These last several months have been tough and I have noticed that there are times when I seem to be shutting down. In the six and a half years of Virginia's life, I have been tired and overwhelmed, but in general I have been able to meet her needs on a daily basis.
I started noticing a subtle change in my ability to respond to some of her needs about six months ago. I had taken her to the dentist because of the pain she was having in her jaw. The dentist looked at her teeth and said that she needed major tooth work- I think "full mouth dental rehab" was her terminology. (The lack of oxygen at birth even wiped out the enamel on Virginia's baby teeth, so she until her adult teeth come in, she will have lots of tooth issues.) The dentist said Virginia would have to be put to sleep for this procedure and that we needed to schedule it for as soon as possible.
"I can't," I said, not believing the two words that had just come out of mouth. "She has had enough. I have had enough. And we just cannot handle one more thing right now, thank you very much!" We left without scheduling her surgery and I told her I'd call when I could handle it.
Virginia had multiple cavities and I had no idea if they were causing her pain. But it was three weeks before I could muster the strength to call the doctor and set up her surgery. "What's wrong with you?" I asked myself. "This is not a big deal. Just make the call. Get it over with." But I couldn't. I was tired and I had had enough of watching Virginia suffer.
Lately I find myself checking out mentally if Virginia is crying. I used to run into her room, scoop her up and try to soothe her. But I am tired. As hard as it is for me to admit this (and I mean really hard) there are times when I can't tend to her like I need to. Since I can't fix her suffering, I want to walk away from it. But I need to remember that I don't have to do it alone.
It isn't that I have changed over the last few months. I haven't. I am just as sympathetic toward Virginia as I have always been. I am just worn out. But when I am the weakest, I am able to see God's tremendous strength. The Holy Spirit comes along beside me and enables me to fulfill my earthly duties with supernatural graces. In those rough patches, God always gives me hope for tomorrow.
The sun has started to come up again for us in the last few weeks. Since I wrote the post on prayer requests, Virginia has started sleeping better, her cough is finally gone, her jaw is getting stuck a lot less, and I heard yesterday that Tobii is bringing the eye gaze system for her to try the second week of June. (It pays to have a squeaky wheel for a mother.)
I have found that my responsiveness, my ability to engage when Virginia is in a hard place, has returned. My energy has been restored and God has given me the strength I need to care for her today and the hope I need to face what will come tomorrow.
Hope can be found in several consecutive nights of sleep or in a five course dinner brought unexpectedly by a very busy friend. It can be found in the new medicine that is helping with her jaw and in the encouraging email I got yesterday. Today, Hope is taking the form of a visit from my little sister. Just when I am ready to throw in the towel, He reminds me that I am never alone in this battle.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9