August 21, 2010

Like a Sweet, Cooling Salve

After the week that we've just had, the moment I just had was like sweet, cooling salve to a raw patch of skin.

With all the medicines, doctor's appointments, running around, errand running (never stops), radiation everyday, trying to figure out how to deceive my body into absorbing food and irregular yet crowded days, I have felt a shift take place in me this week. Detachment. I have the knowledge the something is building in me, but that I have no tools and no will to look at it. James has felt a shift too, but for him it has taken on the different form of irritation and frustration.

Detached wife... irritated and frustrated husband... great combo. As James has said, it feels there is a very limited ability for us to improve our situation, but there is a lot of potential for us to make it worse. Sort of just makes you feel like giving up.

Today at 8:00 am, James packed up the car, packed up a glowing Ari, and went camping. Many times in Beijing, instead of a bedtime story, James would talk up this Great Day to the boys. The day that they would go camping together. Of course we expected that when we returned Ari would be almost seven and Jude would be five, so Jude would be old enough. But with their ages being what they are, Jude stayed home with me and with my parents while Ari, puffed with pride, rode off with James (three hour drive) to the Canadian Shield.

I hope that their time together is a sweet salve of its own. For me, my moment came this evening when putting Jude to bed. After praying with him and turning the lights out, my Dad came into the room with his guitar to play a little for Jude while he fell asleep. This is serious nostalgia for me, as it is something that he used to do for my sisters and I while we were falling asleep as kids. I turned to leave the room, but Jude's little three year old voice stopped me. "Mommy, I want you to sing and lay with me in my bed."

Really? Truly? This non-stop energy ball that hardly has time to give me a hug during the day? This boy that instinctively draws away from his mother at this stage and gravitates to masculinity? I took him in my arms and he cuddled right up while my Dad and I sang together in harmonies for 45 minutes. Songs of trust, songs of hope. Old songs, where I could hardly believe that I even remembered the words they were so deep in there. With Jude's chubby arm stretched over me and his even breathing, and me singing in the darkness, I knew that I am blessed beyond words. I hope that Jude remembers falling asleep like that as clearly as I know I will.

Even with the detachment that I described setting in this week, there have been a few conclusions that I came to this week:

1) I am going to start taking piano lessons again. It has been ten years since the last time I formally had lessons and I quit somewhere in my Gr.9 piano. However, playing formal piano for preludes, offertories and congregational singing at the international church in Beijing challenged me to a new level and re-stimulated my interest in pursuing it further. I know that my area of weakness lies in my technical training and ability. But I figure that if my life is going to limited in some areas, I can expand it in others. If I have a lot of time at home, why not practice piano for 1 1/2 hours a day? The house we will be living in for the next year (as of September) has a good piano in it. I also see it as an opportunity. Even if I live until I am 80, I want the boys to remember me playing piano. Its a little pricey to take advanced lessons, but I figure that if I can teach three or four beginner classes a week, then maybe I can pay for one advanced lesson a week. Opportunities abound.

2) I want to put Ari into a little hockey league. We can get used equipment at his age so it shouldn't be too expensive. He has only become aware of hockey since returning to Canada, but he is pretty enthralled by it. Even if I live until I'm 80, I want him to remember me cheering him on sidelines. We have also chosen a school to enroll him in. It is a French Immersion. He already did the Chinese thing, so really, why not put him into a French school? Canada is bilingual after all. Might as well embrace the opportunity. Especially when the French school is so close to the house we are renting. We'll give our son the opportunity to turn into the consummate French-speaking, hockey-playing Canadian! If he decides later on that it is not for him, then so be it. Maybe having him learn French will help James and I remember all the French we learned in school. We can both read and understand French, but now after learning and speaking Chinese intensively for a year and a half we both find it extremely difficult to speak French. I say we, but in truth, I'm afraid that James is in better shape than I am!

3) I want to be like a solid oak tree that has been planted to display God's glory. How do I do this? By putting down solid roots in him. I am becoming more and more convinced through this whole thing, that in order to truly know and believe God and be confident in him, I need to zoom out a little and take in his WHOLE character. There are two ways that this has been illustrated in my mind, one that I heard and one that I have seen in our lives:

Illustration A:
If someone knew that I like to eat chocolate pie, it would be very kind of them to bake me a chocolate pie. It would be even nicer of them to make me two chocolate pies or even three chocolate pies. But if they continuously and only ever gave me chocolate pies
everyday after that, we can assume that I would fairly quickly become tired of eating chocolate pie. Just because I like it, doesn't mean that it is the only thing that I want to eat.

We do the same thing with God. Sometimes, we zoom in too close. We concentrate on ONE of his characteristics, or on ONE story from the Bible and we decide that that one characteristic or story summarizes who he is and how he works. Maybe its a little broader than that. Maybe we choose 15 or 30 stories and base it on that. But the truth is that the Bible is full of controversial stories about God that display controversial characteristics. This should not be surprising. We are told that man was made in the image of God, and what human do you know that does not have controversial characteristics? Better yet said, how many interesting human beings do you know who only eat chocolate pie? What else does God want to eat? What strange and new things might he want to do in my life... even if it involves a brain tumor? I want to look at his many characteristics and stories, even the ones that makes me say, "Huh?"

Illustration B:
As I have mentioned in previous posts, James and I have had numerous difficult conversations in the recent weeks since my seizure. Because we want to be honest and open with each other we have had to say some things to each other that are really HARD. It has struck me again and again that if I didn't truly know James' character and his heart and his personality, I would have misunderstood 90% of the things that he has said to me. This is mutually true for things that I have said to him. Those misunderstandings would lead to division between us and a lot of hurt. But this has not been the case. I know the way James thinks. I know the way that his thought processes work. When something comes out sounding awkward, I usually hear the eloquent version that he had in his head. I feel confidence and security in what he is saying because I understand it in the larger picture of who he is.

How much about God do I misunderstand because I do not look at HIM and at his character? How often do I hear hard things from him and get hurt because I couldn't understand what the heart and the intention was behind it? I want to have the same level confidence and security with God as I do in those hard conversations with James. Like a mighty oak that stands firm, with deep roots.

There she goes again spouting her opinionated opinions! She sure has a lot of them!


Larissa said...

That is just beautiful about your sweetie falling asleep to your Dad playing the guitar and you both singing. Still have tears in my eyes from reading that.

Cindy said...

That sounds so lovely, your evening with Jude and your dad. Precious times, as I'm sure James & Ari had camping. :)

Margie said...

That's really cool that you are going to take piano lessons. I started taking them last year i also wanted the memory of my kids seeing mom play the piano, and since my oldest was taking lessons it really helped her to put in her practice time when she saw me playing. We are continuing to pray for you especially for protection while you are going through the treatments.