I am so tired today. Like bone weary, emotionally drained and completely without patience for the continued borrowing of trouble that seems to be the norm in these pandemic times.
I'd like to tell you a story, from 2007. Lily was about halfway through radiation treatment. We were driving back to Houston from a long weekend in San Antonio with Mike's parents. Lily puked.
Puke is what kicked off her diagnosis. Puke is what could be the symptom of tumor or shunt failure or meningitis or all sorts of horrors.
Puke could also be reflux in a baby who had puked for one month straight before we found out she had a brain tumor. But, you don't know what the puke is signaling until it happens again (or does not). In those early cancer parents times, this one episode in the parking lot of a restaurant somewhere outside of Austin, was crushing.
I remember Mike looking at me and saying "What are we doing? Why are we going on weekend trips with a baby who is sick? This is not where are supposed to be."
The thing is, neither one of us had any idea where we were supposed to be. At home hiding from the world? Or out in the world, enjoying what we could in moments that felt stolen?
It was an in-between time. Lily had been discharged from the PICU. She was going to radiation 5 days a week; clinic once a week; transfusions about once a week; OT and PT several times a week. Then, the weekends were ours. It seemed strange to not find joy in those weekends without appointments. But, then, when reminders of the war our daughter was wagging against brain cancer, it seemed strange to find joy when we had cancer to beat.
A cancer diagnosis reminds you of the limited time we have on earth. When it is your child, every single moment become one in which you must seal in memories and find joy. In the end, we took more weekend trips--and we've made it our life philosophy to fight our way out of the in-between times, by just putting one normal, regular foot in front of the other.
We are living in those in-between times now. As much as we desperately want to push forward in normal, pre-Covid ways; Covid always finds ways to creep back in.
Yesterday, it was an email about the death of a classmate of my daughter's--a 7th grader. Instantly, I found myself giving my prep talk: you did not know this girl. you can be sad. but you cannot borrow grief. you need to stay solid for those who will be grieving for someone they knew and loved. I gave the prep talk to my daughter (who did not know this classmate). I gave the pep talk to several friends.
Then today, it changed. There was some potential contact; some interactions; there was a risk of exposure. There was confusion over the protocol for vaccinated children. The afternoon brought me to my knees. I forgot my rational pep talk. I was scared for my daughter. Heartbroken over this girl. Angry about this pandemic that rages on in hospitals and in protocol confusion and in bullshit fighting on Facebook.
COVID, it seems, enjoys to push all of us to borrow trouble in these in-between times of lockdown and openness. But, trouble that isn't ours to carry just breaks our backs and leaves us exhausted, like I am now.
My family is okay. We are safe and free.
Friends, there is so much trouble in this world that would just delight at us borrowing it. There is sorrow and murders and deaths and destructions and things everywhere that could touch us personally, but don't. Instead, we are drawn to touch it ourselves. We have to resist. We cannot borrow trouble, to do so risks all of our sanity. We have to stay moving forward, resist setting roots down in this place of madness and leave the trouble that doesn't belong to us behind.
Tonight, pray for Amelia's family. I don't know her; but I know that her family loves her and misses and they are broken tonight and forever without her.
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