I had the opportunity to go see my parents a few weeks back with some of my siblings alone. Meaning just me… alone in my van without children or my sweet husband or the dog... just me.
It’s a back road kind of drive from Stratford to Tilllsonburg and it’s the kind of travelling I like to do when I get to drive alone. Rolling fields of harvested crops, farm fresh smells, and open spaces. The trip was the first one since we learned the news that spots were found on my mom’s precious brain. It had been an emotional night, and now I took to the road alone with coffee in hand and Fernando Ortega’s album Home to accompany me.
I love mountains, and I dearly loved our BC mountains. The majestic beauties surrounding the place I had called home for 14 years (7 years as a single DiGiovanni and 7 years as a married Lakin). Snow capped or not, I longed to be there among them. To quote John Muir, “The mountains are calling and I must go”. It is not that I am a skier or frankly a hiking fanatic, it is how the mountains make me feel. They call something out in me. I feel humbled and inspired and protected by the rock and trees, the lofty climb, and the lovely valleys. I feel small and secure and see God’s beauty engulf me as I hike or sit or stand in their company. And now, I drive past endless fields with horse and buggies sharing my road as I go to be with my mom with an unwelcome diagnosis and fear of what the next months will bring.
Our family left British Columbia knowing that this was our time to come back. Many were perplexed on how we could leave such beauty of the glorious west coast. We had made a home there, it was the only real home our children had known. We had a great church community, and friends, and jobs were enjoyed and valued. And yet we left it to move back to small south western Ontario, it just didn’t make sense to some.
As I drove that Saturday it made sense to me. Deep down in my gut I knew that this was my "such a time as this" moment. Did I want to embrace the next stage my parents had no choice but to walk? I could have chosen to do it from far off but now, only 64 km away, I was very aware that this path would be a hard one, a sad one, and a challenging one. I wanted to bolt and take any other road than the one I was heading down. Could I be present to those I loved dearly in these sorrowful moments? To watch as my mom slips away from me and my dad and my sisters and brother and all the lives she touches daily. This road would take me to it. I wanted more time, abundant health, and moments for my children to have relationships with my parents; the years I was away weighed heavy on my heart.
Maybe it was the last track of the CD that made me slow way down and unclench the steering wheel. The gravel side road greeted me as I stopped the van to absorb my surroundings. It was lovely looking and still.
|My view at the side of the road|
I felt gratitude that I had this moment. I felt sadness mingled in with joy. I felt a sense of security that only God can give- not in a way that I had imagined for myself. Those who know me well know that one of my favourite scriptures is Psalm 18.
David speaks of crying out to God in his distress and His rescuing God hears him and comes down to him. God draws David out and sets him before Himself. Verses later David is empowered by the Lord to take on his enemies and comes out triumphant. David continues to praise the Lord for His unfailing kindness to him. The verse that arose in my heart as I breathed in and out as Fernando sang out the last stanza of “Give me Jesus” was this…. “ He brought me out into spacious places; He rescued me because He delighted in me” [or the Message Translation “ He stood me up on a wide open field; I stood there saved, surprised to be loved”]
He brought me out. His timing. Out. Not hidden. Spacious place. Wide open where I could extend my arms and breathe.
He rescued me – took me up from a harmful place in my mind- because He delighted in me. Because He delights in me.
I got back into my van turned my music off and set off to my parents' home.
I entered that home with tears and embraced my mom with absolute thankfulness that I could make the drive and be so close to do it. I sat and listened and laughed as my sister and brother reminded us of childhood memories. I helped my dad make lunch and serve the woman who has spent decades serving us. The hard doesn’t disappear, however being in the presence of cherished ones in this present situation is life-giving. The future is unknown and scarfs have been purchased to manage this new stage of cancer. We hug and cling to one another and say our byes for now cause it's getting late. And yet …. I am thankful for my back roads that bring me back home.