The Trip

by Rhonda, December 09, 2023

I waited for her to pick me up at 2 a.m.  My Mom was going with me to Florida, much to my surprise.  I invited her to come as my companion while I traveled for a business trip, knowing she would say no, knowing she would not be able to leave her house.  We had a brutally early flight, and I figured that alone would be enough for her to turn it down.

But, once again, when I pray, God shows me in a variety of ways that He hears my prayers.  He had been working in her heart, and despite her need to stay at home and stay safe, she accepted my offer.  I was delighted, surprised, and I prayed this might be some area of healing for the two of us.  Some much-needed light in her sadness.  Mental illness is such a beast, isn't it?

As we boarded the plane, I could sense her fear, but she kept pushing through.  She said she wanted this time with me, because we don't see each other very often anymore.  I was overwhelmed with love for her, knowing she was doing this for me.  something that seems so common, so ordinary, was an act of bravery for her.  An act of love for me.

The week in Florida flew by, and her anxiety stayed under control as long as she didn't leave the condo  We rented an oceanfront location, which was perfect for her.  She wanted to listen to the waves, see the ocean, but not feel pressure to go anywhere or see anyone.  It was disappointing to me, because I wanted to show her the sights and take her out for dinners.  I had hoped she would be so excited when we got to Florida that she would want to engage.  But, I had to remind myself that the trip was a huge step for her, and so I put in my orders to Doordash and spent my evenings by her side.

Much of the time, we didn't say much but just spent time watching her favorite cooking shows with the roar of the ocean waves in the background.  Most nights she went to bed early.  She's changed a lot, and as she ages and fights her battles for mental health, I have to be patient and stop trying to uncover my Mom from the past.  It feels like I'm in a fight I'm slowly losing, watching her disappear a little more each year.

I think some of this is probably normal.  The slow loss of a parent's health, whether mental or physical, is heart wrenching.  I'm finally at an age where my kids are old enough that I can spend significant time with my mother again, and her health isn't there.  Her love for life is gone.  It doesn't feel fair, and I know it saddens her as much as it saddens me. 

But, you know, it doesn't matter if Mom is able to go out to dinner with me.  All that matters is that she knows that I love her.  If I have to modify modify our plans to accommodate her mental health, then so be it.  Bring on the baking shows, I love to bake anyway.

1 Thes 5:14  And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone

I have spent the last two years begging God to heal my mind from the trauma of my son's cancer, my divorce, and our house fire.  He's been so patient with me, slowly allowing me to come along at my speed, healing me while growing me at the same time.  When I think of all that God has done for me, patience with my mother should be a given.  

But, how do you move forward from the past, especially with someone you love so dearly?  I'm still trying to figure it out, but here's what I've come up with so far:

1.  Stop living in the past.  Memories are precious, and we are blessed to have good memories.  But, we can't continually try to recreate the past without missing the blessings of the present.  Ten years ago, you couldn't have kept my mother in the condo because she would have wanted to see everything she could see.  But, now, instead of wishing we could go out to dinner, I can enjoy the quiet and cozy moments I have with her inside.  I miss those moments when I'm wishing for my Mom of the past.  Not to mention, I'm learning lots of new baking skills.

2.  Let yourself grieve the loss.  Letting go of the old doesn't happen without pain.  Sometimes the road from old to new is traumatic.  In fact, I'd say it is traumatic more often than not.  But, God is not going to leave you here in your pain.  He will give you peace in your pain and remind you that He is faithful.  He's with you, always, and He's putting the pieces of your life together, one piece at a time.  My relationship with my Mom has changed, but that doesn't mean it has lost all of its power.  Its just different, and I need time to grieve the old relationship.  Its okay to feel the hurt. 

3.  Let go of the old to embrace the new.  There's nothing harder than saying goodbye to things we love dearly.  My Mom is still here, but she's changed, and I have to say goodbye to her in a way.  But, goodbye means new beginnings and I can still forge ahead with a new relationship, and try to understand who she is now.  I am going to have to move on from the past, because I'm not meant to remain in it any longer.  It is time for a new thing, a new way, and a new vision for the future.

Isaiah 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

All I know is Jesus will turn even the most difficult situations into something that will make me stronger.  I can trust Him with my mother as I pray for her.  He is doing a new thing in this sad situation.  Someway, somehow.

I just have to look for it.

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