Over the last few posts I have shared the raw and emotional side of this journey for me as the wife and us as a couple. This moment in time is very fragile, full, and overwhelming, but it is not the whole story. I have acknowledged the many silver linings with the strengthening of faith being at the center. That awe for the power of our Lord is not just because I know it to be true…. not just because it is the right thing to say….. but because I have actually witnessed him moving in my life. Through so many moments I have been knocked over the head with his power, his most perfect timing, and his ability to reach me through various mediums show me he is here. Today I am sharing one of those stories.
The Thursday before Dan’s last bronchoscope we both were really looking forward to. We had a check in at Hopkins to do, but besides that we had a whole afternoon/evening to ourselves in Baltimore! We had the hotel room, plans for a quiet afternoon to let both of us work a little, hopes of a dinner out on the town, and finally a nice comfy hotel slumber. Not getting out much these days we had talked about this particular day for a few weeks.
That morning I headed off to work for a half day that of course got a bit extended. Just trying to get back into the swing of things and still have a touchy schedule of being in and out, it is hard to just pop in. Cue the kick off to my feeling a little stressed. But I packed up, assured everyone I would be back working later that afternoon from the hotel, and headed out the door. Dan was planning to be packed and ready to roll so we could just up and jet as soon as I got home. Unfortunately he had a bad morning with no energy and still needed a little rest before we could get going. So we headed out later than planned – stress number 2. After getting the dog all settled at my in-laws, we were off. I was really hoping to have a nice drive up and sorta flip the switch on all our moods. But as luck would have it – traffic… bad traffic. By the time we got into the city we were a ball of stress, snapping at each other, and already exhausted from the need to just get to Hopkins, let alone the procedure itself.
Later as we finally made our way to the hotel I was bound and determined to give us a fresh start. Aimlessly chatting, showing Dan the cute city streets that lined our hotel (this is the place I have always stayed, but Danny had never been before) and trying my best to give a new outlook. I marveled at how amazing it was that he was actually with me to see where I lived during all this and how much he was gonna like the sweet staff…… at this point I made a mental note to park extra careful in front of the hotel. It is on a main street of Baltimore and if you don’t hug the curb, its hard to unload the car. Well, I hugged the curb – so well in fact I missed this newly added part of cement that was supposed to help corral the cars into the lobby area – went flying over the curb and since it was so new it had not been sanded down – so the sound it made as it scrapped off the bottom of my car was lovely. Good mood gone. I was beyond frustrated, Danny was beyond annoyed, and the moment we got to the room everyone retreated to their corners – Dan to the bathroom and myself on a chair.
That is when it hit – the tears stung my eyes and the frustration really started to flow. I can’t do this….. lemons out of lemonade – forget it! The past few weeks have been such a nightmare of unexpected and messy, why would I be stupid enough to think we might actually have one good night. And nobody in that room was letting any of us forget about the new remodel of the car. I was spent…. I was done…. and I was furious….I can’t possibly do this…. being positive, staying hopeful – it doesn’t work. I try so hard to do all my roles so perfect – wife, daughter, friend, co-worker/employee – but perfection isn’t gonna help this mess a lick! The emotions that were swinging violently between sadness and anger were consuming me and the walls in that room felt so incredibly small. I grabbed my purse – said to Dan I will be back and headed right for the happy hour our hotel offers. It is free with snacks and beverages and I needed a change of scene FAST.
Upon entering the bar area I quickly started to relax. A room full of strangers that don’t know one thing about me… won’t ask me how it is going… don’t know what we are up against…. and I could just dive in and drift aimlessly. The light hum of the room was perfect- there was energy and people watching, but also plenty of space that I could find a corner to just hide. I grabbed my red wine and a big comfy chair that was very strategically out of the main thoroughfare, but facing the crowd. That way I could actually feed the loneliness I felt by being around the energy of people – but I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. I carefully sipped my wine and let the full body of the flavors dance on my tongue and then fill me with warmth. Red wine always reminds me of time with family and provides this feeling of comfort that I let wash over me. I was certainly calming down, but it felt like just a enough to clear the fog and then honestly look at current status: failing at this journey. It felt like Danny and I were losing the ability to find the silver lining together or enjoy even the good parts of this moment – a hotel, a city to enjoy – let’s be honest, we sorta feel like we are just losing our minds. And I thought, how am I going to keep doing this?
The new scene had provided a breath of fresh air, the wine was allowing me to relax, but I still needed something to stop hyper focusing on our problems. My mind wandered to this book I had downloaded on my phone by Angie Smith – a momma who was told her baby would not live more than 5 minutes outside the womb, but she and her husband decided to proceed with the pregnancy anyway. Talk about a situation not going the way you planned at all, it helped me to know lives have all sorts of unexpected – the worst kind in fact – and you can survive it. As I started to read again, I was quickly reminded the hardest part of reading this story – the husband and wife had each other to journey with. The experience of this family is one of complete devastation and in no way did I think they had it easy. But it was hard to read of the couple having this happen to them both and working through it together, since that just hasn’t been the majority of our experience post-transplant. But I proceeded on and before I knew it was completely enthralled in Angie’s writing.
As I devoured each page her emotions spoke right to my heart. She talked about being so angry and even though she was being led by her faith – she was mad at God. She would yell and scream at him … she would be paralyzed with anguish…. she was walking through this thing messy and pained, but continued on. When I got back to the room Danny and I had a quiet, but nice dinner and were able to relax. However I could not stop thinking about Angie’s description of her emotions. She was in such pain, yet somehow she had written about her journey. She had survived enough to be able to share the story. So once Danny settled in for the night I jumped on my laptop and flew all around the internet. Watching interviews with Angie – by herself and with her husband – watched the video of her sweet baby and listened to the song that was written for her. I was obsessed with how stable they appeared. Of course transformed by their journey and clearly empowered by the faith that got them through it, but most impressive ok enough to actually share their journey. It was incredible and I found myself inspired to write about the feeling of hope they ignited. That night as I climbed into bed I was refreshed by the realization that this is hard, so many lives are, but all I have to do is to keep going – don’t stop, press myself forward and I will come out the other end of this….. maybe even as someone who can help others.
God sent the words I needed through Angie that night to sleep. He gave me comfort to not give up on my life and to continue to believe in myself. He provided just what I would need to survive until tomorrow…. and that is when he would tell me the truth.
The next day as Danny was in his procedure I worked. It is hard in the recovery area to have out all my work stuff, so I took that block of time in the waiting room to plow through the to do list. I felt good because the day was going to be good… I had read all about it. Just gotta keep walking and hoping…. and if I don’t give up, if I press myself I will find the path through this thing and out the other side.
They eventually brought me back to sit with Dan as he woke. It was taking a little longer than we thought, so I started to read again and that is when the true message found me. Angie shares the truth, what happened to her baby was not just unfortunate or one of those things. She was not an unlucky mom or just stumbled across tragedy – no God had actually chosen her for this journey. She was destined, by God’s plan and his divine design, to be this baby’s mom. Ya’ll – my whole world turned upside down. Sitting in this teeny tiny recovery area, people bustling around me, Danny trying to replenish strength with a snack as the nurses made small talk. Everyone was going about their normal routine and here I was being shocked to life with a realization that would change this journey forever – God has chosen me to be Danny’s wife and to take this journey.
My eyes were now wide open. This was not something that just sorta happened to me because of who I married. This isn’t just the suffering that life happened to hand me like a wheel of fortune that everyone would have a spin. No I was built and created for this purpose. It has nothing to do with my ability to be peppy enough, happy enough, perfect enough – God chose me and all my humanity (emotional, OCD, stress conscious) for this journey and he just needs me to accept his navigation as the solution….. not to create my own. As this nugget of wisdom lodged itself between my eyes, my heart was suddenly lighter – no longer burdened with the worry and angst of not being good enough – we are cleared to start preparing to go home. Well you know how that story turns out and again we are thrown another curve ball, yet this time I am met with a sense of comfort amongst the chaos. Yes, of course another complication is not good – but this isn’t random, this ins’t just another round of bad luck – this is a part of His journey for us.
Since discovering this truth my prayers to God have completely changed. Its not about asking to be good enough, it is about asking what God wants me to do in these moments. Ya’ll it sounds crazy – but I don’t make one decision without putting it up to him. Angie tells us to be honest with God, even in anger because he can take it – so I have taken up shouting at him while in the shower…. and letting the water refresh my body, while the crying out and potential tears cleanses my soul. But more importantly is the constant communication that honesty has demanded. I am constantly sharing my fears, worries, and musing….. and this openness has provided a sense of comfort because I have a constant companion. A companion who already thinks I am the right gal for the job – it has been transforming.
This mind shift has blown me away and now instead of just looking for moments to create hope, I can actually live in true hope – his hope. It has been amazing and I am so grateful for the book that brought me here (another crazy story is how I found it- basically God dropped it on my lap, rather “laptop”). Angie’s story is so incredibly strong, beautiful, and truly saved me from myself in this moment of life. Through her honesty I too was able to find God’s true words, and through her use of bible stories I was comforted with the realization that God has been using the humanity of people to show the strength of his power and depth of his devotion to us. He has chosen me to provide grace, healing, and strength to navigate this season of life – just like many before me. In fact, I might even find gratitude for this opportunity with this new outlook.
If you are going through something that is leaving you feeling alone, lost, and as if God has an out of offie message on when you need him most, read this book. And thank you to Angie for truly transforming my mindset at this time of life to not only survive this journey, but thrive and honor the Almighty.
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!