I sat in the dark watching Micah sleep. Even at the midnight hour, his paleness was evident under the glow of lights from hospital gadgetry keeping him alive. A knock on the door interrupted my thoughts. It was Nurse Julia.
I had become accustomed to the flurry of activity in Micah's hospital room, but he certainly had not. In a previous outburst, he sat up in bed with his frail self and demanded, "What's SHE doing here?" Another nurse. Another order. Another traumatic experience for Micah. But this time the medicine from Nurse Julia was for me.
She handed me a styrofoam cup with nonalcoholic champagne and whispered, "Happy New Year."
Now there was an oxymoron. Remembering the tune of Prince, I had dreamed of many things I would be doing when 1999 actually did arrive in history. Yet I never envisioned this nightmare in a million years.
Ringing in the new year at the hospital bedside of your child just diagnosed with cancer doesn't paint a rosy picture for the future. My mind raced with gripping questions: Would Micah respond to treatment in 1999? Would I lose him? Would I lose myself? I was in a combined state of emotional denial and information overload. I dug deep for something to be grateful for.
As I reflected on the events of the last week in 1998, I observed a pattern of intriguing spiritual nearness. I could be grieving over a dead son had it not been for the kindness of a complete stranger who was eavesdropping on a conversation between Micah and myself just days earlier in our local bookstore.
Micah could had been given any oncology nurse upon admission, but Edith Yeargin just happened to be there. She didn't normally work on the hospital floor, but chose to come in and help over the holidays. She had leukemia when she was a girl. She became Micah's favorite nurse. She became a voice in the wilderness for me.
Have you ever made a toast to God in a time of crisis? To thank Him for your struggles because He approved the course to shape you into a more compassionate human being? It is hard to embrace words of the Bible in 1 Thessalonians directing us: Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ concerning you.
It doesn't come natural to do this. So I approached the supernatural to hold my hand amidst the ever present anxiety of confronting my deepest fear: MICAH COULD DIE.
I had been cocky to think I was immune from pain and despair. I saw it all around me as a manager of Oakwood Mobile Home Park. Now I was immersed in it. When I asked the One who gave me Micah to reveal Himself, He showed up. His arrival shook my narrow-minded world view of life and death.
As the dawn broke with the first light of 1999, my pride was waiting to be broken as well. Micah found comfort in the playroom, and we would migrate there at some point in our day. I watched him imagine, explore, and create as if all of his trauma had melted away. But there was always his chemo-pole nearby to remind me of more trauma to come. I thought of the long road ahead for him trying to choke back my tears.
I was sitting beside little Michael's mom. He was the same age as Micah battling the same disease.
She attempted to comfort me, "It gets easier. The first week is always the hardest," she said.
Why do children get cancer? I looked around the playroom at fragile little bodies in various stages of cancer and blood disorders as their lifelines of chemotherapy dripped into their veins. Why did I want to scream? Why did I quickly forget my toast to God?
In my hurting, I was silent to the world, but in my heart I defiantly declared in a thunderous outrage, "This is not suppose to happen to my child."
And it was as if God spoke back to me and softly reminded, "This is not suppose to happen to anyone's child."
With the radio playing in the background of the playroom, I was caught off guard by lyrics I had never heard from a gravely male voice, "Everything is gonna be allright, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye."
What a beautiful message to hear at a time of brokenness. I think at that moment I realized we are constantly crossing dimensions from the physical world to the spiritual realm. We perform in the physical being led in the spiritual. We participate in society joining the angels in worship. We experience pain of the flesh while rejoicing in our souls. We can decide to stay trapped in the fear of the physical never allowing the Spirit to comfort us. Or we can choose to walk in the Spirit which equips us for the challenges of the physical. I chose the latter maybe initially out of selfishness because I was completely helpless to heal Micah.
Within a month, I would learn from a mysterious sequence of events that the last six years of my life had been spent as an unwilling participant in The Toxic Triumvirate... three poisoned places that formed a triangle. My place of residency was the weakest of the trio, a perfect dumping ground for the other two parties who were very much aware of their clandestine activities.
Under the beautiful hardwoods, vices of the poor and broken-hearted were hidden within the cheap paneled walls of 15 mobile homes. Low target population was the phrase I read in the government file. I read it once. Twice. Three times. I cried each time thinking perhaps I was misunderstanding its definition.
The massive bulk petroleum facility with above and underground storage tanks is kept alive by snaking buried pipelines. It breathes in money and exhales hazardous air emissions. It's like living next door to a giant gas station not required to clean up serious environmental messes because the value of the neighborhood is $0.00. Rubber-stamped by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as acceptable collateral damage of the oil and gas industry, the list included Micah, my family, neighbors, and even me. How crushing. But that is what the leader of The Toxic Triumvirate does. It crushes. It kills. And it does so all in the name of progress.
But the Low Target Population Report didn't mention God. He was there, too. He has a thing for the poor, oppressed, and broken-hearted. We meet Him in dark, scary places, and He lights our way.
I met Him crossing dimensions in a children's hospital ringing in 1999.