Wednesday, March 26, 2014

When Giraffes Look Out Windows and Time Hangs on the Wall

We never know how the last moments with a loved one will affect us, or what we'll notice while we sit by their bedside and wait. But, in hindsight to my father's passing, these are the things I noticed, what I experienced, what was most profound as we held hands and waited. 

I enter his room for what might be the last time and squeeze behind the drawn curtain—the one that made him feel claustrophobic.

His brown eyes greet me as I bend low and kiss his ashen cheek. He draws a shallow breath and barely whispers, “Hello.” I pull the purple chair close because I want to hear every.last.word.

He thanks me for coming and caring since he took ill. “You’ve been so good to me and Mum.”

“It’s how I honor you, Dad. It’s the least I can do.”

Before he speaks again, I ask, “What more can I do for you?”

“Just hold my hand,” he whispers.

“Okay, now rest. Mom’s on her way. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

So, I take his hand—the one that used to hold mine—protect me, sat me on his lap while we watched the Wonderful World of Disney.

Our words are few because we've left nothing unsaid. We've asked forgiveness and forgiven; loved one another the best we knew how. God redeemed all our lost years and our brokenness so we could love one another well, even with all the sickness and physical demands over the past seven months.

Dad rests, but death hovers. I clasp his cool hands above the covers hoping my sweaty palms somehow spread warmth and comfort over him. Piano solos stream softly from my iPhone filling the silence between us as we wait. That’s when I notice the giraffe sitting on the window sill. This cute paper giraffe faces out—points away from death—toward the horizon. Huh. How profound, I think, as this giraffe distracts me; carries my thoughts from death to life. I squeeze my dad's hand and he squeezes mine as if to say, “It’s okay. Let me move toward that new horizon. Let me leave this old world behind.”

“Bang, bang, bang,” the hammering interrupts. A new patient arrives and the orderly hangs photos on the wall; frozen images in time. That’s how it feels for these dying patients…like time just freezes...hangs on the wall. The clock hands move, but death comes slow for the long-suffering.

Mom arrives within the hour and I let go, join the giraffe and keep watch on the horizon while time hangs on the wall.

The next morning I awaken, surprised the phone call hadn't interrupted my sleep. Giggling grandchildren fill my morning while my son grabs time for his farewell. When the phone finally rings, the nurse says, “Now.”

My son retrieves his children and I run out the door. I enter Dad's room where death feels palpable. His vacant eyes fool us into thinking death's already arrived, but the nurse says he's still there and he can hear. So I speak deliberate, intentional words. “I love you, Dad. No words left unsaid.”

The clock hands finally move. Time runs away, but I notice that giraffe's still sitting on that window sill keeping watch on the horizon where hope for all things new finally comes into focus.

I’m grateful for those moments alone with Dad the previous day. Many fear death, but I found his death brought the rawest emotions of love and gratitude than any other time we’d ever shared. I am forever grateful to have comforted him and held his hand while he waited to say farewell to all the family. We were never alone again. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

When All You Hear is Silence

"... Search your hearts and be silent." Psalm 4:4

Sometimes I don't understand what God's doing in me, through me, or around me. Do you ever feel that way, too? Like you're playng a part in some great adventure but you have no clue what it's all about or what you're doing in the middle of it all?

Each day you show up, interact with all the characters on Life's Stage because that's what God's asked you to do. Some days it all makes sense - the tasks and conversations all point to some significance - but other days you struggle with your lines and your stage presence is awkward at best. You stand there listening for any backstage cues, but all you hear is silence.  

Bustling busyness surrounds you and yet you're frozen in one spot, still listening for some direction, a line, a clue and you're left standing there in awkward, crazy nothingness. Uneasy and feeling quite useless, you race backstage, rummage for your script to find it's blank - no lines, no direction - nothing. Taking your obviously defective script to the director, you ask for a trade, but he refuses - barely takes his eyes off the action on Life's Stage - says it's supposed to be blank.

"Just take your place," the director smirks. "It'll all make sense in the end."

Isn't that life sometimes? (Let's switch scenes and meet over at Christian Childrens's Authors blog for the rest of the story).

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When My Muse Won't Let Me Write

Finally, someone admitted author admitted it..,they haven't the time for writing. Whew! And I thought I was the lonely, no-writing, wordless author standing alone in a great big room filled with word-swirling, masterpiece creators. 

I let out a great big sigh of relief when I read her confession on our shared blog. As authors, we were asked to share our everyday writing routine with the world (okay, not the world, just our readership). I did that once, two years ago, but asked to do it again? I blushed. 

Writing routine? What routine? Have you seen my Facebook posts lately? When would I have time to sit and write, let alone come up with some pithy, creative stories that inspire? 

You see, like my friend, life has pulled my bottom right off my writing chair the past fourteen months. Between caring for aging and ailing parents, grieving over loved ones passing, welcoming new grandchildren, playing with older grandchildren and tending to my home and husband, there's been little time to sit and breathe, let alone write. All these events experienced one at a time can send you spinning, but many of these events have happened either simultaneously or in direct succession. No sooner had I buried my sister, my father took ill; my father passed and my mother-in-law was admitted for physical rehab on the same day; they discharge my mother-in-law and my newest granddaughter arrived three weeks early. 

Life--all of its sensory experiences--is my muse. We learn, we celebrate, we grow, we move forward, we become who and what we are from life's events. But, when these events piggy back one another their weight multiplies and overloads our senses until the stress breaks us. It's difficult (impossible for me) to extrapolate meaning or inspiration from anything when stress rules. 

Lately, I've battled my place in the writing world; wondered if there ever really was a place or will be a place, because I've lost my way a bit. So, I sink into the worn leather couch cushion by the warm fire in my "Wicked Good" slippers and ask God what on earth he has planned. And you know what his answer is? Rest. Because out of rest comes worship. Out of worship comes creativity. 

So, I chuckle. Rest? Is it time? May I rest? Oh, please, may I rest my weary body and mind? It's been a long, long, long fourteen months of crises. The future is never certain, but for now I see nothing on the horizon. Nothing out of the ordinary. 

Maybe. Just maybe I'll have time to sit and ponder life...the past, the present, the dreams...and write.

 God is my source. Worship is my rest. Life is my muse. What's yours?