Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Guess Who's Home!

There's no place like home!
After a very long month away from his home, his friends, and his family, Jonah is finally going to be sleeping in his own bed tonight. God has certainly been keeping us on our toes and teaching us to hold our plans very loosely, but after all of the unexpected changes during these past several weeks, we are praying that this week at home will be refreshingly mundane. Jonah is incredibly happy just to have the privilege of setting his feet on familiar ground, and we are so thankful to simply be together as a family again.

Look at Liam's face in that picture. A happy reunion, if there ever was one. Liam and Jonah have seen each other for a grand total of about thirty minutes during the last four weeks. We tried—twice—to get the whole family together at the lake house, but both times our two littlest got sick and couldn't be around Jonah, so tonight was  our first family meal since August 19th. It's a joyous occasion, but still bittersweet, since we know that he has to leave again on Monday. However, we hope to make these six days as sweet as possible for him—and for all of us.

Jayson and his mom and I have been driving back and forth between home and the hospital and the lake house, sharing the load of caring for a household divided by distance. This has made our schedule rather hectic, but it has also allowed each of us to have time with kids in both places. It's been difficult, but it's been livable. However, there's nothing that compares to being all together in our own home. So wonderful. Never underestimate the value of normalcy.

But then again, never underestimate the value of trials. Sometimes the deepest, richest grace comes wrapped in the most unappealing packages. I have discovered flashes of glory in the most unlikely settings. I was loading groceries into my car after a little shopping trip in Coeur d'Alene last week, and, noticing something moving out of the corner of my eye, looked up to see this bright bird of paradise hopping around inside the weathered cab of a dilapidated yellow pickup truck. Sometimes grace is like that: beautiful, glorious, and surprising—and all the more so because we find it within the ugliest situations.

These weeks have been a wild and unpredictable ride. I have tried multiple times this week to sit down and document it, but blogging without a proper computer has been more difficult than I thought. I hope to get a laptop soon so that I can keep you updated more easily. Now that I'm home, I'll try to fill you in on what we've been up to these last several days:

While I was home last week, I was able to do a few fun things with my other boys, including joining Paul's and Asaph's classes at the county fair. But most of my week was spent away from home with Jonah.

The Friday before last was quite the preposterous series of events. After a long day at the hospital for a clinic appointment, Jonah and I returned to the lake house only to discover that we had locked ourselves out. My keys were on the kitchen counter, and the other set of keys was ninety miles away. Thankfully Jayson and the family were already planning to come up to see us that evening, so they hurried to the van and got there as soon as they could. In the meantime we met a few of our sweet neighbors—including another ten-year-old boy who has been on cancer drugs himself for a kidney disorder—and enjoyed a lovely afternoon by the water, eating grapes and reading aloud while we waited.

Once Jayson arrived, we breathed a brief sigh of relief. And then chaos ensued. We were halfway through unloading the van while the big boys ran through the house shouting excitedly to each other as they discovered each new room, when Liam threw up on the hearth, Asaph started coughing, Jayson and I  scrambled to quarantine and disinfect, and Grannie M buckled both little boys back into the car and drove them the whole 90 miles back home for the weekend. The remaining boys tore into a huge box of gifts from Jonah's baseball team, I followed them around picking up bits of wrapping paper, and then the spaghetti boiled over. Surprisingly (no doubt because so many people have been praying for us) we all managed to keep our sanity and sense of humor through the whole ridiculous scene. And we were still able to enjoy a beautiful Saturday on the lake the next day with my brother's family and both my parents. My dad rented a boat, and we all—even Jonah—spent several pleasant hours enjoying the water and the warm weather to celebrate my dad's 60th.

In addition to a few regularly scheduled visits to the hospital, Jonah also managed to visit the Emergency Room. Twice. Last Wednesday morning I took him in after he couldn't stop vomiting, and then on Friday evening, right after Paul and Jude came to stay the weekend, I had to take him back to the ER for severe abdominal pain. That night was particularly rough; I've never seen him in such agony. The pain turned out to be simply the result of a slowed digestive system on account of the drugs he's on, but that didn't make it any less miserable. After a few doses of morphine, an X-ray, and a CT scan to rule out more serious problems, he was admitted, and we spent the rest of night in the hospital—by which I mean, we got to bed at 5:30 in the morning and slept until 9:00. Yaaaawn. But later that day, after a good nap, Jonah was back on his feet and doing this:

We've had our difficult moments, to be sure, but Jonah has been remarkably brave and has maintained good spirits and steadfast faith during some very challenging times. Please pray that he continues to pass this monumental test. We are thankful to know that Jonah is done with the first phase ("induction") of his 3 1/2-year treatment. Jonah's hair is just now starting to fall out slowly, but today he was able to quit taking his steroid, which means the puffiness in his face should start to subside over the next few weeks. This morning he also had a spinal tap and a bone marrow aspirate. The results of his bone marrow sample will determine how aggressive the next phase of treatment must be, so please pray for the tests to come back negative, with no cancer cells.

Thank you all for praying for us and for providing us with meals, cards, gifts, rides, donations, and encouragement throughout this first difficult month. We know that the grace of God has upheld us and met our many needs, and we know that much of that grace has come through your hands. Thank you. Please rejoice with us in Jonah's homecoming, and please continue to remember us all in your prayers as we move on to the next phases of Jonah's battle with leukemia. We sure do love that boy.


Roberta Dahlin said...

It's good to read a fuller account of things from you, Hannah, and see, again, your faith and faithfulness in the rough and crazy. I love the wild-bright bird in the pickup, and the boiling-over noodles, and of course the good news as well as the ridiculous. How good to know Jonah is back here in our little town this week.

Deb Bee said...

Jonah, WOW, what wonderful playing! I loved it! More! More!

Diane Garaway said...

Thanks for the update and the very descriptive account of the recent events. I did have a few laughs as the words became pictures in my mind! We all continue to pray for you here in Santa Cruz and I, for one, am very inspired and built up in my faith as I see you all walking with so much courage and grace. Love to you.

Sandy said...

I found your blog after the femina ladies recommended it over at their blog, and I have found it very interesting and encouraging! Please know that we are praying for Jonah and your family often. We are very glad to hear that he has been able to go home.

Sandy in Tanzania

Alicia said...

I am Erika's sister-in-law and have been praying for you all since Jonah was first diagnosed, but now I sit here with a lump in my throat completely in awe of how the Lord has given you such a heart of praise in these seemingly dark moments. I used to have such a fear of what the future may bring, especially in regards to my children, but a friend once told me, "yes, but God's grace isn't with you there yet. He is with you now, and whatever happens in the future, he will be with you then." You are a living testimony of God's grace being with you in the unimaginably difficult "future" and I know an encouragement to many many people. Congratulations on your sweet reunion and I will pray that there will be no more ER visits to steal your time away from one another.

windandbigwaves said...

the Grieser's are an inspiration to all. Praying and thinking of the whole family. Jonah your amazing.

Love the Allen's

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