I realize I am a therapist’s dream, a case study of sorts, and I imagine the treatment room they would use would be lined with televisions depicting touching weddings, puppies frolicking in the grass, and those first moments after a baby’s birth. But I would combat those scenarios with memories of dribbling drills, running endless suicides and a coach yelling in my face, spittle dripping down his chin as he berated me for not boxing out up to expectations.
Seriously, puppies? That’s all you’ve got?
Warped or not, it works for me. Our home is a happy place and our children funnier than we ever thought of being. Despite my own inadequacies, the tears of my offspring are still welcomed and encouraged; mine just happen to not flow as freely.
However, our struggle of the last 5 weeks with Chase has changed everything. The dam has burst, the floodgates have opened, the water works in full blast. My eyes are so watery mascara remains an impossibility and my chin so quivery it looks like I am perpetually cold.
While I am sad for my son, and sometimes scared, I am strong for him. The demeanor of Chase has been upbeat and positive, and I figure that the least I can do is reflect to him what he gives to me.
However, the kindness of others makes me cry like a hormonal girl.
A few examples:
-Friends since college, the Nogs showed up at my house this past Sunday, one driving as far as 6 hours away to spend just a night with me and my family.
Bearing a yard sign, casseroles, and gifts for Chase, the comfort and hilarity they brought with them was almost too much for me to believe.
After they left the next morning, this was left by my bedside table: Susie's diamond necklace I was to wear during Chase’s recovery.
-Our family orthodontist and friend, Dr. V., who has provided more metal in our family than should be lawfully allowed, sent this to Chase on Friday night:
Our family rode around in this crazy vehicle throughout our small town, making a last stop at a restaurant where Dr. V brought out two pizzas to go.
The kindness has been constant:
-A friend who just finished her final round of chemo, sporting beautiful smile and scarf covered head, stops me in carpool line to deliver a delicious, gourmet meal.
-Middle school boys that come and visit Chase on beautiful Saturday afternoons, sitting on the couch next to him for hours, even though they prefer to play outdoors.
-Friends, who are more like family, interrupt their own plans to drive two hours to spend the weekend with us, providing love and laughs because they knew it was exactly what we needed.
- A childhood best friend who texts me every morning with an emoticon of praying hands, letting me know that she has just prayed for Chase.
-A neighbor who offers her porch or sits on mine at a moment’s notice, to listen, to encourage, and to remind me to smile.
-Friends who take my facebook status updates and make it their own, asking others to lift our son to the Almighty and those who blog and share my posts, using the link to solicit prayers from the World Wide Web.
-Meals, visits, cards, phone calls, emails and texts received from those all over just to express concern for our family.
And the kindness of it all – every single, selfless act – makes me cry.
While it’s something I can’t repay, I can do better. I can strive to be worthy of these friendships, these gifts I didn’t deserve but depend on nevertheless. It is real life example of God’s grace, something offered when it is not necessarily earned, an understanding that has never been more clear or more appreciated.
At the end of all this, and even throughout the difficult middle, I want to live out the lesson understood in one of my favorite lines by Tim McGraw when confronting struggle and change: “I learned to be the kind of friend a friend would like to have.”
One day when this chapter in our lives is over, my hope is that I empathize differently, that I love generously and I offer kindness like it was given to me.
Even if it means I have to cry like a girl.
Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with."
- Mark Twain