09-20-18 Long lost cousins

The last time I saw my cousin from California was shortly after she got married in 1992. Yup, it’s been over twenty-five years! Yesterday evening, her and her husband were able to drop by and spend some time with us and then we met up for lunch again today. It was so wonderful to see them and the perfect distraction! We’ve kept up on facebook over the years, but it was nice to be sitting together and catching up with each other in person!

My dad showed some improvement today and we are hoping tomorrow goes even better. Thank you again for all of your prayers!

Tim and I are battling nasty colds, which means I don’t feel comfortable going to the hospital to visit my dad, he’s got enough on his plate that he doesn’t need the sniffles too! But I am longing to see him, so I’m praying we heal up soon so we can pay him a visit!

 

09-19-18 School

It was a good feeling to have us all around the school table this morning. We learned more about explorers, made foil boats and set them sailing in the bathtub, did some art, letters, and math.

Still no update on my dad. Thank you for the continued prayers. We greatly appreciate them!

09-18-18 Day 18

It’s late this evening, but I just finished our lesson plans for tomorrow. We’ve been off of school for two weeks, but it is time to start back up before we fall too far behind. Besides, I really need the distraction of a schedule right now. No new news on my father this evening, they are still keeping him in the hospital for observation. Hopefully we will know more tomorrow. If I’ve learned anything over the past few weeks, it’s that hospitals don’t live and die by a clock, they run on their own time.

We were invited to spend the morning with friends from church and the kids had fun playing and decorating cupcakes. Poor Big E took a tumble, so we cut our visit short, but we had a great time. I love that we are making friends out here and getting the chance to spend time with them.

Thank you for your continued prayers as we navigate this current hospital adventure. It makes it easier knowing there are so many out there praying along side us. Thank you, dear friends.

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Almost done with my friend, here. I just need to learn how to backstitch.

 

09-17-18 Day 17

We could really use your prayers again this evening. At some point last night my father started to not feel well. This morning we made a bunch of calls and in the end the hospital asked for us to bring him back in. They haven’t really figured out what is going on. They’ve offered up a few hypothesis, but they haven’t narrowed it down yet. In the meantime, they are keeping him overnight, adjusting his medications, etc.

My prayers are that they can lock on to what is causing him problems, that his body and mind can rest, and that our family will be showered in God’s peace. We are storm weary at this point and this has been hard.

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09-16-18 Home

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I got a text from my mother as I walked into church this morning that the hospital informed them they were discharging my dad. What a happy day!

The past few weeks have been difficult with all the waiting, the uncertainty, and the tension. When Dad made it through his surgery so well, we all let out a collected sigh of relief. Now the healing can begin. With him home, his job is to rest when he needs to and walk whenever he can.

With the kids back in town, we will be picking up with school in the morning. I’m really excited to get back into a routine that doesn’t involve an hour commute to a hospital. We could all use a little more structure.

When I look past at the last few weeks, I am incredibly grateful for so many things. My dad was in a great hospital close enough for us to visit daily, he was seen by some wonderful doctors, and the nursing staff was phenomenal. My in-laws were able to keep our children for ten days so that we could focus our attention on where it needed to be at that moment. We had an army of people praying for my dad, and so many people reached out to us to make sure we were ok. We had family come from out of state to visit and spend some time at the hospital and we have an incredible church family that stood by us and encouraged us along the way. Most of all I am thankful for our Father in Heaven who walked these few weeks alongside us, who gave us strength and peace when we needed it most.

 

09-15-18 Day 15

We have survived day 15 of our hospital marathon, and while we are all extremely exhausted, we are excited to see God’s hand at work during this time. My dad is doing great at meeting and passing all the milestones he needs to get done before they send him home. He’s been walking quite a bit, even through the pain of recovery. I’m very proud of his relentless spirit, and he’s a favorite on every floor he has been on.

We went and picked the kids up this afternoon. It’s lovely having the five of us under one roof again. Good night, friends!

09-14-18 A Day with Dad

One of the biggest goals of being in the hospital is to be an unremarkable case. The less the nurses need to check on you, the better. At least that is what 24 hours on the Trauma ICU unit has taught me. After my dad’s surgery they had run out of regular ICU rooms to put him in, so they sent him to the Trauma unit to have them keep an eye on him throughout the night. When we first arrived there, I was relieved to see that most of the rooms were empty, but without looking in the full rooms, I knew there were some bad cases. I made a simple rule… Look at the floor until I got to my dad’s room.

My dad did really well today and within hours of me being there they had him up and walking. I was proud at how hard he was working and we were all impressed with his determination and the amount he got accomplished. He wasn’t even there 12 hours when they started to discuss transferring him to a regular floor.

This evening he got moved out of the ICU. The emergency concerns for my dad were taken care of with the surgery. He will spend the next few weeks recovering before we continue with anything else. He is looking forward to getting home in a few days and I am especially looking forward to seeing my kids tomorrow. This has been a VERY long couple of weeks.

Thank you so much for your prayers! We have seen God move mountains in the past two weeks and we are incredibly grateful!

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Progress has been made! Any guesses?

09-13-18 Good News!!

Six hours had passed since my father went into surgery when we finally saw the surgeon come into the waiting room. I looked at his face and watched his body language to see if I could guess the outcome before he even got to us. My heart was pounding loudly in my chest. With a slight smile he stretched out his hand for us to shake it. The surgery had gone very well. They went in and did what they had planned and everything looked good! He would soon be in the recovery room and we would be able to see him. We asked a bunch of questions, and after answering them all he went on his way.

I sat there with a goofy grin on my face as I absorbed everything he had said. Shaking myself from my thoughts I knew the first thing to do was call family. One by one, I got excited responses to the people I spoke with.

We got to visit with him a few times before we left, but honestly the medicine had him so groggy I’m not even sure he will remember we were there! That’s ok, though, because at least I got to hold his hand. 🙂

What an incredible blessing!! I can’t tell you how happy I am this evening! It’s late and we are all going to bed, but I can’t wait to go visit him in the morning.

Thank you again for all the prayers and well wishes!

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I took up cross stitching to pass the time. Any guesses on what I’m making? 🙂

09-12-18 Hospital Life

We’ve officially been at the hospital long enough to have chosen out our favorite nurses and technicians. We’ve found every cafe and gift shop. We’ve added a great many words to our vocabulary (neutropenic, anyone?) and we’ve had a ton of quality time together.

I’ve passed a lot of hospital rooms and I’ve seen a lot of people alone in their rooms… All day, every day. Everyone has a story and I ponder at theirs as I stroll by their doors. No one wants to be there, but they each manage it in their own way.

My dad was cleared for surgery tomorrow, which is wonderful news! Thank you for the prayers and well wishes! Keep them coming!

PS- I found these at the grocery store tonight. I’m ridiculously excited about trying them in the morning!

09-11-18 Seventeen Years Later

Usually I steady myself for this day. I see it on the horizon and mentally prepare myself to see photos and videos of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. I allow my mind to go numb. I try to see it as something clinical and distant, but it wasn’t. It was my community. It was my neighborhood. It was my back yard. That’s something you don’t easily forget.

This year, however, it snuck up on me. Clearly my present situation has me pretty distracted. I was thankful for a quiet hospital room and the company of one of my favorite people to pass what would normally be an incredibly sad day for me.

For those that are interested, my story is posted below in a blog post I wrote in 2011.

(My apartment- 200 Water Street, Apt 515)

SEPTEMBER 11, 2011

God was there too…

“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on… when in your heart you begin to understand… there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend… some hurts that go too deep… that have taken hold. ” ~ The Lord of the Rings- The Return of the King (film)

There are moments in our lives that, for better or worse, define us. We carry them with us, haunted by them. Their specters invade our thoughts, cloaked in memory and brimming with emotion. As time passes, they become more distant, the scar becomes numb. But it never goes away. It lies dormant, waiting patiently for an opportunity to cut through years of built up defenses to create a sensation so reminiscent of the original injury that time compresses and life stands still.

September 2001 saw the beginning of my senior year in college. I lived in 200 Water Street, in the Financial District of NYC, less than 10 blocks from the World Trade Center.

That Tuesday morning did not go as I had planned. I woke up early that morning. It was my first day of the semester at my job at the NYU video post production desk. When I got up, so did my roommate. She had a class a bit later than I had to be at work, but she said she wanted to head up to campus early with me. She looked exhausted, sitting at the table eating her breakfast. When I asked her if she was ok, she said that she hadn’t slept well. She kept having dreams that all these people were dying. Strange.

NYU had a shuttle that would pick you up at the Water Street dorm and drop you off at campus, right in front of the Tisch School of the Arts. I hated taking the shuttle. You had to wait in a line and there wasn’t always room, and if you missed it, the next one didn’t come for awhile. Me, I preferred to take the subway. It was a short jot up Fulton Street. The N/R was at the base of the WTC. the 4/5 was a bit closer to my appartment. Either one brought me close to campus. Granted, it took longer than the NYU shuttle, but I enjoyed the experience so much more.

We were running late that morning. There was no time for the subway, but there was a massive line for the shuttle. As students crammed into the bus, I was relieved so see that we were going to make it on. Barely. I was the last one to get on the bus and the driver kept yelling at me that if I didn’t keep my feet behind the white line, he was going to kick me off. Little did I know that at about that moment, the first plane hit the World Trade Center mere blocks away. As the bus made its route, there were a lot of sirens; ambulance, police. This is not an unusual noise in NYC, so I wasn’t at all alarmed.

It took longer to get to campus, but when we did, I got to my job at 9am, just in time to open. It was then that my boss got a call from his mother. She told him a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. Imaging that it was an accident, it never crossed my mind that it was on purpose. We found a tv and turned it on. By that time, the second plane had hit. This was no accident.

On any given day at NYU, you could see the WTC clearly. I could have run outside and seen it, but I was glued to the tv. It made it feel a little less real. There was a wideshot of lower Manhatten and it suddenly began to fill with smoke. The girls standing next to me screamed. It wasn’t immediately apparent that the tower had fallen, it looked like subsequent massive explosions. When I realized what it was, I started to feel sick. A few minutes later the other tower fell.

The towers had just fallen. There were people in those towers. Those people were now dead. I rode the subway with those people. I walked the streets with those people. All of that just happened in my back yard.

The remainder of that day and the subsequent weeks I can recall in such vivid detail.

I remember the fear of not knowing if my friends were safe.

I remember the smell: that metallic smell mixed with burnt flesh. It would get stuck in your nose and the back of your throat. You could taste it.

The ash that fell like snow. The people covered in dust, stumbling up broadway. The deathly quiet of the city, punctuated with police and emergency vehicles.

Cell phones didn’t work. Landlines were static-y.

Never once did I cry… there was no time for that.

We weren’t allowed back to our apartment. We had nothing. No place to stay. No clothes. And no idea when we could return. I spent that night on the floor of NYU’s health center. I had a friend that worked there. I went to K-Mart and bought tennis shoes.

The next day, we got up early to head to Queens to our friend’s apartment. The black cloud had expanded and the smell had gotten stronger. The streets were quiet and empty, save for the National Guardsmen patrolling with their large guns.

My heart broke for the people that were missing, for the families that were searching and for the answers they would find. The days that followed the attack were so surreal. I never once got on a subway or a bus when a complete stranger wouldn’t strike up a conversation. There was this overwhelming need to connect with another person. So it happened everywhere you went. I met a man who was holding out hope that at least one of his seven missing friends would turn up… Seven…

When a plane would fly overhead, everyone would stop and look up in unison. Which direction was it going? Was it flying too low? Was it about to happen again?

It took two weeks to get back into our apartment. I lived in a 33 floor building and they had to make sure that is was structurally sound before we could return. When we first surfaced from the subway onto Fulton street we were struck by the thick layer of dust still clinging to the buildings and the cars. Walking into our apartment, we were greeted with the overpowering stench of rotten chicken. There had been raw chicken in our fridge that day. The chicken smell, mixed with the burning smell made me want to vomit.

September 11th was horrible… But what followed wasn’t much easier.

The initial clean up took months. Dust fell from the sky as the workers dug, searching for bodies. I tried not to think of what that dust contained as I dodged the flakes. I saw the destruction every day… a constant visceral reminder of what had happened. The first night I couldn’t sleep. I could hear the clean up efforts and feel the building rumbling slightly. I kept thinking about all those people and the broken lives of their loved ones.

The smell lingered for weeks, which turned into months. Every other corner had a soldier with a large gun.There were posters of missing loved ones everywhere, most of whom were never found. As time passed, they opened a viewing platform to look at the rubble. You had to get tickets, and those tickets were found across the street from my building. The street I took to the subway became populated by posters of planes ramming the buildings and statues of the towers. Anything a hapless tourist might buy. For me, I bought a snow globe with the towers intact. It still sits in my china cabinet.

Early on I didn’t cry… I thought I needed to be strong. And as each day passed, I became more numb. I thought, if I’m numb, then it won’t hurt. I can survive. I remember my first visit back home, and even subsequent visits, when it seemed apparent to me that everyone had moved on. Their lives had kept going. They had gone on vacations or started dating, but me, I was stuck. I was reliving that day over and over again. I couldn’t escape. I kept waiting for it to happen again. It took years for me to break out of my survival mode. Even now, when I see a plane that is flying low, I get an adrenaline rush… When I smell rotten chicken, it transports me back to that moment… When my cellphone stops working, I lose my breath…

Alongside these memories are etched the memories of how I saw God work that day. I was encouraged to see the hand of God in the midst of such devastation. I saw how He orchestrated that the towers would be at lower capacity that morning. That there was time for so many people to escape. I saw the kindness of strangers helping each other. I saw God provide for my needs in ways that I did not expect. And I saw God comfort the broken. I saw these things in tangible ways. In ways I had never experienced.

I don’t doubt that God had me move to New York, at least in some part, to be there for that day. He kept me at a distance far enough to be safe, but close enough to live it.

It’s been ten years since that day. Each year gets a bit easier. The memories don’t flood me like they used to. But every once in awhile, something will happen that will remind me of that day. The scar will open and I cry the tears that I didn’t cry then. It’s true that you can’t go back, some hurts go too deep and they take hold.

That day changed my life, but not in the ways that I thought that it would. It actually gave me the opportunity to live a life more fulfilling than I imagined. I’m married now with a beautiful daughter and another kid on the way. I wonder what I will tell them one day, when they ask about that snowglobe in the china cabinet. What answer will I give?