“Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.”
If only I could be so certain.  If only we today had that rock-solid belief that we would in fact “meet on that beautiful shore” and be together with those who have left us.  The old-time religion that never doubted for an instant, how I long for it. 

Today marks one year, the worst year of my life I have to say — without, I hope, any self-pity.  It is a simple fact.

I asked Don what he wanted to do today: come home with me and spend the day quietly together, probably pretty gloomy and down, or stay at the nursing home, where there would at least be people milling about and we could push the grief thing out of our minds some of the time.  He didn’t hesitate.  “I want to come home.”

Good.  Because sometimes (quite often, actually) you don’t want to get away from the grief.  Especially at the beginning.  This is a poem written by someone whose little son died at 5 months:

I don’t WANT
To do anything
To make me better.
I like it down here.
I don’t want to climb out
And leave him behind.

So we came home and I read some cards and emails that people had sent, and also read some of the cards we received a year ago that we couldn’t quite bear to read just then, and then I played some music (Till we meet again, Through the love of God our Saviour all will be well, and Where is my wandering boy tonight) – and then we had lunch and then watched a comedy I taped (One Foot in the Grave, if you must know, and yes, I know it is corny stuff) and Sunday’s Insiders programme that he had missed.  And then we did some of the crossword and then the taxi was there to take him back, and he said he was very tired and ready to go back.

Thank you friends for remembering, and for your emails and phone calls and cards and flowers and faithful prayers.  Last year Ross’s dearest friend said to me in a strained, breaking voice, “I didn’t know there could be such pain in the world.”  Exactly.  And I think of our dear, beloved son every single day, still with pain.  But it does help, to know that we are surrounded by such love and care, by those whose hearts are breaking with us.

Barclay prays gently for “those we have loved and lost awhile“.  Comforting, that.  So I am not sure and certain, in the way that our forefathers were, but I want to believe, and I do half-believe.

Oh dear! I hope I don’t have all my readers in floods of tears by now … I’m just writing as I feel.

Thanks Ruthie for the flowers:

flowers from Ruthie

Don is to be discharged and will be coming home in a few days.  They are ordering some equipment (electric lifter, special chair) and also arranging for community nurses to come and help at various times.  The geriatric doctor who made the assessment — well, he’s not a geriatric himself, but you know what I mean — can authorise what sort of assistance, or level of care, a patient needs.  He knows more about multiple sclerosis than most other doctors we have seen, and he gave us advice on how best to manage at home.

Then he said, “There’s something else I need to do.  With your permission, I will put your name down, Donald, for a high-care facility” — jargon for nursing home — “so that when the time comes that you can no longer manage at home, we can make a smooth transition.”

After he left, Don was very subdued.  We just sat together, and finally he said, “Did you hear that, Barb?   I’m going to end my days in a nursing home.”  Another silence, then he added, “Not just end my days; I’ve got my name down to go in now.”

“Not for ages,” I said.  “We can manage at home for ages.”

He sat silently for a while, then in a tight, quiet voice he said, “Would you get the Bible?  Read me Psalm 46.”

My voice was thick as I read: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.  …  Be still, and know that I am God!  I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.  The Lord of hosts is with us…”

Don said quietly, “Though the mountains shake.  We will not fear.”