So as we wait in the quiet winters of our lives—not only this season of Advent, but also this time of COVID, or whatever winters we are currently experiencing—we have to keep the light of hope burning in our hearts. God will keep his promises to us.
Just as he said.
Over the summer, my parents spent 78 days on the road with their dog and their RV. When they returned, my mom had soreness in her ribs that she thought was the result of slamming the bed lid on my dad’s truck one too many times.
But it didn’t get better and an xray finally showed that she had 3 broken ribs. It seemed odd that slamming the bed lid could break ribs, so she had a bone scan. She was diagnosed with osteopenia a few years back, which is the precursor to osteoporosis, so we worried that she may have finally crossed that line. But the scan came back ok.
The morning after Thanksgiving, she got up to use the restroom and threw out her back. When the pain, exacerbated by her ribs, didn’t subside, my dad called an ambulance. New xrays showed that she hadn’t thrown out her back—she had cracked a vertebra.
I never bought the story that the cracked ribs came from shutting the bed lid. I suspected the dog—Maggie is 18 months old and full of life, and my mom walked her 4 times a day. I was sure that Mom tripped over Maggie on a walk and fell—but didn’t want to tell anyone. Maggie is the light of their retired lives, the newest baby in the family. Mom would want to protect her.
The orthopod said that he could do a simple procedure to glue the cracked vertebra together. That happened the first Friday in December. He didn’t like what he saw and took a biopsy. The following week she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. This is how I explained it to my kids: MM is a cancer of the bone marrow that affects the parts of our bones that scrub old bone away and grow new bone. The part that scrubs old bone away becomes over-active and the part that builds new bone is suppressed by the cancer cells, making it possible to crack ribs from shutting the bed lid on the truck. Apologies to Maggie.
She is in the midst of diagnostic testing, while recovering from her back surgery and waiting for her ribs to heal—something that may not happen until treatment brings the bone scrubbers and bone growers back into balance. That’s a hard thought for everyone, because her pain is significant, and hard to watch. I have to be careful around her, because as a survivor, I want to tell her All The Things I Learned, but I know that’s not right. It’s her path. She has to walk it her way. She witnessed for me. Now I witness for her.
I didn’t get around to weeks 2, 3 and 4 of Advent, obviously. I took my girls south last week and we helped care for Grandma once she got home. When I came back here today to tell you where I went, Hope, Justified was the first thing I saw. I laughed. God does not always move in mysterious ways. Sometimes he moves in giant highway signs that say “For hope, please refer back to your own damn words”. All right, then. Winter has come, but my hope and faith are secure. I know there is a tightly woven blanket of love around our family, and good doctors, and my mom’s own strong body and mind. And I know I can ask you to pray for her, for relief from her pain and for healing.
Merry Christmas, friends. Here comes the Light.