Missing

Life was beautiful before cancer came knocking on our door. Sam was a pretty girl, active in church, loving uni, with a fabulous group of friends, a stable family life and a home near the beach. Out of nowhere we were knocked down flat and a sharp blade began to cut through the beautiful image that was our life. It made its way around our family until we were cut into a thousand little pieces and thrown into a flimsy cardboard box. The lovely image of how life used to look was detailed on the front and then it was sealed in plastic, put on the shelf and we were given little hope that the picture would ever reform. At best it would always be scared from the blade that sliced through us.

Our life became like a jigsaw puzzle. We laid out all the pieces and spent many days trying to connect them again. It was long and mostly boring, joining those parts. Occasionally a whole scene came together like at the end of the ‘Induction phase’ when the chemotherapy proved to be effective and she was in first remission.

No one prepared us for what came next. Instead we were handed another sheet, a new protocol, the next phase and told that the MRD would be what’s important now. Like a handful of cardboard pieces, we had another scene to build. We began again with all those little parts that never seemed to fit no matter how hard we tried to turn them around on the table. That was early in May when they told us that the results hadn’t been what they were looking for and they would commence their search for a donor. All the little pieces got scooped back in the box and we had another go at trying to survive until the donor was found.

At night I would look at the flawless photographs of my daughter. Her sassy smile, her long dark hair, the glint of starlight in her eyes that sparkled at her future. This was the image that kept me going and I pulled out all those little pieces determined that with God’s grace, the picture of her life would be fully restored.

The picture is almost in full view now but we have discovered that one little piece is still missing. Only the surface of the table peeks back at us from where it should be and we see that the picture is incomplete. We could shrug our shoulders; tell ourselves that in the scheme of things, it’s a pretty good result. You can almost see the completed scene. We can imagine what the finished picture will be like, we can compare it with the scene on the front of the box and be satisfied that life is forming for us again. I run my fingers over the image of what now is the picture of our life and under the tips of them I feel the indentations. I could tell a thousand different stories for each individual piece.

The piece that is missing now is the one where we try to make sense of it all. Some would say ‘it’s irrelevant,’ some would say ‘she has already impacted lives,’ some would say ‘just be grateful that what has been lost has been found.’ I understand their words. We are grateful. All will be made whole. Her hands will be still again, her skin less sensitive, her hair will grow back, her swollen face will return to its petite little frame. It will be the way Jesus (in Luke 15) taught in the parables, of things that went missing, the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. Everything that was lost was returned and all the people rejoiced.

Over coffee, Sam tells me that she can handle all the stuff that has gone missing except when her thoughts become fuzzy from drugs or the exhaustion that is intensified by heat. Yet there is another kind of desire that is evoked in her. It is the desire to understand the purpose of being a survivor at all. Not everyone recovers from Leukaemia and the ability to discover why Sam did, weighs heavy on her mind. “I don’t just want to return to being ordinary.”  I understand her words. I too, want my life to count. We did not spend a year in the valley of the shadow of death to return to an ordinary life.

So I get off my chair and on hands and knees, I grope around under the table, reaching out, trying to feel that one little piece wondering if it’s dropped to the floor. Things go missing don’t they and its human nature to seek.

Matthew 7:7-8 (Amplified Bible)

7Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.

8For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened.

Even Jesus went missing.

It’s kind of encouraging isn’t it, that Mary lost Jesus. She assumed He was with them. They traveled for three days before they thought to stop and look. Sometimes in this new season of recovery, I think Sam is with me too but she isn’t, she’s a long way behind me still. I can see that she’s spending time in God’s presence, she’s writing in her journal, she’s sitting at His feet. We can’t always run with the crowd. Sometimes God pulls us aside to tell us how to live.

It’s not surprising really that they found Jesus in the temple; after all the preceding verses (Luke 2:25 – 39) tell us that Simeon and Anna had known all their lives what the purpose was for Jesus birth. When we loose sight of our purpose we need people like that to help us make sense of the journey.  People who spend time in God’s presence and know how to hear His voice.

I love Jesus response to His parents when they found Him. He sounds like Jack: Gosh, didn’t you think I’d be here? Didn’t you trust me? Didn’t you know? I think that in spite of the fact he was (and is) God, he was still fully human. Like us, He was looking for answers. He wanted to be around people who could fill Him in on all the gaps that He didn’t understand about the purpose of His existence. It’s a very fine line between humanity and the voice of the spirit. God’s voice is more familiar than we think.

So there I was on Saturday morning, under the table looking for that piece and some of the picture came into view. A message came to me from a friend on my Facebook page. This is what she wrote: “I was praying for Sam this morning and I saw this picture of her. It was a blueprint of a plan but it was invisible. I knew it was there but you couldn’t see it. Then water was splashed on it and you could see the plan as the invisible ink was made visible by the water. It was like one if those “paint with water” books we had when we were children. The water was the Holy Spirit, as He began to renew Sam this year, the plan would begin to become clearer. I also saw God restoring the gaps in her heart that have been stolen, with a warm liquid substance and her heart was not broken, cold or empty anymore.” (Holy Spirit via Wendy Gilbert)

My friend words did not complete the picture the way I would like but she re-ignited my hope. She was like the voice of my Father acknowledging the gaps, reminding me that He hasn’t finished yet but He hasn’t forgotten us either.

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13 Comments

Filed under Life

13 responses to “Missing

  1. Wendy Gilbert

    What can I say. So, so, so, glad that I helped to bring some encouragement to the craziness of your picture. Love you Guys. Wendy

  2. Bronte Waller

    i love you and i wish it all hadn’t happened but i stand with you watching to see all our loving father brings. he is faithful.
    xxxx

    • Clare Froggatt

      He is faithful, That is my greatest ‘mantra’ through this. I know hope does not disappoint. I wish it hadn’t happened either but God knows what He is doing and what we are capable of carrying. i know you stand in the gap for me. xxxx

  3. Sandy Foster

    So beautiful Clare – I love that … He hasn’t finished yet and He certainly hasn’t forgotten. Like apples of gold in settings of silver – is a timely word – thank you Holy Spirit via Wendy! Love the Froggatt’s – my heroes!

    • Clare Froggatt

      Thanks Sandy. I am very blessed to be surrounded by people who carry us in prayer. Most of them are not named on this blog. If I named them all it would be like the credits at the end of the film. It would go on rolling long after people left the cinema. I am very grateful that many continue to pray and fight for us. Wendy’s word was certainly a word aptly spoken. X Clare

  4. Jane Grover

    a Missing piece…..It brings to mind for me the scripture in 2 Cor 12 when Paul says that he could boast of his perfect life and all he had done, all his pieces in place and yet he lived instead with a thorn in his flesh….something he maybe did not fully understand, something he wondered intially why God allowed to happen and then why he let it remain, why did he limp the rest of his days….but then Paul understood and he writes ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake I delight in weaknesses, insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. FOR WHEN I AM WEAK, THEN I AM STRONG. Some live all their days with a missing piece, it is Christ’s power only that makes our lives complete. xx yet again amazing words Clare.

    • Clare Froggatt

      That thorn certainly keeps us on our knees, seeking His presence. And there is nowhere like His presence! I guess that hardest thing for me is that it is my daughter who is sick, not me. It breaks my heart to see what she has been through and still going through but in a way I know she is great because of this too. So how do you pray “Let this cup pass from her” but rather I pray “Your will be done.” and it’s in HIs hands. Thanks Jane for your constant encouragement. Clare

  5. monica olander

    Hi Clare, If you turn the puzzle pieces over, you’ll see they are no longer just the plain white backing of a normal photo or puzzle. “O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.” While you’ve been rebuilding, God has been changing the pieces from behind – they may look the same to you and others at times – but turn them over and see what He has done! Precious, priceless! That final piece you’re looking for will be a precious stone that shines from the front of the puzzle, not meant to stay hidden at the back, and it will change the whole picture. Love Mon x

    • Clare Froggatt

      Beautiful Monica, I love that visual. I am so happy to agree with what you see. It kind of reminded me of those old SRA coloured coded reading comprehension cards we used in the 1970s and 80s where you place a tile in a folder every time you answered a question. At the end of the task you had to turn the plastic box thing over and open it upside down. If all the upside down tiles created a pattern you knew you had answered them all correctly. I had not thought of these for years until now. I loved doing SRA comprehension. Maybe I am learning a whole knew way of understanding God’s journey for me through all of this too. I do like the image of shiny precious stones staring back at me. Thanks Mon. Clare

  6. ordinary girl

    “We did not spend a year in the valley of the shadow of death to return to an ordinary life.”

    I would be content with an ‘ordinary life’ if I could have my brother back again.

    • Clare Froggatt

      Hello ordinary girl, I am so sad to hear about your brother. It’s true, an ordinary life is incredibly special. Especially when the people you love are still living. My words were perhaps badly chosen. What I guess I mean is, that after spending so much time around the dying and seeing Sam come so close to dying as well, I feel some sort of responsibility to live less ordinary.
      I guess we want what we have been through to count for something. To make us more caring, more appreciative, more grateful. I watched last year as people I know lived an ordinary life. All I wanted was for Sam to be well and life to return to normal. What I am learning now is that it will never return to normal because sickness and suffering has changed us.
      You are so right, an ordinary life is magnificent. No one can know how much you are suffering to have lost your precious brother. We take so much for granted when everyone is well. I am so sorry. I did not write right. My words were perhaps wrongly chosen. I don’t expect to be great or life to be in any way more sensational, neither does Sam. We just want to fully live, as best we can as a result of the miracle it is for us that she survived. To somehow, live differently now.
      We are just ordinary girls as well.

  7. ordinary girl

    hi Clare
    thank you for your most gracious & heartfelt response which gave me much to think on. And I’ve spent some time doing just that. I understand now what you were saying. I just didn’t read it right 🙂 I didn’t read what you were saying. I didn’t read the depth of the words.
    You have your Sam and I do think her life WILL be more than ordinary. It already is.
    So thank you again and you have helped me on MY journey.
    My prayers continue to be with Sam & her family.

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