There are moments in our lives that we look forward to and anticipate for a long time, and then when they are over, it feels strange that they should leave us so quickly. Walking down the aisle, Christmas morning, a wonderful vacation-- when those moments are over, there is a certain bitter sweetness that comes and a realization of the hopes & expectations you had (that may or may not have been met).
Yesterday was one of those days. I had been looking forward to The Day Before Thanksgiving for weeks now, and without realizing it, putting some big expectations on that poor little Wednesday.
My Dad has cancer, and his long anticipated surgery is tomorrow. There have been a lot of stresses, issues & burdens on my family for the last several months (on top of the cancer), and I have been away for all of it. It's hard to feel so far removed from those important family moments-- even the difficult ones-- and to get all the updates through phone calls, rather than hearing them face-to-face, or living them out alongside everyone.
I had this vision for Wednesday. I was going to take my Dad & Step Mom out for the day-- pamper them, help them relax and feel free from the daily grind. I wanted to bless them, to pray for them, and to help carry their burdens for a little while. I think that, secretly, I hoped that I could somehow make up for months of being away, and squeeze in all the emotions and intimacy and help that could have been given in those several months. That's a tall order.
What ended up happening was that they pampered us. Chris & I drove with them down to Balboa Park in San Diego, where they bought us all tickets to see the Dead Sea Scrolls. Then they bought us an enormous lunch at our favorite restaurant down there, and the evening ended with Dad slipping a hundred dollar bill in my pocket for "gas money".
Now, don't get me wrong, it was a beautiful day-- really special. But when I got into bed, I just felt flat. I realized that one great day in San Diego doesn't take away the fact that I live an entire day's drive away. It doesn't take away the fact that my Dad as cancer and is going through major surgery tomorrow. It doesn't somehow lift the burdens of an entire family, or make up for months of being away.
It's interesting to see the hopes & expectations I put on myself unknowingly. The truth is that I do live far away, and that life will keep going on without me. So what do I do with all that? There must be a balance somewhere between savoring in those beautiful moments (of which yesterday was one) and not putting too much pressure on them to be everything.
Yesterday was a sweet and golden day-- the kind that make good, lazy-day memories. And I think that I can let go of those herculean hopes I had of saving the day, accept my free lunch & hundred dollar bill graciously, and be thankful that sometime I can be taken care of too.