Hospice and Leave — Day 12 (last day)

Day 12 (Sun 9/21):  

NOTE:  This post is actually several months old.  For some reason, I couldn’t seem to bring myself to publish it before now.  (Actually, I have a few ideas about why, but that’s another post altogether. Ha.)

Today is Sunday, September 21, my last day of Family Medical Leave.   Tomorrow I start back to work.  

After moving the big items to our new house and spending one night there, it’s strange how this campus house no longer feels fully like home.  

We got up this morning and headed to church.  The kids were grumpy, and I spent the whole drive to church listening to them grumble.  By the time we pulled into the parking lot, I was grouchy, too.  I let the kids out and told them to behave, but I stayed in the car to adjust my attitude and call my dad.  I had some questions about the new house punch list.  My dad is a builder, but with my mom’s health, he hasn’t been able to come out to the house yet.  We talked septic tanks and window caulk for several minutes. 

“How’s Mom today?” I eventually asked.

“Not good.  She’s having a rough day.”


I headed into the building just in time for worship.  One by one, our family gathered at our usual spot.   As so often happens, I felt like the sermon was meant just for us.  It was on God’s love and not being selfish.  I thought back to the past week and a half — of the new house, of dead snakes and mice.  

And I thought of my mother.  Of how many times when I was young, I took out my frustration with her disease on her and, to be honest, how she occasionally did the same to me.  But then I thought of how quick we were to apologize and forgive.   

I leaned over to Lillian, my middle child —  the one most like me, whose arms were crossed and mouth was mulish.  “I love you, even when you are grumpy,” I whispered.  

Henry, who can’t stay mad for long, reached out to take her hand during communion, but she glared at him.

She glanced at me, but I refused to comment.  Then I saw her sigh and reach out to take his hand.  

I smiled, and she took my hand, too.   But then she squeezed it, a little hard, just enough to let me know she was still mad but was doing the right thing anyway.

Oh, sweet child…I totally understand.

I have spent much of my life feeling that way.  In fact, I have spent the past few days waiting for that feeling to hit.  Usually, as I approach the end of a vacation and the reality of starting back to school I am flooded with a since of panic and mourning.  I obsess over all the things I didn’t get done, of all the time I wasted not accomplishing more.  I worry about how tired and busy I am going to be.  And I pull everyone I possibly can into my foul mood.

But not this time.  

Here, at the end of leave, I am surprised to find I am flooded with peace.  This has been  a true Sabbath.  I have rested.  

I took this leave with the goal of spending meaningful time with Mom.  When I first asked the hospice nurses about a possible leave, they encouraged me to think about what I wanted to get out of it.  

“If you want time with her when she still feels good, you should do it now,” they said.

So I did.

And I envisioned long days of sitting with Mom having deep, Meaningful Conversations.  The kind of talks where she retold family stories, maybe shared a few secrets, and imparted a lifetime’s worth of wisdom.  I was expecting the kind of conversations that would stay with me forever. 

But that is not what happened.  Well, not exactly.  

We actually had surprisingly few of those long, significant conversations.  She told stories, but mostly funny ones.  There were no deep secrets revealed, no final details of her funeral worked out.  

In fact, she and I haven’t even acknowledged to each other verbally that we are nearing the end.  Which is weird because resolving that was one of my main goals of leave.

In so many ways, this leave did not go as I had planned.  

But really, what ever does?

These days were different than I thought they’d be, but they were just what I needed.  And I know they will be with me forever.  

For Mom and me, it hasn’t been a time of the unusual.  We didn’t make this into something it wasn’t.  No Farewell Tour feelings here.

Instead, taking leave allowed me more opportunity to include her in the ordinary and the mundane.  These precious days allowed me to include her in the chaos.  And they reminded me of the importance of choosing to be joyful in the everyday.

So, it’s true, there are family stories I still haven’t written down.  There are conversations about flowers and song choices that still have to happen. 

But there was no time wasted here.

I feel changed.  Carried.  Reoriented.

For now, this is enough. ♥


Morning by morning, I wake up to find
the power and comfort of God’s hand in mine.
Season by season I watch Him, amazed,
in awe of the mystery of His perfect ways.
All I have need of, His hand will provide.
He’s always been faithful to me.

I can’t remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain.
I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand.
All I have need of, His hand will provide.
He’s always been faithful to me.

This is my anthem; this is my song,
the theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long:
God has been faithful, He will be again.
His loving compassion, it knows no end.
All I have need of, His hand will provide.
He’s always been faithful to me.




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