Our good friends had made time in their busy schedule to stay with Jon and our youngest son and his wife were joining us. Though we were excitedly looking forward to this time together, it was another family event Jon would miss and I was, again, contending with guilt attacks and assaults of sadness.
I sent my conflicting emotions to the back room of my mind and updated the long list of Jon care instructions, made sure his prescriptions were filled, printed out a medical authorization letter and remembered to leave his insurance and ID card and keys to all the places we keep Jon-locked.
After boarding the ship I knew bringing him would have been a disaster. Too many people, long lines, moments of hurrying then waiting, decks that didn’t go all the way through the length of the ship causing creative strategies to find our way around, debarking for ports and making spontaneous plans and last minute decisions for the day then hurrying back to the ship on time so it didn’t leave without us.
Transitions. Transitions. More transitions. Something Jon never does well.
There were other moments when we thought of him. “Jon would love this,” we said. The never ending buffet, the puffer fish shaped cup wheeled by on a drink cart, the magician at our dinner table doing coin tricks, the casino and it’s never ending spread of pricey “video games”, a giant floating hotel to wander through and him curiously and slowly poking in every corner, nook and cranny.
As we sat together at dinner each evening there was contentment in this extraordinary setting. Even our little grandson was along, growing inside the swelling womb of my daughter-in-law. But one of us was missing. My family was incomplete.
There are random moments in life that trigger twinges of loss, a mourning for what should, but never will be. We are forever fighting enemies of guilt, regret and loss and constantly rising to new levels of acceptance.
Acceptance is defined as an assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a situation without attempting to protest or change it. It is derived from a Latin word meaning “to find rest in.”
Some things we can’t control or change, we can only accept, but it’s often difficult to find a place of rest in circumstances beyond us. Living out of the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ is pure misery and leaning into the, “Are you kidding me? I’m supposed ‘to find rest in’ this!” is hard work, but peace can only come with relaxing into the ‘what is’.
Even when life is great, it’s still not perfect. On this cruise, we had to circumvent a hurricane and miss the most anticipated stop of the trip. While sailing on the far reaching edge of the storm, walking turned into a balancing act and we were woken in the night by rocking, rattling and clicking sounds and drawers, in our room, sliding open then thumping shut as soon as sleep came again. I was nearly attacked by a banana loving iguana on a Saint Thomas beach and every day was a bad hair day.
But it was easy to overlook these uncontrollable situations in the anticipation and excitement of another sunrise and new adventures.
Life sails on like a cruise. We board at birth and debark when taking our final breath. There are stops along the way, new places to explore, ports to experience. Some we appreciate, others not so much. Some we never wish to see again and others we hope for, but never experience when an unexpected storm changes the direction of our journey.
There are long days at sea, as we’re carried along, waiting, and trusting the Captain of our ship knows where we’re headed and how to safely reach our destination. With God at the helm we are offered guilt free, acceptance-based cruising and a place to find rest in the storm.
It’s the best way to travel and it’s never too late to book a lifelong trip.
So don’t wait. Start now.
Guaranteed, you’ll love the adventure.
“Jesus Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea
Unknown waves before me roll
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal
Chart and compass come from thee
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.” ~ Edward Hopper, 1871
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
“Come unto me..and I will give you rest.” ~Jesus, Matthew 11:28~