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The Lingering Season…
Why do we linger?
I know I’m not the first one to ask the question. Plus, I’ve been here before.
Some 10 years ago, a similar season in Linda’s life was upon us. As things wound down for her, I recall a moment at Violeta’s house during the ladies’ Bible study in Cancun. Linda was upset, almost angry. What was wrong? She’d been feeling “broken” for a long time (her pain levels were beyond description). She was ready to go… disappointed the Lord had not called her home yet. She was home with him a week later.
Carol’s major stroke is not the first health issue she has dealt with. But this certainly has been a life-altering event. From socially active with lots of words and joy, independent and industrious… to trapped in a body which is now her prison. As her body weakens, the lights remain on inside. Some days, it feels like she’s at the threshold, knocking on heaven’s door. Other days—like yesterday—we have one of those good conversations we’ve grown so accustomed to. Today was more about pain management.
If you know Carol, you know how much she loves Jesus. She’s never been shy about it. So why this? Why now?
I call it the Lingering Season. Maybe by defining it more succinctly, it might be easier to recognize and embrace it. I think we’re meant to draw strength from it today… and for however many days we’ve been allowed providentially to be a part of it.
There is quite a range of things to consider:
The financial burden might be overwhelming (amazingly, not in Carol’s case, though). The physical demands of caregiving may be beyond any particular family member’s abilities (Sadly, true in Greg’s case).
Daily advocacy is needed for the ones who can’t always speak up for themselves. Or, even if they can, who’s there in case they are ignored? “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”… they’ve also seen the dark corridors of elder abuse.
Our most valuable asset is our time. The best gift family and friends can give is their regular visits and thoughtful conversation. Remember: the elderly and infirm are not to be regarded less because their physical abilities are less. They can’t go to you, but you can go to them.
But in the Lingering Season, there’s more than just the practical side of things. There are deeper things to be searched out, understood, and acted upon:
We shouldn’t waste time asking, “Why me?”
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12, ESV)
Even in this season, the providential hand of our Lord at every turn is amazing to look back on. A shining example for me is how a room in an adult care home opened up just hours before rehab kicked Carol to the curb. The home where she has been since the first of the year has been all about love, hygiene, and personal attention. Things have been orchestrated way beyond our ability to make them happen. Why should we freak out about what might happen tomorrow?
Maybe it’s about giving those of us still full of life the opportunity to give back to those who have given so much for us. More than duty, commitment, obligation… we should feel honored to be entrusted with such a role.
Maybe it’s about mercy extended to those of us who have left things unresolved or who have meaningful things yet to say to the one nearing the time of their crossover. I’ve watched too many people be consumed by inconsolable grief for either not having the chance to speak up or for refusing to speak up while they had the chance.
Maybe what we go through (both care-receiver and caregiver) is meant to keep us all grounded… meek… humble… reverent in the presence of God and our fellow man. Let’s not fritter away our health and mental acumen on all the stuff that will only disappear as quickly as we will.
Maybe it’s about discovering the profound joy of anticipation. Dying is probably going to hurt… deeply. But what will it be like to wake up on the other side? “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” But hope realized means no more need of hope, no more need of faith… only stripped down, undiluted, unconditional, infinite love from God to us. Forever and ever, amen.
Maybe… no, no maybes about this one. Every painful breath drawn by a believer in Christ accrues eternal compensation. People hurting now will sooooo NOT hurt forever. Won’t we rejoice?
Hear the words of an old, old hymn:
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” (Job 13:15)