Earlier today before the snow started, bluebirds flittered along a barbed-wire fence. There were four of them, as blue as midnight. A mockingbird disappeared in a thicket on the other side of the road. Down the way, a redtail hawk, his talons wrapped around a cable, spread out his wings and lifted into the grey just as I passed by.
Ice weighs heavy on the pine tree that stands towering above the rock bench out back.
At the top of this hill, the temperature slips down the thermometer ever so slightly and the pines out back have to bear under during a forecast of a wintery mix.
The limb just below the squirrel’s nest could bear no more and let go of its place on high leaving it's phloem exposed on the trunk. The top branches bend like the handles on canes but they haven’t broken... yet.
There’s been a chill in the air since November making the winter seem unusually long.
Cold is often used to numb pain. I am feeling numb if numbness can be felt. (Isn’t “feeling numb” an oxymoron?)
Dad is in the resurrection phase of his treatment. His bone marrow took a deadly blow in January with a cocktail of poisons carried in a black bag. His stem cell transplant was scheduled for the day after his birthday.
The medical team at the myeloma clinic call transplant day “Day Zero” and then, the days after are numbered. They told us to expect the worst symptoms on Day Seven. Dad would improve on Day Ten.
He did, but the improvement on Day Ten was relative when Day Seven took everything in him to make it to the clinic and back.
Nonetheless, he made it through the days and the nights without having to be in the hospital. There were days I wondered if being home was such a great achievement as Daddy struggled under the weight of his weakened body, shivered beneath his Cowboy’s blanket.
We were numbering the days. (Psalm 90:12)
The flurries stopped in the middle of the afternoon but the night promises to be frigid.
Dad is better. We have a couple of weeks before he slings another black bag of chemo over his shoulder for four days straight. He can handle that bag though it will stay hooked to his line day and night. He says it reminds him of when he walked jetlagged in airports all over the world carrying his travel bag. It doesn't seem that unnatural.
Winter will end. The birds will eat pinenuts in the grove out back and the redtail hawks will wrangle the snakes. A bluebird couple will build a nest in the paper slot beneath the mailbox. The swallows will have babies on the porch trusses, and then they'll poop on the wicker furniture.
Life is not frozen in time. The numbness will fade and I will feel again.
I'm not sure what I will feel, but I will. And I want to.
Feeling has risks, but not feeling is the greater risk.
The hard graces sit side by side with joy graces. And somehow, they add up to the strength called "the joy of the Lord."
Joy in a boy sat on the couch across from me while I was writing today. He was dreaming up ways for his buddy to ask a girl to the prom. Seems it is not as simple as saying, “Hey, what do you think about letting me take you to the prom?” (Twitter and Instagram demand much more than that. #shesaidyes #prom2014)
My baby has just weeks left in high school and my granddaughter, Naomi, will only be three for eleven more months. (I love three. I wish all children could be three for at least five years.)
I want to feel the joy and pain of my last child wriggling free to fly. And I want to laugh at three-year old observations on life. I want to dance with Livy who, at eighteen months, loves to kiss---everybody. I want to be present to the people I love as I count the days of my life.
More than anything I want to be present to the knowing that my God is near. He is not unaware. He alone can melt the stone cold heart.
Lord, give me a heart of wisdom as I number my days. Chip away the cold exterior and let me feel the pain, the joy, the life that is mine eternal. So many roads in life are intersecting in this place. Let me see them as you see them. Help me open my heart to the gifts of this day and trust you with tomorrow.
Blogging has had to take a back burner during the last few weeks. Dad and I are both blessed to have a short break before his treatment resumes. I am so proud of him. And I admire all those I have seen daily in the clinics sitting across from us and beside us in the treatment pods. The world is full of such brave and beautiful people who reach out with kindness even when life is difficult. Often I find it a holy place…the Lord is near. Thanks for your prayers.