Still standing

 

Sam was readmitted last Friday. It was sunny so she arrived in a lace and muslin dress with shoestring straps. We waited a few hours as usual for a bed and then finally we were shown to the ward. It was a dark corner of a four bed room. The heavy grey curtains blocked out any memory of the sunshine and the bitter despair in her room mates voices ushered in the storm. The fevers rose without warning bringing with them teams of nurses calling up doctors who came to examine and poke at her veins.

It’s hard to find a vein these days. Most of them are bruised from too many needles, too much blood being drawn out and too many fluids, too many antibiotics being pumped in. I feel the ache in her arms. I see it in her eyes. She’s fearful of the next prodding, the next canula to be inserted only to slide out again from her tiny veins. They try taping it in place but that too gives her rashes because she’s allergic to the latex. One day they suggested trying a vein in her legs since all the other access points in her arms and her hands are bruised and thick.

When they finally found entry they brought bottles that look like those that hold Tabasco sauce and they filled them with her blood. They told us time and again that if they can catch the bug that is causing the fever they will be able to more accurately predict the source of infection and inject the right kind of drug to cure it. The procedure is repeated every couple of days on the onset of a fever but after a week nothing has cultivated in the laboratory.

The weather changed last weekend, the friendly kiss of summer drowned in storms bringing winds of gale forced power. The wind blew against our house so hard that the latch on the French doors in our bedroom unhooked, throwing them open. The rain, flooded down, filling the gutters to overflowing and a waterfall cascaded on our front deck. I rolled over, feeling the chill and muttered in my sleep that perhaps it was time to clean out the gutters again.

A crash of thunder and flash of lightning lit up my room awakening me, reminding me that I shouldn’t be sleeping, there is much to fear and I find myself thinking of Sam at St Vincent’s alone. Sitting up in bed I realized that the doors were open and the rain had flooded the carpet. It’s too much to deal with. There is a storm without and a storm within and I am undone, unable to imagine how to continue to be strong.

Storms come, don’t they? Jesus told us they would.   “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

I feel like I’m falling, like my house is tumbling, that all my strength has gone. I’m angry and afraid. I can’t take anymore. It doesn’t really matter what type of house you build or where you choose to build it the storms are going to come.

On Monday the rain continued and the wind was busy turning umbrellas inside out.  Emma and I watched the people walk through the city from the refuge of my car. Somehow she thought it was amusing watching strong men wrestle with their brollys and she tried to capture them with the camera on my phone. Our journey had taken so long that she had missed her lecture completely and decided to come to hospital with me instead.

We warmed ourselves at Bunkers with sourdough toast and jam washing it down with the contentment of coffee fueling ourselves for the unknown battle within the ward.

Watching my girls embrace, I sigh. I’m so glad Emma missed her lecture, I need her today. I need to not be alone. The hours passed slowly and eventually Emma caught the bus to her tutorial. I stayed until Reid arrived late to walk me to my car in the darkness. He knows I’m afraid and the shadows of Darlinghurst haunt me like ghost tales at a teenage slumber party.

Returning on Tuesday I tried to pretend I am strong. In the late afternoon they wheel Sam to recovery for the bone marrow biopsy. I’m quietly praying that this will be the last one she ever needs to have and I’m trying to tell myself that I can do this, I can hold her hand and breathe her through the pain.

They returned her to the same bay that she was in on the day of the septic fever, September 11. I recognize the nurses but not their names. My mind takes flash backs to that formidable day. I’m trying to concentrate between pictures; trying to encourage Sam to be calm when the 2nd line for the day has tissued instead of finding a vein. She needs no encouragement. She is already brave. It’s me who feels vulnerable and stripped of courage in this room where I though I’d lost her for good.

Then the doctor comes to explain the procedure and I register that this bone marrow biopsy is going to be with general anaesthetic. This has never been done before. At RNSH it’s done with gas and at best with sedation. I’m off the hook and told I need to leave. So I ventured to the café for a pot of tea. As I pour it leaks all over the table and somehow it releases my tears as well.

“Faith leaks,” that’s what my pastor says. I hear his voice in my mind validating my tears and God comes to rub my back reminding me that I’ve been through a lot. That tears are okay. Faith does leak. It oozes out of the wounds in our heart leaving an empty trail down to our stomach, causing great pain. Fear attacks deep in our guts. It makes our belly button sting. Fear catches us off guard when we are unprepared. It finds us in the night seasons. It blows against our walls.

Fear reminds us that we are in adequate, unable to fight, unable to endure. Fear isolates us. It tells us there is no one who can possibly understand our journey, the intensity of it all. Fear speaks fact not truth. Truth reminds me that I’m just the house and though my walls have been rattled, though the waters seeped in, though there are places that need renovation my foundation is strong.

He reminds me that surviving this battle is more to do with Him than me. All I can do is to keep walking. All I can do is to be obedient, to keep getting up, to keep celebrating the small things. It is Him who is strong and my foundation is in Him.

In the middle of it all my friend Bridget sent me this message: God himself took charge of his people, took Jacob on as his personal concern. He found him out in the wilderness, in the dry place, in the empty, windswept wasteland. He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him, not missing one detail. Guarding him as the apple of his eye. He is like an eagle hovering over it’s nest, protecting it’s young. Then in the right and perfect time it spreads in wings, lifts it’s young and teaches them to fly. God alone led him. God lifted him onto the hilltop, so he could feast on the crops in the field. He fed him honey from the rock and oil from granite crags, curds of cattle and the milk of sheep. He fed him with the choice cut of lambs and goat, fine bashan rams, high quality wheat and the finest wine.

God finds us if we let Him. He doesn’t leave out any detail. He leads you to discount tops on sale racks, He reminds a friend to send you a verse and someone who you hardly know but you have always admired texts you to say ‘stick to the game plan and do not budge.’ He provides someone to walk the same road in a different hospital and though far away it feels tremendously close. He even inspires someone to bring rice pudding. You don’t even need to ask sometimes, He just knows what to send you because he loves you and he knows you. He reminds you that you are not alone.

So I am learning to walk day by day with my Father. He slips His hand into mine, He knows when to be silent, He knows when to speak. The gnarly hand of fear loosens its grip on my heart.

By Thursday night after another whole day of waiting for specialists, waiting for answers, waiting for test results the registrar apologizes again that we won’t be able to see the professor for another week. They discharge Sam without answers, telling us how to manage the fevers at home, reminding us to phone the haemotology team or come to emergency if we need to. In a fragile state we make our way back to the cottage that is our home. It is still standing and so are we.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Still standing

  1. You are one of the most incredible & amazing people I ‘know.’ I keep typing & backspacing, typing & backspacing. There aren’t words for this type of strength, courage, faith. I love you. xx

  2. Meg Dietrich

    Ditto to the above!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are truly amazing,inspirational and through it all thankful….God is sooo smiling down on you,Clare….i am honoured to be your friend,thank you…i love you xoxoxox

  3. Clare I am reminded of verses I learned in teenage age years, There is no test you will go through but that God will enable you to endure 1 Cor 10 : 13. Paraphrase as your days so will your strength be. Easier said than done ? but they have been proved true time and time again. We do feel for you and long that this trial will soon be over. Love you more than I can say. Dad. xxxxxx

  4. Bronte Waller

    my lovely friend…i hold your hand…i know that doesn’t make things better but i am glad you know you’re not alone…so many love you…so many cheering from the sidelines…so many praying…so many speechless and frozen at how you can possibly endure this…how they could possibly do this…our God will prevail. i love you. thank you for taking me on and all of us with you…not just saying things are ‘fine’.
    xxxx

  5. Jane Grover

    I want to leave you a comment, as I know our comments encourage you xx I want to make you laugh……however, the depth of expression in your writing today, makes it all so real, that the words are not flowing for me this time,humour seems inappropriate, as whatever I write will not fix your present pain.
    Best I just tell you again I love you Clare, I stand with you and I’ll continue to do all God enables me to do to plug the leaking faith and reminder you of the hope you have in Him xx He has the answers I continue to praise Him for that xx

  6. emma

    I wish I got the photo of the man with his umbrella. But then again my umbrella broke later that day and someone may have wanted to take a photo of me.

    The storm comes and thats why we stand in our faith in Jesus Christ. I thought of this verse alot when Sam first got sick. I’m thankful that I have Him when the storm comes. I’m thankful I have purpose.

    So many people have nothing to stand on when the storm comes. I’m thankful that I have been called to stand.

  7. Michele

    Claire I have been following and reading you and Sam all year and this time it is so hard to read your pain exhaustion and dispair but know you and loved and prayed for often. Let your friends hold you up in faith to our Lord. Let them carry you through in these times. I was sitting behind you at C3 everywoman and spent more time praying for you and didn’t hear much of the conference. Your journey although at times feels like a lone one it is not as so many people are with you. You communicate with such rawness the reality of this journey it is as if we are you and with this our prayers can be more specific and pinpointed. Hold on Claire many are with you even though they aren’t going to the hospital with you or in the ward they are with you as their thoughts go to you at all times during the day.
    Love in the Lord, a sister in Christ.

  8. Dearest Clare, my heart joins with yours and knows. Did you look at ‘Streams’ over the w/e – we are exactly where God wants us to be, in the centre of His will and must wait until the cloud moves from the tabernacle (Numb 9) – surrender and obedience. I’m struggling today BUT have been lifted by your writing… thank you. I love you.

  9. Jen Exton

    Your words leave me speechless yet again Clare. How does one respond to such a pouring out of a real and unbelievably difficult season in the life of a dear friend. We can but pray (and sometimes cook) and when the opportunites come hug, laugh and order another coffee. You are a true champion – tired and yet never giving up.

    May the Lord continue to sustain, strengthen, bless and heal!

    x Jen

  10. Meredith Harvey

    I am at a loss for the right words to write Clare. Your honesty is raw and leaves me with tears flowing at knowing the pain you are going through. I can only write what many before have said in that i am praying for you, i am believing in our God and trusting that He will continue to sustain you and carry you though.
    You are truly an inspiration and encouragment to me through all things.
    xxx

  11. rosalie

    We are all still here even when it feels like you are alone. We are praying and believing and sometimes crying, but we are here.
    Your words made me remember that old poem “footprints in the sand”. Sometimes when we don’t see His footprints beside us it is because He is carrying us. I understand a very small part of how Sam is struggling with keeping her spirits up. The emotions associated with cancer are complicated and sometimes incredibly lonely. Your beautiful daughter has had to endure 100 times more than I have experienced as part of the cancer I experienced. As a Mother you want to take the pain away, protect her from it, even take it on yourself. You can’t and that must be so difficult. I believe you are doing a great job as Sam’s Mum. You are doing the best you can. Remember to let Him carry you. love you. xx

    • Clare Froggatt

      Thankyou Rosalie for continuing to pray and believe with us. After experiencing your own journey with Cancer I know you know how big this is. Yes, I do want to take Sam’s pain away. What mother wouldn’t prefer to go through this herself than watch her child endure it. She is made of strong stuff however and I know she will pull through.
      I thought of you lots when writing my recent post. Tried to weave you into the story as well. After all you are the one who inspired me to make paper. Your paper was always so beautiful, while mine was lumpy and thick. Ha ha. I would still buy paper from you if you made it. Although from memory you never let me pay, even when it was your business. I love that we found each other again. I really must put your blog in my blog roll. xxx

  12. Catherine Knuth

    Clare….. Its Cath (Mellalieu) now Knuth (was Kent) , Alexandra has told me of the challenge Sam and your family has to face .I have somehow found myself onto this website tonight.I dont know what to say,but this….every word that I have read tonight has had a deep impact in my soul.I remember you,your passion and love for God as a young women,YOU are truly inspirational,please know this that YOU have spoken to me – or God and ignited a fresh spark in me , one which has been lost in the face of adversity through my own troubles.Thankyou Clare and my love to you and the family at this time .

    • Clare Froggatt

      Oh Cath, What a joy are your words to my heart. I pray all the time, ‘God let my pain be worth it’ and your comment makes it worth it in so many ways. You also had a great passion and love for God as a young woman. We believed we could move mountains didn’t we? We used to pray for hours and then speak boldly on the streets in Manly. All passion and no wisdom, hey! I’m glad a spark has ignited through my writing. Pain sure has a way of blowing out the flame. But God’s word breathes on it and causes a fire. We also need others, at least I do. People around us to keep reminding us we can make it. I hope we can see each other again soon or send me an email or meet me at church. Together we can be brave again. Lots of love Clare

  13. Catherine Knuth

    Hi again.Would love to see you and give your a big hug.
    Just email me how to contact you … or is it only this way l? love Cathxx

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