April 6, 2012

In Search of New Life

Early on a Good Friday morning, I was scheduled for surgery. It wasn’t routine. This was a re-excision, which meant they were opening up the already healing wound to make sure they got all the cancer. I was devastated. I was healing well and had been through the first surgery only weeks before. But I didn’t have “clean margins” meaning the edges of the tissue removed from my breast were not clear of those nasty little cancer cells. And they had to go back in to make sure they got them all.

Undergoing the first surgery was terrifying, but this second procedure traumatized me. Right from the start, my husband wasn’t allowed into the surgery preparation area for my support. The IV ached in wrist. They gave me nothing for anxiety though I couldn’t stop crying. I had to walk to the operating room toting my own IV stand, and drag myself up onto the narrow, cold table to be strapped down. 

The anesthesia didn’t work! First I had to tell them "Hey, I'm still awake under here!" and they gave me a little bit more anesthesia. Then I woke up in the middle of the procedure and felt my surgeon tugging and pulling as he stitched me back together. And yes, I felt the needle. Finally, there were no “amnesic” effects of the anesthesia, either. I remember everything, and believe me, it was a trauma. Along with the anesthesia drugs in my body, the pain meds they gave me plunged me even deeper into my darkness.

My family in the busy waiting room thought I would be ecstatic that the procedure was over. As they wheeled me out in a wheelchair, I felt a dark thundercloud over my head. No one knew of the autrocities I had just experienced. That was my Good Friday.

I came home to my bed to heal, just as I had for the previous surgery and another one only a few months before. I was beaten down, bruised, and my spirit longed for peace. I chose sleep.
My darkness continued on Saturday, as I lay in my tomb. Dead to life and dead to the world, I shut myself off from the lively activities of my family in the rest of the house. The drugs still lingered in my blood, and my inactivity did nothing to release them. I tried to eat. The day lingered on. Then night, and more rest.

Easter Sunday dawned brightly. The sun shone and birds sang and I crawled out of my darkness, out of my tomb of self-pity and found new strength. I perched on the window seat and watched my grown sons search for their Easter baskets along with their little brother. I laughed at their struggles to locate them, and felt new life course through my body once again.

I felt filled with love and life. I was alive! The sun shone warmly on my back and my heart warmed with my love for my family. I had made it through! The darkness lifted and though I was weak, I felt my purpose and the promise of the joy life brings.

We all live our own resurrection stories. Stories of new life and new growth and new opportunities to grow into the persons we are meant to become. Not every rebirth involves such intense physical components as I experienced, but most of the time the change comes from deep within us and the rebirth is painful in its own way. 

Three years have passed since that Good Friday. The physical and emotional scars are well-healed. My walk with God is closer than I ever knew it could be, and I have learned to trust Him for my every need.

I’ve experienced many smaller rebirths throughout this time, knowing God is leading me ever higher up the mountain on hind’s feet. He walks beside me and has gone before me. The way is clear.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

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