Rejoicing Through the Tears, Brenda George
By Brenda George
That first weekend after the treatment was the hardest, as I had to be isolated from my family to ensure that they wouldn’t be exposed to the radiation. They each stayed with different relatives for two weeks. This was my weakest moment, and yet I had to stay completely alone. For about a week after the treatment, I noticed foods had a funny, almost-metallic taste. My mouth was also dry, so I had to drink a lot of fluids to stay hydrated and to help my kidneys remove the unused, radioactive iodine from my body. Eating sour candy like lemon drops helped. I started back on my thyroid medicine the following week and was allowed to eat a regular diet again. It took me a couple of weeks to get my appetite back. I started to regain my strength and appetite one day at a time. Every woman knows, especially if she is a mother, how important it is to have some time just for yourself. No matter how much we love our families, everyone needs a little space once in a while. It’s a mother’s deepest longing. Evenings can be especially hectic with small children not to mention downright insane with teenagers. From about 5:00 until about 9:00 p.m. is what I could almost painstakingly describe as the valley of the shadow of death. I won’t even talk about evenings with teenagers. They have such chaotic schedules, and their music; we won’t even go there. I can hear it now, even as I write, that pounding bass, in tune with every heartbeat. I’ll save that for another book. It can drive a sane person crazy and wreck their nerves for a week. Do you remember that commercial, “Calgon, take me away”? The one where the mom is taking a relaxing bubble bath as she is trying to escape her world for a little while? I admit that I’ve been guilty of yearning for that much-needed quiet time. I used to think, “If I could just watch a good movie without any noise and actually see the end of it, or read a good book straight through, or sleep as long as I want to”. I’m sure you understand what I mean. But after being isolated for two weeks, I completely changed my mind. Like the saying, “Been there, done that,” being alone was not nearly as glamorous as I thought it would be. There are only so many movies that I could watch, and only so many books that I could read. When I realized that, day after day, I was really alone, and no one would be walking through that door, it gave me plenty of time to contemplate that being alone was pretty lonely. Being alone began to take on a whole new meaning. I probably got carried away, because I even made my family take our dog away. One day when I was feeling sorry for myself, I was elated to realize that my granddaughter’s goldfish was still there. I remember saying to the fish, “Prince Charming, we’re in this together.” See, I told you I was lonely! I was so glad to see something else that was living and breathing. Sometimes, something as small as a goldfish can lift our spirits.
I was overly cautious about everything. I was afraid to even light a candle, and could just see the headlines in the newspaper, “Lady used as a bomb to test nuclear weapons following radiation treatment.” You’ve got to admit, we hear some pretty bizarre things on the news these days. Now that it’s behind me, I have to almost chuckle at my naiveté, but at the time, it was a real concern. I had never been sick a day in my life, so it was a learning process for me. Although I can usually find humor in almost any situation, this was one experience where I couldn’t. That was a time in my life that I will never forget. It was not only difficult for me, but for my entire family as well. I did a lot of soul-searching, praying, and learning to yield my life to God’s keeping. At that time, I didn’t know the results of the treatment or even if it had been successful or not. In the back of my mind, I went over and over all of the “what if’s. What if the treatment didn’t work? What if I need another one? What if all of my hair falls out? What if my family has to stay away longer? What if I’m too sick to take care of myself? And the final “what if”; What if I die? Those thoughts were never-ending. Two weeks before Christmas, when most people were out shopping, I was home alone, too sick to do anything about it. I cried a lot as I listened to some of my favorite Christmas songs like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “The Christmas Shoes,” because they only magnified my loneliness. I didn’t realize before how many Christmas songs were about being home with your loved ones. My mom was like a Christmas angel, filling in wherever she was needed. Brent took Travis to school on many snowy mornings. Mark kept working hard on his printing job, and his family helped as much as they could. My kids all tried cheering me up every chance they got.
We waved and blew kisses at one another from my front windows as they drove up and sat in front of our house for a little while, just to feel like they were home. They dropped off cards, pictures, and flowers. One card I’ll always remember played the song, “I Will Survive.” They even brought my favorite Starbucks drink, Strawberry Iced Frappacino. Savannah, my little granddaughter, was four years old at the time, and couldn’t understand why I was all alone and why they couldn’t come in. She thought everyone was mad at me. That took some careful explaining. The ladies from church brought one meal after another, and I received many calls from neighbors and countless gifts and cards from friends. I realized how God had carried me through the storm when it was next to impossible to go on by myself. The famous poem “Footprints” came alive for me with a deeper meaning, as I realized that God had carried me at this terribly low time in my life. The last few lines of the poem had the most meaning, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints is when I carried you.” I was now beginning to understand the depth of God’s love.
Keep and guard me as the pupil of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 17:8
thus says the Lord: restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord; and your children shall return from the enemy’s land. and there is hope for your future, says the Lord. Jeremiah 31:16-17
Rejoicing Though the Tears
By Brenda George
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