Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thankful ... "eucatastrophes" this year

Rumor has it that J.R.R. Tolkien coined the word "eucatastrophe" to refer to a backwards catastrophe, the opposite of a catastrophe. It refers to when everything has gone wrong but somehow, beyond belief, an unexpected good causes things to become better than had ever been hoped for. The resurrection of Christ from the dead was the ultimate "eucatastrophe", a reversal of bad fortune beyond expectation, beyond hope.

There are a number of posts I'd written this year about my mother's health. I've filed them under the sin and brokenness of the world since a large part of the health trouble was related to her own self-destructive behavior. She has also been hostile towards God since my father died nearly six years ago now. This year, she looked like she was nearly ready to die herself. She was increasingly weak and was dropping weight at a frightening pace. When we finally got her to the doctor, the medical people confirmed the immediate and serious risk to her life. My brother and I thought there had been too much delay getting medical attention, and there was not much hope. The sad thing was, as miserable as she had been, and as little as she had gotten out of the house since Dad died, watching her come so close to death by self-inflicted bad lifestyle felt almost like just respecting her wishes. Almost. Except that it meant her ending her life in defeat, almost never having lived it.

And then. And then. What a year. I lost track of how long she stayed in the hospital, and how long she stayed with us here under my roof, and a couple of surgeries, and a series of close calls. All very wrenching. But now? Her self-destructive behavior has stopped and so far she has not gone back to it. She's glad to be alive. She works out. She is beginning to make friends. She asks people how they are doing. She accepts invitations over for dinner. She asks the sacker at the grocery store how she is doing. She's even considering becoming a volunteer at the hospital where she had her heart surgery. And for the first time I can remember, she is happy.

Thank God that he never gave up on her.

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