Tonight I opened the mail and was greeted with a barrage of envelopes from health care providers. I opened four letters that showed charges for my children’s therapies and I got to see how much was covered by our insurance. By the last letter I was feeling particularly thankful that the therapies my second child has to help him learn to sit, crawl, and eat properly would not cost us several hundreds each month. Then I opened the fifth letter.
The letterhead read Army Community Services: Exceptional Family Member Services.
Before I left for a trip home to be with family to rest, I had an interview with a representative with respite care. I had waited months, made several cumbersome trips to get paperwork filled out and I was feeling hopeful. I was assured that my present circumstances would warrant an hour of two of help a week. This came as a huge relief. I was hopeful that I was finally going to receive help. That hope was powerful; it was one encouraging thing to return to. Tomorrow I was going to check and see if the board had heard my case.
They have. The letter was a “we regret to inform you that you do not qualify for respite care” letter—a Dear John letter. I’m not quite sure how they figured it as I am apparently an automatic qualifier, but a solid “No” was looking up at me.
How in the world? Surely this was like Clue: The Movie. No meaning yes?
(If you haven’t seen this movie, go view it immediately. Thank you.)
Staring at that black and white letter, I felt indifferent. Shortly afterward I felt the temptation to dive full-force into feelings of anger, resentment, anger and frustration. Sarcastic comments about being Army Strong and the Army Family Covenant popped into my head. “You’re denying my claim?”
Still, four letters that showed how I was free from a financial debt peered up at me.
Tonight I am pondering how it feels to hear a resounding “No” when you expected a “yes”. The expectation makes it harder to hear. I’ll admit that I have heard some “No”s that were much more painful. I prayed that the results were faulty when it was suspected that Secondborn has Trisomy 21. When Secondborn was coming three weeks early and my husband was not here, I prayed the labor would stop. It didn’t. There have been many days that Secondborn fought to do basic things and wasn’t successful. Many days I tried to rustle up strength to press on and just couldn’t. Every day felt like fighting against a NO.
So how to deal with the “No”s? For me, I have to focus on the “Yes”. Respite care is wonderful, but it is an extra service that quite frankly is not mission essential. While the Army says No, many friends and family members have said, “Yes. Absolutely.” I’ve had dinners brought, pizzas ordered, and cards sent. People have come over and watched the children, even when they were not easy to handle. Messages of encouragement have poured in and many friends have given hours of their time to listen and accompany me on rough days. Church members visited, watched kids and brought cheesecake. Friends have mowed the yard and washed windows. They said, “Yes”.
More importantly, God has said “Yes”. My husband returned from fighting overseas just in time to be at my side when his sons were born. I picked him up from the airport while in labor with Secondborn and made it just in time. Secondborn was born without heart defects or other major complications. My family members were able to help. In my moments of darkest despair when I cried out to God, “Are you even real? I thought you were trustworthy. Are you going to stay here like you promised?” Yes. A lot of time there is silence before the answer. There can be days, months, and even years of waiting. I usually fill those times not with calm, patient silence but more of a “What the crap are you doing, Almighty God?”. I’m a work in progress.
I will most likely call the ladies who helped me earlier just to see what happened. I will certainly have days where I will desperately hope for some extra help. Still, I will cling to the “yes”. I have a life worth living and joyously celebrating, despite the circumstances. I was recently told (in an obvious case of word-vomit before the girl could stop herself) that she was glad she didn’t have my life because she would hate to have a husband gone and a kid with special needs. It made me ponder- deeply ponder- is my life one I would choose? Yes. That is one certain Yes despite all the moments and days that feel like a ‘no’. Pain and suffering is part of it. What you do with it shows character.
Tonight I feel strangely at peace. I finished the mail sorting, dishes, and picking up the tiny legos. I look over at wonderful banana bread that a friend brought and see cards from friends on the refrigerator. Pictures of the soldier I adore and the sweet boys I am blessed to have surround me. My friends are still here and willing to give love and support- and even more so.
So now I have the choice to give in to frustration, entitlement, and hopelessness. Yes or no.
I choose hope. Even hopelessness has hope at its core; the idea of better, a rescue…a ‘Yes’. I suppose if I am to teach my sons wisdom and life lessons, I must first learn them myself. When God says, “Yes”, it doesn’t matter who else says, “No”.