I thought I was going to die.
In December they found a mass on my right kidney. Mass. The perfect word. Heavy and thick and weighty, full of enormously devastating potential. A tiny little word that slowly starts to take on a mass of it's own as it rolls around in your mind.
The first surgeon we talked to refused to do the surgery because of the complications. I saw this as a bad sign. Not only that, but he said he didn't know anyone in David's hospital system capable of doing the surgery without "speed bumps." He used air quotes. I stared at his fingers. There was an entire world of foreboding possibilities hanging between them.
The very next Sunday, our bishop took a few minutes at the end of the meeting to talk about "callings" on the other side of the veil.
My heart dropped.
It felt exactly like the moment David told me about his job opportunity in Peoria. Dread and certainty all at once. It felt like fate, and a warning: "Get ready."
Only I wasn't. Ready, I mean. Not even close. And I didn't know how to get ready. I didn't know if I should clean out all my drawers and closets or put meals in the freezer or spend my hours repenting or teach my children all the things on that endless list of things I still hadn't taught them or help David memorize all the online passwords and teach him when he had to pay the electric bill and the violin teacher or make lists of who had to be picked up when.
There was no way to prepare.
My sister, Emily, who is a teacher, compared it to making a list for the substitute. I was making a sub list for the rest of forever. Impossible. I read once about how Elder Richard G. Scott and his wife had prepared for one of them to be able to live without the other by learning all the jobs the other one did, so they could still manage if one of them passed away. "Why hadn't we done this?" I asked myself a million times in the middle of the night.
But this was only the beginning of the rehearsal of regrets.
Unbelievably, this wasn't the first time they found a mass on my kidney. I had been living on borrowed time for forty years already. And what had I done with it? It was hard to think of a single worthy thing. Let's be honest: My children have pretty much raised themselves, my marriage is the simply the product of all of David's patience and goodness, and the house I have tried to keep actually will not keep and would, in fact, be thick with dust and grime the week after they put me in the ground. I started to feel like maybe God had simply run out the line as long as he could, given me as much time as possible, received nothing for his trouble, and was finally reeling me in. Obviously he wasn't going to to catch anything on my line. "Let's call it. Time to reel that one in."
Time passed. We were referred to the best doctors in the valley. They met and discussed my case and we celebrated Christmas. A new year brought a new treatment plan and we waited for insurance approval and muscled our way through Caleb's music school auditions. David continually talked me off the ledge. And we prayed. Oh, how we prayed. Every breath felt like prayer. We asked other, far more worthy, people to pray as well.
And I promised myself that if I was granted another reprieve, I would make the most of it. I would stop asking "What do I have to do?" and instead ask "Who do I need to connect with?" I would stop gritting and enduring and start appreciating and enjoying. I would stop telling heaven what I was going to do each day and then whining for help and instead I would just finally shut up and listen.
I've spent enough time in my life as Jonah, dictating my will to heaven. And recently, I've spent some quality time in the belly of the whale.
Graciously though, I have also been spat out again on dry ground.
Now, which way to Nineveh?