He stands clearly 4 or 5 inches taller than me now. That Nolan, growing, even while I see him every day. He stretches out before me and I blink, and miss the totality of all the inches. It hits me over the head as I notice the subtleness to his adjustments. He tugs his pants down, just a tad lower, so that they aren't too short. He stoops to give me a hug goodnight. When I finally stand, back to back, with him, its me looking up at the back of his head. And suddenly, its I who reach on my tiptoes, when I go to give him a hug.
I'm needing so many of those hugs lately. Hold tight. Hold on. Freeze this moment in time because the moments are moving so quickly and I can't grasp them in my tiny, slippery hands. I watch as they flutter effortlessly through, sifting through my fingers, landing at my feet in clumps.
Its both been harder, and easier than I thought it would be.
She railed against leaving. She wouldn't go. Her friends? Her treasures? Her life? How could she, our mother, be asked to leave?
And as my brother and I watched… continuously through my head ran the thoughts… how can she stay? She lives a triangular existence these days. From her recliner, to the bathroom to the door on occasion. Back and forth, forth and back. At times its 3 tries to hoist herself up from her chair, wincing in pain around her middle, trying to steady herself with the grips of the walker, her lifeline. While we wait, arms outstretched, for extra measure.
And what day is it? Didn't she have her meds already? Has she talked to her sister yet?
The moments, here too, slipping so effortlessly by, both Lee and I, unable to grab and hold onto them for mom. Because we would. We'd do anything to keep her where she loves to be- her apartment- with spacious ceilings, two big bedrooms, two bathrooms, oodles of closets, oodles of space. Kind neighbors who have formed a community of people looking out for each other.
But as she recovers from surgery, its abundantly clear to us, she can't be left alone. She needs that voice of reason. That extra set of hands. The reminders, the cues, the hints.
She will stick out her tongue at us and mock us, while listening and obeying at the same time. This is our mom. And I relish "seeing her," shine through all the bits that don't resemble her any more.
She is sassy and full of sarcastic wit. She can be exasperating, and funny, and exhausting to all of us trying to keep her safe and comfortable.
Then Saturday steamrolls its way in… and its time for mom to go. We gather the things she'll bring with her. It fits in one truckload. As we mentally take stock around us, of what she'll need, she sits quietly in her chair. Not saying anything, a far away look on her face.
She gets to her feet without hesitation when we tell her its time. She has already given away one of her chairs, to a friend. She steadily walks to the kitchen without a single glance around. No final look at anything, and no looking back. She walks upright, rolling her walker along forward, right through the front door.
Although quiet, not a hint of emotion surfaces, as I sit biting my cheek to keep the tears from falling. This moment forever etched in my memory.
We've promised she can move back, if she regains her ability to live independently again. And she speaks as though she will be back, while also telling us who should get her things.
Its Sunday, the day my brother flies back home to Pennsylvania. Mom is settled and I am back at home. I'm still wading through Christmas storage containers lined up along the walkways through our home. But a flash of purple catches my eye. A wrapped, square, object, I've not seen before. I shove aside the bins and boxes of stuff and grasp the package. Its Colton who says "mom, thats for you!"
"Mrs. Sailer, my art teacher, made it for you. Mrs. Herbranson (Colton's teacher) helped me wrap it to protect it and bring it home. Its been waiting for you! I've been waiting for you." And he throws his arms around me.
I wonder how long. Days? Weeks? A mountain of moments I've walked through without seeing. So we carefully unwrap the purple paper.
Its breathtaking as Crosby's eyes pierce my heart instantly. Mrs. Sailer got him just right. She wrote us a note saying "your dog on your blog spoke to me… as a critical part of your family. A member who listens and responds to your needs. Consider this upcycled frame and ripped up magazine pages… and a dab of paint… a late Christmas gift."
This is her second "gift " to us. I have the other hanging on another wall and will share about it in the near future. Mrs. Sailer is an uber talented and artistic woman. She does not walk an easy path either, her burdens heavy and cumbersome. But her heart is big, huge really. And she gives of herself at times when others would be more focused on themselves.
She is a gift. A friend. And she has helped clear my vision for the day- helping me see clearly- the things that matter most.
While everything continues to swirl around us in transitions of varying magnitude, anchors have risen up, asserting their sturdiness, their solidity, their ability to bear unbearable burden.
Mom's new home, Bethany Homes on University Drive, in Fargo.
The anchors come in the form of family who visits mom, and offers all kinds of help. In friends who drive our boys where they need to go, and bring them to hockey, feed them, and watch over them. In neighbors who drop everything and drive me, or check on the house, or the dog. In a fridge that is filled with food from family and friends, and texts that send supportive words and advice. In prayers, being said by you, by me, by all of us. Filling in like glue around the moments slipping so precariously through our grip. They're not lost, we'll catch them somehow, and persevere.
Jesus Calling, Sarah Young, January 21.
I want you to be all mine… I am weaning you from other dependencies. Your security rests in Me alone-not in other people, not in circumstances.
Depending only on Me may feel like walking on a tightrope, but there a is safety net underneath: the everlasting arms. So don't be afraid of falling. Instead, look ahead to Me. I am always before you, beckoning you on-one step at a time.
Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, can separate you from My loving Presence.
Today, I will meet with Dr. Tinguely, and we will come up with a plan for surgery. Will update soon. Blessings and love to you all.