By Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom
We are enslaved to time in many ways.
We measure seconds, hours, days, years. We define our worth based on time: how many hours we’ve served in ministry or volunteerism; how many hours we work each week; how many days we’ve successfully exercised and eaten right. We consider how fast we ran the mile, rather than how well we maintained form.
We even define a “good life” based on time. When someone dies at age 80 we say, “They lived a good life.” When a child dies, our hearts and minds scream, “This is not fair! This is too soon!”
I Can’t Rest When Time is So Limited
During this trip, people who care for me have asked, “Have you stopped at all? You have to be exhausted! How are you still going?”
These are legitimate questions. I am cognitively aware that I need more rest.
But rest? How would I rest? Marissa has places she wants to go and things she wants to see. I could never look her in the face and tell her, or her sister, that we couldn’t do these things. I might get another chance, but Marissa will not.
Is Time Even Shorter than We Thought?
I recently had to make an incredibly difficult decision. Following our flight, I noticed changes in Marissa so I contacted her doctor. We agreed she was probably getting sick.
I took her to the emergency department in Los Angeles to make certain there was no pneumonia. Everything looked great, except a nurse and resident noticed her pupils were not the same size and inquired if her eyes always looked like that.
“Not always,” I said. But sometimes they look like that when she’s not well, or after park rides or flights.” Nothing more was said.
I messaged her doctor and was surprised to get an email asking me more detailed questions. OK. I’ll play along. I replied and thought little more of it until he called.
“We need to talk,” he said. “What you are describing to me is consistent with an aneurysm. It’s quite unlikely, but the symptoms are concerning. It’s rare, but if it is an aneurysm and ruptures, it would be catastrophic. If you were here, I’d immediately order imaging.”
Silence fell. What now, God? What are you doing?
God’s Faithfulness Helps Me Run the Race
It’s amazing how the brain works. How it can rifle through its store of memories with such swiftness, drawing on past lessons for present decisions. God has richly gifted me on this trip. He has allowed challenges, fears, struggles and pain to enter our journey.
He’s broken me until I am certain we are done; and then He shows up.
He’s taught me to run with hope and faith, even when I am in the back of the pack, sucking wind, not sure I can make it.
“I am not taking her home,” I said. “She needs this. This was a dream. God has gotten us so far…” my voice cracked. I took a breath.
I waited for an objection. I got none.
“I support you 100%.” the doctor replied. “You must be aware of the risks. You need to understand what could happen. I do believe this is a good decision and you are making it in sound mind.”
Time. One more question of time remained. One that must be answered, not because I would beat it, but because I want every moment granted to be rich in life and love.
How Much Time Will I Have to Say Goodbye?
Time. I needed to know about time. “If there was a rupture, how much time will I have until I lose her?”
“Less than an hour.”
“So getting across LA in traffic, ambulance or not, is not likely to save her?” He didn’t need to answer. “I am telling you now, we’ve discussed her palliative care plan. She doesn’t want tubes and needles and a hospital bed. If time is short, I will hold her and it will be peaceful. I will call when it is over.”
Again, support was given.
Other doctors were brought into the conversation that day. Many other doctors. Every single one supported me. When I say I had peace in my decision, I mean it.
Choosing Faith over Fear
Peace does not mean it didn’t hurt. Peace, in this moment, was freedom to choose. I could choose fear or faith. I could choose despair or hope. We had things to do. The girls were already waiting in the lobby. I chose faith. I chose hope. We set out to find the Hollywood sign, and it was a beautiful day.
The last couple weeks, I’ve carried the weight of a mother’s fear, as well as the anticipatory grief of knowing I cannot stop what is happening. No, I haven’t left the race track. At times my pack has felt heavier, like a rucksack, but I haven’t carried it alone. I’ve been extended little mercies, like a mid-race snack and drink, to keep me moving forward. It is my race and I intend to run it well. I may not finish pretty and unscathed, but I will finish.
I do not run aimlessly. I know the reward that awaits me: a life without regret; the smiles of my daughters; the memories to sustain me through hard times. I do not run alone: God runs alongside; He provides friends to cheer me on. He provided generous people to help make this trip possible. Perhaps long after this trip is over, I will finish my own life’s race.
I will run this race hard; I will push through pain and fatigue. My race will be paved with my tears, both of joy and immense sorrow. When I finally break the tape, Jesus will be waiting to catch me. I will collapse.
Then I will rest. Finally, I will rest.
You Have a Race to Run, Too
Run your race well. Run for the prize. Give it all you have, leave everything on the track, end your race with no regrets. It’s not the time that is important. It is the effort, commitment, and faith to finish.
Choose to run. Choose to drink hope and fuel up with faith. Finish well, whatever the time may be. Finish well.
Click to learn more about Riding on Sunshine.