Sometimes I dream about what Virginia's life would be like if she didn't have cerebral palsy. I imagine her talking, running, and playing. I wonder what it would feel like to her to be able to roll down the hill in our front yard with Wills- or just to be able to roll over and go to sleep.
Invariably, my thoughts turn to myself. What would it be like to sleep through the night on a regular basis? What if I didn't have to spend all of my time feeding and caring for Virginia?
When Findley and I were on our trip, there were two families there with three children essentially the same ages as ours. It hurt to watch the seven-year-old little girl as she swam in the ocean and played in the sand.
Wow. Virginia's life is so hard, I always think in such situations. Look how carefree life is for that little girl. Look how easy that family's life is.
We had a great time on our trip. We went to the same place we went on our honeymoon, so it was natural to compare our current situation to our life as newlyweds, almost ten years ago. If you had asked me then what I wanted for our life, I wouldn't have come right out and used the adjective 'easy', but that's ultimately what I had in mind. Healthy children, lots of time to spend with friends and family, and plenty of money to do all the things we wanted. Maybe I wouldn't have been quite that shallow, but I am pretty sure that is the gist of what I was expecting.
A life with no strings attached.
Last Tuesday Findley and I made a last minute decision to take the kids to Highlands, North Carolina, for the Fourth of July weekend. It was predicted to be over 100 degrees every day in Birmingham- that was reason enough for us to head for the mountains.
I spent Wednesday and Thursday cooking, pureeing, and freezing all of Virginia's food for the trip. We were exhausted on Friday morning because Virginia had been awake since midnight, but I figured she would sleep in the car. We strapped her wheelchair in place and hit the road.
Virginia fell asleep after about thirty minutes, but then Eliza let out a little yell and startled her. She went straight into a seizure.
Findley pulled the car over on the side of the interstate and I just held her in the passenger seat. Her lips got a little blue at times, but she never quit breathing. It lasted about four minutes.
When it was over, we turned around and headed home, not wanting to be stuck in Atlanta traffic or in the middle of nowhere North Carolina if Virginia had a cluster of seizures like she did a few months ago.
The truth is that there are many strings attached to Virginia's life. She struggles with the basics- breathing, eating and sleeping- not to mention all the added extras that give flavor to life. I long for her to be able to communicate with her friends or chase her brother around the yard. I can't imagine what it would be like if we could just take our family to Davenport's Pizza to meet friends like everyone else.
But what I couldn't have known on our honeymoon is that there is meaning to suffering. If we seek God in the midst of it, it is not fruitless. There is depth and beauty in our lives that would not be there if it weren't for Virginia's injury. Don't misread that- any one of us would lay our life down in a second if it meant she could be healed. I would never choose this for my baby. But in the midst of tremendous pain, I have seen God in ways I never imagined possible.
All the strings of Virginia's suffering keep us tethered to the Truth in ways I am only beginning to understand.
There are still times when I long for 'the easy life.' I crave the ability to take all three of my kids to the park by myself and watch them play.
I long to be doing something different and exciting with my time, not sitting down for the fifth, forty-minute feeding of the day. But if I listen to the Holy Spirit and not to the world, what could be more beautiful than serving the Lord through serving my child? Perhaps all of these strings keep me exactly where He wants me to be.
We have done absolutely nothing this weekend. Virginia has been recuperating and we have been trying to make her happy. I put the kids in their July 4th clothes today to take a picture. Just figured I would confess that they didn't really wear them anywhere. Wills told me on Friday night that he wished he could have the seizures, not Virginia. Then he said he wanted God to look in the future and take all of Sissy's seizures and dump them into a bucket of water and pour them down the toilet.
I went to rest on the couch yesterday afternoon by myself. That lasted about thirty seconds.
Wills had a dance party with Virginia in the living room. He took her in there all by himself while I was in the shower. Yes, I let my five year old watch my twenty-two month old.
Wills actually watches Eliza better than I do. I couldn't find her on Saturday night and she was on top of the couch.
While we were on our trip, a tree fell in the yard. It has been there for almost three weeks now, but they finally started removing it today. Our poor neighbors. Right now in our yard, there is a huge, dead tree, an overgrown garden with corn (I don't think you can have corn in the city- oops), a crushed trampoline, and a gigantic tent. (more on the tent later).
Findley's garden has done really well. I get none of the credit, but we have tons of squash, tomatoes, okra, and peppers.
Happy Fourth of July to everyone! God Bless You!!