Precious opportunities to spend time with my mom keep opening up, and they mean the world to me--even though I wasn't even aware that I needed them.
It's like the Lord is checking things off a Bucket List of experiences I always wanted to have--except I never made the list. He just knew what was in my heart.
Examples from the past include the best birthday I ever had, the day we put our toes in the water, our trip to Disneyland, our trick-or-treating night, and now, most recently, our chance to go to the Newport Beach Temple together.
About a month ago, Eric and I were there at the temple (a sacred house of worship, separate from our chapel where we go to church), and I happened to ask one of the temple workers if they could accommodate my mother--with her wheelchair and Alzheimer's. I had thought her days at the temple were over since it's so hard for her to be away from home for long periods of time and since she would require so much help.
To my surprise, they said it would be no problem at all and that they would do everything they could to support us.
That's when a glimmer of hope started.
Last week, however, the day to attend the temple came, and my mom wasn't doing well. After we canceled, I decided that the opportunity most likely wouldn't come again--and I was okay with that. She wouldn't remember it anyway, and we can have beautiful experiences at her home. I didn't want to ask too much.
But this past Thursday, my sister Lisa called and told me she thought we could make it happen.
So I jumped at the chance.
Eric took care of our children at home, and I arrived at my parents' house in the early afternoon. Lisa had gotten my mom all ready. (See how lovingly my mom looks at her? And see how she holds my dad's hand?)
My dad, my mom, and I drove together to Newport Beach and had an absolutely fantastic experience at the temple. Just by thinking about it, I feel overwhelmed by the love God showed to us there.
It was a very good day for my mom. She knew who we were, she knew where she was, she remembered the ordinances in the temple, and she was calm and peaceful the entire time.
The women who were assisting us in the temple were absolute angels. One was a nurse whose mother-in-law had died because of Alzheimer's, and one had recently lost her husband to Lou Gherig's disease. They could both understand exactly what we were going through, and they cared for us like we were their family--with hugs and smiles I will treasure forever.
The best part of the evening was when we joined my dad in the Celestial Room--the largest, most beautiful room in the temple.
We were all dressed in white, and it was quiet and peaceful while we sat together--holding hands, whispering softly, and enjoying that powerful feeling that comes when you know that you'll be together as a family forever.
When my dad first saw my mom when I wheeled her into the room, he whispered to me, "That is the most beautiful woman in the whole world."
I'm grateful for these experiences. So grateful. These tender mercies are such a gift during this challenging time, and I thought it was important to share them because I know that the Lord will do the same thing for you. Whatever it is that weighs on our shoulders, when we take a step back and ask the Lord to show us what He is doing, the answer is magnificent.