Mourning my Mother

I have been mourning the death of my mother for probably about three years.

I say probably because my mother is still living.

About ten years ago my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that attacks the nervous system. Each of your nerves has a casing around the length of a long strand that enables the signals that travel through your brain and nervous system to act at the rate at which it does, so when you want to say a word, lift your arm, type on a computer you do not have to consciously tell each muscle what needs to do what in order for the activity to be performed. With MS your white blood cells think your nerves are attacking the body so they attack the nerves and wear down the cells myelin sheath (the casing).

All that to say it slowly breaks down body functioning and it’s one of those weird diseases that has so many varied symptoms case to case that it is difficult to diagnose and then difficult to track, not to mention there is no cure.

For the first couple of years after the diagnosis (which was comparatively fast) seemed like the disease wouldn’t affect our family that much. Mom just got tired a lot faster than she used to, which just meant instead of working all day, making dinner, and working on household chores, she just worked all day and made dinner. After a while she stopped making meals, the heat seemed to bother her more than anything. Then she got in an accident and stopped driving. Then she got let go from her job, but that seemed like a blessing because she was exhausted all the time and it provided a nice severance.

Slowly but surely Mom slowed down, but she was still my mom, a rapier wit and full of wisdom. She always seemed to know what to say. The first year at college I was able to see the changes better. When you are with someone as they consistently change you don’t see the gradual shifts, but when you only see your family every once in a while you see the different milestones better. When Mom started using a walker I knew things were serious, but I don’t think I realized how bad it was getting until a Disneyland trip.

We had passes so we would go probably once a week or at least once every other week. We brought the wheelchair because it was easier to maneuver. We had begun to stick mostly to rides it was easy to get in and out again.  This time we thought Matterhorn was a good idea because it was low to the ground and the way the seating used to be, she could sit right in front of my dad and he could hold onto her.

I don’t think I can ever forget the sound of her crying throughout the entirety of the ride. It wasn’t a sad cry, but a terrified wailing.

The problem was because she couldn’t hold herself up she felt like she was going to fall out. You know the game jello where you “let loose” to fall and sway with the turns on a car trip, mostly just an excuse to hit your siblings or push your friends into the side of the car. For my mom, this ride was jello, but she couldn’t stop. My dad was holding tight to her and kept reassuring her, “I’ve got you.” “You’re not going anywhere” Even my sister and I tried to offer support from the back, but it didn’t matter. I think at that moment she realized she would never ride this ride again and that there were a lot of other things she would never be doing again. Something changed for me that day.

Moving away from my parents was difficult, but coming home after leaving excruciating. Mom was getting worse and there was nothing I could do.

Multiple Sclerosis keeps winning.

While home for Christmas I found out my mom has opted for a “DNR of no resuscitation” which basically means if she ever collapses and is no responsive and/or is in a coma the EMTs and Medical personal are to not try and save her. To let her die.

People say that there are five steps to grief:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

I think I have experienced all of these already and as I mentioned she’s still alive. There’s something to be said of the emotional shock of someone passing suddenly, the surrealism, of them being there one day and gone the next. Something else entirely to be said of the slow kind, the one that slowly steals the one you love away. The one where you could have the immense hope of recovery surge up only for it to fall and you to wonder if it were better if they were gone already. When sentences like, “If she stops eating she would not feel pain or the feeling of starving, hunger would just go away” is devastating and at the same time a relief.

It’s confusing and painful. I know God is here with me and I am trying to see the sense. There may not be any. I know He cares for my mom, more than I, my sister or my dad ever could, so I know He will care for her and I know there’s complete healing in Heaven, but I want my mom back.

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Then you will Know

I’ve been meaning to write for a while now. I kept putting it off, making excuses, but what it really boils down to is laziness and apathy.

You see my dream is  coming true and I am apathetic, makes sense right.

It’s probably because I suffer from what I like to call, “grass is greener” it’s where the grass is always greener somewhere else. I suppose it could be blamed on how Myers and Brigg say I am an idealist, but anyway you spin it, what it comes down to is selfish, self-centered, entitled whiny-baby complaints about how life isn’t exactly how I wanted it to be.

I wanted to title this “Dreams are more work than they look like” but that would imply that I have done or am currently doing something that warrants what I want in life. But when it comes down to it, I am not doing anything to accomplish my dreams (which I might add are much bigger than this idealist ever thought possible).

Years ago I made this agreement, pact, covenant (if you will) that said I would give up my life, well exchange my life (or what it was/would’ve been) for someone else’s, someone greater than me. This man was introduced to me by my parents and he said if I would give my life to him, he would make me new, make me whole. That piece that just felt empty, lost would be filled. But the caveat was that with this new life, I would have to follow his lead, he would make my life.

His name is Jesus, by the way.

There’s this really old and famous book about him and because He’s no longer on Earth I read the book to learn about Him, about this life I lead, well this life He leads.

When I moved to New York at the end of last year I was filled with this mixture of anxiety and excitement. I was worried about the future and happy knowing I was finally where I felt knew I was supposed to be. Then reality hit. New York is really cold in January and when you life an hour commute from work life is frustrating, especially if you are supposed to be working in the arts, in theatre. Then the people you serve every day are mean and don’t clean their messes and then complain about how messy it is and complain about their coffee. And you start complaining.

What am I doing here?

Why didn’t I get that internship? Now I’ll never get into theatre?

Will I work at Starbucks forever?

no, trust me

Okay, fine. What should I read for my devotions?

Ezekiel

I didn’t know what else to read so it sounded good to me. I mean I wasn’t sure what God was trying to tell me. New York was the promise land for me, not exile. Then I began to notice a phrase that kept popping up,

Then they will know that I am the Lord.

Throughout Ezekiel God is revealing Himself, not only to His people, but to the world. He used Babylon to wake His people up. To stop them from breaking their end of their covenant (for back-story read Old Testament, the part before Jesus was born). Basically you see this divine being who when the people He chose to protect and bless walk away from that blessing, He helps them see who He is and helps them fulfill their end of the agreement. And this also benefits those around who can see this almighty God, not just for His power, but also for His character.

This is what God wanted me to see.

This is what He wanted to remind me.

He gave me a dream long ago to make a difference. He gave me a dream for this city. Then he provided the way (seriously so miraculous taking care of my every need and worry down to the penny, another time).

Where do I get off thinking I am going to accomplish something in this city? To be perfectly fair, I think know I couldn’t handle this city without God.

God will provide for my future as He has consistently done in my past. God will provide the miraculous way. And the reason being: it’s not about me.

Then they will know that I am the Lord

not me

and yet He is still for me

Then you will know that  am the Lord

I was reminded of all of this tonight. And I will keep being reminded of this. Here’s a quote that stuck out for me from Hillsong NYC’s vision night for 2015:

“God gave you a dream, He won’t forget it. Have peace while He builds.” -Carl Lentz