Post Title: Finding God in the Easy Places, Part 1
This afternoon, I lay down on a small slope in my side yard letting the grass tickle my bare legs. I close my eyes and soak up the sunshine on my face. I slide my sunglasses over my eyes to protect them from the white blankness the sun now creates for me.
I miss you, Mike.
The sadness hovers over me, like the heat of the sun but without its brilliant warmth. I feel parched, barren, and so alone.
I wish you could come back. I haven’t found anyone or anything to replace you. There is such a gap in my life. I don’t know how to fill it without you.
My brother. My friend. The one to make me laugh.
JulyWas it just a year ago, I felt so lucky to be your sister. To be privy to your thoughts, was it only a year ago you buzzed through the store on a motorized cart? A year ago, when you felt on top of the world? Invincible.
While waiting for my niece to show up, since we plan to look for some produce at a roadside stand, I let my thoughts wander to that wonderful month last July. One year ago.
I had worried myself sick trying to find a caregiver for Mike. He had the funding from insurance for twenty hours per week. But we didn’t know anyone to fill the slot. I prayed about it but no one came to mind.
I’d called Julie, my sister-in-law to see if she knew of anyone. She didn’t. Finally, she said, “Ask Chrissy.” I thought she meant to ask her daughter, Chrissy, if she knew of anyone. So, I called Chrissy to ask if she knew of anyone.
That’s when I realized Julie meant to ask CHRISSY if she would do it, not to ask her if she knew someone else who could.
I had forgotten Chrissy had served as a nurse’s id at a nearby nursing facility.
She and Mike had always clicked. During his mental health battles, he used to go to her and have his red hair braided. For some reason, when he had tiny braids all over his head, he felt more confident. She brought out the best in him. She, in turn, always thought he was “fun.” Goofy. Crazy. Inspiring. Adventuresome. Ready for a lark. I recalled how he dressed up in a Santa costume for her kids one year. He loved that.
God Opens the Door
And just like that, everything slipped into place. No doubts. She needed to be recertified in a couple of areas, but everything was do-able.
I wept with relief and gratitude when two weeks later, she became Mike’s caregiver.
Those days felt sweet. I could breathe again. My fears dissolved.
They sat down together and devised a menu, all the things he loved to eat. I saw him buzzing around the grocery store while I worked at my cashiering job or headed on a break. I always smiled and waved. Chrissy –never far from him—checked out his groceries a couple of aisles away. He always looked happy. He talked about baseball again.
In June, after Mike received the procedure for dialysis, he kept falling. He seemed constantly exhausted and unable to cope. He was hospitalized but now he came home. We had made it through the terrible month of June. I had taken on the stress of it myself. But with God’s help, we had managed to get through the month. And now, July was here and with it, Chrissy.
Mike had someone completely dedicated to him for twenty hours a week. Mostly the evening hours. Suppertime.
Chrissy changed the atmosphere of our home. In her early forties, she had a ton of energy and ideas of how to make his life easier. She cooked, ran the dishwasher, did his laundry and more importantly, she made him laugh.
I had never seen him so happy, and like the flowers all round me, I bloomed with the joy of it all.
image description: left side of image has a basket tipped over with apples falling out and onto the ground, the right side of the image has a yellow background with text that reads – The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Psalm 145:8
A Concert in the Park
In Lake City, the next town over, the town puts on concerts in the park. Mike and my mom used to go the concerts. I don’t know why I never went with them. I think perhaps it was their thing to do together while I stayed home to write.
He started going to the concerts again. Chrissy drove him and they met my younger brother there. I recall how they came to pick me up from work one Wednesday evening in the middle of the concert.
I told them to go back, and to enjoy the rest of the concert. It was so beautiful when they did exactly that.
In July, Mike attended two concerts in the park.
I remember the joy of watching him leave. The anticipation on his face. The spring in his step.
My brother was back!
A Meeting to Remember
One Friday, I had the privilege of sitting in on Mike’s meeting with his blended case manager. She was a cross between physical health and mental health, which he had to keep him on track with his many appointments this spring.
She asked him, “How would you rate your anxiety?”
“And what about your depression?”
His case manager marveled. “You’ve never had 0 anxiety or depression. I’m so pleased.”
Thank you, Lord!
God, thank you. Thank you! You fill our lives to the brim, even overflowing with the rich fruits.
I, myself, felt like a witness to a miracle. To see my brother so content and confident.
It was having my niece in our midst. It seemed so easy. After seeking for a caregiver for two months, we found just the right person in our own backyard, so to speak.
God, You met us in the easy place. You took away all my brother’s anxiety and depression and replaced them with music and song.
I am SO VERY PRIVELEGED to witness this sweeping change come over Michael.
Health. Happiness. The spirit of joy. Recovery. These are the simple pleasures of life. Ones we often take for granted. After the gift of that meeting between Mike and his counselor, I vowed never to take them for granted again.
As my niece pulls into my driveway, I wipe away the tears and lift myself off the grass.
A year has passed since God’s splendid gift of that special month of July. Mike is gone. The grass is still soft, and breeze is still sweet. I like to imagine Mike attending the best concert ever in heaven, again with Mom and Dad and my sister, meeting up with aunts, and uncles of years gone by. He will have zero anxiety and no depression where he is now.
Mike is completely at ease where he is.
I thank God for reminding me that He is with us not only in the hard places but also the easy places. We worry and fret and when we exhaust our resources, we simply ask Him to fill the gap. And he does, so willingly.