And it comes yet again… the hours before a loved one’s surgery…
There was one night when I was very small that I sat, crouched in the dark hall, huddled on the old, brown carpet outside the door and listened quietly. I’d been wakened from a sound sleep and I knew if I were found, I’d be in trouble for getting out of bed, but I couldn’t stop myself from coming close to hear. My mom was on the other side of the door and she was ill. She’d gotten out of her bed and tried to make it across the room and, feeling too faint, had cried out for my dad in the middle of the night. I still remember the sound of her voice as it woke me because children remember the sound of their parents when the tones are helpless. That’s the kind of thing that sticks with you for many long years because mothers are strong and when you’re little, they’re strangely larger than life. Mothers make skinned knees hurt less and storm clouds less ominous, and everything feels better when they’re near. Much like “Marmee”, Louisa May Alcott’s beautiful matriarch to the March sisters, when my mother was in the room, all the upside down was set to right.
Tomorrow, my mom goes into surgery to remove the cancer and a part of her body with it. And it’s strange how, even though I’m grown with babies of my own, I feel like a tiny child in the hall again and the woman who could make it all right is having to undergo great wrong and it feels so helpless.
Even so, her words have remained sure… she doesn’t fear the cancer or the surgery, or even the potential complications: “I know where I’m going when I die”, she said. And if ever it hits her, she worries about the drugs they’ll use on her. She’s always been so careful with those things. And she worries what she might say when she’s under anesthesia, and because it’s a genetic tradition on my father’s side, we laugh and joke about the worry moments because somehow, it works for us, and if we’re honest, we get funny looks when we’re trying to be serious, so who are we kidding anyway? She got injected with something radioactive and the text came from my dad – a message to let us know she was okay and that she’s beautiful when she glows.
But when you strip away the laughter, the strength, the years, and even the helplessness and fear of it all, what is left? Especially in these days when, it feels like there’s cancer everywhere I turn…what is left?
I want to share this that she wrote:
As I walk this path I am being lovingly and unhesitatingly escorted by dear women who are willing to return to this route and walk it with me. They are precious friends whose strength and encouragement has been forged in the fire of their own trial, and from their loving dependence on the Lord.
“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Cor. 1:3-4
One of her greatest joys in this to date has been watching links form in the chain of ugly turned very beautiful; the awe of knowing a little more of Chase’s journey now, the wonder of those coming around her to share their own experiences. And she is willing to be helpless to know what it’s like for others. That’s something kind of breath-taking if you really consider it.
And so it comes yet again…these hours before the surgery. Tonight and tomorrow and in whatever follows, we are all drawing near to the One who loves us in brokenness and understands our helplessness and takes the ugly things and pours them out in great beauty for His glory and our ultimate good.
Mom, I’m so proud of you. See you on the other side…
Moment by moment.