Monday, November 28, 2016

If Only I'd Known

"For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you.  
Isaiah 54:10 ESV

My friend Laura lives on the other side of our state. We try and get together as often as possible, but circumstances in our lives makes it challenging. I am a full-time caregiver for my son who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  Laura not only works but also helps her dad care for her mom who is in the last stages of Alzheimer’s.

She has supported me through some very difficult things so when she told me she was planning a 75th birthday party for her mom I wanted to be there to help her. It’s been hard for her, especially the last year, watching her mom’s abilities and memory fade away.  Not knowing if she would understand it was her birthday, it was important to Laura to make this day special for her mom.  It was her 75th Birthday and we were going to celebrate!  

When I arrived at her house Friday night, we talked about her plans for the party and what still needed to be done.

Laura was gone when I got up Saturday morning.  She left to pick up her mom as she does every Saturday.  She brings her back to her house to give her dad a break.  I was in the kitchen when I heard them come home so I walked over to say Hi. Noticing her mom did not recognize me, she still reached out her hand to squeeze mine. I gave her a little hug and then went back into the kitchen.

A while later I heard music coming from the sun-room. I went to see what was going on and as I peeked around the corner I saw Laura sitting beside her mom at the table.  I paused in the doorway unnoticed and watched.   Her mom was eating lunch. Every few minutes Laura put food on the fork handing it to her mom while gently encouraging her to take a bite.  The music I heard was from a video of her mom’s favorite gospel music streaming on the computer.

I was surprised at my emotions as I watched them.  I thought of my own mom who lost her battle with cancer 3 years ago now watching my friend’s mom losing her battle with Alzheimer’s. Both of our moms were strong Godly women, good friends, and prayer warriors.  My mom kept a journal of people she prayed for, and Laura’s mom would often wake up in the middle of the night, get down on her knees to pray for anyone God put on her mind.  Now, she cannot speak and must be prompted to take a bite of food.

I stood there fighting back tears. The longer I watched the more my heart filled with peace. Despite the business of party preparations Laura chose to stop and be still. To be fully engaged in the moment with her mom.  The harsh reality of the situation seemed to fade as the calm gentleness of Laura’s actions helped create an atmosphere of peace.

I eventually walked in and sat down beside them. Allowing myself to stop to be in the moment with them.

The next day I watched again as Laura went to her mom to help her up out of a chair. Gently and unhurried explaining to her what she was doing. I watched as the family gathered around her to celebrate her 75th birthday with dignity, love, and honor.

It was an emotional weekend yet I am thankful I was a part of it. I went with the assumption I was going to help and support her as she has so many times for me in the past.  But  I received more from her than what I gave. I was encouraged by watching the way she ministered to her mom.  She stopped in the flurry of life and activity to be in the moment with her mom, to minister to her mother’s heart.

Being a caregiver is hard. Caring for those we love with special needs can be exhausting. We often find ourselves rushing through the everyday task just to get them completed. That weekend I was reminded how important it is to take the time, to slow down, to be in the moment. Focusing on the person, not just on completing the task. 

Laura has given me permission to share with you one of her journal entries. It expresses how important it is to appreciate those precious moments that can easily be overlooked. While her experience is with her mom and Alzheimer’s I believe, we can all gain some valuable insight from her words. 

If Only I'd Known;  by Laura Krieger 
If only I'd known that would have been the last time I'd hear you pray by my bedside I would have tried harder to stay awake to tell you thank you after you said amen.
If only I'd known that would be the last time we would laugh and dance together I would have asked for one more song and twirled until we got dizzy.
If only I'd known that dinner you fixed would be the last time I would eat something put together by your hands ,I would have lingered and eaten slowly.
If only I'd known that would be the last time I would hear you sing I would have stopped what I was doing and joined you in song.
If only I'd known that would be the last time I would hear your voice telling me how much God delighted in me I would have recorded it so I could listen to it over and over and over.
If only I'd known your hug would have been the last one given freely I would have clung to you and allowed myself to feel the strength in those arms that held me as a newborn, as a teenager and as a woman.
If only I'd known that would be the last time I would hear your laughter and see your eyes sparkle with mirth I would have committed to memory what I had said to make you laugh with such abandon.

You don't have to be a caregiver to get caught up in the business of life.  Is there anything you need to let go of? Are you taking time to "be in the moment" with those who mean the most to you?

Heavenly Father,

I pray that you will help us to slow down, to be able to be in the moment whenever possible with the people you have placed in our lives.  I pray that you will help us to see what is important and to let go of the extra business that tends to distract us. Give us a caring heart and wisdom to let go of things that don’t really matter. Thank you for my friend, Laura. I pray you will give her and us all strength as we deal with the hard things in our lives.

In Jesus name, I pray,
Amen.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you. I feel honored to have been able to be a part of such a special moment.

    ReplyDelete