a tiny miracle took place


"... I remembered another woman at our church, very old, from the South, tiny and black, who dressed in these ersatz Coco Chanel outfits, polyester sweater sets, dacron pill-box hats...She was always cheerful until she turned 80 and started going blind. She had a great deal of religious faith and everyone assumed that she would adjust and find meaning in her loss, meaning and acceptance and then joy; and we all wanted this because, let's face it, it's so inspiring and such a relief when people bear up to the unbearable. When you can box things up nicely and see that a tiny miracle took place and that love once again turned out to be bigger than fear and death and blindness. But this woman would have none of it. She went into a deep depression, and eventually left the church. People kept taking communion to her, but she wouldn't be in our community anymore. It must have been too annoying for everyone to be secretly trying to manipulate her into being a better sport about being blind than she was capable of being. I always thought that was heroic of her, that it spoke of such integrity to refuse to pretend that you're doing well just to help other people deal with the reality of impossible loss." [Anne Lamott - Salon]

When my neurosurgeon called to give me my MRI results this month, I was prepared for bad news. Not prepared like I was last time: DOOM! ABANDON HOPE! BOOK OF REVELATION! But more like, gird your loins, love.

think most of us who had been there in the hospital last May...and then in June...were waiting for the confirmation of what we had been told repeatedly: that the second surgery did not go as planned, and an additional abdominal surgery would be required.

But when the call came and I was told that the meningocele hadn't grown, and that I didn't even need to do more scans, I couldn't really believe it. All the trepidation and dread and hard decisions, *POOF* gone. This gnawing, gaping hole inside me that I fed with tears and anguish and pity sealed up and disappeared as well. (Well, the one that existed concerning the future. The one concerning the past 16 months is still open and ready for business. But it's considerably less time-consuming.)

It's strange to have an 'impossible loss' that has that option. People, like the woman in the story above, are dealt impossible losses that can't ever go away. A chronic/terminal disease, the loss of a spouse or child, or any other horrific tragedy that strikes a life, and cannot be fixed with a surgery or procedure or treatment.

I wonder at why mine was healed, or fixed, or if nothing else, temporarily repaired.
Was it prayers? Very possibly. In fact, I believe undoubtedly, that was part of it. For which, to all of you who prayed, I am very humbled and grateful. Thank you for doing often what I could only do some of the time.

But as I look at myself and what it would have meant if it hadn't been healed, if the surgery hadn't worked, if the sac was still filling with fluid...I wonder if the prayers were answered because God knew I just couldn't handle it.

My impossible loss was becoming more and more impossible, not less so. For every bit of meaning or acceptance or piece of wisdom I gained, there was twice as much heartache and despair and anger and bitterness and hopelessness. For every night of fun laughter with friends and appearance of functionality, there were weeks of crying myself to sleep and self-created nightmares. I chose again and again to be defeated by my fears and pain, rather than rise above them to be an example of what a good Christian looks like when they face adversity: a joyful beacon of fortitude. Instead, I shat my pants (numerous times) and hid under the covers with my iPod playlist titled 'Sad Times' and Anne Sexton's Complete Poems, waiting for brave people to bring me food.

I got four, FOUR tattoos and cut off all my hair and became unhealthily obsessed with a cat and fired my therapist and went to Vegas and didn't memorize one effing Bible verse the whole time. (P.S., that's the proposal I'm using to sell my memoir to Zondervan.)

But when I got the good news, I decided right then and there to send a Christmas card to everyone I'd ever met, telling them how I love them so, so, so much, and I could never have made it without them. Which is God's honest truth. And so far, I've written 61 cards, and it feels glorious. I've been so loved and cared for this year and last, and I want to go all Ebenezer-Scrooge-on-Christmas-morning on people, bringing them turkeys and presents and toasting them because Everyone is Family and My Heart is Free Once More to Love and Cherish the World Freely in Freedom.

And thank you, God, because I was doing baaaaaad.


Anonymous said...

I cry tears of happiness that this day came for you!!!!!!!
So wonderful to "hear" the light in your words!
Oh the power of prayer!
Bon dye beni ou (Creole for "God bless you") my dear friend!

Love and peace,

Chelsea Lee said...

sometimes when i read your words i find it crazy that i'm laughing and crying at the same time. i love you.