In my dreams a few nights ago I found myself rehearsing ‘Where the
Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak. I almost know it by heart though
it’s a long time since we read it together again and again till the
spine sagged on its stringy binding and the cover finally dropped
off. It was Sam’s most favourite book when she was 3, closely followed
by ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake.’ I think I can
still recite that as well.
The words and images that invaded my dreams woke me up, so I decided
to lie there and analyse the text, the meaning, the writer’s purpose. I
looked deep in my memory to find the Teachers College file where I was
sure a paper existed, subtitled ‘Children’s Literature’.( It was one of
my majors back in the 80s. Our lecturer Clare Scott- Mitchell, with
her hyphenated name and the plumb in her throat, made me feel as
though I sat amongst the great minds and thinkers of my time. She was
the hinge that swung open the door to my passion for children’s books-
a door I hope I’ve ushered my little students through as well.) I love
children’s books and children’s films. I love the simple images they use
to convey such powerful truths.
As I ponder the story of Max, I see the similarities with Sam- little,
fiesty, strong, unintimidated and not afraid to stand up for herself.
Of my 3 children, Sam is the one most likely to answer me back or
question my authority. When she was small, like Max, she also got sent
to her room for being cross and cranky. The deal was that she could
come out again as soon as she was happy. To my delight, her sweet
little voice would ring down the corridor eventually, singing, “I’m
happy now!” I imagine that in her room a forest also grew, that the ceilings hung
with vines and the walls became the world all around. Sam has always
had the capacity to focus, to create and to escape.
Taking her into TBI this week has been the most excruciatingly painful
emotion that I think I’ve had to deal with as a Mum. It’s total
isolation. Each time they put her into the perspex cylinder (packing
her in with bags of rice to shield the parts of her body that should
not be lasered, tying her legs together by her knees, taping her feet,
weighting her arms so she cannot move), they remind her that the
worst part is the sense of being alone.
And I hear God remind me, as they do this, that she is His daughter,
mine on loan. I have to let go, I have to trust Him, I have to leave
her on the altar, time and again.
As I say ‘goodbye’ the bed is elevated so it’s above my head,
they line it up between the cross shaped laser lights, they wheel her
in place, they turn up her CD, they turn out the lights and it’s time
to leave her. Just like Max, an ocean tumbles by with a private boat, this time
marked for SAM. This is a journey just for her. I’ve done all that I
can. I let go, trusting God. Just like the Bible story – I am Hannah, she is Samuel,
I am dropping her off at the temple, fully weaned. I think I’ve known all her life
that this moment would come- the huge letting go, between mother and
child but I never predicted it would be like this.
Train your child in the way they should go and they will not depart
from it. How many times in their lifetime does God teach us this?
1st sleepover, 1st playdate, 1st day at preschool, 1st day at school,
1st dance, 1st date, 1st kiss, 1st time driving, 1st day of Uni, 1st
true love. In that list; 1st day of chemo, 1st day of TBI, 1st day of
100 days for body to accept a stem cell transplant were never a part
of my plan.
In all this though, I know that God knew. He knew before He formed her
in the secret place and He’s been preparing her for this moment.
Jeremiah 1:5- Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of
you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated
and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a
prophet to the nations.
I’m not sure where her mind goes in the TBI alone but I’m sure
she’s battling wild things. All year she’s confronted obstacles so
huge that most of us would have lost control by now.
My daughter and I are learning the secret of trusting, of letting go,
of letting God. It’s big for us both but in different ways.
The road ahead is dark, unknown and paved with uncertainty but God is
waiting for us in the dark forest. The Bible says, ‘fix your eyes on me,
the author and perfector of your faith.’
With focus we reach our desired goal and above all things that goal is
to know God and the power of His resurrection. The same power that
raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us. The world comes at us hard to intimidate and overwhelm us but we do not fear, He has overcome the world. The peace He gives, is not as the world gives. It’s uniquely tangible and on this
shore, as her boat sails past, through weeks and days, and in and out of months to the
place where the wild things are, he holds us close.
I am convinced that cancer is a wild thing that has crept into the
world to dominate and crush us. It’s taking lives, day after day. I
hear the call to rise. I’m asking myself if I’ve been too comfortable, have I rested too much, have I been so concerned with my own life that I’ve not cried out and made my God and His earth my priority?
Zechariah1:11- And the men on the horses answered]the Angel of the
Lord Who stood among the myrtle trees and said, We have walked to and
fro through the earth [patrolling it] and behold, all the earth sits
at rest [in peaceful security]
14So the angel who talked with me said to me, Cry out, Thus says
the Lord of hosts: I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a
15And I am very angry with the nations that are at ease; for
while I was but a little displeased, they helped forward the
affliction and disaster.
16Therefore thus says the Lord: I have returned to Jerusalem with
compassion (lovingkindness and mercy). My house shall be built in it,
says the Lord of hosts, and a measuring line shall be stretched out
over Jerusalem [with a view to rebuilding its walls].
17Cry yet again, saying, Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities
shall yet again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord shall yet
comfort Zion and shall yet choose Jerusalem.
I believe that we are called to silence the power of sickness and
disease. I believe we are called to cry out.
Not by might, not by power but by my spirit, says the Lord.
If we align ourselves with Him and allow Him to take us on an intimate
journey, we are trained for war.
In the words of Sendak, ‘Let the wild rumpus begin.’ Lets take back
what the devil has stolen. Let chains be broken, lives be healed. Christ is revealed.
We shall return and supper will be waiting. It will still be hot.