Sunday, March 3, 2013

A compassionate distance

I often get revelations about my life at odd times. Once while I was chopping vegetables I realized that the reason I love to cook is because I own the outcome. If it's great, I get the credit; if it's bad, I have no one to blame but myself. A true control freak if there ever was one.

Today I had an epiphany in a place where revelations should happen - Sunday service at my church. We had a guest minister who co-led worship with my minister and they knocked it out of the park.

There's a lot going on with folks in my church right now. It seems that bad luck comes in waves and there are many of us who are feeling an undertow. The service and the sermon were centered around holding each other in times of sadness. It was also about finding the greater truth in personal struggles, allowing ourselves to do a very human thing - fail.

At one point during the sermon, my mind wandered. Taking with it some spoken phrase or sentence and leading me to its logical but very personal conclusion. 

I'm one of those struggling in my church right now. There are others with much much greater sorrow than me but we've all got something weighing our hearts down. Mine is my dad and his current medical situation. 

Yesterday I had to tell dad that he is moving from the rehab section of the facility he is in over to the long-term nursing section. His very serious hip break coupled with his dementia have caused his rehab progress to plateau and the insurance company has stopped paying. He is not well enough to go home and we are at a crossroads.

He did not take the news well though I used everything I've learned in grief counselling to make it easier for him.

I've been overwhelmed with anxiety and sadness for months about dad. Thoughts of him consume me every day and night and I often feel that I will crack under the pressure. 

I'm a fixer by nature. Hate to not be in control. But this situation is not like cooking where it is all on me. I'm making it into that, but that's not right. I realized today that I never learned an important lesson from my mom's death two years ago. I tried to own that too. Coaching her to open up and share her feelings when that was clearly not what was right for her. Feeling like I failed because she died never really accepting - in a way that spoke to me - that she was at the end of her days.

How arrogant I was. And how arrogant I am still. 

My insight today during the service was about this arrogance. The only person whose dying I own is mine. I can walk with someone on their last journey but I can't carry them. 

Dad's story will unfold in his time and on his terms. The only thing I own emotionally is bearing witness to his story. Respecting that the universe has its own plans for him as it does for me. And being by his side when he needs a hand to hold.

I feel freer today than I have in years. Finally realizing that the paths we walk are paved with stones we've laid before us.