It has been widely studied and documented that when a non-smoker is exposed to cigarette smoke on a regular basic has a higher than average chance to contracting lung cancer than a person who is not exposed.
Today I think of this as I am speaking to my son-in-law's mom. The things we have shared together over the last seven years might only be seen as toxic to those who might study our case.
As grandmothers we have dealt with the tragic news that our grandson at birth was not ok. We have walked the halls of Duke Childrens hospital watching, waiting and praying as Josiah underwent open heart surgery at four days old.
We watched and waited for two years for the arrival of our grandson Nico as the adoption process stretched on and on. We would see the photos and get the reports and know how much he needed to just be home...but wasn't.
We have watched our children sell off their home, their car and all of their possessions to move to the poorest country in the world. WITH OUR GRANDCHILDREN!
With each of these events we would breath a sigh of relief as events unfolded and life became more 'normal'. But that 'normal' was never long lived. Because for whatever reason that second hand smoke was determined to affect us. Our phone calls would confirm that each of us were choking back our fears and even our doubts from time to time. Then the air would clear and again we would be hopeful.
Josiah's birth. GASP! Nico's adoption. GASP! The decision to move to Haiti. GASP! The actual day they moved to Haiti. GASP! The earthquake. GASP! (Big gasp.) Malaria. GASP! The ministry split and betrayal. GASP! Josiah's illness. GASP! Gwenn's staph infections. GASP! Middle of the night home invasion at gunpoint. GASP! GASP! GASP!! The bandits on the road to PAP that robbed them in the car. GASP! The continued land dispute. GASP! And of course all the GASPS that went along with the every day problems raising children with attachment and trauma issues.
And then as the smoke clears we breath easier for a time and pray this time will be different. This time it will get easier. But somehow it is never long lived. We have seen Malaria. We have seen den-gay. We have seen staph. We have seen the results of a lion fish sting. An allergic reaction to a wasp sting. We have seen the most awful pink eye that one can imagine. And with each new illness there is an inaudible GASP! inside our hearts. And when these things happen we turn to each other. Our grandmother/mother hearts just need to know that there is someone else who 'gets it'.
And now Chikungunya. Spell check doesn't even know about it! But this latest 'second hand smoke' is a tough one. Haiti is in the middle of an epidemic and once again we are watching our children and grandchildren suffer. The news says in a week you will be better and you will be immune. We know better. We know that everyone is relapsing or reinfecting and there does not seem to be an end in sight.
Today Wildarne has a head to toe rash and a fever of 103 F. She has had a fever for 3 days. Nick spent the night vomiting. Fritzie also relapsed. And as we sit on the sidelines we breath in this illness into our minds and hearts and GASP! once again for air. Thankful once again we have each other to balance our thoughts and concerns. Praying that the air will clear again and life will get back to normal. You know- Haiti normal. The kind of normal that is riddled with 'normal' problems like no electric. Manifestations where people set up firey road blocks to demonstrate the lack of electricity. School closures and 'normal' Haitian problems. But there is a smoke screen that clouds our vision and we can not see even the Haiti normal now.
People have asked me "Don't you want them just to come home?" or say "They just need to come home." Even with the 'second hand smoke' I can say "No way!". They are home.
Sometimes we Christians seem to think that when we become believers that God will pave the road for us to have a comfortable or at very least a 'safe' life.Sometimes we even get angry when bad things happen to us. But the Word of God says "it rains on the just and the unjust". To choose the 'safe' way is not always choosing God's way. Look at the early church. History tells us of the awful deaths that the apostles died. While they lived they faced danger and hardship everyday. I think of the 'second hand smoke' their families must had inhaled. I think of Mary the mother of Christ and how she must have groaned in agony when she saw her son suffer. But we never read of her telling Jesus to just come home. I think of her 'pondering these things in her heart' and I am glad God has given me another woman to share my heart with. I don't know if I could just ponder these things alone.
Breathing in this 'second hand smoke' has definitely changed my life. There is always a nagging cough that is just below the surface. There is a constant tickle in the back of my heart and when the phone rings and I see on the display that the call is from Haiti or from Nick's mom my first thought is "What's wrong?" When I awaken at 2 AM for no apparent reason I start of pray for my family in Haiti because 2 AM is when bad guys like to rob people.
On the other hand I think I am maybe even a little hardened to the hardships in Haiti. Things that used to concern me pretty much don't. When I first went to Haiti the whole voodoo culture pretty much freaked me out.Now I just turn on the noise maker on my phone to drown out the drums so I can sleep. I also don't 'worry' as some might perceive the word. I do think about the things going on there a lot. I do pray about the things going on a lot. I do talk about Haiti a lot. But I am equally sure that if God has brought them to it that He will lead them through it. Fighting the affects of this 'second hand smoke' has brought me closer to Jesus much as a person who is suffering a physical illness will draw closer to Him. So in the end of this tale I thank Him. I thank Him for counting me worthy to be close enough to the smoke to breath it in. Even if it is uncomfortable and even if my whole person smells of smoke. I want to be as close as I can be to the place where Jesus is glorified in all things not just in the easy things. I pray for the time to come quickly when there is once again some fresh air and my family in Haiti (and Nick's mom and me) can breath deep and have a time of refreshment and health. Until then I will continue to trust and be thankful for each tiny breath of fresh air. I will thank Him for each day of health that He affords our family. I choose to be thankful because I know without doubt that God is good all the time. God is here even when we can't see Him.
Breath of God fall on us.