September 08, 2010

LIfe at the Intersection of Normal St. and Krang Ave.

This blog posting is coming from an internet cafe because our household phone and internet remain disconnected with no hope of connection for a few more days. That also explains the silence of this blog for the last week and the inability to answer any emails. This post was composed on Microsoft word and then pasted into blogger at Starbucks.

Normal St. and Krang Ave? Okay, the street names are changed, but we have in fact moved to a new, permanent residence. We are now the renters of a four bedroom house near the University of Manitoba. With us will be living my sister and her daughter, and another friend whom we have known for a number of years (also a returned MCC volunteer). This is how things are going to look for the next year at least. My sister will be acting as my “babysitter” and between the two of us we will take care of the kids and other household duties (sounds like the plot of a Jane Austin or L.M. Montgomery book). James and our other roommate will both be beginning Master’s Degrees. My daily hospital visits are only for three more weeks.

What I just described sounds like a “normal” life. No more moving around, in two and half more weeks we’ll have no more daily hospital visits. I’ll walk Ari to school just down the street every morning. Sounds like the kind of life that is not disrupted by a brain tumor (thanks Krang). But I chose this blog title for a reason. Here we are settling into a “normal” life, but living under abnormal circumstances. How does one live that life? If this is where the rubber meets the road, then how to you drive that car? Pretense?

I exerted myself physically for about ten hours on Saturday as we moved. Unpacking, cleaning etc. But on Sunday I paid for it when my body and brain were so shut down by fatigue that I was almost immobilized. Then my emotions were stretched so thin that I screamed at the boys when they thought that I was tickling them while trying to wash their feet in the bathtub. This is not the Jessica that I know.

This morning I laid in bed praying about this, wondering, asking God for an insight or two. More than practical life, my biggest question is this. Where does my relationship with God fit into this whole thing? I feel desperate to have him as more and more a part of my life, but in our normal lives we usually find it easier to slip into complacency with God. I can truthfully say right now that my heart’s desire is to know Jesus. I know that I can’t do this, I know that I am unable to handle most things in my life right now. I need Jesus. But he feels far away.

As I laid bed, asking these questions and thinking these thoughts, it occurred to me that maybe I was asking for the wrong thing. I want to see Jesus in my life, but maybe what I need first is to understand what might be blocking my view of him. Things like lies that I have come to believe, or fears that I am grappling with.

Here for your viewing pleasure are some lies that I have come to believe about myself. I will word them in the way that they present themselves in my mind:

1) I am less valid as a human being. If death is invisibility, then I am slowly becoming more and more transparent, and less a valid part of people’s lives. If James and I are married until death do us part, then we are now less married than we were then we were two months ago. If we were holding hands tightly like a basket weave two months ago, we will slowly over time loosen our hands until we are only touching fingertips at full arm’s length, and then I will die.

2) I am responsible to make sure that James has a full and satisfying life. Now that my ability to put excitement into his life has been taken away from me, he will slowly lose interest in me. I will no longer be able to stimulate his interest.

If these are the lies that I have subtly come to believe, then what is the truth that counteracts them?

1) Until the point that I die, I am remain a valid, influential human being, able to impact the people that I meet. James and I are as married as we were two months ago. It is not God’s will to slowly weaken our marriage. Rather, it is his will that our basket weaved fingers will stay strong and together until the very moment that one of us dies. The truth is that it is the very lies I believe that would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I choose to become invisible and invalid, I will become invisible and invalid. If I choose to loosen James’ and my hand, they will become loose.

2) James has more needs than I can meet. He was created by God and for God. A mere human wife cannot fulfill all that he needs. Maybe I thought that I was making his life more exciting before, but it was foolish of me to take credit for being able to make him happy or not. Of course I play a role, but the more important role is God’s.

So those are the lies that I have believed. Even just identifying them releases some of their hold in my life. What about the fears? Believing lies changes the way that you look at life. Grappling with fears has the ability to immobilize us and make us inactive. I have realized that my reaction to fears is often to grab a hold of them. It’s like there is a lion in front of me and my instant reaction is to grab it and try to hold its mouth shut. I drop everything that I am doing, just to try and control these fears. But just like Daniel in the lion’s den, I need to trust my fears to God and trust that he will close the mouths of my fears, even though they are right in front of me and not going away. If I hold on to a lion in front of me, I will get eaten from behind.

So what are my fears?

1) The boys need more than I can provide. In the last two months two things have happened. My physical and emotional ability to deal with two boys has declined and they have simultaneously had so much family and so much stimulation around that their expectations have gone up. Where does “normal” life fit in here again? I have heard it said that stress comes when we see that our ability to do something falls far below what is required of us. This really stresses me out. That is why I screamed at them in the bathtub yesterday. Lord Jesus help me give this to you!

2) How I do I act around James? We are so comfortable with each other that all our negativity sometimes comes spilling out onto the other. While we have gone through hard times together, it has never happened where both of us are going through personal difficulty at the same time. Both of our worst sides are coming out, and sometimes it is like being with a total stranger. Its almost like we need to date again! But who wants to date a sarcastic, complaining bald guy, or a weepy, emotional bald woman? However despite these difficulties, we both acknowledge the need to keep pursuing each other, and the most important thing is that we are talking about it.

The good thing is that, overall, we feel like we have just come through some kind of a gauntlet. There are still swinging swords and things coming at us to throw us off balance, but they seem to be a little fewer and farther between than they were for the last few weeks. We have more lighter moments now than before. Doubtless this will change again, but hey, what can you do?


derrydown said...

I love you, sweetie. My prayers are always with you.

RuthAnn said...

Hi Jessica n James,
I am a friend of Theresa Frey's from Juneau, Alaska. I just want you to know - you are constantly on my mind, and therefore, constantly in my prayers! I fall asleep praying for you and wake up thinking of you. Imagine - our heavenly Father thinks of you more often, and prays for you more effectively, than I! :)

Darlene Oliver said...

Dear Jessica & James
We so love and appreciate you. You have inspired us and encourage us even though you are going through this difficult time. Know that you are being greatly used by God and that He has awesome and amazing things ahead for you. You are blessing and impacting so many lives. More then you will ever know. You are constantly on our minds. We pray that God will Bless you and keep you and that He will give you peace that passes all understanding and a strength that can only come from Him. He is doing a mighty work in your life, may His healing hand touch your body and bring complete healing and that affliction shall not rise up another time.
Larry & Darlene

Longfei said...

Dearest Jessica,

I am very glad that you updated your blog. I've been thinking of you, James and boys after we talked last time, and I have been praying for you. It's good for you guys to move to such a beautiful place and to live with your sister and your friend.I hope we can talk to you soon.

Miss you and love you

Larissa said...

Thank you for the honesty, Jess. Good for those of us not fighting a fight like you are to hear! Thank you!
Praying for you and your family!

Cliff Martin said...


You don't know me. I am a friend of your grandpa Frey, and another mutual friend turned me on to your blog.

One of the"lies" you chronicle in you post prompts me to write from my own experience.

I lost my wife of 39 years to cancer earlier this year. She valiantly fought colon cancer for 3.5 years, during most of which she felt okay. We travelled and enjoyed immensely our last years together.

Her final decline was brief (about 3 months) and precipitous. I can't tell you how it will be for you, your husband, or your marriage. I can tell you how it was for me.

During those months, when Ginger felt she could do so little for me, and long after physical intimacy ceased, my love for her crescendoed almost beyond imagination! I am not merely parroting some idealistic sentiments. It is the truth. Serving her was never easier. Loving her grew with intensity. The joy she inspired in me was unmatched in the 39 preceding years.

There was a natural tendency in Ginger (I hear it in your writing as well), a sort of defense mechanism, to allow emotional distance to creep into our relationship in a supposed effort to reduce the pain of separation for both her and me. I fought hard against this mechanism. I purposed not let her do this. First, it really would not lessen my pain, not ultimately, and could serve to intensify grief, adding regret to the pain of loss. She finally agreed, and laid down this partly conscious partly un- agenda. And as a result, our final days together were among the best of our married life.

If this illness leads to your parting (I pray it does not!), I hope it will be for you as it was for us! It can be, and I want to encourage both you and James to work hard for this outcome!


Jess, Regina and Dan Bumstead here - we are the mutual friends that Cliff of the last post, mentioned. I am, while in the States for a couple months, endeavoring to read your blogs backward. Thanks for being so honest with your thoughts and fears and insights.
About the "insignificance" - my small insight into this "lie" - I was very close to 2 wonderful women as they declined into the place where there body was no more, and their spirit was released to fly. We call it death. But their spirit never decreased during the decrease of their body. In fact I think it grew stronger. Many came to "minister" to them, but left totally ministered to. These two experiences have given me less respect for death - it is just another stage of life that all go thru; and more respect for Life - that indomitable force of the spirit that, regardless of physical surroundings, can transform any dreary scene into a thing of beauty.

Believe in it - reach for it - rest in it.