loving past the pain and in the weakest places.
I had a moment yesterday, a moment of complete brokenness: in shambles, my throat raw from crying, my head blinded by a headache, by the great weight of it all. I felt completely weak, completely drained. Unable to go on. I couldn’t even look at Florence without breaking into weeping. The pain, it was too much. I yearn to see her move her body. I desire with all my heart to see her roll over, sit up, walk, dance, put weight on her tiny feet, crawl. The pain of this yearning is too great to bear. It really is. And yesterday I heard myself saying to the Lord “Just take her now if she’s not going to get better. I want her to do all these things so badly that I don’t think I can make it, please just take her. I cannot bear to see her suffer. I cannot imagine her being unable to breath, just waiting to pass away.” The madness of this, all of this, it really could be the end of me if it weren’t for Jesus. He is my antidepressant, my coping mechanism. The doctors treat us with love but they also see that there is no way out of this. They believe that this is it for Florence and she will most likely just get worse as time goes on. They teach us how to “cope” with things: oh she can’t eat anymore? Here’s a tube. Sometimes I feel that they treat her like she is dying, trapped in a body that is fading away, and my mother heart wants to die as well because I can see that sorrow in their eyes. They have given up. Their language is cold and starved of hope: eventually she will need a tube, eventually she won’t be able to do that (although mercifully we do come across some wonderful doctors that aren’t like this). They trust in the science of it, they trust the diagnosis.
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Which is why I cannot. I cannot put my trust in these things. I have to believe that she will walk one day. I have to believe that God will intervene. Although I sometimes get trapped in my weakest place, tell the Lord I cannot do this anymore, its too hard, I cannot push through…I don’t really believe that, do I?
No. There is so much beauty amidst the sorrow. Overflowing wells of joy and grace tucked behind the towering mountains. Oh, the journey is long, but it is rich. She is my delight and my dream. She is truly an angel, with the softest gray eyes, eyes that stop people in their tracks, eyes that consume.
And so, last night, somewhere there under the warm duvet, I found the tiniest amount of strength. And I got up and I tried to feed her dinner even though she refused to eat very much. And I begged her, and I pleaded with my eyes, and then I gave up and made some Pediasure in a cup with thickener, watched her drink half of it, sighed. It’s not homemade kale and sweet potatoes, or what I always thought it would be. At least she’s getting some calories (this is a lesson all parents learn I think).
Today I reflected back on my night and felt a pang of sorrow. I don’t want to be that weak but I know that if I don’t release the grief it will only invade my heart with more force the next time.
I held her today, said I was sorry and then caught a glimpse of her and I in the mirror. My face crumpled into an ugly mess, and I told her I loved Her. God spoke to my wounded heart: I know that this is hard and you feel that you can’t do this, but can you love her? Can I trust you to just love her? Maybe this isn’t what you expected but she needs you. I have entrusted her to you. When you feel you can’t go on, just love her.
It’s impossible not to love her. Of course I can love her, and if that is all I accomplish on this earth, then I have lived my dreams. To love and serve my child. Love past the pain, the fear, the disappointment. Love past the comparisons and the whys. If, God forbid, she were to die at a young age, I will know that I loved her, fully and completely. Loved her as God loves us.
When I’m weak, and feel I cannot move, God becomes my perfect strength. She is weak and needs me to move her, feed her, put toys in front of her, put her hands on the toys, move the toys for her, roll her over, stretch her, help her clear her throat, stretch her arms out to pet a dog, do every little thing for her. Somehow it is a reflection of God’s strength in me, being poured out to her. I will never have enough in my own strength, but because of God’s all consuming love, I find that place of strength. And I can go on, live life in all its richness, thankful for the blue sky, a quiet house, a warm mug of coffee. I can see the joy in this. I can pick up the pieces.
Hallelujah. I am breathless at the end of the day’s race, but hallelujah, I can go on.