This past weekend was full of so much wonderful, so many beautiful moments. My Bella was in our little city Christmas parade wearing her red cloak, plaid scarf and matching braids, vibrant red in the night sky. She carried her lantern and waved excitedly. Her zest for life was palpable. After the parade it was the annual Christmas party in the office where Brian sublets, and we sat with friends and contentedly watched our children with their friends, and we laughed hard and long. A friend took me home earlier than my loves and I crashed on the couch until they arrived home late to drop exhausted into bed.
Saturday found us driving to northern Virginia for Brian’s company Christmas party and y’all, we were spoiled rotten and overcome once again with the joy of his work, the camaraderie of his co-workers, and the blessing of working for men who care deeply for their employees, both spiritually and physically. It was another night of sitting with friends, laughing hard and long and then heading to a hotel to drop exhausted into bed.
Sunday we rose late and drove another hour to Baltimore, picking up Starbucks and gifts for my childhood friend, Monica and her loves. I’ve written often about her family, about our friendship, and once again, her dear daughter has undergone major, life-saving surgery and they are worn within inches of existence. We hugged and cried and shared and laughed and then cried more deeply as I prayed over my friend. Dear Lord, how much can one family bear? We drove hours home to our own loves, wrapped up the evening with snuggles and stories. I began my chemo regimen that night and fell exhausted into bed again.
And Monday, the beautiful pushing of the weekend reared its ugly head. Mingled with the beginnings of chemo, the downward spiral began. This spiral is normal on chemo. How do I even explain? It’s the exhaustion of even moving off the couch, away from the warmth of the fire, to fix myself a sandwich for lunch… the nausea and vomiting, the aches and pains. Then the forcing myself to get into the car for errands or picking up my Ash from track practice. When days before I was celebrating and laughing, now I am fighting for deep breaths and wondering how I will make it to my children’s Christmas program. How do I maintain the normalcy of life?
A friend and I caught up for a few moments on Tuesday evening, happening to run into each other. “This new normal,” he said, speaking of his own cancer recovery, “We are realizing there is no new normal.”
Exactly. Life is disrupted.
But it is still filled with so many gifts.
I saw my oncologist on Wednesday, and as I left her office, tears leaked from the corners of my eyes. Not tears of fear, but tears of sadness. Sadness that this is our life… full of wonderful, yet full of so much nebulousness. I am weary of fighting this disease, of the chronic pain, of bone-deadening fatigue, of the constant work it takes just to have a “grab and go” breakfast, of never knowing how to explain to friends what our life really looks like, of the battle against hopelessness even when things are looking very hopeful. Because, y’all, this. is. my. life. until God calls me home.
And I cried because I so easily drift to auto-pilot and lose my desperation for Jesus. I don’t want good news like tumor markers dropping or a clear MRI to deaden my heart. I don’t want God to just be a go-to when life is hard. I don’t want to just run to Him when everything is caving around me.
I don’t ever want to lose my desperation for Jesus.
“It’s hard to remember, isn’t it?” my brother once said to me, “the goal of all this isn’t you getting back to where you were before. It’s getting to know Jesus more deeply.” He is such a wise, kind man whose heart is enormous, and I am thankful for him and for how he walks with me through suffering.
Good news or bad news, good days or bad days, I only want to grow in my desperation for Him.
Even as I struggle with the hopelessness of the day-in and day-out of all of this, God comes and gives me huge gifts like clear MRIs and seemingly small gifts like weekends of love and laughter. Only I have come to realize that the latter is really the bigger gift. The family, the friendships, the joy He brings in the ordinary day-in and day-out of life are magnificent. Every moment is important.
The news is good today.
And as I sit and gaze at the sparkling lights and dangling ornaments on our lovely Christmas tree, I am reminded of the good news that came 2000 years ago.
The beautiful moments I get to share with my children. The joys of deep friendships. Time away with my hubby. Time to grieve with my friend. These are all gifts, yes, but they are not what drives me.
Every moment is important, because every moment is from Him.
That good news has never changed.
This. This is what drives me. And it drive me to Him.
Our lives are at once ordinary and mythical. We live and die, age beautifully or full of wrinkles. We wake in the morning, buy yellow cheese, and hope we have enough money to pay for it. At the same instant we have these magnificent hearts that pump through all sorrow and all winters we are alive on the earth. We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded…We have lived; our moments are important.
(~Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones)