Some days I dream about escaping. I picture myself at the Hotel del Coronado (“the Del”) on the southern California coast for three days. By myself.
The dream is most vivid seconds before I open the door for the first time in the morning into my 91-year-old mother’s room. With my hand on the doorknob, I sigh. Then I pray. I know what waits on the other side.
The stench of urine from nighttime diapers she can’t remember to change. Once in awhile, a trail of feces leading into the bathroom, where sometimes the results of “an explosion” remain splattered on the wall and floor around the toilet.
That’s when I long to breathe in ocean air.
Mother’s scripts are gone. But I remember. She used to say every night, “Thank you for everything you do for me. And I am well aware of what all it is.” Now she parrots my words, “Sweet dreams.” “Sweet dreams.” “I’ll see you in the morning.” “I’ll see you in the morning.” “I love you. “I love you.”
I remind myself God says, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) Yes, it is, and yes, we will.
I know I also will see the smile I have loved for all of my 64 years, when the look of recognition eventually registers on her face. I am blessed she still knows me. I’m aware the day may come when she doesn’t. I also know I will hear, “Well, good mornin’, darlin’,” in her Southern drawl that I have memorized, and I know one day I will miss it. One day soon. Hospice thinks she has weeks to live.
And then I realize I really don’t want to escape. There’s nowhere else now I’d rather be right now than with her. My husband Jim (her “son-in-love” for more than 33 years) has offered to stay with her so I can go. But I want to see the twinkle in her eye for as long as I can.
But I also want to sip coffee on the patio of the Del and watch the sun dance on the waves. I want to hear the music of the deep crescendo on the shore. But that is not for now.
If I were at the Del, I would linger over brunch enjoying outside dining, mesmerized by the rhythm of the waves. Since I’m at home, I’ll sip Breakfast Blend on my patio, absorbing the beauty of my desert-view backyard.
If I were at the Del, I’d relax with an anti-aging facial in the ocean front spa. Since I’m at home, I’ll scoop out the used coffee grounds from my Keurig pod and exfoliate in the shower.
If I were at the Del, I would walk barefoot on the beach, playing tag with the Pacific. I’d enjoy the resulting smoothness of my feet from the sand and feel the stretch in my calves. Since I’m at home, I’ll lace up my tennies and walk around my neighborhood. I’ll stretch on playground equipment and lather on Pretty Feet after a morning shower.
Have you ever wanted to run away? To escape, even momentarily, from your daily reality? Oh yes, I know blessings often come disguised as burdens. There is character to be built and grace to be experienced. And I know that all will be well and all will be well, and all will be well. I also know, once in awhile, everyone needs a break. You don’t have to be caring for an elderly, demented parent to fantasize about life on a tropical island or in a mountain cabin.
You probably know the feeling. If so, you understand how much of a blessing a note from you could mean to someone else who could use a break. A word of encouragement. A small gift perhaps. My daughters have given me the present of mini vacations in the form of gift certificates for a massage. Their love and thoughtfulness mean as much as the gift itself.
I heard of a woman who longed for a trip to Florida. She scrimped and saved, sacrificing all but the essentials. At the last minute, she was not able to go. Friends, knowing her disappointment, showed up with a shopping bag full of oranges. “We brought Florida to you!” they exclaimed.
One more thing.
If I were at the Del, I would spend leisurely mornings delighting myself in the Lord, savoring His word, enjoying His company, meditating on His thoughts and making them my own. Since I’m at home, I’ll do the same thing, rising early to begin my day with Him.
When I am tempted to despair, to dread, to discouragement, or to doubt God’s goodness in the daily drudgeries, I have learned to re-focus on the words of Jesus, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 14:1; John 16:33)
The refreshment that comes from Him alone beats any spa treatment, even at the Del.