Some mornings start absurdly early, like this one. At 4:23 my wide-open eyes stared at the clock beside me. It's been a few weeks since I was up this early and couldn't go back to sleep. Before, it wasn't a big deal. I would prop myself up in bed, read through emails, journal some, and pray. When I got tired later in the afternoon, I would take a nap. Today, however, that is not an option. Today we are going camping with my mom and dad, most likely for the last time.
Even as I write that, I cannot really process it.
Last week I walked by our pop-up camper and suddenly found myself leaning against it with hot tears running down my face.
We bought the camper for our family to take trips together. Now our family...isn't. A few years ago my parents bought their camper so they could join us on our trips. We've loved it. Now my mom's health is fading quickly, and my stepdad isn't able to do the preparations and make the trips alone.
And my tears fall.
Yesterday when my mom called to ask us to camp this weekend, I bravely agreed, made the plans, packed the necessary things...and all the while wiped fat tears from my face. The "last times" are so hard...and so precious.
Camping in mid-August in Texas has got to be one of the craziest things anyone would do. The temps are in the triple-digits. Our pop up isn't made to stay cool in this weather, and there isn't much to do besides melt. My practical side is about to have a hissy fit.
But I am more than practical.
I am a mom whose daughter needs as many precious moments of Grandma as she can hold.
I am a story teller who needs the pictures, the whole story, and the opportunity to tell it...the adventure of living it.
I am a daughter who hates seeing her mom this way...but hates the future of not being able to see her mom...so I capture the moments...the laughs on the phone, the conversations in the hospital room, the insanely timed camping trips whose time is coming to a close. And I hold those treasures in my camera...in my mind...in my heart...and I know no amount of tears, no matter how big or how hot will wash them away.
And even though my vision is blurred, my purpose is not.
So I pack swimsuits, shorts, an extra fan, boxes of kleenex. I take a deep breath and do not think of what we will be leaving behind when we pack up our family trip...for the last time. Instead, I focus on what we will take home.
And I pray.
I pray for us to say what needs to be said, to hug as long as we need to hug, to laugh even when we cry. I pray we do not put on plastic faces that pretend all is well when it isn't, but I pray we do not miss the joy and laughter just because life isn't what we want it to be.
Oh, God, gives us the wisdom and strength to be okay with the glory of life when it is so easy to lose its joy in the shadow of death. When I look back, I don't want to think about this weekend as the last hoorah, as trying to salvage moments and memories. I want it to be a weekend where we lived and loved intentionally, knowing you could do something miraculous and there might be other weekends, but if not, it's okay. I want us to have this weekend because this is how we choose to live, not because we are afraid to die.
And, God, help me be brave. Help me to engage emotionally, even when emotions feel like the enemy because right now, my heart hurts more than words can say. Help me not to miss the love and the joy because I'm afraid of the pain. Right now, I don't know how I am going to do this, but I guess we'll do this like everyting else, won't we? One moment at a time.