“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 NKJV
Sometimes I still reach for the phone, that mysterious mother-daughter bond still intact, though now more like phantom pain. Connected but not connected, the lines more primal than functional. You see, mom has severe dementia. We haven’t had a normal conversation in almost three years. The last time I saw her, two months ago, she did not know who I was.
Truthfully, I wanted to feel sorry for me, that cord now completely severed. The recognition, the way her eyes would light up when she saw me, even when most other lights had gone out, was soothing. Something in her Mother DNA still fired at my image. Was it love? The answer is complex. But it seemed easier to love her. Now I was about as central to her life as a nutritionist or activities director.
Yet doesn’t the mother-child relationship define unconditional love? I remember clearly the instant bond I felt with the arrival of my first son. Its power was supernatural. In retrospect we need that strength for the times when our kids are not-so-loveable, when they are flat-out exhausting, even ugly. (If you have not raised a teenager yet this word may shock you.) It has humbled me at times like this to remember the dirty, smelly shape Jesus found me in 23 years ago and the many times since then He has “endured all things” out of His boundless love and mercy. Indeed there were times when I must’ve looked at Him as if HE were my activities director, my butler, my cosmic therapist. Yet He only saw me with eyes that burned with love and hope.
“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” Isaiah 66:13. I’m so grateful that God thought of everything I need. I am complete in Him, I don’t need to feel self-pity. The next time I saw my mother I bought her some crazy colorful jewelry, some baubles to wear for our lunch together. My brothers and I took her out to one of those fabulous New York diners and she joyfully ate her lunch while she sat next to this woman who laughed a lot and had her brothers snap a photo of the two of them. In the picture I notice two things. My eyes shine with love for the woman next to me, my mom. And she really loves her new bracelet. The strange lady sitting so close to her must be okay.