People often say they think I’m strong. I’m not. God is strong for me. Most of the time, I feel like the spider in Charlotte’s Web; fading, fading, fading. Until I think I’ll be all gone.
I’ve been carrying Justin for 332 days. I pushed my body to carry him when he couldn’t walk and I’ve held him up emotionally, physically, spiritually everyday since.
The nightmares are tough. Acute leukemia means it comes on really hard, really fast. Behind closed eyes, I see a child burning up with fever, screaming in pain, refusing to eat or talk, needing another’s blood to save his life. And that child is mine.
So I am all warrior on the outside, deeply wounded within. An almost year of treatment has gone by quickly, yet the days drag at a maddening pace, accentuated by pain and longing.
And there is no choice but the horrors of a treatment that tortures but saves lives. So I turn my eyes away from pages and pages that bear my signature of consent, refusing to think about possible damage to tiny organs and baby limbs that I carried, nursed and protected at all cost.
Then Justin claps sincerely for children singing Christmas songs that he should also be singing. I can’t smile and take photos and wave to him like the other parents because all he can do is lean on me. I’m all in battle with envy and he is clearly not phased one bit, just happy for his friends. And I think…what character! But I also think of the cost. I’m so proud and so broken-hearted, I’m afraid some strange noise might come out of me. Something like a scream.
This is childhood cancer. But not all of it. Some things I cannot bear to tell.
I think of Emmanuel. And the greatest warrior mama of all time. She labored alone on a cold, hard floor to bring Him into the world. She fed and clothed the Son of God despite poverty. She watched, helpless, as her son was disfigured and tortured unimaginably. She must have turned her face often, but she did not leave Him.
How she must have ached over the wounds in the body she once held and bathed and tenderly kissed. How she must have despised the soldiers who mocked and tore his flesh with a sword. How she must have longed to cover his nakedness and protect Him from shame. How she must have wished it was she on the cross in His place.
This is too much for a human. A young girl with a feeding trough for a cradle. A mother standing at a cross that hung her child. It was God holding her up, giving new life to each of her senses when they couldn’t take more. God chose her for this task, fully prepared to do the heavy lifting.
Mary wasn’t perfect. Mary wasn’t superhuman. God did the heavy lifting for her.
And when I am all spent and faded joy, He also does the heavy lifting for a nobody like me. This is Grace.