Frayed and Ragged

Thursday morning arrived far too early with the insistent ringing of my alarm and my fumbling to find it, using every ounce of strength to not just chuck it out the window across the room. I rose in the dark with my son, who is perfectly capable of doing early mornings on his own and often does, but I like to make him some scrambled eggs and smoothie, fuel for his six a.m. track practice. Yes, he runs two mornings a week at 6:00 in the morning. Who is this boy?!

I spent the rest of my morning curled by a gentle fire, taking the chill from our home, reading, sending my other two off to school, picking up clutter in the rooms that aren’t impacted by our renovation, doing a couple loads of laundry, playing the music from Beauty and the Beast far too loudly, and packing my chemo bag. Brian cut gorgeous white lilacs from the bush my childhood friend, Monica, gave me years ago, and I tucked them into a lovely vase. I thought I was doing okay.

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While folding my load of towels, my finger caught the edge of one as I lifted it and it ripped right through. There were already signs of wear, but nothing like this. I immediately crumpled. I sat on my bed, cradling a towel we’ve had since our wedding and sobbed, and I realized how frayed and ragged I really felt, how like this pile of twenty year old towels, my body has been slowly fading and wearing and weathering. My mind raced with how I could fix it. While I’m at chemo, I’ll get on Amazon and order some more towels–big, fluffy, fat towels that we can melt into, yellow and soft and sunny–and we’ll all feel better. And white ones for our new bathroom when it gets finished. I imagined hanging them on the line in the warmth of summer’s sun, and sighed happy sighs. At least, I thought, somehow buying new towels could fix something. I’d have control over something.

You see, I have my days. Days where I just want a fix. I lament the way cancer often controls our lives. I leaned into Brian before he left for work, “I don’t want to do this.” I whispered, husky voice even huskier because of it’s teary thickness, “I want to just be done with cancer. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of battling to cling to my faith. I’m tired of always feeling like a failure because I can’t care for my family and home and friends the way I long to. I want to be done. I’m just. so. tired.” There’s my heart, in all it’s honesty. I. am. so. very. tired. of. it. all.

My body and mind and heart feel as if they are frayed and worn like my towels. But I can’t just go out and buy a new body like I can new towels (ha! imagine if!).

But those old towels, y’all…

They may be faded in color and starting to fray a little, but they are so soft. They have spent years surrounding us in warmth, drying our bodies and our tears, they’ve snuggled babies and warmed snowy hands and feet coming in the door from the cold. When I pull them off the line or from the dryer, I inhale them, the clean scent of homemade detergent and freshness of citrus vinegar softeners. They’ve been part of our lives every day and put up with a lot of abuse, too. Snapping towels races through the house, being used as an extra when I run out of towels to use for rags, thrown on the floor for our feet when the mat is in the laundry. They’ve been substituted for hot pads, pulling steaming pot pies from the oven. They’ve wiped up spills on the counter, and held freshly baked cookies and breads and sat on laps when the napkins ran low. They’ve been clothespinned around necks and flown behind make-believe heroes and wrapped around silky red tresses, a bridal veil. They’ve been folded on pillows for guests and color coordinated in my linen closet.

I guess those towels are kind of like us… we’ve softened, too, as we’ve aged. We’ve surrounded each other in warmth and brought comfort. We’ve not always treated each other well, but we always return to wrap our arms around each other in love. We’ve lived a whole lot of life. And sometimes we even smell nice.

In case y’all haven’t figured it out, I’m pretty sentimental, so when those towels end up relegated to the rag bin, I’ll probably cry a little, because they’ve endured twenty years with us. That’s pretty amazing.

I told my oncologist about my meltdown over towels when I saw her later that day. She kinda got teary, too. Then she told me how she admired my resilience and I told her Jesus was my strength, and she said she could tell. Then we laughed over my stories from our spring break trip. (How Brian and I did a Chinese fire drill in standstill traffic on a highway… y’all, we are. that. crazy…. while Matt and Amy cheered from their car behind us. How we high-fived when we stopped at 9:00 at night to eat at a Denny’s for all-day breakfast and none of our kids knew what Denny’s was. #momanddadwin… And how my doctor accidentally encouraged her kids to moon their friends, but stopped them before they actually did it.) Oh, she is such a good oncologist.

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My dad sat with me during treatment… six long hours at the cancer center. He offers to go every time (y’all, I cry just typing that… my dear daddy). All went fine. I’ve felt very flu-like for the past three days and everything aches deep in the bone. She gave me some high-powered pain meds to take if I need, which I really don’t want to do, but both she and my general doctor have encouraged me it’s okay to do if I need the relief. I took one Friday and one Saturday. I’ve been mostly bed or couch-ridden, but I’m starting to perk up a bit, and able to do a few things around the house. My Asher’s track meet was canceled for rain, so he went to work vacuuming for me, and my Bear took care of dishes and my Bella baked cookies to thank our neighbor for mowing our grass for us. I reveled in the glorious green of Spring from my kitchen window. I organized my Kindle books into collections and keep opening my Kindle every now and then to look at the three pages of categories instead of 50 pages of randomly filed books. Yes, y’all, I know there is something wrong with me.

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This morning I braided my Bella’s hair before church and hugged my loves as they went off to worship. I am waiting for a sermon to download, a series on Abraham and faith that my heart desperately needs. Like I wrote a few weeks ago, our hearts have desperate hands. That is still the case. And as tired as I am of fighting for life, of clinging to faith, of pain and struggle, I’ll push on in Jesus’ strength and pray I’m used for His glory somehow in all of this. After all, there is still lots of life to live for Him… and then, the life to come. Imagine the living there!

And you know what?

I never did order those new towels.

The Lord God is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the “river of the water of life” that runs, and “the tree of life that grows, in the midst of the paradise of God.” The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will forever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another; but that which they shall enjoy in the angels, or each other, or in any thing else whatsoever that will yield them delight and happiness, will be what shall be seen of God in them. (~Jonathan Edwards)

One response to “Frayed and Ragged”

  1. My precious Angie,

    God’s power is perfected in our weakness. Oh, to have the strength to glory in our weakness that His power would rest upon us. May He grant that to you this day and everyday as you walk in these places that, as He says in His word, a momentary light affliction, which is producing in us the glory of God.

    May His love that is poured in your heart through Jesus Christ fill you with hope, the hope that saved us and hope that anchors our souls to Him.

    Love and blessings my dear dear one,
    Judie

    Like

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