He’s afraid of almost nothing outside the hospital, but he hates change like the plague. I mean, knock-down, drag-out, hates it straight up. One time I changed his bed without telling him and he lay on the floor and screamed until I could persuade him that new sheets weren’t the end of the world. And I tell you truth when I say that I’ve just gotten him to wear shorts in the warm weather and not steal his winter hat onto the school bus in the June 80 degree days because he doesn’t remember wearing shorts last summer and all he has in his memory are long pants and winter coats.
Everything I’ve ever read about a brain hurt by surgery and tumor says this is not uncommon. It takes longer to adjust and more to cope and the little things are always very, very big. If there’s no mental paradigm for something, it’s usually treated with anything from caution to outright hostility.
Three weeks ago now, Chase was to start summer school, but we sent him to vacation bible school at the church for the first week instead. He wanted to be with his siblings and, his life being so different as it is, I couldn’t refuse him this opportunity.
The Monday morning of “VBS” rolled around and suddenly, he didn’t want to go. When I asked why not, he would evade by screaming about something or simply leaving the room. Finally, he calmed down, crept back into the kitchen sheepishly, and sighed. “Are you ready to talk now, Chase?” He nodded and then whimpered quietly. That sound meant only one thing: Chase was afraid of something.
We sat cross-legged on the floor of the kitchen and talked until I realized that all the screaming had been a sabotage of sorts because while he knew the church and the people, he didn’t remember “VBS”…something he preferred to refer to as “PBS” or “PBS.org” (for real), and because he didn’t know it and couldn’t account for it in his brain, it terrified him.
As we talked, I asked if he wanted to pray and he nodded silently and so we prayed that God would give Chase peace. I said “Amen” and his head shot up with a quick question. “Mom? Will you pray that my teacher would be somebody who knows me? Please? I need somebody who knows me.” Not just someone that he knew…no, someone who knew him.
An hour passed and as we walked into the brightly lit auditorium, I watched Chase lose his fear to intrigue as he took in the jungle set and the replica of Mount Kilimanjaro (a part of the week’s theme). We walked forward to find his seat and at the end of his row, checking the children in, was his 2-year-old Sunday school teacher, a beloved woman who taught him that God is good and glorious and always with us and she said it so often to him from the day he turned 2 that when he lay on pre-op beds and in hospital rooms, when all else pushed aside in his fear, it was those words from the Sunday school room – “God is near me” – that would come to him and he’d sing them softly as he’d wait for the doctors. This was the woman who’d walk him through the week.
I’m putting this story down for you to read because I often fall into thought that finds the hard things unjust and the good things deserved and the small things somehow just getting ignored. So, I’m writing this here and now because life comes with crazy ups and downs and sometimes, I forget to hand the small things over to the One who knows and when I do remember, I’m often too busy to record exactly how He surrounds and blesses. Chase prayed for someone to know him.
Stopping to be thankful… moment by moment.