Tuesday, October 12, 2004

A True Friend

I think that God will never send,
A gift so precious as a friend.
- Rosalie Carter

Two years ago today I was lying in a hospital bed, cold and scared, wondering if God had deserted me. Just 6 weeks earlier I had given birth to my first child. Just 6 weeks, 2 days earlier I had lost my grandmother, my mentor and friend.

The pain that engulfed my body had started about 4 weeks before, but I had ignored it as just one of those goofy and passing nuisances of afterbirth. Later I found out that I was passing gallstones.

The night I couldn't bear it anymore, I was sweating, doubled over on the couch, repeating "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." My husband: "We should take you to the hospital." Me: "Just pray with me. Jesus, help me. Jesus, Jesus..." When I started having trouble breathing, we wrapped up our newborn and headed to the hospital.

Not knowing is the worst. Sitting there in the cold, stark white emergency room in the middle of the night, wondering what in the world was wrong with me, I just prayed for morning. Everything is better in the morning, I thought. I'll be home and safe by morning.

When morning came, the doctor had other ideas. After several tests during the night and lots of pain medication, the doctor informed me that I had gallstones. So many in fact, that they couldn't even begin to count them. They were so numerous, that they no longer could be contained in my gall bladder and several had traveled out to my stomach. The pain I had experienced weeks before was when I had started to pass the stones. The problem was, they had now backed up into my liver. All my organs were in distress or "hot" as he put it, I was anemic and severely dehydrated.

The first step was a procedure to remove the stones that were obstructing my liver, to get my organs functioning normally again. Then, they would remove my gall bladder, all within the next 24 hours. Several doctors and nurses drifted in and out of the room, filling me in on the procedure, the complications etc. etc. I just stared at them blankly. I felt numb. It was surreal.

All I could think about was my little baby, praying that God would get me through so that she wouldn't have to be without a mother like I was. That entire time, as I was anxious about the whole ordeal, my baby girl slept through the entire night for the first time.

In her car seat, in a bright busy hospital, she had slept the entire time.Hooked up to monitors and I.V.'s, I couldn't hold her, I couldn't feed her (the medication they gave me dried up my milk), and I felt helpless. I sent hubby home with the baby to get clothes, formula and diapers for her. Soon after he left, the nurses rushed in to take me to surgery! They had been able to bump a less extreme case and were taking me in a.s.a.p.I was terrified!

No comforting words from my hubby before I left? No last kiss to my sweet little baby? Wait! I need someone to pray for me!! All of these thoughts flew through my mind as they carted me down the hallway into the surgery room.

When I came back to consciousness, there was my hubby and the doctor, telling me that the first procedure had gone well. Then words from my hubby, which I couldn't make out. It was all so fuzzy. I do remember telling him to go home and get some rest with the baby.

When I came back to, I was back in my hospital room. It was dark. Then I noticed a form standing over my bed. It was my best friend who lives two hours away! She was telling me: You're okay. I'm here now. I'll take care of everything. You rest.

On intuition, she had called my hubby when he had gone home earlier that day, found out what was happening, hung up and began packing her family up to come to me. She has two small children of her own. Her hubby told me later that he got home from work, he found the kids in their coats, their bags packed and he was told to get in the car because I needed her. She then drove her family two hours north to come and be there for me.

I can tell you that in my semi-drugged state, when I opened my eyes she appeared to me like an angel. Well, an angel with a diaper in one hand and her wild haired, very tired toddler in the other. But when I heard those words from her, I suddenly felt a peace come over me. I knew that my baby girl was in good hands. I knew she'd be a support for my husband who was as bewildered by this whole incident as I was. I was relieved, and so was he, that we could just concentrate on what was before us.

I have said, and always will say, that she is the truest friend. Exemplifying the verse John 15:3: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. That day, she truly laid down all her plans, responsibilities and obligations to be there for me. And every time she calls, emails or visits, I hope I am doing my part in returning the favor.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."Romans 12:10

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