Life, of late, has not been easy.
Three months ago my mother fell down the stairs, cracked every bone in her thorasic spine, put her head through the dry wall, and in general came within a whisper of ending it all.
Thankfully she is still with us.
But after her stroke last October, I could no longer stay in England where I live when things in Virginia felt so…fractured.
So I came home.
Home has always been where my parents are. They have not lived in the house I grew up in for some time, but their house is full of the touchstones of my life – a book, a photograph, the blender my mother has had since 1968.
Entering their house is like entering a time warp.
Except that unlike the blender, my mother is not the same woman she was 46 years ago. Even 10 years ago, before everything went wrong, my sister died, and the world shifted on it’s axis.
I thought that by coming home I could lift my mother spiritually and emotionally. I had not been home in 5 years and I thought that my presence would be a dose of medicine for my parents.
In some ways, being here has been wonderful, especially in the early weeks when my mother was bed ridden and medicated. As the weeks have gone on however, her body has shown improvements, but not her mind. I find myself…intolerant of her whims. Her drinking. Her mixing opiates and alcohol and not telling her doctors the truth when confronted.
My mother has become a pale version of her former self and it is so difficult to have to sit by and watch and to know that whatever I say will be the wrong thing and that my very presence drives my mother further to drink so that she can escape my presence and condemning eyes.
My faith began to waiver. How could my family, whom I love so dearly, have become a shell of its former self, an iteration so far removed from the original that I barely recognize it? Why was this happening? I felt powerless to change anything. Worse still, I felt a growing anger – at my mother for not being her former self, at my husband for suggesting I should come in the first place, at my two young boys who are just 2 and 3 years old and make every day an almost impossible challenge.
Truthfully, I felt abandoned by God.
A few days ago, I read the story of Isaac and Abraham, where God tells Abraham to make a burnt offering of Isaac. God says, “Abraham” and Abraham replies, “Here I am, Lord.”
His faith never waivers. But then again, God speaks directly to him. I wonder what it must be like to have God speak to you in unequivocal terms. I wish She would do the same for me – just tell me what I am supposed to do, for crying out loud, because I don’t know what I’m doing any more.
Needless to say, She didn’t speak to me or even send me a text. Instead, my boys dropped a 5 inch stick down a drain in the front yard which led to back flow in the basement which led to a flood. So I guess it was Biblical in that sense.
In the process of shifting boxes away from the water, I came across a box of some of my sister’s old things, including a slim, red volume of seasonal sermons written by the Reverend Doctor Francis Wade, formerly of St Alban’s in Washington, DC, where my sister was confirmed. I flipped to the sermon from the beginning of Pentacost. It talked about faith and how baby eagles learn to fly by getting thrown from the nest if they seem unwilling to accept their parent’s assurances that they can do it and fly out on their own.
I do not believe that God will ever speak to me as directly as He did with Abraham. But maybe the last few months have been a process of letting go of the nest, of the twigs being removed, one by one, until I have no choice but to spread my wings and go for it.
To forget who I was and take a leap of faith.
God didn’t call my name. Instead, He send a flood, raised the dead, and called a preacher to share the Good News.
The message has been here all along and I’ve just been too tired to see it.
Here I am, Lord. I’m listening now.