As I type, I am driving in the dark with my husband, Greg, to St. Louis. It’s a ridiculously early morning hour. My eyes are sandpaper with streaks of red. I’m tense, but reminding myself that this is a much easier trip than it was twenty months ago.
Twenty months ago, on our 15th wedding anniversary, we headed to St. Louis for my husband’s kidney transplant. He had an estimated 7-9 percent kidney function; this was our last shot at saving his life.
Looking back over these past months, I see God’s hand everywhere. I look over past posts and scraps of journals and see lessons.
There was the day we found that a perfect donor match found. She was a former student of my husband’s at the University in some crime scene classes. Her parents had forwarded her a prayer chain e-mail. We received one from her: “You may not remember me . . . your integrity and faith made an impact on me. I can’t stand the thought of your wife and girls growing up without you. I had myself tested and guess what? I’m the perfect match.” We wept tears of gratitude.
Over the next months as we waited for an opening, our girls and I watched their daddy and the love of my life, decline. One morning I posted: “Last night Greg was hurting too badly to sleep. He went downstairs to the sleeper sofa. All the girls took their sleeping bags downstairs, made a guard around him and they had an Andy Griffith show marathon. I went upstairs crying, not saying a word about anybody needing sleep. Some things are more important.”
Then there was the morning I wrote: “Ellie cried this morning for the first time during all of this. Her daddy was too sick to go to church.” I’ll never forget the outpouring of responses, including one precious friend who wrote: “I’m crying with her.”
On the morning of the surgery, 37 people had made the five-hour trip to St. Louis to be with us. They flooded the waiting room with prayers, laughter, hugs and strong coffee. They paced with us, entertained our girls, were patient with my distracted worry and expressed confidence in the outcome.
One of our friends brought a journal in which people could write their thoughts and prayers for Greg. Our minister and friend preceded his humorous comments with this: “Greg, the fact that I am writing in this tells you I am confident you will be here to read it.”
More than 300 people followed surgery week on Facebook. If there weren’t constant updates, we heard about it. They expressed personal prayers and the marshaling of churches all over the world to pray on Greg’s behalf. To say our hearts were touched is a little like saying Mandisa can sing.
When the surgeon came to tell me the surgery had been successful and that the new kidney was taking over, loud whoops filled the room. I don’t know what the medical team thought of us. When the girls got to see their daddy in ICU, there was not a dry eye.
All through the week, people came to see Greg. A high school friend rerouted his business flight to be able to see him. The entire youth group came by on their way home from CIY conference. So did folks from the church where my daddy preached in St. Louis as I was growing up. It’s not every day you get to stand by a miracle.
People came to drive my mother and the girls back home after the surgery. For three weeks after all of us arrived home, friends and church members brought meals and mowed our lawn. The men’s group from our church painted the house. It was humbling and amazing. Our girls watched all of this with wide-eyed wonder.
All of this has carved an ever-deepening faith in the yawning canyon of doubt from those dark, indescribably hard months.
A few months ago, one of my girls snuggled on my lap. “Mommy, I wish daddy wouldn’t have had to go through all of this. But it seems like his faith is even better than before, huh?”
I pressed my cheek against her head, breathing in the scent of childhood. She wasn’t finished. With a contented sigh, she continued, “I guess that makes all of this worth it, huh?”