~ written on the monumental day of Miss Sunday’s first and hopefully last surgery ~
Sure it was a “minor surgery”. But it was MAJOR to me…
So this morning at 4:00, I woke up, showered, fixed my coffee, put on my make-up, ate some yogurt and raspberries, and silently carried her to the car as the rest of the town lay sleeping.
By 6:00 a.m., we were sitting in the hospital waiting room, her legs straddling my waist, her sleep-mussed hair tickling my chin as she alternated between laying her head on my chest and looking up and leaning back to talk to me and her Papa in that high-pitched voice that has been mesmerizing and entertaining us for these 2 sweet years. My heart was much calmer than I could ever have guessed, proof that God answers our prayers when we trust Him to fight our innermost battles alongside us. Worry and doubt have been my longtime frenemies and this looming (and very minor) surgery has been the perfect opportunity to show them that they no longer have dominion over me. Except for when they do.
The highlight of our waiting room visit was when another little girl came into the waiting room with her family, also wearing her pajamas, also toting a humongous stuffed horse, also dragging a beloved pink blanket behind her and also looking to be the tender age of 2 or 3. Rebekah, of course, had to go and say “hello” and “I like your horse’s pink nose.” Which I think really means “I adore you and think we should be best friends forever.” Too bad we forgot to get her number…
And just like that we were in the prep area, dressing our doll-baby in a miniature tiger-printed hospital gown, donning her feet with slip-resistant socks, bathing her in our silent and constant prayers as we touched her and kissed her and held her close at every possible opportunity. True to form, she charmed the entire prep room, conversing with each nurse and doctor and anesthesiologist that stopped to talk to us, happy to do what we asked of her, completely unaware of the pain and trauma that awaited her.
And miracle upon miracles, the food- and drink-lover who asks for milk or orange juice or water or tea or goldfish or marshmallows or grapes or apples or crackers or raisins or fruit snacks or pizza every five minutes never even mentioned the fact that she was hungry or thirsty, even though her last bite and sip had taken place early the night before. My heart was so relieved, even as it continued to dread hearing her oft-uttered statement of “I’m hungwy”.
Soon it was time for her to drink what the staff called “happy juice” (not to be confused with “bug juice”…sorry, Rebekah) to ease her into surgery mode. Within five minutes, she was stumbling all over the place and singing a made-up song titled “we say yes, ma’am!” That special juice did the trick, and moments later, she was unblinkingly being loaded up into an old-fashioned red wagon with her big stuffed horsey and her crocheted pink covers and being carted off, taking a weighty and much-needed piece of my heart with her. Grandpa and Grandma – who drove from OKC the night before and stayed in a hotel close to the hospital – were admitted back just in time to kiss her goodbye.
“Rebekah!” I exclaimed. “You look like you’re in a parade!” She grinned, even as her head swayed in drunkenness and began to wave at everyone we passed, bringing smiles to each face. But behind my smile was a veil of tears, and a barely-suppressed urge to snatch her out of that wagon and take her home, crooked and unusable finger and all.
I followed behind her to the surgery door, and just as she disappeared from sight, she turned around, hospital cap crowning her strawberry blonde wisps of hair, pink pacifier in her mouth, yellow gown ribbons tied just below the nape of her neck and midway down her back and she waved at me, her Precious Moments-shaped blue eyes looking at me dolefully like the cutest puppy that ever graced the hospital hallway.
I blew her a kiss.
She blew one back.
And I took a picture of her with my mind that I put in my keepsake box of painfully precious memories.
“Rebekah!” my heart cried. And the doors shut between us.
The next hour or so was not as bad as I thought it would be – one of my dear friends who works at the hospital sent us an occasional update – and my father- and mother-in-law kept us well-distracted by their company. Our quiet discussion was interspersed with my nervous laughter, and many, many deep breaths as I begged my heart to believe the mantra I had repeated for the last 3 weeks: “God MADE her. God LOVES her more than I do. God HAS A PLAN for her life.” But when I heard the name “Rebekah Gore” called from the front desk, I leapt up, even as my feet suctioned themselves to the ground. What would await us? Was this good news? Or was it the morbidly tragic scene that had been haunting my ridiculous imagination for weeks?
My desire to see her again propelled me forward…
and then I heard her crying.
I could no longer see or hear anyone else as I followed her voice through a door and a hallway. I came upon a small glassed-in room where lots of commotion was taking place, and as my eyes fixed on it, praise God, I saw her, surrounded by a company of nurses, thrashing on a hospital bed, coming awake from anesthesia and morphine in confusion and fear and pain and discomfort. She was ripping at the tight and bulky dressing now cloaking her entire left hand, screaming “Get it off! Get if off!”
The staff had prepared me for this, as had my facebook friends. This was the worst part, everyone said, as children do not wake well from drug-induced sleeps and stupors.
But, sweet life abundant, before I knew it, they had me seated in a rocking chair, the 36 irresistible lbs of toddler flesh I had been craving to hold settled right in my lap where she belonged. It didn’t matter so much to me that she was out of her mind or even that she might be hurting. She was with me once more. She was breathing. For crying out loud, she was bossing!
I had my Rebekah – a tangible representation of so much light and so much hope – for another day on this earth. And Mother Hen was happy and thankful and breathed another huge sigh of relief.
We spent the next two hours sitting in that recovery cubicle waiting for our drugged-up baby to wake up so we could go home. A heavy dose of morphine completely knocked her out, and we saw many other patients – including our 3-year old friend – come and go before our little girl was cognizant enough to get a release form. In the meantime, I got a generous glimpse of what Mr. Gore and my Mom have spent years of their lives enduring as they try to wake me up in the mornings – sassy, sloppy, incoherent behavior – as Miss Sunday would flutter her eyelids open to mutter at us (including a pointed request to “leave me alone!”) before falling heavily over in mouth-agape sleep.
(And oh my heavens, does hospital breath stink. My darling daughter positively reeks of surgery and hospital and this Mother Hen cannot wait to scrub her down in a nice warm bubble bath).
And can you believe this? Mrs. Gore did not cry all day long, not until tonight, that is, when I held Miss Sunday close against my heart as she watched cartoons and a near mountain of gratitude and relief came crashing down in my soul, as well as a sobering reminder that today was only one measly day of survival in our pilgrimage through this fallen and depraved world.
Stepping heavenward we are. And oh, is it bittersweet. Tastes of Eden and perfection and absolute beauty lift us up and cause us to soar through this life, all while dangers, toils and snares daily surround us on every side. The Spirit speaks inerrant and resonating truth to our hearts while the “old man” inside of us continues to rail against the narrow way to life. And Mother Hen continues on her journey, sheltering her chicks under her wings while begging the God of the universe to continue to show her family grace and mercy.
But the moral of the story? By the grace of God, she survived her first surgery.
And so did Miss Sunday.
Mother Hen has never been so happy to be back in her nest.