I don’t even pray this time.
Instead I nurse a really bad attitude as we sit in Boston traffic on a bleak, rainy afternoon. We’re on our way to yet another neurology appointment to discuss the poor results of yet another EEG.
I am already picturing the schlep from the parking garage across the busy city streets into Children’s Hospital. Rhema will bolt toward some unknown destination as I hold on to her for dear life with one hand. With the other hand I will drag Hope along as she stops to compliment a passerby on his/her choice of umbrella.
I imagine how much easier this would all be if he were here. Brandon’s been away on deployments and TDY assignments 18 months out of the past 2 years. I won’t pretend: it’s taken a toll. This go-round there’s been an all-out war to keep bitterness and discontentment from taking root in my heart, and I have felt so utterly alone.
This marriage needs him home, but he keeps getting sent away. This child needs this seizure activity to cease, but it will not. I have prayed and prayed, but these circumstances, they don’t change. God, are you with me? Because I don’t see you and I can’t feel you.
And this darn traffic is making us late!
A small voice from behind pipes up: “Mommy, can you feel this hug?”
I glance back and Hope is wrapping her arms around herself. She’s squeezing so hard she’s shaking a little, her eyes are tightly shut.
Just the other day I had a conversation with Brandon about a song called Held by Natalie Grant. We both happened to be driving (albeit 700 miles apart) and both heard the song on satellite Christian radio. It caught our attention because this wasn’t a song with a nice, neat happy ending. By the last note, there is no deliverance from the present pain and struggle. Just a promise that God is here. With us in it all, through it all, holding us. The song made me think of Tahni and her message to me that very day, in the midst of her own grief: “Truly God shows us what it feels to be held.”
“This is what it means to be held, when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive. This is what it is to be loved and to know that the promise was that when everything fell, we’d be held.”
“Mom, can you feel it? My dinosaur hug? Grrr. Can you even breathe???”
And this is how I hold you.
“Thank you, sweet girl. I feel it now.”
As we park, I get a text message from my twin:
“We’re here, girl. Gonna wait 4 u in garage exit.”
And this is how I hold you.
I’m so grateful. My sister takes Hope so I can devote all my attention to Rhema and the doctor. He sends us to another floor to get an EKG done. Anyone who knows Rhema knows that’s not happening. Still we go through the motions of trying and trying and fighting and finally one of the technicians writes on the EKG paperwork: ‘Impossible.’
We head back upstairs, and I have to wrestle her back onto the elevator every time it stops. (Our floor is the 11th floor). By the time we reach Dr. C’s office with our ‘Impossible’ paperwork I’ve already taken the express train to Pityville.
We discuss the EEG results while Rhema hums and plays. The numbers are not great, but surprisingly, they are better than the last time. That’s something! We go through the list of anti-epileptic drugs we’ve tried, all with no success. For now at least, we’re pretty much out of treatment options.
Dr. C. gives a resigned shrug. “It is what it is.”
I nod. I accept this. “It is what it is.”
Rhema scrambles onto the examining table and jumps up and down, knocking a piece of equipment off the wall. I stand and hold out my hand for her to come down. She jumps into my arms, wraps her arms and legs around me, buries her face in my neck. I turn around and lean against the table. Rhema doesn’t let go, and I close my tired eyes.
And this, my love, is how I hold you.