This morning I was thumbing through my Bible and ran across a crumpled up sheet of paper with a prayer that I had written a little over five years ago. It read as follows:
..that each time he says a comment, it’s like I’ve heard it for the first time.
..that I’m “here” when he has a lucid moment.
..that I never forget who he was.
..that I love the person he is now.
..that I learn to accept the changes with dignity and grace.
..that I never neglect to give him the respect that he deserves.
..that I foresee events that may put him in harm’s way.
..that I protect and honor who he is...a beloved creation of God.
..that I love him as God loves him.
..that I care for him as God cares.
..that I never underestimate what’s behind those empty eyes.
..that I treasure the laughter and laugh in the laugher.
..that I lower expectations and delight in the surprises.
..that I can be happy in his happiness
..that I not resent the future but treasure the NOW.
..that I realize that it’s ok to cry.
..that I can communicate in the silence.
..that it’s ok to love.
..that I rest in my redeemer.
After our wonderful visit on Sunday, I visited Jerry again today. When I arrived, he was sitting alone in the activity room, where most of the residents watch tv. As soon as he saw me, he stood up. As he approached, I could see the blank look in his eyes. He truly was blank...however, he knew I was “someone”. We never made eye contact.
I’ve never seen him quite this lost. After wrapping my arm around him and rubbing my hand across his warm and fuzzy fleece covered chest, we walked into the back room where the head of the unit was doing her paperwork. I said, “He’s really not “here" today.” She smiled and nodded her head. “ I don’t know “where he is”, but he’s been lost today. In fact, he’s been lost all week.” She said that on Monday, he slept the entire day and compassionately told me that there would be days like that. "We’ll be having our good and our bad days" she said.
I still wanted to make the most of this visit and take Jerry out front. We sat in the living room by the fireplace. Sat with no words. I could feel his warmth and watched as he occasionally would light up. He mumbled several times but had no idea what he was saying. After a few minutes, he seemed to come around. I suggested hot chocolate..he said, “Yeah.” It was a good moment, but after a short time, it was time to go back.
I’m not saddened by today’s visit. It ok. Even though it wasn’t the same as last Sunday, it was still precious to me. I think it was to him also. So, as I read that through that prayer...it is as pertinent today as it was 5 years ago. While Jerry’s condition has definitely changed, the prayer has not changed. The answers have not changed, in fact, the answers have sustained me.