Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Battle Wounds

Ella and I during the month of "No Doctors!!" in July 2007.
A smile - even with the NG tube in. Below, this is her last day with the NG tube before G-tube surgery. On her left cheek, you can see some of the scarring from taping the tube for so long.

Winter is a time of so much thinking for me....actually, it is too much thinking. I overthink everything. My mind makes me crazy. That's why I like to stay busy. Busy running errands, working, preparing, reading, sleeping - anything but letting my crazy mind decide that the voicemail I just received from my Mom was to exile me from the family for being so late to dinner that one night. But on these winter days, where it is -3 degrees and my car doors are frozen shut, I can't help but be faced with my own head. Maybe this is what God intended for this time of year, anyway. In the spring and summer, God shows off what He has been preparing all winter and our job is to just enjoy and soak in all the Vitamin D we can handle and lay in the grass and feel sand between our toes. Our job is to enjoy the dirt while we plant flowers and wake up early with sun shining on to our faces. But the winter....the cold nasty winter, is a different story. There are no colors, except for white and gray. There is no light, except for what is reflected from the snow. There are slush-filled boots and sliding cars and plows and dragging kids by the sleeves of their puffy coats. And to avoid it all, we stay inside with slippers and more coffee than usual and just hope that Santa brings a present to make up for it all. But inside, their is a painful work being done, a work that no summer tan can hide. And it is in this time where God can bring forth all those nasty, useless, forgotten, unhealed parts and give them life again. It is a cruel and unusual form of punishment, in the midst of dry cracked skin and salt-stained pants that are laced in snow and ice. But, this is where the grace finds a place to leak in.

Nick and I braved the cold on the coldest night we ever remember, with our 2 toddlers, to get them home and in their own beds. It was so frigid that my jeans froze and my legs twitched each time the wind blew. Total time between door-to-car-to-door was approximately 8 minutes. We put the kids right to bed and tried to defrost with some scorching hot tea. The next morning, the kids were awake and we were chugging coffee when I noticed Ella's face. I thought she'd been burned or scratched by some huge siberian tiger, for her cheeks were covered in red. And after a swift moment of panic, I let her runaway and sat myself down on the couch to do some more thinking. The painful little lines on her face were from no ferocious feline, but rather were old scars that had resurfaced in the cold.

From Ella's birth till 8 months old, she had an NG Feeding Tube in her nose that gave her all the nutrition she needed. The most stressful moments of my life thus far have involved that damn tube. As she got older and stronger, she ripped it out of her nose, gagged herself all the way up and then ripped the paper tape off of her face with it. She would cry and scream and we would cry and scream. When we'd finally had enough, she'd pulled the tube out 4 times by noon and our new babysitter who was starting her first day, was never seen from again. I spent the next 2 days on the phone with doctors and surgeons trying to express to them that this was an emergency and that I couldn't wait another day. Within the week, the tube was out forever and a button was placed into her stomach, something that she couldn't pull out and all that was left were the scars.

But, on this cold winter night, we were reminded of the pain that we had felt 14 months before when battered little cheeks showed the pain they had known so well. I've always believed that you have to grieve things at different level - I guess this is our next level.

Nichole Nordeman says in her song 'Every Season,' "Even now in death you open doors for life to enter..." Maybe this is why winter is so inconveniently placed between 2 of the most beautiful times of year. We've got to go through the death- and deal - and if we've let Him do his job, the ice melts and our hearts beat again. Possibly with more vigor and more life. I don't know, just a thought.

"...and everything that's new has greatly surfaced. And what was frozen through is newly purposed."