Sunday, April 8, 2012

Reflections on Easter and those Pink Vomit Buckets

Today is Easter, the one Sunday of the year that will have churches all over packed out with people in their pretty new clothes.  I tend to dress down as much as possible as a form of silent protest against the commercialism that this day has a tendency to reflect.  I guess I'm just a rebel that way.  I am most definitely dressed down this morning, wearing the same sweat pants, t-shirt and orthopedic shoes that I have had on since last night, which I guess is appropriate since I haven't had any sleep anyway.

Last night I pulled a rare all-nighter here at the hospital.  Usually my husband does those, but since he had to be at church before 6:00 this morning, we switched up a little.  We are now 5 days into this current course of chemo, and Harrison is feeling physically bad and mentally sad about being in the hospital for Easter.  This boy loves his God and he loves his church, and the whole injustice of this cancer thing is just driven further in on symbolic days like today.  He has missed very few church services in his life, and definitely none on Easter.  I haven't either, for that matter.

It is definitely surreal to be sitting here, listening to the sounds of the IV and the air conditioning vents and the baby next door that doesn't like being here, either.  Since I was already awake, I was able to watch the most beautiful sunrise.  I had Sandi Patty's song Was It a Morning Like This? running on a mental loop in my mind as I watched the subtle changes in the sky from the pull out bed, and was in my own little worship mode.

Then I heard a moan and a gag.

(For the uninitiated, a moan and a gag in this place means I have about 3 seconds to get up and get that pink bucket close enough to his mouth).

He doesn't really get sick too often during chemo, but it has happened enough now that we have a system and a routine to get through those next two or three minutes as quickly and as comfortably as possible.  Still, it isn't fun or peaceful for either one of us.  So, as we were in the middle of this morning's episode, I put the wet paper towels on his head and handed him tissues, and looked past his pale bald head out the same window I had just been peacefully looking out of just a couple of minutes earlier.  The sunrise was still just as beautiful, and God was still as good and loving, and the significance of Easter was still just as meaningful and prevalent in the middle of his dry heaves--maybe even more so.

I've always thought of that first Easter morning as so peaceful and so glorious and so beautiful, and in the grand scheme of things, it definitely was--in hindsight.  However, when those closest to Jesus woke up that morning, it was anything but that.  It was wretched and full of sorrow, guilt, and confusion.  One of those closest to him had already committed suicide for his part in it.  This morning, I couldn't help but think of the women in the Easter story.  The ones that were up at sunrise so they could go and take care of Jesus' body that was still covered in blood and dirt and sweat, and no telling what else.  And then when they got to the tomb, his body wasn't even there.  What a cruel shock that had to have been.  Of course, we know the rest of the story.  They did not.  Not yet, anyway.  All they knew was that they had a job to do, no matter how grimy or painful or stinky.

God reminded me that for today, this is my job, too.  Even though we won't be in a designated church building, we still get to worship.  Even though neither one of us is dressed nicely or scent free, we still get to worship.  Even though there will be no nice Easter meal for us, we still get to worship.  And even  though we are dealing with sickness and uncertainty, we still get to worship.  If our faith depended on easy living and smooth sailing, then we would be in a much tougher place right now.  I don't know what songs you sang in church today, or if you even went to church at all, but right now I have some old school tunes in my head:

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame (including chemo or PET scans), but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
One Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.


Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim.
In the light of His glory and grace.

Just a Harrison footnote--
We have learned that when Harrison gets sick, it tends to follow a pattern, and we just work through it. This morning, though, about halfway through his usual progression, he suddenly stopped gagging and was done.  He looked up at me and weakly said, "Wow.  I just prayed and asked God to make it stop and it did".  Then he laid back down and has been asleep ever since.

That doesn't happen every time.  But that is where we are--accepting God's grace whenever and where ever we can find it.

You should try it sometime.  He's got plenty of that grace stuff for all of us.

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