12 days ago, I was sitting poolside chatting about small and big things with a baseball mom while the baseball team and siblings swam. Right there, right in the middle of our casual conversation, in rushed my husband. “Your dad got the call. Your dad’s getting new lungs tonight.”
In a panic, I flipped over my silenced phone and saw a bunch of texts and unanswered phone calls. It was true. The phone read 8:27 p.m. My dad was on his way to the hospital for a lung transplant scheduled for 5:00 a.m. the next morning.
I grabbed my phone and book, told the baseball mom with whom I was chatting that my dad had ALREADY gotten the call, and that I had to leave RIGHT NOW. As I whipped around the right side of the pool, I told two other baseball moms that my dad had gotten the call, that I needed to leave RIGHT NOW, and could they PLEASE watch our two oldest children until we figured out how we were going to make this happen. I yelled to our two oldest over the pool noise, “Stay here! Grandpa got the call, he’s getting the lung transplant tomorrow morning. These moms are going to watch you!”
My husband and I rushed to the hotel room we had reserved for the weekend’s state baseball tournament, the final baseball event of the season. Within a half hour, we sent some texts, made some phone calls, answered the hotel door to baseball parents offering to watch the kids until my husband returned, and were on our way two hours north back to Minneapolis so I could head to the hospital and be with my dad for the lung transplant.
ONE lung transplant later, ONE pacemaker surgery later, ONE heart attack for my mother-in-law, 12 days later and all the days back and forth between the hospital and peak-heat-of-summer home, here we are.
If there’s such a thing as reaching your maximum capacity AND being depleted, that’s me. Honestly, I’d hit 90% capacity and had 15-20% reserves in my well BEFORE the lung transplant. I’d told a few people that reality; an incredibly keen observer would’ve been able to tell without me saying a thing. Thanks to the unseen, unheard prayers of many, I am maintaining stability in this place of depletion. If you’ve ever been in crisis or depleted of reserves, you know what I mean. Sometimes remaining functional, helpful and stable when you’re depleted is the very best you can ask for!
I haven’t published anything on my blog since Friday, July 22, the day we got the call about my dad’s new lungs. As I stated in the original blog post about my dad’s lung transplant, I intended to write ALL the way through the transplant process. Just as I journaled through my sister’s significant battles with addiction and mental health. Just as I wrote through my trip to Haiti. Just as I wrote through my trip to Dominican Republic. Just as I wrote through my trip to Africa. Just as I wrote through our family trip to Walt Disney World. Just as I’m writing through my husband’s eye cancer journey.
But this journey has been different. It’s summer. I’m home full time with our three kids. They’re not in school and need my constant attention, care and taxi services. My husband continues to be in a heavy work season with big projects, evening business dinners and events, and stress that spills into the weekend. I’m honored to be keeping a Facebook page and CaringBridge page for my dad’s lung transplant. For the past 12 days, I’ve been brushing up on my informative writing skills with a crazy number of posts in those spaces. There are hospital visits, phone calls, texts, Facebook messages, visitors, laundry piles, finances and a gazillion things to keep up with at home. Until this afternoon, I haven’t had or been able to create a single moment to type a blog post. Heck, the only reason I’m able to write today is because my youngest was exhausted and finally succumbed to an afternoon nap. All of this to say that this lung transplant journey hasn’t been as conducive to personal, reflective writing as other significant journeys I’ve been on in the past. As desperate as I am to write something that comes from my truest and realest heart, I haven’t had time to do so.
There are some things I know to be true right now, at this moment in time.
- I am a writer at heart. Through the lung transplant, through the heart surgery, through the heart attack, through the child care and being-a-mom stuff, through the phone calls and texts, Caring Bridge posts and laundry, cleaning and finances, hospital visits and heart-felt conversations, I’m thinking about writing. I’m formulating thoughts and sentences in my mind, even if they never arrive on the screen. I’m thinking about what’s happening and how it’s impacting my perspective on life and faith, even if it’s years before you read about it.
- I have now reached my maximum capacity. I am now depleted. I’m full, but I’m hungry. And I haven’t worked out in about three weeks, which is crazy long for me. I am tired. I sleep, but I really need REST if you know what I mean. I need to either eat SUPER CLEAN or go on a FAST, or maybe both. I could use a massage and I’ve never, ever said that before. I have had very little time to myself. I haven’t been able to go to church since July 10th and need to get there ASAP. I could use a quiet movie, a quiet night, some peace and quiet. Maybe a movie in the dark theater with popcorn all by myself.
- There’s a long road ahead. My dad is still in the hospital, but will hopefully be out in the next couple of days. After he’s discharged, my parents will be staying in the Minneapolis area for THREE MONTHS, as rejection is most likely in those first months post transplant. It is my duty and delight to help my parents through this difficult time. I refuse to sit this one out, but also fully acknowledge that I am human.
- I am thinking about you, my reader. This isn’t your journey, but it’s mine to steward. How can I live in, live through and learn through this journey so I’m better able to help others in the future? What can I learn NOW that will help you LATER? How will these experiences shape me, form me and mold me so I’m a better writer and leader down the road? What is it that God would have me do, see and learn through these trials? I’m honestly wondering what you need right now, and how could I possibly help you? I SEE that it’s no longer about ME. I’m more than ready for a healthy and hearty writing transition from ME and MY STUFF to YOU and ALL OF US, but when will that be?
- Since the lung transplant, I’ve drafted at least TWO blog posts in my mind. Quite honestly, one of those posts would be better off as a chapter in a book. This morning as I was getting ready for the day, I had a vision for TWO companion books I’d never ONCE thought of until they came to me out of nowhere. I do believe they are ebooks, and I do believe they are for anyone who’s ever suffered and been through a major life crisis. No doubt, God can take our greatest miseries and make them our greatest ministries.
I’m a wife and a mom of three children who are at home full-time for summer. My dad’s still in the hospital and is going to need heavy care and support for at least three more months. My mom is going to need care and support for at least three more months. My sister, niece and nephew need to make it through this. I’m at maximum capacity and I’m depleted, yet I REFUSE to sit this one out. This is WHERE I’m meant to be, even though it’s not always pretty, it’s not always pleasant and it’s certainly not always perfect.
I’m in an extended planting season, learning season, growing wiser-than-my-years season. God is maturing me, giving me the much-older-and-wiser-woman wisdom I’ve so desired. When it’s time, in due season, I will reap the harvest.
Then I will I be able to use all of this FOR YOUR GOOD, which is the end goal I’ve envisioned since 2003.
There is ALWAYS something more for us to learn through life.
If we stop long enough to listen, we will HEAR the whisper.
This journey is not complete.
Keep going. Keep going.
The end is yet to come.
I’m gonna have to sit this one out for now. Time will tell me when it’s right to write again. Time will tell me what to write about when I write again. Maybe I’ll write about the transplant journey now. Maybe I’ll write about it later. Maybe I’ll write about other things. For now, I’m confident enough to say I don’t know.
Reader, you are never far from my mind.
This gift of writing? It’s for me and my sanity, but it’s ultimately for YOU.
Praying these years of trial and transition will produce fruit for all.
Now or later.
Now AND later.