February 24, 2016
The voice on the phone is bright and cheerful, exactly what I need today. “I have some great news for you,” she declares.
I could use some great news right about now. My son has been struggling with complicated health issues for a long, long time, and every time the phone rings, it seems to bring more bad news. The recent lab work doesn’t look good. No improvement in the numbers. The new medication doesn’t seem to be working. The medical team is deciding what steps to take.
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, wishes came true. Miracles happened. Prayers were answered in the most amazing ways. A precious baby boy lay in a hospital room, alone, fighting for his life, and against impossible odds, in spite of the doctors’ decision to “make him as comfortable as possible until the end,” he made it! He was given a chance to thrive!
But here’s the thing about caring for a child with fragile health: not all wishes come true. Not all stories end with “happily ever after.” Sometimes prayers are answered, not with miracles, but with silence. The medical complications are not easily resolved, there are no specific “praises” that can be e-mailed to the church prayer chain. He was born with significant health issues, and seven years later, guess what? He still has significant health issues. Seven years later we are still praying. Still waiting for him to be healed.
February 6, 2016
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart
and will sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”
My friend has come for a brief visit this crisp winter morning, although “visit” is a relative term and doesn’t accurately describe our interaction. It’s hard to have an uninterrupted conversation when there are little ones running around, each one needing something that can’t be postponed. While my friend sits alone at my kitchen table (in my preoccupation, I may have forgotten to offer a cup of coffee or a glass of water), I change a diaper, refill a sippy cup, start a g-tube feeding, catch the toddler just before he falls backwards off the couch, stop the older one from grabbing his favorite toy away from the baby (and then remind him again of why he needs to keep his toys in his room), clean up spilled Cheerios off the floor, and turn off the feeding pump when the alarm indicates that it is finished.
The entire time, my friend is sitting there, slightly amused, watching the non-stop chaos that defines the majority of my waking hours. I try to make light of the situation and say, half-jokingly, the phrase I say many times every day, as if I’m starring in my own video that might be posted online somewhere: #thisismylife.
To which my friend responds, with barely a hesitation: It’s the life you chose.
That is the end of the conversation right there. How can I possibly reply? It is the life I chose. When I agreed to care for these foster children, some who have since been adopted into our family, what else did I expect? A life of spa days and bonbons?
Even so, the comment stings. I feel like a turtle, safely protected inside my beautifully painted shell, fearful that anyone might see the weak, vulnerable, ugly reptile hiding inside. In a moment of courage, in hopes of making a connection, I hesitantly stick my head out to assess my surroundings. To test the waters. Nope. It’s not safe. The grace and compassion I had hoped to find is met, instead, with criticism and judgment. And so I retreat back into the safety of my shell. #fakesmile #everythingisfine I do not say one word.
I received the message loud and clear: #youchosethislife and #youhavenorighttocomplain and #maybeyoushouldquit.