At work today…
I teach in a high school. My classroom is in a double-wide trailer that was attached to the main building many years ago, thus ending the “temporary” nature of said trailer. I always wonder/worry what little critters might be nesting under the floorboards. I’m from the big city and I know what goes down. A student, returning from a trip to the bathroom, told me that he had seen a baby possum in the garden outside my window. “First of all, son, it’s technically called an opossum. Second, WHAT?!” Yikes. I hate those things. “Don’t worry, Mr. H.,” said the young man. “It’s just a baby.” Within seconds, several of the young ladies in my class were at the window gazing lovingly into the eyes of the most disgusting creation ever. Well, a few minutes later, between classes, I ran out to my car for something and on the way back in I encountered opossum #1’s little sister.
Thankfully, the school day was almost over. I headed home where I was greeted by my kittens. I can never give thanks to God enough for the joy I experience each day when, walking through the door, I am playfully attacked by the two most beautiful creatures on the planet. “Daddy Daddy Daddy!!!” It is the daily affirmation from Our Blessed Lord that 1) there is, indeed, something good within me that He was able to make these two out of, 2) being a dad is what He intended for me (in other words, it is my vocation, and 3) I’ve got a cross to bear. I know that last point doesn’t seem to fit in there. But, having well documented the chronic battle with pain from my spinal fusion for you over the past few years, it should come as no surprise that I struggle with little things like wanting to toss my kids up in the air and then remembering that I shouldn’t.
This evening, though, my wife needed to make a business call around 7:00. Trying to brace myself for the inevitable kiddy craziness that sets in around that hour — you know, when they’ve finished dinner but don’t yet want to get in the bathtub — I did something I wasn’t expecting to do. I have a standing prescription for a pretty powerful painkiller for the big flare-ups. I know if my former chiropractor is reading this he’s shaking his head. But the truth is, sometimes it just gets that bad. So I took a pill. Then I put the kids in the car and headed to the playground. It’s still pretty light outside and the weather was mild. Don’t you know that by the time we got there, the pill had kicked in and I was feeling fine… We had so much fun — laughing, running around, swinging, going down slides and up rock walls. For a moment I completely forgot that for the past two years I haven’t been able to be the “Daddy Daddy Daddy” I used to be. That thought made me very sad, wondering how much Our Lord wants my kids to have to suffer and sacrifice because of my pain. I know that tomorrow, it’s going to be over, that the pain will be back and I won’t take anything for it; because that’s what I do. I limit myself severely out of fear for the long-term side effects. I’d like to still have some of my hearing in ten years. I thought back to the time when they were both very little and I didn’t have any pain. Oh how I loved those days. Kids, when you’re older and you read this, please remember to judge me kindly for all those times I couldn’t carry you on my shoulders or run around the yard with you.
The good Lord must really love me, though, because I just re-read the above paragraph and realized how much of an opportunity to pray (on over some very big things, too) He’s given me. In the meantime, he’s given me these two little saints in the making. And that’s enough to take away any pain.