Around 5:30 am the doctor came in and told me the part of the brain that associates words is a different part than the one that lights up when she sings. The words part is the one we lost. For nine days all we had heard was, “I will see you in the morning.” We still don’t know what it means. And I clinch her hands and I tell her I know she’s proud of me and loves me and everything she raised me to know at my core. We both cry. The words, “I love you” were condensed to a single “yes.” And yes was our everything.
He left, and moments later I found my eyes closed and my lips parted, my still-sleepy-whispy curls framing my face, singing ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’. An act of habit or posture in a moment of disbelief-I’m not sure which. But my tongue moved off the tip of my teeth to the tune and it was truth and it still is today. I took her palm in mine and locked our fragile fingers and her delicate skin and there in our little corner of the hospital with the blinds barely opened we lifted our voices. Just as the sun was lifting over the valley out the window, morning by morning. It was quiet and still. A peace that endures. Most people in the hall still groggy without their coffee. But we found joy, here.
We found joy. Against the odds. That’s the way joy comes. Happiness is an expected outcome when you put your attitude to it. Joy is more. Joy is happiness, exploded. Joy is a gift. When you least expect it, when you least deserve it. Against the odds and circumstances, we receive this gift. Nothing can touch or take inconceivable joy, not sadness, not suffering. Joy gives way to hope. Hope is birthed by faith and faith is a bridge of grace from uncertainty by a certain Savior.
I smile through full tears now rolling down my rosy cheeks and grin big at my momma. And oh do I belly laugh at the two of us. A smile lights up her whole, beautiful face. No shadow from Christ. My best friend. And I feel so very close to her when we sing like this together. Belting promises-the promises she taught me to cling to. I crawl up in her bed and I think I might rather stay here like this forever. We haven’t laughed like this in what slowly turned into months. She has always loved singing in the choir. Our chorus is broken and our lyrics misplaced; but here our melodies echo down the hall reverberating off the sad, sterile faces everyone holds on the oncology wing and bounding back in harmony with our steady, still-beating hearts. And I think to myself that it must be a sight, the pair of us. But it makes me smile anyways and laugh loud at our sleepy voices and a beautiful Savior.
“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, ‘I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation (unbelievers) I will sing your praise.” Hebrews 2:10-12
Jesus, made low, isn’t afraid to name us as his brothers. Because he’s been here before. And oh, unworthy as we are. He sings here too, low in this hospital room he sings beside us. His presence to cheer and to guide.
She remembers the words when I can’t and my voice cracks. “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” She sings of grace when I can’t. And it’s always been that way, ever since I can remember. She’s encouraged me to be every bit the fiber of who I am today. Since I was a little girl and lost sight of Jesus’ plan for me-she has always been there to catch me and to remind me of his voice yet again. And here in this moment she sings it to me, in the only way she knows how. In her hospital bed-she sings the words of Jesus’ faithfulness to me when I forget the words in my heart and the words to the hymn. And better still as the melody winds down, she bursts forth in glorious refrain, crescendoing to a point that demands praise unto her Savior, never tiring to sing “Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.” We have all that we need, all He has provided. There are a lot of words she can’t remember, or things she can’t place, objects she can’t name, but there is one thing she clings to-Jesus’ faithfulness. She will never lose the words for that.
“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.” Psalm 104:33
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!