“Thank you” is a nice phrase. It means something good has happened and that some sort of grace or beauty has been extended and acknowledged. In the last 4 days, I have written some variation of “thank you” over 216 times. I have said “thank you” aloud probably just as many times.
The greater half of the “thank you”s were in response to birthday wishes. I felt love pour over me, and I gladly thanked the well-wishers, taking their encouragement to heart. It was a wonderful birthday. As horrible as it seems in retrospect, I was sort of expecting to say thank you many times on my birthday. I wasn’t planning to get sick on the day after St. Patrick’s Day.
I went to sleep Wednesday night with a fever, but I thought that it would pass. I had ached for two days, but I told myself I was being a weak wimp. I had probably just finally worked myself too much. Happiness and excitement are good things, but even they can wear a person down. So I chalked it up to being overwhelmed, and thought I would be better in the morning.
I woke up Thursday morning ready to tackle the quiz and the test of the day. The achiness from the days before was mostly gone. As I was washing my hands, I looked at my disheveled state in the mirror. I smiled at the funny shape my hair was making. And then I was suddenly enchanted by the swirls. My mind went somewhere far away. Everything started spinning, and all I could think to do was watch my reflection blur.
I came back to consciousness on the floor between the doorway and my closet. The water in the sink was still running. But everything on the counter had been knocked off, apparently victims of my fall. The cup I was supposed to wash was in the hallway. Its lid was in the shower. The dish soap somehow landed near the door to my room. Nothing was as it should be. I slowly stood up. I turned the water off and looked at the time. Eight minutes had passed. I was alone and didn’t know what to do. I crawled back in bed and felt hot tears glaze my face. I hurt, and I didn’t know why. I didn’t want to wake anyone up, but I knew I needed help. So I started calling people.
A dear friend rushed over and made sure I didn’t have a concussion. She put me in her car and gave me the choice of going to the ER or to her room. I chose to sleep in her room. Over the course of the day, I grew worse, but I hated burdening people with my problems. When they told me happy birthday, that was fine. When they suddenly put meaning behind the “we love you; happy birthday” I wasn’t as ok with it. They brought me crackers and medicine. They gave me hugs even when I warned them not too. They offered to walk with me, and when I was stubborn, they got back-up support to send others walking with me. So many kind friends offered to take me to the doctor. They saw me in my weakest moments. Hair tangled, face pale, body shaking, they showed me love and “thank you” didn’t seem like nearly enough.
So often I think I can handle everything on my own. I like plans, but I’m beginning to realize that shaken plans fascinate me too. They have for a long time. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my parents when I was really little. The simplest thing completely astonished me. If I looked up from my Sippy-cup to see that my mommy or daddy was also taking a sip from their big-kid glass, I would gasp and announce, “We drinked at the same time! Nobody planned it!” Even now, if I return home and glance up from my glass to see someone else, a little sister that wasn’t even born when I made the first pronouncements or a loving parent who has been there for all of my planning, drinking at the same time as I am, I will smile a small smile and inwardly say, “we drinked at the same time! Nobody planned it!”
I certainly didn’t plan for the stomach virus and fever bug that made me pass out to attack at once. I tried to plan during the first stage of sickness: who I could ask to cover me for this event, if I could still make it to that one class, and when I would write each essay, but the plans were all futile. My mom called and told me she would come take me home if I didn’t go see the doctor and stop planning. Lying in my friend’s room, I understood that this was a “Nobody planned it” moment. I was completely dependent.
And yet, this sickness was part of a bigger plan. I let the stress get to me; everything became something to check off my “to-do” list. Even my birthday celebrations, though I loved them, got to the point of something to do and then move beyond. I talked to my dad and joked that it had suddenly become obvious to me why people didn’t like growing old. Bodies crumble. I said, “This sure isn’t a great way to kick off my twenties.” We laughed, but I have changed my mind. I think this is a great way to kick off my twenties. In a decade sure to bring change, it is nice to be reminded that I am wholly dependent. I’m the furthest thing from invincible. By my own work, I do not take a breath or a step. My God is a God of power and on Him it is a privilege to depend. Through the smiles and care from friends, He shows His love to me. To Him belong more “thank you”s than I can count.
“Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.”