Four days ago a knife was held in the hands of a man I really do not know. I was not aware of when he made the first cut. I was off in the place one goes when in a deep sleep caused by a quick push of a needle syringe into an IV line that had been placed in my hand. I was assured by the nurse who placed the IV line that this man was very good at what he does…that I was in good hands. That man purposely cut a hole on the inside of my cheek, working around a breathing tube that ensured my lungs kept working, removed what could be a cancerous tumor, and then used thick white thread to sew the hole closed. Five hours later, I was home, resting in my own bed, high doses of pain medication keeping what would surely be intense, throbbing pain at bay.
I have had much time to think the last few days. After surgery this past Wednesday, I thought I’d be in a much better place by now than I am. Not much I can do about it. Wounds take time to heal, and no matter what I do, the process can’t really be rushed. The results of the “excisional biopsy” (the official medical term of what was done) should be known this coming week. As I’ve thought about what this doctor might say, I’ve also thought about how little control I have over the whole situation. Control is such an illusion. My life is pretty boring for the most part. There isn’t really anything that stands out about my day to day activities. Like most everyone else, I make plans from day to day. On days off, I plan what chores I might have the energy to get done at home. My evenings usually hold some type of cooking show to fill the hours before heading off the bed so I can wake up the next morning and do it all over again. Sometimes I wonder what the point of it all is.
Something I often think of is the second verse of the first chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes: “Meaningless! Meaningless! says the teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV) Solomon wrote this. King Solomon who had been given everything a man could possibly want in life. His conclusion at the end of his life? It is all meaningless.
I am feeling that way right now. I have watched as dreams I carried for so long got shattered before my eyes. I remember the day a county sheriff came to our home. We knew it was coming, yet the foreclosure notice he held in his hand did more than break my heart; it shattered the dream I had of owning a home. It eliminated the possibility of ever having a hobby farm with a loft in a barn where I could sit and read, hearing only the sounds of the country around me. I remember the day our last all-grown-up-child moved out. Suddenly, a five bedroom rented house that was once filled with voices and Guitar Hero, was eerily quiet. The snoring of the dog and the television show being watched by my husband was all there was to break the noise. The downstairs refrigerator, once filled with Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper sat empty save for an extra gallon or two of milk. I remember the day my beautiful grandson was placed in his car seat, heading for a new life in North Dakota. As my daughter and son-in-law drove away, my heart shattered into so many pieces. All the love I poured into him, all the time spent with him, all the dreams I had for our future time together fell to pieces off the blue Avenger driving farther and farther away from me.
This week, I will walk into a doctor’s office–an office I’ve been in several times over the past 3 months. In his hand, the doctor will carry a folder that holds the results of this very painful surgery he performed. What will be my response if God calls me to walk down a road I didn’t plan nor ask for? I hate the phrase “God is good”. I’ve heard it said often when an accident turns out to not be as bad as it could have been or a parent is relieved to hear positive words from a specialist testing their child. But what about when the news is bad? What if the accident claims the life of someone you love? What if the doctor looks at you with sad eyes and tells you the test results show cancer? Is God still good? Yes, He is. I know that and I believe that. But, will I be able to live that? Will my kids be able to live that if they are told their mom has cancer? Today, there are tears constantly begging to be released. I am feeling very much that life is, as King Solomon wrote so many years ago, meaningless. I assume this feeling will pass, even if the news is not what we hope to hear. Like all the other times my heart has been broken, I will somehow learn to live with a new normal. I may not like the normal that forces its way into my path no more than I like the normal of not having my grandson living close by anymore, but regardless of whether I like it or not, I will have to get used to it. It is, after all, the way life seems to go. We just get used to one thing, and it is taken away.
King Solomon concluded his book exactly how he started it: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 12:8 NIV) He did add one more thing, though:
“Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NIV)