Friday, June 19, 2015

Where Peace Comes In

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. 


  1. Gah Amber, I wish I had the words to bring peace to your aching heart yet I don't. I wish we could understand why, sometimes, a person is lost in their very body that won't just.let.go. Praying that no matter where the peace comes from, that it surrounds you and your family.

  2. There are no words for a situation like this. Just praying for peace :)

  3. Courtney Hall WestJune 19, 2015 at 6:46 AM

    Amber, I am so sorry you are going through this time right now. Praying for peace and comfort for you and your family, and the ultimate healing for your dad.

  4. I'm so sorry you're going through this! Keep praying, Amber, and your peace will come. God never gives you anything you can't handle, don't forget that.

  5. Oh, Amber. I hate that I can relate to your words. I have been waiting for Death to show up for 15+ years. 15 years later and my Daddy is now confined to a wheelchair, has no teeth, and has had toes amputated (on top of everything else). He has been craving death for 15 years and I am so angry that it still hasn't shown up. I want to provide you with words of peace and comfort, but I'm completely lacking. Why must they continue to suffer? It's just not fair.

    I love you, sweet girl and my heart aches for you. You may not get words of encouragement from me, but I can provide validation. Validation for your anger, for your sadness, for your grief. I get it all. You have every right to feel the way you do. It's just not fair.

  6. I am so sorry you are going through this and for your dad. I remember asking the same things last fall about my papa. I'm praying for you all.

  7. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvJune 19, 2015 at 8:26 AM

    Once again, I wish I had the words or actions to bring you some little little tiny ounce of peace. Thinking of you and your family. My hope for you is that someday peace will come and make all this suffering a memory that fades while your happier memories shine.

  8. Praying that you find this peace my friend - in living or in death. I am praying so hard for you x

  9. My heart just aches for you. That you have to watch this unfold before your eyes for so long. I wonder where that mercy is too. I wonder what exactly he is using this for, because I can't let myself believe this suffering is without good somewhere.

  10. "I can't imagine the great size of his bright soul stuck in the dreary, shaded room of a memory care unit." <--- That is such a beautiful, and yet terrifying sentence. I too hope that some semblance of him is experiencing something better... something amazing... something filled with mercy, peace, and love. Friend, I know I tell you often, but I don't think I can ever tell you enough how much I admire you and your family. Really. Truly. I do.


  11. I am terribly sorry for your loss. As I'm going thru a loss right now so all I can offer to you is my thoughts and prayers. I pray things get better and that you and your family find peace.

  12. Hi Amber,
    As someone who watched her Grandmother struggle with Alzheimers, I know the place that many of these words come from. While a different situation (with my Grandma being older, making it seem a little less unjust than with your father), I do distinctly remember thinking that I just wanted her to die and be with Jesus as there was no peace for her and us here on earth. While your experience may be different, I want to give you perhaps a glimmer of hope. When my Grandmother died, things changed and there was more peace. First, we could properly mourn. While we 'lost' my Grandmother many years before her death, it was only on her passing that we felt we could truly mourn her loss and celebrate her life. Second, there was so much peace in knowing that she was with Jesus now. Before it was hard to work out where her mind was at, but now we know, and that brings so much relief. I was also relieved to know that the memories of her in her later years are not the dominant ones, with the memory of my Grandmother at home, mind still as fit as a fiddle, dominating my memories of her.

    Again, your experience is different and may continue to be different once your father has died, however I thought it may be helpful to hear of my experience.

    I can also relate (again, in slightly different circumstances) to watching others worship so freely and me wishing that I could do the same. My husband and I have just completed 1.5 years of fertility treatment and have now closed the door on all of that. As we have gone through so much pain and heartache, the weight of the words sung at church have become apparent to me and at times I struggle to say them. I miss the days where those words came easily. Amidst all of this though, I am thankful that I am truly learning the meaning of those words and that one day I will be able to say them again with more meaning than ever. I don't want my old fluffy faith, I want a new faith that is rich and deep. I just wish it wasn't so hard to get there!

    Hang in there,

  13. Courtney EdwardsJune 20, 2015 at 8:07 PM

    Gah. This post makes me love you even more! I am so in tune with every emotion you're feeling right now! Nothing anyone can say will mend your souls sorrows but just know you are not alone and I am praying deeply for you and your fathers peace. Xoxo

    Courtney @ Her Sailing Soul

  14. I'm so sorry Amber. Your pain is just unimaginable. You and your father and your family are in my prayers :(

  15. Whenever I read these posts about your dad, I wish I had words. But know I'm here with my mug of coffee, sitting on the couch, being silent, listening, and praying.

  16. Awww friend I am so sorry. I can't begin to imagine how difficult this situation is. I love you, and I'm mentally wrapping my arms around you in the biggest hug in the history of hugs.

  17. I can't imagine how hard it must be to love someone whose body is here but their spirit isn't. I'm certain your dad is already at peace. I don't think our souls are tied to our brains - I think that it's possible that one's physical bodies can continue to function after the essence of oneself has been embraced by God.


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