Friday, July 12, 2013

Not My Plan

It's hard to stay focused on the grand theme of things. I often have to remind myself, sometimes quietly, sometimes more loudly, 'Not my plan, His plan'. It's hard.

I've been to two funerals in the past week, one for the mother of a friend from my childhood, the other for a lost friend of my own. Both were bittersweet for their obvious and not-so reasons.

My friend's mother was a single mom, like my own, he an only child, like me. As I saw him, again and again, resting his brow in the hand his mother made, I could feel trying to grasp and then wipe away his loneliness. It's something only an only child can understand. He has a lovely wife, beautiful children, loyal friends. But he is alone. His mother is gone and she was all that was left of him before he was a dad or a husband or a friend. He is alone and gone are the chances to reconcile what was awkward or failing in their love so they could find peace and linger only in its comfort, no longer in pain.

There stood the stallions of our childhood - then boys, now men, who had towered through the halls of our elementary school, brave and unknowing - carrying one of our mothers to her final rest. They stood there with him, for him, still strong but now wiser for the years that have taken them through their own troubles. There was his wife, graceful, loving, strong. She was there for him, with him, too. And his beautiful children, his daughter a whisper of his mom but new in her own aura, leaned against him not for strength but to offer comfort.

I wished with all my might I could reassure him that he was anything but alone, knowing full well that in my own heart, my ache for him was one that I will feel for myself some day. And it was hard to step away from the moment and see that in the grand scheme of things, according to His plan, all was right.

The friend lost to me - and I to her - spent her days in the time we were apart busy with her own living. And then, not because any of us planned it, she spent too many days busy with pain and illness. We had broken off over disappointment - hers that I could not spend more time together tending to our friendship - mine that she could not understand my constant state of tire and overwhelm. I was too busy, or so I thought.

I sat against the hard back of a church pew for the second time in a week. All around me friends and family who had kept her close, smiled softly at me in recognition, hugging me at service's end, not knowing, or perhaps, worse, they did. That I - for my stubborn refusal to let go of my own plan - failed to be a friend when most needed.

During the service her sister offered this story about their mother's prayers as her daughter neared her final days: having lost her oldest daughter to illness several years ago their mother called out to that daughter in prayer, not for relief from pain or cure from illness for her youngest. She called her to reach out her hands to her sister and bring her safely into the next life. And I thought that's something I might do, as a mother. 'Come get your baby sister,' I might call out to my oldest. And the very fleeting presence of that thought in my head made me gasp with the pain and horror of it and I hurried to God, pleading Him to take that thought away from me, to never let me feel that pain. Again, I found myself selfish, and then regretful for my own greed.

I hope and pray that I have the days before me to see my children grow, to find them happy and fulfilled, to rest after my work, to hold my mother in full and love without judgement or delay. I pray for mercy. Still, I know.

Not my plan. His plan.

It's hard.

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