Psalm 98 Revisited

by Elizabeth Burke
Terri Scott

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn, make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord. —Psalm 98: 4-6

We wanted to make a joyful noise—to rejoice and sing praise.

Megan the physical therapist played trumpet, Nurse Carly was on tambourine and James from dietary held the triangle high in the air. Other nurses joined in with bells and kazoos. All together a nightmare in percussion and brass—an unholy cacophony of caterwauling with discordant voices, raised in praise in the Pediatric Oncology Unit. We sent out blessings to a familiar Happy Birthday tune:

Happy last chemo to You

Happy last chemo to You

Happy last chemo Dear Henry

Happy last chemo to you

We sang a joyful noise unto the Lord, as five-year-old Henry joined the celebration adding maracas to the jam. The guest of honor delights, claps, spins and sings. He has claimed the victory that is his. He beat the odds, beat the cancer, so now we let him beat the drum.

Our “Happy Last Chemo” song means this is the last time poison is injected through a central line and into Henry’s veins. This joyous occasion makes way for other famous lasts soon to follow—last time we draw labs, the last time he needs a blood transfusion, the last time he pretends there is a slumber party happening in hospital room 337. Henry’s health care team revisits other scripture passages promising the last will be first.

With last chemo we dare imagine Henry as a first grader. He can now have his first haircut since it is the last time he will be bald. It is the first chance in a long while for us to say “yes” to swimming in his neighbors pool, “yes” to helping his grandfather feed the farm animals and “yes” to playing in the mud. Such things seem worthy of a blast from the horn of a ram and we are decidedly jubilant in this hour of need and praise.

Henry’s mother, now in tears, thanks us for both our care and raucousness. “I heard you sing this God-awful song from down the hall on the day Henry was diagnosed. I have been praying to hear this song again for the past three years.”

On that note, she left us no other choice—but to sing this God-awful song again!

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