I subscribe to the comforting promise from God that he will never send human trials greater than that which we can withstand. “No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Cor 10:13 He will never push us to the breaking point. He comes close, thought, right? Hence, the reason for Mother Teresa’s quote: “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” I can relate at this very moment, I wish God saw me for the weak person I see myself as. I’ve been pushed now 3 times to the point where I thought I would never recover … all 3 times involved my children.
The first was in Oct 2004, we were preparing for a camping trip in TX. We were going to meet up with my biological sister and her husband & kids. In our infinite wisdom we decided to leave in the middle of the night. At about midnight we were gathering the kids from their slumber and placing them in our truck. Dan had retrieved Kenny and placed him, sleepily on the seat and was fiddling with the DVD players we had just installed. Next thing he knew he heard a loud crash and Kenny was moaning … it’s a sound that still makes Dan shudder and cringe. To make a long story short, Kenny was diagnosed with a brain bleed and we were ambulanced down to a hospital that had a pediatric neurosurgeon on staff. He wasn’t unconscious but deeply asleep, he had vomited a few times and I was terrified, my sweet happy, otherwise perfectly happy 4 year old had a brain bleed that might require surgery. The guilt, the agony, the fear, it was so overwhelming. All I could do was pray unceasing and unyielding. I invoked every Saint, our Blessed Mother, the Holy Spirit, and had every single person we knew was praying. He was placed in ICU. We were asked if we’d like a pastor to come pray over him. Without hesitation, I said yes. A kind middle aged man came in, introduced himself and placed his hands on Kenny and encouraged me to do the same. He prayed over Kenny and at the end he said, “And when he is healed, his parents will go forth and tell their story of your mercy and miracles.” I felt God at the moment. Kenny was wheeled down to get another CT Scan and on our way, the nurse said to me, “Don’t pray that it’s gotten better, these things don’t heal that quickly, pray it hasn’t gotten worse.” Anyone who knows me knows I pray BIG and this was no exception. The CT Scan showed no brain bleed. None. The perplexed and clearly shocked doctors reviewing his scan called our hospital and requested they resend KENNY’s scan. LOL, it was a great moment. Upon returning back to Kenny’s room I saw a picture of an Iris with the name KENNY below it. I was shocked, pointed it out to the nurse who said he’d never seen it!! God brought me to the edge of the cliffs, but through prayer, faith and hope, brought me back again.
The next time I encountered unwavering horror was in 2007. The rivers were raging from the spring runoff and we were pushing the limits in our raft. When we left the house, Kenny and Dally were thoroughly disappointed because we decided, at the last minute, that we wanted to see how the river looked prior to taking them out that day. We promised we’d come back and get them and they could go on the 2nd run of the day. It was just me, Dan, Grady and Brody (11, 10). Long story short, again, we hit a 14 foot wave and the boat flipped. The water was freezing cold,literally 43 degrees, and only Brody had on a wetsuit. When we hit the water, we couldn’t breathe, I thought I’d taken in water, but in reality it was the sheer temperature that made communication impossible. Prior to any raft trip we run through safety. What do you do if you fall int? What do you do if the raft flips, etc. This day was no different. In theory we all knew what to do, the real test is when it happens. Brody did exactly what we told him to do, which was get the hell out of the water, ASAP. Only, we didn’t see him get out because he was faster than any of us could have imagined! Dan and Grady tried like hell to get the raft to the side, but with the river as high as it was, eddy’s were few and far between. I searched for Brody, running downstream, literally looking for a body. 20 minutes past, I finally caught up with Dan he didn’t have Brody. I threw up right then and there. But within 2 minutes 2 kayakers appeared and they said that Brody had caught a ride with their raft. I was hyperventilating, horrified, sick to my stomach, bawling my eyes out scared. In my panic, I didn’t stop to think Brody had gotten out like he was supposed to, I only thought there was no way he could have gotten out, the water was running fast and it was near impossible to climb out. But he did it. He was the level headed one in this scenario. I was beaming with pride, relief, thankfulness, but the relief was flooding out of me so hard and fast that I dropped to my knees and cried and cried.
Now today was the third most terrifying day of my life. I awoke last night from a dream in which my hands were covered in blood and in my newfound wakefulness I immediately knew I was bleeding and rushed to the bathroom, fearful for my unborn child. I was bleeding, bright red, I googled miscarriage and intermittently prayed for the next 2.5 hours before I finally fell asleep in front of my computer. Emmy had been sick the night before and I was awoken by her tiny little voice asking for water. We snuggled in on the couch in my bedroom and I tried to engage in some contemplative prayer, but instead dozed. In the am I called everyone in and we started the rosary, I couldn’t help it I was crying, I couldn’t maintain. Kady, my sweet, darling, caring Kady was so concerned, she was holding me and hugging me and asking what was so wrong. I stupidly, irresponsibly, childishly, pathetically said I thought our baby was “going to heaven.” Those are the type of words when spoken you immediately want to take back. In my unconscious, yet selfish desire to relieve myself of some of this tremendous grief I place it square on the shoulders of my beloved children. The tears, the fear, the sadness, the grief, oh what I would do to take it all back and not have them suffer. (And some want to tell me a 9 week old “fetus” is not a baby, save it, this baby of ours is truly loved and cherished). A truly beautiful discussion ensued about heaven and how wonderful it is and how in all the accounts of people who have been medically dead, seen heaven and returned, not one of them ever reported being happy about coming back to earth! It was a truthful discussion, yet one begun to mask pain and find a way to make the concept easier on us all. It’s a well known fact that if I die, and I say “if” because I’m quite certain Jesus will return prior to my demise, I want a party thrown, not a wake or a funeral. I want my children to be able to rejoice in the fact that I’m in heaven, I couldn’t enjoy heaven if I thought for one second they were grieving. I know, I’ve been told this is so weird, but it’s truly how I feel. At any rate, Dan and I went to get labs done, then we stopped in at Church to worship in front of the Blessed Sacrament and then went to my new doctor, (my regular doctor wanted me to go to the ER, I knew it was time for a change after Elly’s birth). We prayed quietly while waiting, we each prayed silently while talking with the nurse and the kids were at home praying as were my Aunt Sue and Aunt Kath (my prayer warriors). I promised my typical promises, “God I don’t care if we live in a cardboard box, I will gladly trade everything we have for the safety and protection of our little baby.” Again, to make a crazy long story as short as humanly possible, suffice it to say, our little baby’s heart is beating at a rate of 173 beats per minute, my Hcg levels are high, 163,000 (I’m 9 weeks) but we’re going to test again on Saturday and go from there. Right now, at this moment, our precious child is safe and protected in my womb. Right now, at this moment, I am giving thanks to God for His never ending love for us, I’m thanking God for my 12 miracles, for my husband and for my life. I am in a state of thankfulness even for these trials that serve as reminders to always take time to thank God for what you do have and to forget about what you don’t. I am also thanking God for knowing I’m a weak human being and for never pushing me past my ability to cope. Most of all I am thankful that despite all of our faults and failings, God loves us all unconditionally.