Today, It’s Armistice Day. We remember with gratitude.
Maybe it’s the effect of battleground scenes, but I’m feeling very much like I’m in a kind of no-man’s land. It’s five days since my first treatment and I’ve now entered the time zone when I’m apparently becoming more ‘neutropenic’ – with depleted immunity, I’m more susceptible to infections, picking up bugs as well as my organs possibly reacting negatively to the drug. I’ve had to largely shut myself away from the outside world (apart from one or two visitors) and become something of a hermit to avoid risky situations. I’m actually feeling quite well but I’m also aware that with every ache and pain, I’m immediately assessing it and wondering whether it’s a reaction. It’s tiring and tiresome. It’s also been quite odd thinking that I’ve got this powerful drug in my system, but it’s seemingly silent…but silently doing what? It’s strange to consider that there are now two threats – the melanoma and the thing that’s there to attack it.
But life all around me carries on (more or less) gloriously normally. It was great having Tom home from Cardiff over the weekend, and Simeon has moved back in for a short time while he’s between one house and the next. Josh and Lydia are both at school and Catherine at work. It was great to meet up with my good friend Martin at home yesterday over lunch and read part of Jonah together. The two of us thought about God’s amazing love even for a people as rotten as the Ninevites were, about how easily we can, in our own ways and like Jonah, run away from God through our diary commitments, our entertainments, sport, our devices (‘Jeremy, will you put your iPad down!’); in the person of Jonah himself, there’s such a disconnect between what he plainly believes about God (‘I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God’) and what he actually does. I know what that feels like, and in so many ways this unexpected turn in my life has reminded me where true life comes from, and who I need to more organise my life around. Maybe it sounds perverse to some ears, but this illness has for me been a severe mercy. I’m observing that it’s doing something in each of us at home that causes us to look at life and priorities differently.