It was the first Sunday of Advent when we sang this hymn in church. It was vaguely familiar. “Awake! Awake and Greet the New Morn.” The lyrics go like this…
Awake! awake, and greet the new morn, for angels herald its dawning. Sing out your joy, for soon he is born, behold! the Child of our longing. Come as a baby weak and poor, to bring all hearts together, he opens wide the heavâ€™nly door and lives now inside us for ever.
To us, to all in sorrow and fear, Emmanuel comes asinging, his humble song is quiet and near, yet fills the earth with its ringing; music to heal the broken soul and hymns of loving kindness, the thunder of his anthems roll to shatter all hatred and blindness.
In darkest night his coming shall be, when all the world is despairing, as morning light so quiet and free, so warm and gentle and caring. Then shall the mute break forth in song, the lame shall leap in wonder, the weak be raised above the strong, and weapons be broken asunder.
Rejoice, rejoice, take heart in the night, though dark the winter and cheerless, the rising sun shall crown you with light, be strong and loving and fearless. Love be our song and love our prayer and love our endless story, may God fill evâ€™ry day we share and bring us at last into glory.
We couldn’t have been far into the second first when the tears started leaking from my eyes. Later in the service came a sermon that got me scrambling for tissues a second time. By the end of the service, I was well out of tissues and Zoe was giving me sidelong glances. I was comforted that the woman in the pew ahead of us was wiping her eyes too.
Though I have a genetic predisposition to cry in church, it is hard for me to explain crying in church to Zoe (Mark has gotten used to it by now). To let her know that they are not sad tears or necessarily even happy tears. They are tears of recognition. They are, somehow, worshipful tears. Tears of welcome to a God who has shown up and held my heart yet again.
We have sung it each Sunday since, so the lyrics have cemented themselves more firmly in my brain. I find them coming to me when I drift to sleep or when I wake up. “Though dark be the winter and cheerless”–could the author possibly have lived in West Michigan? I remind myself to be “strong and loving and fearless.”
I am looking forward to singing this song on Christmas. I expect I may even cry. Welled up gratitude spilling over for tidings of comfort and joy coming to us even today.
As Mark and I ate dinner tonight while Zoe rested on the couch, we remembered that we had been invited to two Christmas parties tonight. It made us giggle thinking that we could show up, me with my lung drain, Birdie iffy on the house-training, and now Zoe diagnosed with pneumonia this afternoon. Mark thought we could walk in the door and say, “here is our hot mess!”
So this is how we are finishing up 2011, just as we began it. Zoe with pneumonia. My family is all in town and they are taking very good care of us. We are so grateful.
What also makes me thankful, however, is how many doors we really could walk in and say “Here is our hot mess!” and how many of you would welcome us in. Even if you were hosting a party. (And we hope the two we are missing are a blast tonight!) That’s just how wonderful all of you are.
I woke up Sunday morning with the same cough I had on Friday. Thinking that I certainly couldn’t have filled up with fluid again that quickly, I took a Benedryl to try to stop post-nasal drip. The rest of the day was OK, though I get a little loopy on Benedryl. This morning, though, I woke again with the awful cough. It’s the kind of please-put-that-person-out-of-their-misery cough that is awful to listen to and leads to terribly sore core muscles.
First, Mark told me that I probably attributed too much to post-nasal drip. OK, point taken. I was ready to just call for another drain of my lung, but then Mark reminded me that I am not a health care professional and I probably should get some medical advice first. OK, another good point. So, I called my nurse and the wheels of the cancer center were set in motion. I started with an x-ray and ended with a temporary drain installed in my back.
Basically, today’s lung x-ray showed that fluid had built up again. Dr. Campbell thought that rather than having it drained, I should have a drain put in so that it doesn’t keep building up. After it has stopped producing fluid, I may have a pleuradesis (sp?) in which the lining and the lung are stuck together. When I heard I would have a lung drain, I asked if they could do it today. Not only did it get done today, but my favorite interventional radiologist did the procedure. (Who doesn’t have a favorite interventional radiologist?) This was an answer to a few silent prayers offered up while waiting for x-ray results, scheduling, etc.
The procedure went well. My amazing parents tag-teamed time at the cancer center and hospital. And now I sit here at home with a drain coming from my back tonight, but with not one cough. The drain feels bulky and odd, but it’s a huge improvement over the coughing. I’m hoping and praying that the drain does what it needs to do and that I can feel good over the holidays with my family.
Pleural fluid, though annoying, doesn’t necessarily mean that the cancer is growing. I am reminding myself of that tonight and taking things one step at a time. My first step will be seeing my sister and her family in the morning–yahoo!!
I haven’t posted in a good long time. To those of you who still check this cyber-space, thank you. And sorry.
Things have been up and down the last few months. We’ve been figuring out the side effects of different drug combinations, doing a bit of guessing, a bit of research, and finally getting bailed out by my fabulous doctor Uncle George. On the up-side, we learned in November that my tumor marker numbers were down. Lovely!
This month has finally seen the plateau of side effects. Yesterday, I had my lung drained of 1.4 liters of fluid and by the afternoon I was literally and figuratively breathing easy. We’ll get another tumor marker count in early January.
In November we also added a puppy to our family. She is a black goldendooodle named Birdie and when she isn’t trying to chew our hands and socks, she is capturing our hearts. Here she is the night she came home. Since then she has doubled in size. She is a wonderful distraction from health issues and Zoe already loves her dearly. It’s good to have a dog in the house again.
Thank you for reading this blog. For praying for us. For continuing to ask after my health after all these years.