It was a morning when everyone and everything made me homesick … both kinds of homesick, the “here” kind and the “then” kind.
We are at the morphine days of G Mel’s homegoing. It’s about making her comfortable and giving reassuring words that it’s okay to let go. And laughing with her as she accidentally bites her low-dose morphine pill in half and the two pieces keep slipping out the opposite corners of her smiling, denture-free mouth; her family and caregivers keep popping them back in, adding water to wash them down, to have the tiny bits take turns sliding out again. Like trying to shoot marbles in a puddle. On Wednesday, she asked for permission to die: Would we be okay? Will she leave us with too much to do? Would she be causing a problem? My aunt and dad reassured her on all fronts: it’s okay to welcome complete rest from this side of heaven.
As I ate breakfast in a small restaurant this morning, I sniffled often and tears welled again and again, not allowed to rush down my face solely because my waitress was too nice and I didn’t want to freak her out; she was the kind who calls me “Sweetie” even though she’s probably 30 … though I may have enough gray hair now to merit “Sweetie.” Controlling my blubbering impulse may not have been the best, since the thing that happened in its place was a kind of giddy laughter as I kept staring out the window and grabbing my coffee cup like a security blanket. It was chuckling borne of of gratitude for all kinds of goodness even in this hard time, and the realization of how goofy I probably looked taking each bite of crispy bacon—G Mel has demands about bacon sturdiness and when the strips don’t snap, she makes faces like a disgusted teenager—with my face contorted to keep from sobbing. So, instead of snot-snorting crying, I went for lunatic, red-eyed giggler.
I shook my head at such unreasonable emotions about saying goodbye to someone who has had so much time here and when we have had so much warning. Then I thought:
This is what love looks like.
- The celebration of having 45+ years with her (both my grandmothers are still alive at the moment … amazing) and the greed of feeling like I will never have had enough hugs and kisses.
- The joy of imagining her pain-, fear-, and worry-free, and then the thought of the planet without her revealing an ache in my heart that tells me my love for her runs even deeper than I know.
- Waking again and again in the night to pray for her and for her caregivers, even as I smile at the descriptions my parents share of how often G Mel just grins and moves her shoulders up around her ears now, like a happy, trusting, but not fully-comprehending toddler.
I am homesick “here,” on this side of heaven, for my family in California, though we know it’s best for me to remain in Idaho at the moment, for many reasons. We have discussed again and again the gift of the time I had with her in April when she was still so cognizant, and being the talkie family we are (I have a friend who jokes that every event with us leads to “the inevitable coffee and discussion”) we have processed multiple times at multiple stages whether and when I should head south. And I am homesick for “then,” when everything is back together on the restored side of heaven, and there is no more missing each other.
I finished my coffee, picked up my car and its freshly installed new tires (thanks to the great, Jesus-timed generosity of a friend,) and drove down the road to my favorite local yarn shop, owned by another dear friend. As I came in the door I saw she was on the phone; she whispered a quick hello and returned to her call, while I wandered into the corridors of fiber, trying to give her some privacy and wondering how much purple yarn it would take to make me feel better. She finished the call and headed toward me, full of cheerful welcome; I turned and practically ran at her, announcing, “I need a hug and you have good arms.”
And the sobbing commenced, finally both strong and sad, reassured and heartbroken. Thank you, Lord, for your tender embraces here, in bacon and tires and yarn and your children.