Almost immediately after receiving news of my husband’s job loss, we tried to reign in all of our spending. Having purchased airline tickets in advance of my trip to England, I attempted to return them in the hope of a refund, but was denied. This trip was ordained by the heavens to take place at this time, and I just needed to relax my shoulders and breathe through it.
There are very few, if any, vacations that I can remember that were not filled with as much tension as they were with enjoyment. Yet, when I look back at photographs from days long gone, I am wistful in my yearning to return to those days for a few moments longer – the sweet overpowering the bitter. This vacation would be no exception, a time of constant anxiety for me, embedded with moments of great beauty in the midst of profound frustration.
Three concerns were my constant companion.
Firstly, how was my husband? Angry? Hopeful? Desperate? Confused? There have been very few difficulties in our marriage that we have not endured side by side, literally. The burden of our future was borne heavily in the countenance of this man who rarely expressed emotion. Though we would enjoy the luxury of seeing each other daily via Skype, our solitary moments were truly just between us and God, and we would each have to find our hope in Him alone.
Secondly, would I drive my mother crazy? Would I sap her joy by requiring her to hold on to my arm instead of letting her walk alone? Though in her heart she is ever youthful and strong, her physical body has not complied, and inflicts cruel reminders that nothing stays the same. This trip would require getting up close and personal in ways that we were not accustomed to and that neither of us wanted to experience.
Finally, would I ruin this trip for my son?
He was looking forward to this time with my Mom as a landmark moment – getting to see firsthand his Nan’s homeland, birthplace and many of her childhood memories. This is the son who was made in my image; we are both firstborn, large and in charge, and fiercely independent. I did not want him to feel that I had hijacked his long-awaited trek.
These worries never left my side for the duration of the trip. I gave my best effort to be thoughtful, patient and helpful but am sure that my good intentions were not fully realized. Looking back, I see how God had to show me things about myself that were hard to bear, but needful if I was to navigate the unknown future with a right heart. Living selflessly when I was consumed by selfish fears did not come naturally.
At the end of those two weeks, I was joyful to be back in my husband’s arms and comforted that he seemed strong
er and more hope-filled than when I had left him.
My worst fears were realized when my mother insisted on walking unaided and fell to the ground.
Thankfully, the trauma was minimal and our relationship remains close.
When I asked my son if I had been overbearing or diminished his experience in England, he replied that it wasn’t as bad as he had anticipated. I believe that was the sweetest moment of all.
Hope and more heartaches would be on the horizon, but for now, I was more grateful than ever for the mercy of God.