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TRUST ME

I’m not sure when my night blindness got so bad that I became a danger to myself on the dark highway, but I distinctly remember driving home from Cedar Rapids with a much smaller Katie and Abby in the back seat a few years ago and realizing that I couldn’t discern the curves in the road. I slowed way down, gripped the steering wheel tighter, alternately opening wide and then squinting my eyes, desperately trying to “see” the road in front of me. Each time a car’s headlights approached, the problem became much worse, until I found myself weaving off the road a little, and, shaken, back onto the road. Carefully, oh so carefully, I drove home that night and confessed to my husband that I no longer felt safe on the road after dark. David must not have taken me seriously; after a trip to a Bettendorf book sale, he tired of driving and asked me to take over.

“Are you sure? It’s dark,” I protested, but he insisted I would be fine since we were near Dubuque,and the route was straight, and familiar.

There was just a little bit of snow on the ground, and the wind picked up, blowing snow over the white lines on the side of the road. My eyes seemed to be playing tricks on me, and once again, I found myself unable to discern the edge of the road, and I swerved onto the shoulder a bit, righting myself quickly. David, who had been dozing a little, sat straight up in the seat, alarmed.

“What’s happening? Why did you go off the road?”

“I can’t see the edge. I told you my night blindness has gotten much worse.”

As soon as I could pull over safely, David returned to the driver’s seat. From that point on, he took over the majority of the night driving. In fact, he took over most of the out-of-town driving, and I was fine with that arrangement. I will confess to you now; I have no sense of direction. I used to get lost going to garage sales in Cedar Falls, where we’d lived for most of the first ten years of our marriage. David was the opposite; wherever he was, he could tell you which direction was south. To this day, I am stumped by directions.

It got to a point that even those occasions I was confident in driving, David wanted to drive me.

“You don’t have to drive. I’ll be fine,” I’d assure him before a writing group or a workshop, but he’d insist that he wanted to drive, didn’t mind sitting at a coffee shop or library while I attended a meeting. Afterwards, we’d go out to lunch or shop together, making a “date day” out of one of my increasing obligations away from home. It wasn’t just concern for my driving; he truly enjoyed the time alone with me, even if half of it was spent on the road. We enjoyed those quiet moments of companionship. Sometimes I’d be clipping and organizing coupons, reading a book, or writing on a legal pad while he drove. Occasionally, I’d slip my arm around him and caress the back of his neck, knowing how much he loved that. Other times, I’d lay my hand on his leg above his knee and he’d flex the muscles in response.

I am glad for those moments in the car, and for the care David showed me. The night before his death, one year ago today, David worried about me driving alone to a workshop, and sent our son Matt to drive in his place.

Now I am driving alone everywhere. Sometimes, I will lay my hand on the empty seat next to me, and imagine David is there with me.

Whether it is the headlights of the new vehicle I bought last year, a vehicle David had uncharacteristically planned on purchasing for me before his death, or a miraculous healing of my night vision, I now drive alone at night without any problem.

Still, my faith in my newly-restored night vision was sorely tested last night as I drove in unfamiliar territory to a Decorah library. I’ve confessed that I am geographically challenged, so please do not judge me when I tell you I had only a vague idea where I was going when I typed the address into the GPS system my son had given me for Christmas. (a gift I cherish and give thanks for with each trip I make) As I made my way through twisting, winding roads, over small narrow bridges and roads that had no accommodating white lines on the side, my heart sank. “So this is where Decorah is in Iowa,” I spoke out loud in the empty vehicle, and then; “I am so not going to make it home in the dark.”

In the library parking lot, I frantically typed in addresses I knew in Dubuque and Waterloo, in the vain hope that heading into a familiar direction might take me to roads that did not twist and turn, roads that would be familiar. It seemed I would be adding an hour to my trip home if I took another direction, but at least the following hour would be on roads I knew. After my workshop, I sat in the vehicle, burning the waning daylight as I considered my options. Do I head in the unknown direction of Waterloo or Dubuque and hope that the roads would be less intimidating, adding nearly an hour to my driving time, or do I head back in the same direction I came and trust that I could navigate the twisting, turning roads in the dark?

When will you trust me in the big things?

I heard it clearly.

When will you trust me in the big things?

It is easy to trust God in the small things. I started up my vehicle and headed in the direction I had come.

We aren’t just talking about roads here, are we God? We are talking about Jacob.

You see, yesterday, before I left for the workshop, my daughter Elizabeth had called with the news that Mayo clinic doesn’t have any studies open for my grandson, Jacob’s cancer, and the only treatment options would not be curative, but given with the hope that they might slow down the growth of cancer, a chemotherapy drug Jacob has had previously, and one that he can get in Iowa City.

What direction to go? Back to Iowa City, with a doctor Elizabeth is not comfortable with, the doctor who gave them no hope? Or off to St. Jude’s hospital, where only a Phase I trial might be open, a trial that would only be testing what child dosage might be appropriate with a drug unknown to help with this cancer? Or somewhere else, with an altogether different approach?

“Have they thought about alternative treatments?” someone asked me yesterday, and I couldn’t help but cringe a little, memories of what if felt like when those kinds of questions were asked during David’s cancer treatment. Are you doing enough? Do you believe enough?

The simple answer is “Yes. Yes they have looked into alternative treatments.”

The more complex answer might be; “Yes, we know about the juice, the special tea, the stones, the treated water, the minerals, the antioxidant foods, the oxygen therapy, special diets, and the cancer centers in Texas, Mexico, Germany,and Arizona, some of which don’t deal with children’s cancers or cancers in children outside of brain cancer. Both Elizabeth and I have been researching alternative and complementary medicine and cancer centers, and some of the treatments make a lot of sense but aren’t available to children, some make enough sense to look into further, but with little scientific research and mostly just testimonies to back their claims up, and I’m sorry for any offense, but some suggestions have made NO SENSE at all. Our heads are spinning with contradicting information when time is of the essence because the cancer will continue to grow, and this is a child; a child, a beautiful little child! A CHILD WITH CANCER. A cancer that continues to grow despite standard treatment.

When will you trust me with the big things?

As I confidently drove through the darkness last night; through many twists and turns, over narrow  bridges, up hills and down through valleys, and around corners that had no white lines, I trusted God to get me home safely. My grip relaxed on the wheel, and in the quiet car, I thought about Jacob and his parents Elizabeth and Ben. Elizabeth’s due date is Thursday, what would have been her father’s birthday. In a panic this morning she called me. “What am I supposed to do now? Where should we go? I don’t want to delay his treatment but I don’t necessarily want to go to Iowa City, either. Maybe a different doctor, but I wasn’t happy with his treatment there. Should we go to Tennessee? Look for another hospital, another study? I don’t want a Phase I study, but that’s all that is open. What direction should we go?”

When will you trust me with the big things?

I am just as blind to the answers to Elizabeth’s frantic questions as I was to the familiar roads from Dubuque and Cedar Rapids with my night-blindness two years ago. I’ve spent most of the morning alternately doing research, then attempting to reassure my daughter on the telephone. I am my daughter’s GPS in this journey, and I fear sending her in the wrong direction.

Yet we have a higher GPS to consult, one that can guide us in this dark and fearsome journey. I can wildly google childhood cancer and Wilm’s tumor with fanaticism (and I freely admit to having done so this morning), and search for alternative therapies in a desperate and frantic attempt to navigate the twists and turns of this journey. Or, I can trust the way will be revealed, a way that may or may not heal this cancer, may or may not involve something outside of standard care.

“Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.”  Jeremiah 42:3

When will you trust me in the big things?

Lord, I trust you. Guide us.

Author:

Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Certified grief counselor and Senior Service librarian for the James Kennedy Public library. Popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing, couponing, utilizing your creativity in everyday life, and finding hope in grief. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published by Familius Publishing in 2014. "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" and "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace" were released by Familius in 2014. "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was published in September 2015. Grief journal to be released in 2018.

2 thoughts on “TRUST ME

  1. Father, God,
    We thank you for being the light on our pathway. Help Elizabeth and Mary and the family to rest in your arms for a moment, just taking time to breathe and thank you for your presence and your love for Jacob. Help them to find their GPS in you, even in the moments when the night seems darkest and the road seems most treacherous. Grant them your peace. In Jesus’ most precious name.
    Amen.

  2. Thanks for the reminder. I love the example of tandem bike. Many times in our life we ride along confidently know the God is right there behind us encouraging us giving us a nudge now and then, but really what we need to do is trust Him enough to let Him take the front seat, the steering wheel. Then our job is trust and to pedal with strength. Mat you, Jacob, and Elizabeth be well and have the strength you need. As you full well know we don’t know what God has in store for us, but we do know that he knows us search one and loves us and will give us all things we need and will not ask anything of us that we can not do.

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