Rhonda Cagle

Take Two Rosaries and Call Me in the Morning

In Uncategorized on September 1, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I had surgery a few days ago. It seems my gall bladder decided to form a lovely, large stone, which was in danger of blocking the ducts leading out of this odd bit of anatomy nestled within my abdomen.  And, as luck would have it, my surgeon was most insistent that his removal of my gall bladder takes place NOW instead of a few weeks down the road as I had tried to insist. Ever helpful, my family suggested that Vicki, my creative jazz singer/jeweler stepmom, fashion a lovely pendant out of this rather large stone my body had formed. I assured them the thousands of dollars of medical bills that will soon be arriving in my mailbox will be souvenirs enough.

Since I was unable to delay or avoid this surgery, I decided to also have a few other procedures performed at the same time, which my doctors have been advising for quite a while but I have been putting off. I figured it would be better to have a “two for one” surgery. Discounts – especially on medical bills – are always a good thing.

Except on the body.

Two surgeons, three procedures, and three hours later, I came out of surgery and into recovery. And I was sick. Very sick. The nausea was worse than the pain. As I went in and out of consciousness, I was hit with wave after wave of stomach-churning illness. “Sick!” I would whimper as Nurse Loud Mouth with her comforting bedside manner would scream in my ear, “How are you feeling?” She would then grab another syringe and inject another concoction of “feel good” drugs into my IV pronouncing, “There, you’ll feel better now.”

She lied.

Two hours later, I was in the car and on my way home bleeding all over my shirt from my five incisions and holding a bucket to my mouth while crying to Lorenzo that I still felt sick and was hurting. He got me home, got me upstairs, and got me into bed. He put the bucket by my bed while Megan put a cold washcloth on my forehead. I took the handful of anti-nausea and pain pills someone handed me – and prayed to die.  Seriously.

Given the fact that I’m writing this cheery little memoir, God clearly didn’t answer that prayer. But I’ve thought a lot about it these past few days as I’ve lounged on my couch.

Prayer is a sacred thing. It’s my soul laid bare before God. Sometimes, like a few nights ago when I prayed for death, prayer transcends words and even conscious thought and becomes a sort of inhaling and exhaling in the presence of the Holy. Through tears and sighs, hurts and sickness, death and despair are expelled. And somehow, my soul breathes in a little of heaven’s oxygen. For a few moments, these shared breaths allow me to put the very essence of my being into the hands of the Creator and say, “Thy will be done,” and then trust. Trust that in life and in death, I am not my own, but belong to a Loving God. Trust that when life is painful and hard, confusing and hurtful, there is purpose beyond what I can see or know. Trust that in sickness and the dark night of the soul, there is still a reason for my existence. Trust that whether I wake to morning’s light or heaven’s eternity, I am firmly held in the grasp of God.

If you were expecting some great theological explanation about why God answers prayers – or not – in His own mysterious way, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I don’t have those answers. I’ve sat beside my daughter’s bed as she clung to life and prayed for God to restore her. And He did. I’ve prayed by my husband’s bedside as he clung to life, asking God to restore him. And He did not. Who can say why the answer for my husband was different than for my daughter? Certainly, this side of heaven, I will never know or understand. As an aside, please don’t bother to tell me that Dennis now has ultimate and eternal life. Theologically, this may be true but it’s not helpful emotionally as I approach the third anniversary of his death.

If you’re still reading, the point is this. My prayers are not so much about changing my situation or the situations of others. Prayer is about changing me. The very act of prayer quiets my incessant cynicism and forces me to decide whether or not I will choose to breathe in synchronicity with my Creator, trusting Him with every breath… every hope… every outcome. Some days, that’s harder than others. But it’s necessary – often painful – requiring that I surrender the outcome to Other hands, believing that whatever happens, I’ll eventually feel better. Even when I want to die in the moment.

Kind of like my surgery.

Speaking of which, please pray for Nurse Loud Mouth. She’ll have another patient today. Both of them need all the prayer they can get!

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  1. I’m glad you stayed with us.

  2. I’m with Kerri. Thank you for staying, and for the very untheological and thoroughly accurate analogy of what prayer really accomplishes; communion with the Creator!

  3. That’s three times too much fun… once again “go big or go home” seems to be your motto. Try to get some more rest. 🙂

  4. Oh my! And I’ve been complaining all year about my dental problems! Two root canals and thousands of dollars in, with no dental insurance. That money could have been used for so many other things….but I digress.
    Sheesh. Hope you are feeling better Rhonda. I’ve been off FB – but hoping to stay in touch via blog and email. Praying for you (always) and wishing you all the best and a peaceful recovery.

    Love,
    M

    • Thanks Margo! I’m so sorry to hear about your dental work. Few things are worse than mouth pain and I hope you’re feeling better now — your pocketbook too!

  5. I’m guessing you’re feeling much better now, since I am reading you are cooking and busying yourself. So glad that is over for you. Thanks AGAIN for sharing yourself with me. (us). Your writing is always, always thought provoking. God Bless you Rhonda.

  6. What a beautiful story, Rhonda. It’s always uplifting to read something from you. And, given our relative ages, don’t you dare leave before I do, or else you will be in BIG trouble!!

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