But it's been a long week. Aaron being home from school to recover meant that he went everywhere with me, including grocery shopping. Let me tell you, that was a sight to behold I'm sure. Pushing him in his wheelchair and pulling a cart. We were not inconspicuous. I also took work off so I could be by him and keep his sites clean, and while it was nice to have some time off, it also allowed for a lot of thinking time. Not always a good thing.
See, when the anesthesiologist takes extra time to make sure you understand the risks of your son's surgery, when he tells you that his odds of dying in the OR are exponentially higher than a typical kid's, when you have just the day before attended another little one's funeral, well, you can see where things are going.
Another mom put all this into words for me last week when she wrote about her child. To paraphrase, the hard part of having a medically challenged child is not your day-to-day. It's not the breathing treatments, the equipment, the extra people around. It's not the tube feeds, diapers or time it takes to move around. It's not the crazy learning curve where you feel like your brain has been blasted into outer space. It's not even the lack of sleep.
The hard part of having a medically fragile child is knowing that some day, and you don't know when that day will come, you will have to hand him back to God, and stay behind. The hard part is the work that has to go on between your own ears, in your own head, as you try to wrap your mind around what will happen, but still live in the moment and love the child you have. It doesn't matter if it's this week, or ten years or more down the road, having to let go will happen, and it will be excruciating.
Add all this together, plus exhaustion and a million things you "have to do" ('cause somehow the world will fall apart if you don't do everything, right?), and yep, I was struggling.
But every six months, our church has a worldwide conference. We gather in meeting houses and homes to listen to counsel from the Prophet and other General Authorities. The promise is that if we will prepare for Conference, there will be personal guidance, directly for us as individuals, in our own lives.
I'll be honest, on Saturday I didn't get much. Saturday morning I missed because of a soccer game. And Saturday afternoon, well, I was grumpy. In the words of one of my favorite authors, I was having a Jonah Day. Everything was conspiring against me, too much to do, no desire to do it, and so forth. And frankly, I didn't want to be inspired, not yet. I just wanted someone to put their arms around me and say, "it's okay, you're okay."
But Sunday, oh, Sunday. It was everything I could have asked for and more. It was as if the speakers had sat down and said, "Okay, here's Rebekah. What is it she needs most? How can we get through to her?" Never mind the millions of others who were watching as well. I was taking notes, but couldn't even come close to writing fast enough. The first one that really hit was one on Joy. On having joy regardless of our circumstances. Elder Nelson related the story of Eliza R. Snow and some 80-plus women and children crowded into a small cabin in the winter after being driven from their homes. Physically, it must have been awful. But she described it as a "very merry night." I immediately felt chagrin for my own attitude. Plenty to eat, warm comfy house, no danger, yeah, I was in much better circumstances, and not nearly as grateful.
And that opened the door of my heart for the further messages. Messages about love, forgiveness, repentance, trials building character so we can reach our divine potential. Faith, parenting and teaching, counting blessings, and so on. Like I said, as if they knew exactly what it was I needed to hear. And while I know the men and women speaking didn't know me, I also knew that my Father in Heaven does know me, and He loves me and knew I needed to hear what was said.
So now, I need to repent of my attitude, cultivate a lot more joy and gratitude, and watch Saturday's sessions again, this time in with a proper frame of mind, a willingness to be taught, a desire to learn. I'm so grateful for today's technology that makes this possible. My focus is being refocused.