Saturday, April 23, 2011

Put Me on a Stretcher and Take Me to Jesus

It is Vigil still, the dark before the dawn. We are exhausted, the Church, weak with fasting and grief, but the drum beats a message in the watches of the night: morning, morning, morning will come, a reason to believe that Morning Always Comes.

Yesterday I said "I think that faith, at its core, is the man on the stretcher whose friends carried him to Jesus [eventually damaging a roof in the process]. Faith is saying yes, fine, take me to Him, I'm too tired to argue, whatever. Put me on a stretcher and take me to Jesus."

Friends, that has been my refrain this week: somebody put me on a stretcher and take me to Jesus.

Monday: the innocent-looking box that held the prep kit for Sweet Husband and sent him into spasms of agony (colonoscopies are no picnic). Poor bloke is only in his twenties. Jack's molars are cutting through. Existential fall-out: hosting in-law's with whom we've set up camp are being appointed to a new church - two hours away. Existing pressure to find permanent work heightens to countdown pressure or move with them, about which they are extremely welcoming and kind. I didn't imagine moving out as moving out - all together, and moving in somewhere else - all together. Jack's molars erupting noisily. I go to the dentist with dental pain, fearing an expensive cavity. With laughter, discover the discomfort is caused by grinding my teeth at night. Purchase Nightguard  at Wal-Mart. Still stress, but stress that doesn't wear away mommy's molars. John can't sleep from the discomfort: he is awake all night. Monday finally over. At the end of my rope.

Tuesday: Jack wants to do anything but eat breakfast cooperatively. He senses tension in the air. Jack goes to play with tiny tot friend while I take John to have an endoscopy and colonoscopy. We pay $1200 down payment on this scoping and I'm thankful for the Nightguard. I sit in the waiting room, watching others being summoned to their loved ones. Is it cancer? Crohn's disease? Or something manageable - Celiac disease? Bacterial infection? It's not cancer or Crohn's, no ulcers in the stomach, little to explain the raging illness that comes in waves, leaving a pale, weak writhing figure in place of my strong, energetic, confident husband. Biopsies taken: maybe it's Celiac, maybe it's bacteria, maybe it's they don't know...so we begin the wait for test results. I get my husband back to bed, and fetch my Sweet Baby from his play, and he's in a raging burst of energy, and I count hours til bedtime, and I'm so tired I take a wet diaper off and begin to walk away before I realize I've forgotten to put a clean one on. Tuesday finally over. Haven't been this tired since Jack was born - maybe not even then.

Wednesday - I can't remember Wednesday. I think there was a poached egg in the morning. Jack was a wild man, I'm pretty sure. John was very ill, I think. I don't remember. Maybe that was the day I ran errands to stay awake.

Thursday: Took a walk in the rain by myself with an umbrella Thursday morning. Blissful. Wish it would rain every morning just so I could enjoy the ritual daily. Quite an Oxford experience. Mostly a sanity-saving experience. John up a couple hours, resulting in pale fatigue. I think that was one of the days I napped when Jack napped. Started to worry about when I was going to get my freelance work done with all this illness in the house. Nana verbally processed various details of the summer move. Began to fray around the edges pretty critically, I think: I remember Nana and my mother in law murmuring and taking Jack to Maundy Thursday communion so I could rest and coming back and putting him to bed. Maybe that was the day I had melted down and sobbed in the bathroom for a while. Yes, I think it was. John watched Jack for a few hours so I could Cope. Still waiting on Sweet Husband's test results. Kept forgetting to check into oral surgeons in the area for his tooth-with-bizarrely-long-roots removal.  Jack still cutting molars, climbing on furniture, asking for DaDa.

Friday: Couldn't take any more stress. Took another walk around the Texan neighborhood with Sweet Tot in stroller. Got a call: brother taking Mom to emergency room. In Michigan. Go into surreal tailspin. Still waiting for John's test results. He watched Jack in the afternoon so I wouldn't lose my mind. Too exhausted to change pants to go to Good Friday choral presentation in the evening. And I told my mother in law, "I think that faith, at its core, is the man on the stretcher whose friends carried him to Jesus [eventually damaging a roof in the process]. Faith is saying 'yes, fine, take me to Him, I'm too tired to argue, whatever. Put me on a stretcher and take me to Jesus."

John is still suffering. Jack is still breaking molars. We still await test results. Mom is still being treated, in an ICU, for a strep infection in her blood, being tested and scanned and tested. We still await responses from cover letters and resumes.

Put me on a stretcher and take me to Jesus.

Tomorrow is the Hallelujah.

Put me on a stretcher and take me to Jesus.

Never has a Holy Week been like this, before - for me...

Take me to Jesus.

If I hear one more platitude, one more well-meant assurance that my troubles will cease (when I've learnt my lesson?), if I hear one more silence because my pain and circumstances are awkward for someone else to bear witness to...

Put me on a stretcher and take me to Jesus.

I don't know what I'm going to do with Sweet Tot, he keeps trying to roll over and crawl off the changing table when I'm changing diapers - sometimes, dirty ones...but he certainly won't stay still anywhere else, either...

Put me on a stretcher.

And they thought it was pneumonia but now they're not sure, they just know infection is traveling through her bloodstream, and they don't know where it's coming from, and she is hooked to IV's and I'm so tired I can't remember to put on a clean diaper after I've taken off a wet one, and prayer? What is prayer? Prayer is something someone does when they summon energy - isn't it? What energy?

Put her on a stretcher. Take her to Jesus. 

How much longer will my Sweet Husband be so ill? He's had it in waves off and on for two years. Don't tell me it's IBS. Is this related to his international travels a few years ago? Does he need probiotics? Antibiotics? Gluten-free diet? Stress-free diet?

Put him on a stretcher. Take him to Jesus.

I love making Easter dinner: ham with cognac glaze, asparagus gruyere tart, home-baked hot cross buns, cream cheese mashed potatoes, bleu cheese deviled eggs with dill, lemon tart. But the oven is cool, the pots and pans are empty and still, no sweet, no savory aromas steep in the kitchen, spilling out into hallways and closets. Easter dinner will have a waitress present.

Put me on a stretcher and take me to Jesus. I'm too tired to argue. My grief is my faith, my faith is my grief, all I have is tears and even they will soon be gone.

But there are those grasping the corners of the stretcher and taking me: in law's, cousins, uncles, friends that stick closer than a brother, and they count and on three they lift - one, two, three: she is risen.

Put me on a stretcher and take me to Jesus...He is risen indeed.

5 comments:

vanilla said...

Elizabeth, I read this post just moments before we left for church this morning. It is heartbreaking to know that your endurance is stretched so far right now. I know what you mean about platitudes. There isn't much one can say that is truly helpful. However, many years ago when I was going through an extreme dark spot in my life, your mother gave me real comfort and courage to endure. And how? Basically just by letting me know that she cared. I cannot do more for you, but that I do. I pray for you and your beautiful little family, and also for your mother.

Spoke to your grandparents at church this morning. It was good to see that they were both able to be there.

Carrie said...

Yep. I've got that corner.

Elizabeth Glass-Turner said...

My mother is now continuing to recover at home. Thank you, friends, for your support and love.

Amanda said...

Oh Elizabeth! I am so sorry. I can almost feel your weariness through your words. So so sorry. Lots of prayers for hope and healing.

Kimberly said...

reading this way after Easter...appreciate it so much! beautifully expressed...Blessings!