My hands are stained red tonight and I’m reminded I still have life. Red, because after learning some devastating news this afternoon, we went to pick strawberries. Fresh, beautiful strawberries mostly picked by two boys filled with with excitement and joy as they tried to compete to see who could fill their bucket the fastest. Red, because after they were in bed, I took on the task of cleaning and hulling every last one. Cleaning and hulling as my thoughts were running and my head was spinning.
Today, unannounced, a nurse showed up at my door. Tasked by my doctor to do some assessmemts for wrapping my lipedema legs and other things to help my condition not progress to a point that the lymphedema kills me. Except she took one look at me and decided right there she couldn’t do it. I heard the usual things like how did this get so bad, your legs are so large they’re too big for this kind of treatment. Except this was my last hope. This was the final straw that I was grasping, desperate to not let go.
Letting go brings mixed emotions. Leaving behind a world where sins are celebrated and my God is laughed at makes me excited to be in a place where there is no sin and my God is celebrated for the King that He is. But letting go, leaving behind this world also means leaving people I love. My husband, a man who works hard to provide for his family. A man who handles our crazy life with grace and confidence and love. How can I let go and leave behind my partner, confidante and best friend? My sons – for all the love they throw around like confetti to everyone they meet who dares to look past the autism and allow themselves to see who they truly are. My sons, who bring me laughter in every day. My sons, who desperately need me no matter how much they think they don’t. How can I let go and leave behind these precious souls that God has given me? My parents, who have been with me every complicated and confusing step of the way. My parents, who have lived me before I was born and who provide in ways I can’t even describe even still. My mother, who weeps for me even though she’s not an overly sentimental person, because the thought of losing me weighs heavy on her heart. Even more people come to mind. My sister, who loves me even though I was awful to her as a child. My brothers, who love me even though they don’t want to admit it. My best friend who is like a sister of my heart. And my church who are my family. How could I let go and leave behind such love?
Juicy, red strawberry juice runs through my hands as I hull strawberries that are very ripe. As I turn one over in my hands, I see dents and slightly mushy areas. I think to myself this strawberry has seen better days. It’s not suitable to be placed in a pot with the other beautiful berries. But I take a chance, and I pop the berry in my mouth. It is the sweetest, most delicious berry I have ever eaten. Even though it looked like trash. Even though it wasn’t how you’d imagine the most delicious berry would look. And I marvel at how I’m a lot like this berry. Because I’m beautiful and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m beautiful because Christ in me makes me that way, regardless of how dented and damaged my body might appear.
And that strawberry was all it took to soothe my weary and broken heart. Because even though the nurse thought she couldn’t do anything and she lessened my timeline, she offered a glimmer of hope in a second opinion. And even though it’s going to cost money I don’t have, and even though it’s going to be painful, and even though I might be away from my family for a time, I have a new straw to grasp. And I’m not going to let go.
I have seen things on this journey that I never thought I’d see. I’ve endured things I never thought I’d endure. But even though I’m told this is terminal, I serve a big God. A God who still reigns supreme even through the present day. A merciful God who loves and heals in His own time. It’s this God who I put my hope and trust in. It’s this God who works in my life and has brought relief from my pain. It’s this God who truly knows the number of my days. So I’ll trust He’ll make a way where there is no way, because I’ve seen Him do it and I know He can do it again. And I’ll hope for more time with those I love so desperately. And I’ll serve Him while I’m waiting for His plan to be revealed.
Even if that means hulling strawberries late into the evening. With these red stained hands I witness life left in me. And I’m going to fight to stay with everything I’ve got. I don’t think He’s finished with me yet.