I'm the same way with hotels. Or when we stay at the RMH. I never unpack all the way. In fact, I leave as much packed as possible and live out of my suitcase. I would say it's because I don't want to do the work of unpacking everything, but I end up doing that anyway as I repack the suitcase when we leave.
But it got me to thinking. Unpacking is the feeling of settling in, a sign of being home with no immediate plans for travel, a sign of setting your roots down.
Yesterday, we took Elijah down to CHLA for his MRI. We know that, while developing tumors in the brain is rare, Elijah has already fallen into the "rare" category a few times-both with his cancer, the young age of his diagnosis, and other things of that nature. We also know that the average age for developing these tumors in the brain is two years after the initial diagnosis....and we aren't there yet. But childhood cancer is really the feeling of remaining half packed. It's keeping an extra toothbrush ready to go because you just never know when and if this beast is coming back.
As we sat in the waiting room, I told Ben, "It's taking too long." What is usually an hour long had turned into two hours and I was getting anxious. It was reminiscent of the day they found tumors in his remaining eye. I remember sitting in the waiting room, with a screen that told me how long Elijah had been back in "surgery." I kept watching as the number of minutes crept higher and higher. I remember the progression that day in my thoughts from "that seems to be taking a little longer....", to "its been longer than normal...", and finally to the pit settling in my stomach as I knew it was way too long.
I felt the same way yesterday as the minutes crept by to a time well past normal. I was a little distracted by the shooting spasms of pain in my back that had given way as they had me bring a screaming and thrashing Elijah into the MRI room.
I am so thankful Ben was with me yesterday. When I finally received the report, I braced myself for whatever news may come, and breathed a sigh of relief as I read through the report and realized that there was no signs of cancer outside of his eye. There are, of course, signs of disease in the eye, but we can't tell from the MRI if they are active tumors or not.
So, while this is GREAT news!!!!!! You can't help but feel a little bit like you are still half packed. There's just too much still going on for us to unpack it all. We leave the toothbrush in the suitcase because we head back to NY in three weeks.
No matter what is ahead in the future, I was meant to remain as a traveler-a sojourner-in this world. There are joys to be known and memories to be made, but they will all give way to greater joy when we finally find ourselves home. It's the forever tension of living in one world while awaiting my place at home in another.
My suitcase is still half packed. But you know! A sojourner doesn't always know the destinations. Leaving the suitcase half-packed is also a sign of hope: maybe one day, we will not be traveling to a hospital but to a vacation!!!! For right now however, this is our journey.
Even in the scary moments where the scans or the surgeries/exams take too long....there are memories to be made and gifts to recognize and be thankful for. It was by sheer accident on our part that Ben was able to be with me....although I know it was planned perfectly in the heart of God.
So today, we are thankful for the good news we did receive, but we aren't unpacking the suitcase. Not until our sojourning is over and we reach our home.
"For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come." Hebrews 13:14