Glimpses
Joe Clark ~~ Jul 27, 2003

Well here begins what may become a set of very serious, very "heavy" wise thoughts from me. A week ago today my mom entered a diabetic or liver coma that she has not yet emerged from. In all honesty, the doctors say it is unlikely that she will recover from this. This is not completely unexpected -- she has been in poor health for a few years now -- but when things like this actually happen, it's always tough.

Here's a bit more detail on my life story over the past week. As my mom was entering this state, I was heading off on (yet another) business trip to Dallas. This was the trip where we were to push our project to completion for the demo that was to happen this coming Wednesday. Well, we pushed hard, so hard in fact that even though I knew about this situation at home it didn't seem "real" at the time. But then on Friday our project got postponed, and all of a sudden my priorities changed. Since the project was not imminent, I immediately realized it was stupid for me to stay in Dallas when my family needed me here in Iowa. So I returned last night.

Overnight and this morning at church, I was feeling surprisingly unaffected by the situation. Now, I wasn't completely unaffected, but I was not distraught by it either. I did start to have thoughts about past memories and how things would be different in the future, and one of the smart things I began doing was to record these thoughts quickly....these "glimpses" of memory are worth preserving, because they are a part of the "legacy" that my mom will leave behind.

I went to see my mom this afternoon, and it was then that this all really began to hit home with me. I still am handling it okay I think, but there are moments when I realize that my life for the past 25 years is likely to change a great deal in just a very short amount of time. I look around me, and so many objects and places and activities have ties to my past..to my mom. I drive up 12th Street near home, and it reminds me of the other 5000 or whatever times I've driven this road, driving home to my home...and to my mom and dad. I turn on the headlights on my car, and I remember the previous 200 or whatever times I've turned those headlights on to depart from home and from...my mom and dad. There are so many other slight glimpses like this...here are some that I've written down so far (in no particular order):

haircuts, gift wrap, packing, with family in Manchester, singing at GBC and Hillside, the speaker phone, Bible studies at 7th Day, Christmas lights, genealogy, rocking chair, glasses, shoes, hot air balloons at Amana, trips to Chicago to watch trains, at Aunt Gen's house, watching movies, YFC Junior Varsity, network hub holder, TV always on, Hillside issues, "Daisy a Day" song, gardens at Beverly and at home (this is a strong memory for me for some reason), talks with Grandpa Clark, high school graduation party, cataract surgery and watching trains out the window at Quaker Oats, sledding and hitting the house, elementary school volunteering, nature trail parking lot, when I broke the fish tank, pet parakeets, discussions on divorce, family research at Marengo, shopping at Kmart, waiting for Dad to get home from 2nd shift work, eating after Sunday church, watching trains after Sunday church

These glimpses are some of my most treasured possessions during this time, and I'm sure the list will only grow as time goes on and as other stimuli remind me of other things in my past.

What I find interesting (but to some extent obvious) is that there seems to be a correlation between what aspect of life I'm thinking about and how much the situation at hand affects me. When I am thinking about work topics or something where I really don't have a memory of Mom associated with it, I am all right. (This hasn't been the case for all bad times in life, and it may not be the case for this situation either as time goes on.) But even concerning work, I had this premonition tonight that I'm going to call home from work tomorrow, and the fact that I know my mom won't answer the phone is going to throw me for a loop for a moment. It's the little pangs of loss like this that I think are a big part of the grieving process. As I go through this time, I want to document many of those "pangs", because I think they are worth recording...they are glimpses of my life, glimpses of my past, glimpses of things that will change, glimpses of things that maybe don't matter to anyone else, but they matter to me.

The most painful glimpses I've had are the ones that are filled with regret. Thankfully I don't have a ton of regrets, but there are some that weigh heavily on my mind. Here are some that I can think of:

I think that is a good summary of my glimpses thus far in this journey. Already, I am being blessed by the outpouring of prayer and sympathy from those that are and have been a part of my life, particularly the members and former members of UBC in Ames and Hillside and GBC in CR. To each one I am sincerely thankful and grateful for their support in this tough time. I think I owe it to my mom, to myself, to my family, and to everyone else to record thoughts like this as some sort of legacy to my mom, or at least to my memories of her and how I am dealing with this grieving process. I can't say for sure, but I'm guessing you'll be reading more thoughts like these as the days and weeks go by during this situation.