New Year’s Day and the 4th Anniversary
It is much easier for me to talk about food. Food pretty much does what I say and mostly tastes good. If I have a food fail, it isn’t a waste but a learning opportunity. All the while, it meets a basic need for my clan. Often, food leaves the herd feeling satisfied and hopefully happy. Successes in the kitchen are easy for me to transfer into a simple recipe – and with a few pretty photos, a couple of cooking tips & an ingredient short list, a blog post is up.
But real, day to day life? That is tougher. The moments of each day often feel droningly repetitive. Wake up, shuffle the herd, make some meals, rush too and fro, work on school, zip to piano, take care of the pets, break up a fight, clean up a mess just to go to bed, sleep & wake up to start it all again.
Those routines often camouflage what great things are really happening. More than camouflage, they distract and can trick me into thinking nothing better has happened or will happen. Is that bad? Maybe I am the only one who gets sucked into focusing on the moment.
It isn’t that I don’t remember, but more that I don’t remember to remember in the “heat” of the day to day monotony.
We have a few holiday traditions that we have established and maintained for most of our married life, but those traditions became much more meaningful when we were blessed with the addition of kiddos. One of my favorites is the tradition of Cornish Hens for New Year’s Day dinner.
As a matter of fact, the hens are brining at this very moment!
This may be our 7th or 8th year for New Year’s Cornish Hens. Regardless of how old the kiddos are, or how much food they can eat, we have always given each boy ((or girl)) their very own WHOLE hen. Now, imagine being 2 and getting your very own WHOLE bird. You may make a face similar to this:
Isn’t she a cutie? And notice – Shepy needed no instruction – I think he was already sucking the bones! I snapped this photo on January 1, 2012 – exactly 4 years ago today. Gracie had turned 2 less than 2 months earlier. You would think, as I recall these moments of New Year’s Day 2012, I would chuckle or at least smirk. But I am not.
Honestly, I am fighting to see the keys of my computer through blurred, tear-filled eyes. My hands are chilled and I feel a bit sweaty as my chest tightens with rapid flutters of a racing heart. Ten minutes after I snapped this picture, I took Gracie’s temperature which was 101°. Of course 101° isn’t that crazy, but after months and months of a cyclic fever and other troubling symptoms I knew this was the beginning of another “episode”.
What was worse, the last episode had just ended 36 hours earlier. My heart sank as the thermometer registered and it was at that moment I dreaded the misery the next days would hold for my girl.
Just two weeks prior to New Year’s Day, Gracie had finally received a diagnosis that gave name to the suffering she had experienced for most of the first 2 years of her life. Unexplained high fevers reaching 107.2°- unaffected by ibuprofen & acetaminophen, vomiting, mouth ulcers & blistered hands and feet were among the many symptoms that emerged every 3-4 weeks in the early months increasing in frequency as time passed.
I left the table and went to my closet, closed the door and fell to the ground. Face down with arms and legs spread out, I cried. I couldn’t make words come out – only moans. I just wasn’t ready to do this again – to hold her little sick self with no way to really fix her. To struggle with giving her a steroid that would stop the episode only to bring the next on sooner and with greater intensity. That steroid is why she only had had a reprieve of hours rather than days or weeks.
Really, with the diagnosis, we had a plan – her doctor and I, together, decided not to give her the steroid this time. When she was old enough ((in 1½ – 2 years)) a tonsillectomy was supposed to help. So, similar to what I imagine one does with the news of a coming hurricane, I prepared for “the storm”. I already had the pink bath fizzies, a stack of soft rags to dampen – in hopes to cool her hot little body down, her favorite cups & her special lovie.
My prayers were piled onto the multitude of prayers already poured out. But this time, I begged Him to make me sick and her well. To let me suffer and give her relief. To stop her progression of pain and pass it all on to me. In the dark of the night, as I held my hot, suffering baby I hated that I had to struggle to stay awake. As I nodded off, Gracie would hoarsely whisper “sing church momma, sing church”, for those old hymns seemed to be her only comfort.
In those quite hours, they were my comfort too. But after almost 2 years of this increased suffering, this was the night my desperation mounted and as I sang to her about Heaven and our King, my soul cried out hard to the very One these songs were about. At first, I begged God to send His angels to surround us both and carry us into the morning. But in a flash, I told God to forget that and I pleaded for more. More than one night or one week of help, I needed suffering to be overcome. “I need Jesus, I need Jesus to save her from this!” – was the cry my spirit sent out.
I love the story of Hagar ((Gen 16)). She was a desperate mom who cried out for help. God heard her cries and answered. That January night, as I cried out, He answered and I, like Hagar, saw “the One who sees me”.
He worked in ways only One who sees me could answer the cries of my heart. He carried us into the morning, caused our doctor to answer his own office phone at 6:30 am, caused a doctor to say “yes” to surgery after saying “no, she is way too young” and “there is no such thing as PFAPA” and one week after I cried out in the darkness of desperation – she had the surgery that eliminated the majority of her suffering.
Four years later, I can tell you: that was her last “episode”. 1,460 days have passed and not one of them has been filled with the suffering she knew in those first 2 years. Now, bath fizzies are just for fun, damp rags are for scuffed knees and only I know why she loves ice chips and gentle back scratches so very much. She doesn’t remember the blood draws, the fevers, the late night baths, the mouthful of sores and constant vomitting – she doesn’t remember the suffering. But I remember being desperate for help, I remember crying out and I remember The One who hears and sees coming near.
So on this 4 year anniversary, I am heart-fully remembering my need for help and thankfully praising Him for hearing and answering.
Suffering is a very personal thing. It is certainly hard for me to share on my “food” blog. But the interesting thing about suffering: we all have or will soon experience it. For my girl, a reprieve from suffering came on this side of eternity. I am thankful and also aware suffering doesn’t always end the way ours did. Please know, our healing didn’t come because I am better or more precious to Him. It is just what He chose to do. But whether physical healing comes or not – God made a plan for ultimate healing that overpowers the sufferings of this place.
The plan is Jesus.
The Bible tells us that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. Because of Jesus, there is hope beyond suffering. Do not lose heart, fix your eyes on the One who sees you. Cry out to Him and He will come near.
Thank you for “listening” as I remember to remember He sees.