Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A year of hurt and growth

One year and 5 days ago I got a call from drew that he was headed to the hospital to be seen if he could test this drug they are seeing if it cures Cystic Fibrosis::  Drew and i had been friends for 12 years. He was born with Cystic Fibrosis, but unless you knew drew really well, or asked why he coughs all the time, you would have never known he had it.  He just lived almost as if it didn't affect him even if you knew it really did.  Drew and I went to high school and youth group/church together.  Drew taught me to play the guitar (although i was a slow learner) we sang together, worshipped the Lord together, ate lunch together at the cafeteria table, and hung out on many a weekend playing hide and seek in the car with walkie talkies or discussing theology at waffle house.  Drew was a dear dear friend::
So drew calls and asks if i can come get his car from the UNC hospital parking lot. I brought him the usual... a chick-fil-a dinner and chocolate milkshake, his unsaid request whenever he was pent up at UNC getting tests run or in for a procedure for his lungs. I sat in his room that tuesday night and we chatted about marriage, family, sex trafficking, God, this potential cure for CF, Piper (our great dane that is now Drew and Cheryl's), etc.  Drew was seemingly 100% normal drew.  I told him i'd take the car and he laughed about how there were oxygen tanks in the front seat and i was asking if i was going to blow his car up if i parked it in the 90 degree heat we were having in may. We laughed, I showed him some good movies to watch on netflix and left him my computer for the next few supposedly boring days in the hospital for testing to see if he could get on the list for this test drug. Then I left, said i loved him and I'd come by in a day or two.
I got the call that wednesday night that my sister had gone by to see him and while she was there he had started coughing up blood and they were going to go in and cauterize some vessels in his lungs to stop the bleeding. He had this procedure done before so I was a little worried but not terrible. Then i got another call wednesday night that felt very different. They hadnt gotten all the bleeding and had taken him back again for another surgery to stop it.  I can't recall all the details but either the 2nd or third cauterization he did not wake up from. They put him on a ventilator that night and we never met eyes again.  The next few days were a blur of hospital visits, holding his hand, praying over him, reading him scripture, and just sitting with friends in the waiting room talking about how he was going to pull through this.  Things got progressively worse, his body became septic, the did dialysis, then the neurologist gave the news that he had had several strokes, and if he woke up quality of life was uncertain. This was the moment that the air went out of me. Hope had left, miracle was the only thing that couldve happened, but the doctors assured this was not probable.  I remember vividly the saturday that all the news really hit and decisions were having to be made, Drew had not wanted to live this was and we all knew.  John and I headed to the hospital saturday, the 18th of May, and the waiting room was very quiet. I would say 20 or so people had gathered and come and gone over the last 5 days. I remember Mitch, a mutual friend and drew's best friend, coming down the hall with tears in his eyes, saying "you might want to come back".  About 8 of us stood in the room and held onto drew and watched as his heart monitor dropped, plateaued, and dropped again until he left his body to be with the Lord.
It is the most surreal moment as a Christian I have yet had. The intense sadness and grief that struck as his wife of almost 4 years hugged her husband and cried over him, as his dad and mom laid on the side of his bed kissing him and saying No, No. I held drew as he gave up his body and went to see Jesus' face.  Drew was a modern day paul.  I know many of conversations we had where drew would laugh about how dying is gain and he was going to have an awesome glorified body in heaven with no coughing and huge muscles (CF prevents weight gain to a certain extent). I was overjoyed and crushed to the core in the same moment.
I can't believe it has been a year since Drew went to be with the Lord. He was 26 years old and died a few days before his 4 year wedding anniversary. He was one of the most passionate people chasing after truth and selfless people i have known.  He never acted as a victim of CF even though his treatments had increased to several hours a day and frequent hospital visits.  You would have never known he had a terminal illness. The only time i learned it was terminal was in AP Biology class when he wouldnt help me with our class project and I was all stressed and I kept asking if he even cared about his grade and he laughed and joked that his life expectancy was 27, an AP bio grade probably didn't matter. I had no idea, we had been friends for 2 years by then and he had never said CF was terminal. He thought this was funny, but was convinced without a doubt he would beat this thing and they'd find a cure.
Over the last year I have had a hard hard journey of hurt, confusion, struggle, grief, anger and peace.  God has taught me several things through losing drew.  My biggest lessons have been God is sovereign and his timing is perfect. This was a hard lesson to come to. God works for the good who love him. I had to cling to this one because it is hard to see in the midst of this. I learned that sometimes glory is at stake... 1 peter 4  says “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead be very glad= for these trials make you partners with Christ, in his suffering so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. Glory will be revealed in suffering. Ecclesiastes 3: 11 says He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”   I dont fully understand why drew had CF, why he died right before he was beginning seminary, why i lost a dear dear friend. All i can do is trust that I serve a big God, a tender father who would want the best for his child. Drew is where he wants to be. Today I am thankful for being a part of drew's life and having him in mine. He taught me innumerable lessons about the Lord, his lavish love, and who i am in Christ. I pray God brings glory after glory still through Drew's death. I know Drew is enjoying himself with his big muscles and no more pills and vest to wear to shake mucous out of his lungs. I miss him deeply still. Going home doesn't really feel like going home, our old church still feels empty to me, and holidays without meeting at the waffle house are hard. I miss his witty comments, his "ladies man" interpretation, and just the fun he brought to the group. I still hurt for his wife, I still think about him several times a week. I wouldnt trade the time I had with him and I thank God that He drew me close in this time of pain instead of turned his face and stayed quiet. I have found contentment I thought i'd never have, i have found enjoyment in Him i never thought i'd have, and worshipping is a whole new experience as I picture drew singing his new lungs out at the foot of Jesus. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Can't we all just get along?

My poor Reese these days... She is on a Jesus and Satan kick and it is challenging! The present argument:

R: Mom, you know who we don't love?
M: Who reese?
R: Satan. But mommy, does Jesus love satan?
M: Hmm i don't know Reese, I don't think so.
R: (starts to cry) yes he does mommy, Jesus loves everyone!
M:: then i scramble in my mind to explain how satan isnt a person to a 3 year old and how we are to love everyone but satan is not everyone. Quite a challenge.
:::: time passes:::::::::
R: (playing with two figurines) Mom, im just pretending...
M: Oh that is fun Reese.
R: Ya i am just pretending that Jesus and satan are friends... its ok.

Oh my goodness! She has asked every babysitter in the last few weeks about it and brings it up at least every few days! Quite theologic discussions we get into and it is really challenging for me to get back to the basics and try to explain what little I understand to someone who comprehends even less. Ha.
But i love her heart behind it. Not wanting mean old satan to be left out. We will keep working on the details but the heart is there!