Like a woman used to being beaten, my mouth moves mechanically to accept the news, to ask the questions of what are the next steps, when does chemo start. Whittling away, my surface gives way without putting up a fight. It yields and is also strangely impenetrable, the news falling to the ground – barely leaving evidence that it ever came into contact with my flesh.
As today wore on with no word and my mind plodded and sprinted toward the inevitable conclusion, I saw myself upon the shore of a river. I walked to the edge and watched as the current raced away from the place where I stood. Deliberately, I stepped foot into those icy waters and I continued out into the middle, only seeking to maintain footing until the moment when I was in the center and felt the tug, pulling against my legs and torso. Then I lay back and lifted my feet and knew I was being swept away. I gave myself over to that force. There was both terror and relief and odd calm. I knew not where the river would take me, but I relinquished myself to its directing. My eyes are hot and stinging with weighty pressure on my brow. Maybe it is easier to give yourself over to the Lord when you look around at your life and see that you have lost your grip on everything you sought to craft into the vision you’ve held in your mind’s eye. Perhaps the further you travel this road, the further you get from where you began, it begins to sink in that you are now simply too far away to ever return to that place. You realize that this journey is not simply an excursion from which you will return. No, you travel on, not knowing where you will settle but aware that it will not be in the home you left. Those bars by which you measured your life are now almost absurdly pointless for they employ an entirely different system of units. It is like having a bag stuffed with cash but arriving in a land where it’s value is not recognized and you realize it’s just paper. It is of little use in this strange country. There are heights and widths and depths you have never before known. The light holds colors for which you have no name.
I had held out hope that maybe we would be nearly done with this road and maybe we would be back home soon. Maybe, just maybe there would be nothing there and we could eventually settle back into our lovely little life at home – a life that has never looked so beautiful and precious. But this .06% is all it takes to force you on. There is part of me that is wide-eyed and desperate and whirling around, wondering how in the world I’m supposed to keep doing this. There is the savage sinking awareness that we just can’t shake this pursuer. It has bored deep into the core of our life – this faceless ravager whose poison infiltrates every part of our world. Nothing escapes its dark shadow.
It is odd though to feel such seeming opposing sensations. I feel beaten down, like a dog familiar with being kicked. My face is flat and I seek to escape to a place where I don’t feel. The losses have so amassed that I can no longer see their individual outlines. They pile up and my vision blurs. I see my small beloved painting of the big round hay bales in late afternoon light at the base of the Bridger foothills. I never got to see the fields turn green this year or all the happy bales of hay casting long shadows in the evening. I’ve missed six months of Solveig’s life. When she’s with me, she calls says, “grandma…I mean, mommy,” and it cuts and stings. When I look ahead at the road before us, the woes amass and merge and blur into deafening sorrow. I cave in utterly – there is little left for the blunt force to act upon. At the same time there is flat expanse, wide expanse that stretches itself into calm, into peace. There is odd rest in giving myself over to the Lord. I lay back upon the current and watch the sky pass overhead. I don’t know where the course of this river will take me. More and more, my life is not my own. It has been stripped away from me and I can longer fret over it. There is not even the slightest semblance of my being in control. As a social work major, I learned the ethics core to social work. One of these is “the right to self-determination.” Such a lovely idea until you realize it is a luxury. And there off to the side, in the periphery, is that still small voice of the Lord that proclaims that He is the one who determines the course of your life. You’d like to just forget you ever heard that voice. You’d like to keep your eyes straight ahead and drown out that sound with the notes of your choosing. I no longer have the luxury of that illusion and yet, its loss is odd gift. It is blessing that you sort of want to spit out of your mouth and one that you could never choose of your own accord. No. It had to be stripped from me. With force. With tearing. With violence. Because I was not going to loosen my grip. I had every intention of marching forward, my own directives clutched fiercely in my hand. But here I am – cast out into that sea of the Lord who knows no bounds. I am indeed, adrift in the Lord. He is above and below and surrounds me on all sides. And I am giving way to Him, with burning tears in my eyes, and I hate it and I despise it and I want to spit that .06% right out of my life with raging disgust, but He directs the current.
I am adrift in the expanse of my gracious Father. Lord have mercy. Father thank you that you made days – days that have limits, that will at last end. I lay down in exhaustion, but I will not forget Your first words to me when this all began. “Be expectant. Look for what I will do.” Weariness presses me flat, but, but…I wait for the Lord, for the dawn, for His mercies new every morning. I look expectantly for morning even as I close my eyes on this brutal day.
No Jai!! My heart aches for you and Sten. The brutality of news like that is unfathomable. I pray with you that you will wake up to receive new mercies in the morning. Lord have mercy…make your presence tangible!!
Oh, Jai… praying that you would continue to know His peace, His strength holding you up, His mercies and His promises to you. And thank you for sharing the outcome of today, even as you struggle to grasp it yourself.
Oh Jai 😦 I am so so sorry 😦 I have no words…tears…ugh….physically ill for you 😦 Praying for His perfect peace to surround you all as you rely and wait on Him. May He continue to hold you closely and may you feel His love and comfort upon you. Forever in my prayers, dear friend. Miss you. Love you.
I was so hoping the results were going to come back in your favor. We’re so sorry to see this news. Please know you are always in our thoughts and prayers.
Jai, I have no words, but you are on my heart and in my prayers. And I know God will continually carry you through this horrible time.
I’m sending unending prayers to all of you as you deal with uncertain days ahead. I petition our Heavenly Father to keep his arms wrapped tightly around you and you can feel His Love and Support. Hugs from Laurel, Montana
We walk with you, not with the intimacy in which you love, cherish, and know sweet, precious, dear, one of a kind Allistaire, but in the way God designed for the body of believers (even when spread across the seas), to bear one anothers burdens. I feel pain, the choking sobs that come to me as I read of this despised return, and I cannot imagine how it is for you in these moments. I am not the same for having walked through this behind you and your family, even through just reading your letters. We will continue to pray.
I read your posts, but have not yet commented until today. I want to thank you for sharing your painful journey with us. My heart is raw, bleeding for you. I know God is in control somehow, that He is using your difficult story for His glory and to touch and change lives. But in the here and now, I can honestly cry with you and shout out “WHO CARES ABOUT THAT?!” You are being lifted up by many….we love you and your family! May God carry you through.
I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but my heart bleeds with you. Your faith and your amazingly beautiful articulation of it in the midst of such extreme circumstances touches my soul deeply. I too am going through a dark valley of the shadow with my family, a trial that has taken me way out of my depth and passed any semblance of control. God is with you. Fear no evil. Trust the mystery to Him, just as you are doing. Prayers are going up for you and your family.
Jai: My heart was broken as I held you yesterday. On the way home, we were witness to a glorious sunset. I was thankful for it and reflected on the promise that Our Lord has promised to give us strength for the day – one day at a time. Our hope remains in Christ and Him alone. Love ya’. did
Jai & Sten,we continue to pray.
God have mercy, Lord have mercy, My heart goes out to you, I pray for the Lord to continue giving strength to you and your family, and may he always be with you holding your hand to a happy ending for this hard journey that you’re going through….. God Bless+++++
Some of my favorite lyrics in the traditional hymns most of us love are, ‘Lost in HIS love..’ These finish the final verse of BLESSED ASSURANCE.. As I read of your river, I applied these words to what you conveyed.. Steve Green has recorded a song that I think is simply called THE RIVER.. You may want to access it on youtube if it is there.. In the meantime, may it comfort you to know the first song on my media player as I sat to write to you, was GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS .. (morning by morning, new mercies I see!) .. It is no secret what God can do! Thank you for sharing your personal account of FOOTSTEPS.. (‘It was then I carried you…) Continuing to pray daily for our LORD to bless you and keep you as He makes his face shine upon you and give you HIS peace, for that’s what Jesus said.. “MY PEACE I LEAVE with you..not as the world gives, give I unto you..”(JOHN 14:27). Warmly, because HE LOVES US!, Sheila Dean of Bremerton BSF
Heartbreaking. I am so very sorry that are back in the valley. Praying for His comfort, the absolute assurance of His presence, for health and strength and endurance for your body, and, of course, continually praying for Allistaire’s healing.
He delights in His faithful followers, in those who wait for His loyal love.
Damn it!!! That’s all I have today.
May I just say, Ashley, I am looking forward to meeting you! Thanks for making me laugh 🙂
I hate cancer.
But the love expressed by family and friends is amazing.You are being upheld by God’s Spirit, by His angels, and by His saints…..
So sorry to hear that number-was praying for different results. Praying for all of you and the doctors too. Love all the pictures – keep posting them!!
Jai – I have been following your blog posts and am so encouraged by your heart to honor the Lord in this. Each time I check your page I pray specifically for your heart to be strengthened and your hope restored. I know we haven’t interacted much, but the few times we stood by each other in staff prayer were enough for me to know that you are an amazing woman.
I have read and re read this post and I am in Awe of your faith, and I am in tears for your pain. I am and will continue to Pray for Allistaire and your family.
Hugs and much Love from Kathy
Dear Jai, Sten, Allistaire, Solveig, and your families, You have been continually in my prayers even as I have been walking through “the valley of the shadow of death” for the past 4 weeks with my dear 93 year old friend who entered His presence a week ago. I am oh so tired and I know I have just experienced a small portion of what you are experiencing. Please know my love, thoughts and prayers will continue to be with you.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. -Psalm 27: 13-14
And I am confident, too. I love you, Jai. I love your heart and how you are wrestling and conveying yourself and conducting yourself in the presence of all these witnesses. Kisses to that sweet baby girl.
My dear Jai, tears fill my eyes as I hear the news…..I can only imagine. I know that we ourselves aren’t completely out of the woods and yet the feeling of guilt over something I have no control over floods my very heart. Your family is being upheld in prayer everyday by our entire family. I love to hear the precious prayers of my children as they pray for Allistaire to get better…for complete healing. We know and trust that God is sovereign over all and holds your precious little girl in His hands! You have a gift in writing and I appreciate your honest struggle! I feel it as I read it. Though our road has hit no huge bumps thus far, it is a struggle to watch your little girl (even at 17) face the reality of the horrid disease called cancer! I am so thankful God allowed us to cross paths at Children’s! If you EVER need anything, please know we are here and willing! Even as we prepare to head back to Bremerton..it’s only a ferry ride away!!!!!!!!!!! ❤
these are the times when all we can do is to hang on to God’s promises and place our pain and burdens at His feet. Thank you for your openness and willingness to share your pain with us.
Rev. 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
No.Words.To.Write… but prayers continuing. Groans for God’s love to enfold you.
Dear Jai , and Sten ,and Family,
Our prayers are with all of you . We met Sten and Solveig at family camp this last spring.I think of your family often and just wanted to let you know we wish you all the best , and your a wonderful family .God bless Jody Cobb and Family