The indignities of the later stages of Alzheimer’s are many, and it is hard to watch my mother wrestle with them. As I sit with her on her rough days, I pray for her and ask God to “take her gently Home” in His perfect time. I confess praying too that God would somehow spare me from this oftentimes familial disease.
A few days ago, Momma was having a very rough day. It broke my heart to see her in such pain and mental anguish. As I sat with her and tried to be of comfort, I thought about something my sweet mother-in-law used to pray. Quoting from a poem that was dear to her heart, her prayer was, “God, in your time, please let me get home before dark.”
By God’s providence, I came upon the prayerful poem that Shirley had typed out and prayed by faith for herself. Today, I make this my prayer as well.
Let Me Get Home by Dark
by J. Robertson McQuilkin
It’s sundown, Lord. The shadows of my life stretch back into the dimness of the years long spent. I fear not death, for that grim foe betrays himself at last, thrusting me forever into life: Life with you, unsoiled and free. But I do fear. I fear the Dark Spectre may come too soon – or do I mean, too late? That I should end before I finish or finish, but not well. That I should stain your honor, shame your name, grieve your loving heart. Few, they tell me, finish well… Lord, let me get home before dark. The darkness of a spirit grown mean and small, fruit shriveled on the vine, bitter to the taste of my companions, burden to be borne by those brave few who love me still. No, Lord. Let the fruit grow lush and sweet, A joy to all who taste: Spirit-sign of God at work, stronger, fuller, brighter at the end. Lord let me get home before dark. The darkness of tattered gifts, rust-locked, half-spent or ill-spent. A life that once was used of God now set aside. Grief for glories gone or Fretting for a task God never gave. Mourning in the hollow chambers of memory. Gazing on the faded banners of victories long gone. Cannot I run well unto the end? Lord, let me get home before dark. The outer me decays – I do not fret or ask reprieve. The ebbing strength but weans me from mother earth and grows me up for heaven. I do not cling to shadows cast by immortality. I do not patch the scaffold lent to build the real, eternal me. I do not clutch about me my cocoon, vainly struggling to hold hostage a free spirit pressing to be born. But will I reach the gate in lingering pain, body distorted, grotesque? Or will it be a mind wandering untethered among light phantasies or grim terrors? Of your grace, Father, I humbly ask… Let me get home before dark.