Her Alzheimer's had progressed to the point that she needed to be in bed full time, so her doctor signed the form allowing for extra nurses to come in and tend to her at home.
The prognosis? Approximately six months to live.
I remember when I heard the news. I started counting on my fingers, "June, July, August, September, October, November."
Then it hit me that I might not have my mom with me during this holiday season.
Well, although my mother is still in bed, and although she still doesn't know who I am, she is doing so well, and so I thought I'd post a few photos of this Christmas season that I didn't know I would have. (Plus at the bottom of this post, I kind of opened up my heart regarding what's going on in my life.... Thank you for caring so much about our family.)
On Thanksgiving, after Eric, our children, and I ate dinner at our own home, we drove into Long Beach to visit my sister and then headed over to Mom and Dad's house to help them decorate their tree. (My dad had called me the week before to let me know the tree was all ready for us!)
When I saw the little tree on the patio outside my mom's room, I asked, "Where do you want me to set this up?"
In the 27 years my parents have lived in that house, it's always been in the living room.
"Well," my dad replied, thoughtfully. "I think it should go in here with Mother."
You see, the heart of the home has shifted to Mom's bedroom. We eat dinner in there with her, we sort through photo albums in there...and it was only fitting that we set up Christmas right where she could see it.
This is Cheryl, one of my mom's full-time caregivers. This was her FIRST Christmas tree ever. Isn't that fun that she got to decorate with us?
And the lighting isn't right on this photo, but I still love it. (That's my mom and dad...)
Grace, Alia, me, and Cheryl--putting on the ornaments:
My dad always picks one of these paper angels to put on the top. Page and I made them in kindergarten (same teacher, two years apart):
My mom is SO funny...she never wore headbands like this before, but now she is ready for a party at pretty much any moment.
The finished tree:
Ethan and Spencer set up the nativity in the front room so there's still "Christmas" in there. My dad told me that he and my mom didn't have a nativity when they were first married, but one day at church, the Sunday School teacher said that every home should have one.
The next day, my mom went out and bought this:
In the weeks since we put up the decorations, our Thursday visits have been beautiful. We eat together and sing Christmas carols. My mom hugs me and kisses me, and I help my dad with paperwork and little household tasks. Really, life is good. It's simple and precious. Such a gift, don't you think?
But there are hard things going on right now for me, as well.
Tonight is good, so I think I can write about it without sounding like a downer, but a couple of nights ago, I was feeling really low.
There are some big decisions I'm trying to make right now, and the demands on my time sometimes feel too heavy. (I won't go into detail because I know I'm not the only one who feels this way...)
But I had one of the sweetest experiences when I opened up my Bible to Jeremiah 32:27. It says this: "Behold, I am the Lord...is there any thing too hard for me?"
When I read that verse, I heard my mom's voice in my head. She loved that scripture, and she would quote it often:
"April, we don't need to worry about that. The Lord will take care of us. Is there anything too hard for Him?"
I wish you could have heard those words being said in her voice. The confidence, the faith, and the utter assurance that she knew what she was talking about was enough to totally quiet any concerns I might have been having.
And as I read those words the other night, that same peace came back.
I have no doubt that as we turn our hearts to the Lord and ask Him to show us our lives from His perspective, He lifts the burdens from our shoulders and helps us to clearly see that life is a gift.
Thank you so much for your friendship. (And Merry Christmas!)