It doesn't mean I don't celebrate the good news--it just means that I don't take it to be the last word. There's still tomorrow, and no one really knows what tomorrow will bring until it comes. And honestly-I pray it brings the return of Jesus! Amen?
Anyhow. So, I did rejoice in the good news of no new tumors for Elijah, and the two remaining seem to be inactive-meaning, they aren't growing. I love this news! This is wonderful!!!!! Elijah has had 4 good exams since his last chemo surgery, the longest he has ever gone with out treatment since he was diagnosed a year and a half ago.
But as I'm in NY, thinking about getting home, my mind turns to the practical stuff. I still have to make it home, and there's too much to carry, especially with a bulged disc in my back. I call the airline, who only offers assistance to those with disabilities. Well, okay. I'm learning to humble myself and so I'll take the label of "disabled".....which disability would they care to write down-my son's cancer, the bulged disc in my back, or the injury to my rotator cuff? (No, I didn't actually say that, I just thought it.)
We arranged for a representative of the airline to meet me at the gate to help me get all this stuff onto the plane. (JFK has longer terminals, so I really didn't have a way to do it on my own.).
There's something so hopeful about moving forward with the confidence that where you need help, it will be made available to you. I wasn't stressing about a thing because I knew someone would meet me and help me get to the plane. This was part of the new challenge of traveling with a car seat. I have to push the stroller with the car seat sort of hanging on it, as well as pull the roller bag with 3 other bags dangling from it, as well as holding Elijah (who is, of course, not very happy at this point).
Then at the end of the terminal gate, I have to remove the car seat, fold up the stroller, and then get the car seat to our row all while holding Elijah and pulling a roller bag. Needless to say, I was just happy to know that I would have help. I even started thinking, "This might have been one of our easiest trips in regards to travel."
When we got to the gate, I told the airline representative about the arrangement for someone to meet me and help me. Let's just say, she started off pretty rude and condescending. I politely asked her to look up our reservation in her computer, to which she said that although there was a note in my account stating that I was to receive help....it was not a service they provided and so I was on my own.
There is something especially dejecting about thinking you will have help, and then finding that you won't. As they allowed me to board, I gave new meaning to the phrase "those who need extra time to board." I would push the stroller/car seat contraption about five feet in what can only be described as a zigzag pattern, and then come back and drag the roller bag. This worked for about 10 feet, until the stroller and car seat combo fell over, the roller bag fell over, and I sat blocking the terminal gate, fighting back tears, trying to hold a crying toddler and feeling so.....humiliated.
I know that one of my weaknesses is in not always admitting my need for help. But this time I did. I called ahead, I acknowledged that I could not do this on my own. And then people stood around and watched as it was proven true. It's not that I really cared so much what people thought....it's that all my energy had been spent-getting up with Elijah at 1am, waking up at 3am to gather all of our things and clean the room, check out of RMH, get uber to come, install Elijah's car seat, get to the airport, print boarding passes, get through security.....and here I am in the middle of a terminal gate with all my stuff sprawled across the path so that no one can get through, boarding a plane I don't want to get on-except that this one is the one that will get me home.
Finally, an airline representative did come and help. Most likely it was more because I was keeping everyone else from boarding by blocking the way....I guess that only because there was so many opportunities prior to that to help me for the sake of kindness.
I got Elijah's seat installed and we made it home. I knew I would have the same problem exiting the plane, but this time I got everything mounted on my roller bag, including the car seat which I banged my hand on every row that I passed, until a flight attendant noticed that I was holding up the whole plane by moving so slowly. He came and carried the seat off the plane for me. I got Elijah buckled, got the bungee cord to attach the car seat to the stroller, and just as I stood up, I saw an airline representative standing there with an electronic sign with Elijah's name on it. The irony sunk in, as I realized I finally had help....and I no longer needed it.
This experience is one that I never want to repeat. But I will in 5 weeks. I will keep going and keep getting on a plane, and keep trying to find better ways to make it work and keep putting one foot in front of the other because that's what Elijah needs right now. It got me thinking about Jesus, and the many he healed when he walked upon the earth. He touched them, and power went out from Him. The person receiving that power KNEW they were healed. Instantly, they felt the difference of healing power coursing through their veins. And yet, as far as we know, they still died. The curse of sin was still at work upon their body, bringing about the decay of death, even as they were healed.
It's a paradox. They were healed. But they still died. Death, rather than being the curse of separation from God, in Jesus just becomes the means by which we pass through into full and complete healing. We know healing in part, but then, we will know it in its fullness.
I thought about how in sin, we are all walking towards death and decay, and separation from God. But because of the cross and the resurrection, Jesus sets us on a new path. It's a little scary because it still leads towards death....but He went through that path, and He conquered its power so that the path now leads towards healing and life in the presence of God.
As Elijah and I walked through Central Park, I saw hundreds of workers and volunteers working on the sprawling green spaces that make the park so beautiful. These workers were actually almost laying in the greenery, meticulously pulling out each weed that threatened to take over the beautiful space for the plants.
I thought, no matter how much God works on me, no matter how much transforming work He accomplishes in me, there's still weeds that need to be pulled out. God is a faithful Gardner-He will even lay down in the midst of the dirt and muck of my heart and meticulously pick out the weeds that have grown up.
He has healed me by setting me on a path that leads to freedom from sin and suffering, and living in the presence of God. But there is still so much brokenness in this world. There are still hard things that happen in the midst of hard things--even when there is good news.
And so, while this trip meant good news for Elijah, it wasn't exactly the easiest trip. This trip, well, it was about halfway between broken and healed. The joy of Elijah's report while still walking in the brokenness of a world that no longer stops to help people who need help. That's just the practical reality. We rejoice in the good news, and yet the reality of life right now is still sometimes difficult.
But today, not only am I SO glad to have made it home, but I am glad that even if I'm just somewhere in the midst of the journey....even if there's weeds everywhere in my green places that need to be pulled up.....even if there's still hard things, and I feel like I'm somewhere in between broken and healed--the end destination is complete healing, in the presence of God with joy everlasting.