Making Light of Things

July 2009 Archives

Scratch That

I run my fingers over the calloused skin for what feels like the millionth time, denying her desire to scratch her skin to ribbons with her nails. There are about a dozen of these zones of rough skin covering small areas of Anne’s skin — behind her knee and elbows, the outside of her ankle; the back of her neck. Her eyes are closed, but her hands take on a life of their own, alternating quickly between the zones, hoping to find a lapse in my defense, endlessly thirsting for the temporary relief of carving new scars on her skin.

I open up the almost-empty jar of calendula cream and apply another coat.

This is one of those nights I keep vigil over Anne’s eczema in the hope that God grants me enough patience to provide my daughter sufficient passage to a good night’s sleep.

All Stubbed Up

The whole family is down with the flu, and the ubiquity of the H1N1 news in the media does add that tinge of fear, I must admit. We’ve seen the family doctor but no tests were taken to determine if it is flying pig syndrome we’re suffering from.

Faith somehow managed to will herself out of falling sick. I’ve always known her to be a superwoman and all that, but this really takes the cake. Caleb and I have the perpetual runny nose and Anne has a cough that would rival the Marlboro Man’s. None of us has really come down with a fever, so that is something to thank God for.

Probably the result of the flu medicine, but the possibility of losing one of the kiddos to the bug isn’t lost on me. I just spent the last half hour applying vapor-rub to Anne’s chest as she repeated attempted to cough her lungs out. I lay there in the dark, soothing the girl to sleep as my brain recalibrated its place in the universe. Life and death — the very basics of existence we’ve struggled with through all of humankind — is something we still have no control over. For all the intellectual debate, all the scientific rants, all the technological achievements we’ve made, we are (in biblical terms) unable to make a single hair on our head black or white.

There comes a time to surrender the intellect, and it isn’t borne out of a defeatist attitude. It feels right to cede that the really important things in life are in the hands of God. You could say that it is the feeling that comes with using a crutch; but honestly, it feels more like the realisation that it is the air currents that bears the wings to soar, and endless flapping is a poor substitute.

The Path Taken

Dearest Faith,

It’s been 6 years since you walked down the aisle; 6 years since we exchanged our vows and chose to live the rest of our lives together.

I know that deep inside, you live with the guilt of “making” me marry you so early in my career. I had barely stepped off the plane, and the ink on my bachelor’s degree was still wet. I know that you feel bad that I had given up dreams of working abroad and the chance that my work would have made a difference in some global product of some sort. I know this because whenever I tell you of the wonderful people I’ve met in the States and the amazing work they’re doing, there’s the split second of a pained smile.

I do not mean for you to live with this guilt. It is unfair to compare the concreteness of reality to the fluffiness of dream scenarios where every little detail falls in place.

It is unfair because the last 6 years of being married to you has been an experience I can only describe as perfect, and all the other paths combined pale to a single moment shared with you. To have you beside me for the moments of laughter, tears, awe, uncertainty, good times and bad, and sharing the trenches of parenthood is the greatest blessing of my life.

Thank you for choosing to marry me.

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