April the Twenty-ninth

The sun rose brightly this morning, shining sparkling hope over a fresh spring day. We survived yesterday. In all, seven children were quite sick within a 48 hour period. Many cups of ginger ale were poured and ignored and many, many loads of laundry were washed and dried.I can't begin to count the number of times I ran up and down the stairs, heart pumping, lungs working overtime.  The awake hours of the day numbered 20. Still, it was a relatively good day. And today? Today is relatively great. Sure beats April 29, 1990.

On that day, a remember kneeling to kiss my one-year-old goodbye before getting into the car. I remember arriving at the hospital in the early morning just as all the pink tulips were opening to greet the day. I remember squeezing my husband's hand before surgery, trying to ignore the fear in his formerly fearless face. I remember the pathologist, one of my father's dearest friends. "Hodgkin's Disease. It's going to be a very tough year, but then, you'll live."

Indeed. A tough year. It was a chrysalis year. Together, my husband and I lived a life dictated by doctors and hospitals and IV pushes of nasty chemotherapy. As the tulips began to wilt and drop their petals, huge handfuls of brown curls fell from my head. Life looked so very different at every turn. We lost our innocence and found our faith. We learned we'd never have another baby and prayed for children we had never wanted so much. I grew to hate the sight of tulips and to gag at the smell of latex--whether it was surgical gloves or birthday balloons.  We huddled, dark and tired, inside the shell of our experience, partly to avoid the germs of the outside world, partly because everything that really mattered was inside our four walls and we were living as much life together as we could.

I was twenty-four. That's not very old. And the next year, I think I was about 50, though I'm not quite sure. I definitely wasn't 25.  People who are 25 are usually blissfully unaware of their mortality.

Together, my husband and I had grown in this strange new world of surviving cancer .  We would find ourselves telling people over and over that we never wanted to learn those lessons that way again, but that we were so grateful for the grace of God in allowing us to learn them when we did.

I live a life that is rooted in the reality of a finite time on earth. I live a life that sparkles with the hope of heaven. To be quite honest, I live a life that is tinged with fear, my constant adversary.Though I'm not the superstitious type, for a long time, I was afraid to plant tulips, afraid to tempt fate. But I live a life of great blessing.Time and faith have taught me so much. And so, yesterday, God reminded me with emphasis just how many sweet young souls are in my care and how He is bigger than any prognosis. He reminded me that I am still young and strong and able to care for many needy people, singlehandedly, at once. He reminded me that my heart pumps and my lungs fill with air.  And He reminded me that it's okay--even hopeful and beautiful-- to plant pink  tulips in the fall and watch them bloom on April the Twenty-ninth.

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