Spring

My cowboy dad and my bombshell mom.

Today, my dad gets his bone marrow transplant. Since he is doing Haplo rather than a traditional transplant, it's a more complicated process than I anticipated. I suppose I thought they would use some sort of huge bendy straw to suck the marrow out of the donor like so much sticky milkshake. (Of course, I am sure that is still a far cry from the way traditional transplants are handled. But the image of a red and white stripe straw is so much more fun than all those gleaming knives and the dr's bloody gloves.) Instead, the donor goes through a three hour surgery and two hundred incisions into the bone to harvest the marrow. Today, the donor is my eighteen year old brother. He spent the night in a hotel by the hospital yesterday, ordered room service and then this morning gave my mom two thumbs up as they wheeled him into the OR. I love that kid.

This last stay in the hospital has been different than all the ones that preceded it. This time, the chemo hasn't made my dad sick. He jokes with the nurses and doctor's like they are having lunch somewhere rather than discussing how they plan to save his life. My big family has eaten dinner together in his little room as many times as we could manage it. Fried chicken out of Styrofoam has never tasted so good.  My mom, however, is the same. The figure that won't move from my dad's side, the one that smiles when he is worried. She has no one to smile for her when she can't sleep for all the bigness of this thing. I think that is often our role as women and I pray I can do it with as much grace as she has when it is my turn. And then I pray it is never my turn.

I know the answer to that prayer has to be a loving, firm, "No."

This morning I woke up trying to feel the outcome of this procedure. I thought perhaps if I laid still long enough and let my mind go quiet I would would be able to feel the answers outside of me and ahead of me. I believe they are already there just waiting for us to catch up to them. Yes, they are there, I could nearly make out their shapes in the distance. But I could not get close enough. Rather, as I laid in bed I was reminded over and over again of the first day I visited my Dad during this round of chemo.

It was last Thursday. I pulled into the same old parking garage, parked in the same dark space and walked out onto the same busy street. There was the hospital, the biggest thing for blocks. A nineteen seventies structure where people have wept with joy and hurt for the past forty years. And there were the big glass doors,  the ones I have rushed through even when I was afraid of what I would find on the other side. Everything was the same. Exactly as it has been since that first day I drove there in the December, hoping to beat the ambulance that carried my dad. Even though I knew I couldn't and that it wouldn't change a damn thing if I did.

There was one change. This time, the sun was shining.

And it felt like Spring.

In Your Hearts

Onward, ever Onward. 

I am about to commit a number of blogger faux pas. They will include but are not limited to: talking about God, discussing life’s purpose and quoting from the scriptures (Mormon scriptures at that!). I understand that this may be a bit much to take before your morning constitutional, so I apologize in advance. I promise to get back to Meg in Progress’s regularly programmed schedule of chick-fil-a and sex posts as soon as possible. (And lest there be any confusion, let me assure the dear reader that those are two different kinds of posts. I believe in the separation of fried chicken and ahem, the ‘s’ word.)

Two days ago I sat with my dad in his hospital room full of pictures and black wires. He visited with a man from church and they discussed many precious and tender things. My dad looked just like himself. I sat in the corner and listened to them talk. I have always loved listening to my dad speak and for just a moment I was the little girl I left behind somewhere over the passing years. The one that listened for the sound of his footsteps on nights when he got home after I had already gone to bed. The one that stole books from his shelves he said I wasn’t old enough to read. The one that knew he was really one half of Santa Claus and thought that made everything even more magical. (Four year old me knew mom had to be involved too as Santa’s handwriting looked just like hers.) Parents that stayed up all night, pretending to be a mystical elf because they wanted us to be happy? What could be more wondrous than that?

So I sat with my knees curled up under my chin and listened. My Dad talked about a trip he took with my brother down to New Mexico a few months ago. One night while they were driving under an ink black sky dotted with light they talked about life and trials and the power of faith. He told my brother that in all of our lives there comes a point, a time of searing pain and unanswered questions, when we find there is no room for equivocation. In these moments of extremity we have only two options. We can curse God and hate Him for the trials He did not lift from our shoulders. Or we can accept that this life with all of its light and darkness is part of a plan founded on pure love. And while we may not always understand the heartbreaks that lay across our journey, we can be certain that the Lord’s path leads to happiness. That His will is gracious and there need be no fear in embracing it, come what may. As he told us about that night that felt so far away, he spoke with his eyes closed and I could feel the power of a truth that existed long before the man that makes up so much of my world.

The next morning we were told that the only course of action for his cancer is a bone marrow transplant.

“But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.” – Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:24

We were not sent here merely to sing and hope and then die. We were sent to grow, to stretch, to break a bit so that we could be pieced back together into a form with more depth and light. We were sent here to become, even in the most humble way, something more like Him. Over the past five weeks I have seen my daddy, my Santa Claus, stretched out and broken down one piece at a time. But I have also seen him grow. I have watched his faith and understanding expand. His form is changing and there is new, hard earned light in the brown of his eyes. This lesson is not just for mortality. As we all walk hand in hand through this, he is becoming the man the Lord created him to be.

I have good hope that this transplant will be successful. By this time next year, my dad will be making us green chile enchiladas while we sit at the kitchen counter and tell him about our day. We are blessed with the miracle of modern medicine. I thank the Lord that we were live in this time and in this place.

The world I live in today is much different than the one I lived in five weeks ago. So much of what I once hoped has become what I now know. I know the Lord is aware of me in every circumstance and every concern. We are never alone. I know Christ’s Atonement is all encompassing. It lifts up and completes each of us. There is no cause for fear. And sometimes when I am quiet enough, I can almost see beyond the horizon of this life and I know truly that there is joy there.

In this moment of extremity, I choose the Lord.

“And…I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” – Doctrine and Covenants 84:88

 

Lovely painting: Get Ye Up into the High Mountain, O Zion, by Minerva Teichert