Last Wednesday I looked out the living room window and realized I was seeing a tiny bit of yellow amid the leaves on the island and also the beginnings of orange on a few trees on this side of the lake. The next day I looked out the kitchen window at Jake’s little sycamore tree and realized it was completely and beautifully red wine. Then driving to town, as I do so often, I begin to see more and more yellows and reds and wines and oranges. After the dry summer, I was thrilled when everything greened back up, but now the colors are bringing me joy. I need every bit of beauty I can discover to comfort my heart as I watch the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis on my daughter.
I know that life is not meant to be fair and that suffering always has been and always will be present on this planet. Suffering is part of life. I know that, but that does not decrease its pain. I understand the old saying about feeling sorry for yourself if you are without shoes until you realize some have no feet. But suffering is suffering and knowing that many others are in pain—even worst pain--does not ease but only increases the psychic pain.
Weakened and wracked with yet another infection, Katherine entered the hospital Friday to be treated successfully, and Gerald brought her home yesterday afternoon. Gerald took her take-home prescriptions to a pharmacy, but the druggist realized a dangerous conflict between the two drugs—delaying last night’s treatment. Phone calls were made to the appropriate doctors, and hopefully with her regular infectious disease doctor back in town today, everything has been cleared up and continued treatment resumed. Nothing is simple in the life of a chronically ill person.
When no one answered the phone at her house this morning, I drove to town to make sure her morning aide had shown up. She had, but Katherine was sleeping, which I know she did not do much in the hospital, and the aide evidently did not hear her phone ringing or was hesitant to answer it with Katherine asleep. In my hurry to reach her house, I didn’t put on my hearing aids. With the aide whispering, I knew I could accomplish nothing by staying, so I drove right on back to the farm.
I had caught up on laundry and dishes at her house yesterday, since I was hanging around to be certain Sam had needed transportation as I had promised both Katherine and David. David had to leave very early Saturday morning to drive with his parents to Chicago and serve as pall bearer at not one funeral but at two funerals for loved ones—an uncle and the mother of one of his best lifelong friends.
Sam is so eager for that driver’s license, and I will be happy for him when he is old enough to get it in less than a year now. Still I will miss driving him occasionally to his activities. (Yet when I do, I ache for his mother who so wishes that she could still have that privilege. And I wish it for her. )
More and more of his friends are getting their licenses, and other friends’ parents are also glad to give him rides, but I wanted to be there at near-midnight when the three big yellow school buses pulled into the high school driveway bringing home the Marion Wildcat Marching Band from their competition at
Sam tossed his ukulele in the back seat and climbed in front with a smile on his face. Once again their band had placed third in their class and this time had missed second place by only one point. The two higher winning bands were from larger communities, and Sam felt good about how their band is ranking this year. His fellow sophomore class musicians were always top in all kinds of competitions when they were junior high students, and last year’s experience of receiving participation ribbons rather than ranking had rankled their performing egos. Sam went to bed exhausted but happy. I’d decided to stay there rather than us to drive back to the farm that late at night.
Yesterday morning, I was pleased when Sam came out with a smile and his Bible in hand ready for church at 9 a.m. That gave me plenty of time to drop him off and then to go to the farm and pick up Gerald for Sunday School and worship at our village church. Afterward we picked up Sam to go to dinner with us.
When Gerald left with the van since Katherine had called that they were releasing her, I stayed at Sam’s house because he had to meet up that afternoon with four of his buddies who have started a new band called Reformed. They played publicly for the first time last evening leading the worship at a youth meeting at
We sent Gerald on home, so I could stay until her evening shift aide came on duty. In turning and trying to help her out of her hospital gown and into her own, I managed to let her slip into a very uncomfortable position on her wheelchair—making us both fearful she would slip out. We repositioned and tugged and pushed, and she at least didn’t fall. In that miserable position, however, we were unable to enjoy a pleasant supper and watch television together as we had planned. I was so thankful when Jayson came on duty and quickly picked her up and re-sat her more comfortably. (I only say more comfortably because wheelchairs are always uncomfortable after a few hours—especially when you are too near paralyzed to adjust yourself in any way.)
I was happy to be there at 9:00 because I was able to see Sam come in aglow telling about the 60 kids worshipping together at Cornerstone. I left with Sam in his mom’s room telling Katherine all about the joyous night. That memory too was a bit of beauty comforting my aching heart when Gerald came after me and we drove home with a full moon overhead enlarged by a clouded sparkling halo all around it.