I still remember this retreat. As I waited in line to check in after my arrival, I was behind a woman who was complaining about the wait and how the valets took her car without telling her where it was. I hoped she wasn’t going to be my roommate. I was so tired and stressed. For several years I never specified anyone to room with because I told myself I liked meeting different people. In actuality, I didn’t know anyone who was going that didn’t already have their roommates picked. As I stepped off the elevator and rounded the corner to my room, I saw a woman fumbling with her key in the door. Yep. It was her.
She continued complaining and grew quite angry in between trying to make friendly chitchat. She was very worried about her car. I excused myself to the balcony to check in with my husband. When I came back in she said she was going out and would see me later. I never saw her again. When I went back to the room after dinner and the first session, all her things were gone. She had left. I prayed for that woman who must have had some problems that I couldn’t know about from a first encounter.
I had that huge luxurious room all to myself that first night, and instead of feeling excited, I felt contemplative and alone. The next day I was assigned a new roommate who was beautiful, sweet, and friendly but because her friends were in other rooms we had little time to get to know each other. I was asleep when she came back to the room that night. I was exhausted and fragile and knew I would need my strength for the next few days. I still felt very alone.
God knew I needed rest and quiet, and to be reminded that He was in control and would provide for my needs. He also reminded me of the imperfections and complexity of others and how we are all fragile sometimes. That weekend God lovingly prepared me for the last time I would see my Mom alive.
After the retreat, I drove further into the mountains to visit and have lunch with my son Kyle and Danielle in Glenwood Springs, then back down the mountain and on to Nebraska to see my Mother who was in the last stage of her life. Five years of volunteering for hospice hadn’t prepared me for seeing my own flesh and blood in her final transition.
It was heartbreaking to see Mom looking 20 years older than she was, unresponsive most of the time with her eyes closed, but angry and combative when lucid. She had eaten very little in weeks, and as I tried to feed her some yogurt, she suddenly came back and recognized me, commenting on how much she liked my purse, which she had given me years before. She said “I did?”, then her eyes filled with tears as she looked at me, then at Dad. She asked me for a kiss and then turned her chair around and wheeled away. That was her goodbye. She left to meet Jesus a few days later, and I’m so blessed to have been a part of her journey.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:13-14