Our voices still work in the dark.



Tomorrow is the first day of chemo. 

I've always hated the idea of it. It didn't make much sense to me until recently. I've asked countless questions, suspicious of it. And I've landed here with my husband, knowing it is a blessing even with its thorns. We've prayed. Felt God speak into it. And signed papers. 

But I still hate it. 

I'm scared. Every time I ponder it I cry. It's not what should be. 

 But today I sat in the autumn sun and heard my daughter laugh during her horse-riding lesson. Today I made a bouquet for a neighbor and ate food I didn't prepare and read my Bible. 

And the thought came in and it has remained. This cancer diagnosis is here. As is its treatment. But this is just one aspect of our life in this season. My God has not only written sorrow for my husband and I or our children. 

The temptation for me is to numb myself at the sight of grief. The temptation is to shove down all my feelings and wait to process them until this is over. Depression has weaseled whispers ever since the diagnosis and I have often wished to just find myself in deep sleep. My sister and I have a weird love of Schitt's Creek (honestly, the writing is brilliant) and there's a mug she bought me a while ago that says " I could really use a good coma right now."

It was funny then, but it feels a bit more like a real request sometimes. 

It's a dark thought. And so I don't think on it long. I'm gentle to myself, though. I don't think it's wild that my body doesn't want to be in the same time and space where my 5-year-old has cancer. 

But my body is in this space and I have to decide how present I will be to it. 

I once took a Master's class online about novel writing..I have no intention of writing a novel, but in the course, the author mentioned something along the lines of how different being a storyteller changes your reality. He mentioned grief has a tendency to make us numb, but when you're a storyteller, you pay attention to the details. He joked " as painful as [a situation] it is, at least it makes a good story." 

As Christians, one of the first jobs we get is that of the storyteller. "Go and tell." While we humans were telling stories long before Christ called our names, our Jesus challenges us to get new eyes and tell a new story: tell what the Lord has done. 

And so, while a novelist is not a future I crave, I am responsible to this story and its telling...even though I'd rather not tell any of its kind. 

Heres a few of the details I've observed. I don't know where to place them yet, just as I don't know how this chapter will end.  They're like puzzle pieces though and have grounded me to this reality; Breadcrumbs giving me hope. 

The first oncologist I ever met had goose glasses. Black rims with orange tips. She looked me in the eyes and said "I need you to hear me say this. This cancer is curable. Let me say that again..." I kept thinking she was like mother goose. And she was. She had been here much longer than the rest and I watched her encourage fellows and young doctors as they spoke to me. She wouldn't lie to me and corrected any doctor who tried to be an optimist. She talked straight to me. When I would propose huge hopefuls, she didn't pretend with impossibilities. I trusted her for it, even though I felt a bit sour that she wouldn't let me pretend. 

I found out my son had cancer in an ER room at around midnight. The doctor didn't like the words coming out of his mouth and he seemed like he wanted to escape the room. I just stared at him, feeling like he was hiding something. He talked so slowly. I was frustrated with him until I tried to tell Ben. Suddenly my own mouth went slow and my throat closed and I knew. It wasn't for me he spoke so slowly- the words don't feel right coming out, and they get stuck. I grew softer to that young ER doctor. It shouldn't be this way. 

But there was a nurse there that night. And he spoke truth to me and scolded my "what ifs."  He loved me in the dark and he was English and dark humoured (and reminded me of hopeful English friends who met us in a different dark.) And I knew God knew. I don't remember his name, even though I tried a million times to remember. This kind man called me out of the haze and when I thanked him profusely he joked "thanks hun, but to be honest, I won't even remember you." And I laughed. Because I'm just another human he has to treat, but man what a way to love people you'll never see again. 

Oncologists have the absolute best grasp at dark humor. They laugh at all jokes genuinely. And I'm not that funny. But I think they get it. This whole thing is so absurd and wrong. The desks hold balloons and the staff wear so many masks and protective wear all while bringing medical play and stickers. It helps make it not so awful that they laugh when you ask them to. I respect the fact they keep showing up everyday to every parents nightmare. At first, I resented that they got to clock out of this place...but then I grew to respect they don't shy away from the dark. I, lord willing, will get to leave.  They keep showing up for far more years...they bring so many kinds of light to such dark stories. 

God has been present. But he's hasn't kept us from feeling the grief. I wanted him to bubble me up. But he hasn't. My body has shaken at night. Hunger has left me often. I get cold sweats at random. God has been present and he hasn't been silent. But he hasn't spared us....or maybe he has? Maybe the prognosis was supposed to be much worse? Maybe he's sparing us from so much we can't ever wrap our minds around it? 

That is probably the reality, If I'm being honest. And in his kindness, we won't ever know until heaven. Rowan might be dead, if anything went wrong in surgery, or we didn't catch it in time.... But instead God gives us the most curable cancer, caught early enough he has over a 90% cure rate.  I'll never know. And praise God for it. 

How much have you protected us from, my Lord? 

I haven't been angry with Him. Neither has Ben. How could we? We know suffering and we know God doesn't always get us out of it. But if he chose not to spare himself from it, but use it for glory-why should I expect any different? So, we don't resent. But we still weep and groan and scream desperate in car rides. 

But we don't resent. 

I just wish it didn't have to be my son. But, he's His son too. And he wouldn't give us this cup if it wasn't somehow, someway, miraculously for our good. 

Chemo is tomorrow. And I'm scared. But, if God wanted this cup to pass from us, it would have. 

And he didn't. 

So we drink.

But God. Please. Make it not so bitter. Please have mercy on us. Please do miracles even in the chemo. Please. Abba. Please. 

Whatever the story line you write, we'll sing your praises anyway. You've already secured us a happy ending one way or another. 

Our voices still work in the dark. I can still go and tell what you've done for me. 

In Christ, every story has a happy ending. And I think this one will end well even while we're still breathing. I'm nearly sure of it. Dawn always comes. 

"Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,

At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,

When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,

And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again."

Before the daffodils bloom, this dark season may be ended. Winter will meet its death. And we will have spring again. 

Lord, let it be so. 

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