Those of us who reach mid-life (a time-frame with a definition that seems to stretch, these days, thank heavens) and still have one or both of our parents are among the very fortunate, indeed. And as the journey continues, inevitably we find that the seasons of health and life as we know it for those we love who are aging may change in the blink of an eye. Or even faster.
A change came on quickly for my mother just a couple of weeks ago. The implications are not yet fully known, and while we have witnessed some recovery and maintain our optimism, still there are realities which must be faced, and changes that likely come with them. The only certainty seems to be that these changes are never easy.
The scope of loss and change along my mother’s journey in the last couple of years is deep and wide, and now she stands at yet another fork in the road. Watching her cope with this latest scenario, following those that preceded it, is a study in many things, simple faith probably foremost among them. How must this feel to her, I wonder over and over, and watch and listen to her, when I am able, to try and understand the answer. It is not always easy to discern, and her worst moments often occur when I am not present. I live three hours away, and the burden of those moments is most often borne by my steadfast and patient sister and brother. Still, it seems clear that the determination to do her best, the appreciation for those who help her–these things remain foremost in the face she turns toward others, even though humiliation and ultimate frustration at some points emerge to test her naturally sunny personality.
Many of us have known those who do not or cannot face such things in the same spirit as my mother, people who are thrown sideways or backward by terribly tragedy and injustice and don’t have the tools within their hearts to recover. The difference between them and people with the personality and faith of my mother is the subject of spiritual study, psychological analysis, genetics, and many other things beyond my scope of understanding. What makes some people brave and spiritually strong, while others struggle? How we all wish the answers were more forthcoming.
Meanwhile, there is always solace somewhere in music, for me, and I found myself thinking of my mother recently when appreciating the lyrics of a song written by Buddy and Julie Miller. The Millers are two very bright lights in Nashville’s musical universe (and far beyond), and this song has already been cut by several artists. I saw Buddy sing it live recently, and I was very moved by the spiritual power of its poetry. The song is called “Wide River to Cross,” and the first two verses go like this:
“There’s a sorrow in the wind, blowin’ down the road I’ve been
I can hear it cry while shadows steal the sun.
But I cannot look back now, gone too far to turn around
And there’s still a race ahead that I must run.
I’m only halfway home, I gotta journey on
To where I’ll find the things that I have lost.
I’ve come a long, long road, still I’ve got miles to go
I’ve got a wide, wide river to cross.”