Yes, it's Sunday morning, and I'm still in my pajama pants and a sweatshirt, sitting in front of my computer. I'm here by myself...Brad and Bethany went hunting yesterday, and Bethany shot at, but missed, a "monster buck". That's only the second time she's ever missed something she's shot at! They were going to come home from the camp after the Razorback game last night, but it was so late by the time the game was over (double overtime), and you know, that monster buck was still out there somewhere, so they decided to stay another night and hunt this morning. So, I felt that this was the perfect opportunity to have some alone time, where I could really focus and put the finishing touches on a presentation I've been working on.
And the timing is good, too, because we are giving the presentation this afternoon! Today is the day we will be speaking at the Arkansas Children's Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic memorial service. It is an annual event, where all the parents who have lost children to cancer at ACH in the past year get together for a time of remembrance.
We were asked to speak at this event several weeks ago, and I've had plenty of time to prepare. Yes, the last few weeks have been very busy, with basketball starting back up and Bethany being involved with a school play...but it's not like I haven't had time to work on this speech. It's just been a very difficult speech to write, knowing that our audience will be entirely made up of grieving families. I want to be so careful not to inadvertently add to anyone's pain (see my four recent blog posts about grief), but to be an encouragement to them, and to help them see that it does get better with time. I want to share our faith in God, yet not have anyone feel that we are shoving our beliefs on them. I want to share about the things God has taught us over the past 21 months, yet not come across as if we've got it all figured out, because we certainly don't!
I have spent a lot of time in prayer about the content of this speech. I'm not sure if I can really explain it very well, but when I write something like this (and even when I write on this blog sometimes), it's as if God won't give me the words to say until my heart is right, and ready to receive them. And sometimes, He only gives me a little bit at a time. And I can tell when I go off writing on my own...it comes off sounding stilted and often self-aggrandizing. That's how the writing of this Children's Hospital presentation has been...it has come to me in bits and pieces, I've written it in fits and starts, and it's taken awhile for it to come together into a coherent whole. So I got up early this morning, spent some time in prayer, and I believe this speech is now in a presentable form.
Now my prayer is simply for strength to make it through this speech emotionally. I have not been back to Arkansas Children's Hospital since the terrible day when we left there to go to the hospice center. I even get a queasy feeling in my stomach on the rare occasions that we've driven by it since that day. Not that all of my memories associated with ACH are bad...Some of my very best memories were made there...I can't really explain the effect it has on me. So just going there today will be emotional for me. Thankfully, the memorial service is not in the main building where we always went, so that will help. I believe some of the Hem/Onc Clinic staff will be at this service, and I am a little nervous about seeing them. We haven't seen Hannah's oncologist since the day we left, and that will be an emotional reunion as well. He and the nurses there loved our daughter, and we've missed seeing them.
Brad just called, and they're on their way home. No monster buck. Of course, you never get anything when you hunt on Sunday morning, isn't that right? That's what I've always heard anyway!
Thanks for your prayers for us, as always. I know there are many of you who pray for us often, and we are so appreciative of that. I can't help but feel that I'd rather be anywhere today other than this memorial service...Hannah should be here with us, and we should be getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving together this week. But she's not...she's where she was created to be...and while we're waiting to be reunited with her, we will seek to honor the Lord by living well and sharing what He's taught us through Hannah's life and death.