I know that in certain cultures, a period of mourning is collectively celebrated by the community after a member of the group dies, and there are certain norms that the group follows out of respect. In our fast-paced culture here in the U.S., life goes by so fast. I returned to my crazy-committed-to-too-many-things schedule, and yet, when it came time to blog on Tuesday, I couldn't. I just couldn't.
I just didn't want anything but Tripp's posts to reside at the top of the blog for a little longer. Even still, as I write, I struggle, because I know that the rhythm of life is so context-specific, and that for many people, life is moving along at its normal rate. However, I also know for many people who fell in love with Tripp over the blogosphere, things just aren't the same without him there fighting. And last, I know a lot about how it feels for Courtney and her family in terms of time standing still... just frozen in grief.
When we finally arrived home in CA after traveling the country in the weeks after Bella died, I stood and stared at the boxes that had beaten us home. They were shipped straight from the Ronald McDonald House. What stood out was the handwriting on the address forms. I recognized it, but it was also unfamiliar. It seriously took me a minute to realize it was my sister Tracy's handwriting, who had flown in all the way from Madrid, Spain, to Minneapolis to be with us, and help us pack up.
I forgot she was there, I forgot all the boxes that were shipped... the whole thing...
... where was I when they were shipping these boxes?
laying on the bed, staring out the window, completely frozen in a daze. I remember the comfort of the warm sun, and how the screen blurred the image of the sun through the window. I remember the sun. I can say that I must have known that all the other activity was happening around me, but it was as if I had earplugs in, and the sound and impact of the rest of the world around me was muted. It's been 16 months since that happened, but I still recall it vividly, and I think about Courtney, and Anita, and Lawton, and what version of that experience they are having. I keep going, but part of me is frozen again...
In the mean time, I say good bye to patients losing their battles with cancer almost every week, and sometimes it's really hard, because they are in the ICU, and all the machines, all the sensors, all the tubes, and all the drugs are the same as when I sat there with Bella for over 3 months. Tuesday, a patient of mine had a tracheostomy that kept popping off... sent me right back to Minneapolis. Then I went from that room to a 31 year old dying of brain cancer, and the dad was relating to me his heartbreak and anger at God that he only got 31 years with his son...
only got 31 years?
Courtney got 31 months with Tripp.
We got 17 with Bella, 3 of which she was intubated, sedated, and eventually trach'd.
I don't mean to say his sadness and anger isn't absolutely VALID, I just see that number as a triumphant blessing rather than a curse, and to that point, I recognize that our 17 months was a triumphant blessing compared to so many who have lost a child in utero, been unable to have a child, lost a child after only days or weeks, or never got to bring their child home from the hospital alive. I can't begin to imagine his experience. He had a healthy son for 30 years, and then suddenly, his son starts to have problems remembering things. Then, he starts to have persistent headaches. Before you know it, his eyesight starts to go on him, and before you can blink, he is lying in a hospital bed, and a hospice coordinator is talking to the dad about "making arrangements." I can't even imagine. Bella was a patient from the moment she was born. It was all we ever knew.
Ali's My Little Ponies "at the Drive-In" she said...
Sorry I'm not my most uplifting and chipper. I know God believes in me and has me smack dab where he wants me, but the work he has cut out for me is not always easy. I just remind myself that I am his, and life works most magically for me when I operate from a place of trust, service, and humility. That helps me a lot. I don't have the capacity to see the view of life from his elevation, so I accept that I only have a slice of the picture in my view. I have to take his word for it that the rest of the picture is beautiful.
Today, one patient lay in the ICU while his father was being buried. They were in a car accident. After a super fun session of classic rock anthems, the patient fell asleep. His visitors were his best friend since childhood (50+ years) and his wife. The wife said, "We just came from his dad's funeral, and to have you here making him calm enough to sleep, it's like God sent us an angel today."
That's when God is nice enough to give you a glimpse at how you can be used in such a beautiful way when you trust, serve, and SHOW UP. God is Good.
All the time.
I used to joke whenever I put Bella in this shirt and call her "Julian"... crazy, huh?