“‘Here I am,’ I whispered, and I waited in the dark. The answer was a sword that came down hard upon my heart. Holy is the Lord, and the Lord I will obey. Lord, help me, I don’t know the way.” 

I had an MRI scheduled for December 30, 2014, six months out from my first brain surgery. Two months before that, I started having headaches — mild ones I wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t still on high alert from the first time all this happened.

I put off calling the doctor until most everyone in my life was nagging me to do so on a daily basis. When I called, he suggested bumping the MRI up to November — just for peace of mind.

At my consult, following the MRI, he told me in plain language that the tumor was back. Exponentially smaller, but then, it had only had four months to grow. I would need surgery again, then radiation following that.

So now, I’m trying to push aside the tinny headaches and the nausea that clouds around me on trains, on elevators, in unexpected moments…again.

On December 9, a little more than five months after the first time this all happened, I will tie the strings of my hospital gown, and breathe in and count backward from 100. I will not get past 97 (I never do), but my hands will be cold, because I am afraid of surgery — every time, no matter how many I have.

I’ll wake up later and it won’t feel like hours or minutes, it’ll just feel like no time at all, like time that never existed. They will tell me to lie down on the MRI table, and I will be frustrated with that through the fog — don’t they know my head hurts? 

It’ll all come again, the first night after surgery, the days practicing putting on socks and walking up stairs, the steroids, the attempts to wash my hair around the incision — and the times I mess up and the water sears in anyway.

I will learn again to work around the little deficiencies — losing sentences in midstream, forgetting how to back out of a parking space, my hands not working when I tell them to.

And as it all happens, God will be good…again.

I have been listening to this song over and over again. It’s the story of the binding of Isaac from Abraham’s perspective — if you’re not familiar with the Bible, this is a time when God asked Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Just before he did, God made another way.

I keep thinking about the way God sometimes asks us to take what is most precious to us and place it in His hands. To trust. To obey.

This is what is precious to me right now. My health. My recovery, which I fought for inch by inch, memory by memory. My life, my normal days, work and dinners with friends and my quiet life in this one-bedroom apartment.

I will give it. I am praying over and over that I will give it willingly, with joy. Because I know — bone-deep — that I will experience His holiness in this.

And that is worth it to me.