Of Loss and Pain

My almost four year old little girl asks me if she is holding my good arm or my bad arm.
She has learned to look at my chest where it's flat to check the answer to this question. 
She draws with her finger on top of my shirt the scar she knows is beneath iand says "This arm, the one with the line."
I tell her I will be getting a new line on the other side pretty soon. 
She jumps and says "Will you have two bad arms?"
"No, baby. The other arm will be fine."

Sleep time is the worst time of the day for me. The lymphedema in my arm limits my sleeping positions making it almost impossible to find a comfortable position. The neuropathy in my legs product of the aggressive chemo is also more present in bed. Most nights I sleep in one of the girls' cribs to make sure they don't wake up their dad. I don't mind the ache from sleeping in the confinement of such small space because the pain is the same anyway. Pain wakes me up at least twice and most of the time more each night.

This week I've bathed 3 to 5 times daily seeking desperately for the soothing release from the hot water on my body. I've been short-tempered due to all the pain and discomfort, and I am specially impatient with my girls. I can see clearly how their misbehavior is a cry for attention, my attention, and I haven't given it to them. People look at me and see how well I am doing. They don't realize I'm not the same. I'm just a remnant of my former self. I need to mourn my old self and learn to accept this new self. It is sometimes discouraging when the thought that all this loss could have been for nothing creeps into my mind. 

Chemo sent me into early menopause, so I've been experiencing hot flashes for the past month. At least it won't be something new after they remove my ovaries and uterus. Menopause sucks big time. The hot flashes makes me want to rip my skin off. It comes accompanied by an immediate migrane that makes me want to throw up. I told my mom she'll come to me for menopause advice and for the first time I'll tell her: "You'll understand me when you get it." I would recover ovarian function in two years, but I'll be taking my ovaries out January 5th. 

I don't want this post to be about complaining. Life is a little more normal and easygoing than it has been the rest of the year. It just hurts people only get to see my strong face and not know of the brokenness beneath. 

I loved how David could bear his brokenness to God.

Psalm 22:1-6, 9-11, 14-15, 17, 19, 22-24, 26-27 
My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far from delivering me— from my groaning words? My God, I cry out to you throughout the day, but you do not answer; and throughout the night, but I have no rest. You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Our ancestors trusted in you; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried out to you and escaped; they trusted in you and were not put to shame. But as for me, I am only a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by people. Yet, you are the one who took me from the womb, and kept me safe on my mother’s breasts. I was dependent on you from birth; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Do not be so distant from me, for trouble is at hand; indeed, there is no deliverer. I am poured out like water; all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me. My strength is dried up like broken pottery; my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth, and you have brought me down to the dust of death. I can count all my bones. They look at me; they stare at me. But as for you, Lord, do not be far away from me; My Strength, come quickly to help me. I will declare your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation, I will praise you, saying, “All who fear the Lord, praise him! For he does not despise nor detest the afflicted person; he does not hide his face from him, but he hears him when he cries out to him.” The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him, “May you live forever!” All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord; all the families of the nations will bow in submission to the Lord. 

Don't hide your brokenness or deny it before God and others. There is beauty in sharing our brokenness, companionship in knowing we are not alone. This is not how I feel about my life or my main daily thoughts, but they are part of my life. They are part of my talks with the girls. They are part of my daily struggles. They are a part of God's will in my daily walk. They are a new part of me: the loss of my body parts, the loss of my fertility, the loss of the ability to breastfeed and procreate, the loss of the capacity to extend my family, the loss of dreams and hopes, the loss of the promise of tomorrow (none of us really have but live as we do), the loss of a good night sleep, the loss of my youth (chemo aged my body ten years or more). 

So what is the purpose at looking at all the pain and loss? For one, it shows you how much you use to take for granted and how much you've always had to be grateful for. It shows you how much your are capable to endure and the beauty of being alive many don't appreciate. It shows you the preciousness of God telling you His mercies are new each day and how now you are able to see those mercies more clearly. It gives you the opportunity to truly test your faith and know if you and your family will praise God come what may, the opportunity to know joy when faced with many trials most don't understand, the opportunity to experience true peace when you trust in God wholeheartedly, the opportunity to be refined by fire and come out stronger and shinier with a mind for the eternal, the opportunity to see and  know who will really be there for you and truly love you, the opportunity to find love in the least expected people and even strangers, the opportunity to touch other lives and leave a legacy. 

Loss is hard. I hope I didn't sugarcoat that. Don't come to a person in pain and tell him not to feel this or that way. Acknowledge pain and be willing to cry with them. That is the best thing you can do: cry and just be there, with no words of what to do. Only those in pain really know and can advice one another. Those who don't know pain usually come with platitudes that do more harm than help: "Don't cry, trust God." "This too shall pass." "You are not going to die because God is able." "Don't let pain defeat you." "If you stop thinking about the pain, you'll feel better." "The Lord is in control." Goodness, they might be true, but don't help one bit and actually annoy the person hurting. Talking of loss is good. It gives the one losing an outlet, and the one beside an idea of what is going on. The only thing you should say is "I'm sorry", "I'm here for you" (and actually being there), and "I love you." 

If hurting was a sin Jesus would not have felt afflicted before being crucified. 
If talking of affliction was wrong David would have not written that Psalm. 
Don't let anyone deny you your pain; God doesn't. 
Don't feel alone in loss or make anyone feel alone for being in pain. 
Remember the end of that pain, like the psalmist did, is to praise God. 

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