looking through me

Tag: beauty

bruising season

The sunrise was gorgeous. The clouds, the shadows, the lights, the vibrancy of the colors. A sight that takes my breath away and sends me searching for words, so I don’t lose the scene.

Today? Not so much.

I looked at it. I acknowledged its beauty. And I kept going. There was no pause, no fear of forgetting . . . no awe. As though it wasn’t enough.

For days my mind’s been spinning and getting nowhere, but being outside tends to settle it. So as the morning waned, I took a walk.

The clouds were still impressive. A Monarch butterfly floated by on the song of unseen birds. The breeze was lovely. It was the perfect fall mix of cool air and warm sun. I looked for, but didn’t see, the great blue heron that’s been hanging out by the creek this week. I crunched through dry sycamore leaves.

I saw it all. I heard it. I felt it.

But I didn’t.

Instead, a sensation rippled across my shoulders and pounded on the inside of my rib cage as though my skin couldn’t contain me.

My focus is fragmented. My breathing is shallow. Tears threaten.

Why? What is different about today? What knocked my soul off center and took the rest of me with it?

Nothing. And everything.

I’m just not okay. All the things—Dad’s cancer, friends’ struggles, disturbing headlines—assault me. They use my mind as a trampoline and my heart as a punching bag.

It’s little surprise that some days the most stunning sunrise can’t loose the vise holding my lungs. And sometimes the perfect walk can’t perfect the day.

So in this bruising season, I press into the tender places and let the twinges remind me that okay—and not okay—comes in many shades.

The internal hues of today are a little darker than the external ones. I feel out of place in my own skin, in my own life. But admitting the disconnect helps balance the colors. The saturation point of my soul shifts.

My “not okay” is okay enough for today.

 


Note: I don’t post in real time, so this was written on Friday, November 3. That was two days before my dad’s symptoms returned with a vengeance. After four nights in the hospital and five nights (and counting) in a skilled nursing facility doing rehab, the colors of “okay” and “not okay” are more blurred than ever. Many questions and unknowns remain in this season. And still, God is good today and every day.  

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give and receive

A fifteen-year-old girl nearly died on a Friday morning in California. Her father and first responders—then multiple emergency surgeries and interventions—kept her alive. She spent her sixteenth birthday in a coma. She spent thirty days balancing between life and death in a hospital waiting for a heart.

A two-year-old girl in Arkansas probably never saw the car that crossed the center line and struck her grandma’s car head on. She, too, spent days comatose. But instead of waiting for an organ to save her life, her family faced a week of agony followed by the words: brain dead. Because of their sacrificial love a six-month-old received a heart, an eight-month-old received a liver and a sixty-seven-year-old received new kidneys.

Two days later and more than 1800 miles away, the sixteen-year-old’s family learned their middle daughter would be getting a heart.

These stories intersect only in time and prayer. The families do not know one another. I never met the two-year-old who became an organ donor or the sixteen-year-old who became an organ recipient. But I’ve prayed for them, and their families, since each of them went into the hospital: one waiting to receive and one waiting to give.

Both families faced the horror and beauty of organ donation and the delicate timelines associated with it. Miracle after miracle unfolded, creased by pain.

Today, one family is burying a toddler. And another family is in the earliest, most fragile post-transplant hours praying a weary body will accept a stranger’s final gift.

And words lodge sideways in my throat because life requires death—how can that be?—my head almost grasps it, but my heart does not.

Grief and joy. They come in such quick succession they blur into an indistinguishable assault. A one-two combination. And the weight of emotion behind their punches is breath-taking.

Even as I pray for two families, the number affected is so much greater . . . in ways awful and awesome.

 


This was written two weeks ago today, March 6, the day of a burial in Arkansas and a successful heart transplant in California. And today, March 20, that sixteen-year-old girl still has a long road to recovery, but she is recovering well and her “new” heart has saved her life.

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