Thursday, April 13, 2017

What healing (and grief) looks like: Holy Thursday

This week, a fresh wave of grief came.

A year ago, Dan was in the hospital with a fungal pneumonia related to the steroid he'd been on to help control his HLH. It was a scary time. When he entered the hospital, his oxygen levels were very low. We told the doctor he was at risk for fungal pneumonia (PCP) because our doctor at the UM kept telling us to tell the ER doctor. So we did. But, he didn't get treated for a fungal pneumonia until two days later, when an infectious disease doctor finally listened to me. But by then, his heart was out of rhythm and his breathing was still labored even with oxygen. And, they made the decision to put him on a ventilator. His heart immediately went back into rhythm and he was off the vent within 36 hours. It truly was a miracle.

When this miracle happened, I knew it was. I knew this was God's gift to us. I didn't know, though, how short it would be. I didn't know that 3 months after this miracle that Dan would be put on a ventilator again...and that he would die. I didn't know.

And in that miracle time where everything was normal - Dan's blood levels, his spirits, everything, I let myself start thinking beyond the "now." I let myself start to dream about what it would look like for us to put roots down. I started noticing houses for sale. I started talking about looking for a place for us.

And in that miracle time, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary with an awesome, perfect trip to Traverse City/Mackinaw City.

...and in that new wave of grief, as I remembered all of this from a year ago... I felt foolish. I felt foolish that I let myself "get ahead of myself"...that I let myself have hope.

...and I felt foolish because there was part of me that thought I would know. I thought I would know. I thought I would know when it was Dan's time; I thought that God would give me a heads-up. ...and in certain respects, he did. When we were driving back to our hotel after our anniversary dinner, and this blissfully perfect weekend (other than a quick trip to an ER), I suddenly had this ominous feeling come over me. I didn't know what it was - only that it felt like things were going to change, soon; that things would be very different. And, when Dan was in the hospital for that last weekend, that Saturday morning, I had this feeling that I should pack a bag to stay there that night; that was my first and only night staying with Dan in the hospital; Sunday morning, he was on a ventilator.

But other than that, I didn't know. I was scared that it was the end - but in no way did I believe that it actually was. Dan always pointed me to hope. And he told me himself on Friday that it wasn't the end ...and I thought I would know. ...but I didn't.

My mom told me that if I had known I would have treated Dan differently. She's right. And he would have hated that. HATED that. So, she said, maybe that's why God didn't let me know. His mercy, His grace, His gift to Dan and me.

Tonight, at Holy Thursday Mass, I was struck by this line from John 13:1-3:

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper, 
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power 
and that he had come from God and was returning to God, 

From Luke 22 - The Agony in the Garden:
Withdrawing about a stone's throw from them and kneeling, Jesus prayed: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done." And to strengthen him, an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.

Jesus knew. He knew that his hour had come. He was fully aware of what was to come. He knew. He knew exactly who he was, his mission, that it was the time to execute the purpose for his coming, He knew would return to God. 

...and yet, He still was in agony over the cost, the process, the pain that his death (prior to rising) would cause. He was so grieved that he sweat blood. His heart was breaking over the loss that would come. ...and He knew! He knew that He would be returning to the Father...but his heart was breaking - for US. He knew we would be able to receive the Holy Spirit - that we could be closer with Him than simply his physical presence allowed - and still, his heart broke at the agony that his death would cause us - and the pain of separation for him.

So, where does the healing come?
In embracing that not knowing might just be better than knowing. Knowing does not preclude you from grieving. If anything, you grieve twice. Before and after. ...and maybe you grieve more because what you anticipated wasn't anything like you expected. Or maybe you grieve because you wasted all this time being sad about what was to come and not LIVING with your person. 

I don't know. What I do know is that the Lord is kind and merciful. I didn't need to know. Not knowing was my gracious gift from God. Recognizing what I feel and knowing Jesus more through this realization and His real presence - that is an added gift from God. Healing comes through Jesus. 

1 comment:

PJ Colando said...

Not knowing proves our humanity. Not knowing helps us plod on, in the moment. Not knowing helps us live authentically.

Instant insight after the fact is a gift to cherish, Jessica. Proof of the closeness of your connection to God.

Life as a Miracle. Amen.