No Guarantees

Anna’s Lupus diagnosis left me forever changed. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is so different. And for some, I’m sure it gets old to hear me prattle on about these things. However, I continue to prattle.

One thing Lupus brought was acute awareness that nothing is guaranteed. I felt like before Lupus, I was just going about my business, getting things done, and living my life. I’d angst about the same things over and over: the bills, the kids, the marriage, the dishes. And then I’d wake up and do it all over again. But on December 15, the day Anna checked into the hospital, all of that came to a sudden and instant stop. I remember distinctly waking up in the hospital, on the couch next to the window, and seeing the cotton candy sunrise in the sky. I was shocked to see that the world had continued turning. It seemed impossible that the sun would still rise and yet there it was. I even took a picture to remember that surreal sunrise right between Anna’s gingerbread house she’d assembled the day before. The cars were still zooming down the freeway. People were still going to work and doing their grocery shopping. And I was sitting in a hospital room, on my own personal planet of hell which had suddenly fallen out of orbit.

In an instant, all the things that had occupied my hours and days just melted away. Anna’s life came into supreme focus and that was all that mattered to me. Over the next few months I’d wrestle with my desire to understand the situation, control the situation, and ultimately, my fear of losing her. Doctors would often rattle off a list of terrible possibilities: her kidneys could fail at any moment, her heart could also be affected, she could have problems with her blood that could create a clot, her treatment could cause cancer, her treatment could cause infertility. The weight of these ominous possibilities tore me in two. And there I sat, alone with my precious child, waiting for these possibilities to show themselves or vanquish. But what I was really grappling with was finding peace amidst the reality of never fully knowing.

Prior to Anna getting sick, I remember I would tuck her in at night, sitting at her bedside, like I did with my other two children. A handful of times I remember experiencing this wave of intense and weighty worry for her. At the time I noted it because it only ever happened when I sat with Anna. I always thought it was such a funny thing to feel about Anna. She was the healthiest, the easiest, and most content of my three kids. Why would I have this feeling about her? In retrospect, I can see what a silly assumption I had made. Health, ease, and content are temporal. Today does not necessarily dictate tomorrow.

Since the intense days of Lupus beginnings I’ve gone back to orbiting the regular universe. It’s amazing how easily one can slip back into the freeway lanes and the grocery store routines. And thankfully I no longer think about losing Anna on a daily basis. But my general approach to life has undeniably changed. I cannot unlearn the truth I so painfully met in that hospital room. Life is so terribly wonderfully fragile. We make our plans, eat the right foods, and exercise our bodies, but in the end we have zero assurances and no guarantees. This year has brought what feels like a never ending chorus of this reality. Many temporal things have been lost or compromised. Our hearts are downcast. There is nothing easy, simple, or trite about the losses we have collectively and specifically suffered.

And although I look forward to better days and absolutely work toward improvement, I have learned that ultimately I must strive for daily peace within myself regardless of how dark the circumstances. I don’t always achieve peace, far from it. Most of the time, it is just a glimpse or a whisper of it. But in each and every day there are precious moments that remind me of a peace that passes all understanding. It fuels me to breathe a little deeper, appreciate the beauty in the slightest of things, and extend grace and kindness when I least feel able.

I hope you too can find these moments in your each and every day and in the coming holiday season. Thank you again for being a part of Anna’s story; for sharing her project, reading these stories, and donating to the Christmas Kits. This project and the community contribution has been a continued blessing for our family and an emphatic turning of the tables on a dark spot in our lives.

Peace and Joy to you this Season!