Your Services Are No Longer Needed
by Katie Shockley
Someone may have said to you “your services are no longer needed.” If you have heard those exact words, you may have been let go from a professional situation. If you have not heard those exact words, you may still have been let got from a responsibility or job or task.
A friend shared with me yesterday that raising a 23-year old son is much harder than a 10- year old or even a 14-year old. She believes that she is a parent for a lifetime, but he believes that her services are no longer needed. They traverse a new path in life defined by an adult to an adult relationship. But, of course, she is right – once a parent, always a parent. He will figure that out when he has his own 23-year old son.
I received a similar “send off” today. For the past 19 months, I have been the primary advocate and part-time caregiver for my father-in-law. I have been his eyes and ears with the doctors and nurses. I have been the repository of surgical history, hospital stays, and medications. I chauffeured him to and from countless doctors’ visits, diagnostic tests, chemotherapy treatments, and grocery stores. After three such trips this week, he informed me that he can handle all his follow-up visits for the next three months. I was released, let go, given the axe, escorted out.
My first emotion is relief. My second emotion is joy. My third emotion is grief. I am truly relieved that all the crises of the past 19 months have abated. I am joyful that I will spend less time with my father-in-law. I will admit to that.
When our services are no longer needed, we look at our calendars and wonder what we will do with all this free time. As I have learned over the past year and a half, empty calendars can lead to grief. When I see three days in a row with no reason to leave the house, I cannot think of enough activities to fill my time.
I realize that I am not alone with this grief. Full-time mothers who see the last child off to kindergarten discover an empty house. Retirees begin to lose track of what day it is in the week. Empty nesters look at each other and wonder who this other person is. Idle time can be painful.
As with all grief, it can be a holy time. God sees us through each and every change in life. As I discover new directions for life every day, I know that God shows me the path. That path leads to God’s will and kingdom. I know that I will encounter Christ along that path, too:
“Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.” – St. Patrick
Christ when I grieve. Christ when I mourn. Christ when I cry. Christ when the kids leave the house. Christ when I lose my job. Christ when my services are no longer needed.
As my father-in-law walked away, I saw a thin, frail old man with almost no hair left. He drags his right foot, uses a cane, and must stop every few feet to catch his breath. He has outlived all prognoses. He should not be alive today. I saw a man who still needs me, who still needs my wealth of medical knowledge about his case.
As I drove away, I thought of what he said to me. He said “these past 18 months have been hard on me, but they have been even harder on you. I don’t know what I would have done without you and [my husband].” I appreciate that he knows the time and effort I put in for him. If only all parents were to hear those words from their children some day. If only all employees were to hear those words from their employer.
If you currently feel that your services are no needed, take comfort that you are not alone. God is with you and so are lots of other people. Your services are still needed, they just may be needed someplace else with someone else. God knows and will guide you there. Make the grief a holy time. Embrace what God will place along your path.
Prayer: Dear God, show me where we are headed next and I’ll meet you there. Amen.