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  • Writer's pictureElisa Juarez

New Pathways & Shining Stars

December 17, 2021

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what has been planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance….” -Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

This week I attended the Christmas party at my dad’s memory care place (I don’t like calling it a facility; that doesn’t sound like ‘home’). The residents were gathered around the living room where a beautiful tree stands in the corner. The air was filled with holiday music and the chatter and laughter of the staff in their Christmas attire. The dining room hosted a spread of finger foods, sweets, and sparkling cider. I took a seat next to my dad in the back of the room. He was absorbed in a Christmas letter he had received in the mail, but looked up with tired eyes and said, “Oh, hi! It’s nice to see you!” I smiled and held his hand as I looked around the room, taking it all in. My heart swelled with love and gratitude as I reflected on this journey with my dad, and the people here who have cared for him with compassion, patience, and grace. These years have brought grief and joy, planting and plucking up, holding on and letting go. We have traveled through many seasons, navigating new pathways as the disease progressed. Now he is near the end of the road – weak, lost, and weary. I look back on how far we’ve come and sigh. Despite the financial strain that came with leaving my job six years ago, it has been priceless to be his caregiver. Although he has grown weaker, I have grown stronger. Now the winding, rocky path has brought me back to the social service field where I started after graduate school. I have wrestled all year with the decision to go back to work while tending to my dad’s advancing disease. Now that he is in memory care and hospice, I can take on a flexible full-time job, and that is what I found. After three interviews with Catholic Charities Ft. Worth, I have accepted the position of Outreach Specialist, starting January 4th. I’ll have the flexibility of working from home and in the office, with a compassionate and family-centered organization. It is a new pathway with shining stars, including my daughter Lauren whoalsoworks there (in another department). She encouraged me to go for it when I was struggling with doubt. In the coming year, my life is going to change. My writing will continue as my redesigned blog launches at the beginning of January. I’ll have to be creative with my time and find new pathways. It is a journey of joy and discovery, full of surprises and shining stars. I appreciate you and this circle of Spoonful friends who read my writing and cheer me on. I know you have been through your own seasons of grief and loss, planting and reaping, breaking down and building up, mourning and dancing. Perhaps in sharing my journey I have somehow encouraged you in yours. Planting and watering the seeds of hope and healing is my soul’s work. Embrace this season, wherever you are, for it will pass. When it does, you will be poised and prepared for the next one. Perhaps you will know and love yourself a bit more. As you do, your inner star will shine brighter, revealing the path of joy that stretches before you. Hugs & Happy Tears, ej Elisa J. Juarez

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