Fun

It’s official. I’m an obnoxious bum. I was leaving the store today and my eye caught a woman holding hands with her two sons in the parking lot. I saw them approach a lightpost and one of the boys went out of his way to let go of her hand and walk around it. As I watched from my private view of my car, I automatically rolled my eyes, the way I would have if one of my own kids did that. I was shocked and humbled to see the mother respond to this event with a huge smile on her face. She was filled with joy about how cute it was that her son did that.

This might not sound super profound to others, but I can’t get the image out of my head. If Abi and I approached a lightpost like that, I would have pulled her closer to me so she wouldn’t be tempted to slow us down and walk around it. Or if Naomi did it I would sigh loudly and crouch down to catch her, certain that she would run into the street if given a second of freedom. What I would not have done is laugh. Smile broadly, ecstatic that my goofy child was having a little fun.

This all hit me like a ton of bricks. I am more devoted to getting my errands run than enjoying this blessed life. I would rather get out of the store with time to clean the living room than to stop at the park and run around with the girls in the sunshine. I think the mark of a good day is to have several items checked off my to-do list and dinner on the table by the time Yaacov comes home. Those aren’t the memory-makers we need! Those are NOT the experiences I had in mind when I declared I could not leave my children motherless! We have so much to be thankful for, and I for one am not living that way. Maybe my kids need a few more dance parties and a few less life lessons. Maybe we all do.

Psalm 13:5-6, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”

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Did cancer ruin my child or did I do that myself?

This whole time I’ve felt so fortunate that our kids were young when dealing with the cancer. I hated hearing I could die before they’d be old enough to remember me, but it was so much easier than having to deal with the emotions and questions that an older child would have posed. Or, so I thought. It’s been almost a year since the diagnosis and the toll it’s taken on Abigail has finally become apparent.We tried to keep everything as “normal” as possible during treatment, but obviously we didn’t succeed. Everything changed, as it had to. She was only 3 when the doctors first started telling me I was going to die, so she hadn’t been through anything difficult. Nor did she have any clue what sickness, cancer, or death were. Added to that, she used to only see Grandpa for holidays, and suddenly he was here full-time, babysitting several times per week. Then he moved away and Grandma moved down. Now she’s going to preschool every day, but I drag her to doctors or leave her with sitters at least once a week. She was a trooper through all of it and I thought she was unscathed–a few months ago she said she’d never seen me cry. Clearly she had forgotten the low times from last year, like when she’d begged me to go just one day without crying.

Well, my treatments have been done since June, but the aftermath has just begun. And worsening. I’ve had to leave overnight a few times and it sets off really bad behavior. She’s also having nightmares and outrageously naughty behavior at school. Anytime I will be away from her she wants to know exactly what I’m doing and I have to promise I’ll be back. Most issues seem to involve control–she wants it–so we’re trying to help her feel super secure but still teach her that she isn’t the boss.

I’m blaming cancer for ruining my child, but I might have done it myself. I’m a behavior analyst, how did I end up with the child who behaves so badly at school? There’s nothing innately “different” about her, I really believe this is a nurture (not nature) issue. We’re praying a lot about her behavior but don’t know what to do. Maybe we’re reading too much into it, and she is noncompliant because I gave her way too many choices until now. And now she thinks she should always have the chance to have some sort of “say” in what she does.

I don’t like either of these hypotheses. So much of my fight against cancer was because I didn’t trust God to raise them without me. I’m not sure I ever admitted that before. And now it turns out I don’t know what I’m doing anyway. Awesome.

It will all work out, we just need to trust God with everything, and wait on Him for how to proceed. So much of parenting seems time-sensitive, but it will be better if I focus on being God-sensitive instead. God did one of the nicest things ever for me, and I’m going to focus on that: This morning I could not stop singing this song about trusting the Lord. Then I realized I was promising to trust Him but not really meaning it. I started to pray about it but got interrupted and figured I’d think about it more later. Instead, I checked my email and a friend had written to me about how she had this vision while she was praying for me (not about Abi, just generally). She could see anguish, doubt, and fear filling up my cup. Then those things were poured out and trust replaced it. Isn’t that awesome? I often joke about how easy it would be to do what God wants if He would just send me a to-do list. This time He basicallly did! He made sure I got an email with His message, “TRUST ME”.

People have had dreams and visions a few times for me before, but never anything so specific and timely. I take it as a HUGE honor, that He would do something so bold and clear to get through to me. It must be very important, and those are all issues I’ve been having. I can’t tell you the comfort I get from how personal that message is. So, I will trust Him. God is mightier than my mistakes. I will trust Him today. And tomorrow.

Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

Deut 1:30-32, “The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as He did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God
carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place. “

Memorial

I can’t sleep. Third night in a row. The tragic death of my friend’s 18- month-old daughter is haunting me. I keep trying to imagine how it would feel to learn my only child had suddenly passed away. Then trying NOT to imagine how it would feel to learn my only child had suddenly passed away. I am often surrounded by people who have miscarriages or the babies die quite young, but 18 months is a different story. It’s old enough to laugh, walk, run, and talk. Old enough that you can know her real personality. Old enough that life without her feels empty and meaningless.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He recues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18

She died Saturday and I learned of it Sunday night. It took until Monday morning to decide to fly to Michigan for the funeral. Sarah, the mother, is my “old best friend”. I think everyone has a few of those. I hadn’t spoken to her in years but we reconnected around my cancer diagnosis. I suppose this new tragedy offers a way for me to redeem myself after years of being a bad friend. Unfortunately I’m pretty sure there were other ways. This isn’t the redemption I was praying for, Lord! I wanted you to grow back my eyelashes and smooth away my new wrinkles!

“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”
Psalm 18:30

I feel like I’m suffocating. There’s a weight on my chest that is heavier at night. Cancer has taught me how important it is to be there for people and I do it (or try to) without the strings or questions. But I’m worthless to her now, the baby has already died! I wouldn’t have come for the funeral if it was before everything I’ve been through, but because of it I felt compelled. It made more sense to come later, after everyone but Sarah and her family went back to their old lives. But, God said now is the time I should go, so I did. He lined up everything so it wasn’t even a big hardship. But, um, what now? What is the point? I have no wisdom, no power, no strength to offer.

“Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.” Psalm 143:8

She says she has a great support system and I know she’ll be surrounded by loved ones, so I will just hug her and hang out. Maybe my silent prayers will help her in the future. Maybe. God is in this. So why I am?

“…we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” 2 Chronicles 20:12