Today Grace and I had playtime as Luke was at preschool. She wanted to play mermaids who needed to be in the "hopspital." I really liked that she tucked her mermaid into a hospital bed that inclined, and that she had the mommy mermaid stay with her in bed the whole time. She said the mermaid didn't kick so the mermaid mommy would sleep with her. (As soon as Grace wasn't in pain I started sleeping on the parent pullout bed because she kicks so much. Apparently she misses that.)
She wanted to give her mermaid a special name, so she named her "A-B-C Mouse.com." I tried to convince her to call her "mousey" or even "A-B-C-mouse," but no, the ".com" was required. Grace gave her mermaid a thorough checkup with blood pressure and temperature as well as an xray, blood transfusion and a port access. She was visited by the "art thera-bus," aka art therapist as well as three kitty pet therapists.
Her mermaid stayed in her hospital bed most of the time. She said the mermaid was sad she couldn't go home and see her daddy. She said she missed her sisters (though Grace only has Luke, but only had other girl mermaid characters to play). She said she wanted to go home but she had to stay as long as Grace's longest stay, so the mermaid stayed for seven and a half weeks in her block hospital.
The good news is that the storyline cheered up considerably when the bad guys came. Ursula and Malificent invaded the hospital to try to make all the kids sad and scared. But brave A-B-Cmouse.com saved the day! She captured the bad guys and tricked them so that their evil plan was thwarted. Then all the kids could be happy and get better and they gave the little mermaid high-fives and big hugs.
Tonight, as Chad and I were talking, we mentioned the satisfaction that comes from being used by God. That when we care for others, help them, pray for them, and love them, that life is full of joy even in our hard circumstance. Not that we're doing much right now, but even sharing smiles at the hospital with other kids and moms goes far there. We've had several opportunities to pray with other moms and Grace has shown several kids how she stays brave when she gets her port access. Chad brought his coworkers donuts today, just to be kind.
Not that any of that is noteworthy, the reason I'm sharing is because it's simple things that we can all do. It's simple ways that God uses us that makes life exciting and worth living. Part of the reason why we're not being drug under from the weight of what's going on is that we see this as something God can use to make our lives purposeful. Grace defeating Ursula to save the other toys may seem just like play, but it's insight to how she's coping with all of this. Grace knows her life is purposeful and that she still sees herself as strong, even when at the hospital.
Anyone who's read my earlier posts know what a struggle it's been for me to accept that. I didn't want to be used God when Grace was diagnosed. I was repulsed at the thought that God would allow this to happen for any reason and I didn't care what good He brought out of it. I still don't believe He caused the cancer, but I accept now that He is able to do good. And as I'm starting to look for ways to be used by God, He is using us (in tiny, tiny ways).
We've also been shaped by the people around us. Chad and I have both been deeply touched by all of our friends and family who have shared our burden. The examples given to us on how to love (meals, cards, finances, people shopping for us, homemade blankets and hats, giving blood, sending Grace and Luke toys, doing housework and gardening, taking care of Luke- the list goes on and on), people have been so generous to us through this time and it has really encouraged us to want to grow. We want to learn more about how to love others.
I feel like life is not all loss for us. That the balance is being swayed into the positive again as we see God working in the lives of those around us, and as we see people reaching into our lives and helping us.
And the happy ending- Grace's mermaid spent a long time in the hospital, but she did a good job taking her medicine and was finally able to go back home.