It still seems so surreal, this journey I am on. I can’t believe that this is my life that I’m living and that this is my child I’m looking at. My child who walks daily with suffering and injustice. This road is harder to walk down than I ever could have imagined in a thousand years. Most days there simply aren’t words that would do justice to describe the things I feel. Words like ‘sorrow’, or ‘pain’ seem to be such vast understatements to the emotions enveloping me.
We came home Monday after twenty-six days. I had come home the weekend before to spend some time with Carter but Izzy hasn’t seen our house in nearly a month. She told me Sunday she couldn’t remember what her room looked like. This trip certainly won’t etch it in stone for her. We’ll return tomorrow, or in the middle of the night tonight, rather. Her surgery is scheduled for 7:30am. Her scans showed that the cancer is responding well to treatment. The ten or so spots in her bones are no longer visible and her primary mass has shrunk considerably. It still wraps itself intimately around arteries that lead to the left kidney. They won’t know until they get in there if it too needs to be removed. A kidney for you and I is really no big deal, but for someone going through cancer treatment, kidney function is huge. Having both kidneys is the best case scenario to ensure she can receive the maximum dosage of drugs during the remainder of therapy. Needless to say tomorrow is a big day for us.
I’m learning that everyday is a big day though. That’s why everytime Izzy comes home I take Carter out of school for a day or two. Tomorrow isn’t a guarantee for any of us and I am now more aware of that than I have ever been. When it’s all said and done I would rather look back and see that Carter spent time with Izzy when she was home and felt well than have a certificate of perfect attendance hanging on the fridge. He needs it and so does she. And to be prefectly honest, so do I. It warms my heart to see them together.Their times together are so few and far between that they cherish every moment. Their laughter is contagious, their smiles are inspiring and their willingness to sacrifice for one another and share can come only from children who have truly longed for one another. A year ago I never would have dreamed that Spiderman and Cinderella could have had tea parties that would bring tears to my eyes.
Before we came home Izzy told me she couldn’t wait to go “fire flighting.” ( I think that’s her term for catching fire flies. It’s kinda catchy, I know. You’re welcome to use it). I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she spent the entire summer in the hospital and it was too late to go fire flighting. Before I could even think of how to change the subject she began to cry. She then confessed that all she really wanted to do was go swimming like other kids but she couldn’t because of her “dressing.” (That’s what covers her central line). This time I did tell her that summer was over and even other kids weren’t swimming but I didn’t tell her she would still have her central line all of next summer too.
By then the flood gates were totally open and she began to weep about wanting her hair back. Her hair would never come back and never be as long as Pocahonats’ and blow in the wind like hers. She laid her little bald head on my lap and wept. As I stroked the the top of it, peach fuzz wet with sweat, my heart broke with hers. A mother’s greatest longing is to satisfy the needs of her child. I couldn’t give her hair, or let her swim or take her fire flighting.
I think that God must feel the same way when He sees us suffering. Certainly at any point He could take away all the problems of the world in a snap of His finger, but He doesn’t and we don’t always understand why. He could have stopped Jesus from dying on the cross but He didn’t do that either. And yet knowing everything I know about Him I have to believe that it was hard for Him to watch that whole episode on the cross. I have to think that words like “sorrow” and “pain” must have seemed like vast understatements to Him too. That even though it it was necessary, it broke His heart. Because even though I don’t understand what the heck is happening to my life, I do still claim to understand something about the nature of God. He is love and He is compassion. Those aren’t just qualities He posesses, they are who He is. So when He sees a child like Izzy crying, whether it’s because of mouth sores or because she wants her hair back, it breaks his heart. And when He sees me crying, whether it’s because I’m heartbroken for Izzy or I’m even mat at Him, it breaks His heart. Maybe you don’t agree, and that’s okay. But this is my journey and this is what I believe about my God.