Christmas was still fresh, as were the décor that was strewn throughout the house. This was round two of the awkwardness of the holidays being lived through the lens of a global pandemic. Depending upon your geographic region, quarantine and social distancing, masking and rigorous disinfecting meant different things, but were all too commonplace and routine practice.
My phone rang in the middle of the afternoon. It was my husband calling with an urgency in his voice. “You’ve got to come down here … now … the caregiver is packing her belongings and leaving!” What?!
I shook my head in disbelief while getting the few facts. Springing into action, I team-tagged my oldest son who happened to be available. “Be sure to pack enough clothing for at least 3-5 days … and grab some food while you’re at it …”
Little did I know that this was the beginning of an adventure that would change the landscape of my life … one more time …
With my car fully loaded with food and clothing and even a convertible chair that opened up to a mini sleeper, we were now headed down the freeway … actually a few freeways … through the midday traffic. It seemed surreal. I drove with mixed emotions and tons of uncertainty running through my veins. I had no idea what I was about to encounter.
Arriving at my parents’ home, I’m met by the caregiver as she is busily packing her personal belongings into multiple suitcases.
If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them. James 1:5 GWT
My parents are both bedridden at this point; mother having undergone recent foot surgery (toe amputation) and my father very weak and frail (although he managed to slowly get around with the use of his walker).
It was a common sight … she, as cranky as ever, making her unending verbal demands. He, very quiet and compliant, not wanting to create any disturbances.
The caregiver, exhausted but determined to keep moving, very matter-of-factly proceeded to tell me where the medications were kept and who received what. I had prepared a couple legal pads to record the information and took copious notes: days, time of day, dosage. Mother’s list seemed to take an entire page. Dad’s list appeared brief, concise and straightforward, only taking up a few lines on a single sheet of paper.
“And you’ll have to do finger pricks twice daily to monitor his blood sugar levels. Remember to record both of their blood pressure readings like this … so that the when physician asks you, you will have this information for reference.”
My brain was spinning, but I couldn’t give up — not now. Everything was dependent upon me remaining strong and confident and knowledgeable of every move I made. I was never more thankful that GOD had blessed me with the academics and experience to understand what I was doing so I could make wise decisions on my feet.
Dietary instructions were a bit more complex. Dad’s restrictions had to be followed to the letter — adhering to this kept his diabetic conditions contained and never led to any requirement for insulin. Mother’s heart and blood pressure issues plus a myriad of other ailments made for a lengthy list of don’ts, which were further complicated by her demand to have foods which were stricken from her menu by her physician.
Secretly, I was hoping I would soon awaken from this dream-turning-nightmare. I fought the fear of feeling inadequate to do what I was now being called to do. I couldn’t let anyone see me looking scared or fearful, even though my insides were trembling so loudly I thought for sure someone would hear the rattling nerves.
“I can do this … GOD help me do this, please … please help me do this …”
And Jesus said, “Come.” Then Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water toward Jesus. Matthew 14:29 CEB
When the Lord called me to respond to this situation, I could see in my mind’s eye, the moment Peter dipped his big toe into the water. Never having previous experience in these unknown ‘waters,’ hearing the beckoning of what I knew was the Voice of the Lord in honor and respect, I dipped my toes into the water of obedience.
But I also can empathize with the Apostle Peter for seeing the rising waves of doubt and fear and sinking into despair. I was there in many moments. Holding my breath as I pricked my father’s tired finger. Frustrated and fatigued from sleepless nights with my mother making her non-stop demands, I, too, felt that drowning sensation.
It was not an invitation to come and enjoy a pleasurable retreat in solitude and calm. Rather, it was an invitation to trust my Savior with every fiber of my being, while fighting the urge to throw in the towel and raise the flag of surrender. Had my son not been there to place his arm around me and encourage me, I would have lost my mind. He helped me to rely on my faith in the One Who would sustain me through this ordeal.
So, forward I walked … on that water … treading with faith holding me up.
My son and I both became sick within a few days of our arrival. With no opportunity to leave the house to get tested for COVID19, we forged ahead through the symptoms. Our lack of rest made for prolonged sickness. My father’s symptoms had worsened to the point of requiring medical attention, so my husband came to take him to the hospital to be checked for possible pneumonia and get antibiotics. But dad was not to come home from that ‘medical evaluation.’ GOD had other plans.
Dad was quickly admitted into the hospital where he had entered through the emergency room but we had no idea that seeing him leave the house that day would be our last time together.
It’s been almost a full year. This time last year I was drowning in an ocean of uncertainty, with rising tides of critical decision-making … all funneling into a stream of unknown future outcomes. Being faced with having to make the final call on how my father would live out his final days … without being able to touch his hand or his head, as I so often did on those visits … the absence of not being able to hug him one more time before sending him off into the Eternal Arms of the GOD he loved.
I still have the names and phone numbers of the team of medical professionals that spoke with me, comforted me and informed me as they cared for my father in his final days. I can recollect each conversation as though it were yesterday. Numb. That was the feeling after every phone conversation.
Jesus called me to take a step of faith that I had no idea I would be walking. It wasn’t a step that I had ever planned to take. Neither was it an adventure that I would have mapped out and looked toward with eagerness. There were no groups of people to lean on, no one single human within my ‘inner circle’ that I could call and cry out to in the middle of the night. It was the scariest and darkest time I had experienced in a long, long time.
While my son never left me in the house alone, I had to come to terms that he, too, needed rest. So, we slept in rotations, occasionally coming together for a snack or meal.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b NIV
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 ESV
I don’t know what you are living through right now, Friend, but I do know the One Who can get you through your situation. When it feels as though the world has gone silent and everyone is busy with their own lives and maybe too busy to pause for you, He is already waiting for you to pause for Him. He’s available when you are.
When you think your next move is to give up, look up! I can tell you that the enemy of your soul wants you to think all is lost and that your only choice is to drown in that sea of sorrow. That’s a lie. Truth of the matter is that there’s a mighty powerful wind of change that is about to stir if you will take the Hand of the One Who created the wind and can easily calm it for you. The storms of life will always be there — but I’m here to tell you that greater is He that created you and if you know Him, He is within you.
But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 1 John 4:4 NLT
You may have to make some adjustments to your lifestyle. Studying Scripture to memorize some life-changing truths so that they are in your memory for when those unforeseen moments strike. Get in community with other Believers that can show you the way if you are new to this thing called faith in Jesus Christ. You may have to walk away from bad influences that would steer you back into troubled waters. Whatever you need to do, remember that walking in faith is not for the faint-hearted. Trust is what happens when you keep building your track-record with the Lord.
Jesus is like that. He always shows up.
Keep walking, Friend. Don’t stop. It won’t be perfect. But keep going. Keep trusting.
I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~
LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary
Very good read. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. God is always faithful to us 💙
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Hayley: YES and Amen! Our Heavenly Father is indeed Faithful. Thank you for your love.
I am so sorry you had to walk through that season of pain, loss, and difficulty. Thank you for sharing your testimony of God’s goodness. He is faithful to show up when we need Him! Praying God binds up your wounds and draws you ever closer to Him through your grief journey.
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alikozlow: Coming from you, knowing your experience with grief, I treasure your words of encouragement, Ali. Thank you. Yes … He Comforts us and heals our brokenness. We are so loved.