- that i do not watch horror movies
- that i have two eyes
- that i have a brother
- that i have healthy children.
that might seem like an unusual list, but let me tell you about the last month of my life.
the phone rang at work, a strange trilling ring, and looking at the display the call seemed to be coming from my boss' office. he was standing beside me. "don't answer it" he said.
i answered it.
"hello this is ...... from .............. returning your call"
"oookayyyy.....i'm sorry but it looks like you're calling from inside the building"
"i am not inside the building"
"okay, but i heard about this horror movie where the guy keeps calling and then they find out he's inside the house....."
"i assure you I'm not inside the building"
"of course you're not. sorry. thank you for returning my call"
"no problem. i've seen that movie"
"alright then you know that i'm about to get murdered at any moment"
"i assure you I am not inside the building...."
need i remind you that i work for a financial adviser? and that it was a bank calling? thank God i didn't actually WATCH that movie and was just told about it in hushed tones during grade 9 biology. what kinds of crazy would come out of my mouth if i had a whole two hours of images to choose from?
a few weeks ago my eye was hurting. at first i thought it was my contacts, so i stopped wearing them for a few days, but when things got progressively worse i went to the doctor. she looked into my eye. hold on, let me describe this doctor to you. do you remember the show "talking sex with sue"? a little healthier looking, but that's close. she looked into my eye and diagnosed that there was a speck of something on my......on the......"iris?" i said. "yes, that's it". (warning bells should be now ringing in my brain, and were, but who am i to judge?). she decided that she should freeze my eye with some drops and then "flick it off with a needle". yes, you read that right: a needle.
i know you. i know that right now you are cringing, your toes possibly curling in your socks, and you're thinking, "Why janet? why would you let her?"
that is a good question. let's think about that. she seemed sincere i suppose. she seemed like she wanted to help me. i did ask if she had steady hands (stop rolling your eyes). i do feel a great sense of inferiority when talking to a medical professional. i mean, they go to school for a LONG time!
so there i was, with my head where countless backsides had lain, staring up into the gyno light with a frozen eye and dr. sue with a needle in hand scraping my iris. it did not tickle. it also did not help.
she sent me home and told me that she was going to get me in that afternoon to see an ophthalmologist.
as i walked home i quickly convinced myself that i had eye cancer and would be wearing a glass eye within the month. i was greatly comforted by the fact that my friend Jenna is a one-eyed beauty, and she could inspire me to greatness.
no ophthalmologists were available. i went to hospital emergency. they told me i had an ulcer and would have to see a specialist the next morning.
in my eye.
sounds pretty brutal, and i got some lovely pity (why do i seem to be the only one out there that loves pity?) until the next morning when i was told the treatment for an eye ulcer is two weeks of drops.
but here's what i learned. if i wasn't such a ridiculously imaginative hypochondriac i would not have felt the immense gratitude i experienced for the following few days. i would not have looked into the faces of my prayer group and said enthusiastically "i'm so thankful for both of my eyes!!!" see the good in this?
a few days after this hospital trip my brother was admitted into an Ontario hospital and diagnosed with gillian-barre syndrome. he had had a flu and missed a couple days of work, and woke up the next morning feeling a bit better, stepped out of bed and fell on the ground. by the time my sister-in-law returned from work he couldn't feel his feet or hands or face. this syndrome can happen when you're body catches a virus - it stops your body from recognizing that the virus is gone, and your immune system starts attacking your healthy cells (at least, that's what i understand). at one point the doctor said my brother's heart could stop at any moment.
to further complicate matters, my parents were hours away from flying to cuba, bringing much prayed-for medical supplies and other necessary items. what a journey of faith and trust for them to get on that plane, knowing their son was battling a potentially deadly illness. a week later, on my parents birthdays (they have the same one) they sat in a school of cuban evangelists, surrounded by men and women calling on God for the healing of my brother. and He did. my brother was sent home that day, with most of the feeling back in his hands and feet. he did not need the walker the doctors prescribed. he drove into his small Ontario town a week later. this is a miracle, and i am so thankful that Jason Laing still walks the earth and makes people laugh and cares for his family and works with his capable hands. i am SO thankful today to have a brother.
and to see my children, healthy and playful, my daughter getting birthday hugs from her brother and a card in his grade 2 penmanship that said "you are loved for many reasons by me". i took her to see Cinderella and when the prince appeared i asked if she thought he was cute. "sort-of" she replied "but not as good as dad". priceless. what a gift to hold her hand in a theatre and remember her hand as a newborn, curling around my pinky.
in all of this gratitude, the silly and the profound, there is a sadness, a current of grief that is tainting these moments of beauty. tonight our cousin sits vigil beside her young daughter who lies in a hospital bed in Vancouver. the leukemia that has been fought by countless prayers, a battery of drugs, and months of sacrifice and tenderness, has now appeared in her bones. i think of her brothers being tested for bone marrow transfers. i think of the hopelessness that must be scratching at the hearts of my cousins: Shauna, a mother of multitude mercies. David, a father of tenderness and grace. and little Thea, tiny in her toque and discomfort. please pray for them. for healing. for sleep. for cancer-free blood and a hospital free life. i am thankful for the privilege of knowing them, of standing with them in prayer and sharing a portion of their sorrow. will you pray with us?
so much to be thankful for. i am coming to believe that a full life is a life full of thankfulness.
may we have ears to hear all that calls us to gratitude.