Yesterday my kids ate ice cream outside, my eldest in her bathing suit. That might sound absurd since we live in Canada and there are still technically two days of winter left before spring, but we have been longing for summer so we jumped at the opportunity to be outside.
We have had a seemingly endless winter. Since the first blizzard in early October, we’ve put up with frigid weather, though the past two months have been the worst. It had been well below zero for two months straight, with no reprieve from the harsh conditions. The air was so dry and cold that it made our noses sting and our skin flake off. Kids were going antsy from being cooped up inside for so long. People were dreary from the monotony of freezing weather and dull grey skies.
However, it wasn’t the weather that was the hardest for me to endure – it was the wintery conditions of my own heart these past couple months. While the icy wind howled outside freezing everything in its path, the pain and emotions I faced began hardening my heart as well.
From the moment I heard the news about Jasmine, I felt the pain. My heart didn’t just hurt for her, but for everyone who would be broken and impacted by this. After awhile, the emotions became exhausting and I just didn’t want to feel them anymore. It’s easier to ignore the emotional reality and focus on other distractions than it is to sit in the mess.
Christine put it well when she called it emotionally tired. I have felt that way, too. It’s scary to acknowledge how we are feeling because what if we feel like this forever? What if we are wrong to feel this way?
When the second round of chemo went smoothly, I started to relax and come alive again. We had hope, and things were going as well as they could. Then Jas got the bacterial infection in her central line a week ago, and I didn’t want to go there again – to the dark place of fear, sadness and feeling numb.
But to fully live, we need to fully feel. We can’t selectively numb our emotions; when we numb the bad, we numb the good too.
I’m not sure that a winter season is completely avoidable in our lives. It seems to be our human condition to want to run away from pain. But there is one thing I am certain of: though winter can be long, it doesn’t last forever.
I am thankful for this burst of summer (as my kids are referring to it) even though it is still technically winter. And even though summer is still a long way off, God has gifted us this time of glorious sun in the midst of a hard season.
I think the harsher the winter, the more desperate we are for summer. And the colder the conditions, the warmer the sun will feel. In the shelter of a backyard, with no wind and direct sunlight, a 14 C (57 F) day can feel like the middle of summer. The deeper the pain we feel, the greater the height of life and joy we will also experience.
In psalm 23:4-5 it says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
In the midst of the dark valleys, in the midst of being surrounded, in the midst of suffering, God is still with us. And when He is with us, we can rest, we can have joy, and we can just BE without fear or worry.
Unlike the permafrost of this past winter, my heart has not been permanently frozen. Thankfully, God has been gracious to meet me in the middle and offer me many opportunities to process the emotions and the new reality with Him.
He gives complete rest when we are tired, He brings encouragement when hope is hiding, and He gives security when our foundation is rocked.
Today I am thankful that Jasmine is doing SO well that they have officially discharged her after round 2! Yesterday her blood levels were fairly stable, she had colour in her cheeks, the fever and rash were gone and her cough was better. Her counts were rising.
Today, her levels improved so much that they sent her home to rest before starting round 3. This time, her bone marrow started recovering on Day 21, which is ten days earlier than it did the first round. A nurse will be coming to Jasmine’s home daily to administer IV antibiotics.
Jas will receive a bone marrow biopsy and lumbar puncture this Friday. Chemo round 3 will most likely begin next Tuesday, March 26th.
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15