This morning, I am taking Clark to Arkansas' Children's Hospital.
Nope, he's not sick. It's just his annual oncology check-up.
I am always a little nervous at these appointments...I mean, we THINK he's doing great. He's a big, seemingly healthy, 17 year old football player who has just started his junior year of high school. Even so, and even tho we are trusting God for Clark's future, and our own, waiting on the lab results that will come in a day or two makes me more than a little anxious.
That whole, "oh ye of little faith" thing? Yeah. He was talkin' about me.
When Clark was 2 years old, I was lovin' on him one day...you know, the hugging and squeezing and tickling that mommies do...and I felt a hard place on his tummy. I mentioned it to Jim and he said, "it was probably just because he was sitting up at the time." I said, "well, I'm sitting up...and I don't feel that on me."
But it nagged at me, and so later on in the week, I just happened to have an appointment for one of our other children. I casually asked our pediatrician to just feel Clark's tummy..so that he could tell me it was nothing to worry about. His first thought? "Well, it's probably poop." He said that, a lot of times, kids just get constipated and so that may be what I was feeling. I didn't think Clark had been constipated, but whatever. He's the doctor, right?
Just to be on the safe side...and because of God's prompting...he sent us to x-ray to check it out. And even tho that sent us to ultrasound, and then to a c/t scan...Clark's doctor still kept trying to play it down, trying to keep us calm in case it was nothing...hoping and praying it was nothing. And he did pray with us. But we ended up at ACH that night...after it was determined that Clark had a huge, blood-filled mass growing out of his liver. And it was a fast-growing tumor.
They scheduled his surgery a day and a half from that night.
What I remember:
-It felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. In those initial few minutes with our pediatrician, I had an uneasy feeling that grew as the day progressed. I knew.
-I remember at some point they called Jim to come join me at the appointment. Well, that's never a good sign, is it?
-I remember our doctor in disbelief saying, "this just doesn't make sense."
-I remember our doctor praying with us.
-I remember my sister, Leanne, coming to the hospital and saying, "are they sure we have to do this? He's so little!"
-I remember my SS teacher, Sue B. coming up on the day of the surgery, and sitting with Leanne. It was such a blessing for me, because I was worried about Leanne, too.
-I remember Clark's room full of friends and family...joining hands in prayer.
-I remember my father-in-law praying for Clark. It shocked me, really, because I'm used to him being loud and boisterous and NOT EVER serious...and on this day, he was very serious and very tender.
-I remember almost passing out in the recovery room with Clark. Just weak from not eating, and generally feeling overwhelmed.
-I remember our friend, David Berry being in there with us. What a blessing to have friends check on us.
-I remember a nurse who told us she felt prompted by the Lord to ask if she could pray with us...for Clark. She went down to the gift shop on her break and bought Clark a balloon for his room. The little things can mean so much. There are Christians everywhere. I should always follow God's prompting on my heart.
-I remember someone slipping us a card with a $20 bill in it. Now, we didn't need $20...seriously, with Mammaw Jack (Jim's mom) around, we could never want for anything. But it was a sweet and thoughtful gift...because when you are in the hospital, there are times when you might want some cash for a drink, or a candy bar, or a magazine.
-I remember the words: the tumor was contained to one mass. That was good news.
-I remember the words: malignant tumor, the size of a man's fist.
-I remember the word: chemo.
The doctors removed the tumor from Clark's abdomen, along with a large portion of his liver. Did you know that the liver is the only organ that regenerates himself? Just a little "I'm with you," from the Lord.
And so, you know how you would think that the doctors would give Clark (and his parents) a little time to recuperate from the surgery before going on to the next step? Umm...no. They started chemo the very next day.
But this night? I held my baby close. He had a large bandage across his abdomen, covering his incision site. He had IV's and tape and monitors. But we rocked and I sang his songs. And we watched his movie (For some reason, at this time, Clark was OBSESSED with the movie, "Anastasia." I think we had gotten it for Holly. I didn't really like that movie, but Clark did, so we brought it to the hospital with us. He watched it over and over during the next few months, in the hospital and at home. It seemed to really calm him down in any stressful situation).
So everyone had left. Jim went home to help his Mom, who was staying with our other kids. The hospital room was quiet and dark. I listened to the monitors beep and felt Clark's warm breath on me as I held him, His long blond hair was right up on my cheek. I thought of what had transpired in the past 48 hours...how one day, we had this happy, go-lucky baby...our sweet family of 6. And now, in less than 2 days, everything was turned upside-down. My baby, who had had such a hard beginning...was now facing another possible life-altering, or life-ending, trial. We just didn't know.
But God knew and He knows. He has a plan. And I fight it...I do. I guess it's the human way. And it beats me down until I'm weak from the fighting...and the fear...when I have the Source of all the strength I will ever need waiting for me to just.let.go. We don't always understand God's ways, but if we can ever learn to rest in Him, He really will carry us through any trial. He will bring us through...or carry us home. Win-win, right?
"...I have made you and I will carry you..." Isaiah 46:4