Trying to catch my breath.
These are the words I’ve been using lately when friends ask how I’m doing. Between physical therapy and scans and doctors’ appointments, the past 3 months I have had no time to breathe. I’m not exaggerating. Every week has been full with work, meetings, school, baseball, etc. It is all doable when I’m not drowning in 10 hours of doctor visits a week, but I was seeing no light at the end of the tunnel.
Why the pain? I still don’t know, but every scan is coming back clear, so we are thankful. I sleep little because of the pain, and I wonder what they’re missing, if I have a new cancer in my abdomen now, when I’m ever going to be able to exercise again so I will start feeling good again, etc. The questions consume. And no answers come.
Until last night, when I had a meltdown. Not a mini-I-can’t-do-this-now-take-a-deep-breath-and-move-forward meltdown. A full blown, can’t breathe, panic, how-do-I-even-find-babysitters-for-the-kids-so-I-can-go-to-the-physical-therapist-this-week? meltdown. I was sobbing uncontrollably, those deep, heaving, life-taking sobs.
I had gotten good news (no colon cancer recurrence!) on Friday, but no answers to the abdominal pain.
Then we had seen an old friend (one of our former youth group guys, who’s now a dad and runs hard after Jesus) and spent our afternoon trying to catch up with him and encourage him as he watches his father die from terminal brain cancer. The ache in my chest just wouldn’t go away.
We said good-bye to some friends yesterday who’ve been part of our lives for 21 years (well, part of Brian’s for 21, part of mine for 18). They’re moving on to the greater things that God has called them to… and when he said good-bye, Dan said, “It’s not good-bye. It’s see you soon.”
And then I remembered holding Kim’s hand and kissing her cheek and telling her I loved her. And when she pulled me back to her bedside, she smiled and said, “See you soon.” And I knew what she meant, and a week later I was at her memorial service.
And I just couldn’t bear it anymore. No more of this pain. No more of this uncertainty. And my heart exploded.
Then he came, my Brian, after I blew up at him for not saying the “right things”, and he held me in his arms, and he sang to me. He sang what he sings to Audrey at bedtime, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You, I will trust in You, I will trust in You… when I am afraid, I will trust in You, in God Whose Word I praise…”
And I wept harder.
And he changed the words, “When I’m overwhelmed, I will trust in You, I will trust in You…”
And it was life-giving,
And I wept harder.
And I went to bed and didn’t sleep, and I wrestled with God and I asked Him when I would breathe again. How could I revel in my summer with my loves if I never saw them? When would this broken body stop hurting. so. badly? Would this broken body ever stop hurting? Was I willing to accept the brokenness?
I thought about the sermon that morning and how our pastor encouraged us that God is not surprised by our circumstances, how that in His good judgment, this is where we need to be.
And I didn’t like that, because I don’t want to be here.
I. want. to. be. done. with. pain. and. uncertainty!
So I got up this morning, and I went to physical therapy and my PT said, “It’s re-evaluation day. Let’s see how you’re doing.”
And I’m doing splendidly. In fact, he unexpectedly discharged me today with these words, “Go enjoy your summer with your family. You don’t need to be here.”
And I got in my car, and I wept again. Then the phone rang, and my sweet friend, Nancy, asked a work related question, then I told her my saga, and she laughed and said, “God’s got your back, Ang.”
And He does.
He is so faithful, when I am so faithless.
And when I’m lying awake at night wanting to shake my fist at the never-ending-ness of all this, He’s not saying, “Okay. You gonna pull that attitude with me? Then let’s make your summer miserable. Let’s give you more appointments and more cancer and more misery!”
He’s saying, “Ang, I love you. I’ve got your back. And here, by the way, enjoy your summer with your family.”
And I thank Him. Humbly. Knowing how undeserving I am. How I am one of the crowd mocking and yelling for His death so I can have what I want. And realizing that His death is what gives me what I really want and everything I need.
And I raise my open hands to praise at the never-ending-ness of all this.
All this grace and love and mercy.