It’s been almost 4 days since we got the call from Mack and Pattie, exactly 24 hours after the LAST call from Mack and Pattie. THAT one, the first one, where we sat on the other end of Skype and listened intently as the 2 of them recalled the goings on of the previous 12 hours at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland was hopeful, dare I say encouraging, even. And it had been SO long since we’d had one of those conversations.
Please don’t misunderstand me, there is always hope for those of us who follow Christ, but most of our conversations as of late have centered on our hope of eternity, which is the forever kind of hope, it’s the only kind that in the end really matters.
But I am flesh and blood after all, and it’s nice to FEEL on occasion the earthly, temporary kind of hope too. The kind that would leave Mack Hannah here on this earth for a while longer. The kind where he would be in the bleachers when Ruby Love graduates high school. You know, THAT kind. We haven’t had many of those conversations lately, but friday was one of them. They both felt certain they would be admitted into the study, and we talked briefly about what the next few months would look like. And we were all encouraged.
And then we got the 2nd call. I was in the kitchen preparing dinner with our surrogate daughter, Jenny, the young Italian girl we met while living in Perugia, who is now attending David Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN. She is back in Italy for the summer, and has been visiting with us the last several days. I noticed that David had been missing from the dinner preparations for a while, so I went to the front of the apartment to find him. I found him in our bedroom with his cell phone in his hand, and his head hanging. It takes my breath away these days, this scene, him with cell phone in hand, alone, cloaked in sadness. There have been so many hard phone calls these last 3 years.
“He didn’t get accepted into the study. NIH just called and the tumor they were going to operate on in his liver has grown and is dangerously close to the kidney, and has most likely invaded it. They can’t do the surgery, which disqualifies him from the study.”
I cried, and He steeled himself, willing himself to be brave.
And he was.
We walked back into the kitchen, finished making dinner, and were able to enjoy the tangible gift of this beautiful girl sitting across the table from us, and this other much smaller girl who bears our last name and is ALSO a tangible reminder of His love and His faithfulness. We played the family game, ate good food and drank good wine. We laughed often and loudly all the while listening to good music. It was never discussed out loud, but it was understood- we would NOT squander the gift of this moment with these girls. Jen would be heading back to Perugia and then the States and it would be more than a year before we would see her again. There was beauty to be experienced in this moment and if it took every ounce of energy we both had, we were going to seize it. And by God’s grace, we did just that.
We all got up the next morning to get ready for church and when I opened my email, I got a caring bridge alert from Mack and Pattie. So as is my custom, I immediately went to their site and read the latest entry. Pattie, in the way only she can, gave the run down of the previous 3 days always pointing herself and others to the One who leads the way. She is beautifully transparent in her grief, but never despairing. She also “mentioned” that she had been in the ER earlier that day with vasculitis of her hand.
PATTIE- just that day, 24 hours after receiving this heartbreaking phone call from NIH, was taken to the ER with vasculitis.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Psalm 62:1,2~ My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my Rock and my salvation. He is my fortress. I will never be forsaken.”
This is the verse Pattie ended her entry with.
I think I’ll stop here too.
As I was trying to finish this blog post I received a text from David. It was a screen shot of the text he had just received from Mack. David had asked him how Pattie was doing. His response was that she hadn’t slept at all last night from the pain in her hand and they were going to try to get her to a Dr. today to get her pain under control.
I wanted to finish this entry strong, with a sweet little bow on top. But truthfully, my heart aches so badly for Mack and Pattie I am unable to articulate more words, so I’ll leave you as Pattie so poignantly did, with Psalm 62:1,2.
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress. I will never be forsaken.”