Saturday, November 26, 2011

A few thoughts after the fact.

So how do you follow up a post on Disney?

I've had so much to say... so much inside my head that I've been wanting to verbally express and a lot that I'm trying to process... being tongue-tied has left my post a blank. So instead of carefully composing I'm going to slap my paint on a canvas and start somewhere. It might be messy... less than ideal... but it's real.

Our time away was good. The kids did an amazing job traveling and we really enjoyed watching them have so many new, different and exciting experiences. It was a blessing to be able to go somewhere where we didn't have to worry about the cost of parking, park admission, hotel costs, etc. And with a family of 7 and with our friend Alexis to help us... well, 8 people... it's a lot.

I found myself so grateful yesterday... so much God has given us. Above and beyond what we need. I'm a rich woman indeed. The Lord is truly our provider. And He is a giver of good gifts.

I also found myself heartbroken... and outright weeping. I missed my sister. I found myself in the presence of many sister relationships yesterday and it reminded me of how much I am missing with my sister gone. I was thankful that the relationships reflected were good. That they were sisters who love each other very much. But I missed Libby. And I felt a little lost. And it hurt so bad.

Things are not right here on earth. I shouldn't be surprised by the continued brokenness and that things are not made whole yet. But I am. And it catches me off guard. Like the moment when you know you are falling and you try to catch yourself, but it's too late... all you can do is maybe use your hands to help cradle your fall. Your palms end up scratched. The impact is quite jarring. The thing was, I didn't catch myself falling.I found myself on the ground. I didn't know why I was hurting til after the tears already began to spill down my cheeks.

Grief catches me unaware. It's a suckerpunch. It comes out of nowhere. It hits hard and fast and almost always a surprise. There's no time to think, react or respond... it smashes into me like a bumper car, crashing ... and I'm left with whiplash.

I don't understand my life at times. I feel torn between two worlds. There is the "normal" world or maybe I should say "ordinary" or "average". People with typical families. They don't have kids with life-threatening illness. They have problems... and I'm not downplaying the stress or the suffering of the daily wear and tear that life brings... but it's different. In this world I find myself trying to relate and find myself grasping and missing the connection so often.

E.G. I'm at the YMCA today and this is a real conversation between me and one of the attendant caregivers at the  play area.

          Me: "Can you please try and remind Samuel to use the restroom? He's in a pull-up but he needs to be reminded....
           Caregiver: "Of course we have lots of kids in pull-ups."
           Me: "Well, he was pottytrained... it's just his cancer has made it hard...."
   A minute later... talking about Michael with same attendant.
          Me: (smiling at Peter in the baby section for non-walkers) "I remember it took so long to get     Michael out of the non-walking area..."
          Attendant: "Lots of kids walk late..."
           Me: "Well, Michael walked late because he was a preemie and has cerebral palsy... We're so thankful when he started walking...."

Why do I try and explain? Why can't I just shut up and nod to the 18-19 year old who thinks they're talking normal parenting jargon with me? Why can't I just drop it? Why do I have to show how freakish our life is... exposing it like some horrible scar that I should have left covered up. It's the reality of my life...

Sometimes I'm so damn stupid.

My attempts to want to be honest tend to get me nowhere in those kinds of settings. I usually can be quiet about it. Today I wasn't. It's not like anything I said was untrue but I feel as if I said something shocking or shameful... something that made everyone uncomfortable. Like breaking a holy moment with profanity.

And then I'm mad because of the hot shame that burns my cheeks. I shouldn't be embarrassed about talking about my life.

I get frustrated, and jealous and annoyed at the Mom sitting across from me in the doctor's office. Her toddler daughter looks like the picture of health across from me. But the Mom is fretting and worried and I just want to shake her and say, "She's not going to die from this cold. Be thankful it's not cancer." Aaaaagh. Where does this come from? It's a normal thing for a parent to be concerned about their child. I don't want this lady to experience the same suffering I've walked through.

And then there's the other world. The world where chemo and radiation are a normal part of everyday conversation. Where "scans" makes your heart race and you discuss the pros and cons of anti-nausea meds. Or the world in which the child is deformed. Unable to stop their hands from becoming bent and clawed... or shaking their limbs or twitching their heads. The world where people look on in pity... or disgust... or just look away because it's too painful too look. I've seen those who have it worse than me. I've seen their exhausted hollow faces. I've seen them try to protect their child bound to a wheelchair from the cruel world that surrounds them.

And I bounce back and forth between these two worlds. I feel like a ping-pong ball being sent back and forth... to and fro. And I don't know how to relate... and I don't know how to acclimate. And I know that both these worlds have suffering. And both these worlds are broken... and I don't know where I fit. And I don't know what to say. And in one world I'm a personal reminder that bad things happen... and in the other that they're not alone... we're in the same boat.

This division wreaks havoc on me... mentally, emotionally. I feel frayed and worn. I see that I have so much to be grateful for... but get angry when others aren't quick to be thankful for their circumstances. Who made me the gratitude police?

I found myself in Florida experiencing increasing tension between the two worlds. We would be at Give Kids the World... staying with other families who have children with life threatening illnesses. The place where all of us "odd-balls" are normal. Where it's just as typical to see a child in a wheel chair and where special needs are seen as typical needs.

And then to go to the Parks and be bombarded by the "normals". Aaagggh. It was making me crazy at times. Kids screaming and falling apart with the "gimmees" and the demands of children gone wild around us. I could see some people give us questioning looks as to why we got special fast lane privileges... It made me want to say... well, you can have this privilege too if your child gets cancer.

This desire. This "need" of mine to be understood. And even accepted. It's the cry of my heart. But I am gently reminded by God. Only He really understands. Only He gets it. He knows the intimate details of all my circumstances... all my life situations... He knows the depths of my heart and the secret hurts... He knows all the wounds and scars I carry. Nothing is secret from Him. He longs for me to bring myself to Him... all of my imperfections and worries and heartache. And even as I groan in this earthly body.... even now, Jesus is interceding on my behalf. Praying perfectly for me... And He loves me and He knows me.

And so I rest in that tonight, I am loved and known by the Great I Am. The One who made the stars and formed the galaxies also knows the intricate details of my heart. And although I collide in these worlds that feel at times like night and day... I know God is in control- He hasn't changed. I belong to Him. He is my hope. This world is not my home. And One day ALL things will be made new.

2 comments:

Sarah said...

Wow Jennifer, thanks for sharing. It can't be easy to pour all that out - but it is so helpful to read it and get a glimpse into what is going on for you. I am trying to think of something deep and meaningful to say but drawing a complete blank - nothing I can think up is going to make anything change for you, make the horrific pain of losing your beautiful sister any easier to bear, make your gorgeous son not sick. But you are right - your heavenly Daddy understands more than we will ever know... And while I would love to think something up to encourage you, you already said it best yourself!

You are amazing and inspirational, though I am quite sure that you never think of yourself like that - but you ARE. I really believe that God is using you in ways that you will never know until you get "home". Keep fighting the good fight, friend.

Wish I could swing by and shout you a Starbucks - and I will do one of these days - but in the meantime I am missing you and praying for you all.

lots of love and hugs xxx

Jessica Rockey said...

Beautiful post, friend:) I believe the Lord is using you to help 'bridge the gap' between the two worlds. Not just because of your circumstances... but because you are willing to be open and honest... and real about the circumstances that you find yourself in.

I had a few more 'brilliant thoughts'... but I've had to stop so many times while writing... and they've totally left me. Oh well.

Anyway... I love you with what little mind I have left:)