In 2004 I came face to face with the reality of the fragility of life. It was a typical day of rushing to take my five year old daughter to school before heading off to my part time job. Through a series of circumstances that can only happen on a such hectic morning, I found a huge purple bruise on her left size that alarmed me. While she was clueless to how it had happened, and as I left the school parking lot, I could not get the glaring bruise off my mind and decided to make an appointment with the pediatrician. That night I sat at my computer staring at the word LEUKEMIA glaring back at me. I tried to think of symptoms I may have missed. I clasped my hands tightly together over the keyboard and prayed for God’s healing and strength. I slept very little, a thousand scenerios forming in my mind. I watched her eat breakfast, amazed at how quickly she had grown. The visit to the pediatrician’s office was a blur, with blood work and then instructions to go directly to the hospital. As the doctor gave me instructions, I stared at him, trying to remain calm. I felt light headed, the lump in my throat made it hard to breathe. He put his hands on my shoulders, leaned down and looked me straight in the eyes. “It’s probably not what you are thinking, Dana. It will be okay.” I looked up into his kind eyes and felt myself crumbling, I quickly asked to be excused, and walked as fast as my feet would carry me to the bathroom. I stared in the mirror, my face was pale and with tears in my eyes I cried out “Lord, I am afraid!” They were the only words that bubbled up from the depths of my soul. Like a warm blanket, peace surrounded me. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, then washed my face and went back to my daughter. At the hospital more blood tests were required and I fought back tears once again as I held down my baby girl to be poked and prodded with needles. After she calmed down, we were taken to a special ward where children received medical treatments. The brightly colored walls mimicked the undersea world. Large salt-water tanks with beautiful fish were inserted in the walls. The sound of water and soft lighting was soothing. On each side of the room, children sat at stations, entertained with movies, cartoons and games as they received intravenous treatments. Molly was wide-eyed, “Wow, this is cool, Mommy!” The adults smiled with sympathetic eyes as we walked by each station. I forced a smile, desperate to quiet the voice in my head screaming “I can’t do this, I can’t do this!” I sat for hours while Molly played and silently prayed for God to give me strength. Psalm 46:1 kept going through my mind “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” God’s voice whispered to my shaking spirit that He alone was sufficient for my needs and for Molly’s needs. He softly reminded me that in my weakness He is strong. As I watched her, I replayed every moment of her life since her birth. She had a zest for life that was unequaled. Just as she was becoming restless and bored with the “toys”, the doctor and my husband arrived at the same time, one with a smile and the other with a strained look of fear on his face. The diagnosis: Our rambunctious daughter had Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). I had no idea what ITP was and listened anxiously, as he explained the disease to us. Her antibodies were destroying her blood platelets. Normally, antibodies are a healthy response to bacteria or viruses. But, in people who develop ITP, the antibodies attack the body’s own blood platelets. The news was good, however, she would be treated over a three day period in the hospital. I did not realize how tense I had been until I felt every muscle in my body begin to relax. Molly is now a busy nine year old with no affects of ITP. She still has the same zest for life that is sometimes exhausting. The reality check that day, reminded me that life is fragile and filled with the unexpected. I have slowed down and watch closely as my children grow and relish every moment. I now understand the emotional devastation parents experience when their children become sick with life threatening diseases. I learned that God hears our cries even when we cannot clearly express what is in our hearts. When we cry out to Him, we experience the peace that passes all understanding in the midst of this storm. If the diagnosis had been different, I am confident that in His strength I could have handled the road we would have gone down. Whatever circumstances comes into my life, I am not alone and in my weakness, He is strong.
I have a confession to make….I hate Mother’s Day. It is a painful neon reminder that my Mom is no longer here with me. You may think I am ridiculous to have developed a dread for this day, considering I am the mother of three daughters. But I have. Since 2003, when the first Mother’s Day rolled around after Mom went to be with Jesus, I found myself in a melancholy mood the entire week before that much celebrated day. I contemplated faking a headache or jumping in the car and escaping to a chair on the beach complete with umbrella and sunglasses in solitude while I tried NOT to remember the empty place she had left. But I clenched my teeth, stuck out my chin and made it through the day. I hugged my girls, smiled at their cards and thanked them and my husband for a nice lunch. Inside I cried. I cried in complete selfishness because to be quite honest, “I wanted my Mommy!” Each year, I try to ignore the fact that Mother’s Day continues to roll around every May, I don’t remind the girls and I don’t mention it to Lynn. I spend those days wishing more than ever that Mom was here, because I promise I would make the biggest, fattest, hairiest deal over her! I wanted to grow old with her. I wanted to watch her with my girls, laughing and making simple memories over silly jokes as she painted their fingernails. I wanted her to see how Hannah has grown into this strong, opinionated young woman, who looks a lot like her and has the same wild, curly, almost black hair. I wanted her to hear Emilie play her instruments, laugh with her about random things and see how she has grown into a grounded young woman who is making big plans for her future. I wanted her to know Molly and even more, I wanted Molly to know her Nana. I think Molly looks the most like her and Mom would have found so much joy in her funny sense of humor and her zest for life. The big empty place she left is still quite evident at every event and every momentous moment we experience.
Tomorrow is the day. The day I am reminded all day long that my Mom is gone and how I missed so many opportunities to just sit and be with her. We had such good conversations and I miss that. My hearts aches and tears spill down my face just to see her and hear her voice one more time. Tomorrow I will hug my girls, smile at their cards and I will thank my husband for a nice lunch, but inside I will be crying.
I sat at my desk today, bright and early, for it was Monday morning….well, to be truthful, it wasn’t so bright and early, it was 8:30am, and I hate early morning conversations that don’t involve a flavored latte, soft lighting and comforting music! Anyway! A woman came into the office, obviously a born and bred Springhill-er (as we non-Springhill-er’s like to call those genteel ladies who wear name brand fashions, have perfect hair, shoes and children and drive expensive SUV’s)….a proprietor of a Springhill décor boutique that is overpriced but quite thrilling to stroll through and see fabulous unique items I cannot afford. But I digress. I sat there, trying to appear busy with something on my computer, as she read over a document she had to sign, she used words like ambiguous, subjective and convoluted. I tried to melt into the background, suddenly feeling inferior; intimidated by her display of obvious higher education and apparent knowledge of interior decorating (I am sure she does not shop at Target or Wal Mart!). She signed her papers and with a dramatic flair whipped her beautifully embellished black trench coat type coat around her slim body, flipped her long blond hair back with her well manicured hands and exited into the slow drizzle that continued to coat our thirsty southern landscape. But, as she walked across the parking lot, I noticed that her jacket had inadvertently become tucked in the back of her white linen pants (she would say trousers, but being the true southern gal I am, I’ll call them britches!) in an awkward way, making her look like a little black hen waddling through the rain. I snickered as she realized that it was tucked in her britches (thankfully it wasn’t toilet paper, because she probably would have killed over dead with humiliation), glanced both ways, and tried discreetly to dislodge the coat. Her action did not go undetected by the passing car, which, to my delight, beeped its horn! So, big words, small words, linen trousers or blue jeans, we all put our britches on the same way, one leg at a time. As one, very intuitive woman once said “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” – Eleanor Roosevelt. So, today, put on your britches (be they linen or blue jeans) and enjoy the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it!