This picture was taken a little over a year ago – August to be exact. I had just undergone what was supposed to be a very straight forward cardiac ablation. But because of the complexity of my illnesses and all of the medications I am on, nothing, absolutely nothing is ever straight forward. This particular surgery ended with the largest hematoma in my abdomen that my doctors at the University of Minnesota had ever seen. It was serious business and the recovery took months.
I have had countless situations in the past four years that have begun as simple procedures or administrations of medication and have ended with complex and life threatening circumstances. Too many to count and enough so, that visits to the emergency room bring a tremendous amount of fear to both myself and my family.
I’ve only seen this picture once before. I stumbled upon it, not knowing that it had been taken. The first time I could not even look at it. Not because of my own situation, but because of my daughter Emma, who is sitting next to me in the photo. This time, in my searching through photos this morning for something to post, I let myself linger a bit. A year has passed since then, and there have been other situations much like this one, where my family has been by my side. I cannot imagine what they go through.
Four years I have been sick now. Four years they have never left my side. Four years of hospitalizations, emergency room visits, life threatening reactions, coding - four years of chronic illness. Four years, day in and day out, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year – my illness has impacted their life. I will never fully comprehend the affect this has had on their lives. Just looking at the face of my daughter in this picture makes my heart so heavy I begin to weep.
Yet, not once has my husband or any of our seven daughters ever complained. No once have I witnessed their frustration or anger. Not once have I ever heard bitterness or any complaint in regards to the chaos this has brought into our lives. Countless vacations have been canceled, plans have been changed, meals have been disrupted, work and school has been missed – sacrifice after sacrifice has been made on my behalf. At times my illness consumes all that is in its path and nothing shakes their unconditional love for me. Nothing.
I cannot imagine a love so great. I cannot fathom the depth and breadth of such a thing. I can only be present in its grace. That is all I can do. Lay myself open to this gift and simply receive. And then, with all that I have and all that I am – love in return.
To my family,
I love you. I love you beyond anything I could ever imagine.
Thank you for loving me so well.