Friday, November 13, 2015

when the world runs dry


I had a visit with my dad yesterday. It was just me and him among the other residents and staff. It was me and him in a bubble of faux-familiarity while the chaos of memory illness whirls madly around us. This place is uncomfortable, deep and threatening, while safe. It feels like panic in the middle of the ocean though I'm hanging tightly to a night raft. I'm not sure if I should be more terrified of drowning in this disease or what lurks beneath the dark surfaces of the water.

But yesterday it was the moment I saw him for the first time in a few months that brought me here today. 

I walked in to his room and found a thin, run-dry shell of a man. A man I can hardly bear to call my father because of the immense void. I stood still and silent as I stared at his chest rising and falling under a few blankets. I saw the emptiness in his small square room and thought of the desert place in Isaiah. I thought of God's promise to flood dry places with water, bringing pools of refreshment over the barren ground. I stood and I watched and thought of all the parched nooks and crannies within my soul.

I know of His promises, but I feel so desperately afraid they weren't meant for me. 

When the room is so quiet and still, only his breath and mine to be heard, His presence is haunting. He's there, with us, and He's making me edgy. I want to move, to make myself busy, to keep my hands occupied with real things. I don't want Him to touch me, to reach out, to acknowledge me because I fear the answers He has. I'm terrified He will tell us to walk further, swim deeper, trust harder. I want to present Him with the Big Questions, but can't breathe at the idea of the Big Answers. I try to bolster myself with our endurance over the last six years of change, but I as I stand in the door frame of the small, square room fear shakes me.

I know of His promises, but worry they aren't the same as what's grown so deep in my heart. 

If I left him last night and we got the call that he'd passed away, I'd be thrilled for his precious soul to finally be free. But I know with his death will come change. We will transition from going to gone. And with that change comes new life, comes After Dementia. The After portion of our stories looks full with joy, family, faith. It looks wide and broad and tastes of honey. It's warm and comfortable for us to embrace.

I know of His promises, but, more important, He's handling their realization. 

He will bring forth great life -green, joyful, vibrant- from what, today, feels near dead. He will hand my life's dove a branch and drop a rainbow from the clouds to draw me into His presence. He will lift me from the valley in which we're trapped and let us enjoy the view from a grand, holy mountain. He will grow cedar and myrtle and olive trees in the places I've cordoned off as hopeless.

The flood will come, just as He promises, and barren days will be buried in bygone days. 

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