Monday, September 15, 2008

Waiting

Last week, I left California for the third time since April 21 to attend the celebration of a niece’s marriage in Palm Beach. (The wedding itself was a secret elopement to Positano, Italy...great idea, girls!) It was a joyful time, especially since it is rare for all of my husband’s siblings to be together. We were also celebrating the fact that both of his parents are cancer-free now. There were four generations out on the dance floor together...laughing, sweating, acting crazy. The groom’s nieces were tiny little tippy-toed ballerinas that indefatiguably pirouetted and flitted through the crowd throughout the evening. As I held hands with one of them for the Last Dance, I had a flashback of doing the same with Katherine years ago.

Growing up, my kids would dance in any public arena at the slightest provocation. Juke box in a diner? They’re there. Mariachi’s at a Mexican restaurant? There. Chicken Dance at an Oktoberfest? There. Boardwalk-on-the-beach-band on the fourth of July? Not just there, but grabbing the mike from the lead singer. (Okay, that part just applies to one child.) My girls didn’t care what anyone thought, they just danced exuberantly, joyfully...whatever, whenever the occasion.

Brooks and I were somber on the flight back out to California. Katherine would have loved a family celebration like that. She would have chosen some peripheral relative-of-a-relative and entered into an in-depth conversation about his or her life, making the guest feel at home and valued. She would have made sure that each member of the groom’s family knew each member of the bride’s family. She would have allowed James to be passed around by all the relatives like a chunky little hot potato. And she would have danced. She would have danced with her grandfather, her father, her uncles, her husband. Jay might have bent her backwards over the dance floor, borrowing moves from their own wedding dance.

When Brooks and I arrived at Casa Colina, Katherine and Jay just happened to be coming out of the TLC. (Transitional Living Center.) Brooks was already out of the car, but I was gathering up all my stuff. Jay wheeled her over closer to the car. I glanced up. I felt as if someone had socked me in the stomach.

You forget.

And then it hits you with fresh horror.

The edges of temporary denial start peeling back like cellophane, exposing naked, harsh reality. Tachycardia seizes me, shaking me until I can barely breathe. Inside, I start screaming, “Oh my God, no, no, no.....that’s not my Katherine...this isn’t really happening...make it go away...make her get up out of that chair and talk to me...fix her face back...is this some kind of a joke? Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, help me, help us....”

I pretend to search for something on the floorboard until I can get it together.

As I start walking over to her, Katherine’s shoulders begin to shake with silent sobs. I pull her head to my chest and hold her. “It’s been a horrible week,” she manages to get out. I realize that she’s been brave until now...like a child who gets hurt at nursery school, gets over it, but then loses it again when her mama comes to pick her up. Or when a bereaved person cries afresh with each new comforter. “I know,” I say...for surely every week must be horrible now, no matter what the particulars are.

As I drove the rental car to the rental house, I shifted my mindset back to the New Reality and said the Serenity Prayer. Things were starting to feel familiar again by the time the pedestrian entourage arrived with the wheelchair. We got Katherine settled on the couch and she began to fill in some details of the previous week. “Miss A” does indeed have it in for her. She has become more verbally abusive towards Katherine, and sometimes has physically violent explosions of anger. She appears to think that Katherine’s Christian name is actually “Bitch,” and refers to her in no other way. Staff members believe it’s likely that Miss A’s brain injury has caused her to confuse Katherine with someone from her past. Miss A’s relationship with Jay is even more complicated. She has volunteered to have his baby, and fondly refers to him as “A**hole.” After Jay tucks Katherine in at the TLC, he tries to sneak past the other patients’ rooms as quietly as he can. Almost every night, just as he makes it almost to the exit, he hears a slow, guttural “Goodnight, A**hole...”echo creepily down the dark hall. It may be gallows humor, but for some reason we find this hysterically funny. Jay is just so not an A**hole.

The challenges Katherine faces with fellow brain-injured patients are nothing, however, compared to the agonies of coming to terms with the major deficits she has suffered. Day after laborious day she climbs up Mt. Everest with a backpack full of rocks on her back, only to discover that she’s progressed an inch at most. Some days seem like a rockslide. She is tired and thirsty. She feels as if she is starving to death every waking moment. I pray such suffering will not be wasted. Although her attitude is amazingly positive most of the time, every now and then I’ll catch her slumped in her chair, staring into space. She looks like a broken little rag doll.

When I was a little girl, I had a Madame Alexander doll named Kelly that was a “play doctor” doll. She came with crutches, casts, bandages, syringes...even tiny paste-on measles and mumps! I grew up making rounds at the hospital with my father, so I loved exercising my healing powers over this perpetually sick or injured girl. But one day, something inside her popped. Whatever held her head and limbs securely fastened to her torso malfunctioned. I was furious that I couldn’t fix her. Although my mother promised that we would take her to the Doll Hospital in Atlanta, other priorities prevailed. To this day, she lies, dismembered, in her original box in the closet of my childhood room.

How many times I dreamed of marching her into that (probably mythical) Doll Hospital and demanding that they fix her! How many times a day I feel like forcing entry at Heaven’s Gates, marching up to the throne, handing Katherine back to the One who made her, and demanding that He heal her!

Then I calm down and try to remember the Promises. She will be restored...she will have a future and a hope...she will have a ministry...her life is not over yet...

...even though everything “Seen” seems to argue against these Unseen hopes and dreams.

And we wait.

Which is something I don’t do well. It’s ironic that those of us who are “Time-Challenged” are the least patient people on earth. Those who make others wait hate waiting more than anything. But patience is an old-fashioned virtue for most of us in this Quick Fix Society. We’re ticked if we have to wait two minutes in a check-out line or at a stoplight. We want to get it done! Solve the problem! Fix it NOW! It is so hard to learn to do nothing and wait upon the Lord.

I heard a great sermon once on God’s Timing. The speaker, who knew this from painful personal experience, said, “We’ve all heard that when God closes one door, He opens another...but IT’S HELL IN THE HALLWAY.”

That’s where we are right now. Out in the hallway looking at a lot of closed doors...hoping one will open soon. Trying to trust that one will. In God’s timing, not ours.

It may be a while until Katherine is back out on the dance floor. But I believe that she will be someday, somehow. In the meantime, I am researching Waiting. Maybe I’ll share what I learn with you...one of these days. But you may have to wait.

Thank you for your patience. Please pray some for me, too.

***************

“...For the Lord is a faithful God.
Blessed are those who wait on Him.”
Isaiah 30:18b (NLT)

“But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.”
Romans 8:25 (NLT)

18 comments:

em gibson said...

Oh my, I wrote a scripture to Katherine today. It just seemed like a good one some reason. Then later I was drawn back, as I always am, to see if you had written. And there it was...waiting. It was Psalms 37:3-7 (just the first sentence of 7).
I pray for you and Brooks each day.

ellenpaige said...

Katherine,

Amazing healing can take place in a year's time. This became my daily mantra when I was healing from my aneurysm, " I can stand anything for a year; I can stand anything for a year." It was hard, hard, hard.

Our water bill was huge one month because I spent so much time sitting in the shower- crying and praying. My mom called it water therapy. I strongly recommend it!

I'm thinking God has put you in Miss A's life for some reason. Perhaps one reason is to be an example to her as to how someone with with a brain injury can live GRACE-FULL-Y and graciously, as you have chosen to do.

Katherine, I am praying for you several times a day- that you will come out of your recovery with the ability to swallow, talk, and walk- that you will be able to do ALL of the things you cannot PRESENTLY do. I pray for a COMPLETE healing for you.

God bless and bless you, Katherine, and hold you and your precious family tightly in His arms as He walks with you toward the end of the hallway.

Sending you love and hugs,
Ellen Jones
Athens, Georgia

JourneytoFamily said...

On top of everything else Katherine has to deal with, it must be so difficult to endure the verbal abuse hurled at her and Jay. I have been praying for healing all along, but I will specifically pray about this situation with Miss A.

tatiana said...

"For HE shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." (Psalm 91:11)

katherine will dance again....

i believe that i, 2 will b able 2 dance again the way i did b fore.... it's 1 of the many happy memories of my family that i hold close 2 my heart.... a time of joy & laughter.... i was always the 1st 1 dancing when the music played.... 4 now, i wiggle & sway, it's a start....

the hallway will b an after thought when the new door opens....

just wait & c....

praying 4 u always,
tati

Kim Godawa said...

I am speechless - your raw emotion touches my heart like scripture does. God is surely breathing through you and talking to us through this experience. Don't we all want to know Him so deeply, but at what cost? That is the question that rings in my head each time I read your blog.

I was reading this scripture today, and it seems so fitting in light of what you shared.

..Ps. 22:17-20 "He sent from on high, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, BUT the Lord (capitals mine) was my support. He brought me out into a broad place, he rescued me, because he delighted in me."

I pray for you many times daily. Kim

Beth said...

You sweet mommy...my heart goes out to you...Having a child opens your heart to so many blessings, so many fears, and having to trust the Lord because these little people are on loan...from Him...and taking care of them sometimes is daunting.

My little girl is only 2 - dancing around like the ones at the wedding. The only hardship she faces is having to give up her paci this week. Since April, I have looked at my daughter so many times and thought of Katherine. I pray she has Katherine's strength, her passion for God's path, and her boldness to love with God's love.

I pray for both of us...mommy to mommy...that we trust God to use our daughters' lives to bring Him glory...wherever that takes them. I hate more than anything that Katherine is in pain. But, we both know God has a special plan for your beautiful daughter...we are blessed to have front row seats. Tell her "hi" for me. You guys are in my prayers.

Kristen said...

Your words brought tears to my eyes because of your honesty. Thank you for your honesty even though you must hurt in so many areas. You and your family are in my prayers, and your courage encourages me. You definitely have an amazing perspective. I am guessing sometimes you don't want to be strong, and are tired of waiting...May you feel His love today somehow. In his creation. a kind word. your grandson...
kristen

Anne said...

Thank you for your openness, for sharing your story and Katherine's. We're still praying, still believing, still amazed - all the way across the country.

plilr said...

I anxiously await each of your updates--I'm always wanting to know of any updates or any way that any of us can help you guys out, so thank you so much for your commitment to keep us all informed and for your openness and honesty. It kills me that you say that Katherine feels like she is starving to death every single day and that she is having to deal with this unfortunate person at rehab. Has a decision been made as to where she is going to go after these first two months? At least her involvement with this girl won't last forever. I'm praying for all of you daily--as is my little prayer group on myspace and at my parents church back home. I wish that there was more that I could do.

Much love, Desiree

Beth said...

Kim, I've researched waiting and have a word study I compiled. Send me an email and i'll reply back with it. bpilgreen@gmail.com. It's Beth Pilgreen - I visited you guys in LA with Sarah Ott last month!

April said...

She will dance, Kim! She will!
I am continuing to pray for you and for Katherine.
Thanks for your blog...it's inspiring.
Blessings and love,
April Roland

Ginny Evans said...

Kim, you utterly awesome openness and honesty reaches deep into my heart. I am always overwhelmed by your thoughts and the way you are gifted to express yourself. I have no way of knowing what you are going through as a Mother, but I feel it through your writing and one thing I know is that you are being held tight in the Master's Hands and Katherine will dance again! Praying for all of you daily.

Meg said...

Kim,
For some reason Katherine has been sooo much on my mind, in my heart today, and this is a day that Jay wrote via Caringbridge that she needs prayers for the swallowing test. I have prayed for success, even small, to be seen as a sign of encouragement for precious Katherine. I hadn't read your blog in a while and ventured to read it as the last minutes ticked away before the bell rang for school to end. I'm glad I waited because as usual, your writing touched my heart in a way that brought a tightness in my chest and tears to my eyes. I've felt just like you.....wanting to take my children to God when they were broken so that He would fix them, wanting to go myself to be fixed and healed from the pain of a divorce, wanting to take my mother who has MS and is in a fetal position permanently with no strength, no hope for healing and say to Him, "PLEASE FIX HER NOW!". Your situation is different but the same, and those of us who read understand your pain and suffering, and we pray for you as others have prayed for us. Please know that you are not forgotten, and we, too long for small steps in the healing for Katherine as well as for encouragement for you who love and care for her.
Meg Brooke, Catherine Brooke's mom
(ZTA with Katherine at Samford)

linde said...

still praying! lots of love from texas

debi said...

Hi Kim,
I do not know you personally, but I pray for you and Katherine (and the rest of the family) multiple times a day (and night). Thank you for your honesty with the raw emotions that you have experienced through this entire crisis. I drive by Casa Colina many times a week to take my daughters to their cheerleading practice as well as our church and I pray for you all. I'm grateful to God that Katherine's alive and has progressed as much as she has to this point. However, I continue to pray for swallowing and walking and know that it's coming soon. May God richly bless you during this "off the charts" difficult time.
Debi Jacobs

tatiana said...

dear katherine,
may you have calm acceptance that your spirit will remain whole through the toughest of trials....
sending u a gaurdian angel,
tati

MJ said...

You are such an amazing writer -- if you continue this blog, even after Katherine's journey normalizes, I would love to keep reading.

On waiting, I was inspired to look for some interesting approaches along with you, and again I turned to my favorite philosopher/poet, Kahlil Gibran...and I wanted to share it with you because I feel like it describes waiting in a timeless way:

'Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows -- then let your heart say in silence, "God rests in reason."
And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky -- then let your heart say in awe, "God moves in passion."
And since you are a breath in God's sphere, and a leaf in God's forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.'

I'll let you make of it what you will, because I find that I feel trite whenever I try to summarize Gibran in my own words.

Love and serenity to you and your fam,
MaryJane

Teresa McNeill said...

I am Megan McNeill Carson's mom. Megan and Kat went to Samford together and were both ZTAs. I want you to know that I pray for you often. I cannot put myself in your place, but I feel with a mom's heart. And in my prayers, I know that even in the "hallways" and trials, God is the Great I AM, the Creator.....Almighty God. I pray for peace that passes all understanding, for comfort in the depths of your heart, and for complete healing for your little girl.
Teresa McNeill, Americus, GA