The other night was my night to go home. Scarlett had been doing great so I drove home rather pleased. At home I fed our two kitties, and proceeded with some market research on a venture I had begun several months back. I texted my best buddy Mark, and we decided to go out. I was feeling good about things, and I hadn't seen him in over a month.
We went to B.J.'s, a fake brewery and restaurant (there's probably an actual brewery somewhere). I'm a big fan of craft beer, my favorites usually aligning themselves with Belgium, though most microbrews I can enjoy a great deal. I drank a Chimay Blue and he a...well I don't remember, and I filled him in on how things were going with Scarlett.
We talked. We quickly moved onto the topic of God, which wasn't all that unusual a topic for us. He knows my skepticism, but I always feel like he doesn't quite get my point, so like an annoying itch, I scratch at the problem and we circle and circle...but that's okay, because I like the subject.
Mid-sentence the bar manager comes by and we look up. One or the other of us starts pretending we're investors, and so then we're querying her about restaurant business thoughts. She walks off, bored or busy, and we're back to why I can't see suffering as compatible with omnibenevolence. Then he jokes about my ethical reluctance to eat meat as a plate of calamari is set in front of us. We go back and forth. So we ate fried calamari (Squids being acceptable to all parties), and played Investors/Philosophers/Food Activists. Like grown-up dress up.
At his house again, Mark pulled two cigars (from an island ending with the letter "A"), and we went for a walk. It was Cold, so I threw a hood over myself, ordinarily something I would avoid doing, to avoid appearing menacing...but no one was outside this late. 12:45AM, We walked outside of the condo complex, and around the corner onto the main drag.
We walked into this intense barrier of fog. It was too thick to see across the street, and I loved it. We walked, and puffed. I can't remember what we said.
We stopped in at a 7-11 and bought strange but appropriate food for 1:30 in the morning. Outside, we sat on a bench. A taxi flew into the store's handicapped spot and a guy in a Ralph Lauren sweatsuit tore inside yelling at a cell phone on speakerphone that he held in front of his face. Two lanky figures walked from the curb into the middle of the parking lot and began to play hackey sack without speaking. We didn't register the bizarreness of this at first, because they barely spoke, and what they did say was muffled in the fog. But their half visible forms became our primary attention as I drank red bull and ate strawberry mochi balls. The angry cab passenger came out, still yelling "no, no man, I ain't going to" before flying off back into the mist.
We walked back to Mark's house and then called it a night.
I woke up the next morning, cigar heavy but somehow refreshed and ready to fight for Scarlett! It was a night off. I also put in an e-mail to the pastor of Brandi's parents' church, and he agreed to sit down with me and discuss my thoughts.
As a commenter put it, we have finished a sprint in this surgery, and now must prepare ourselves for a marathon. I think the other night put a punctuation mark between the two races for me. Looking forward, we're going to have learn to live regular lives again, on top of what happens.
Chris, you write beautifully. I'm glad that you were able to take a break from it all. You probably needed this to help you be at your best for Scarlett. I'm so happy to see the she is doing well. I continue to send positive thoughts and prayers and visualize her happy, healthy and unscathed by this.
Perhaps the insight of Matt Hammitt will shed some light on why God allows suffering. Matts son was born with hypoplastic left heart and has undergone surgery with more to follow. I am praying for sweet baby Scarlett.
Here will make you laugh....I thought Brandi was writing this until the very end. Q guy friend with drinks, cigars, late night convenience store food haha! Make yourself have more of these nights and (let Brandi have some too). it helps you remember what the outside world is.
I hope you get what you need from the preacher. I can tell you, I used to not really be so sure of God myself, why he would let his children suffer and so on. But over the years, I have come not only to an acceptance, but to an understanding as well, that this life thing is bigger than me, ya know? Like, something may happen to someone for the sole purpose of strengthening someone else who is there with them, because that someone else may have to deal with something in the future that they were not prepared for before this happened. Does that make sense? I believe that all babies and children go to Heaven, so sometimes the Lord just calls them home, only having sent them to Earth for the short time they were here, to help someone else. I don't know if everything I've said makes sense to you, I just hope you can come to know God and put your faith in him and cast your burdens upon him. No matter what happens in your life, he loves you very much. Some things are just bigger.
A relationship with God is very personal. Sometimes it can be very hard to reach God in the middle of a crisis. It's not something you can conjure up. When you have a sick child everyone hits you with bible verses and declarations that god never gives you more than you can handle as if these things will magically cure everything. It takes time to build any relationship especially one with God.
When my daughter had brain surgery I wanted to pray but could not. It just wasn't happening. I was so glad that I had hundreds of people praying for her even though I couldn't find the words. I finally found the words months later. Months later I was able to tell God how angry and upset I was with him and that helped heal our relationship.
There's no magic wand for these situations. There is no right or wrong way. This is your journey too. Glad you enjoyed those cigars from Moldova or was that Slovakia. Hmm Bolivia.....
Christopher, I think I share a lot of your scepticism. My husband and I have long intense discussions about the my questions and disbelief. One thing you can't deny though is miracles do happen, and scarlett is definite proof of that. You guys have been so blessed.
Chris, You don't know me. I understend your doubts. Through much grief and loss in my life, I have come to really know the truth in God. I wil be praying for you as I am praying for my son who still can't understand why a God who is all powerful and all loving could take away his two fathers. God also understand and will be waiting for you and my son Jeremy.
I understand your skepticism in god. I am an atheist and there is nothing wrong with being an atheist. There is nothing missing in my life because of it. I see the world as a miraculous place. One in which humans have accomplished, learned, and developed an amazing amount in the short time we have been on earth. I believe Scarlett will get better not because of all the prayers to god but because her doctors and nurses are amazing at what they do. They have studied for years and had many patients before Scarlett. I'm not trying to knock anybodies belief in god but i just want to let you know that there are people who are following your story who are caring and thoughtful without believing in god. I know you've been getting alot of people saying they are praying for Scarlett and hoping that you'll find god while going through this ordeal. I can't imagine what you are going through but I find it very rude of people to use this trying time in your life to try to convert you. I know people are trying to support you but I wish they would take your beliefs more seriously.
Chris, I have been following Scarlett's story for a few weeks now. And as I have been praying for both Scarlett and for you. As awful as this has been for you, I hope this process brings you closer to the answers you are seeking for yourself. Personally, I do think Scarlett's progress and surgeries, etc have been aided by the massive amounts of prayers being said for this sweet little girl by so many strangers. The day of her first surgery, as I watched the FB page, it just lifted me up so much to see how many people were wearing red and praying for her.
And good for you for getting a night out. You deserve it. (And, LOL, I also thought this was Brandi writing until the end)
I think there is a book in there somewhere, Chris.
Who knew that through your fight for your daughter you would be such an incredible writer. Reading about someones baby girl fighting for her life is never easy, but the way you right has me coming back for more. Not just updates on Scarlette,but on you as well.
PS you write like Matt Logelin does over at mattlogelin.com. check him out.
You are such an amazing writer...you are so descriptive, I can almost picture myself there with you. I know in the future Scarlett will be able to look back on this blog and be so proud of her Dad & Mom and their amazing & strong words...
I agree, you are an amazing writer! Reading this blog entry was sitting down with a current favorite novel! And I am picky with my reading selections. You should most definitely pursue writing as a career!
I have been following your blog since day 1 and both you and brandi are very talented writers. I definitely recommend taking this blog and bein writing a book....your written words flow from the page and are so descroptive and interesting...it makes us want to read more and more because we are deeply connected with your family and miss Scarlett above all, but at the same time your writing is creative, informative, and draws me in every time...:)
What a wonderful account. Meaningful and uplifting, I cannot begin to imagine how much you needed that break. You 3 are so lucky to have each other.
That's awesome that you could take some time off and recharge! I am really glad you are wiling to sit down and talk to the pastor! See, there are things in life that sometimes people can't just understand or even accept until something happens and our lives are completely turned around. For me it's like a wake up call that something needs to get done! Trust me, one day it will just be all clear to you, maybe not just yet, but one day it will! You just need to be willing to continue searching for your answer! God is great and He has does great things for his children, including you and your family! Scarlett is doing great! Isn't' that an AMaZING thing? "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
God loves you, has been there in every step of the way with you, brandy and of course of little Scarlett. Jeremiah 29:11
Nobody is trying to "convert you" but as you seek for anwswers I hope you find what you are looking for. Will keep praying for you and your family:)
BBC april 2009
I would agree 100%. Both you and Brandi are excellent writers and I would support a book should you venture down that path. I felt like I was sitting on the bench with you (although I also thought it was odd that Brandi was smoking a cigar...lol) I know a lot of us feel as though Scarlett is one of our own kids! You guys let us in as if we are there and it makes our fight for her even stronger. Someone else posted that we clearly understand where Scarlett gets her fight from. She is a product of her parents. You guys are an amazing family and we are all fighting hard for that little butterfly.
"Never lose thy trust in God. Be thou ever hopeful, for the bounties of God never seize to flow upon man. If viewed from one perspective, they seem to decrease, but if viewed from another, they are full and complete. Man is under all conditions immersed in a sea of God's blessings. Therefore, be thou not hopeless under any circumstances, but rather be firm in thy hope." --from the Writings of the Baha'i Faith (www.bahai.org)
The purpose of the difficulties we experience in life, as unjust and debilitating as they may feel, is to strengthen our character, develop our spiritual capacity, and increase our trust in God. I hope that this time in your life allows you to trust that your family and your heart is being held in God's reliable hands. My love to you and your family as you strive to find what you are seeking.
I have been following this blog, and am probably much like you, agnostic, but am teetering on atheist, and it's mostly due to stories like this. I just don't think a "god" would do this, make people suffer this way. See it's not just Scarlett, it's her parents, her Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, everyone around her, and if the DOCTORS did not perform a miracle, it would have been devastating for all those people. Had you guys not made the decisions you did to get her help, there would've been no "miracle", so really, the miracle came from you two and your Dr's, nurses and Surgeons. It never hurts to go down the path of figuring out your faith, but just know that us agnostics/atheists are rooting hard for you guys too, and following your stories and blogs. If you feel like you just need a sense of Community without all the judgement and "have to's" you can also visit a UU Church, here is more info on that. It may be a good option for you guys, and also for someone more understanding of your belief system. http://www.uua.org/
LOL what an awesome night. I'm so glad that you got out there to recharge your batteries Chris! I can't imagine how good that must feel and I'm sure you return to your sweet baby well rested and ready to fight.
I think it's so great that you are going to talk to the pastor. It took me a long time to find God, but I've never been more thankful for my relationship with Him. I promise you, God will hold your hand through this and lead you through. Our pastor just recently did a sermon on "Why God allows suffering" and there were so many amazing points that he told us, but the one that stood out to me was that by allowing suffering, he creates an example for everyone else out of you. And I can see that in you and Brandi. You are both so incredibly strong, I am absolutely amazed everyday by your strength and courage and you've shown the world (literally the world! Do you have any idea how far this blog has stretched!!)that in the face of the most devastating thing, there is hope and light and strength and courage and love.
You've got nothing to lose by seeking out the lord. He loves you more than you can possibly understand.
Oh, and I know somebody already mentioned this, but I highly recommend reading Bowen's Heart. AWESOME!
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