Sunday, May 23, 2010

Medical School Part 3: Beauty in the Suffering

As I've said before the Lord has taught me many things along this journey. He has used many situations to grow me and deepen my faith. Some are more painful than others. Losing daddy and then momma two years later was one of the hardest times in my life.

I have written and re written this post several times now, and it just seemed too depressing. I don't want to go down a dark road of woe is me. That's not the point. And I don't feel that way. I mean was it hard. Is it still hard at times? Absolutely. I still struggle with moments where I miss them terribly. But, am I going to let it paralyze me with grief and steal my joy in the Lord. No. That is not what either of them would have wanted, and if I am going to honor the life they lived and what they instilled in me, then I must chose to allow the Lord to show me the beauty in the suffering.

My dad had a quadruple bi-pass surgery in 1986, and it changed our lives. He spent the remaining years of his life very focused on his health. He walked 2 to 3 miles everyday without fail, and he watched his diet very carefully. If it didn't fly or swim we didn't eat. I seriously had only had steak twice in my life before I met my husband Hugh. It was always veggies with either chicken or fish. He took vitamins everyday and was very into researching homeopathic or alternative medicines to improve his life and health. It was a shock to me when he passed away suddenly of a heart attack in 2004. It was two days before Thanksgiving. I remember talking to him on the phone that Monday. He had had a bad cold for a little over two weeks, and he just didn't sound good. He and momma were supposed to come up to Kansas City to spend Thanksgiving with us, but he didn't feel up to the trip. I was so disappointed because I hadn't seen him or momma since the summer. So, I talked to Hugh and we decided that we would make the trip down. That night, I received a frantic phone call from momma saying he was rushed to the hospital and they were saying he had had a heart attack. It turned out to be more congestive heart failure brought on by the cold that had turned into pneumonia, but a heart attack none the less. I remember packing my black dress and shoes and some how knowing in my heart that it was his time and the Lord was going to take him. I didn't want to say it out loud though, like some how it might come true if I said it. We drove all night straight through trying to get there in time. One of my very best friends mom went to stay with my mom at the hospital and kept us updated until my mother in law could get there to be with her. We got the call about half way through the night that he had passed. Hugh was on the phone and pulled over to the side of the road, and I started crying because I knew. We finally got home at 7:15 the next morning.

Momma was in shock. Hugh and his mom helped me make all the arrangements. We had a small memorial at the funeral home in Indianola. My dear friend Marci shared a song at the memorial, and daddy's friend, Wayne Smith gave the message. My best friend Peige also wrote a special poem to share. It was so touching and comforting to have them all near at that time. We then had daddy's body flown to Colorado for the funeral and military burial at Ft. Logan National Cemetery. It was cold and windy that day, and everything seemed so still and quiet. Hugh was one of the pallbearers. Momma had asked me to sing daddy's favorite hymn How Great Thou Art for the service. I remember how beautiful the service was. I had the most peaceful moment as a flock of white birds took flight and the bugler played Taps. It was perfect. I know that may sound strange, but it was as if God had orchestrated the most beautiful moment in the midst of all the sorrow that surrounded us. It was so beautiful, and I know it would have made daddy smile.

Two years passed and my momma had remarried an old sweetheart from her high school days, and moved out to Arizona. She flew up here on January 30, 2006 and was planning to stay for my birthday on February 2nd, and through the birth of my first child, my son Trey. The next morning, I didn't have to be in to work until ten, so I spent the morning with momma. As soon as Hugh went to work I had her come and get in bed with me and we sat there and talked for a couple hours. It's funny how you don't notice things at the time, but you look back on them later and it almost takes your breath away. I remember telling momma that I thought the Lord was giving Trey to me early as a comfort, because He was going to take Hugh. I know that sounds bizarre, but let me explain. We had been taking, let's say precautions, because we weren't planing on trying to start our family for another year or so until after Hugh graduated medical school. So, we were surprised when we found out we were going to have a baby. We were pleasantly surprised and happy about his arrival once the shock wore off. Then we found out that Hugh was going to have to have brain surgery to repair or replace his shunt. Hugh developed Hydrocephalus shortly after his birth and has had a shunt practically his whole life. When I told momma that I was afraid that the Lord was giving me Trey early because He might take Hugh, she just sat there and held my hand and listened. Which seems odd to me now. Whenever Hugh and I faced any type of set back, momma was always the first to reassure me by saying, "Oh, honey the Lord always takes care of you and Hugh. He has his hand over you and Hugh and he keeps blessing you over and over. He is going to continue to bless you and take care of you." -But, not that morning. Looking back on it now, I think she knew. I think she knew it was going to be her, but she didn't want to tell me. Instead we talked about losing grandma and daddy and the pact we'd made a few years earlier that if anything happened to one of us, some how, some way we'd let the other know that we were OK. We'd give some kind of sign to let the other know we were still with them and we were OK. She passed away a few hours later. Hugh found her, started CPR and called an ambulance, but it was already too late. We found out later she passed from an aortic dissection.

Two days later on my birthday I believe the Lord allowed her to keep our promise. By that time our little house was filled. There were already seven of us here with more family on the way. And then we heard one of our phones beeping. Everyone scattered to find their cell phone, and we realized it was momma's. Then my phone started beeping very erratically. It was almost as if they were talking back and forth to one another or having a conversation. None of us thought much of it until Hugh walked over and took the batteries out and a few minutes later they kept beeping back and forth to one another. Then we all got chills. My aunt Cathy said, "I think it's a sign. I think she is trying to let you know she's OK Tiff." I had to smile thinking about our pact. She was still with me. She is always with me. I carry her always in my heart.

The Lord is so gracious in His love for us. After all the comfort and peace He brought me during these times of sorrow, He went a step further and also gave me joy. One year later on my momma's birthday, my daughter was born. It is so fitting that this blessing was wrapped in His healing love.

1 comment:

D said...

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I appreciate your cooperation. Thank you!