This morning I was up early praying for a friend whose baby is in surgery this morning. It’s major surgery, and it’s anything but routine, even though it will happen every six months until he’s an adult.
Major surgery. Every six months.
It sucks so much I can barely type it. The anger of this moment hits me every time even if he’s not my son (though I love him like a nephew, at least). I call my friend and ask her sometimes, how do you handle this? And I love her because she’s never trying to be inspirational or sappy. I wish I could describe how much she means to me and how much she teaches me; she has risen with grace and humor when lightning strikes (in her case, twice, and very hard). She’s real and they face surgery, squarely, every. six. months. They’re teaching their son to be both tender and tough. He’s smart and cute and funny and he’ll grow strong, but something is wrong with a world in which this is his childhood.
I’ve been praying too many times for babies in the NICU or babies in surgery or babies that don’t make it. There’s some kind of statistical anamoly with my friends–baby after baby after baby is born with rare genetic conditions, omphalocoeles, thoracic deficiencies, autism, cerebral palsy, and so many other things I don’t even want to list them. And it hurts my heart to type.
Today as I’m up early praying, I’m so sad about the things that suck. These aren’t some major concepts, some theoretical sense of suffering I had like when I was in college and I wanted to “change the world.” These are people I love. There’s been a difference between me and the person feeling this pain, and that difference is enormous. I’m not in grief, but I love some people who have grieved a lot this year.
This year, someone I love survived breast cancer like a boss.
This year, someone I love is spending as much time as she can with her mother who has pancreatic cancer.
This year, someone I love, who is 84, is working overtime to bring his wife here from Malaysia. They’ve been married 50 years. He hasn’t seen her since 2008. He already survived persecution and a hunger strike in a Burmese jail just to have a Bible. He got kicked out of the country by a government that has been systematically killing its people. These aren’t just people on the news–they’re people my daughter prays for every night.
This year, someone I love has uprooted their family yet again to move to a new city on the wisp of hope that there might be another job and better health care.
This year, someone I love was so lonely she could barely see her way out of it for months and months.
This year, someone I love, who is in elementary school, wrote beautiful poems about missing the father who abandoned her family right before the war that brought them to this country.
This year, someone I love was deserted by her husband and left to care for three tiny babies in a country whose language she can’t speak with no job, no education, no nothing.
This year, two different families I love lost two different baby girls, who will never be forgotten, who should be alive playing with my children now.
This year, someone I will love is being conceived or may already be born, and she will come live in my house and she will be my daughter and we will cry together about injustices in the world that are not concepts but real, life-changing awfulness.
These things suck. And there is truth and wisdom in lamenting with Job and David and Mary and half the other speakers and writers in the Bible that we live in this kind of world. And no truth at all in dismissing this pain or glossing over it with rainbows and sunshine on flannel graphs.
Because my babies have already been exposed to suffering as they pray for their friend in pre-op or his brother who was in the NICU or their other friends in surgery or their Burmese grandfather fighting tooth and nail to bring his wife here. My babies are already asking me, Why does this happen to my friends and not me? And I can’t answer those questions.
And no playtime with teddy bears or kissing boo-boos will erase the facts, which they already know in their wise little hearts.
Some things just suck.
Linked with The Extraordinary-Ordinary’s “Just Write” series.