My Meyers-Briggs personality type is INFJ. That means, if left to myself, I have a natural tendency to go deep and dark. I take life seriously, sometimes too seriously. I analyze, overanalyze, sense everything and am deeply intuitive. And I have absolutely no problem lingering in quiet, isolated spaces. By myself.
God created me to be introspective. But that doesn’t mean He wants me to be alone all the time.
During this journey through my husband’s eye cancer, God has reminded me that I can’t face this cancer as one lone caregiver. And I’m pretty sure He’s been saying to me for a while that I can’t do life alone, either. Yes, that is hard to admit. After my travels to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, I realized even more so that Americans are incredibly independent and self-sufficient. For the most part, we have what we need. And we are busy. Very busy. Always doing something. Always going somewhere. So on a surface level, we don’t really need each other to survive. It’s easy to become prideful, disconnected, and too busy for real living and authentic connection. To be completely honest? I’m not sure my personality lines up with mainstream American culture.
But sometimes, I just have to step back and let life take its course. I have to let God run with it and show me how He wants to bring community around me, even when I’d much rather stay in a room by myself, reading and writing all day. (Then I wouldn’t have much to write about, would I?)
Today was no exception. God showed me what it looks like to linger in community, in mourning and rejoicing, in sickness and in health.
All in all, it was a good day. Yes.
Seth’s parents and I arrived back at the hospital by 8:15 a.m. Seth’s youngest brother was there within minutes of our arrival.
First off, for those of you who prayed for comfort after my last post, let me say that Seth’s pain was much more manageable today. Overnight, they landed on a pain management “cocktail” that seems to be working fairly well. Seth mentioned pain and discomfort a couple times today, but not nearly as much as yesterday.
So I ordered Seth breakfast and we all chatted a bit. After breakfast, Seth decided that he wanted to put his own clothes on for the first time post-surgery, so everyone left and I helped him get out of the hospital gown and into a loose-fitting t-shirt and basketball shorts. We snapped a couple of photos with his eye patch because he wanted to share an update on his Facebook page, and then when his parents and brother came back, we all laughed as Seth (and I) composed a Facebook status in our annoying, perfectionistic, both-first-born-children married couple way. I typed the “approved” post for Seth and got it up on Facebook. Within minutes, comments started coming in. His mom read the assortment of lovely, encouraging, and occasionally funny comments aloud in rounds throughout the day for all of us to hear and enjoy.
Seth said as he sat in bed, “This is nice guys. Coffee. Comfortable chairs. You guys talking to me.”
Then we pulled up a special, heartfelt Facebook message Seth and I received a week ago. Seth’s mom and I tag teamed reading of the post aloud as Seth, his dad and brother listened. We spent time reflecting on the loving words we’d read, and the thoughtful, lovely individual who wrote them.
Then the guys told jokes about Metamucil and bed pans, ice fishing and Seth’s seafood allergy. Seth called the nurse the “drug lady” when she came in, and she gently reminded him she’d prefer to be called a “therapeutic manager.” My mom, her best friend and our “baby” FaceTimed us from home and Seth’s cousin called for a chat.
Seth said again, “It’s nice to have all these guys here. They’re all talking. And I can just listen.”
Seth’s brother left. And I grabbed lunch with Seth’s mom. After we got back to the room, our flower girl came to visit. Believe it or not, she’s a doctoral student at Mayo specializing in proton therapy with aspirations to become a medical physicist (yes we’re old and not nearly as smart as our flower girl). So we chatted about everyday family things and surgery things, but we also talked about not-so-everyday things that only a person in the medical field would know. She educated us up the wazoo, sharing that the gold bottle cap plaque delivering radiation to Seth’s eye this week will be reused later down the road by another patient, that there were three medical physicists in Seth’s surgery, and that he’ll get “surveyed” for the presence of radioactive seeds before he leaves the hospital Friday. Our flower girl reminded us that “positivity is half the battle.” Seth agreed, stating “there have been very few moments when I have lost my positive attitude.” Yes, that is true. I am married to a VERY positive man.
My sister called, we watched a movie in the quiet of the hospital room with Seth’s parents, and we FaceTimed our two oldest when they got home from school.
All in all, this second day in the hospital was good. But what struck me most was the community, the gathering of loved ones who came around us in our time of need.
When we stand in front of family and friends vowing to love and to cherish “in sickness and in health,” the truth is, we’re really not sure what that sickness is going to look like. Will it be infertility, diabetes, cancer, traumatic brain injury, stroke, disability, heart attack, mental illness or plain old stomach flu? It’s hard to say. What I’m thinking today is that YES, wedding vows are of course important, holy and to be kept. But what if we ALL vowed to love and to cherish one another in sickness and in health? What if we ALL came around one another not just in sickness, but in health, too? What if we created authentic, meaningful community in all seasons of life? Wouldn’t life make a lot more sense? Wouldn’t we feel a lot more relief at the end of each day?
This verse comes to mind…
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15)
It’s basically a reiteration of “in sickness and in health.” What if we lived like that? What if?
Tonight, I leave you with that. Tomorrow, day three.
Good night, friends.