Yes, it hurts to breathe, to cough, to laugh, to move, and the pain steals precious hours of sleep, but I am alive!
Last week, the doctor painted a much grimmer, darker picture.
A tumor, the size of my hand was excised off of my lungs and heart, removed through one of 4 half-inch incisions in my left ribcage.
He expected to slice through my sternum.
He expected this to be cancer.
He explained that I might die or have a stroke during the surgery, or right after.
He expected that I would be hospitalized for a week, not 2 days.
I was prepared for the worst. And despite this shocking news, it was a gift, and one that many faced with death do not have.
One by one, I called and wrote family, friends and colleagues to tell them how much I loved them. How their presence in my life was such a blessing. I poured out my heart to each of them. I had additional letters prepared and stowed away in my home in case I did not return.
I am not afraid to die, but I was afraid to leave my loved ones behind, to leave without letting them know the depth of my gratitude and love for each of them.
Not surprisingly, some did not respond; but for the 95 percent who did, it was a cathartic, loving and healing experience–and seems to have brought each of us closer than ever.
I learned who I can count on and who I cannot. I learned much about family, about true friendship, about the bond between mothers and their children, spouses, and those, who may not know me well, but hold such enormous compassion, that we will always share a deep bond.
I learned to trust. To trust that Jesus has a special plan for me. That no matter the last chapter, it was skillfully and masterfully crafted by Him. I have learned to lean more on Him.
I learned about the power of prayer and that the combined voices of thousands of prayer warriors is a force to be reckoned with. Each prayer, each kind thought, really does matter.
The experience is humbling and filled with firsts, such as a doctor who called to tell me he would pray for me, another doctor who hugged me tightly and wept before my surgery. A priest friend, though he is hurting deeply, went out of his way to anoint me and hear my confession so I was prepared spiritually. To the friends who have brought us dinners, sent flowers, called, emailed, sent cards, gifts and prayers. To a stoic son, who tears up each morning that he sees me, and hugs me extra long. To those who kept vigil at the hospital with my husband during the lengthy surgery. There are innumerable blessings that continue to flow from these incredibly loving hearts–and the blessings along with my gratitude continues.
An arduous journey? yes. But one filled with lessons, truth, tears, love and compassion.
Thank you Jesus. I am alive!
Thank you to those who have shown such great compassion and taken my pain into their hearts. God bless you all. I love you.