The Family

The Family
For Christmas 2010

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Anger is a vile and dangerous beast.  It is an evil and deadly monster.  It doesn't care for you, but rather wants to destroy you.  Anger is a sneaky and tricky poison.  It lies to your body and mind and makes them think that being angry feels good and that it is something desirable.  And it does this while feasting upon the very goodness in your very soul.

And it was my constant companion.  It went with me wherever I went.  It burned inside me like a raging inferno.  And it made me believe that we were friends.

The truth of the matter is that I was fed up with everything.  I was fed up with Nathan being sick all the time.  I was fed up with being at the hospital what seemed like all the time.  I was fed up worrying how I was going to provide for our family.  I was fed up not having any friends around.  I was fed up that it felt like no one really, really cared about us.  But mostly, I was fed up trying to have faith and have hope that a happy time would come to what felt like was a never-ending bad dream.

I was just tired of everything.  And the anger gave me something to look forward to every day.  If I couldn't be happy every day, I could be angry every day.  If I couldn't have hope every day, I could be angry every day.  Anger, it seemed, was a suitable substitute for just about every emotion.

But I don't really like being angry.  It's not me.  But I couldn't find any other emotion.  Just anger.  It was all over inside me.  And it was wearing me out.  It was beating me.  It was destroying my soul.  And if it wasn't for my wife and my son and the support of a couple of close friends at work, I likely would have given myself up to anger and let it destroy me.

But every night I would come home from work and I would see my boy and how happy he was.  Despite all the crap that he had been through and despite how sick he was all the time, he still found some way to be happy.

Honestly, sometimes it seemed like the only two things that Nathan really knew how to do were to be sick and to be happy.  He was such a great example to his dad.

In the beginning of my anger, I wanted Bekah to be just as angry as I was.  But she wasn't.  She couldn't be.  She saw what it was doing to me and she knew that she had to be better.  And I'm glad she was.

Every night when we would go to bed, she would snuggle in close to me and in a very soft voice say to me "Do you know I love you?"  I would sigh and reply that I did.  Then she would always say "Do you know that Nathan loves you too?"  And I would nod and say yes.

I had the love of the two best people in the world: my wife and my boy.  Which made being angry so very, very hard.  So I knew that for their sakes, for my sake, for all of us, I had to do something to get rid of the anger.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Complaining, Part 4

 The battles that you fight within yourself are often times some of the worst.  And I was having quite a knock-down, drag-out one within myself.

I was having an incredibly intense struggle trying to make sense of everything that was going on.  Fighting both the sadness and heartache that was resulting from feeling that either God wasn't listening to my prayers or that I wasn't being earnest or fervent enough as I prayed as well as the anger from their lack of being answered.

Some days I felt that I was being overcome by despair.  Other days I felt like I was getting a handle on my anger.  And then it happened.

At church services one Sunday, we were all informed that our congregation's leader had been hit by a car while he was out riding his bicycle one evening during the week and was unable to attend services that day.  Thankfully, he was OK.  Apparently he was injured quite badly, but the way it was brought to our attention, it seemed like nothing more than a few scrapes, scratches, and bruises and a lot of soreness.  And despite the animosity I felt towards him, I was glad he was OK.  We would never wish anything bad to come upon him, despite the lack of support we felt.

The following Sunday, he was able to return to church and recounted a little of his accident to the congregation.  When he got to the part about how wonderful it was to have such great men that help him at church show up at the hospital to check on him and offer him support and comfort and a blessing, I honestly almost lost it right there in church.  The anger that I had been battling for so many weeks and months finally consumed me.  I felt like a volcano at the point of eruption.

I again thought of all the time Nathan had spent in the hospital and how none of them had ever come to see him.  How we had never had such support and comfort.  How we had asked him so many months before, when Nathan was going to have the very dangerous and scary procedure to fix the hole in his heart, to come up to the hospital to help give Nathan a blessing.  And how he was too busy.  And then when Nathan came, literally, within a few millimeters of dying that day.  And he still didn't bother to take the time to come to the hospital.

And I thought of the other times Nathan had come so close to dying.  And still nothing.  All the time we had spent at the hospital.  All the surgeries.  All the time traveling between home and the hospital.  All the fears.  All the worries.  All the.....everything.  And at the same time all the nothing.  No hospital visits.  No visits to our home.  No calls to stop by his office for a chat.  Only an occasional brief handshake and a 20-second "How's Nathan doing?" in passing as he was being mobbed by other members of the congregation as they paid their tithes and offerings.

And yet for some reason, up to this point I was still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  I still believed, or at least I wanted to believe, that he would at some point do SOMETHING!  But now those hopes were gone.  Now I expected nothing from him.  Now I didn't even want to look at him.  Didn't even want to go near him. 

And as for my internal battle, Anger had just taken a commanding lead.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Complaining, Part 3

It's been really hard trying to figure out how to start this post.  I know what I want to say, but putting it all together has been rather hard.  That being said, here goes...

We believe in a very real God.  We believe he is an actual being, not just the Supreme Creator and Absolute Ruler, out there governing universe upon universe, but also our Eternal Father in Heaven, who cares about, loves, and has concern for each one of us.

If we pray, He listens.  If we cry, He notices.  If we hurt, He desires to heal and console us.  Always wanting us to do and be good, but never forcing us to.

We believe that everyone, each one of us, is entitled to inspiration from God to try and lead the best life they can.  We also believe that the leaders of the church we attend, including the local leaders, are entitled to an extra portion of God's inspiration, in order to be able to help those under their watch.

As Nathan continued to have repeated health problems, in particular with the shunt, it was so very, very hard to be optimistic, to have hope, to have faith that the day would arrive that he would just be healthy.  With each surgery, we would do the best we could to pray and then hope that God would be merciful to Nathan and to us and grant that this would be Nathan's last hospital stay.

And each time Nathan was readmitted to the hospital was such a devastating blow.  We would plead for the strength to endure and implore God that he would continue to have mercy on Nathan and grant him health and hope again that it would be the last hospital stay.

But it seemed that, at least for me, each time Nathan was readmitted to the hospital, my pleadings with God for him became more earnest and more sincere, but my hope that he would ever actually be healthy was going lower and lower.  And I fully realize how paradoxical that is.  But spiritually, I was really taking a beating.  So much in fact that Bekah was really, really worried about me.

I worried too.  But I really didn't know what to do about it, other than pray.  So in addition to praying for Nathan and Bekah all the time, I prayed a lot that God would inspire someone to know how I was feeling and that they would check on me.  In particular, I was hoping that someone from the congregational leadership would stop by.  But it just wasn't happening.

Despite Nathan's repeated health problems and consistent hospitalizations, we felt a great sense of inaction on the part of our congregational leadership. In the 10 months Nathan had been alive, no one from the leadership had ever been to our house to check on us to see how we were doing.  And to make it worse, no one had ever made the trip to the hospital during the entire 6 months Nathan had spent in the hospital.  Not once.  Never.  Not even for a minute.

And each day that "nothing" happened would just make me more and more and more angry and upset.  But each night I would continue to plead and beg God that someone from the leadership would call or stop by or do something.  But each day I would just become more disappointed, more angry. and more spiritually beat up.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

More Complaining, Part 2

A lot of things weighed heavily on my mind during this time.  Nathan's health and Bekah's well-being, of course, were always at the top of the list.  It was emotionally and physically draining living the roller coaster of a life we had been living.  We did the best we could to comfort, console, and uplift each other through all of the hard times.

I don't know how I would have made it through everything with even a partial bit of sanity if it wasn't for Bekah. And hopefully she would say the same about me.

But there were many, many nights when we would lie in bed and talk about how we were doing and how things were going and what we could do to help and support each other.  And the one thing that would repeatedly come up was that we didn't have any friends.  We had no one to talk to and share our burdens with, other than each other.

Both of our immediate families lived hundreds of miles away, so it was hard for them to be here.  I did have some extended family in the area, but they never called or stopped by to visit  And all of our good, close friends also lived far away.  So we were really hoping to rely on the members of our congregation for support.  That is why we had decided to attend services with our local congregation rather than the services at the hospital.

But at this point, I had come to regret that decision.

What I most wanted was a friend.  Someone to come over to our house, sit down, talk to us, and really see how we were doing.  But the most we ever got was a 2-minute "How's your son?" in between meetings at Church.  Occasionally, we'd get a "We're praying for you."  Which only served to upset me more.

As Nathan kept being sick, one of the things I would routinely pray for was for someone to come over and to just be a friend.  I don't know how to express properly the earnestness and fervor with which I prayed night after night after night.  But that particular prayer always went unanswered.

Occasionally, I would offer up some sort of compromise prayer and tell God that I was willing to accept a phone call in place of a visit, but the phone never rang either.

To say the least, it was very disheartening.

But perhaps the most frustrating and upsetting part was the complete lack of action on the part of the leaders of our congregation.

More Complaining, Part 1

On July 5, Nathan turned 10 months old.  And for the most part, it had been a pretty brutal 10 months.

Nathan's stay in the hospital for the G-Tube surgery was his 7th different stay in the hospital and brought his total time in the hospital to 181 days, or in simpler terms, 6 months.  That meant that his time out of the hospital was 4 months, or 123 days.

With each hospitalization, we kept trying to be hopeful and optimistic that it would be the last one, and that we could enjoy more than just a few days or weeks with Nathan at home.  Up to this point, the longest consecutive time that he had spent at home was 36 days, which mark he had reached twice.  In particular, it was extremely frustrating that we weren't making any progress.  In the 2 1/2 months since I had started counting "days in" the hospital versus "days out" of the hospital, the days in were still 2 months more than the days out.  In other words, we weren't gaining any time.

So as much as we tried to have hope and believe that each hospital stay would be the last, with each subsequent hospitalization, it was becoming harder and harder to hold on to that hope.  Specifically, it was hard because we felt like we had to do it all on our own.

When Nathan was first born, we had made the decision to spend most of Sundays at home so that we could attend our local congregation, instead of attending the services at the hospital.  My initial thought behind that was so that we could benefit from the support and fellowship from the other members of the congregation.

But 10 months later, I was regretting that decision.

We attend a church with a lay ministry.  All of the leadership and teaching positions are filled by members of the local congregation.  Every so often, the positions are rotated through, so that one person doesn't have the burden of responsibility for their whole life and to give others the opportunity to serve as well.

So, since those who serve in leadership positions are your neighbors (or at least live generally in close proximity), it is commonly believed and accepted that they will be interested in the happenings of your life.  And during particularly hard and worrisome times, it is expected that they will be especially mindful of you and your situation and do what they can to comfort and help you.

So in my head, maybe I had envisioned or idealized things happening entirely different than they actually did.  And that's probably the reason it caused me so much stress and anger.