A presence of stillness

As some of you know, I spent part of March in California trying to get my mom situated. She is no longer able to live alone, and after a hospital stay, the hospital kicked her up to a nursing home in Los Angeles, an hour away from her house and my sister.

While I was in California and visiting her every day in a dismal, hospital-like environment, hearing hours of complaints, I had a dream. In this dream, I dug up a shallowly buried box, to find an aging dog that had been buried, but was still breathing. The dog walked off; it was just fine and clearly shouldn’t have been buried in the first place.

I found my mom a board and care place, a nice, private home literally a quarter mile from my sister’s place, where she would live with several other women in a home environment. My sister could visit frequently. Her dog could visit. She could be taken out on outings, even overnight. The relatives of women who were there raved about the place. All of my mom’s complaints about the nursing home would be solved in this new place. She was set to move in there just days after I returned home.

She tried the place for a day and then insisted on going back up to LA, saying she didn’t like the food and no one would talk to her (though one of her fears before going was of having a roommate who talked to her too much). My own view is that she probably had just gotten accustomed to the nursing home—which was suddenly heaven on earth—and was too attached to really give the other place a try. (She hates relocating.)

This brings me up to yesterday. I talked to her on the phone and she kept saying “I’ve got to get out of here.” She hates the nursing home. It’s too far away from friends and family. She feels like she has no family. She’d rather die than live there.

What she doesn’t remember is that the nursing home and board and care place were whole different routes financially, and she had to go down one route or the other, because once down the nursing home route (paid for by Medi-Cal), there was really no going back. So now her options are much more limited. And now I’m not there, which makes it harder to track down new places.

I got off the phone feeling very low. I had just heard her say over and over “I’d rather die,” which really brought me down. I repeated my lesson, which didn’t seem to help.

So I turned within and asked Jesus for help or guidance, I forget which. Suddenly, I got a feeling of the presence of Jesus or of something in me—some kind of presence—and along with it a sense of stillness. There was no guidance about what to do. There was, in fact, nothing specific to it at all. Just a presence of stillness.

But the really nice thing is that that sense of stillness took away that terrible low feeling I had. It was as if at the center of the situation there was this stillness, an okay-ness. I don’t know if I can find her a place that will be more suited to her liking—I don’t know. But somehow it all feels OK now, which I am really grateful for.