|Cousin Larry and nephew Tristan - jamming at my parents' 50th wedding anniversary|
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
What a concept.
Confession time. I can stand on one foot and tell you that purpose drives my choices and decisions. I weigh options and consider consequences. My actions are purposeful. Intentional.
Then, I could hop right on over to the other foot and tell you how indecisive I am. This is the side of me that frustrates my favorite Army guy the most. You know, in the Army, it's all about execution and protocol and standard operating procedures. Decisions are written into the regulations. If A happens, do B. If C happens, do D and E. But there are times, in my world, where there are just too many permutations of a situation. I can't seem to settle on an A or a B.
So I hop. From foot to foot. From purpose to indecision.
Something happened at church yesterday, and it made me rethink one of my decisions. A parenting decision. Something I thought that I'd thought through. (Get that... it's the indecisive foot itching for a stand...)
My extended family is in the midst of sadness surrounding the Stage 5 cancer diagnosis of one of my cousins. I haven't seen this cousin for close to 10 years, but the news hit me like a freight train (I know, tired simile, but that's how it felt). In the 30 plus years since I've moved away from home, through several college adventures and two marriages, through those many, many moves I wrote about a couple of weeks ago (Fourteen Things...), I've missed my cousins and my family. I've missed weddings, and graduations. I've missed cousins' kids, and grandkids. I've missed funerals. I've missed family reunions and old-fashioned get togethers. I've missed card-playing and story-telling, and down-home farm eating. I've missed a lot.
So when I heard that Larry's family is coming to see him - coming from all over the country - to see him, to celebrate him, to pray for him and to strengthen him, to surround him - I decided I needed to go, too. And in the circumstances of now - I actually CAN go.
Which means Sierra and I are going on a road trip. It's a 600 mile-or-so drive. My favorite Army guy suggested, in his straightforward Army way, that perhaps this wouldn't be a good trip for my empathy-savant, daughter with the extra chromosome. Although she is 24, we still don't fully understand how she thinks. How she feels. But we know how she loves. Everyone. It might be too difficult for her, emotionally. He worries about her drama.
I told him it would be fine. This family that we're going to see, they're incredibly blessed musically. I am hoping we will sing, and play, and fellowship, and surround my cousin with joy. I told him I would prepare Sierra. I would emphasize the get-together and glide over the illness. I told him she would be fine.
I should have known that she would worry about the cancer. She asks how he's doing every morning. She asks if she can pray for him. She tells me she will hold his hand.
So after church yesterday, while the congregation was mingling. I caught Sierra in the arms of the Garrison Chaplain's wife. She was crying. I know my face posed more of a question than my words. Dee asked me if she had heard my daughter correctly - her cousin had cancer??
"Yes." I answered. "Larry is actually Sierra's second cousin, but yes." I tried to apologize for Sierra's drama, for the crying and the needy-hug thing, but Dee would have none of it. In fact, in her kind and gentle way, she kind of, sort of, scolded me.
"This young woman feels deeper than most of us are able. She needs to be allowed to feel."
Oh Janet! Rethink. Rethink. Rethink.
The smile probably froze on my face at my realization of the truth she spoke. And I felt tears gather. How in the world had I missed, in my purposeful thinking about the situation, in my concern about Sierra manipulating the people around her, how had I missed that my daughter needed to feel, to mourn, to lament. Even though she doesn't really know this second cousin of hers, she knows family. She knows me. She knows loss.
The next words from this wise, kindhearted woman as she released my daughter and watched the leader of our praise team pray with her, were:
"And God works through your daughter. She has chosen to be comforted, to share her sorrow, with the two women in this congregation who understand best, two who just lost their Fathers this past week."
Thank you for gentle lessons of amazing grace.
Guide me through this maze of emotion, and then
Guide me through this maze of emotion, and then
Help me to guide my daughter through her maze,
Help me to allow her time and space to grieve
And God, help our family to show Larry our love,
To demonstrate joy
By the holy name of your son