It’s been a minute.
First, the update: Heath continues to heal and recover really well. We have had A LOT of follow-up appointments with cardiology, oncology, and orthopaedics and, while anxious, feel really good about the way things are trending. He has been a steady presence at school, at church (greeting people at the welcome table with his friend Harris this past Sunday at church (photo credit to the wonderful Kim Garcia)), and is out in the world more and more. A few Saturdays ago Heath, EB, and I took a quick trip to Greensboro to watch the semifinals of the ACC Women’s Tournament. It is an absolute joy to be able to do more and more, as he gains strength. He continues to heal well and we are shifting towards gaining strength along with that weight. His hair is growing, too, which makes him really happy. Carrie and I are surprised each day with how strong he is and how he continues to flourish.
Which leads us to two more things.
THANK YOU. We continue to be so grateful for your support and love and prayers. But our ‘thank you’ takes a more tangible form this time. You all donated a lot of wonderful supplies for bags for medical staff, and we’ve delivered multiple big bags of them each time we’ve gone to Duke – to saints on the in-patient side, in the clinic, the day hospital, all over. We took bags to the wonderfully kind people who check us in and make sure we know where we are supposed to go for our next appointment. The front desk staff actually made us a thank you card (SEE PIC), because it meant so much. They often feel forgotten, too. We’ve purchased extra supplies for the PICU, needed by staff for families who find themselves in the worst moments of their lives without the time to gather all the things they need (staff members often purchase this with their own money, much like teachers do for their classes): adult undergarments of all sizes, chargers of all sorts, small hairbrushes, adult coloring items & word searches, tissue packages, and q-tips. Your kind donations have made so many staff members’ days. The social worker and a PICU nurse who helped unload the entire back of Carrie’s car the other day sent messages almost immediately upon arrival in the PICU that staff were overwhelmed by their thank you bags and all the helping items. We still have some of your monetary donations left, and will wait a bit to feed staff and see if there is something special we can do in the next few months. Your gifts keep giving.
With help from the church, Westminster hosted a blood drive on 3/15, and we filled all the slots and had a great afternoon hanging out and thanking folks who gave.
This is all so important, and we are grateful.
The other thing we’d like to say is that re-entry is hard. We are so grateful for where we are, but we’re still struggling a little bit to find our ‘sea legs’ as we transition into our post-cancer reality. When you have been through something really intense that requires so much of you, even though you yearn for ‘normal’ life, it is hard to manage. We’re pretty tired. The details get overwhelming. Carrie and I are both ramping up at work, which is so good – it is a gift to have jobs you love working with really great people – but it is a lot. We’re back to our weekly calendar dates to plan out meals and meetings and pickup and baseball practice. I’ve found myself struggling to maintain casual conversation sometimes…(insert crack about how I wasn’t very good at it to begin with). We have lived through this amazingly difficult experience, and we are so glad to be, for the moment, on the other side. But we aren’t the same people we were before. We won’t really have much of a sense of how this has affected us and what it means for us in quite some time. We are wrestling with when to reflect, when to try and move on, when to remember, and when to work really hard to forget. There are days that we feel like we are doing an okay job. And there are days we don’t feel like we are handling all of this well at all. Don’t get us wrong, we are profoundly grateful. But we’ll never be the same. Like Jacob after wrestling with God by the banks of the Jabbok (Genesis 32), we walk with a limp that may never fully heal.
Our struggles have also made me realize that more of us are limping than we know. There are people all around us who have gone through something extraordinarily difficult, and that can mean many, many different kinds of things. I suspect all of you reading this has. We all limp, whether we notice it in each other or not. I wonder what it would be like if we took just a little more time to tend to the wounds of those around us, maybe especially people who look like they are doing “just fine”? There is a tendency to want to put things behind us and move on. The world really wants us to move on. It is easier that way and allows us to avoid talking about anything hard. What would a community of people who spent just a little more time tending to each other look like? My prayer for the days to come is that as we limp, we’ll limp a little more slowly, so others can come alongside.
We are so, so grateful for all of you.