It’s been a while since I’ve written like this, and it feels as though I’ve forgotten how.
I’ll spare you the self-absorbed monologue about how writing about private stuff in the public domain makes me squirm, though, and just say this.
My kid had an operation today. Nothing major, and so ‘routine’ that it barely warrants mentioning – not least when there are kids the world over waking up tomorrow with life-limiting conditions.
But it’s moments like today that draw you up short and make you remember that you’re alive – actually actively engaged in the precarious business of living, with all the risk and hope that hangs in that balance.
I didn’t cry today, even though I felt like it. I dug deep and found a reserve of strength for my boy’s sake.
“Stay strong and plaster that smile on for the patient,” wrote a new-found / long-lost friend in the last email I read before we left for the great hospital adventure this morning, and it anchored something in me and reminded me that I can ‘do’ strong when it’s required of me. When it matters.
But afterwards when it was all over and I was satiating my tired soul by surfing my favourite blogs I suddenly found myself caught off-guard by someone else’s words, and a small, startled sob escaped without my permission. But in that moment of unanticipated emotion all the day’s worries slipped their moorings and finally sailed out to sea.
This is what I read:
I spent the evening last night in Brett’s hospital room. We sat side by side, watched T.V., passed the baby back and forth and didn’t say a whole lot to each other, but the anxiety for today’s events was palpable. Before I left, I felt the need to say something important, so I asked him if he wanted me to pray.
“I will,” he answered.
We don’t really “pray” out loud a lot together other than our holiday meal grace, the first mile safety prayer of our summer road trips and the “thank you” prayer that’s whispered on the evening of our babies’ births.
But last night’s prayer is one I will never forget. We huddled together while Brett whispered some simple and honest words that spelled out a love letter for our family.
I know there will be hardships in life. Sometimes I think I prepare for them almost too much–like I’m silly and naive if I enjoy the comforts of life without making mental notes about how it could be different. That’s not the definition of gratitude though. The best way to prepare for those moments when they come–and they will–is to focus on the present. To love everyone around us as best as we know how.
Yes, this. Exactly. Tonight’s gratitude for an op gone well could so easily have been something much more somber. But in the joy that comes with a happy ending let me not lose the awareness that not every day will end like this one. Harder times will come; loss of all sorts is written into the source code of all life. But it’s in the moments when hardship feels so palpably close – within touching distance – that I am most viscerally reminded that all of life is a ‘gift’. Sometimes you can’t see treasure until you get a glimpse of what it would feel like to have it stolen.
And I will remember this: Our boys at the dinner table last night clinging worldlessly to one another with an iron grip. They call each other names and sometimes treat each other with contempt, but a heartfelt man-hug between two brothers sincerely sorry to be spending the day separated by surgery is a picture that paints a thousand, million words.
I’m glad I got to see it. But gladder still that they’ll be back to kicking each other underneath the table by breakfast time tomorrow.