Gabriel’s casts came off today, the ones with the holes over the knees that gave glimpses of his skin, the ones that rendered more than one pair of pants threadbare. Farewell, old friends.
They came off about an hour and a half ago, and now we are waiting to see the orthotics specialist, to see if the braces that were molded for him during surgery fit correctly, to see if our next transition phase can begin. The receptionist assured me that we are still deep in the queue, encouraged me to go get a coffee while Jared waits with Gabriel. So that’s what I’m doing, 2 1/2 hours into the appointment that has no end in sight. I’m writing this in the Starbucks line, in the parking garage, on the walk to the elevator.
God and I have the same conversation on many of these days, these days consumed with the drive and the waiting rooms anew the clinic tables. I tell Him how hard it is for me to believe that this is the best use of our time, all of this waiting, all of this discomfort for my son, all of these next steps that are not really solutions.
And He doesn’t really say anything back.
I do not take this to mean that He is angry or ignoring me. Strangely, I interpret it in just the opposite manner, which is how I am able to say that this is a conversation I’m having with Him, that it is not merely a litany of my complaints. I take His silence to mean that He is telling me just to be here, telling me that He is with me and with Gabriel, telling me to remember and believe that which I already know: His goodness. His relentless goodness that I do not understand but oh, how I long to. I want to understand His goodness in the room where the feet do not move and in the room where my friend’s baby is no more and in the rooms where friendships fall apart and marriages crumble and war and famine and hatred run rampant.
I understand His goodness factually and I understand it experientially at times, even today. I understand it when I see Gabriel’s legs kick free, when he touches his calves hidden month-long beneath plaster, when he smiles at the sensation of his tiny fingers grazing his unwrapped skin. I understand that goodness and pain can sit in the same space; I think of this when it ponder Jesus on the cross, searing loss leading many sons to glory. So maybe what I mean when I say I want to understand His goodness is that I want to experience it all of the time, that I want every enemy of the good to be eradicated, that I want this now. I don’t want to long for the kingdom anymore; I just want to see it come. But in the meantime, in all this waiting, whether it be behind the dashboard or behind the clinic doors or anywhere else, I ask Him to lead me on in my journey of learning to wait with hope, to give me the faith to expect him, to give me the tenacity to accept the pain of the world but not be crushed beneath it. I’m back with Jared and Gabriel now, we are waiting on the final orthotics fitting, waiting on the specialists so faithfully committed to making sure the fit is perfect, that his foot can breathe as it sits inside the plastic 23 hours a day. We had a taste of goodness just now as we learned that Gabriel does not have to wear his bar anymore, that his doctor does not see the benefit of it any longer with what we know of Gabriel’s condition. This is an intertwined goodness of course, reminding me of Micha Boyett’s recent words, on the braid of grief and love in the life of a mother with a child with special needs. If Gabriel were facing a typical clubfoot prognosis, then these would be the days of sleeping with the bar. But he’s not, and while what we are facing is largely unknown, the problems that the bar would prevent are not the problems that are specific to Gabriel.
So we’re choosing to rejoice today, even as we grieve, even as we take steps on a road we would not have chosen. God tells us He is good. He tells us this in His silence, tells us this in His shouting, and we walk toward the surety of Him, toward the fullness of Him we will one day know.
It’s 4:30 now; I’m standing in line to schedule Gabriel’s next appointments, which stand like mile markers on this road unknown. After this, we will go home to Owen, to the day to day that is really not very day to day feeling at all, in ways hard and ways wonderful. And He will be good in each second of it, and we will carry on.