Monday, August 28, 2006

Ours Is No Caravan of Despair

For the the September UU Blog Carnival, Rev. Sean asked for submissions to the question:

“What gets you through the hard night?” More specifically, what is it in our faith tradition, that brings you the strength and/or comfort you need to face difficult times? Are there theological concepts, specific words, hymns, practices that sustain you in trying times?"

Hard night?

The night of January 18th found my husband and I in a hospital room with our 7 month old baby daughter.

That morning, she and I had gone to playgroup at our UU church, and from there, an appointment with the pediatrician for a strange lump on one side. Perhaps it was just gas, I had thought.

After that was, as they say, a blur. Bits and pieces come into focus: creeping along the freeway during rush hour, trying to get her to the Children’s Hospital. A doctor here, an intern there, words like “mass” and “Wilms’ Tumor.”

And cancer. Cancer, with a capital C.

It was late, that night, when we got to our room. She had not been formally diagnosed yet, but when the elevator doors opened, there it was, in black and white. “Pediatric Oncology Floor.”

I didn’t want to let her out of my arms, and I slowly danced with her, careful of the iv in her little hand. One song kept repeating itself in my mind:

Come, come whoever you are
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving
Ours is no caravan of despair
Come, yet again, come.

Ours is no caravan of despair, I kept reminding myself. No caravan of despair. Ours is no caravan of despair.

The blur continued over the next 7 months. Chemotherapy. Being told the tumors had had “minimal response” to the chemo. Surgery, where they removed a grapefruit-sized tumor and 1/3 of one kidney and an orange-sized tumor and ½ of the other kidney.

The night of the surgery, her father and I bent over our daughter’s crib in the ICU. It was loud and cramped. Even with sedation, she slept fitfully. We began singing low,
Come, come, whoever you are
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving
Ours is no caravan of despair
Come, yet again, come.

She is off-treatment now and we pray that “it is all over.” We hope to begin our new normal.

We are Unitarian Universalists. Our religion is one of hope. When one person has despair creeping in, may we always be there to offer another view. On one of my nights of quiet despair, a fellow UU blogger reminded me that “Weeping may endureth for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” And at another low moment, a friend who had lost her son to leukemia told me, “You will live through this.”

Ours is no caravan of despair.

Come. Yet again, come.


heartward said...

Thank you Lizard Eater. That song has companioned me through dark times as well. Many blessings and much hope.

Joie DeVivre said...

I havent caught up on your blog for a while, so am really pleased to see LW doing so well (with the loo roll holder no less!) and your fab celebration of the normal. Particularly moved by this post and your strength. Your song reminds me of a great maori saying I saw the other day in my stop smoking booklet:

He iti hau marangai e tu te pahokahoka.

A little storm, and then a rainbow appears.