Grief is Better than Laughter?

 A chiming doorbell on my cell phone signaled I’d received a text message.  “How’s your day?”

I’m so grateful for friends checking in with me.  Otherwise my human interaction is limited these days to nurses, strangers in a hospital cafeteria and a frequently sleepy mom…we’re blaming it on Compazine for her nausea. 

My reply text, “4 hrs sleep. Got thrown up on. Cried to see mom so sick. Ate junk 4 lunch for comfort. And just got beat at cards cos mom was bored. Good day.”  I no longer ask or desire for my days to flow flawlessly.  I’m choosing to embrace reality and to thank God for every moment, even if I’m saying, “Thank you, God” through tears.

I used to puzzle over Ecclesiastes 7:3, “Grief is better than laughter…” Today I’m rethinking that.  I’ve grieved much these past few months, mostly related to mom’s multiple myeloma and all she has suffered in this process for hope of healing.  There have been days when I have forced a laugh, feigned a smile trying to put up a good front.  But the tears…those have all been real.  Laughter can be faked but grieving cannot.  Grieving is honest.  In that respect, Scripture holds true. Grief IS better than laughter.

Do not ask why the old days were better than these, for that is a foolish question.”  Ecc. 7:10

We’re often tempted to look back over the “old days” and tell ourselves those were better days.  Past pain diminishes. Foggy recall occludes accurate details.  Selective memory clings to positive while it ferrets out, then dismisses negative…well, at least in those who favor optimism.  Whether a fact, tainted sentiment or complete denial, ascribing “good” to the past can easily be accomplished if we so choose.  But today, when my heart is aching over mom’s suffering, when I smell like vomit, I’m coming down from a self-inflicted sugar high,  I’m sleep deprived and I can’t seem to stop my eyes from leaking, “Thank you God” has a much different feel to it.  I’m steeped in the misery of this day and still I’m choosing to say THIS is a good day.  Why?  Because I was blessed to spend time with someone I love.  Because any “bad day” side-by-side with a loved one is better than the most beautiful day without love. And because God sees my day, sees how it pales in comparison to what mom is dealing with and He graces me with divine perspective…compared to what His Son went through at Calvary, this is a very good day.

“Consider God’s handiwork: who can straighten what he has made crooked? When things go well, be glad.  When things go ill, consider this: God has set the one alongside the other in such a way that no one can find out what is to happen next…man is greatly troubled by ignorance of the future.  Who can tell him what it will bring? It is not in man’s power to restrain the wind and no one has power over the day of death.  In war, no one can lay aside his arms, no wealth can save its possessors.”  Ecc 7:13-14; 8:6-8

Control is an illusion.  I can’t predict what will happen and I am powerless to control outcomes.  The only thing I can fully control is how my heart will respond to the here and now.  By God’s mercy, as long as I have breath in my body, I get to decide one day at a time to say “Thank You, God” even when grief overshadows laughter.


Somebody’s Praying

I’m sitting in ICU watching my mom sleep soundly for the first time in days.  With her WBC still at 0.0, we are in a critical time with this cancer battle.  The last 48 hours have tested my faith like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, especially last night as mom’s decline worsened hourly.  I wish I could tell you that I was strong through it all but I wasn’t…watching a loved one close to the brink of eternity shakes me to the core especially when that loved one has been for me the person I’ve leaned on more than anyone else throughout my entire life. 

Glancing up at a monitor, I read beautiful numbers 100/54 and 98, up from last night when they were 67/33 and 52.  Who knew readings for blood pressure and heart rate could make time seem to stand still?  In what I consider the most painful night I’ve ever endured, helpless to change abhorrent side effects of chemo treatments for multiple myeloma wreaking havoc on my dear mother, I cried out to God and reached out to friends through quick texts, pleading for prayer.  At all kinds of unholy hours, you relinquished sleep to intercede for us and replies poured in…

 “the Lord your God is with YOU, Di…He is with your mother as well…He is mighty to save”

“His love is unshakable, though the mountains be moved to the sea, His love cannot fail…”


“Even as much as I love you, God loves you infinitely more. Trust Him.”

“Nothing is out of His control. Use the wisdom and discernment He gives you minute by minute and trust Him for the rest.”

“Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”

“You have the mind of Christ. His power is made perfect in weakness. Clothe yourself in Him now and stay there.  There are angels ministering to you and your mom.”

“Do not fear for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you by My Righteous Right Hand.”

If “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”, then surely God was speaking through His precious saints last night & today to strengthen my faith.   His Word and your prayers {and someone willing to take my frantic call at 3:40 a.m.} carried me through 40 hours with only 90 minutes of sleep.  We feel your love, support & prayers.  We are profoundly grateful.


Modern Miracles & Momma’s Multiple Myeloma

Sometimes God whispers.  Other times, He shouts. Either way, He is still in the business of Miracles.
My precious mother is battling Multiple Myeloma–cancer in her blood and bones.  In the past 4 days I’ve watched mother’s lab results go from one extreme to another, especially her white blood count/WBC. 

Since the WBC measures white cells that fight infection in a body, a number lower than normal–4.0 to 10.0 in a healthy person–indicates compromised immunity.   A typical cancer patient who undergoes the high dose chemo my mother received for 2 days prior to her stem cell transplant last Friday would be much lower.  Her count had been dropping all week and was 2.2 the day of her transplant.   The transplant team told my family it would continue downward, hit bottom after 2-3 days and she would be “stuck there” for at least 10-14 days before she would begin to recover.  Thoroughly briefed on the horrible side effects that would plague mom during that time, we braced ourselves for the worst.
God had other plans.  The day after mom’s transplant we expected to see her white blood count around 1.0.  Instead it soared to 20.5!  Our oncology nurses said they had never seen anything like it.  They even called the lab to double-check and confirm the results.  One oncologist called it, “very bizarre”.  Another simply said, “Weird.”  My family marveled as we prayed for mom’s WBC to remain high, hoping it would indicate God had chosen to heal mother in some miraculous way.  The transplant team & doctor on call discouraged us from getting too excited, speculating that this was “a strange fluke” and the count would surely drop the next day.
Since then mom’s WBC has dropped everyday…from 20.5 to 7.7, 3.2, all the way to 0 today.  She has, indeed “hit bottom”.  What a difference a few days has made…watching her now in the thick of side-effects and pain, helpless to offer her any relief is the most agonizing thing I’ve ever experienced.  With every tear she cries, I feel my heart being ripped out.  Yet, I believe when mom’s WBC mysteriously spiked to more than twice that of a normal healthy person, God was shouting, “I AM ABLE”. 

Able to do immeasurably more that all we could ask or imagine according to His Power at work in us.” {Ephesians 3:20 NIV} 

He did.  And we almost missed it.  We wanted Saturday’s high number to mean mom was healed.  What we almost missed is God showed up in a mighty, yes miraculous way.  It wasn’t the miracle we hoped for, the miracle of complete healing.  But it was definitely a miracle.  The Living God graced us with a personal manifestation of His presence, giving us a glimpse of His Power, encouraging our hearts in  preparation for upcoming devastation and suffering.  For one solitary day God did something extraordinary and exceptional in the Body of His precious saints.
In this journey of cancer we have continually prayed we would not miss God.  Healing would be wonderful though we have yet to see if that is God’s plan for mother in the flesh.  What we DO see is that He is here…“The LORD our God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  {Zephaniah 3:17} 

He cares that my sweet mother is suffering. He is holding her when she cries in pain.  Too, He is holding my fragmented heart.  As I consider the events of the past 4 days, I’m coming to realize anew that whether we are in the highs of a mountaintop experience, unexplainable in human terms or at the lowest valley of human suffering and despair, GOD is still God.  He is in complete control. And  His Grace is sufficient…

“He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  {II Corinthians 12:9 NIV}

God’s compassion cannot fail and His mercies are new every morning.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness {Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV}

 On the ride from the Cancer Clinic to our little apartment this morning, my mother began singing, “Great is thy faithfulness, Oh God my Father.  There is no shadow of turning with Thee.  ALL I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me…”