Can there still be joy?

One of the strange things that Susan and I have talked a lot about lately is dealing with how others perceive how things should be for us. Or I guess how we perceive they perceive...if that makes any sense.

Our child is dying. We have know this for a long time. We suspected it was likely years ago, but for the last year we have known it was happening. In recent weeks the decline of Nathan's health has become much more pronounced. We really don't know how much more time we have left with him, but the units to measure it in are weeks or months. This reality is every bit as horrific as you imagine. But it is different than you imagine. I know that it is different for other parents experiencing it than it is for us, and it is even all that more different for those lucky enough to never experience it. If you have friends or acquaintances dealing with something like this, do them a favor and don't project how you guess you might feel and act onto them. You will be surprised that they don't act and feel that way and your surprise will cause them unnecessary guilt or questioning about their way of dealing and living their lives.

You might be surprised that they don't sit around at home acting on their darkest emotions. They may not stay glued to their sick child. They just might go ahead and go to choir rehearsal or spend Monday night playing basketball. And they just might not be able to help finding a little bit of joy in the midst of their sorrow.

Susan posted about finding moments of joy in these dark days. I can't help but feel some joy ever day for my three children. It is complicated and bittersweet when it comes to Nathan. My girls are so wonderful. Julia is so dynamic and free-spirited. Lauren is adorable. I can't help but find happiness in my daughters. And it is my responsibility to allow myself to feel the joy the bring and to let them know that it comes from them.

I only know how I feel and act now. In many ways I'm a mess and I could become a complete wreck. We are losing a son. Our pain reflects the love we have for him. That is a lot of pain. We have two incredible daughters who we love and who will always need to know how much we love them and how much joy they are able to bring us even in the midst of our family suffering and loss. The joy I experience through them reflects the love we have for them. That is a lot of joy.

I can't imagine going through this without Julia and Lauren. They bring me great joy even today and I pray that I have the strength to continue to allow myself to fully experience the happiness that they bring me.


Jill O said...

You are amazing Lucas.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for saying all this. You and Susan don't have to explain yourselves to anyone, yet I am thankful that you did. You are so right--since no one can really understand what you are feeling and experiencing, the best we can do is try to place ourselves in your shoes. But as you point out, even that doesn't always fit. Thanks for being patient with those who love you, however much we stumble around in the process. It seems so logical, so natural, so human--and yet so divine--that you would be living moments of joy even while in the realm of so much pain. I pray that you and Susan see even more.

Love, Lisa

Matlatzinca said...

You and Susan are unbelievable. We share in your pain and your joy. Thank you for sharing this with us. Even as we impotently look on Nathan's journey we are inspired by your strength. We send you so much love. I wear a bracelet that says "LiveStrong", but you actually do.

Anonymous said...

GOD BLESS YOU AND YOURS, LUCKE. It must be the human survival instinct: being able to find a bit of joy, even though. Susana

JimII said...

"If you have friends or acquaintances dealing with something like this, do them a favor and don't project how you guess you might feel and act onto them."

This makes sense. We should say how we feel and what we think, not what we think the other party feels or thinks. If I say, "Wow Bob, how can you come out drinking so soon after your divorce?" I'm probably really thinking, "Wow, Bob's divorce kind of freaks me out."

You explained that "they just might not be able to help finding a little bit of joy in the midst of their sorrow."

Right now, in this moment, I'm glad I know Nathan. I think he is joyful and beautiful and has his dad's wit. Some day he will no longer be here, and from that time forward I will be glad to have known him. I'll tear up when I think about how joyuous it is to remember him. I'll speculate about how weird it is that I knew him so well with so little physical contact.

Thank God for Nathan. Thank God for the joy he brings today and will bring in the future. That's how I feel.

Anonymous said...

You and Susan are amazing and I've been a silent observer of your guys' blogs for a while now (I'm a friend of Susan's) but really felt the urge to comment-you have such an elegant way of hitting the nail on the head with this post. When you have not been through such a situation, you really can't know how it feels and even if you have been through the same exact situation as someone else, your feelings may be very different from them. I think you are both amazing parents and knowing that t your girls need you in a very real and positive way is inspiring and encouraging. You are always in our prayers here and our hearts go out to you. Every day is a miracle.

Kelly said...

Been reading Nathan's journal...

Thinking about you all...

a lot.