Standing Under the Twinkle Lights
From November 17, 2019
Dear Friends —
First of all, season three of The Crown is now underway and anyone who wants to meet me out back to discuss, just give a holler.
Ok now back to our regular station.
When we last checked in, Dr V sent me on my way armed with orders for more tests and a hopeful word for surgery in December. Tests are now complete (how happy are we that I have chosen not to dedicate an entire blog about the prep before a colonoscopy, but again, anyone wanting to chat about that after The Crown ... you'll know where to find me).
The good news here is that tests revealed more or less what we already knew. No new news is for sure welcome news.
So a date has been set -- Game Day is December 18th. The surgery will be 7-8 hours, and I'll be in the brand new sparkly Stanford hospital for probably a week. Smart readers are thinking: "Hold on, Christmas in the hospital?" I know! And, yes.
I had to break the news to Connor and Lucy that our little fantasy of going someplace fabulous for a mini pre-surgery trip will now be bumped back to a post-surgery holiday vacation. In these chats I learned a few things. First, apparently Grey's Anatomy is a show that is binged on phones in my house when I'm fast asleep; and second, decorating hospital rooms with twinkle lights during Christmas is apparently a thing. At least on shows like Grey's Anatomy. I've promised Lucy a trip to Target soon so she can come to the hospital prepared to decorate like an Elf on a Mission.
So between now and Game Day I'm under strict orders to regain my strength, stick to lean meats and veggies and all things healthy, and live. Sort of like normal, except of course nothing is normal about this time.
My wonderful friend Kate who helped make the word "liminal" come to life for me a few weeks back, has another word to add to our story's lexicon: "precarity." It's the notion of living through an uncertain season. And although Dr V or his surgery partner, Dr K, don't throw around this word in pre-surgery huddles with me, I have this hunch they are thinking it. Their words are full of both hope and caution. Optimism and hedging. Confidence and a quiet "let's see what happens next."
Kate is a fellow climber of the same mountain, even though we're on different trails. But you can draw a bit closer to the questions those of us on the mountain wrestle with through her terrific podcast. And I'll give one encouragement for anyone who wants to pull up a chair to Planet Precarity -- Kate's interview with author John Green is worth your 30 minutes.
John recounts that when he was younger he was mentored by a hospital chaplain who had this to say about how best to draw near patients facing the hardest moments: "Don't just do something. Stand there."
It might be the best thing I heard all weekend. (Ok that's a lie. Dr. V also made a point to say, "well you're slender" when we were chit chatting about how he'll do the incision during surgery. Again, all are welcome to discuss this rather fabulous detail out back).
But anyhow, standing there, and drawing close to the life we live when the future is fragile, is a marvelous miracle. It's also probably the most counter-intuitive things any of us can ever do for one another. Mainly it's about listening, and being forever patient with the chaos that comes with precarity dwellers. Our conversations can be messy and awful. But if you listen closely enough, you'll always discover something new and true. And if I've learned one thing on my mountain, God is forever making each step new. And each is true.
So friends, let's stand together as I enter pre-Game Day prep. With Foxy's fighter jets on pause, the best part of the next four weeks is the chance I'll have to better stand near you as well.
To the promise of twinkle lights. They'll stay illuminated all night.