Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Beach and A Prayer

We are in Myrtle Beach, thanks (as I mentioned) to some amazing generous friends. And thanks also to the good man Corey at the tiny and miraculous tire shop in the middle of nowhere, who fixed us up with a new tire and sent us on our way after an impressive blow-out and an-of-course-its-already-flat spare. Tempers flared up temporarily, particularly in the nearly-three-year-old who couldn't quite wrap his mind around HOW MUCH LONGER TIL THE BEACH. But we grab hands and remember to pray grateful. For safety, and for a far-calmer-under-pressure husband who just switched places to drive when I mentioned I felt a little sleepy. For tire shops open on a Sunday. For friends who help us go on vacation, and only a few more hours to the shore. 

Arriving in our condo just in time for dinner, we take off our sandals and walk down the beach to the grill. Caden promptly falls into the surf and we eat dinner in soaked clothes and sandy feet. After dinner, we take our time walking back. The sounds of gentle surf punctuated with loud laughter and bad karaoke from the beach grill. We trail toes in the sand and Jayci collects shells, cradling them in her pink cast. Caden also collects shells, launching them into the waves, and running away with a shriek each time the surf sneaks too close. The sun sinks lower, casting golden sheen into their fine blonde waves. The run and their calves freckle with sand, and skin sticks with salt from sweat and spray alike. I stare amazed at their identical button noses and rosy cheeks. Their eyes so similar, yet each such distinctive and different shades of blue. They leave footprints in the sand, and I watch the rising surf dissolve their prints into a smooth sheen reflecting the fiery sunset like glass. 
At the tiny-miraculous tire shop, Adam washes his hands under the hose, trying to scrub off the oil sunk deep in the cracks. He laughs loud and chats with an elderly man sitting in a chair out of sight.

He asks Adam: do you have a son? When Adam responds affirmative, he reminds him: don't let him drown.

Adam assures him we will keep a close eye, and I am reminded of his words as Caden grips my hand and dances into the bubbling waves as they recede.

His son died recently, he tells Adam. Not drowning, he says: but you just never know. 

We learned this lesson the hard way once, and I suppose it's something you dont forget. The memory lingers, softened by time and years and pounding surf. But scratched indelible in the cracks marking our lives.

On Friday, a dear friend's son was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He started chemo today, and has been experience intense stomach pain as a result. Because his kidneys still aren't functioning well, his potassium levels are spiking (putting him at risk of cardiac-related issues). He is in the ICU now and will probably be receiving dialysis tonight.

I have tears in my eyes remembering the ways your prayers carried us so unswervingly while Caden was in the hospital. And I am asking y'all to storm heaven on Rocco's behalf. Pray for healing and for pain-relief. For miracles and for peace. And for God's presence and strength to draw this beautiful family close. To follow Rocco's story and keep updated on what's going on with him, you can visit his CaringBridge page

I am reminded again today of those desperate and beautiful days in the CICU. And of all the ways that even those things we want most desperately to hold onto can slip through our fingers as easily as sand. Of only a few pieces that hold even when buffeted by strongest storms, even (or perhaps especially) when all I can see to do is the next right thing. The one step in front of me, even as my footprints behind are washed by the waves. Because things don't make sense, and I cannot even pretend to understand sweet babies with cancer and broken hearts. But I do know that I have met Jesus most intimately and closely in my wrestling, in my deepest pain and hurt. So I ask that you guys will join me in bringing my friend Anita and her Rocco (and their whole beautiful family) into the arms of the One who knows them and longs to hold them gentle and fierce through even the worst storms. Pray, and know that I love y'all and am grateful for the ways you guys support and love and pray for and with us every day. Seriously.

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