When it Might Be the Last Time

When it might be the last time, you let her steam up the bathroom with a way too long shower.

When it might be the last time, you comb out curls more carefully, wrapping each one around your fingers getting the perfect scrunch. 

When it might be the last time, you join in with sister shared giggling and cuddling late into the night. 


When it might be the last time, you swap sleep partners and sweaty snuggle your 5yo in preparation for unknown weeks ahead of nights apart. 

When it might be the last time, you squeal at the tummy tickles on the bumpy sunrise shuttle ride to hospital checkin. 

When it might be the last time, you smile big and act brave when she asks if it will hurt. 


When it might be the last time, you ask for a wide bed that will sleep both of you until tomorrow’s date. 

When it might be the last time, you starve on cafeteria crackers and cheese cubes because you can’t keep anything else down. 

When it might be the last time, you rejoice that the surgeon said yes to the final stage of her repair. 

When it might be the last time, you listen closer to the risks: stroke, clots, organ failure, death.

When it might be the last time,  you focus instead on the hope her doctor gave. What if it actually works?!

When it might be the last time, you thank God for every time before that’s he’s given you and believe that what he chooses to give is always enough. 

Annie is a yes tomorrow morning for her third open heart surgery. Her heart really isn’t in great shape, but they’re choosing to give her a try. While tonight might be the last time I get to hold her, I’m praying that it’s the last time I ever have to send her for surgery. 

Either could be true. God knows which one we need. 

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Third Time’s the Charm

In three days, we leave home and don’t know when we’re coming back.

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In three days, we’ll rustle our kids awake in the still-dewy hours of the morning. We’ll check the house locks one last time. We’ll look longingly at the playroom full of mess and life. We’ll bid farewell to our kitchen table and center island where two little girls say jokes and prayers over nightly dinners of cheese sticks and avocados.  We’ll dump our summer porch shrubbery in the trash since the July heat isn’t forgiving enough to let dry flowers flourish.

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In three days, we’ll board a 6am flight to arrive in a city across the country by lunchtime. While we get our bags from the airline belt, we’ll wonder where to stay for the night, making the daily call to the Ronald McDonald house to see if we have a room yet. We’ll take the familiar train to the right intersection and walk a couple blocks. One of us will push tired girls and the other will drag our few zipped-tight possessions.

In three days, we are taking our three-year-old to Philadelphia in hopes that her world-renowned surgeon will agree to perform her third open heart surgery. We don’t know yet if her broken heart is healthy enough to undergo the operation. We don’t know yet if her birth heart is still worth salvaging.

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To find out, Annie will have a cardiac cath and MRI to determine her heart function on July 31. We planned for this to be earlier in the summer. To be home by school start. To know the outcome in time to make undistracted decisions. July 31 isn’t the day I wanted for this.

Ironically, three years ago, on July 31, 2014, we waited for the same answer. Is her heart healthy enough to make it through this surgery, we asked her surgeon as he suited up to open her chest the second time. Remember you told us it wasn’t? Will she make it through? we pressed him.IMG_3561

His wry grin gave the good news away. “On her pre-op heart echo, her heart function looked normal. We can’t explain why. We don’t understand it. It can’t be the medicine. But her heart is ready for this procedure. I think we’re witnessing a miracle today.” He told it matter of factly but belief gleamed through his eyes.

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I realized in reflecting on the timing of Annie’s care,  that this day, July 31, 2017, is the perfect day for this. We’ll be asking for, waiting on, fully expecting

-the same miracle

-from the same reliable God

-on the same day

-from the same doctors

-in the same room

-at the same center filled with hope.

I’m in awe seeing that while it didn’t match my summer schedule, God’s timing is perfect.

If they say yes to the operation, Annie will have open heart surgery the next day, Tuesday, August 1. If they say no, there are countless unknowns ahead.

Will you pray with us about the decision for Annie’s surgery? Pray that we’ll remember that God knows what He’s doing.  That we’ll trust that God’s plan for our family is the right plan for our family. That we’ll choose to make Him known in the waiting and the wondering. That we’ll know this is not our home anyway and that we can find belonging anywhere in the comfort of His care.

In three days, we’ll be sad and scared and wishing it was different. In three days, pray that we’ll cling to hope in the midst of it all.

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