It doesn’t take much to get me thinking about the strange juxtapositions that life seems to toss our way. Whether it is in the collision of worlds on Facebook, the way that Modern Bridal shop shares sign space with a Martial Arts Academy, or the PSAs on healthy living followed by commercials for and all-you-can-eat buffet, I like the sort of situational irony that life seems to serve up on a regular basis. The other day, though, I lived a moment of such profound disjointedness that I almost had an out of body experience.
My best friend in the whole world lives in Nashville. She didn’t always- otherwise we might never have met. But she does now, along with her husband (my hubby’s BFF) and their two kids. I’ve written about them before, of course, but this is part of the setup for the story… Anywhoooo. Their eldest has suffered from epileptic fits for most of her 15 years. For the past several months, they have been so severe as to incapacitate her for several hours and leave her wonky for 24-36 hours and happening every week to ten days. Thankfully, she was determined to be a solid candidate for surgery – with an 80% chance at complete seizure-free recovery.
So this past week, after a months of anticipation, waiting, worrying and testing, they did it. They gave her a cool punk-rock single-sided undercut with wicked scar over her ear – and took out the portion of the brain where the seizure activity was centered. It is amazing what technology, skilled hands, and many busy angels can accomplish during 6 hours of surgery. I can testify to the miraculous nature of this doctor-assisted healing. I was there to stand by and support our friends, praying and laughing and waiting for word that our girl was ready for the recovery room.
And just as the lead neurosurgeon came out to talk with them, my cell phone rang. It was my dear hubby. Since it was a little later than he usually gets home from work, I thought maybe he’d been hung in traffic and just getting a chance to call and get the news from the waiting room. Instead, I heard that voice. You know- the voice that chills your heart because something is wrong. Very wrong. Instead of hearing first-hand the best news possible from the OR, I learned that our son was being hospitalized, back home in Theme Park world.
At that moment, my heart was ripped in two. One portion of it was thrilled to know that our friends were embarking on a new journey toward wholeness. The other was already back home, trying to console my two boys as they both were coming undone. I was undone. How was I supposed to deal with this? I mean, I was there to support my best friend through one of the most difficult days a parent faces- that 20% not healed included all the worst case scenarios. Now, I was reeling- and the people my hubby and I would normally turn to first… were there, huddled with the surgeon.
Tears, texts to my school chums, deep breaths, and then the phone rings again… It’s the moderator of the Seminary Student Council, calling to let me know about the business I missed during the meeting earlier that day. He’d not been able to conference me in, you see, and he wanted to be sure that I knew about the decision to change the way we were using some of the funding, thanks to a large donation that was unexpected. I’m still not sure how I managed to finish that conversation… probably the same way that Charlie Brown and Lucy manage to understand and respond to the Mah–mah–mah sounds made by the grown-ups.
Surreal. And yet SO REAL. More real than most moments in life. I can remember exactly how my stomach clenched, how all the oxygen seemed to leave the room and how the tears tasted as they rolled off my nose and onto my lips. Crying for joy and pain, crying in hope and fear, crying because I was alive and so very aware of the thin line between us and death.