The Drive

Wednesday, 27 Mar 2002

I got the call, or the notice you might say, for Jury Duty. I didn't want to go. I prayed to not have to go. I called, and was told be there at 8:00, and don't be late.

So, here I am at the Courthouse. Sitting, waiting and writing. I don't really mind being here, itís just that thereís always other things I could be doing. But then again, maybe that is why I am here. Maybe God is saying sit down, be still, and know that I am God.

The days have been so busy. It seems the more we try to cut out of our schedule, to simplify our lives right now, the busier the days seem to get. Why is that? I'm not really sure. We are both tired and both needing quiet. It seems the best way for us to heal is with good input and restful days.

I think thatís why I prayed for no jury duty, it was something more on the to do list, but maybe thatís why I'm here. To sit and relax a bit. There are no dishes to do here, no clothes to wash, no errands to run, no yard to mow. Just a roomful of adults doing what I am doing, waiting. Well, I'm writing, but that's relaxing to me.

Many have taken off work I assume, some are retired. Some are younger, perhaps with small children. There are college students and business executives. One lady sits knitting. Others are reading or watching TV. Some are eating. Itís not a bad place to be. Itís kind of interesting in fact.

I haven't been called for many years. Is that Godís timing again, knowing now I am able to be here? And what if they ask my occupation? What is it I do? I was a stay at home mom for almost 24 years. I'm not anymore. Is my occupation now a grieving mother? That would be an interesting answer if that question should be asked. "I work on grief, morning, noon and night."  I do work two days a week as the receptionist at church, but thatís not an occupation, itís more like a hobby to me. Pure fun!

I think another reason I am here today is to take a few more baby steps along this path of grief. I didn't realize until getting ready to leave this morning just where I would be going...right past Kaiser in Oakland. The hospital, the clinic, the memories.

I felt like Bill Murray in the movie "What about Bob?".  He had trouble leaving his house, getting in elevators and on buses etc... As I pulled onto the freeway this morning the fear and the dread started to rise. I was on a much too familiar path...one Phil and I had driven too many times to count. Heading out for his treatments, his transfusions, and his check-ups. Heading out for tests to once again hear the news...the Leukemia is back. Heading out to check him into the hospital and then driving back home alone as he slept in his hospital bed for the night. Heading back early the next morning to the hospital, listening to inspirational music and praying all the way for strength to get through the day. Sometimes picking up donuts hoping it would bring a smile to his face when smiles were quickly disappearing because of the bags of chemo that were dripping into his body.

Yes, heading out as I was doing this morning, alone, and starting to fear. Not wanting to drive that direction, remembering all these trips on this freeway. Baby steps...I thought. Breathe deep...

Relax, and Pray for help! Let God fight this battle, rest in Him. Itís only a road, only thoughts. Only the enemy causing fear where there is no need to fear. Focus! Focus hard! I started to relax, thinking of the battle that I could not see, the spiritual battle, as I was quoting scripture. "Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God."

"Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

I used to laugh at Bob in the movie and not understand his phobias. It was funny, humorous... this was not. I understood better now how something so seemingly simple as leaving your house or getting on an elevator can be so hard. I don't know what he was thinking but I knew what I was thinking and it was hard. I was expected for Jury Duty, and I had to make this trip, like it or not.

I started to remember our first trip to Kaiser. How we had just moved back from Germany and we were getting set up with new doctors for Phil to continue on with his care. He had had Leukemia for just over a year at that time, and he was only 11. We got the directions to Kaiser in Oakland and went for his first of many, many appointments. By the time we were done, his chart had gotten so thick it barely fit in the holder on the door. It was always placed there, waiting for the doctor to come in and add more pages to his file. Time after time in the clinic, signing in, getting weighed in and measured, and then taking care of whatever business was needed on that visit. We would see all the friendly faces of the staff we got to know so well. We would check out the new fish in the tank and maybe pick out a movie if the visit would be a long one.

I started to think about the very last visit to the clinic six days before Phil died. He had a non-stop nosebleed and needed platelets. The staff was so kind, so caring. They probably knew that day what our minds could not yet fathom. The end was drawing near. I thank God for those who choose to work in this field. It takes very special people to work in an Oncology/Hematology clinic.

This clinic is right across the street from the hospital. The very same hospital that Phil was born in, although they don't deliver babies there anymore. Driving once again in this direction, all I could do was pray. There were too many memories to sort through them all. I thanked God that Phil was not with me today. That may seem strange but the reason being, he wasn't in the seat next to me suffering anymore. His suffering was finished and he was well now. We wouldn't need to stop at all the "familiar" spots where he could be sick. This time I was alone in my car. Just me and God, and with Godís help I could drive this freeway of memories one baby turn of the tire at a time and survive with some sanity left.

It was a beautiful drive really. The hills are green and the sun was shining. I needed God to open my eyes to that and He did. The exit came and went and I looked at the hospital and prayed for all the children there now who are still dealing with this dreadful disease and so many others. May God help them. After driving past the clinic/hospital exit, the one we know so well, I then took a different exit onto another freeway, rose up the ramp and over the old freeway and in so doing I took in a whole new view of the bay, of San Francisco and turned toward the city of Oakland. It was quite beautiful. It was as if a new world had opened up for me and God was saying, itís time to move on a bit further. Leaving more of the painful memories behind and enjoying what lies ahead. Phil is fine, he is with Me, and you will be fine, one baby step at a time.

Jury Duty, a roomful of people all with stories of their own. Thank you God for bringing me here to teach me new things, when I would have chosen to be at home doing my own thing. You always know better than I. I just needed to breathe, to relax and to pray. You would show the way.

"You are dismissed". Thatís right! God didn't want me on jury duty today. He just wanted me to take a drive, to do some healing and to grow closer to him in the process. Coming home in the car the song was playing "Better is one day" from this scripture verse:

Psalm 84:10
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.

It wasn't even a day in court because itís only 10:15 a.m. as I write this, but I am grateful for my time in court because by being there, I was in Godís courts soaking in all He wanted me to learn.

"I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful." (A line from "What about Bob?")

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This was a few pages from my book, which is separate from my e-mails. You may share this with others also, if you wish.