No Vacancy



Remember that time when things just went all wrong, all day long? Like Alexander’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? Or when you woke up with gum in your hair, not just once, but every day for a whole season?

Then let me tell you a story.  Because don’t we experience a peculiar joy, a solidarity of sorts, when commiserating over shared calamitous events?  I do, please say you feel that way too.

As many of you know, I have been counting down the days to my last infusion.  And the way I count, is with a perfectly curated collection of puffy stickers I stole from my daughter’s craft bin.  I meticulously peel them off night after night, with great relish, placing them over the date holder on my wall calendar, creating this fantastically childlike wonder over another day closer.  Like a toddler’s potty training sticker chart, minus the bonus skittles for #2s.

So, you can imagine the depths of my chagrin, when my doctor’s office called me on December 4th, two days before my final infusion (which was 182 days since my first puffy stickering began), to tell me that “we need to delay your final infusion for a couple of weeks, we have some additional labs for you we need to run.”

“Of course! No problem!” A couple more weeks?  So you’re saying at like the 199 day mark, instead of the 184 day mark?…That’s actually better for me, I’m glad that’s better for you, Miss scheduler person” – said NO ONE!!!!

I cried.  It’s really awful to cry  over the phone with someone who doesn’t give a whip about you, you know?  She’s just tinkling away on her keyboard, sipping her Starbucks, while I’m willing myself to take deep body breaths in order to stop sounding like I just inhaled on a helium balloon.. “December 21st?  That’ll work. just fine..” I half whinny, half whisper.

15 more puffy stickers.

Two of my closest friends from Florida were flying out for this day of days, and every detail was securely in place. Even my daytime/chemo pajamas were pressed and ready to go.  How could this be happening!?!

Well we ended up at Glenn Ivy Day Spa, because heck if you’re not going to get your chemo, you might as well get a massage and a mud bath, am I right?  Wouldn’t you know, on this horrendously rainy day, as we are waiting for our lunch, the manager comes to our table and says very politely, “Ladies, there’s a serious threat for mud slides right now, and we are under a mandatory evacuation.  We need to ask you leave…Right now.   Please deposit your plush bathrobes in the receptacle on your way out.”

Answer me this, who has ever been emergency evacuated from a day spa, whilst wearing a rented plush bath robe?  And being under the influence of chemo drugs, I can’t remember which locker is mine to retrieve my clothes… And my lips are dry from the mud bath…and in my rush to apply lip balm while hunting for my locker, I hastily dip my pointer finger into the wrong tub and apply brown brow pomade (lost those too, folks) onto my lips!

My mother says that even in Australia people put brown brow pomade on their lips sometimes.

Well you know bad things happen in 3’s, so my story continues.  Whit, Lori and I licked our wounds & soggy hair (theirs only, of course) and brow pomade off (me only, of course) on the drive home, trying to decide if we should be pissed because we got kicked out of the spa before our treatments, or relieved and thankful – that we didn’t get trapped in a mudslide.  We decided they sort of canceled each other out and now we’re fair & square.

And since we were 0/2 on a dreadfully rainy day, we decided to play it safe and curl up by the roaring fire in the girls’ swanky resort bar/lobby, with some hot tea & a game of jin rummy.

Upon entry, the Maitre D looks me up & down and says “Hello, ma’am…may I help you?” I probably looked like a cross between Alice Cooper (smudge proof brow pomaded lips) and a very gaunt looking Mr. Clean.

“No, I’m all set, I’m just here for the free fire” I say, sliding my rain soaked joggers down into a velvet fireside sofa.

“Eh-hem.  Excuse me Ma’am, but we are closed for a private event.  Are you by chance, here for the private event?” Maitre D says.

Awkward pause & silence ensues, as I join him, in looking me up & down…again.

On a better (hair) day, I may or not not have lied.  But let’s be honest, I was not fooling him in a million years looking like a soggy hairless cat standing there with my to-go mug of tea.  So I may or not have said something smart back to him along the lines of, “Do I look like I’m here for the private event?”

No vacancy @ the infusion lab.  No vacancy @ the day spa.  No vacancy @ the resort lounge.

My thoughts drifted to Mary….where thousands of years ago, she was rejected & turned away at every corner of that little town of Bethlehem.  Did she doubt God that night?  Did she wonder if this whole day of apparent failures had been a mistake, somehow overlooked by God?  When ripe with baby, she was lead on the back of an animal, from one full inn to the next?  When she was hours, minutes away from delivering the Savior of the world, no-one except a few ragamuffin shepherds seemed to know?  Or care?

If God, the Ancient of Days, had predestined to send his only Son on this night, in this town, for the greatest rescue mission the world has ever known…don’t you think he could’ve arranged for at least the culturally equivalent of an airb&b guest room for this woman in transition? Or a pillowcase instead of a hay bale that she could scream into?

Of course.  He could’ve done that, and he could’ve chosen a regal king & queen to deliver the savior into a royal palace, where scores of people would’ve celebrated their new king’s arrival…

But as you know, He didn’t.  Not because He couldn’t, but because He meant it to be this way, so that his Savior Son could identify with us.  The exact ragamuffins He was coming for.

The Christmas story will never grow old to me, and I hope I never lose the wonder of it.  I am humbled that God is an upside down God.  He never stops surprising me in the peculiar ways he works, especially then, and even today.  Even in my silly & petty setbacks.  I quit puffy stickering, BTW.  I became totally captivated with my advent calendar instead. Counting down the days to Jesus is a lot more fun.

Merry Christmas to my deeply loved friends & family!!


Love Heidi







14 thoughts on “No Vacancy

  1. Love you woman! I can’t believe you were evacuated from the Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa for mudslides, what a crap shoot. Even though it sounds like nothing was going your way, I am glad you were surrounded by good friends. Hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas, I will call you when I am home. xoxo


    1. I know Linds! It was so crazy! Claire asks about her “best friend Ruby” almost every day. She asked me today if we could go and “pick Ruby up”. I attempted to explain the distance to Seattle but lost her shortly after…


  2. Your perspective on life as it is entwined with your love of Jesus, once again challenges and convicts me. Thank you for taking time to show how your tapestry of life is growing into a masterpiece!


  3. Sissy,
    I’m thinking of the movie, Clue, right now…”I’m feeling Flames! Flames on the side of my face! Heaving…flames!”
    Except I’m exchanging tears.
    “Tears! Tears on the side of my face! Streaming tears!”
    I love feeling like I was there with you, Lori and Whit…. & the Maitre D…e’hem” And I’m still laughing at the brow pomade lip moisturizer. I remember when you were staying at my house. Andy was 1. May May was a baby. And she screamed, literally, all night long in the pak n play and you were just about delirious from exhaustion….and you came out of the bathroom and exclaimed that you had just used eye makeup remover all over your face, instead of your facial toner. Oh the memories. I love you sis. And I can’t wait for some editor, somewhere to stumble across the gift of writing that you have been given…and all for the Ragamuffin Savior’s glory.


    1. Yes Sis, I vividly remember toning (and not sleeping all night) with eye makeup remover and wondering why my whole face felt like it was on fire! Hilarious! Thank you for your sweet words. See you soon =)


    1. Chris, WOW! I had NO idea about the winter solstice being tomorrow, you are amazing for knowing that and sharing that with me. And yes, how apropos for this to fall on my last day! Love it! And love you guys!! Thank you for your support and kind words =) Can’t wait to see you guys again soon! Merry Christmas to the Markhams!


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