It is Christmas Eve morning. I’m sitting here in the glow of the tree lights with a TENS unit on my left arm and hand. A nurse hit my main nerve during a blood draw on Monday. I’ve had electrical shock pain every time I move my thumb since and my left arm is pretty much useless. I was back to the hospital before 7am this morning for more labs. The unit just called and wanted me to wait until 4:30pm for treatment. I broke down in sobs. They are going to try to get me in at 1pm. I will come home and fall into bed when it is finished.
In the past few weeks I’ve read post after post written by women on the subject of showing themselves grace when it comes to the crazy busy pressure of their family traditions, gift buying, gift wrapping, cookie making, parties, programs and their expectations of creating the overall look and feel of Christmas for their families.
I would give anything to be healthy enough to participate in this adrenaline fueled season. ANYTHING.
My Dan just finished vacuuming. He is emptying the dishwasher while he runs the first of several loads of clothes that need laundered. We have no food in our refrigerator. He will brave the grocery store for a few things today. Money is tight. He gets paid Friday. This is no different than any other Wednesday before pay day, but it is Christmas. The girls will go with him because my mom will be taking me to the hospital.
The girls Santa gifts, one each, are in a Rubbermaid high up in the garage. Dan will have to find time to hide away and wrap them with special paper. This is something I love to do. We usually have party food as a tradition on Christmas Eve. I make h’ordeuvres, crusty bread with brie and crab dip. Dan and I toast with a glass of wine. We open Christmas jammies. We sit snuggled around in the twinkle of our tree and light the last Advent candle while we read THE Christmas story. Danica is still a believer. She would write a letter to Santa and carefully put out his treats on a plate with a glass of milk and scatter carrots and reindeer food in the back yard. The girls go to bed early and don’t dare leave their rooms. It’s finally one more sleep. Dan and I wait until we know they are out and then bring the gifts from us and Santa out and stuff their stockings. We feel close. We know this season is a line break in our family story of loss and disappointment. We have tried to make it something meaningful and Christ focused and joyful no matter what.
This year is different. It seems even harder than 2011 when I was recovering from brain surgery and fusion and came home to my parent’s basement Christmas Eve for twenty-four hours with Dan and the girls. I was in such a fog I barely remember even being there. I remember my pain and short temper but knowing Delaney and Danica were mostly oblivious because so many people stepped in to surrogate that year. My dad played Santa and gifted us our dear Twixie. This made everything okay.
Dan is waiting for someone from Craigslist to come and buy his weights. They were his birthday present this year. Working out is his only hobby and the one thing that keeps him okay mentally. I don’t think it is a “Gift of the Magi” thing. He is just feeling the pressure. He’s thinking of a new year with my trip to Maryland on January 7th for a scan of my recent fusion and a visit with my neurosurgeon. He’s thinking of my canceled bone density scan and mammogram that will need to be done in January on a new deductible. He’s thinking of my cardiologist appointment in Toledo. He’s thinking of our first quarter trip to Cincinnati for Danica’s scans and visits when we still owe them from last year’s trip because it is always the beginning of her personal deductible. He’s thinking of how we floated a few bills to buy presents for the girls. He never thinks about himself.
I hurt for him most. He has loved past what someone should be asked. He has sacrificed every possible personal goal for a career or personal pleasure to be my husband and a father to our girls. Any moment he is not at work he is here serving us. Sunday he gently washed my hair over the sink, because I cannot shower. I looked straight into his eyes to understand how each assault on my body is one on his heart. We are one even though physical union is almost impossible in these times of illness and treatment. He has never once complained or made me feel an ounce of guilt about the long seasons of our life when the physical part of our marriage is completely unfulfilled. I ache. He aches. He would never walk away. When all the busy work is done, and a day is so hard we can barely breathe, he will curl up and sleep. He says sleep is the only place he isn’t hurting.
I appreciate all the notes of love reminding me that Satan is attacking my mind and heart with sadness. Thank you for pointing me to Jesus. It is not expectations about Christmas that cause my heartache or even the very real feelings of failing my husband and children when it comes to layering years of tradition as a foundation for their lives. Our walk is painful no matter what time of year.
I do not have amnesia. We do not have amnesia. God has provided for us every day. He has loved us through you over and over again as I have had treatments and surgeries. We are ever blessed in the midst of this never ending journey.
We are grateful for your love this season.
A friend brought cookie dough and decorating icing and sprinkles since I have not been well enough to bake. Dan and the girls did this together last weekend. She and her family also brought the girls a little money to shop for Dan and I and one another. Dan took them last Saturday, and it brought them great happiness. I’ve had many little meaningful gifts from friends reminding me to be strong and never give up. Family has sent gifts so there is an abundance of things for the girls to open under our tree. Everyone knows presents can’t fill the ache, but this is their way of saying they care. My dear Janet and her husband are cooking for us today so we will have a yummy dinner tonight. My parents have taken turns driving me in the early mornings for labs and afternoons for pheresis. This love reminds us we are not alone.
Right now is when I am supposed to circle around to something didactic about Jesus.
I should tell you I’m ever hoping and finding strength and grace minute by minute.
Today it’s just not so.
My God hasn’t changed a bit.
He is holding all this in His hands.
He wrote my days when there were none of them.
He is working all things together for my good, Dan’s good, Delaney’s good and Danica’s good.
He is working all this for His glory.
It is true even when I can’t feel it at all.
This is the gift we will keep unwrapping long after the last ornament is put away.
Day after day; week after week; month after month into 2015 we will wake and run to the foot of another tree. We will sit beneath Calvary and see “When (we) are in the presence of God, it seems profoundly unbecoming to demand anything.”–Francis Shaeffer
Merry Christmas dear ones.