Today is my son's 39th birthday. I can't help but think this is not the way it was supposed to be. He should have finished college (he lacked one semester), gotten married, traveled the world, and had kids by now. Life doesn't always play out on the roads our dreams make. I find memories both haunting and precious.
I have wonderful memories of watching my kids in the marching band. I recall teaching Chris to drive, do laundry, and cook mac & cheese, like other parents. We spent time playing catch and served on worship teams together. He played the drums, and I was either on the keyboard or guitar. Countless hours were spent making music. We read together and did crazy stuff together. Once he was an adult, we'd sit around and discuss lots of philosophical matters while downing a couple of pots between us. One time, we were sitting on the porch, just finishing up a deep conversation and the last drop of coffee. We sat in silence for a minute, then I asked him if he was ready to go or if we needed to make another pot of coffee. He thought for a second. Then, he said, more coffee, of course. We talked for hours that day. I could probably write a book of precious memories I've made with my son and my daughter too.
Those same memories can be haunted by the "supposed to be's." Some days, I have to stay away from social media because I see his friends having successful careers, marrying, divorcing, and having kids. Most days, I'm good, but there are days I just can't handle it emotionally.
I wonder if Joseph's memories haunted him as he sat in the jail cell all those years for something he didn't even do. Maybe he thought of memories he had with his brothers before they betrayed him and sold him as a slave. Surely he remembered sitting around the fire and talking with his dad. What about Daniel? He had memories of freedom he would never taste again in his lifetime. Managing memories emotionally is tough stuff.
Many caregivers are caring for aging parents or loved ones who suffer from some type of dementia or other memory loss. We watch them slip further away from us with each passing day. Memories again are precious, but they can also make the pain of the moment more difficult to handle. How do we deal with it all? I think for me, I'll package it all up and lay it at His feet. He sees the intense pain in our hearts. He sees the tears that fall - and even the ones that don't. God gets us.
Today, I will focus on things that cannot change. I'll set my mind on His peace, mercy, grace, and love that carry us through caregiving days. I'll choose to remember the ways God has helped me get through the tough times before and during caregiving. Psalm 77:10 says I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord, surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on Your work, and talk of Your deeds. (NKJV) Asaph gives us a bit of direction for when we can only see pain. Just look at how God has worked on our behalf in the past. So, today, I will focus on how God has helped me on this caregiving journey as I think of warm and wonderful memories of my son on his day. Will you join me?