Help when we ask for it

When I was in bed on chemo, I fantasized about what I would do if I had blocks of time where I could move around freely and think more clearly, and where my schedule wasn’t bound by doctor appointments.

Now that I am on a holiday from chemo, I’m not really doing anything “big.” Mostly, I spend the time doing more of what I was already doing, like driving the kids around or running errands. I find it liberating to be able to plan for any day of any week, rather than only agreeing to do things that accommodate my chemo schedule or fit my prediction of good days.

At the start of my chemo holiday, I optimistically assumed that every day would be a good day. So I joyfully and confidently volunteered to lector at two Masses over Easter weekend: The Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday night and the 10 a.m. Easter Sunday Mass. Of course I would feel good!

My assumption, however, was wrong.

On Friday night before Easter, I had a painful intestinal obstruction resulting in approximately 2 hours of sleep. I fumbled through the next day’s hair appointment and childcare, figuring that I would rest at some point.

Of course, Saturday evening arrived without a chance to rest beforehand.

The Easter Vigil Saturday night Mass would be about two hours long. I decided that, if I needed to, I could leave after I did my part.

However, once I did my part, I realized that my energy was holding up. I actually stayed for the entire service. I may have been lifted by the spirits of the crowd, but I also believe that grace steps in and carries me when I really need it.

Once home and in bed, I suddenly had pain from tumors and AGAIN couldn’t sleep. The last time I looked at the clock, it it was 5 a.m.; the kids woke us at 6 a.m. filled with Easter excitement. I was slow to rally on three hours of sleep over two nights.

The boys opened their baskets and hunted for Easter eggs. Then at 9:00 a.m., I headed back to church. I had two roles that morning:

  1. Stand at the door and welcome people as they arrived and
  2. Lector during the Mass, which included reading two readings, out loud, from the Bible.

On the drive to church, I worried. Could I stand long enough to greet people as they arrived? And, could I read aloud? My voice is getting stronger, but it is still weak from chemo. It often has a strained tone that is hard on the ears, and it cracks and skips as I speak. When I am tired, it sounds even more strained.

I wanted to deliver a good reading to the overflowing Easter crowd. I wanted to vary my tone and expression, so that anyone listening had at least a chance to get something out of the readings, but I had little control over my voice.

As I drove, I talked with God. I told Him that I wanted to do this for Him and that I know that He always comes through and carries me when I need it. But this was cutting it close.

Then I thought about the event we were celebrating: Easter. I wondered if Jesus had a similar conversation during the crucifixion. Did he think, “I have more teaching to do to spread Your word. I haven’t reached everyone yet. This isn’t looking good. I know You will take care of me but this is cutting it close.”

Did he know that his answer would come three days later? Or did he feel like, okay, this is it?

While my problems are nowhere near crucifixion-size, this did help me to feel more like, whatever happens, God can save it. He can take whatever we offer and use it for good.

I was able to stand and greet people. When I read, my voice still had a funny pitch and it cracked, but it was there. It wasn’t what I imagined as perfect but it all seemed to come together well enough that, hopefully, everyone present got what they needed on that Easter Sunday.

Thanks for your prayers and for helping me to get what my family and I need. This situation is not what I imagine to be perfect, but it does seem to come together well enough that we generally get what we need, when we need it.

Now that I have a bit more time available, I’m so happy to be able to help others. I still believe the good moments far outweigh the difficult ones, and that we can be carried through the difficult moments when we ask for help.

I hope that your moments are beautiful, and that if I can help in any way, please give me the honor of stepping into that opportunity.

Blessings and light,

Fully present

Thank you for your prayers and positive thoughts. I rebounded pretty well from chemo and am up and about! Thank you for being there for me.

This past weekend, I was scheduled to lector at church, meaning that, among other things, I would stand in front of the church and read two of the readings aloud. In the days beforehand, I practiced in front of the kids as they played with their iPads.

On Sunday morning, I told them that it was time to go to church and they gave their usual protests. Generally, I ignore these protests because they really have no choice but today I told them, “Hey, when you are doing something special, I do my best to be there. I would love for you to be there for me today.”

In truth, when they are doing something special, I am often physically present but don’t always pay full attention. I check my phone. I talk with other parents. I craft a grocery list in my head. I try to be there, but I wander.

And I understand how long a Mass can feel when you are a child. So I told the boys that they could bring paper and pencils to church to draw or write but they had to come along.

After a stop on the way for croissants, we arrived early enough to get seats in the front pew on the side of the church. Mass began and the boys alternated between drawing and fighting. I tuned them out.

When it was my turn, I walked to the front of the church and read. I alternated between looking down at the text and up at the faces in the pews. The church was packed so there were many faces to see.

I hesitated to look directly at my boys, for fear of getting distracted. But today, when I glanced at that section of the church, I was struck by my very blonde eight-year-old son in our front pew, standing on the kneeler to get a better view. He was clearly fully focused on me and I could feel him using all his senses to watch and listen.

He stood like this through both my readings, completely attentive. After the second reading, when I rejoined him in our seats, he said simply, “Good job, Mom.”

I had forgotten the positive power of receiving the full attention of one person supporting your efforts, especially from someone you love. When I took him to tennis later that day, I was fully present and watched him play from the window above. And from the court below, he looked up at me and smiled.

May you experience the honor of being fully present for someone else today, and the joy of knowing that someone is fully present for you.