It’s 9:45 in the morning, and I’ve just put the baby down for a nap. I checked Facebook as a cheap substitute for some kind of feeling of connection to those I love. It’s Sunday morning and instead of being at church, I’m home with Baby V. In the middle of the night, I checked on him on my way to the bathroom, and as I was walking out of the nursery, I heard those dreaded sounds…By the time I had taken those four or five steps back to his little body, he had thrown up.
Aaron came in to help while I changed the sheets and got everything straightened out. The two of them were cuddling in the rocking chair under a quilt when I tip-toed out of the room and crawled back into bed. A few minutes later, I heard Aaron whispering comforting words to the baby as he tucked him back in, and a moment later, I felt his hand on my back. Even in the dark he knew I had tears soaking my pillow; he knew the implications of the baby being sick and how they hurt my heart.
This morning I tried to be cheerful and helpful as Aaron was getting ready for church. Baby V seemed better—he appeared to be super tired but his fever was gone and there was no more vomiting—but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to check him into the church nursery after the night we had. As he left, Aaron hugged and kissed me and looked at me with such compassion I had to turn away.
I hate missing church. The people at Westside have become our family. Every Sunday we worship with them, taking communion and singing songs and learning more about our all-loving God. I get to see and talk to women I wouldn’t otherwise see during the week. I check in on the Covenant children who seem to be growing much too quickly. It is precious time and some of my favorite hours of my entire week.
Today is an extra important day to be at church. Our pastor’s wife and my sweet friend, Kara, is having surgery tomorrow. We’ve known about it for months—after her battle with breast cancer over the past year, this was supposed to be a routine procedure. But at a pre-op appointment, Kara and Jason heard some potentially terrible news—Kara might have another battle with cancer ahead of her. They won’t know for sure until tomorrow when the surgery is complete and pathology tests are done. Friday morning, one of Kara’s dear friends hosted a time of fellowship and prayer for Kara and I missed it because Baby V had a doctor’s appointment. My heart was heavy and sad wanting to be with those ladies, wanting to encourage Kara but also needing the fellowship and love of other women who are also gripped with fear that our beloved sister might be facing the worst.
So instead, I’ve looked forward to today, being with our church family—the people who know and love me and have loved Kara and her family so very well through their journey. They are the people who understand why some days I wake with a heart frozen in fear, why I lose my breath when I think about tomorrow, why I want to throw up when my mind starts playing out different scenarios of “what if.” But instead of being across the aisle from Kara where I can watch her worshipping with her children and take joy in their smiles, I am sitting on my couch listening to lullaby music streaming from the nursery.
Somehow I feel even more helpless than I would sitting helplessly at church. I know that’s ridiculous, but my heart yearns to give Kara a huge hug and make sure she knows how much we love her and her family, how we’ve got their backs. I had wanted to talk to her biggest little this morning about occasionally helping me once Baby Girl is here. I looked forward to seeing her other children chasing each other and catching rolly pollies. Yet I know those are all selfish desires. Kara knows my love for her. She doesn’t need my tears and weak smiles—this morning she’ll have the encouragement of the Bride of Christ and Jesus himself in all his glory. She will sing songs that remind her of the strength, power, and love of God. She will participate in the Communion of the Saints in which she joins the immense family of God in celebrating and humbly acknowledging what Jesus did so we could have this sweet fellowship with him and each other.
Church has started by now. Since Aaron is the worship leader, I know what songs they are singing. I know the basic order of worship. And I can participate—maybe not in person, but I can pray and worship from a distance. I can claim the joy of being a part of this body of people even if I am not physically present. I know the heartbeat of this group, I know what is on their hearts today. And while I can’t experience worship with them in person, I certainly can in spirit. I can praise the Lord, thank the Lord, petition the Lord, and be encouraged by the Lord, knowing he is doing the same for my church family. I don’t know what his story is for Kara long term, but I know that this morning, his story for her is to love her and to show that love to her through the arms, words, and prayers of others. And because he loves me, too, I can be a part of that from right here on my couch.