The last best day

Have you ever experienced the sharp intake of breath as you revel in a moment of pure joy and beauty...and fall like a roller-coaster car over the precipice of anxiety as you wonder if this will last? Anything can be a last, after all. Children grow and change. Bad things happen. People grow apart. Distance separates.

It comes to me like a thief in the night, unexpected. I wonder if it's always lurking there, this silent thief of joy, the heaviness of temporariness that robs me of moments I intended to savor. The last night with Amelia in the hospital. She was awake until 1 a.m. The previous late nights in the hospital were excruciating, because I didn't know how many more late nights stretched before me. But the last was different. It was pure sweetness. Amelia's husky little belly laugh, her antics in bed at midnight, even her "tapping" (i.e. swatting with quite a bit of force!) her itchy spots on her head. I can go one more sleepless night. I can last one more bleary-eyed, sensory overload, nerves like frayed copper wire day. It was worth it to cuddle, stroke her face, listen to her talk, watch a girlie movie together.

Amelia at midnight on 11/15/10. Seriously. She was THAT awake!
But as her big kalamata olive eyes focused intently on mine, as she rubbed the web between my pointer and thumb like she always does when she's falling asleep, and her lips parted in a half smile as the breath slowed and the eyelids drooped heavy, that thief snuck up on me. What if Amelia is going to get sicker again? What if she doesn't recover, what if she has something she won't outgrow, something medicine won't treat? What if this is the last best time? 

A million questions follow the first ones. Did I do a good job as a mother to this child? Have I dropped the ball along the line? What regrets will I have? Have I saved up enough memories to get me through grief? Would I be any good at grief? What if that's what God prepared us for? We've wondered it together, Aaron and I. It took us years to put voice to the whispers inside, as if by acknowledging them they might become real, like the monsters in your room after dark when you were a child. Just close your eyes, maybe they'll go away. Just don't look. Don't look. Don't look. He told me, before we got married, that he was pretty sure his life was going to be tough. I said, Likewise. Mine already was tough. But we didn't go into specifics. Just enough to know that we were united in it, that we weren't dragging the other person down a road of torture they didn't want to go down. When I got cancer, the monsters in the room came to life. In one sense, we rejoiced: the good kind of cancer? Something with good 5 year odds?? That's it?? That's what we've been prepared for. Not as bad as we expected, then. Maybe nobody is going to actually die. Okay. We can deal with this. That's not so bad, God. Thanks for the handout!

Then my cancer didn't go away. Boom. We fell another level, like in Mario Brothers when the little guy goes thudding with a little electronic down spiral in the music as his figure blinks a few times and grows smaller. Then Amelia got sick. Then I had a tubal pregnancy and we lost a baby under horrific circumstances.  My husband and son nearly died from a "routine" stomach bug, in the midst of an intense week of personal and family tragedies. I underwent surgery after surgery, from complications from the tubal pregnancy to insertion of my pacemaker.




Level, level, level, always wondering if we're at the bottom yet or not.

How do you live like that? People ask us all the time. Sometimes we just look at the floor, laugh nervously, because we're not really sure. Sometimes He puts an answer on our lips (I Peter 3:15).

The only way, really, is to call a spade a spade. Understand that joy-thief that sneaks up on you and whispers that you should be afraid is a thief. A messenger of the evil one. Cast him out, with the power of the blood. The power of the blood is, "What's the worst that can happen to us?" Whoever loses his life shall find it, and whoever hangs on to his life shall lose it (Matthew 16:25).

If this is the last best time, then praise be to God my Father for the BEST time.

Linked up to Faith Barista for Thursday's Faith Barista JAM.