We have more than usual to be thankful for this Thanksgiving with the incredible gift of Megan’s apparent. beat-the-odds recovery…an answer to prayer. Our original plan for this week had included a 20 hour round trip to Cincinnati and a bet that the Ronald McDonald House would put out a turkey spread for the families staying there. Instead, we got to spend it at home with family, just as it should be. It was impossible not to spend the week blissfully happy together. Wondrously, I am finding myself thankful for much more than just our tentative miracle.
Though we can still see our ordeal up close in the rear view mirror and are still dealing with its lasting impacts, reflection on what we’ve been through has been coming in quiet moments, and I am almost grateful for the experience. Don’t get me wrong: I’d undo every bit of it if I could, especially the long-term health impacts and lost school year. But while it’s been, by far, the hardest, most frightening, most stressful experience I’ve ever been through, amazingly it hasn’t been all bad. I found a surprising number of silver linings, perhaps because I desperately needed something positive to cling to. Nevertheless, they are very real.
First were the people, including the unbelievable support we received from family and friends, which simply made the difference in getting us through this emotionally and physically intact. We owe them more than we can ever repay. There is no way to adequately thank the expert nurses and doctors who cared, too, for us, even as they saved our daughter’s life. Even strangers did much to ease our burden. Though beyond stressful, the experience also brought us closer as a family. From the one-on-one time I got with each of the girls, to learning how to lighten my husband’s load from hundreds of miles away, I am now even more confident of the rock solid foundation upon which my entire life is built.
Perhaps most impactful, however, this experience has forever changed my perspective on what’s important. A friend once advised me when I took a high stress job where she worked to always remember that “we’re not saving babies.” That advice hit home as I sat for months in the hospital, watching people who actually do. When I returned to work, things which would have gotten to me before were instead only minor irritants. Office politics means nothing next to the life of your child. I have also learned much about being flexible and not needing to be in control. I’m happier as I’ve let go of much of my stress over things that don’t really matter. There are many small things which I will never take for granted again. Best of all, we’ve also gotten closer to God through this ordeal, including Megan. While I’m sad at how fast she has had to grow up these last few months, she now has a mature appreciation for what really matters and a deeper faith, beyond her teenage years. I, too, now know that I have more faith than I ever knew. So in spite of not knowing what tomorrow brings – whether ongoing recovery or relapse – I know I have the strength, the faith, and the family to get through it whole.
“See, when you drive home today, you’ve got a big windshield in the front of your car. And you’ve got a little bitty rearview mirror. And the reason the windshield is so large, and the rearview mirror is so small is because what’s happened in your past is not near as important as what’s in your future.” –Joel Osteen