Some stories take time to be shared. Often you have to find a balance when your story is so intertwined with that of someone else. This is one of those and the reason I have been quiet in this space as of late.
She’s been sick most of my life now. Her Chron’s disease diagnosed just before I turned eleven. I don’t really remember a time when my mother wasn’t sick. In many ways I struggle not to let that define me.
In a lot of ways you get used to it. Desensitized maybe. But when that’s almost all you’ve ever known it just is what it is.
But this time was different. This time it wasn’t just her body not wanting to function. It was also her mind.
Symptoms appeared as summer 2011 began. Maybe even before. Symptoms similar to mini strokes, but then the diagnosis came. Cirrhosis of the liver. The latest long term side effect of Chron’s disease, surgeries and drugs that saved her life from the Chron’s 26 years earlier.
Modern medicine can be a wonderful and amazing gift. But many times the effects it can have twenty and thirty years down the road are unknown. So many issues she has struggled with over the years -chemical imbalances, diabetes, chronic fatigue, and others I’m sure I’m forgetting.
And liver disease was the latest for my mother.
As I talked with my sister and dad that Sunday night in February, just two days after my son turned thirteen, something heavy settled on my chest. It was the first time I prayed for a donor. Well, sort of. “If someone is going to die in these awful storms tonight anyway, Lord, please let one be a match.”
How do you pray for something that means someone else has to lose their life? When the miracle you need means heartache and loss for someone else?
The next day she was admitted to the hospital. There wasn’t much more we could do but wait on a donor. Her window of remaining on the transplant list was closing quickly.
I continued to trust.
Trust. It’s a choice.
When my mother was first diagnosed with liver disease I made a choice. I made the choice that no matter the outcome I would choose to be thankful. Something for which He had been preparing me. I chose to trust in His plan.
I made that choice when her diagnosis first came, before she was even eligible to be placed on the transplant list. I intentionally spoke His words of truth to myself through the long months of waiting for her to be put on the list. Long months of struggling through her confusion as her brain and body were affected by toxins building up in her body. Toxins her liver could no longer filter from her systems. Days where my patience slipped away as I once again paddled upstream through a conversation with her. Conversations where I repeated the same thing for thirty minutes. Her mind caught in a loop, unable to break free. Disease is hard on the victim, but it also frustrates and discourages their families.
So we waited after she was admitted to the hospital. For five days the nurses and doctors caring for her and doing the best they could to ease her pain. As cliché as it sounds, the miracle came at the eleventh hour. A donor. Someone’s life was ending. And they or their family chose to give so others could continue to live.
My mind drifts to the cross when I consider this, but I’ll leave those thoughts for another day.
Would I have been thankful had she not survived long enough to receive a transplant? Would I still have chosen to trust? I hope so. I think so. There comes a point when watching a loved one suffer such unimaginable pain that all you pray for is healing in whatever form that looks like, even if it means complete healing in heaven.
But the choice to trust does not end there. I still have to choose daily to trust. Choosing to trust when the medications frustrate her mind once again. Trusting when the healing and recovery may take just as long as it took for the disease to cause the damage. Choosing to trust that His ways are higher than what we can comprehend.
So I continue to trust even on the days when I don’t feel like it. Because in the end? Trusting is a choice.