Two years is a significant step in the grieving process—I can feel how meeting that milestone is adding a bit of spring to my own steps. More and more my dreams of my mother show her as she was most of my days, not just in those dark final years. She is round-bodied and intelligently goofy, not shrunken and utterly lost. And, this is the most significant thing: she smiles and laughs with her whole body.
On one hand I feel that freedom that comes with time passing. On the other hand, I know that losing our elders is not over in this house. My husband was with me every step of the way with my parents—he shared my grief for my parents and, yet, still has to walk that walk with his own parents. Not only does he have to experience his own loss but he also knows too much about the path.
Even in days when there are no big losses, the little losses loom large. The constant worry will eat you alive if you let it do so. There is no easy way to watch your parents decline. Oh my gosh—thanks to having watched my parents decline, there is truly no easy way to watch anyone’s parents decline—or any random person you meet on the street, for that matter.
After you have learned that sometimes there are worse things than death, you know that there is a season for fighting every ailment and a season for making sure any battle pursued is in your loved ones’ best interests.
Yet, who can say for someone else when that time is? Who can say when it is time to go “gentle into that good night” but God?
Instead you pray for no protracted suffering and no lose-lose decisions and that, just as in the lyrics to John Ylvisaker’s “Borning Cry”, that “when the evening gently closes in” for them it will be as simple as “shut(ting) (their) weary eyes” and waking to wholeness.
I may be an orphan, but my husband is not. And so we pray . . .