Updated: Jan 3
(for Suzanna & sweet Mary, 2022)
Having nurses in our home for the final 10 years of Robert’s life has made their absence in the mornings feel very strange.
“Why is the house so quiet?” I often thought to myself in those early weeks. I also thought I was losing myself somedays when I thought I heard him calling my name. I waited in the early mornings for the sound of him rustling in his bed from a seizure, but no sounds came through the baby monitor that was now obviously gone.
As I was preparing for my first extended trip several years ago after Robert had left our home, I was almost angry that I was going ... leaving my cocoon of safety. I wondered if other mothers or caregivers had felt this way when they first left their homes. I was thinking that I didn't want to be forced to go on with life without my son because caring for him was what I was really good at doing for 18 years.
I was fired from my caregiving job. Was it a promotion? Or just a cruel display of God's ultimate power? I would give up every minute of my newly found freedom to travel for just one more look into Robert's deep caring eyes.
My husband and I each experienced the same emotions, but our feelings remained voiceless as we flew out of the country. Deep feelings that I had forgotten something comprised my anguish. I kept searching my mind on the plane to identify the thing that, surely, I had left behind … my passport, my cash, my boots, my computer … what was it?! Usually, the drone of the airplane engine relaxed me immediately and I would fall unashamedly asleep within minutes of takeoff. But this time there was no usual routine. I prayed; I searched my mind; and, to my sudden horror, I realized I had left … Robert … behind.
Oh, what a heartbreaking feeling seated on that soaring plane! I had left Robert and without the comfort of my husband’s care of him. It was so unbelievably strange to feel something so deeply when the reality of it was also so clear. What a dumb statement! I didn't leave Robert behind, but yet, he was behind. My body was sick with the feeling that he was alone back at home without me.
When I shared this apprehension with my husband at dinner that evening in our little French restaurant, he admitted he had similar feelings. If I may speak for him, he had experienced the sudden desire to go visit Robert at his grave site before leaving our hometown. In some way, he felt he needed to say, “Sorry” for leaving him or perhaps, “Goodbye” with new shades of mourning. This deep thought resided in his heart, and that feeling followed him throughout the day.
What a relief and surprise to both of us as we shared our hearts in a newly discovered transparent way. It was good to identify the root as being our individual and combined irrational sense of abandoning Robert. Sometimes reality does not line up with what we feel to be true.
Transitions in life rarely come easily at first for me. However, I have learned that if those unidentifiable feelings arise in me even now, many years after Robert has passed away, those moments need to be explored with a bucket full of grace and care. I do not rush into the transition. I take my time to slowly move where I have not traveled before. I don’t go boldly.
Take care, my friend, when life requires you to transition. You do not need to rush yourself. Take care.
Listening Library: “It Is Well” (Kristene DiMarco & Bethel Music)
“1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV)
It Is Well
Grander earth has quaked before Moved by the sound of His voice And seas that are shaken and stirred Can be calmed and broken for my regard
And through it all, through it all My eyes are on You And through it all, through it all It is well And through it all, through it all My eyes are on You And it is well, with me
Far be it from me to not believe Even when my eyes can't see And this mountain that's in front of me Will be thrown into the midst of the sea
And through it all, through it all My eyes are on You And through it all, through it all It is well And through it all, through it all My eyes are on You And it is well, it is well
So let go my soul and trust in Him The waves and wind still know His name So let go my soul and trust in Him The waves and wind still know His name
So let go my soul and trust in Him The waves and wind still know His name The waves and wind still know His name
And it is well With my soul (sing it out) It is well With my soul It is well With my soul It is well, it is well with my soul (sing it out, it is well)
Oh, it is well (it is well) With my soul (because of who You are Lord) Oh, it is well With my soul It is well (oh) With my soul It is well, it is well with my soul (sing it out, it is well) It is well, it is well with my soul (it is well, it is well) It is well, it is well with my soul
And through it all, through it all My eyes are on You And through it all, through it all It is well, Lord And through it all, through it all My eyes are on You And it is well with me
Songwriters: Kristene Elizabeth Dimarco
It is Well lyrics © Bethel Music Publishing