I awoke to sun coming in the window, despite closed blinds. It’s Easter I thought flatly. I wake up every morning alone where I’ve slept. This morning I barely allowed myself to glimpse in my mind what I used to wake up to seeing. Light streaming through windows without coverings, the expanse of air up to the honey-colored wood-paneled ceiling. Then I stop myself, no more. Thinking of home makes it so much harder to continue the daily work here. At home I am hungry as soon as I wake up but here at the Ronald McDonald house you can’t have food in your room. This morning, I decide it’s early enough that if I go downstairs to the communal dining room there will be almost no one awake to see my bed head and non-brushed teeth, the mascara a bit smeared. But as I enter the dining room I see Easter clothes and people talking gaily. They seem normal. They move normally and they almost seem like they’ve come from some other world where happy colors and patterns and flowing scarves are normal. They chatter with one another on the bright Easter morning, evidently preparing a brunch I had not known was planned. I did not remember seeing a flyer in the elevator telling of this event. So I ask the woman prepping fruit at the counter near my mini-fridge assigned to me, “What group are you with?” She seemed to hesitate and gave me the name of her family. I felt like crying. There is part of you that thinks it better to disregard such significant events as Easter when you are locked away in the hospital world reality. Your life cannot possibly look like life should look, or at least as it has most often looked like on such days. It feels a bit tortuous to even try because it just brings images of other times so along side your present reality that the juxtaposition, so clearly seen, just makes the ache well up. So today was just to be any other day with the exception of the little Easter egg hunt on the Unit for Allistaire. So when I saw this family moving around the kitchen together, laughing, prepping all the tasty food and all for us, all for those of us who are stuck here, I felt like crying.
When I got in the elevator I wanted to see if the flyer had said something about the brunch. There at the bottom, under March 31st and above the line about the Easter Egg hunt, was this: “10 am Easter Brunch with Johnson/Gregoire Family.” I laughed right out loud. That’s why the woman prepping the fruit had looked so familiar. I had to go back and thank her. I waited until she turned from talking and asked her what her name was, to which she replied, “Chris.” I laughed again and told her I thought she had looked familiar. So, this is how I met the Governor of Washington State for the last 8 years, standing in my pajamas with bed head and smeared mascara. This time I did cry. That some other family who could be spending their beautiful morning doing something entirely different, had a heart to serve us. Wow.
Later I headed back to the hospital to enjoy the Easter egg hunt with Allistaire and Sten. Allistaire absolutely loved walking around the Unit looking for eggs. She was a bit dismayed to discover that there was no candy in the eggs, but this did not diminish her motivation in continuing the hunt. She selected a little stuffed bunny for Solveig and a bottle of bubbles. She did a great job eating lunch and then took a nap. During nap time, Sten and I enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch at Magnuson Park just up the street. It was an absolutely glorious day to be out in the sun and near the water. As before, the Sunday evening blues set in as the time for Sten to leave once again, drew near. It’ll probably be about 3 weeks until he comes out again.
As Easter Sunday winds down, I want to ask those of you in Bozeman to consider participating in a blood drive on Saturday, April 27th. The blood drive is being done in honor of a fellow cancer-fighting little girl also from Bozeman, Signe Gaasch. Signe was diagnosed with brain cancer on August 31st and has received her care in Minneapolis. Like Signe, Allistaire has had the opportunity to battle cancer only because of the availability of blood in the form of red blood and platelets. For all of us who feel that there is so little we can tangibly do to help Allistaire, know that giving your blood so that someone else can have a chance at life is a glorious gift that is undeniably well worth your time. The blood drive, named, “Sangre de Signe,” is being conducted by the American Red Cross. If you’d like to donate, please follow this link to complete a survey and a representative from the American Red Cross will contact you to schedule an appointment: Blood Drive
Thank you again for all of your prayers, love and support! Allistaire is mostly back to her happy self. She is exuberant and laughs and wants to ride bikes. Last night she painted again for the first time in a while. I would like to ask you to pray for her attitude during vitals and other times when the nurses have to interact with her. At night it is especially hard because she screams and yells at them making vitals at midnight and four am a way bigger event than it needs to be. Please pray that Allistaire would stop fighting them and allow blood pressures, temperature and diaper changes to be conducted peacefully and for skill on the nurses part to be quiet in their responsibilities in the room. I am amazed at how some nurses can do everything in complete silence, including a diaper change, never waking her up and others just don’t have the knack and then talk to her way too much when all she wants is to be left alone. As for me, getting sleep in less than 2 hour blocks makes me quite cranky both with Allistaire and the night nurse. Pray that I would be gracious to the nurses and that I would be able to work with them to clearly communicate our needs and come up with night plans that will maximize sleep. I am praying too for an uneventful 2-3 weeks as we wait for her blood counts to come up. Hopefully all will be well and we can head right into transplant. A number of folks I’ve talked to tell me transplant isn’t great either. I laugh an empty laugh. As though I want transplant, but without a transplant Allistaire has no chance to beat this thing. The hardship of transplant is a gift not all receive. Every single day is a gift that might not be. So on this gray Monday morning that is supposed to turn sunny, I pray I will make the most of this day, this first day of April – a yellow month – a beautiful month.
As each day passes, it seems to me that the Lord is showing me that everything I need for this life is bound up in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In those hours and days are contained the truths I need to walk each day. Easter – the day we focus our hearts and minds on this one most profound reality – resurrection, redemption, overcoming, conquering, rising up. In every way, I pray for this to be true in my days with Allistaire and as we dwell in this place and this reality. I pray for the conquering of sickness and death through the redemption of Allistaire’s blood. I pray for the conquering of sin and death in my own life as I take hold of the redemption Christ has provided me through His blood.