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The tearful February day of the appointment plodded mercifully onward, minutes growing to hours. Finally, the sky darkened, and I laid down to sleep. I woke the next morning with swollen eyes, roused by the creeping light, and I rustled out of bed and into the living room, curling into a leather chair, where I wrote down everything I could remember in my journal: how it began, what I could see (and couldn’t), my un-diagnosis.
Then dressing, breakfast, and herded to the car, buckling car seats and calming toddlers worried about who snatched batman out of whose hands and whose rightful turn for play it is anyway. I walked my daughter into preschool; then I rode a stationary bike at the gym; then I warmed hot dogs in the microwave for lunch; then I laid my children down for afternoon naps; then I heated frozen dinners for us all; and later, my husband and I watched “The Office” before we again settled beneath the sheets to rest: a normal day.
But by the very next day, peace had exited. At dinner, Jeremy and I fought about who to tell about my health and when – I wanted to hide in bed without broadcasting news of my demise to the whole neighborhood, a feeling my husband could not understand. After all, he had already given Joel permission to pass along our news to the church elders, a fact I discovered only after one elder emailed me his condolences.
“It’s my news to tell,” I said.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know it would bother you,” he said.
“We haven’t even told our families yet!” I said.
“I’m sorry,” he said. We sat in silence, staring at our plates. Jeremy scratched at the uneaten food on his plate; my eyes felt hot.
“I’m just scared,” I said.
Jeremy sighed and touched my shoulder. “I know,” he said.
I looked at him and smiled weakly. Then I looked down at my hands again. I said, “One of the book of common prayer readings yesterday was about gouging out your eye if it causes you to sin because it’s better to have one eye than to be thrown into hell with two.”
Jeremy frowned, said, “Has your eye been causing you to sin?”
I looked at him and hesitated. “Well,” I said, “Yes and no. It’s that idea of God withholding deserved judgment from us. Like, do people who die in tsunamis deserve it? Yes, because we have all rebelled against God and we all deserve death for our sin. But is there hope through Jesus? Yes.” He thought for a minute, weighing my words, nodding. Then I said, “And of course I can’t help wondering if maybe I did do something, if I’m guilty and deserve whatever this is, or maybe if God’s trying to send me some coded, passive-aggressive message via my stupid bible reading plan…,” I said.
“No,” Jeremy said firmly.
“I know, I know it’s ridiculous,” I said.
“You aren’t to blame for this,” he said.
“I almost wish I were,” I said, “That might be easier.”
“I don’t think anything about this could ever be easy,” he said.
I nodded, then said, “Maybe you’re right,” and I stood and walked into the kitchen, stepping on the lever that lifted the lid of the trash can and scraping the crumbs off my plate with a fork. They fell into the bag, an unspoken prayer.
To be continued…
This post is part of my “Through A Mirror Dimly” series about a recent health issue I’ve been experiencing. I started telling this true story during the season of Lent as a way to make sense of the ways that my own suffering teaches me about the suffering of Jesus Christ.
I also invite you to engage with your own suffering through this series: how does your personal pain illuminate the suffering of Jesus for you? And what can your pain teach you about the life of faith?
And just a reminder: these words represent days in February of this past year – which means all of this that I’m documenting are past realities and feelings. I know it’s hard to keep track when you read only once a week! But the place I’m in today (both medically and emotionally) is different from what I’m representing in these blog posts. Thanks for your concerns and prayers in any case! They are not wasted and are very much appreciated. 🙂