The three and a half months since Jack’s placement in his group home have been a period of mourning, adjusting, and accepting. I keep comparing my grief to a body of water in which I am floating. That’s what it feels like. I’m adrift and disconnected from the worldly things which tend to weigh us down. I’m just floating.
Except at times when I feel I am coming undone by the things I CAN’T do.
Like, being with Jack on a regular basis and being part of his daily life and care.
My discomfort with this situation manifests in sadness (at life) and discouragement (at my floating state/inability to get things done anymore). To summarize, I know on a profound level that God knew Jack needed residential care, that he loves Jack, and that he led us to the right setting and caregivers for our son. But I also feel unsettled, because this is not the family life I envisioned when I embarked on motherhood with my whole self nearly sixteen years ago.
Feeling unsettled results in stewing. My muscle memory is to never let my guard down when I’m home with my kids, because I must always be on standby (because I used to always have to be on standby for Jack). I’m not used to being still. I’m used to waiting on edge, heading off disasters, deescalating ugly situations, and surviving home life with the most extreme behavior conditions at play.
Now, when I stew, I look around me at the beat-up state of our house. I recognize, gratefully and sheepishly, that I am not in the aftermath of a hurricane, nor coping with murky floodwaters swirling around everything I own. Truly, I have nothing to complain about.
But really, I am sometimes disillusioned with the constant state of entropy in the world. Humans sleep, pray, get up, work, learn, try, keep trying. And yet, the world moves in an endless state of decay. Can we ever keep up? Will our efforts ever be enough to keep productive life afloat in a temporal world?
I believe the answer is no. We can’t. Only God can. That’s the way he designed life on earth to be. We could live and we could choose, but we are incapable of saving ourselves because that wasn’t the point of creation.
The point was to give us the chance to choose Jesus Christ, without anyone forcing us to choose Him. It was to let us see that we are capable of glorious things, but without his grace, power, and help, it all means nothing because we are lost.
I felt immensely sad this morning. I felt the weight of my house, which looks like a film set for an orphanage (not really. Okay. maybe a little? Of course what I mean is that it looks like my house has seen lots of children hoofing it over every surface and sometimes literally hammering it to heck).
I felt weary from the grief that is my weighty companion.
I felt incompetent. I wanted to trust God and stop being sad that Jack is away. I wanted to put my temporal house in order. I also wanted to go back to sleep.
I said a prayer in my heart and started cleaning the kitchen. I attacked the laundry while I listened to Russell M. Nelson’s recent talk about drawing on the Savior’s power in your own life.
“Why aren’t they shouting this from the rooftops and across all the social media sites like every dang day?!” I wanted to tweet out as I mopped dirty floors. Because this—drawing on the power of Jesus Christ—is how you do life when it is impossible, miserable, overwhelming, depressing, unexpected, disappointing, and tiresome.
It just is. I have listened to the talk roughly 18 times because I am giving a lesson on it this Sunday, and yet it filled me up again, more thoroughly than before. I wept as I swept. I prayed for strength, for power that comes from a well greater than my own stores or abilities.
I cleaned my forlorn house. I took Truman to the park and then to kindergarten. I drove to Home Depot and bought paint and quarter round trim and other random renovation supplies. I picked up my boys from school and began attacking the baseboards in our kitchen/living room. Jeff joined in and we began fixing things that have been broken or sadly neglected for many years in the name of being Jack’s parents.
Perhaps this sounds like the sort of activity you undertake regularly. Perhaps you are unimpressed because your energy level, motivation, and skill at home improvements way surpasses mine. But the fact remains, I did more today than I have done since Jack left, and I was able to do it because I prayed and Jesus lent me strength I didn’t otherwise have.
I still feel sad Jack lives far away. But I am more grateful he’s happy and healthy and having his needs met perfectly by caring people.
There are mountains, valleys, plains, jungles, and oceans of things that need doing in my house and in my life. But today I was able to begin. He sent me energy and a will to pick myself up and get started.