Several weeks ago, Discovery Channel heavily touted an upcoming special in which a man named Paul Rosolie was going to allow himself to be eaten alive by an anaconda in order to raise awareness to the plight of the monster snake, whose habitat is being destroyed by deforestation.
When I read of Rosalie’s plan, I had several questions come to mind. The first was the very obvious, Why again? It was a question without a good answer (because people are stupid was the best I could come up with), so I quickly moved on to question number two:
I wonder how it would feel to be squeezed into the belly of an anaconda.
You know, besides completely and utterly terrifying…
As the events of the last few days have unfolded, I’m beginning to understand what that type of squeeze feels like. It’s almost crushing.
We got the call we didn’t want to get today. “His breathing is labored. They’ve called in hospice. You need to get home.”
Tomorrow morning, my husband will board an airplane and he will go home to say goodbye to his dad. We knew this day was coming – we didn’t think it would come so fast.
How do you say goodbye to the man who has been the rock of the family? The man who stands in the driveway and waits for you when he knows you’re almost there every time you come to town? The man whose dry sense of humor is what makes holidays and summer visits so very much fun?
The squeeze hurts. It’s tight, and you feel like you can’t breathe. But you must – you must keep breathing because you are still here…living.
I will remain at home with the kids. There isn’t any reason for all of us to go up just yet. We said our goodbyes over Christmas, and they were sweet goodbyes. They weren’t sad, but rather joyful and peaceful. I knew it would be the last time I saw my second father, and I also knew it was going to be okay.
But I still don’t like it.
“K” is with us for another week and a half, and the squeeze gets tighter still. It’s been different this year in ways we didn’t quite predict. But tonight she and I sat beneath the stars and enjoyed the balmy Florida winter air. She drank her coffee and I drank my tea, and we just talked. We shared life in broken, simple Russian sentences.
This morning when I woke up, I prayed that the Lord would help me to truly and deeply love her. I didn’t want to just say it – I wanted to feel it, and tonight I did. As she shared more of her story with me, I felt a surge of love flood through me. It wasn’t emotional, but it was very poignant and real.
As I looked at her, I felt the same wave of love that I feel when I look at any of my children.
I don’t know how the next week and a half will play out for us. When I think through the potentials and the possibilities, I feel squeezed so tight I can hardly breathe. There’s a grieving family 16 hours away who I long to be near, and there are the children in the rooms down the hall who need me here.
I’m being swallowed.
As I’ve prayed over our current circumstances, I’ve asked that the Lord would give me the strength and the grace to walk this path well. He is answering that prayer, and of course He would.
I only feel the tightening at night when the sun goes down and the house gets still, and I run through the logistics of every decision that needs to be made, of the heartache and loss that the young woman down the hall has already experienced, of the sting that my children will feel as they experience death for the first time, and I have to slow down, relax, and take deep breaths.
Tonight Tia asked me if her Papa was going to die soon and I told her yes.
“So he’s going to get to see Jesus in a few days?” she asked.
I nodded, because sometimes speaking hurts.
“He’s lucky,” she said. “He won’t have to ever be sick again, and he will get to be with God.”
The squeeze hurts, and it isn’t comfortable. I’d rather not be in this place. But the squeeze is also good. It breaks us down and folds us into the lap of a child with innocent, unwavering faith.