Posted exactly 10 months from Christmas morning, 2022 (a.k.a. 2/25/22, a date palindrome like the rest this week: 22522)
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. -John 1:14
I am a dreamer. That is who I am. I dream up the end before the beginning, many times, and then, when more cogent and in “work-mode”, I make said dream happen. I am not a superstitious person, as such, although I do see helpful street signs as I wander toward my goals. One such street sign I tend to notice at, perhaps, a somewhat challenging level are dates that point to future dates. Today is one such, and it happens every month. The 25th. I jokingly ask my colleagues on days like this, when I am working WITH people instead of at home as we await the melting of our most recent Snopocalypse, “Hey, it is (insert month)…only (X#) of months until Christmas. How is your list coming???” from which I typically get the same response (or similar) : “(Deep, Gutteral Groan Sounds) Shut up! We haven’t even recovered from LAST Christmas yet! (and a half-hearted laugh as he/she looks for something to throw at me).” I want to tilt at this windmill a little here this morning and suggest that the world (except for me) is thinking all wrong here…
Please, please, please look forward. Live in the present, mind you. Milk every second out of today’s almond, but never stop looking forward to the next (something). For me, it is two forward things: Christmas season and an occasional cabin getaway at my favorite: Cody’s cabin. I love my job, mind you. SeniorAge is a wonderful employer. They treat me exceptionally good and allow a great work-life balance as needed. I also love my volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association in the various capacities I am entrusted to serve: Support Group leader, Walk Committee Member, AIM member, Longest Day event organizer, and the rest. Volunteering with this wonderful group helps me cope with the pre-grief of losing my mom (and my uncle) someday to the disease and allows me to make sense of the situation better than watching from afar. But even as much as I love my job(s), I look forward often. There are times that it is mechanical, where I have to “fake it until I make it”, if you will, but when I do it ends up providing a break station cold Gatorade on the Ultra-Marathon of my daily life. Sometimes it takes looking backward to see how far I have traveled before I do it, but I am always looking ahead.
We need these reminders that better days are to come. Sometimes they are memories of the past that can still point us ahead. Other times they are odd dates… like today. There is a great story in the Book of Joshua that points at this a little too, if more in a memorial way. Here it is:
“When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” 4 Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 5 And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you? (emphasis mine)’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
8 And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the Lord told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down there. 9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. 10 For the priests bearing the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua.
The people passed over in haste. 11 And when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the Lord and the priests passed over before the people. 12 The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had told them. 13 About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. 14 On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.
15 And the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18 And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.
19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” –Joshua 4
Find something you can place nearby that reminds you of God’s goodness and of the better days to come. There are going to be very hard days in this caregiving life and a reminder that it won’t always be this way is critically important in both helping you through pre-grieving and helping you live in the now. And, while you are at it, think a little about a cure for this dementia mess. I firmly believe its days are numbered. Will we have a magic pill that fixes it? VERY doubtful. But we will, some soon day, have a cocktail of meds and a set of lifestyle changes that can extend the life of the patient with dementia and will give us more time to recollect the memories of Christmases past. It will happen, caregiver. We will someday have a world with no dementia. You can bet your Yule Log on it!
Update: I had a great visit with mom a couple of days ago…then the sleet storm happened. I hope to go back either this weekend or Monday. She is about the same…mostly asleep, but at peace.
Runnin’ Til I’m Purple Update: I haven’t had much time to do any fundraising yet, but I am training every single day. Today will mark day 87 of the 5K/30 challenge. I have either run 5k+ miles or have found a solid 30+ minutes of some form of cardio every day since December 1st. I will continue through Day 100, then will take a day off and will step it up to a higher running quota. The run in June will be harder than I am ready for. 37 miles day one, sleep a while, then 37 miles back. That is hard for a real runner. I look more like John Goodman than Carl Lewis, but I will finish if I do it at a crawl. I am looking forward to it. 🙂
If you are not a believer, I get it and I love you all the same. Better times are coming just like better times have passed. Keep your head up and keep searching. I know that belief at any level is stretched hard in caregiving. If you ever have questions about my faith, shoot me a message any time. We are all on a journey and none of us have everything completely figured out…