It was raining when the plane landed. A storm was blowing through the New Orleans area yesterday morning, and my flight arrived at 9:15am. The weekend with my family in Orlando had been sky-blue. Seeing Jen and the kids and our church family meant more than I can express in written words. Very refreshing. Enough to make the present contrast that much more distinguishable, for this morning was all grey. And my heart was, too.
It really hit me hard yesterday what’s really happening and what the long-term for Mom really means.
When I arrived, text messaging revealed that Dad was in therapy, so I headed across the river to see Mom. I was looking forward to another half-smile and those beautiful, OPEN, brown eyes. And that’s what I saw. Very thankful. Very thankful that she is even alive and interacting with us.
I spent some time with her, asking yes and no questions, reading notes from Caring Bridge, and talking with the medical staff. Then, I headed to Bud’s Broiler to grab Dad a burger with mayo and tomato and cheese. He was craving a Bud’s burger. Their burgers have a unique flavor. You’ll have to try one.
Dad and I ate together and talked. I missed him over the weekend. He is not just my dad. He is one of my best friends. Conversation with him is always sweet.
We went for a walk. I pushed his wheelchair outside to a windy spot under the breezeway, grabbed a chair for myself, and we sat together. I summarized for him what I had taught Sunday morning in our worship gathering back home. It sparked deeper interaction, especially because we are walking through 1st John right now. One of dad’s favorites.
Then, I read him some of the notes from Caring Bridge. Without fail, each note carved a canyon from his heart that expressed itself through tears of joy. I asked him, “Pop, do you know how lucky you are? How many people get to hear the impact of their lives before they die?”
My father-in-law and I talked about that Saturday night. We wondered why we usually wait to share how much someone really means to us until after they can no longer hear us. We sympathized with Dad, feeling like he must be overwhelmedwith your outpouring of overwhelming love. And he is.
I headed back to see Mom. She wasn’t tracking with the clarity that I had seen last week. She seemed kind of out of it. She seemed tired. I thought, “What do I expect? There will be good days and bad days.”
“You have to take this month-to-month, now. This will be atwo-year process. We won’t be able to say, with confidence,where she will really return to until that time.”
The neurosurgeon from Orlando who performed my neck surgery over two years ago (Dr. Medary) told me that on the phone yesterday. I called him to get counsel on Mom – about her care and about transferring her back to Orlando. We are working on logistics for both her and Dad moving to Orlando hopefully within the month (we’ll see). The brain center there has been highly recommended to us. And, Jen’s cousin Matt has been so helpful in letting us know about options for Mom and Dad. We are praying it all works out. Dr. Medary told me he would be our advocate and work with us in any way we need him to, as well. Thanks, Doc and Matt.
Two years. It’s amazing how a two-second accident can change the next two years of Mom’s life. And more.
My heart sunk when Dr. Medary said that. And at the very same time, it was filled with resolve. Obviously the Spirit welling up in me and responding to all of you praying. He does that stuff. Pretty cool.
I’m just being honest with you, though – my heart was still heavy and grey. How do people make it through stuff like this – hard stuff when loved ones are impacted – without Jesus? I can tell you this is the hardest thing I have ever walked through. I feel it. I feel your prayers, too. I sense Jesus near, too, holding me. But it’s tough.
How do people make it? How do they make it apart from the nearness of His love?
I believe He loves us, you know. That’s why there’s peace and hope in seemingly tragic and unfair circumstances. I believe He hurts when we hurt. I believe He holds us. I believe that His servants, like Mom and Dad who have been so faithful, are not promised safety. I believe we are not assured that everything will always go well. But, I believe we are held. The “good news” is that God came near, not that life will always go our way.
I believe He loves us. And His loving hands reach to hold us. When they do, I am reminded. When I feel His touch and therefore His scars, I am reminded that He knows how tragic and unfair the circumstances of this world can be. The death and injustice unfurled by the self-centered choice in the Garden became the tragic and unfair consequence that, through His hands and feet, was nailed to a tree.
Because He loves us.
And, because His love is so mysteriously, thoughtfully, purposefully, steadfastly near, there is resolve. The same resolve that allowed Him to “set His face resolutely toward Jerusalem.”
I see it in Dad’s eyes as he readies to go to therapy. I see it in Mom’s eyes when I tell her that she is a miracle and we are gonna make it through this. I see it in Erik when we talk about the near future. I hear it in my wife’s voice when, with her nurse’s heart, she speaks with passion about caring for Mom when she returns to Orlando.
I pray for that same resolve in your prayers and your love as we walk through this together. And I pray that I will show it to you in return when we get to walk with you, when you are held in your circumstance. Hopefully it won’t come, but it likely will. At least until Mom stands whole again and sees those scars with her own eyes.
This morning, my heart wasn’t grey. Resolve and a good night’s sleep kicked in. Dad got his Tall Decaf. Mom got to see her baby boy. And I was there when they gave her a new pair of shoes.
Her feet had been extended for too long, and the wound care specialist feared pressure points would form on her heels from touching the bed. So, she got new shoes. They kind of inspire you to hit the slopes. I wish Mom could, although I don’t think she has ever snow-skied. Basically, they will help Mom from getting those bedsores on her heels, and they will help hold Mom’s feet in a more natural position, hopefully preserving some of the muscular tone in her lower legs.
Please pray for more new stuff for Mom – first steps to wean off of her tracheotomy, first steps to move away from needing a feeding tube, first steps, period. That’s a ways off I am sure. We’ll see. With all yall praying, you never know! Please pray for some renewed stuff, too – that bone piece from her head to be put back soon, her bodily functions to be back under her conscious control, her complete smile, two bedsores (bottom and head) to heal, and more. And please praise – that she is even alive.
Please pray for Dad, too. He will see an ortho doctor Thursday about his bones, particularly his wrist. They are supposed to reassess everything for him early next week. Surgery on his wrist is coming soon, also.
Our family is so grateful for all of you. Thanks to all of you for how you have loved us in this season. We love you.
I’ll holler tomorrow.