Labor Day Weekend (United States) is usually one that most look forward to. The last hurrah of summer includes an extra day off from work with family and friends. Labor Day weekend evokes another remembrance in my life though. It is the first memory of waking up in the hospital following my hysterectomy in 1983.
I remember waking up with my dad’s hand near my arm. I remember opening my eyes just long enough to see him staring at the television. I remember watching him quietly watch the Jerry Lee Lewis Labor Day Telethon….and that was it. I closed my eyes, and fell back asleep. I don’t know if it was day or night. I don’t know how long he had been sitting there, or how long I had been asleep. I don’t recall if I said anything, or if he did. All I remember is quietly watching him stare at the television.
Thirty years ago, I became a survivor. A survivor of a deadly bacterium. A survivor of something rarely, if ever, seen in 1983. It is incredible how a microscopic bacteria could wreak havoc, nearly claim a life, and leave in its wake, a life forever changed.
Labor Day weekend marked the beginning of a different life story. It was the beginning of a journey marred with confusion, loss, and silence. My parents suffered great loss as they watched me fight to stay alive. They knew that staying alive was only part of the struggle….the temporary part. Infertility would stay.
Today, as I sat around our table with my parents, husband, and children eating lunch, I thought about this weekend and what it meant for my life. As I sat with my daughter at the doctor today (she’s fine), I thought about my own parents sitting by my bedside with worry as their greatest companion. As I watched my son playing in a creek at a local park, I thought about the first time I laid eyes on him, and exhaled. As I put the little one to bed, I hugged on him a little longer than usual, and told I loved him a few extra times.
Thirty years ago, I was a young girl waking up to the image of my father by my hospital bed. I fought a deadly illness, and won. The battle was not over though. In many ways, it had just begun.
Through the years I’ve learned that life is partly what is written or ordained to happen, and mostly what you make of it. What I mean is that it is easy to “throw in the towel”, rely on your own crutch of victimization, wallow in self-pity, and lose faith. It is far too easy to say, “Well, life is unfair.”
I do not believe that the Lord wants us to be victims. He does not want us to stifle His light because of what we have been through. Through the past thirty years, I’ve learned to trust, hope, and to dare to envision dreams coming true through His grace.
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.