The past few weeks have been straight up crazy. It’s so funny to pop on social media and see other momma’s singing the same tune. Spring is bonkers. It’s so good, but fast paced. It’s honestly one of my favorite times of the year. I love the smells of the trees turning green and flowers blooming and fresh cut grass. I love the longer days and nights at the baseball fields with our people. The little kids running around barefoot collecting ladybugs and caterpillars while we laugh and cheer and talk and eat tootsie roll pops and watch the sunsets. Texas puts on a good show in the Spring.
Even with all the crazy I was able to carve out some time to head back to Memphis to visit with my parents this past weekend.. My dad, for those of you who have not followed along on this journey or are new to my blog, has a terminal disease called Multiple Systems Atrophy. It’s like a combination of Parkinson’s and ALS. It’s not a pretty disease, as nothing terminal is I suppose. It’s been good for me to squeeze in little visits when I can, as his fight is near the end, or so his disease would dictate. He’s a fighter and surpassing the odds and only God knows his time, but I have tried to make as many trips as I can, while I can.
It’s a long drive for such a short stay, but worth every mile.
A few weeks ago I mentioned to my friends that I was headed back for a quick visit and my friend Lauren offered to go with me almost immediately.
It’s not an easy trip to take, and I tend to be a bit of a loner. A “silent sufferer” as my mom has always liked to call it. Wether hurt or sick or sad, I tend to, more often than not, just deal with it on my own. It’s a characteristic that I don’t always love about myself, being a bit of an introvert that is. It’s often something that can come off as rude or anti-social, but certain things, for me, require time alone. Time to process and think and pray. Time to let God speak life and truth into me without any interference. It’s often a really sweet thing to be quiet, but other times, having a friend by your side is just the right gift.
As we headed into the weekend, I knew it would be a lot of reality to take in for Lauren as dad is in a hospital bed, totally bed bound and on hospice. He’s mostly non verbal with a few words here and there that we can make out. But his countenance speaks where his words fail.
I’ve written about dad before, and many of our Texas friends had the chance to meet him before he was unable to travel, but Lauren hadn’t. I will never forget what she said upon leaving his room after she had just met him. She said he was joyful. She said as soon as I walked in he looked happy. The muscles in his face don’t work like they are supposed to, so facial expressions are hard for him. But she said he exuded joy. And he does.
Lauren was perfect with him, with laughter that was contagious and filled their house. You could just tell he liked her and she handled the situation beautifully. We spent the weekend helping mom around the house and eating our weight in burgers and BBQ. We did some serious damage for a 48 hour trip. I showed Lauren the houses Rob and I each grew up in and took her to some of my favorite spots. We visited the horse show grounds where I spent my weekends growing up, competing and soaking in the sights and sounds and smells of the horses and Spring air.
I’ve now lived in Texas longer than I ever lived in Tennessee, which is crazy to me, but it will always hold so many memories. Did I mention we ate a butt load(my maturity speaking volumes) of food???
You thought I was joking right? Ha! I’m a personal trainer and Lauren a spin and group fitness instructor, which almost makes it funnier. We share a love of food and fitness. Clearly. But seriously, if you can’t let your hair down once in a while and drown some of your feelings in meat between two pieces of bread you ain’t livin. At least that’s our philosophy. And Monday it was back on the healthy bus. Because it’s pretty cool there too. But I’m not in the business of hiding real life. And people, this was real life. Speaking of real life, we were looking through old pictures and I found this total winner. Tilt your head, it’s worth it.
That’s right. He still married me. Moving on.
We had a whirlwind of a weekend, and before we knew it, it was time to leave. Leaving is always tricky. It’s hard. And sad. And it always, every single time, leaves me needing to process, decompress and pray. And it leaves me feeling grateful for another visit.
I hate saying goodbye, not knowing if there will be another hello. At the same time, I go back to what I know to be true of my dad. He is at peace……and he is still joyful. Amidst this honestly very crappy and sad situation, he still has purpose. God has allowed him to live, well beyond what his disease says is possible. That’s not a mistake. It’s not cruel, as much as my human mind wants to think that it is. Because God isn’t in the business of cruelty. He’s in the business of glory and purpose and making much out of sorrow and grief and crummy circumstances that we wish we could change. He’s in the business of reminding us that we can sing “it is well with my soul,” even when it doesn’t feel well with my soul. He’s in the business of being the source of joy when the world says you should feel only defeat and sadness. There is sadness, yes, but there is also joy and hope. My dad knows exactly where he will be the second his life on this earth comes to an end. That’s a hope and anticipation that can’t be explained in human terms. It can really only be explained with one word….
So I’m thankful, as hard as it is. I’m thankful for the life he has lived, and continues to live. For the legacy and the impact he has on everyone that walks into that room. Unable to have full conversations, he is still impacting the lives of many. I’m thankful my friend got to experience that and we will trust that as long as my dad has breath, God has purpose in it. In every single breath we take, there is purpose.
“You’ve been faithful, You’ve been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You’re able
I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul”
Even If by MercyMe