and look . . ."

"What are you looking at, Mom?" "Junk. Just junk. I'm just wasting my time."

"I can't see any more. I can't hear what they are saying. You don't know what it's like in here." She pats her body. She isn't complaining about the environment; it's is her body that has betrayed her. Her accountant's precision and organization are lost in the confusion of being wheeled here and there for meals and visits to the toilet. "When can I go home?" When, indeed?

"It's such a struggle here."

"Mom, stop struggling. Just relax and let go." Her eyes look haunted. I feel pain and guilt and dread and yes, confusion. She doesn't deserve to be here. No one does. Looking around I see elderly folk nodding off in their wheelchairs along the aisles. One lady rolls her knee socks up and down, up and down.

Mom's hands are bruised and spotted from the effects of blood thinning drugs. Drugs designed to keep her alive. "Dad has been gone such a long time and I really want to see him," she whispers to me. She knows what she's missing. She doesn't understand why she is still here. Nor do I.

I have no answers.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Be Kind

Well, it has taken me much longer to resume blogging than I ever expected. I enjoy the liberty to start a "new post" and see where it goes. But I haven't written for half a year. There is a reason why . . .

A very sad thing happened right after Phil broke his tibia and fibula. Writing about the hospital experience was therapeutic. The trauma of seeing Phil crippled (temporarily, but crippled, nonetheless) quickly submerged under the confusion of being removed from our team. We had grown into a symbiotic relationship with the orphan ministry. We had such great relationships with the Shona people we were interacting with. (See the picture of Synodia, above, who was part of the exciting orphan group I nurtured.) I had been mentally writing blogs and not getting to them because of the fulfillment and delight in the work.

Then we were taken off the team and I had more time than I was used to, lots more time. With nothing to say. Nothing that would make sense anyway. So I felt it better not to say anything and wait.

I have waited. It has been a long journey and I'm not there yet, but I know how to write now. It is a very old philosophy that triggered me; old as Plato, some say. But I read it on Isabel's UD t-shirt. It caught me and resonated deeply.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

I have just been through one, so I have a fresh reminder. And it isn't exactly over, but it's receding. It was painful to be taken off a team, then not understand why, then be advised to choose another . . .

My mind raced with protest. Now I remind myself, everyone I meet is fighting a hard battle. I might be part of the hardness of his (or her) battle. If only we could see the inter-connectedness of our struggles, and appreciate one another for the ways we overlap into each other's space. Tendrils of ourselves intertwine with tendrils of those around us. Sometimes we get pulled, and uncomfortably so. But there is perspective to be gained from the discomfort.

Oswald Chambers wisely observed, "As soon as God becomes real, other people become shadows." I see where he's going with this; it's in the perspective. But I am not there yet. In my life, God has a much more shadowy role, and the things others do seem much more concrete. This is an area I want to learn in: not to anesthetize myself to life, but to cling to the reality of God.

When God is REAL to me, then I will be able to be kind and maybe even help someone fighting a battle of his or her own.