There is a saying that goes “Life is what happens when you are making other plans”. That completely describes my last week.
It started last Monday, the Monday before Easter when I received a text from my daughter that read, “Hey this morning I was having symptoms like last time my lung collapsed so I am at the hospital”. I might not completely believe in deja vu but I was having it that morning. This text sounded remarkably like I had received the week before our Canadian Thanksgiving last fall (see blog entitled “The Challenge of Letting Go”, from October).
Needless to say, my plans for the week instantly changed. I had a picture of Easter in my head. It involved church as a family on Friday morning, a late afternoon movie on Saturday with the family plus the boyfriend, Paska, sticky pecan cinnamon buns, an extended family dinner Sunday evening and a visit to the cemetery. There would be egg dying and chocolate. And, hopefully, happy kids.
That didn’t happen. There was some chocolate. There wasn’t any baking. There weren’t any happy kids. I wasn’t happy either. There were lots of trips to Hamilton. There was a lot of waiting. There was too much money spent on gas and parking. There were too many meals on the run. There were just too many things we hadn’t expected.
Maybe that doesn’t bother you when plans get changes but it bugs me. I like it when life is predictable. But it isn’t. After more than 40 years and 6 kids I have figured that much out.
Karissa did have a collapsed lung and had to have surgery. I wanted her to postpone it until after exams. She wanted it done now. So it happened on Good Friday morning. She is back home now for a few days of recuperating before returning to the stress of the last year of university. Now it’s my turn to look after her.
Of all the things that happened unexpectedly in the last week, when I finally took the time to sit back and think about them, I was surprised at what I learned.
- My child is still my child no matter how old she is. I knew that already but it was confirmed this past week. I shouldn’t have been surprised that my adult daughter would have as many strong opinions as she has. She doesn’t think she needs me. If you offer her 2 options, she will chose a 3rd. Her attitude has made her admirably successful at school. But knowing that she was vulnerable, in pain did something to me. She was an hour away and most of the time I had to be at home looking after her siblings. I didn’t like it. She said I didn’t need to come. Maybe I didn’t need to be there for her but I wanted to be there for me. Some moms don’t seem to have trouble letting go of their kids but that isn’t me. It was hard.
- She has a really good boyfriend. I wasn’t sure about him. I don’t know him that well. He showed his true character this past week but being there consistently for her. He brought her food when she hated the hospital food. He picked up things she needed from her house in Hamilton. Mostly, he was just there. Waiting when she was in recovery. Watching her when she slept. Helping her make tough decisions. Allowing me to text him and answering me honestly when I’m not certain she would. I was impressed. So was Pete. And impressing a dad, even an involved step-dad like Pete, isn’t easy.
- Our church isn’t as big as I thought it was. Yes, it has lots of people who attend there every weekend. I sometimes feel invisible. I feel like I don’t matter. At least not to the church I attend. Sunday morning I had forced all the kids out the door. We were later than we should have been. By the time we got out to the car, I was crying. It had not been a good morning. We got there, parked in the crowded parking lot and signed the twins into Kids’ Church. We were heading up to the service when the lead pastor passed us in the hall. He shook Josiah’s hand and I really started crying. I told him about how Karissa was in the hospital. It was embarrassing. I hate losing control but if Arlynne’s death has taught me anything, it is that it sometimes just happens, whether I want it to or not. Two of the other pastors from church have contacted me since Sunday morning to ask about Karissa. Whether I realize it or not, my church cares about my family. In spite of the fact that it is big. In spite of the fact that we don’t belong to a small group. Even though we aren’t members. They are trying to show God’s love any way they can. They aren’t perfect but they understand.
Of all the things I learned this past week, one lesson keeps coming up. It is the lesson that I don’t have to have the control. I can’t. It is not mine to have. Sure, I can delude myself into thinking that I have it all together when everything is going as expected. That is what it is, though. A delusion. It is not really. When something goes wrong, doesn’t go according to plan, I start to figure it out. I guess I am a slow learner. God has to remind me again and again that He has it. He is in control. He is in charge.
I really am glad that He is. It is too big a job for me. I have always been able to trust Him in the past and nothing has changed.
So I’ll let Him.
By the way, if you see the boyfriend, please don’t mention that I think he is a really good guy. I still need him to work a little!