Happy Birthday

Today is a deeply sad day. The kind of day where I want to hide out in my classroom, cry and eat muffins. So, that’s what I am doing…right now.

I don’t have very many days like this anymore, thankfully, but when I do, it can be paralyzing. Time and life stop in an instant and I am back to throwing adult fits again. I’m almost 30. My birthday is a week and a half away, and this will be my third birthday since Zack’s brain injury. That fact stirs up a lot of sadness about hopes and wishes lost or contingent.

Sometimes grief is sneaky, you’re just doing life and all the sudden it attacks you without warning. For six months, I have been wanting to go to a fancy-ish French restaurant for my birthday. The particular place I wanted to go to only does reservations for two week periods, you can’t book out ahead. I got online before the reservations opened to ensure we’d get a spot, but within three minutes of perusing my options, ALL of the available times for the dates I wanted were gone. With each click and red notification of unavailability, the wind was sucked right out of my sails. Soon I was a tearful, confused heap in front of my computer.

I was sad and frustrated and then angry at myself for being sad and frustrated. “Why am I so sad? Why am I crying? There are people all over the world who dream of a life like mine. You have more than you need. Stop being selfish.” Through tears, I questioned and scolded myself until I realized that it wasn’t the dinner reservations I was sad about. I was sad because what I really want, more than anything in the world, is for my guy to be whole. I would never need another gift again, if that one hope would be fulfilled.

But that’s not going to happen and this was just the last straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. One more disappointment. One more hope deferred.

In Chapter 13, verse 12 of the book of Proverbs it says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Solomon sure knew what he was talking about here. I testify.

I would have been stoked to go to this restaurant with my friend, but what my heart really wants is for my husband to be whole. The restaurant was just a placeholder, a placebo. The grief that came wasn’t for lost hope of French food-no, no. The French food just created an avenue for my soul to express its true longing.

The hope for healing for Zack has been deferred for almost three years. Charley has known him longer with a brain injury than without. Soon, more of our marriage will have been spent contending with this than not. These are the really hard truths of our life that I need to ponder and try to come to terms with. Day after day, prayer after prayer…hope deferred. I often wonder, how long I can keep hoping? How long can I keep praying before it just feels silly and futile? Truth is, sometimes it already does seem silly and futile.

The absence of Hope means giving up. I made a promise long ago that I would never give up. My daughter deserves Hope, my husband deserves Hope. My friends contending with the unknown, too many to name, deserve Hope, the hurting and exploited women in Africa, the orphans in Haiti, the displaced families in the Middle East, and all our friends in the brain injury community… deserve Hope.

I’m not sure if my Hope matters one iota to the condition of this world. But I’m going to believe it does and I’m going to make sure it’s felt and heard. Donald Miller describes hope as the “light shining back from the future”. I don’t know what anyone’s future holds, but I do know that I can make a difference right now. I can make people’s “right now” a little sweeter, the wait a little less painful and a little more bearable. I won’t give up, because of you and me, because we’re in this together.

Forward march!

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