I woke at 5:15 this morning thinking how difficult it is to move forward. So many days this year it has felt like ‘Groundhog Day.’ I mentioned this to a good friend of mine. I told her it all feels so strangely familiar. The cleaning, the sorting, the getting ready for class and dropping off things I no longer want to ‘The Salvos Store.’ This is what I did last January just before Sam was diagnosed. ‘We are moving forward,’ she said in response to my comment with the same kind of authority she had all last year when I let her in on my concern. Its true, we are moving forward but no one really lives happily ever after. That’s just fairy tales and this is real life so we have to look for a way.
A few weeks ago I found the perfect table at the local antique store. It’s kauri pine, with turned legs and has the most beautiful soft, golden colour. It has been lovingly restored and was not expensive. I put a deposit on it straight away returning a week later with cash, a trailer and Reid. We had a table like this one when we first got married. My dad had rescued the original one from the firewood room at Gladesville hospital where he used to be a chaplain. I loved that table but somehow through the stages of trying to define my style I replaced it with a white laminate one with stainless steel legs from ‘Freedom’.
I am good at getting rid of things, giving things away and letting things go. I am not a hoarder but some of the things I have given away I have come to regret. I am eternally grateful to my mum and my sister for rescuing things off my throw out pile and storing them to return to me later.
It can be tricky to find the balance between what to keep and what to get rid of. Sometimes you can be lucky and discover that someone still has the thing you loved and is happy to give it back to you. Or like my table, you find the perfect specimen at the local store in better condition than the one you originally had, at a price you can afford.
We lifted the table into the trailer and drove it home without realizing that the trailer contained little stones. In the brief time it took to get home the table got damaged and dented from the debris. All it had needed was a soft blanket to cushion the ride, to lie flat on, to protect it from the bumps and friction of the road but we hadn’t been thinking at all. Even the smallest bit of gravel can cause scars.
Last week when Sam went for surgery I didn’t think either. We went through the extensive least of drugs that we now know she is allergic to. She even added ‘bee stings,’ to be extra careful – “You never know,” we laughed but we didn’t stop to think about all the dressings and cleaning agents that she is allergic to now as well. She came out of surgery with a drain extended from her beautiful, once flawless, chest and to keep it in place was a primapore dressing.
Her skin is so sensitive, the slightest change in the weather causes her to react. When she walks on warm sand her feet blister, when she sits in the shade on a warm day she gets a sunburn mark around her sunglasses and Reid says she looked like a reverse raccoon. Her skin bruises and tears in the strangest ways and under the primapore I could see her skin ruptured, red and sore. We gently removed the dressing to discover it was too late and now her chest is covered in scars that I am sure will eventually heal.
The Haemotology doctors say the skin problem could be any number of things. Perhaps its new skin from the transplant, perhaps its from the extensive doses of cyclophosphamide chemotherapy or perhaps it is graft versus host disease. It makes me a little bit fearful. I want it to be over. I want her to bounce back unencumbered
Rumi wrote, “Give up to grace. The ocean takes care of each wave ’til it gets to shore. You need more help than you know.”
I still feel a little helpless and uncertain. I don’t know what to do with this residue of fear. It sticks to my sides like baked on grease, it wakes me at dawn. I find my place on the right hand side of the couch crying out to God for His wisdom. He always comes. I need just as much help on the shore as I did in the ocean. I pray for grace as I sip my early cup of tea.
“Three times I called upon the Lord and besought Him about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) in your weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
As I prayed I placed my daughter again in His capable hands. Later today I took a photo of my table to post in my blog. In the background of the photo is Jack playing his guitar. My son is a great musician. He came out of the womb singing it seems. I thought about this as the photo enlarged on my computer screen and again I was reminded of God’s faithfulness. “Do you remember when Jack was small and you were worried that he wouldn’t be able to sing after his voice broke?” I sensed the Holy Spirit asking me. With tears in my eyes I remembered and God showed me that He is able to do above and beyond what we ask or think. He takes what is broken, even a young boy’s voice and creates an even better sound. A sound that is deep and mature and full of passion.
I know He is taking the broken pieces of our lives and creating something beautiful. Just like the Salvation Army Band used to sing: Something beautiful, something good, all my confusion, he understood. All I had to offer him was brokenness and strife but He made something beautiful out of my life.
As I let go of all my stuff, He is finding ways to bring it back redeemed and restored with a golden wax patina. He knows I will damage it again and again but He keeps on giving anyway. We are moving forward. It’s just like my friend said.