reading ahead

by Kristen

Surprises don’t rank very high on my list of favorite things. I’m a fan of a timely heads up and the opportunity to prepare for what’s coming—the good and the hard.

While I’m not a flip-to-the-last-page-of-the-story person, a part of me has always wished life had that option. Wouldn’t it be great to get a sneak peek at what’s to come? Nothing too drastic, maybe just the end of the chapter I’m in right now. Because I’m sure everything would make more sense if I had advance warning for some of life’s plot twists.

I’ve even prayed for it: God, can you please show me how this is going to turn out?

But not any more. I don’t want to know.

If I’d skipped ahead a mere four months ago, I wouldn’t have believed what I read—I wouldn’t have thought it possible to be in this reality. Catching an incomplete glimpse of today would have made me anxious and angry and incredibly confused. Words like gliosarcoma, massive infection, PICC line and platelets would have rocked my world. They would have raised more questions and fears than they’d answered.

If I’d been tipped off that Dad’s lineup of doctors would be big enough to field a basketball team with a bench of reserves, I wouldn’t have understood why he needed neurosurgeons, hematologists and an infectious disease specialist, not to mention the neuro-oncologist and radiation oncologists.

If I’d read the page where I had greater appreciation for doctors saying “I’ve never seen this before” or “I don’t know” than for their hypotheses and possible timelines, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’ve always preferred an abundance of information, so how in such a short span could I become comfortable with—and even grateful for—the admission of limited knowledge?

If I’d known I would come to see waiting as a gift because I’m not ready to hear it all at once, I would have scoffed. I thought knowing was better than not knowing, but I was wrong. There’s beauty in patience. There’s wisdom in waiting. There’s peace in being present in answerless suspense.

Most days I can’t figure out the whys and hows and whens . . . and they just keep coming. But reading ahead won’t solve the riddles.

Today is all I can handle. My soul can’t carry another day’s worries or reassurances. I’ll take tomorrow’s surprises when they arrive.

Turns out, there’s great mercy in the mystery of living locked in this moment.

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