Well, I guess it's time to tell part two of my week-long saga. I actually spent a long time overnight trying to figure out what to say here today, because I want to do it right...
After making it through the night on Saturday, Sunday dawned bright and sunshiny---fuzzy, but sunshiny. I was on some serious painkillers and antibiotics, and because there's this belief that you shouldn't wear contacts during surgery, I was as blind as a bat. I had one of my nurses hand me the patient bag with my lenses in it, and discovered that I was on the top floor of the hospital with a little old lady as my roomie (we actually had friends in common-how cool was that?) My morning ritual was to sit up and eat (2 bites counts, right?), ring for help to go potty (did I mention that I really scared the nurses the night before?), and then flip through the channels. I was still too sick to be bored, because it struck me as a wonderful idea to take a two-hour nap.
When I woke up, my husband came through the door---and he had brought two things I desperately needed: my toothbrush and a razor! So I went around and was able to get rid of the fuzzy teeth thing and the 5'o'clock shadow thing. He held my hand and we prayed together, and just visited...When my lunch came and I just ate 3 bites, he kinda frowned, but I think the medicines just made everything taste wrong (smelled great, tasted...meh).
Then the visitors started showing up. First it was one of my cousins and her daughter (totally not expecting them, and she's a little...different) Then my parents arrived--got me caught up on local news and the fact that half of the United States had been praying for me (I have a HUGE family, plus work family, plus church family...) We talked about what my surgeon had told them and how serious my situation actually was.
Then SHE walked in...One of my best friends for years, Belinda walked into my room, wearing her Christian Motorcyle Association leather jacket, a royal blue doo rag, and a million-watt smile. Belinda always reminds me of a cross between an elf and a pixie--all sparkle, all smiles, tons of hugs, and a contagious laugh and love for life. I was totally surprised to see her. We each lead such separate lives in town that we don't get to spend hardly any time talking-- but she's been there for me for everything--my wedding (she was a bridesmaid), my pregnancy (she was over the moon!), my miscarriage (she held me tight and loved me through that dark time). We picked right up where we had left off the last time we talked. She gave me some activity books to stave off the boredom, lifted my spirits, and then talked about her boys--a 20 year old and 18 year old twins. She was supposed to be going on a ride with the CMA that afternoon, but told them that I was more important and she felt that God told her to come see me and encourage me. She was going to meet them back home for a celebratory dinner. She prayed for me, gave me another hug, and then I said, "Thanks so much for coming. I've really missed you. Have a safe trip home!" Then she hugged everyone else and left the room.
And that's the last time I saw her. Her "safe trip home" was the final one--straight up into heaven. I know that's where she is at, because she had an assurance of her salvation. A kid (that I used to have in school--the "I hate school" type) decided to make a left-hand turn right in front of her cycle. In an instant she went from being a mom, a wife, a daughter, and a friend, to being a saint in heaven. I've never lost a friend like that before--not ever been the last one to talk to someone. It's very surreal, and not really an experience I want to repeat, but I'm glad I got to see her that one last time, got to hug her and pray with her...
At the last moments of her life, I had other visitors praying over me, and it wasn't until 6:00 that evening, when I was alone, that my mom called me with the news. As I sat there crying, my roommate was so concerned that she called for the nurses. Nurses often get a bad rap for being too businesslike, but mine were angels of mercy. They sat with me and let me cry, got the chaplain for me, and called my surgeon to find out if they could give me a sedative to calm me down. I wasn't hysterical, just heartbroken. Not out-of-control, but at a loss so deep that the fountains of my soul just overflowed. My husband called soon after, because he had just gotten home and found out--he called our pastor who immediately called me and told me he was coming.
My most cherished memory of that awful night? The head nurse in charge of the floor came in, sat down on my bed, gathered me in her arms, and just rocked me like a baby. She pressed her cheek against my forehead, brushed my hair away from my wet eyes, and talked with me about Belinda. She told me to have a good cry, because the tears of grief were also tears of healing, and that God understood my loss. She let me go when the chaplain arrived, although her comforting was much better.
The chaplain (who was a woman) came in to talk. I don't have anything against women being chaplains, but I do have something against a chaplain who is supposed to be counseling you over the death of a friend who NEVER once opened a Bible or shared words of scripture or gives you a hug or a hankie. I actually thought my dog Maggie would have done a better job. It was just a very...non-religiousy kinda sterile visit. She left fairly quickly and my pastor came. By this time, the sedative was kicking in, so I wasn't sobbing. He held my hand and talked about everything. My plans that were now tossed, the dream of being a mother that had turned to ashes in the span of 24 hours, the loss of such a dear friend...I don't know how long we talked, probably only 20 minutes or so, but then he prayed over me and I felt as if Jesus himself was sitting in that bed with me, His arms wrapped around me, comforting me. My pastor stayed and held my hand until I fell asleep.
Needless to say, that overnight was rough, too. I know God was right there beside me, through each bad moment, holding me tightly to keep me safe. I cried out, "How much more can I take, God? How many more things and hopes and dreams do I have to lose? I know you have a plan, a great plan, for my life, but it's so dark that I can't see it. We were just starting to get our feet back under us, just planning on starting our family in a different way---and then this. When does it get to be my turn for happiness, my turn for peace and safety and family? Your word says "sorrow may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning"...I feel like I've been put into the deepest night again and again---when will the joy come in the morning?"
I don't know all the answers to those questions yet. Probably won't for a while. God doesn't give quick, easy answers. He just calls us to trust. Trusting is hard. It means taking yourself out of the equation, it means not fixing it yourself. I'm going to have to be trusting God a lot right now, because where we are is this: It is now humanly impossible for us to move for at least 3 years. It is humanly impossible to become foster parents or adoptive parents for at least 3-10 years. It is humanly impossible for me to become pregnant. It is going to be very difficult to pay off the hospital bills within 3 years. (I haven't gotten them yet, and I do have insurance, but the bills alone are probably close to $100,000. I have to pay my deductable, plus 20% of everything else, so that going to be a long repayment process) I have no guarantee that I'll have a job next year, husband still doesn't have one that's full-time. In short, things are just about hopeless. I have a hope, and I'm going to cling to it so strongly because it's all I have left. I KNOW God has a plan in the midst of all of this. I know it...but it's not going to be easy, it's not going to be quick, and it might demand that I give up on several of my dreams in order to follow the plan. I'm gonna say it right here--this is going to be one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life, and I don't like it. But I'll do it anyway, because I want to be used by God for the purpose He created.