The water looks warm…but on a day like today, in the first month of the year, I know it is cold. AND as quick as you stick your big toe in you will know the cold as well!
There are some things we know because we know. There are other things we have faith and believe without ever seeing or knowing.
What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. Hebrews 11:1 NLT
Wanda had that kind of faith. She prayed to be healed. Believed with all her heart He could heal. Had witnessed other healings. Yet never once did I ever hear her complain nor whine that He had healed someone other than herself. Other’s healing simply gave her more hope of what He could do for her. However, just because she didn’t seem to question God did not mean that I didn’t. For I tell you straight up I did. I wondered. I wanted to know why someone with the kindest most gentle heart and ways was stricken with such a condition that she could not even make up her own bed without having to rest. The simple task of clearing a table and cleaning the kitchen simply took her breath away. Not in the good way. Not in the way a tender look from the man you love. Not in the way a tub filled with hot bubbly water after a horribly long day at the office.
During the first stay in the hospital for Wanda, it seemed to go on and on. I was impatient. I had plans. Wanda and I were going to begin the new Beth Moore Bible Study with our ladies at church, “Steppin’ Up.” Together. Side by side. Just as we had for the last 3 years. I refused to see the reality of what was happening. I cried when I wasn’t there at the hospital–almost constantly. When I drove to work, when I went home. Every time I was alone—I let it all out to God. He knew without doubt where I stood on the situation.
We drove the 3 1/2 hour trip to the hospital both Fridays. Stayed as long as possible through the weekend. On the second trip down, Mark had to leave to take care of some home and work issues. Aimee, Jeff and I stayed with Wanda. Actually, we sent Jeff back to the motel and we had a mini-sisters-retreat! It was not the kind we would have loved to have, but it would do in a pinch. We prayed. I read aloud to them. Aimee buffed Wanda’s nails and put lotion on her hands and feet, we watched old “good” TV shows and we watched Wanda breathe. That was the tough part. It was hard to watch her struggle. The fluid was not coming off as they wanted. In the building of the fluid, it was impacting her lungs. Squeezing. But we didn’t talk about it. Instead we talked about the Bible Study. Or certain Scriptures. Or cooking.
I remember asking Wanda what her favorite verse was. It was Psalm 27:14. But she couldn’t remember the words exactly. Nor where it was found exactly. So we began a big search. When we couldn’t find it…we called the “preacher”. Aimee’s husband. Actually, Mark is a minister too, but we knew he was busy…(Juno was as well…but it was easier). When we found it, Aimee wrote it on the dry erase board that the nurses used to keep up with Wanda’s intake and output.
All that came and went KNEW where Wanda’s faith was stored. In her heart. In her mind. In her spirit. AND sisters—it was strong.
On the Saturday evening, we were trying to decide what we wanted to do for supper. There were plenty of restaurants in Gainesville, and we were “thinking” of Olive Garden. We had asked Wanda—“what do you feel like you would enjoy eating?” Not a hard question for her—she loved Olive Garden! So we got an order together, and called it in. I still have the paper that Aimee used from one of my notebooks where she, as a very sweet and pretty waitress took our orders! Then Jeff was sent off to grab our grub!
Wanda waited in anticipation. She had not had anything “good” to eat for days. She had lost a bit of fluid and Aimee order her items with no salt. Even the garlic bread was ordered plain. No butter, no salt. When the meal arrived, we all enjoyed it immensely! Then settled back to watch Fly Wheel on the little DVD player that Mark had left.
When Mark arrived and we told him what we had been doing and how well Wanda had done with her intake-output, he seemed skeptical at first. I don’t know that I have ever seen anyone–much less a man—with as much love and concern over every detail of care for another human being. I don’t know for sure if he would have gone the route of Olive Garden food—but she enjoyed it so much–that smile and pleasure was memorable to watch!
The test came the next day. How would the food affect her….but you know…I think ‘ole Mark was surprised. She did very well.
With each battle of fluid gain and strength loss, we prayed hard. Adjustments were made in her medication—and little baby step progress would show up. She wound up having to receive blood. Right now, I can’t remember how many units for the first stay, I think maybe 2, but possibly it was 3. On those times, which lasted for several hours, we prayed constantly. There were so many risks involved.
Then the Friday came that Aimee and I were going alone to stay with her so that Mark could come home to take care of a major event at work. Aimee and I both took off early from work so that we would arrive in Gainesville before dark. Neither one of us relished the idea of driving at night. We were all packed up. With of course, way too much stuff. If you know Aimee at all, you know she had packed way more shoes than she would wear. If you know me at all, you know I packed enough books that I’d never read them if I had a month to do so!
We had just gotten the last item loaded, were headed to the store for gas and “coffee”—(for the drive) and we got a call. “We’re coming home!”….We….best word I had heard all day! In several weeks!
So…instead of heading to Gainesville, Aimee and I headed straight for Wanda’s house to take down the Christmas, cook them supper and generally clean up a bit! I just have to mention this before I let you go…as we put things away, cleared the table of mail, I couldn’t help but notice how, even in the jumble of things, there was still that orderly fashion of the way Wanda was. All kitchen cabinets were organized. The drawers too! Mine is not nearly so orderly!
When I heard the door bell ring, I thought it must be Charlie to check on the oxygen tank. It was. We hugged. We talked. He checked the machines. We told him the approximate time she would be home from the hospital. When he left we returned to our duties. Aimee had the chicken and rice well underway. I had taken care of the stacks of mail. The Christmas cards and little toys from a busy little girl. Ding-Dong. The news was probably getting out—she was coming home! I opened the door and there stood the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. All in the not quite 5 foot frame of our dear Wanda. That look is one I won’t forget. Ever.
We ushered her in and got her situated so she could watch Aimee in the kitchen and be involved in her household again.