It began with a simple prayer request at breakfast on Tuesday.
Every morning I read to my littles while they eat. We learn about Jesus. We talk about our day. We share what we are thankful for and then we pray. “Remember,” I said, my voice starting to shake, “To pray for little Andrew. He has chemo in 2 days again, and his hair is starting to fall out and…” I choked on the last bit of what I was going to say, because I couldn’t say anymore. I was too nauseated, overwhelmed by the visceral reaction as I knew… KNEW… what that was like, especially for my dear friends.
Asher spoke up. “It’ll be hard on his family, won’t it, Mom?” I nodded.
Then my Bear, oh my Bear, spoke up. “You lost your hair, too. But look at your hair now, Mommy. I don’t remember you bald, but I remember your long hair wig. That was my favorite.” Those dimples get. me. every. time.
Asher cocked his head at me, “Will you grow your hair long again?”
I told him I didn’t know. My hair was different now. It had grown in thinner, curlier, darker… just different. “Do you want me to grow it long again?” I asked.
He nodded emphatically. Then he stared deep into me, those soulful brown eyes that seem to see into every recess of my being, “If you grow it long again, will we have our old mommy back?”
The tears I had been trying so hard to hold in spilled over as the agony of their life hit me. “Oh, Ash,” I whispered, “You know,” I paused as Bear leaned his head on my shoulder, “This cancer has changed me. It’s changed all of us. But I’m still Mommy, and who knows? Perhaps when I get through these next few weeks, I will finally start getting stronger and things will be better than they ever were!”
Ash nodded, chewing thoughtfully, “I was five when you got sick. I don’t remember much about you from before the sick.” He sighed, and then his eyes pooled with tears, “I’m really tired of the sick, Mom.”
The rest of that morning is a blur. I know I got them ready for school and out the door. I know I stood at the window and waved and blew kisses and we all signed “I love you” like we do every day. I know I dressed Bella and got her snack, and then when I had a moment, I went upstairs in the hallway and I screamed a silent scream, and I stomped and I cried and I curled up into a ball and I hated cancer all over again.
I hated it with every fiber of my being.
I hated what it had done to my family. I hated it for what it had done to my husband who has given up everything for me–his music, his ministries, his time, his hobbies, his energy. I hated it for what it had done to my children–my Ash who is grappling to understand how this could happen to his mommy, to Bear who is scared to leave my side and cries at the drop of a hat, to Bella who won’t even go to her father most days because she wants to be with me. I hated it for what it had done to my parents who ache and grieve and suffer emotional scars that I will never see. I hated it for what it had done to me–the physical pain I feel and scars I see every day, the emotional and mental fatigue that never seems to stop, the spiritual battles that have stripped my arsenal bare.
I hated 2 1/2 years of suffering, because y’all, I’m really tired of the sick, too. And in all honesty, I feel like everyone around me must be tired of the sick, too, because caring, and I mean really caring, for the needy is exhausting work.
I had read to my children that morning about Jesus healing multitudes of people and how compassionate He is, but how better yet He forgave sin. I’ve been chewing on that and clinging to that for the past two days, because I can really only chew on small bites of much of anything these days (be it my Bible, books, audio sermons, or music) without becoming a total and complete mess.
Then today I heard my Bella singing her made up songs in her room. Today’s treasure?
“God you are here. In my room. You stay awake so I can sleep and you smile when I play with my prin-cess-es. God I love you and you love me and you aren’t tired of me.”
Y’all, I am so very tired of the sick, but I’m so very thankful that my God never tires of me.
And don’t ask me how just yet, but I think, no, I know my kids are going to get through this the better for it.