Just over a week ago, Katherine and I sat in the basement bedroom of her childhood home while James was busy in the playroom. We were working on our upcoming talk for “Celebrating the Season You Are In” (1 of muliple times we were slated to present during the “Seasons” weekend retreat). Katherine had been dutifully attending to James’ snacktime needs as I was re-organizing our outline. Only a few yards separated the rooms we were in, and yet in those handful of steps, Katherine lost her balance and fell to the ground. As seems to often be the case, life changes so abruptly in a second–in an invisible shove, in the unnatural twist of a limb against the weight of gravity, in the sound of a different kind of scream.
In a flash, I was off the bed and by Katherine’s side as she lay on the floor. My mind superimposed the moment four years before, when I ran to another room to follow her cry, cradling her head as she lay on a different floor. With a deep breath, I exhaled and tried to forcibly blow that picture out of my thoughts. In quickly assessing the situation, it was sickeningly apparent that the ominous shoe had finally dropped, one that has hung over my head since Katherine has regained her independent walking–she had fallen, and this time, badly broken her leg. Though the bone didn’t protrude out of the skin, it was close and the angle of her foot, and the sound of the bones grinding dissolved any pre-dinner hunger I had experienced just a few minutes before. In typical Katherine form, she composed herself quickly and in no time was chatting me up about the situation, even apologizing to the EMT crew for putting them out during dinnertime. Our precious child, who has certainly seen far more than he should at this point, tenderly approached his mommy, offering a Toy Story bandaid, his healing agent of choice. The three of us held hands, tightly, and prayed for God to take care of mommy.
That night, which was to be shared with family over a nice dinner and discussing all of our impending talks for the weekend, devolved into a blurred nightmare of sorts, with Katherine in something close to agony, with me again mentally fighting against the deja vu of the last times I had slept on a hospital room cot.
Katherine is a born planner, and particularly since her stroke, the ability to plan and schedule her life has helped to ease some of the pain induced by her chaotic circumstances. To that end, I humored Katherine as she wanted to talk through if and when we might be able to get on a plane to go to LA for “Seasons”. I thought it might be best if we just got through the surgery first to get the doctor’s advice, but she insisted. Katherine has come a long, long way in her recovery, and no one has as much invested in it as I do, so I tend to bristle at not directly helping her, much less when there is a new medical situation at hand. In a moment of morphine-induced clarity, Katherine sat up and said, “Well, at the very least, you’re going to go to Seasons. You have to. I’ll just be sitting at home in pain. No point in you just sitting there with me. Go!”
We went back and forth quite a bit. The circumstance seemed so unfortunate and so unfair. This new season in our lives was finally here and yet, Katherine would not be able to physically experience it. Not just that, but she would be relegated to a hospital bed in her family’s living room in horrific pain while I went to a nice hotel and got some rest alone. The incessant, awful memories of the past actually began to incite perspective in both Katherine and me. This is so bad, so out-of-the-blue, so unbelievable, and yet, God has taken us through so much worse, and He will surely do the same here.
As I sat on the plane, preparing the different sessions I would now be presenting on my own, I was allowed to be comforted as I walked through (and on) those painful but encouraging stones of remembrance. And though it felt inherently so wrong to me to leave Katherine in the state she was in, I knew that her suffering would have been in vain, in a sense, if I had not gone to share our message of hope–a message only amplified and represented all the more through this most current season.