Several years (and a battery of tests that nearly killed me) ago, I was diagnosed with a string of autonomic nervous system disorders. After months of attempting to regulate my heart rate and blood pressure with medications, which resulted in more near death experiences of allergic reactions and other side effects, my cardiologist recommended I, instead, learn to drink dry red wine. That is why there is a small wine rack in my bathroom. It holds a few empty wine bottles with labels for which I have an affection, and has some space beneath for hanging glasses. This is where the toasting glasses, the ones a dear friend had our names and wedding date etched onto, from our wedding have lived for the last couple of years. On the night of Jesse’s last scans, I walked into our bathroom, took off my “Hope” bracelet to place it on a jewelry rack that rests on the cabinet below the wine rack, bumping the structure as I did…and one of our glasses slipped forward off of the rack, crashing on top of the wine glass I actually use for my nightly few ounces, shattering both of them.
I stood, motionless at first, trying to reconcile the days events with what had just happened. I reached for the still-hanging glass and turned it to see Jesse’s name scrolled across. I exhaled in relief, then set to work cleaning up the tiny shards of memory. I cannot sensibly explain why I was relieved to find it was my glass fractured into a thousand tiny fragments. Trauma and grief have their own rules, written in a language known only to those whose souls speak the language of lament. But relieved, I was. Relieved, I still am.
I wrote a string of words years ago, back when brain cancer was new to me, and put them aside, knowing they were ahead of their time. I tucked them away somewhere safe and have yet to find them, though I’ve searched every day since June 22. I can only remember one line of them, but perhaps it will suffice for a moment such as this.
It is not good, but it is well.
It is well. It is well with my soul. Well that we have ceased treatments, knowing we have done all we can do. Well that Jesse will not likely live to see his 40th birthday or our 20th anniversary next year. Well that single parenting will be a part of my story. Well that our children will know the ache of being Fatherless. Well that I will know the pain of Widowhood. Well. It is well. Not because any of this is good, but because God is good.
It is not good, but it is well. It is SO WELL with my soul.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:7-18