It’s been so long, I’m not quite sure where to begin. Should I start with the funeral I attended today or with the stroke my mother had one month ago? Should I share my ongoing concern for my son with Crohn’s, who has been suffering from a flare for over a week now? Or, perhaps I should start on a happier note, with my recent writing success. All I can say is that November was a whirlwind, and I am so ready to settle into the quiet rest and waiting of Advent.
However, what I am realizing is that, as I get older, there is less and less rest. I finish one project to find I am behind on another. I completely lose track of invitations and responsibilities as I try to attend to the tyranny of the urgent, whether important or not. I feel caught in a maelstrom that I can’t work my way out of. And so, I must make my way to the center of it and find a place of quiet in the midst of the madness.
This morning, I awoke early to a long-forgotten scent. Tears slid down my face as I lay still in my bed remembering the powdery scent of my grandparents’ bathroom, from the house they lived in for 30 years and vacated 12 years ago- the place I still call home, the place that still fills my dreams all these years later. My mind tried to hold on to the memory of that wonderful, comforting smell as long as it could, but gradually it faded away, and then my tears fell in memory of my uncle who passed away on November 30th from ALS. I arose to prepare for his funeral, and life continued.
Over 600 people came to pay their respects to this inspiring, heroic, funny, generous man, who gave his life in service to others, as ALS stripped away every last vestige of strength, save that of his mind. I am so thankful to have known and loved him, to have had the remarkable blessing of seeing him one last time the day before he died, not knowing he would so soon be leaving us. He brought joy and hope to all who knew him; he truly was a gift.
My heart hurts for my grandmother, who had to say goodbye to her son today, as she did his father 10 years ago. She is the epitome of strength and courage, but her heart remains soft and open despite the ravages of time and loss. I sat on the edge of my own son’s bed tonight, rubbing his back, as he suffers from the excruciating pain of inflammation from Crohn’s, a lifelong disease he has only just started to deal with in the past year. He will learn to be courageous and strong in the midst of adversity through this, but I hate to watch him suffer, to be unable to alleviate the pain. I want his Crohn’s to go away; I want a quick fix, a permanent cure, not a series of steadily increasing medications to manage the inevitable.
And, then, there is my mom. She has surpassed cat lives; I don’t know what kind of creature she is. I’ve never met someone who cheated death as many times and in as many ways as she has. Most recently, it was a stroke- her second. Miraculously, it only hit the speech center of her brain, which means she has difficulty connecting the thoughts in her head to her mouth and processing concepts (especially mathematical ones). She is still quite articulate, though, and understands everyone else just fine. Her progress is remarkable, but she fails to see it; she can only see her deficits and they discourage her greatly. She has survived several life traumas, but this one has challenged her the most. I tell her to be patient, because unlike my son and my uncle, she can reverse her condition through therapy and practice; she will regain much of what she has lost. She has a year, according to the doctor, to re-establish the connections in her brain that were severed by the stroke. What great hope she has, if only she could see it!
This Advent, I wait. I wait for my son’s doctor’s appointment this Friday and some help for his pain. I wait for my mother to make tiny steps toward restoration and to find hope again. I wait for the celebration of the birth of my Savior, in whose presence my uncle now delights. And, I wait for February, when my writing will be published in an edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul- a spark of brightness in the otherwise dark and harried month of November.
How is this season of Advent helping you to find rest in waiting?