The Timing of Cancer

I’d say I don’t have time to write, but that’s inherently untrue. We all have the same amount of time and I could use some of it to write. My father, the professional editor, would say to write precisely what I mean. In the interest of honoring the teaching of the man who rocked my baby to sleep for me this evening, I shall.

These past two weeks a myriad of extra demands and responsibilities filled our schedules and writing wasn’t a priority.

My favorite scene from Saved By The Bell was from the very dramatic episode where Jessie Spano gets addicted to caffeine pills. Pressured by a ‘lack of time’  to study for her Geometry test and perform for talent scouts, she claims she can’t sleep and accomplish it all. In dramatic meltdown, she wails,  “I have NO time!”

Jonathan’s home and health teacher will be here for 11 more minutes. Downstairs a workman is sawing and installing baseboards so that Jonathan can re-enter his “safe room” in the basement. I’ve just ironed shirts for my husband who was called out of town yesterday for a quick trip, and Elizabeth just woke up from her quick nap.

The house is filled with half-finished tasks that demand TIME, attention, effort…

These two weeks carry the weight of this year and so much more. We have fought Jonathan’s cancer for six months and we are only on the second treatment. Another year looms, but we can’t’ just wish it away. A year holds so much in those early years. By the time we are done with treatment, Elizabeth will be one. She represents the growing and learning we are all doing- much more gracefully than the ever-increasing lines on my face and white in my hair.

The week of March 21, 2015 was a hard one. Only three years ago, William was nearly done with his treatment for leukemia. We celebrated World Down Syndrome Day… and then I went home with a raging fever. Someone in the hospital had a deadly virus called “c diff” and it was carried to William. Without an immune system, it raged in his body. We stopped using sheets. He swelled from morphine and steroids. His skin on his cheeks peeled away and bled.

A month from the finish line, I was afraid I would bring him home in a casket instead of in my arms. 

That month of recovery seemed longer than any of the previous five. Time is tricky that way.

We lost our predictable routine and our structure.

Structure is essential for our sons with disability and the consequences of disruption are evident. We have really struggled this week, so we are bringing back many of our visual aids and tools to help the boys. We press on.

It is tempting to give way to the chaos. It’s tempting to be frustrated and pitch a fit. Instead, I iron.  I watch steam rise and hear the gentle hiss from my iron as one by one, the wrinkles are ironed away from my man’s shirt. I iron and I pray. God is outside of time. He is not stressed. He is not rushing. God provides the structure as everything else gives way. I can trust Him, because he has always been trustworthy before. He is the anchor in the chaos.

Iron. Pray. Press on. Iron it out. Keep going.

So now school ends and two children are hungry. Laundry’s cheerful calls me calls me. The saw whirls and my father hands me a baby and heads to the stove. My William survived and is thriving at school. Jonathan’s visual schedule is in front of him as he sips chocolate milk and waits for a grilled cheese sandwich. The baby coos more impatiently– and so I pray for God’s presence in each moment. He’s here with me in the mundane, which is Kingdom Work. Painful forging into the image of Christ is hard work and takes all the time we have.

Now, to my children. It’s time.


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