This is us yesterday, celebrating. Zach was singing and dancing in a very un-Mennonite way. I’m sorry that it’s been about six months. Please forgive me because it wasn’t at all personal…it’s only that I had a lot I needed to get done. I realized around Christmas that I was hungry for something that I thought I had lost my appetite for: insanely hard work. The kind of work where you feel a little panicked sitting down—how will I get it all done?—but then you deliciously lose track of time. I wanted to write a book. I wanted to get tenure. It all feels very important until you realize that if your life were a movie it would be the world’s most boring montage.
I decided that I was going to write the entire manuscript for my project on women and power in megaministry (called The Preacher’s Wife) and that 100,000 words was a lot to do in about five months. As it turns out, it is almost impossible to write a book in five months. Almost. Until you break it down to a daily word count, talk about it with your adorable Dad every day, and learn to sit there until it’s done. I was almost always home by 3 PM to take care of Zach and pretended to be a puppet named Mr. Walrus, who Zach finds incredibly compelling. Meals are eaten. Toys are put away. Mr. Walrus said so.
I hated being that busy because it was grueling and horrible and almost impossible to do anything else. But I secretly loved it because it kept me from living in my other world, Cancer World, where everything is terribly dramatic. You see, the whole time I was traveling around to other hospitals getting second opinions to find the answer to the question: will this medicine stop working? Should I try to cut out these tumors now? I can’t be cured so we used words like “durable illness” and “window of health.” So am I fine now because I’m in a window of health?
In the end, I concluded that I would rather try to cut out some of the disease. So yesterday I handed in The Preacher’s Wife to Princeton University Press and the Duke tenure committee and next week I will have a nasty liver resection that will keep me in bed for about two months. It is going to be miserable and I didn’t want to spend all this time worrying so now it is popping up on my calendar like a horrible SURPRISE! I didn’t know you can surprise yourself, but you really can.
I stripped life down to the basics and it felt more than okay. Dinner on table. The muttering of a three-year old in the throes of deciding between two toy cars. And the pleasant exhaustion for the best reason I can think of, that it felt normal and thank God for normal.