For some time now, these words have refused to come out. The unknown, undefined place we’ve inhabited post-treatment has been crippling to my writing because I haven’t known what I’m writing about any more. I was reminded this week that life is a journey and my heart is to honestly chronicle my way through it – whatever it may bring. With that reminder, the words finally came and I could write out the struggle.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
“His counts are in normal range”; “You can return to normal activities”; “You should treat him like a normal boy”; “Not being in this hospital is good…it’s normal”… Normal, normal, normal…
We keep hearing this word; they keep using this word; but to quote the great Inigo Montoya: “You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
I look at Chase – at the scar, at the hair that’s trying to grow past radiated skin. I watch him – how he struggles to hear a whisper even when we speak directly in his ear, how his mood swings, how his words jumble and garble. Excuse me for sounding skeptical, but this is normal? Do normal children have to have medical clearance from teams of specialists just to get their teeth cleaned? (a true story of how several hours in my week went down)
I remember clear as day – sitting on the couch in his PICU room in the dawn before brain surgery and wishing for normal. I confronted that wish and had to put it aside. “There is no normal. There is only Christ.” And now normal is being handed back to us…and it’s terrifying.
My brain whispers that Chase could have been dead. He could have been unable to walk, unable to speak, unable to do a hundred other things. My thoughts turn to all that could have been and all the cancer children who have stopped breathing since Chase was diagnosed and I can hardly breathe myself. The anger and frustration flares… How dare I ask where we are and where we’re going? How dare I? What right have we to wonder? Is it not enough that we’re the ones who still breathe?
But we do wonder. It feels thankless and rude, but we do. We are beings created for a purpose and we chafe and fight against this normal not-normal life that at times feels so purposeless. We no longer belong to the world we inhabited pre-diagnosis. Those people have been ripped apart and rebuilt time and again with new eyes, hearts and focus. But we no longer belong to the world we inhabited during treatment. How do we use our changed lives? Where do we belong?
The truth is that I don’t know. I believe that the answer is something that is still unfolding. And while it unfolds and we wait with hope… this:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
We were made by God for good things. Good things that He planned for us to do long before we ever breathed. He planned them for us, so we can’t miss them or mess them up. He planned them.
There is a plan. It won’t be normal, but it will be good.
And we’ll take it moment by moment.