There is an idiom that has permeated a great deal of my brain-space lately. Customarily, the phrase is spoken whenever a person or group has faced a grueling circumstance and is nearing the much awaited point of deliverance. It is a popular saying–a mainstay for bi-standers (a.k.a. ‘outside observers’). The idiomatic phrase is commonly associated with optimism, positivity, and encouragement. Once declared, the receiver is usually inspired to face the final conflict or make the ultimate push. But the conventional metaphor also has a deceptive side, and, if you are too gullible, the auspicious term will leave you less motivated and more devastated. Yes, you might see “light at the end of the tunnel,” but that doesn’t mean you have come to the end of your struggle.
Light is more noticeable in darkness, which means: Seeing ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ may say more about the darkness than it says about one’s proximity to the finish-line. For example, without any other competing lights, the sky’s brilliance is unveiled with startling beauty. Looking at the stars in the country versus star-gazing in the city are almost incomparable activities. One experience wholly outclasses the other. Why? Because of the stark variation in the levels of darkness. Light just seems to glitter more profoundly when there aren’t any competing light sources around to dampen the glow. So noticing light in the distance won’t always mean you are in the source’s vicinity. ‘Light at the end of the tunnel’ doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve reached the end; instead, it could be an appraisal of the opaqueness that envelops your path. And if this principle is forgotten, you could set yourself up for a premature celebration that weakens resolve and amplifies despair.
As we approach the 100-day mark here in NICU, it behooves me to uplift the less popular side of the light-and-tunnel idiom. Each time Jesher experiences a breakthrough, there is at least one person who responds with interrogative enthusiasm: “Are you beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel?” I try to keep my responses general enough to by-pass any awkwardness, but my probing ideation wants to inquire,
“Yes, I do see some light, but what does that mean? Does it mean we are approaching the end of the tunnel? Or could it mean we are in a pitch-black corridor that makes distant light visible far sooner than we are accustomed to?”
Of course, a response like this would cause more confusion than clarity, so I have abstained from articulating such queries; however, understanding the broader implications of this trope has saved me on a few occasions. Although I see some light up ahead, I don’t know how far away it is. Like a mirage of water in the desert, I could find the light to be no closer at my 1,000th step than it was at my 500th step. So, with thanksgiving in my heart, I will continue to guard my emotions, requiring my mind to accept this resonant truth: Though the path may be arduous, indefinite, and grim, there is light–wonderful light–far off yonder, beaconing me onward like the Eastern star.
Here is Jesher’s current medical report:
SPELLS–Jesher has had a recurrence of his breathing spells. It is quite normal for preemies with Jesher’s background to have moments when they forget to breath (due to their immature brains). These moments are rated on a scale of mild, moderate, and severe. The rating system is determined based upon the level of stimulation a baby needs before they begin breathing again. On this past Thursday, Jesher had his most severe spell to date. On Friday, he logged the most spells he has ever had in one day (5). Both episodes, especially so close together, did draw the attention of his care team. His doctors believe the spells are the result of major changes being made in a short period of time. The change to an open crib, the increase to three bottles per day, and the discontinuation of medicinal caffeine are examples of said changes. Although spells can alert the care team to more severe issues (e.g. infection), they can also alert us to overall fatigue. Jesher has not shown any signs of infection or complication, so the doctors have backed Jesher down to two bottle-feeds per day and have prescribed rest (i.e. less stimulation and interaction) as the best medicine. PLEASE ASK YAHWEH TO HELP JESHER COPE WITH ALL THE CHANGES HE IS EXPERIENCING. PRAY THAT JESHER’S SLEEP AFFORDS HIM WONDERFUL REJUVENATION OF BODY, SOUL, AND SPIRIT.
WEIGHT–Jesher is 39 weeks gestation and 4lbs 9oz. The little guy is even starting to get pudgy cheeks : ) Lately, he has stalled a bit on the weight gain side, but he recently put together two consecutive days of gains. We are hoping that Jesher can reach 5lbs within the next ten days! PLEASE ASK THE LORD TO CONTINUE BLESSING JESHER’S INTERNAL ORGANS AND DIGESTIVE SYSTEM. PRAY THAT GOD WOULD PROTECT JESHER FROM ANY SETBACKS AND ALLOW HIM TO CONTINUE GROWING AT A HEALTHY PACE.
Hope can be dangerous. It is the life-blood of aspiration; however, an undisciplined hope can become the cesspool of misery. In our current age, hope’s audacity is most often lauded. The optimistic aspects of hope are praised without fail. But hope also has a more nefarious side, a side that threatens to obliterate our ability to persevere in the face of protracted trial. When misguided expectations are partnered with unsupported anticipation, hope morphs into an unbearable despair. That’s why I don’t focus too much on ‘the light at the end of the tunnel.’ Instead, I focus my energy on allowing my eyes to adjust to the terrain just below my feet. After all, distant light can be blinding when one is walking through dark places.
“. . . Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning. Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me;
[Please] LORD, be my helper!” Psalms 30:5, 10