-Written by Anna-
While being acutely aware of the one year mark looming I have felt strong and ready to face it. Yet tonight while (of all things) brushing my teeth I looked up to see tears streaming down my face and there was no stopping them! Many of the emotions of the last year caught up with me once again and surprised me with their depth! There have been more losses than I can count in the last 12 months of our life as a family. We have shared many of these with you over the last twelve months and we are eternally grateful for your love and prayers through this year. You have been a gift and blessing to our family!
This is a journey we never asked for or wanted, yet it is one He entrusted to us. Our prayer has been and remains that He would find us faithful of that trust!
One year ago today is a day none of us will forget.
One year ago today we went from the highest of highs (successful surgery with no signs of cancer) to the lowest of lows (a large complete stroke), all within a few hours. None of us could have imagined the journey that awaited us.
There is a fog that surrounds those initial days and yet at the same time a traumatic event brings all of life into sharp focus. You see very clearly the things that matter most in life. In those dark first days we experienced the love of family, friends and even strangers in ways we could never have expected.
- Cousins who came to sit with Mom after putting their own kids to bed so we could rest.
- Aunts who cried and prayed with us.
- Uncles who took night shifts and explained what doctors were saying.
- Grandfathers who loved and prayed from a distance.
- Doctors and nurses who fought for Mom.
- Friends who drove me home and stayed with me in a very empty house that first night.
- Friends who brought practical gifts like delicious food, soft blankets, extension cords for charging our phones, a small Christmas tree to decorate the hospital room, etc.
- Family and friends around the world who prayed so faithfully for us!
- Strangers in the waiting room who quickly became friends as we each waited on news of loved ones, sharing the good and the bad news of each day.
- A sweet aide who lovingly washed and dried Moms hair on Christmas day. Due to a drain and 40+ staples in her head, it had been a while and she talked about it for days.
- A hotel clerk that sweetly and patiently worked with me when I could hardly recall my own name and started crying as I explained that this room was being gifted by friends so we could sleep in a real bed and shower and still be near Mom.
- Hundreds of e-mails, texts, cards, phone calls from people all over the world letting us know of their love and their prayers
- And I could continue on…
I recently told my Mom that my only wish for Christmas is that it not be spent in the Neuro ICU! Truer words have never been spoken! And yet, in a way that only a God who takes on flesh and enters the world as a baby in a manger can do, last Christmas felt more real than any we have ever experienced. Her hospital room became like a stable. Immanuel, God with us!
Life is forever changed, there are many losses to grieve, many victories to celebrate, many obstacles still to overcome, and yet I find myself asking Jesus to help me remember those dark days. I want to remember the way we loved each other. I want to remember the way we were loved by others! I want to remember so I can praise Him for all the answers to prayer we have seen! And there are many!
But most of all I want to remember because on the darkest day of our lives, Jesus was THERE! Isn’t that the message/miracle of Christmas? God came near! I have been taught and have taught that fact my whole life, but on December 14, 2015 I experienced it! It is something I don’t ever want to forget!
I close with the words from an old hymn that my Dad used in opening this blog a year ago.
William Cowper“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
We have been the recipients of His blessings and His amazing grace this past year. And as we look back we see His smiling face even in the midst of the pain.
Words fall short as we humbly thank the Lord for sparing Mom’s life!
Words also fall short as we humbly thank you for walking with us through the last year. You have been the hands and feet of Jesus and have allowed us to see His smiling face through your love and prayers!
We know that we are not alone in experiencing pain, grief and loss this year! It is part of life this side of heaven. But whatever it is He has entrusted you with our prayer for you is the same as our prayer for ourselves. May we be willing to know Him, not only in His resurrection power, but also in the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming more and more like Him (Phil. 3:10).