I know there is a saying about making plans and how God laughs at them, or something… but really, I think that paints God to be rather cruel, or at least having a mean sense of humor like your wacky uncle who laughs when you stub your toe or run into a screen door (note: so I’ve heard, I have/had good uncles who were and are nothing but nice to me; also, not the point). But there is some truth in the sentiment of the saying… that ultimately it’s useless to make plans with the thought that 100% these things (that you’ve planned) will happen (how you’ve planned them, or at all). Also, there’s truth in the saying, “Expect the unexpected.” If you had told me a week ago that in one week’s time, my husband would be heading back to Australia, I might have believed you, but I certainly would have been adamant that it wasn’t our plan, that it was highly unexpected. But things happen and until certain things happen, you really can’t know how you’ll feel in the moment, how you’ll react or what you’ll need to do.
My dear mother-in-law passed away yesterday (technically today since Australia is 14 hours ahead of us so the 4th of July will hold a different meaning for our family). She had finally had enough of everything and was ready to be done with this earthly life. We are so glad she is done with the pain and suffering of this world and reunited with her family – especially her husband and son – in heaven. And logically, it all makes sense to know she’s better off but it takes time to know that emotionally and to not be sad (when the numbness wears off). I was reading another blog post recently (this one here*) talking about divorce and the grieving process and how everyone grieves differently and though the post was in the context of divorce, it’s true for all grief – no matter what kind. Grief is sneaky and will take you by surprise on day one or day one hundred. Our grief and sadness is still so new, and still so unfelt from half a world away. It doesn’t seem like a reality to know that she is gone, that my husband has lost his mother and my children their grandmother. It doesn’t seem like reality to know that my husband is currently sitting in an airport waiting to board his flight to Australia [especially when you consider he won’t arrive there until 6 p.m. Thursday night (our time)] while I am back at home with the kids tucked into bed. You wish, in cases like this, that you could just close your eyes and be where you needed to be without the hassle and stomping along of time.
We had not planned on Simon going back for his mother’s funeral, that was why we had gone as a family in January. It was important to spend time with her when she was living, to soak up that time and hold it close to us. My kids will remember her now and have those memories of playing Yahtzee on the iPad and singing happy birthday to her in the hospital. Liam said to me yesterday, “I’m going to miss Grandma Dorothy but she’s in heaven now with her husband and she’s in my heart.” And that makes it okay.
Despite what we had planned, when it became clear this weekend that she wasn’t going to make it much longer, we knew that Simon had to go, felt it was the right thing to do. He hadn’t gone back for his dad’s or his brother’s funeral but this closure is acutely needed. If the shoe were on the other foot and I was in Australia when my mom died, there’s no way I wouldn’t fly home for the funeral, so I completely get the need to be there for his siblings and for himself for closure. She’s his mom.
So we’ll figure it out, even though it wasn’t planned. Because while we do make our plans and God often knows that things aren’t going to turn out as we’ve thought, He’s not reveling in our dashed hopes and abandoned plans. He’s waiting for us to look to Him for direction and to lean on Him for comfort and He’s got His arms open wide, without a hint of laughter anywhere to be found. He puts friends in our lives who understand and love us in all the important ways. He allows us to feel the blessing of those friendships in ways we wouldn’t have otherwise experienced if our life had gone as planned. It’s going to be a difficult time – here and half way around the world – but not impossible.
*I love the whole post, but this paragraph resonated with me especially:
Except, as with a death, once everything normalizes it doesn’t resemble your life anymore. The plans you’d made, the things you’d thought settled, are blown apart.