It was quite the day.
4:30 a.m. and I was already in front of the mirror, taming the wild mane of clean hair. I’d gone to bed with it wet to gain sleep time.
I’m not a morning person.
Packed my bag for the hospital stay. Put on my favorite shirt for the interview.
Hubby and I bundled our sixteen-year-old “baby” in the car, dreading the pain he would soon endure.
It’s our fourth hip surgery. Experience is helpful in these situations. It also makes you realistic about things like how much pain there is and how demanding the next few weeks are, how long the months to recovery will be.
At the hospital they take us through the paces. The doctor talks through options of what he might do depending on what he sees once he’s inside.
The anesthesiologist discusses options, too. We ask for the anti-nausea patch. Opt for a spinal over an epidural. Last time Sam hated the tingling in his feet.
One last kiss. My child is whisked away. Parents ushered away, too. We’re sent to wait.
I linger only a moment before a brisk walk to the van. My interview is on the other side of the big city. If traffic cooperates I can be there and back before while my son is still in surgery.
It’s 7:30 now, and I long for the coffee I feared would upset my system three hours before. But the traffic is heavy, and a Starbucks’ line seems unwise.
It’s stop and go, this tedious drive that used to take half the time before my city grew. Close to my destination I realize I will be late.
I’m interviewing for a demanding experience in a third world country. “How do you hand stress?” They ask.
I’m calm. So calm.
Stress. The files click in my mind. Stress was those seven years. When my husband almost died. When they almost took our home. When all four children faced sickness, surgeries, undiagnosed illness, broken bones, struggles academic, physical, emotional, spiritual.
When dreams crashed, and I fought for breath every day. Digging deep. Carrying on.
Stress was two years past the seven. When two car accidents stole my stalwart reserves, messing with my head, my emotions, causing headaches, pain in my neck and back, sensations still undiagnosed. Making me afraid to drive. Afraid to live, really.
But today is 2014. Not 2012 or the years before.
“I don’t know. I haven’t had much stress lately.”
If they are incredulous they don’t show it.
They know my son is in surgery. They’ve been praying for our family. They know I drove through rush hour traffic to get to them.
I talk about the hard stress years. How I had to be strong. How the car accidents stole my strength.
I’m in the van before I realize the absurdity of my answer. How this day. THIS day of surgery, little sleep, traffic, and interview I say I am not stressed.
I shake my head. They must think me delusional.
Or in denial at least.
I laugh at me. Did they do the same when I left the room?
Today is stress. Even more than normal stress.
But maybe I’m not so stressed I don’t know stress. Maybe I’m not in denial.
It’s a matter of contrast.
Those years, those nine years of unrelenting stress . . . did they teach me something? Show me we can endure more than I knew?
I’m deeper now. God is more established in me. Oh HE was always right there, but I know Him more. His faithfulness. His provision.
His ability to receive my pounding fists when I hate the things He allowed.
I trust Him more. He has earned that trust.
My friend says I’m happier this summer. Is it due to the reduced stress or the increased understanding of life, God, strength?
My stress this surgery day is real, even if I didn’t articulate it in the interview. But it is not crushing real.
Some things are understood in the comparison.
Some things are understood in the perspective of a life lived.
And in this we have survived. Blossomed even.
Until next time,