Thursday, April 29, 2010

The “new black”?

You hear a lot about “the black moment” in romance. That point where all seems lost and you can’t imagine how you’ll get from here to the happy ending. The place where the guy realizes his true heroic nature, where the heroine discovers she’s stronger than she ever knew. The moment we all reach for the chocolate and tissues...

Black moments happen in real life...their reality is what makes the best stories true and powerful. And when my teenage son was diagnosed with cancer last month, I got my own personal black moment. Like in every one of our stories you’ve ever read, life sort of exploded. And imploded. Lots of things expanded beyond my capacity to cope, while other things boiled down to the truest of essentials. It was a great lesson in life, friendship, family. People came out of the woodwork to support my son and our entire family. I’m glad to have my children--who are just really putting “feet on their faith,”--see the Body of Christ doing what it’s supposed to do. And not just deacons wielding casseroles (although we’ve had that, too)--we’ve had grace and mercy and compassion extended to us in spectacular amounts. Folks showing up in hospital elevators just when we needed companionship. Phone calls coming at perfect moments. Complete strangers all over the country praying for my son. We saw legions of heroes in action on our behalf.

Still, in all this, I could not shut off the storyteller inside me. During those long days in the hospital, I discovered what I most needed was not my knitting (I actually reached a point where I couldn’t knit--who knew I could get to that place??) or chocolate or coffee, but visitors. Companions to tell the story of what was happening to our family. Because story is how I make sense of life, how I put it in a context that has any hope of making sense for me. Story connects, remembers, explains, and explores when facts are too hard to handle.

My son is expected to make a full recovery. Hodgkins Lymphoma is highly treatable and highly curable, even if chemo is a long uphill journey for someone so young (or anyone, for that matter). But oh, the story he will have as a survivor! The story we will have as a family! I could fill twelve books already.

So here’s where I climb onto my soapbox. If you’re reading this, do two things:

1) Donate blood. My son’s used dozens of units already, will use dozens more before he's done, and we’re deeply grateful for every soul who shared their blood with our precious child--or any precious body in danger and in need.

2) Donate to Ronald McDonald House Charities. Whether or not you think fast food is a good thing, I’m here to tell you the Ronald McDonald House was the most blessed thing in our lives for many of those long nights. There’s a little box underneath nearly every McDonald’s drive-thru window, so don’t just throw your change in there next time you grab a Big Mac, toss in a a couple of bucks in honor of my little hero. Or support any children’s hospital near you--miracles happen inside those walls.

7 comments:

  1. First, prayers for your son's recovery! Second, I agree with your suggestions regarding donating blood and helping the Ronald McDonald House. When I was in junior high, my best friend was badly injured in a motorcycle accident and had to have one of her legs amputated. The Ronald McDonald House was just starting out and my friend's family appeared in a public service ad. Years later, the young son of some friends of ours fell out out of a tree and fractured his skull, resulting in blindness. Because they lived at least four hours from the hospital where their son was being treated, they were able to stay in the Ronald McDonald House during their son's recovery.

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  2. Prayers for you and your son and your family as you negotiate this valley.

    And I know what you mean about the storyteller. When my mom passed away in November, I found healing in telling her story, over and over. It made it real for me in a way that nothing else did during those long days of numb denial.

    When people say that they don't know what to say to grieving families (or families like yours, in the midst of a crisis), I know what to tell them.

    Say nothing. Just listen. And pray.

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  3. What a beautiful testimony, Allie. I'm still praying!

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  4. You've convinced me. I don't even see those little boxes anymore, but I'll see them now. We're still praying for you and your family.

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  5. Allie -- Thanks for sharing about your son. I continue to pray for your family and am heartened to hear of the many ways people have blessed you. I agree about story -- that is how I make sense of things as well. You have an amazing son.

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  6. Praying for your precious son, Allie (and for YOU too!). And I agree with your suggestions--those are great ways for folks to help.
    Blessings from Georgia,
    Patti Jo
    ( 1 Peter 5:7)

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