Summer is spent healing, learning to receive

My chief complaint about summer is that it comes and goes too quickly and I never get to do anything really “cool” during June, July and August, except sweat more. Compared to all the past, boring “watch the grass grow” summers I have complained about, the summer of 2015 had even less travel, outdoor events and family fun in the sun.
On paper, the historian would note that I went nowhere and did nothing. But yet, in retrospect, the summer of 2015 was by far the best summer I can recollect. Why? It’s pretty simple: because my daughter lived to share it with us.
Like most parents, I took for granted my kids would be around for June, July and August. It’s so one of those “that’s just the way things have always been” instances. No one questions otherwise, unless you’re forced to. Yeah, we know it’s possible for family members to die, but that’s other families, right? You assume your own family will be with you forever.
Truth told, it’s probably better that most of us take life and living for granted because our thoughtless assumptions of invincibility allow us to comfortably leave the house every day, without a nagging fear something awful might happen. I’ve learned worry doesn’t prevent a lot except peace of mind. Better to blissfully be-bop along right up until the moment disaster strikes.
Prognosis-wise, the worst of Kate’s bizarre heart infection, stroke and open heart surgery was behind us by the close of the school year. But while she was not getting any sicker, there remained a bazillion things she needed to do to get back to as near normal functioning as possible.
We had to deal with 24/7 portable antibiotic infusions. We had to make multiple return visits to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital to be monitored by the cardiologists, infectious disease specialists, neurologists, neuropsychologists, physical and occupational therapists, ophthalmologists, rehab physicians and others who had initially saved her life.
Interestingly, the only one who reported anything negative was the neuro-psychologist who seemed to be having trouble believing how well Kate was doing with her recovery. His gloom and doom perspective was like having a permanent Devil’s Advocate as a part of our team. So we avoided him.
None of the treatment team said anything directly to us regarding Kate’s odds of full recovery. And we never came out and asked, directly, probably because we were afraid to know. Some things are better left unsaid, especially mid-trauma.
A lot of people have asked what Kate’s odds were of successfully recovering from all she had been through medically. One, who works for a hospital, had an ER doctor do some odds-making. The conclusion? Kate had only about a three-percent chance of returning to pre-illness level.
What?! That instantly and completely re-ordered my personal priorities. Three-percent jolted the covetous summer nature right out of me. Kate’s odds-defying recovery is worth far more than any of the movies we didn’t see, the trips we didn’t take and, or steaks we couldn’t afford to grill!
As the worst case scenario flashed before my eyes, I simultaneously saw with great clarity all the wonderful, generous people who had helped us weather this episode of life: our extended family, our present and former churches, the schools, friends, neighbors, community businesses and organizations, individuals who have been through similarly gut-wrenching critical illnesses and lived to encourage others. Thank you, Jesus!
I am permanently grateful to all who kept us in prayer, paid bills, held fundraisers and provided money, gift cards and gas cards so I could focus my energy on helping Kate heal. I was blessed to not have to worry about anything else. Typically self-reliant me found herself totally dependent on God and my community.
This was the summer of major lessons for me, as I learned to be not just a giver, but a receiver. About a month ago I found and hung on my kitchen wall an 1823 replica sampler that addresses that very issue and finding a balance:
“May God’s blessings keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.”


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