It’s been a very long week.
We began the week with hard news. Eight weeks ago, our mold doctor did a nasal swab test on each one of us. She put a very long Q-tip, a very long way up each one of our noses, and we have been waiting to see what cultured over the last two months. The lab found several different kinds of rare fungal growth in my nose, as well as Reid’s and Emma’s noses, and we are still waiting to hear back on Fred’s and Sophie’s cultures. We didn’t really need a reminder of how very sick we are, but this was a reminder nonetheless. And now we know that the mold is actually trapped inside our noses, we know that the road to recovery is probably going to be even longer.
To make matters worse…I have to retest my mycotoxin load this next week. The way that the mold medicine works, is that we drink it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, and then take “sequestering agents” like charcoal and bentonite clay, to bind to the mold that the medicine is pulling out. But, in order to accurately test for how high the mycotoxin load still is, I need to take the medicine for the next week, without taking the sequestering agents. It’s a great way to make yourself sick.
And each day I am getting sicker and sicker as the mold is released from cells and fat reserves where it’s been stored over the last two years…particularly in my brain. So basically, my body is on a downhill slide. My thyroid and lymph nodes are so swollen, that I can no longer lay on my neck. My stomach is so full of inflammation, that I look like one of those emaciated third-world children, with skinny arms and a bloated mid-section. A very thick brain fog has rolled in. And my left eye has started twitching so violently, that I’ve had to wear an eye patch. I look like a very disgruntled pirate.
So, yes. It’s been a long one.
As I crawl through the day, aching with inflammation, snappy with my kids, and constantly readjusting my pirate patch, I just keep telling myself, “One more week.” I have to remind myself constantly that there is purpose in this suffering, and in one week I will be back on the sequestering agents, and we will finally be able to do an updated test on my mycotoxin load.
One. More. Week.
It will be a nice Easter present.
And as I limp along towards that goal, Easter has been on my mind and heart.
There was a time, in what feels like forever ago, that the passing of time used to make me really sad. I would get to moments like this coming holiday and think to myself, “Oh man…only ELEVEN more Easters together, and our sweet Emma will be heading off to college.” I would get so sad just thinking about how quickly time goes by, and how desperately I wanted to cherish these precious moments. How desperately I wanted them to never run out. And though I would have never said it, or maybe never even thought it, I clung pretty tightly to the very best things in this world. I really didn’t want them to end.
And if Charlie were here, I would be getting his little Easter outfit out this week…and thinking the same thing about him. I would be thinking, “Soon, you won’t be able to wear this little bow tie and suit! Sweet Charlie, please stay little forever!”
But I’m not thinking that. We don’t even own that little suit anymore. It went out, along with everything else we once owned. And I don’t have the luxury any more of looking at this Easter, as one of the many Easters with my sweet kids in the fleeting passage of time. Because half of them, are gone. They. Just. Aren’t. Here.
And now, my only thought as Easter approaches is this…I’m one Easter closer.
One Easter closer to the end. One Easter closer to knowing my son. I survived last Easter, one horrific, grief-filled, moment at a time, and now I’m on to my second Easter without him. And even while all around me, as even my own little ones are growing up so unspeakably fast…I am so thankful that we are one day closer to the end.
The other day, the kids and I were making cookies for Emma’s Easter party at school. “Cookies” is a lose term, because they’re actually gluten-free cookie balls made out of flax seed, chia seeds, honey, and almond butter. But the kids love making them because they get to roll them up into fun little balls. As we rolled ball after ball, they would tell me who they were making each one for.
And then, as it always does, grief swept in unannounced.
Fred was rolling up a cookie ball in his pudgy little hands, and he suddenly said to me in his cheerful Fred voice, “Mommy! This one’s for Charlie. I made it for him when he comes back with Jesus during the Resurrection!”
He’s four. Four. Years. Old. Still so very little and new to this world.
And yet…he already knows all that really matters.
That someday…Jesus is going to come back. And that when he does…Charlie is coming back with him. And that even though it might not be soon enough to eat one of the cookies balls we made for him this week…it is going to happen.
I am so very thankful that in the midst of a year where there was, quite frankly, very little Bible teaching on our part, and where, at one point, even his children’s Bible got tossed out…Fred somehow knows what matters most. Jesus is coming back.
And as I prepare for yet another Easter without my sweet Charlie, and the two little ones who came after him…I’ve started to have thoughts about Easter that I’ve never had before.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that last week before the crucifixion, and what it must have felt like from the Father’s perspective. As I’ve read through the book of Luke in preparation for Easter, I’ve been amazed at how many times Jesus predicted his death.
In Luke 18:31-33 He says to his disciples, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.”
From the disciples perspective, they heard him say “One more week,” and then probably gave each other the look. The look that said, “We’ve only got one more week to talk him out of this craziness. One more week to change his mind. One more week…to stop Him.”
But I think it was different for His Father. I know that watching His Son suffer, was something God never looked forward to. But I really believe that the Father looked at that first Easter, much like I look at this one. One more week…and I’ll finally get to see my Son again. One more week…and He’ll be on a countdown to coming home. One more week...and I won’t have to live in one place, while He lives in another. One more week…and he will no longer have to suffer.
Sometimes we act like the crucifixion was the only hard part about Jesus’ mission to earth. But I’m sure it was no picnic hanging out down here with us wretched sinners. I think the Father ached as He watched His son belittled by the Pharisees, scoffed at by the critics, and disrespected by the disciples. And then, in one more week…the worst was yet to come. Peter. Judas. And the Cross.
I ache thinking of what my little ones have endured, both the ones still with me, and the ones who have gone before me to heaven. And I am quite certain that Jesus’ Dad ached even more…as He watched His Son endure this world for us. For thirty years. And then three years. And then the worst week ever. I am sure that the Father’s heart was wracked with sorrow, in ways we will simply never comprehend…as that last week approached.
And though I know that Jesus didn’t immediately descend to heaven after Easter Sunday, I am sure that His Father’s heart was so full as the sun shown on that first brilliant morning as the tomb was opened. Knowing the worst week was finally over. Knowing His Son would soon be Home.
And as we approach this last week until Easter, I am praying that my heart will be more like the Father’s…than the disciples. That I will anticipate the resurrection with the same gusto that little Fred does. Eagerly anticipating the return of Christ, and hoping it is very, very soon. Eagerly letting go of the things of this world…because of the promises of the next one.
And I am praying that I will be able to say with joy, and not just a heavy heart over all that has been lost…ONE MORE WEEK. One more week…and we will know Jesus that much more. One more week…closer to the resurrection. One more week…closer to being with Jesus forever, face-to-face and heart-to-heart. One more week…closer to meeting the little boy, I had wanted to know so very, very much.
One more week…closer to the end. The end of all of this, that we all cling to so very tightly. An end, which is really much more of a beginning, than an end.
Tonight, Emma asked if she could pray before dinner. She said, “Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for us and for the resurrection.” And then, with a very deep sigh she said, “And thank you for going through some really tough stuff for us.”
Some really tough stuff. On one hand, it’s the ultimate understatement. And on the other hand, it’s simply put, exactly what it was. Some really tough stuff…to get us out of some really tough stuff. And in one more week we will celebrate the tough stuff. We will celebrate all that He did, so that we could know Him forever. So that all of life could be a countdown, not towards the end of something wonderful…but the beginning of the very best.
One more week.