Our twelve-year-and-counting journey through Mom's Alzheimer's involved a role reversal so that she essentially became my child. But the other connections remained viable, like electrical pathways that still conduct power even though there are no longer receptacles at the end of the lines. Mom could no longer "mother" me, but she was still my mother. I still had my mother, but grieved the loss of relationship with the mom she once was. We have traveled a complicated, messy, sin-on-both-sides journey together, but the pathway has been lit by God's grace.
A paraphrase of Psalm 23 has been my theme: "Yea though I walk through the valley of my mother's Alzheimer's, I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me..."
The Lord has been with us.
I did not want Mom to go to a nursing home, but I am finally seeing God's wisdom and love behind this unwanted event. It has been my lifelong job to support and help my mother, but she has embarked on a final journey that she must travel alone; I can't die with her. In His kindness and love for both of us, Mom has been provided multiple, competent caregivers who will tend her many needs on this last leg of her life journey. I have been allotted a gentle time of weaning from the heavy burden of responsibility I've always felt toward my mom--even before her Alzheimer's--as her only beloved daughter. I have always worked hard to make things right for her. That this separation is occurring before she enters into the Lord's rest is also a blessing; it allows me time to set my face toward a future that will not include either the burdens or joys of my mother's presence in my life.
We need to pray more for our loved ones who are in nursing homes, even as we do the heartrending work of separating ourselves from the day to day facts of responsibility for their physical and emotional needs. Finding a balance between bringing Mom's needs before the Lord in prayer and yet releasing those needs to Him is an ongoing challenge.
Whenever I begin to suffer panicked heartbreak over the overwhelming pathos of Mom's suffering, I have learned to suspect that I've listened to the enemy's whispers. God has been with Mom just as He has been with me. She needs my love and prayers, yes, but an overwhelming emotion of pity is unwarranted, and beyond that, it cripples. The intensity of such an emotion can't be sustained and would result in my withdrawing from Mom, which would be too bad, because I'm convinced that the Lord has blessing for us still, here on this final stretch of our Earth-walk together.
Then the Lord said to me, “You have made your way around this hill country long enough...
The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.
He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness.
These forty years the Lord your God has been with you,
and you have not lacked anything.
Deuteronomy 2:3, 7