A few weekends ago there was another visit with dad. I knew it was going to be different this time with him sleeping more and me going alone. I knew it was going to be different because he would be thinner still, less aware, more gone. I knew it was going to bAe different with all the tears and sitting beside his bed in quiet reverie.
I stood and sobbed by his bed with my scrunchy, cry-face in my hands. I touched his arm and said hi as carefully as I could. I tucked his blanket tight around his legs and wiped my runny nose on the sleeve of my sweater. I gathered a chair and took in the way his room has changed to remind me of a hospital. I stare at him and I wonder where Death is now.
I look at his sunken eyes and tight skinned cheeks and I ask where Death got lost. His Siri is broken, he's lost and somehow in his confusion, Death has walked by and missed him. I look on and I ask God when mercy begins. I wonder when Peace shows up. Dementia comes with no mercy, with very little peace, in fact there's not single fleck of kindness here in these trenches.
When it's time to leave, I box it up, putting all the emotions in a pretty little package completely shut with a bow. Sometimes besides tears, visits mean nothing but the smile I paste on my face as I am released out the doors. I can go, can cry, can miss, can leave. I can wonder and pray and mourn there in that space, but now, as I leave, it's time for living.
Living is easy until church.
I'm there in the chapel lined with chairs that face the stage. They sing -the faithful people- up there on the stage. They sing and dance and clap their hands. They say things like "mercies anew every morning" and "no looking back"and "make me brave". I watch hands raised and waving like seaweed under water. I wonder how the Spirit blows through their branches so smoothly. I want to join, want to believe, but just stand.
As they pray for His words in the morning's sermon, I ask Him about Death once more. I ask Jesus to tell me how much longer there needs to be hurt without healing. I plead for mercy on dad and on us -five sitting in a row, arms crossed on our chests, filled up with the same soulful aches. My thoughts are no longer with church, but with him and Death and peace instead.
I think about the way he lays and sleeps, seeming too tired to even bother with the bits of life that are left. I mourn for him, knowing he's not in there, but wondering where he might be. I hope his body is empty, I hope his spirit is experiencing some taste of peace, a semblance of heaven, if even the tiniest bit. I can't stand the thought of him trapped in there. I can't imagine the great size of his bright soul stuck in the dreary, shaded room of a memory care unit. I can't settle down into the comfort of church thinking that I'm not the only one aching for a place of peace.
That's it: I don't know where peace is.
For him, for me, for the plethora of his relatives and a far larger net of his friends. I don't know where peace is for any of us. I imagine it's in death -but that's just a wild guess. I want to pretend his passing will be our answer, but I might just be focused on the wrong thing in my Very Right Now.