Becoming Holy

We will run and not grow weary…Part Two

on February 9, 2013

So…when I posted yesterday, I left out a special part of our journey in Seattle.  Family!  God, in advance, had supplied us with family to meet us in Seattle.  Joe’s cousin, Pam, came to see us shortly after we arrived the night before surgery.  She had a goody bag for Gabbie and words of comfort and encouragement.  Later that night, Joe’s cousin, Tom and wife Zoey, also came bearing gifts!  The thoughtfulness of these two visits took the edge off of being in a strange place.  The feeling of being “so alone in the world” was lifted from our shoulders and we knew help was just a phone call away.  We somehow managed to sleep that night and headed to the operating room early the next morning.  

The pre-op work was beyond gut-wrenching!  We were answering the same questions over and over, Gabbie’s fear of needles was escalating after each unsuccessful attempt at IV placement, and we were handed waivers to sign that were filled with every possible bad thing that could happen.  As a parent, I was asking myself if we would see Gabbie alive again.  I would alternate “best case scenarios” with “worst case scenarios” inside my head.  It was with very heavy hearts and a show of bravery that we kissed Gabbie “goodbye” and watched the team wheel her down the hall.  Our eyes were brimming with tears at the thought of what the future might hold.  Joe and I took each others’ hands as well as the little “tracker” they gave us to notify us when surgery was over.  We went to the lower floor to the chapel and were so relieved to realize that the weekly Mass “just happened” to be starting in a few minutes.  We entered the room and knelt to pray for our precious Gabbie.  There were a handful of other people there.  During the prayer intentions, we were astonished when the priest prayed for healing for Gabbie.  “How on earth would he have found out?”  We hadn’t filled out anything regarding our religious preference.  Was this a miracle?  One other family in the room seemed to have a stress level comparable to ours.  At the end of Mass, we introduced ourselves.  We found out there was a second Gabby.  The other Gabby was a tiny little baby who had been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA.)  She was only a few weeks old and not expected to live very long.  In my heart, I thought of Jennifer, and could not bear to watch this young couple’s anguish.

Mass was finished at noon.  The afternoon passed slower than anything I’ve ever experienced.  The expected length of surgery came and went and we were still waiting.  We couldn’t wait to hear from the doctor and yet we dreaded the buzzer going off.  What would it mean?  Was no news really good news or was something horribly wrong?  Would they even be successful at placing the pacer?  We ate lunch in silence and walked up and down the long hallways.  We called family back home to report that we had nothing to report.  By the time the tracker went off at 4:30 pm, we were spent~every emotion was laid bare like raw bundles  of nerve fibers.  We quietly awaited the doctor’s arrival.  Our cardiologist came in, all smiles, with the good news that the pacer was in place, the muscle biopsy had been taken and Gabbie was in recovery.  A wave of relief beyond explanation washed over us.  After an explanation of the procedure and follow up advice, we called the kids, our parents, and family to thank them for the many prayers that were being prayed.  We knew that Gabbie had been surrounded by angels~especially when the anesthesiologist reported that Gabbie had been under at just .5-1% of the anesthesia mix.

The rest of the evening was painful for Gabbie.  Nausea from surgery, extreme tenderness at the incision sites, and the overwhelming knowledge she now had something foreign inside her made everything so painfully REAL.  No turning back from a pacemaker.  No turning back from finding out the results from her muscle biopsy.  Though we suspected Gabbie had KSS and all signs pointed to it, the muscle biopsy would make it definitive.  Sometimes the reality of the situation made me want to bolt!  We did not want to be there, but we’d been placed there.  We went with a determination to make every moment count~God had placed us there and we were determined to find purpose in this.

One grace we were blessed with was being able to locate the other Gabby’s family.  We had tried to find them during the surgery to see how things were going and to see if they wanted to pray together.  The hospital could not give out information about other patients, so it was unlikely we would see them again.  We prayed that if God wanted us to find them, He would place them in our path.  Joe went to get coffee and God placed Gabby’s grandparents on the elevator.  He asked if we could visit their room and pray with them.  They accepted.  We had brought some incredible blessed items with us on this journey.  We had been given a relic from my sweet sister-in-law…a tiny piece of the Blessed Mother’s veil!  We also had a relic of Padre Pio, Lourdes water, rosaries from Medjugorje and an assortment of other religious medals and blessed oil.  We met Gabby’s parents, shared our struggles and prayed together for Gabbie and Gabby!  Precious moments of shared faith in a hospital room at Children’s.  That was one of the moments that felt very right when everything else was feeling so wrong.  (Sadly, a few months later, Baby Gabby passed away from SMA and our hearts broke along with theirs.)

Our Gabbie’s struggles were just beginning.  Despite the fact that she had undergone two intense procedures, she was released the next day. Three of the shortest and longest days of our lives!  Fear accompanied us across the mountains where we would settle into life and await the test results.  It is true that “perfect love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18) because a homemade sign of perfect love awaited Gabbie on our front door.  In huge letters, it said,  “Tuesday to Thursday~TOO LONG!  Kennewick to Seattle~TOO FAR!  Welcome home, Gabbie.  We love you!”  This sign was not a sign of fear, it was a sign of JOY!  My heart rejoiced in these words and I silently thanked God for letting these beautiful children continue as siblings on earth.  The verse from Jeremiah 29:11 echoed in my heart,   For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”  Looking back at those days so filled with chaos and calamity, we know God had a plan.  He had cared for our children at home and He had cared for Gabbie in the hospital.  He led us to another family in need of support and prayer.  The pacemaker was not a curse, it was His gift!  It continues to buy us time~helping to ensure a future and a hope.  We are called to release our fears and erase the plans we have drawn up in order to make room for His plans for our future and for that of Gabbie.

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2 responses to “We will run and not grow weary…Part Two

  1. Charlene, your family and story is amazing. You are bringing out a lot of memories of our story. Adam wants me to write a blog, but I am not ready. Your blog could turn into a book. You have an amazing story to tell. Maybe you are stuck here to teach me how to put my story in blog form or to get me going on a book everyone tells me to write. Life is amazing and I wouldn’t have my life go any differently!

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