There was a moment, the day before they harvested my eggs five years ago, when I decided God wasn’t going to help this time. The choice was clear as those IV fluids: either God is Good and it was all a dream; I don’t really need a bone marrow transplant; I won’t be infertile; I won’t lose my eyelashes, again.
Or, God, whatever God is, is a dick. And my infant won’t recognize her bald and bloated mama.
God chose the later— so did I. Nobody knew about my decision, I didn’t know about my decision. What I did know on that harvesting table, numb from the waste down, was that God wasn’t going to get one more tear. If God said yes to cancer again, then God couldn’t be trusted.
In pain doctors I trust. I pledge allegiance to my prescriptions.
God’s clearly a little confused about how to keep a human happy, so I’ll take it from here.
No, we need to increase my doses because I still feel like a human.
Though David asked repeatedly if I felt ready for church again, I didn’t feel welcome in the home a God who claims to be Love incarnate, not with three IV lines installed in my heart and hanging out of my chest. Not with the poisonous burning cement radiating from inside my femurs and pelvis, and urine that smells like a mummified rat soaking in its own urine. This isn’t Love. This is hell.
Who would choose God over opiates?
When we step away from the protective, warm wing of the Mama Hen, cold, bitterness, and fear start to pursue. Addicts love hiding, I found a cozy hiding spot in the corner of the big gray sofa. The Crate & Barrel blankets could keep my body warm enough, but an almost-corpse lay inside, hypothermia setting in.
Step 2: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
This was the easiest step for me.
All through my adolescence I watched my Higher Power restore and redeem my sister’s life, cancer, and death. I had living and dying proof that God was real, that Love was real. The weight of God’s glory pressed down on our dysfunctional family. Every time I tried to escape God’s loving, kind Goodness my sister would go and get healed, or something like that.
But on that table, as those kind, punk-ass doctors took the last of my fertility, everything changed, it had to. My sister’s faith & story couldn’t carry me anymore, I needed one of my own.
At rock bottom, bewildered and alone in the NICU, I finally understood what my best attempts to control my own life got me: a drugged, shaky newborn. A drugged, shaky Claire. His sweet warm baby body was all I needed to warm up the frozen insides that the Crate & Barrel blankets never could.
Last weekend I sat in a jacuzzi with David under yellowing aspens high up in the Rockies. Their quaking and quivering mirrored the soul and body shaking I used to endure. “It looks like an invisible toddler is shaking the branch back and forth,” I commented. The wind rattled the leaves dramatically, as if someone had given the wild thing a latte.
Then they calmed, and quickly ceased moving completely. The invisible mother must have called the invisible, caffeinated toddler in for bedtime. Peace at last for those crisping blades.
Little inside Claire tired from all the rustling and rattling around. I can’t do this alone.
Finally, there on the pillow on the floor in rehab, the convulsing stopped. Yes, Suboxone helped, but I think it was more like God calling away the wild addictions and toddler fears that shook me for too long.