November was difficult. I am still reeling a bit as I reflect on the last month. How can some of the hardest aspects of life, also become the most amazing and miraculous? I find myself being thankful and deeply upheld by something greater than I could ever explain. I have never experienced anything like it in my life. It was perfect timing. It was exactly what I needed.
Early in August, my youngest sister Juli was diagnosed with viral encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain tissue. Then, during a scan to determine how much brain swelling was occurring, doctors discovered an aneurysm. This was the very condition that took our dad’s life at 64 years of age. I was already on edge about Juli’s health after she was diagnosed with pancreatitis some years ago, along with thyroid issues, but this took my concern to a higher level. So, I offered to come to Nebraska right away, knowing she must need help, but she asked me to hold off until the week of the aneurysm surgery in early November. Waiting three months was difficult, especially hearing from my mom and a couple of siblings just how poorly Juli was faring during this time.
As soon as I arrived in Nebraska, Juli and I headed next door to a fundraiser breakfast put on by the local volunteer fire department. Juli’s husband, Chris, is quite active in the community and serves on the fire department. I immediately felt a sense of community and caring on entering the warmth of the fire station. People kept streaming in, and chatter and laughter could be heard all around. There were smiles and friendly faces of the local boy scouts and firefighters who came around offering refills of beverages. People stopped continually to wish my sister well on her surgery and to offer prayer. We learned about a Facebook prayer vigil that would go on for more than nine hours the day of her surgery. I began to feel more confident just knowing so many people were supporting Juli and all of us in thought and prayer.
The next day, I drove Juli to Omaha for an early morning appointment. That is when I became almost panicked over my eyesight. I had noticed a decline in my vision in the last few months, but I blamed it on dry eyes. It was one thing to drive during the day on familiar roads but, on this 101 mile stretch, we started out at 5:30 in the dark, in the rain, and by the time we hit the Omaha city limits, we were in morning rush hour traffic. Thankfully, Juli knew where we were going and helped direct me. By the time we made it home that afternoon, I was cratered. What on earth had happened to my vision? I would be driving to Omaha the next day for the surgery, this time with Emily and Sid, my niece and nephew riding along. Chris would be spending the night with Juli and I would take the kids back home.
Fortunately, we did not have to be at the hospital until mid-morning the next day. The drive went pretty well since it was sunny and we did not have to deal with rush hour traffic. Along the way, Sid helped me watch for exits and street signs. At the hospital again, I felt a sense of comfort as medical staff and Juli’s team of doctors introduced themselves, one by one, to talk with her and explain the procedure and how things would go every step of the way. Each person that came to see her was kind and assuring. They listened and often extended a hand to reach out to touch her arm. Her personal nurse was a special kind of comforter. He seemed to sense every worry and concern about her, and his amazing, gentle humor broke the anxiety that was etched on her face that morning.
As a team of medical professionals escorted Juli away from Chris and me, I felt calm, knowing Juli was in the most capable hands I could imagine. As we sat for four hours waiting to hear from the neurologist, I thought about all of the people who were a part of the Facebook prayer vigil, and all of the people who had mentioned to Juli that they would be praying and, each time my cell phone chimed, I felt the love from a few friends back home in Oklahoma and family in Texas who were offering prayer and support. It was quite an experience to feel the intensity of being upheld in love and caring in the thoughts and prayers of so many people. Juli did well, and the surgery was successful, thanks to a great team of doctors and medical staff… and a few hundred folks out there who gathered together in thought and prayer for the good of another.
Despite all the good news of the day, I was back to panic mode on the drive home that night, in the dark where everything was a horrible blur. Again, I had to rely on the GPS to weave my way back through Omaha and, thankfully, Sid helped me watch for exits and advised me when it was safe to move to another lane. Over the remainder of the week, I helped Juli around the house and worked on winterizing her flower beds. On my departure heading south towards home again, I collected my brother to take him with me to Wichita, where his family was gathering at his daughter’s home for an early Thanksgiving celebration. Dale and his wife, Omelea, would be heading to Mayo Clinic in Rochester the next week to see about more testing and to possibly set up surgery for a permanent hip and rebuild. Dale was involved in a four-wheeler accident at the age of fifteen. Over the years, he had suffered much pain and endured many surgeries. He was still recouping from a surgery in September where a temporary hip was put in place while he healed from an infection. It was a special family gathering in Wichita that weekend – one of thankfulness and hope.
And just a week later, FD and I were back on the road to Nebraska. Sid’s high school football team, the Centennial Broncos (my alma mater), were playing in Lincoln Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in the State Championship football game. Sid is a senior this year, so there was no way we were going to miss this exciting game! Once again, I was bowled over by the crowd that amassed in the frigid cold that morning in support of a small consolidated school. Young and old huddled together, sharing blankets and sipping hot drinks, cheering and shouting positive encouragement. I think it could be said I did a lot of screaming and hollering! It was a nail-biter of a game, but the Broncos pulled off the win with a 2-point conversion in overtime – the first state football championship in Centennial’s history! That day we experienced yet another level of gathering in fellowship and celebration.
On Thanksgiving evening, we joined my sister and her family at the home of her in-law’s, as Dorothy and Allen wanted to help out with Juli’s recovery in some way. Juli was healing well, but she still suffered headaches and was easily fatigued. I thought about how hard it must have been for Dorothy to prepare such a feast for six additional people. This gathering on a smaller level, spoke mountains to me about the love and caring of family. Allen even sent home ears of field corn in a couple of buckets for our deer. That melted my heart.
We have been home for a week now, and I still have this feeling of thankfulness and gratitude for the love and support of family, friends and strangers who cared to gather for the good of others. So many blessings came in the month of November. And yes, I made eye appointments for both FD and me on our return, and I get my first set of progressive eye glasses next week.
© 2018 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…