The Ugly Truth

If I say I/we am/are fine, I’m a big fat liar. The truth is that we are not. Mike is sick. He is suffering. He continues to feel worse physically week to week. We still do not know what exactly is going on which only adds to the emotional stress and concern of our situation. He has been going into the office for only a few hours in the morning. He has difficulty sleeping and wakes up early and exhausted. He is anxious about his health and our future. I have never seen him this way. Ever.

Up until very recently, I was in denial. I kept life as normal as possible because I had to for him, for the boys, and also for myself. For the past week, Mike has felt compelled to have some serious talks with me. Each time he did, I braced myself. It sounded like “crazy talk” to me. I didn’t want to go there. I would shut down, leave the conversation, counter with anger, or some other bad reaction. I’m sure it only made him feel worse and more alone. It got to the point that when I thought we would have a Valentine’s Day dinner date out just the two of us, I actually dreaded it because I was afraid he would force me to face the conversations that I had been successfully dodging for days. Dread a kid-free dinner out with my darling hubs?!?! Never would I have thought that as true as it was today. We ended up having a family date night, but even before dinner Mike on his own had decided we would not have serious talks and just enjoy Valentine’s Day. That in turn may have allowed me to update this blog which I have been avoiding like the plague. I thought by writing this entry I’d be like those people who go on Dr. Phil and spill out all their dirty laundry to the nation. Or I am just trying to keep it real. Despite being told accurately by a dear friend that I am good at faking it, I see no point in that really (except for maintaining denial as a coping mechanism!).

The truth of the matter is that we are going through some of the toughest times that we have had to face as a family. First off, we have had a good life and good is a gross understatement. The decisions and adjustments we are facing at this time are minor when placed in proper perspective. In that sense, our problems are problems of privilege. Even though Mike is feeling the brunt of the pain, literally, I still feel like when I use the word suffering it almost makes light of it. Like if someone were to stub their toe and then claim to relate to Job‘s epic trials recorded in the Bible. Regardless, I can’t deny that we are hurting, especially Mike, and that the tears have been flowing freely when I’m alone.

Because his condition keeps getting worse to the point that it is affecting every facet of life including work, Mike feels the need to make some major life changes. We’ve talked about me going back to work, selling our house and downsizing, and all the multitude of financial adjustments we’d have to make to go from a lawyer who just made partner’s salary to a lowly social worker’s salary. If you have low tolerance for problems of privilege (I understand, truly, I do), then stop reading now.

Mike and I try to live somewhat simply in our current means. Despite having HUGE room for improvement, we try to minimize relative luxury and give generously instead. However, we have a weakness for fine dining. When we first heard that Charlie Trotter’s was closing his restaurant in August of this year, we lamented that Mike was having GI problems then that would not allow a visit there. When he started to feel he could eat somewhat normally again with certain restrictions, we went ahead and made a reservation for our anniversary in March. For those of you who don’t know, Trotter is the real deal and one of the original masters of modern cuisine in Chicago. Many of the Chicago chef stars now had at some point worked for him. Though perhaps pushed to the back burner for the hot and trendy of today, he has been consistently awesome for 25 years. I was already drooling. The first touch of reality was canceling that reservation. Needless to say, social workers don’t eat there especially if they are the breadwinners for their family of four. You may think that was an act of God keeping us from sinning with such an expensive meal. I try not to judge others who enjoy their own choice of luxuries whether it be designer purses, Apple products, their growing savings account or their mountain of self-righteousness, so I’ll just say that our culinary adventures have given us a true taste of heaven. I think when I enter the Pearly Gates one day, Grant Achatz will be standing there feeding me some burning tree, cotton candy pillow taste explosion because God will not be holding out and giving a Lean Cuisine frozen meal as my prize.

All that to say that our lives have been greatly affected by Mike’s health. He fears the worst. I had hoped for the best. I also understand his need to be wise, make realistic preparations, and start some of those changes now. So we are. It sucks. I was not handling it well to the point that I wondered how we were showing that our lives are centered on Christ. Others seem to handle their trials so much better, how I felt I should be were I truly believing in the Hope that He gives. I am still struggling. I know He is able to heal, but sometimes He doesn’t. I know He knows best and His will is perfect. I know He provides and does not take delight in our suffering. I also know suffering produces perseverance which produces character which produces hope. I know that even the worst possible changes that could come could actually mean the best blessings in disguise for us. I know all things are meant for our good and that trials can be the best teachers.

But I also know that all the knowledge in my head doesn’t always sink to my heart. And I know that we cannot do this life alone. It is meant to be shared. So, community, I’m asking you to pray for us. Keep us pointed in the right direction. Help those truths become real to our hearts. Have patience when I complain about the loss of so many privileges we had taken for granted. Don’t think Mike is mad at you when he can’t seem to engage in small talk. Love our children so they feel secure in the midst of parents who probably yell too much at them right now. Pray that we will face the fire with our eyes fixed on God so that in it all He is the one who is most pleased. All this has renewed our appreciation for you, for our family, for the little things. Today writing Mike’s Valentine’s card was not just obligatory or a repeating of previous phrases. With the backdrop of our current situation, it was truly heartfelt in its declarations of devotion with renewed appreciation for the gift that he is to me. No matter what may come, there is no one else I’d rather spend my life with. I know he fears becoming a burden and losing his value, but the truth is that he is priceless to me even if he is an invalid whose butt I’d have to wipe. Romantic I know, but I’ve seen enough in years of hospice work, and I would change his diapers for 50 years if I had to because he is truly the love of my life. So yes, we are suffering more than we ever have before, but actually, maybe it is not a lie to say we are also fine. We have each other. We have two of the cutest small-eyed boys ever. We have you. We have HIM.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Ugly Truth

  1. Leslie, this post breaks my heart because of how much Mike, you, and the boys are suffering. Having had health problems myself (though nothing compared to Mike’s), I know that the fear and wondering can be so difficult. Know that we are praying for you, and that suffering or not, God is with you and for you. Please let me know if I can be of help in any way. By the way, I think you are very courageous. And this post also makes me smile because I can see how much you love Mike and your boys. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Eleanor Gray says:

    Leslie, I am so sorry to read about how difficult life has become. I have been praying for you and Mike and will continue to do so. I know I am too far away to be of any concrete help, but know that my thoughts are with you. And thank you for continuing to write about life, even when it is difficult. Though our roommate days are long over, I still feel like I get a glimpse of your life, good and bad. I’ll hope for more good and less bad to come your way.

  3. Chong W. Kim says:

    Leslie: As I read your writing, my tears are coming down from my eyes. I felt so much pain in my heart which I have not experienced for a long time. I pray for Mike and your family every day, and I really hope He will listen to everyone’s pray for Mike. Ironically, the U.S. Taekwondo Grandmaster Society plans to induct me for their Hall of Fame even in coming April and I also just heard that the College of Business at Marshall University is also going to induct me for their Hall of Fame event in April too, before I retire as the Dean of the college. If He allows me, I rather have Mike’s health back instead of all of these type of honors including my own health. We have to try our best to find the real cause of the problem, keep our hope high, and continue to pray. I love you dearly and I want you know that your mom and I are always with you. Love, dad.

  4. lydia says:

    HI Leslie,
    Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us….I had no idea you guys were going through all of this! I am now included in the community of believers who will be praying for Mike and your family. You have a beautiful eloquence in your writing. I’ve always appreciated your deep and candid thoughts along with your ability to “keep it real” while making it clear that your hope is in the Lord. I will share a verse with you that was brought to my attention in Bible study today. May it encourage you and Mike as you continue on this difficult journey with God’s strength.

    Jeremiah 17:7-8
    “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; it leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

  5. Will says:

    I’ll be praying for you, Leslie & Mike, and for your family.

  6. Caryn says:

    Leslie, I want to write something that will take away all of your pain and make it better. (I am astounded that you are going through such a difficult time and hosted a playdate with 5 kids yesterday).
    Leslie, although I have only known you a short amount of time I have so much respect for you and Mike and the way you have decided to live your lives and raise the boys.
    Please know if you need anything from the medical community here or nationally (or for some reason London) please please reach out. My boss is a wonderful resource and would do most anything for someone that I care deeply about.
    The Marcus family will be saying our prayers for you.
    Love, Caryn

  7. Peter says:

    Leslie (and Mike), thank you for your honesty and humility. I’m convinced that the Lord is about to show Himself strong in your life…and we will pray in faith with you and for you. You are loved.

    May you see Jesus ever so clearly in the midst of your fire. Peace of Christ to you.
    “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” – Job 42:5

    Peter & Kim

  8. Jenn Lister says:

    Leslie, I was stunned and very saddened to read your beautiful blog. I applaud you for working diligently to maintain some sort of normalcy for the kids and your family life…and while I have never experienced anything quite like what you are going through, I can imagine that writing will serve as a form of therapy regardless of your chosen topic. So keep it up.
    Let me also say that you, my friend, are truly incredible and inspiring…you maintain your family life, support your husband and work closely with the school. Please remember that you are in the midst of a close-knit school community – reach out to us for help, support or a caring shoulder. We want to help you and your family get through this.

  9. Lisa Hogsten says:

    Beautifully written. You are just trying to be strong and I realize sometimes it’s easier to deny. I will pray for Mike and your beautiful family. I know something about living with pain and even though I do know what causes mine there is no cure, but thankfully not life threatning. I have noticed you posted before about Mike not feeling well, and that they hadn’t found a direct cause. I believe that God will hear our prayers and get you all to the right doctors that can actually help. Thank you for sharing this, it brought tears to my eyes, thinking of what you are going through and mostly holding it inside yourself. The power of prayer is awesome and I do truly believe it works.

  10. Shannon says:

    Leslie, it amazes me how much the two of us still share in common even though we aren’t necessarily in each other’s daily lives (although thanks to Facebook we are to some degree). I will be praying for you, Mike, and the boys nightly. Your blog reminds me of something that I have often thought of when in a place of despair myself: We are all people who have, are, or will suffer. And it is in that suffering and place of vulnerability where we become the most intimate with God and the people around us. It is hard to see that past the tears, worry, and questioning, but God has a plan for us that is better than anything we can really imagine for ourselves. I am trying to take these words in myself as I say them. I love you, and truly thank you for sharing your poignant reflections.

  11. v says:

    leslie,mike,and ethan, and conner, your all in my prayers

  12. ak says:

    my heart is moved with so much wanting and desire on behalf of you and your family to feel God’s comfort… sending all my love to you, leslie!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s