Stories In My Pocket: Hope Compacted (Part 8)

For the back story, you can start here..

A month after we said goodbye to Rick, we found ourselves slouching uncomfortably again in emergency room chairs. I was far along enough to feel fat, but not enough that my belly alone could tell strangers the reason. My husband sat beside me, rocking and wincing, nearly shaking with inexplicable pain.

In med school, they tell you to look for the horse, not the zebra. Not to focus on the wild rare disease, but to look for the most common explanation. So he did as instructed, and discovered several horses that could quite easily trample him to death.

It took six eternal weeks of pain and paralysis, of ruling out diseases and tumors. Of wondering whether he'd ever regain the strength and range of motion to hold his firstborn. Of forcing food for the baby's sake, because worry had swallowed my appetite. Of leaving the house to cry, to shield him from the weight of my fearful, angry tears.

I had never witnessed such breakbone pain in the eyes of another. It clawed at me in even the sideways glances toward the father of my unborn child. And it broke me to the core.

Wavering-voiced, in shouts and whispers, I asked God how He could push my husband so far onto the crumbling ledge. How He could snatch his best friend and sideline his career and smack him with such misery. How He could offer no relief. I wondered where is the rest, the easy yoke? And where the hell are You?

I begged Him to show that He was good. And in the silence, I concluded He heard me and did not care.

When the diagnosis came in as a zebra, with a full recovery expected within a few years, I began again to taste food, to comb catalogs for nursery ideas, to look fully in his eyes. And I began again to pray, now from a distance, and only to say, "Please, no more."

Just days after the diagnosis, I wore a wrap around shirt that tied in back and told the waiting room crowd for certain I was going to be a mother. He studied the doppler, cradling his brace-clad arm, looking at me like this might be real. And in a brief moment, I saw suffering-gutted eyes fill their hollow with joy. A son. A foreign smile and familiar tear.

We stopped in at Becky's to tell her the news. The baby is healthy! It's a boy! And wouldn't it be great if he and Max are the best of friends, just like their Daddies were? We talked about the new diagnosis, the meds being tried and how nothing was really working. We were told it would take time--maybe years--but relief would come. It was as true for her as it was for us.

And as we sat with Becky and spoiled our dinner with guacamole, I shed a layer of blistered, worst-case worry somewhere on the kitchen floor. And at dinner when it was just us, dipping sweet rolls in herb butter and negotiating names, I felt a twinge of what I'd believed to be long and forever crushed. And when we scooted out from the booth--hope was there as if it had never left, firmer now from the compressions of pain and the clamps of fear.

Hope emerged solid and in spite of. Not light and floating loosely as it was the morning of our wedding day. But clustered closely and beating and fitting in the palm of my hand.

And around the hope I pressed my fingers, and did not let go.

Click here to continue reading Part 9.

Photo by Alizadeh100

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