Sam has never really been afraid of anything except for people in costumes like Humphrey B. Bear, Clowns and Santa Claus. As a child she was also afraid of saying goodbye to me. Today she is afraid of the possibility of being admitted to hospital. It’s my fault that she is going in and I feel as though I have betrayed her.
Yesterday while we were waiting for her drugs to be administered through pharmacy I ran back up to see the specialist. This sudden sweep of anxiety passed over me like the rush of guilt when we have neglected to do something that is very important. I ran to the escalator and back into HOAC and asked the secretary if it was at all possible to speak again to our doctor.
In his gracious, laid back, caring manner he invited me in to his office and listened with his tired eyes. ‘I’m concerned,’ I told him, ‘what if its not her thyroid?’
He looked across his desk staring at its edge, considering my question. ‘I’m a little concerned too,’ he said when his eyes met mine. ‘We would need to bring her in, do a series of tests, more blood cultures, more scans and ultrasounds, I know she doesn’t want to come in but I think it would be useful to rule everything out.’
‘I’d like to be sure,’ I said, ‘she’s very precious to me,’ I added stating the obvious. I felt embarrassed.
‘Of course,’ he agreed covering me with grace. ‘Have you got private health insurance, it may be complicated getting a bed.’
Then we agreed to chat in the morning when he had worked things out, talked to the endocrinologist, spoken to his colleagues, checked with the ward and so on. By 10 o’clock he had not called, so I called him. His secretary wrote down the fevers and the times they had occurred and reassured me that he would call.
Sam was still sleeping when the call came. He was brief. ‘It is all organised, see you at 2.30 in HOAC.’ The silence at the end of the line when he hung up the phone caused me to feel like the great betrayer. I felt as though I had reported my daughter for a crime, ‘How will I tell her we are going back in?’ I wondered, as I looked across to her tiny curled up frame asleep on the couch under the cool of the air conditioner.
Then the picture came to my mind of my niece Kate’s 1st Birthday party, 18 years ago. I am in my sister’s bedroom with the green floral wallpaper and Sam, aged 3 is propped up on the bed laughing as I am getting ready for the guest appearance as a clown. All the time I was getting ready I was talking her through it.
‘See, now mummy is putting on the outfit, funny isn’t it? Now, I’m putting on the white face, now the big red, lipstick smile, funny lashes, look Sam, mummy is drawing on the funny lashes. Do I look like a clown? I am dressing like a clown for little Katie’s birthday.’ Sam was fine, everything was fine until I put on the nose and somehow at that moment I must have stopped looking like her mother and she began to scream.
She screamed and screamed. She would not stop screaming. The fear in her eyes was horrendous. She had no where to go because I was always the one that she ran to when there were Humphrey appearances at shopping malls, or Santa Clauses on icicle thrones. I was the one she hid behind and now she had nowhere to go.
Here I am, doing it all again. I’m betraying her and leaving her with nowhere to go.
I look at her calmly sleeping and I don’t see a 21 year old. I see a little girl that I love with all my heart. I see all of the moments of her life, I see the potential of her future and I just want to hold her and make everything okay and take away all the fear.
I wish it were as simple as taking off the makeup, or passing her to the arms of her aunty but going back to hospital because there’s a chance of a hidden infection is so much more complicated.
She didn’t scream when I told her. Instead she ate her lunch in silence. We demolished the last jar of Silvia’s sauce on macaroni as if it could be ‘The Last Supper’ or Holy Communion. A reverent silence filled the room. As she pushed the pasta around the bowl her only comment was, ‘I just don’t get it, we prayed.’
I don’t really get it either. We did pray. We’ve prayed all year about every single thing and sometimes God doesn’t answer the way we want him to.
The devil likes to whisper things like ‘God doesn’t really care about what you are going through.’ It’s tempting to buy that line. It feels like truth. But I’ve heard it said that if you invite him in to ride your thoughts long enough, pretty soon he wants to drive. He takes you down the one way streets that lead to dead ends and that’s futile.
So instead of trying to cheer her up I simply agreed with her that I don’t get it either. That we are searching for truth, not leaving anything to chance.
Maybe inside her there’s an infection hiding, masked like that clown and we are going to peel off the layers and look at it for what it really is.
That’s what I want from my relationship with God too. I don’t want bells and whistles. I don’t want hype or pantomimes or riddles. I want truth.
Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.
God is truth and He made me in His image so I figure He understands this need in me. He says ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’
I’m so thankful that Jesus came. So thankful He bore our sickness and disease. My life is changed by what He did on the cross for me.
I know healing is available but sometimes I wish it worked like abracadabra and happened straight away. It’s easy to believe but so hard to wait. Real life doesn’t take place under the Big Top of the circus tent.
God isn’t expecting a performance or a mask. Instead he says to me ‘Just as you are, you come.’
Jesus came so that I would find my way to God. That through unveiled face I could go directly to Him. To make my petitions known to Him. He came to be my great high priest, my mediator who is seated on Gods right hand interceding for me.
Even when I don’t understand, when I don’t get it; when i don’t see what He sees that is when I have to do what I can do and leave the rest to Him.
So, when everything was packed in the car we drove and we listened to the song she wants to walk down the aisle to and the one she sang along to last summer, driving in her car with the windows down and her hair blowing in the breeze. We remembered life before she had leukaemia and we imagined what it will be like again when life is normal.
God’s grace carries us like Aunty Kim carried Sam all those years ago when the person (me) she put all her hope in didn’t seem to understand. Just as it was my purpose to bring joy dressed in clown’s costume so Jesus brings us joy.
Sometimes we can’t see clearly, sometimes we don’t get it but He’s there right in front of us. He’s bringing us joy.