I am so pleased to introduce you to Lauren Flake of Love of Dixie. Lauren and I met through the For the Love Launch Team. We’ve maintained an e-relationship over the months. She is one of my girls. She challenges and encourages me week after week. And she is such a good writer, pouring words from her heart.
Dear Lauren, age 22,
You are graduating from college, idealistic and naive, and your life is about to turn upside down. You’re about to experience real grief for the first time in your life, and the first stage is going to be denial.
Once you accept that your mom has early onset Alzheimer’s disease, you’re going to want everyone else to hurry up and get a grip, too. Be patient with them. Everyone moves through grief differently.
That sweet guy you’re dating? He’s going to stick with you through all of this ugly stuff, so be nice to him, even when it feels like your world is crashing down. It’s not his fault.
Catholic and church of Christ isn’t going to matter so much, soon enough. You’re about to learn that you are not on opposing sides here. You’re on the same team.
You’re about to learn a lot about patience, forgiveness, and grace, especially with yourself. You’re about to learn that faith is about receiving and turning to God’s steadfast love in the best of times and the worst of times, not about a list of rules that you have failed to follow.
You’re about to learn that failure is not the scariest thing that can happen. Failure is how you will learn things like humility and persistence. Success may be fun and ego-building, but it really doesn’t teach you much.
In crisis, you will see your family members’ true, raw selves. Be gentle with them, even when it seems impossible, as you try to keep your mom safe. Remember that none of you are equipped to handle this.
It will soon become painfully obvious that you are the only “take charge” firstborn in your family. And the sooner you learn that God is ultimately in charge, and not you, the sooner you will have peace about her care and about her life and death.
Through all of this growing up and grieving, people close to you will break your heart over and over again. Forgive them over and over again but stop expecting them to change. Accept them in all their fragile humanity.
Slowly but surely, you will learn to set healthy boundaries with yourself and everyone else. This will become vital when you become a new mother.
You will start to understand the magnitude of losing your mom when you lose your first pregnancy. And you will more fully understand it when you have two little girls to love and protect.
Over and over, you’ll learn to be more gentle with yourself, abandoning perfectionism for love. You’ll learn that making time for things like rest and date night and yoga and community is essential.
You’ll learn that writing from the depths of your heart is more soothing to your soul than any therapist or antidepressant could ever be.
And you’ll learn that you are stronger, braver and more resilient than you ever thought possible.
Lauren, age 31
Lauren Flake lives near Austin, Texas, with her husband, their two young daughters and two rowdy Labs. She loves green tea, dark chocolate, and cowboy boots, writing about her Christ-filled journey as a wife, mom, and Alzheimer’s daughter, and raising funds and awareness for her favorite #texasstrong causes at For the Love of Dixie (loveofdixie.com).
Look for future Letters to Me from guest writers here at MrsDisciple.com. To submit your own Letter to Me, contact me for details on guest posts.