Monday, August 25, 2008

Darkness and Light

I was getting ready to write about our weekend (nothing too exciting, just a little shopping on Saturday and church on Sunday), but with the events of the past week nothing really seems important enough to write about.

I have heard so much bad news about people I care about, I feel like I can't take anymore. This week I have heard of three very young people who have received devastating medical diagnoses. A friend from my old lifegroup learned she has a very large brain tumor. She is 28. They don't know yet what they will do about it. An old college roommate has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She is 30. She is undergoing chemo and surgery. A dear friend and heart mom has just learned that she has a brain tumor. She is still undergoing testing to determine what kind it is and how it will be treated. She is in her early 30's and is a mother of two young children, one with his own serious medical issues.

Then there are the heart babies. I learned from Jillian's blog about a sweet little almost 2-year old boy who passed away suddenly on Thursday. Five hours before he died his mom was writing about how he was signing to her and watching a movie. I have been following another heart blog about baby Johnathan. He is four months old and just had his second open-heart surgery. He had a couple of rocky days at the beginning, but seemed to have stabilized. Sunday morning I checked on him before church and I knew things were bad. I went to church feeling like I could not take one more piece of bad news. I opened the bulletin and read that there was a 17-year old boy who attended one of our outreach programs that had been shot and killed. I didn't know him. But I cried and cried. I cried for all the families that have lost children. I cried for myself and my fear of losing my child. I cried for all the pain and tragedy that goes on in this world. Sometimes it really feels too much to bear. When I returned home and checked on Johnny I learned that he had lost his battle with CHD's too. I am so very sad for his family.

But I had to get it together because I already had plans to visit Arianna and her mom in the hospital. She's the sweet little 3-year old girl who has been in the hospital for ten weeks now recovering from her Fontan. As I made the drive over to the hospital I prayed for everyone. I have a tendency to try to hold on to all these feelings and just take the weight on myself. I know that God wants me to bring it to him and that he is big enough to handle all of these things. So I brought him all my feelings, all my prayer requests and asked that he would give me his strength and help me to be a light in a dark place.

I had a wonderful visit with Bahar. We talked about how difficult it is to split your time between your sick child in the hospital and your healthy child at home. How a long hospitalization can stress your marriage and your relationships. How painful it can be to have friends that just don't know what to say so they say nothing. How difficult it is to be on top of the doctors, nurses, and staff constantly to make sure they are all communicating and doing the best for your child. How everyone tells you take time for yourself, but there really is no time to do that. How isolating it can be to be walking through the hospital corridors for weeks on end and as others come and go. After our conversation we went back to Ari's room and she was awake! I got to talk to her and hear her beautiful voice. She is such an amazing child. She was in a great mood and was so friendly. After all she's been through she is still just a happy little girl. I showed her Drew's scrapbook of his time in the hospital and she really liked looking at it. She pointed out the ng tube he had, just like hers, and when looking at a picture of him with oxygen told me "I don't have oxygen anymore."

I left the hospital feeling a lot better. Yes, there is a lot of sadness in this dark world. But there also is a lot of opportunity to bring light into the darkness. I think one way we can do that is by walking alongside someone, just being with them on their journey.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us Andrea. As I sit in my own sadness this morning I am reminded by you how important it is to take ALL of my feelings to God not just the good ones or just a few of the sad ones but ALL of them. Not only can he handle them but at the same time he can comfort you and me and all the other suffering ones as he takes it all on. What an AWESOME God indeed. I love you Andrea

Laura said...

this is beautiful, andrea. the way you share yourself so openly and honestly is truly remarkable. i know that i can't understand completely what you must experience daily, and i would never try to. but regardless of whether or not i understand, i will ALWAYS love you and your family, and will always support and pray for your well beings. xo

on another note, i hope we can see each other (even briefly) while you and dan are down here. i feel like i haven't seen dan in ages!

The Portas said...

Very well said, Andrea. Thanks for sharing this. I, too, have had a heavy heart lately for many people that are suffering around us. It gets so overwhelming at times. I'm so glad you found someone to walk their journey with, to find some peace in this yucky time. Hugs to you!! xoxoxo

Katie Scott said...

Hi Andrea,
Thanks for sharing what is on your heart with all of us. I am so glad that you are trying to hand it all over to God and that you had a good visit at the hospital yesterday! You're gearing up for that mentoring role that you've been talking about! Love ya!!

Shannon said...

Hi Andrea
Thank you for this post. I have been feeling very afraid and sad after those two little ones died. I keep tearing up too.

It helps to see the flip side - we know its there but to actually SEE it gives you something to hold on to.

The thing I find so hard with babies passing is the effect on their brother's and sisters. I want to save them from losing some part of them, their love, too.


Molly said...

What awesome REAL words you have written. I love how you take all these emotions and try and determine what it means in your relationship with God. When I read the Psalms, one thing always seems to jump out at me regarding God's heart... and that's that He desires that we are sincere with Him and bring all those emotions to Him, the good ones and the bad ones. And that's what you're doing. And I truly believe He will honor that bring you the Peace you desire. And I will be praying that for you!
Hugs - Amy

Jessica said...

My two greatest fears are losing my babies or leaving my babies....
Even just considering either possibility is too overwhelming emotionally.
I couldn't imagine either possibility becoming a reality.

Kathy said...

You said it all so eloquently!
Give those cutie pies a hug and kiss from us!!!

Taria M. said...

I admire you for sharing your raw emotions with so many people that need to hear they aren't alone in their grief and sadness. And letting the world know that God is your safe place to go, and that He will put peace back in your heart. Thank you for allowing God to use you in such a powerful way in families that need to know they are loved and supported. You're a blessing to so many people, even those of us who haven't had the priviledge of meeting you.

God bless you and your family!

Vanessa said...

Oh Andrea, you have me in tears right now. That sure was alot to handle all at the same time. There have been 2 children I know that have passed this week due to their heart defects and it's so hard to hear. You feel so bad for that family and sometimes don't even know what to say. You immediatly think..."What if that was my kid?" and the reality is that is very well could be, which makes is so much harder.

You did the best thing by visiting with Ari and her mom. I know it wasn't easy but you are able to shine some light into someone elses life. We can either sit here and let the darkness eat us alive, or we can stand up and help others in there darkest moments by shining a little bit of light and hope.



Anonymous said...

Dear Andrea, I am so sorry for all the loss and sadness you've been facing. I feel for you and for all the families you describe. For your friends who are facing brain tumors, there are important precautions they can take (and we all can take for our children):

Good luck and hang in there.

A Midwest reader who gains much strength for her own family from your blog.