Wednesday my dad turned 55 and the Lee’s and I started our day with a breakfast FaceTime call to wish him Happy Birthday.
I had an appointment to check on Baby Sikes’ progress and called my mom with an update. We ran though some logistics of bringing Baby 3 into our family and she said she was going to pack a bag because she just had “a feeling we will be in the hospital at the end of the week”.
My youngest brother came to town and we ate my dad’s favorite dessert 266 miles away, complete with creepy but Comical pictures, to ensure the rest of the family knew they were missing all the fun.
Wednesday was a great day and left me with high hopes for Thursday. The Lees and I had errands to run and my nesting “To Do” list needed some check marks. But I was so tired. Instead, at naptime the Lees and I crawled into my bed with the dogs and Netflix. As I lay beside my daughters it hit me that these were the moments I dreamed of as a mom (of course I also dreamed of baking cookies in a tidy kitchen and cheerful family suppers but we know how those things actually go!). But this moment, 2 girls, 2 dogs, and the promise of snow was picture perfect.
Every Friday I send my dad an email with photos of the Lees and a quick update from the week or maybe our weekend plans. I’m not sure how the tradition of Friday emails started but it’s kind of our “thing” and I knew this was one of those moments He would love. So I reached for my phone to snap a picture and was struck by the fact I had a missed call and a voicemail from my mom. I took a second to grab a picture of my snuggly crew and walked out of the room to call my mom— knowing before she answered it would be bad news. My mom doesn’t leave voicemails.
“I was calling to let you know that Dad needs open heart surgery tomorrow”.
Honestly, I’m not sure how I caught any more of the details. I remember sinking to the floor and focusing all my energy on not crying…. My mom was barely holding it together, talking about wet clothes in the dryer and trying to reassure us both that “this is such a simple procedure” and I knew if I fell apart she would, too. So I stared at the floor and I tried to grasp what she was saying:
“Dad called me this morning with chest pains…. We went to the dr… Maybe a mild heart attack… Major blockages that can’t be fixed with a stint… Ambulance is taking us to Tallahassee, maybe Macon… ICU… Ventilator… Weeks to recover”.
We hung up the phone and I sat in the floor crying- thinking that there would be no Friday email this week before crawling back in the bed with my girls, trying to hide my tears. Some days it’s tough to be strong.
I texted my closest friends asking them not to call, but to please pray. Pray for my dad, for my mom, my brothers’ traveling, for me- stuck 2.5 hours away 3cm dilated and facing a winter storm…
I never truly realized the importance of community until I became a mom— and I never realized the strength of the community surrounding me until these scariest moments.
Immediately I was inundated with emails, texts, and a few phone calls. New friends and old friends, family members and grandparents- all praying for me- offering me their 4-wheel drive vehicles, volunteering to come get my kids or simply sit with me so I didn’t feel so alone.
Friends, please know- you are the ones that kept me going. Every text, every hug, every phone call that I blubbered through incoherently. My girls’ teachers who kept Bee on her “off day” so I could turn off Mom Mode for a few hours, and the friend that let me come play with paint colors and have a few moments of normalcy on the hardest day. And especially My husband who went into superhero mode- holding me each time I needed to break down, taking over the “To Do” list and manning the girls when I could no longer function under the stress of the unknown and crawled into my bed and hid while waiting for news on my dad’s surgery.
We are a full 24 hours post-surgery and I’m only now truly able to think through the events of the last few days. Wednesday seems so long ago and the days ahead of us seem to stretch so far.
We are entering an unknown stage, a recovery that will take weeks, maybe months. A baby that will not be greeted in the hospital by his NiNi and Grumps. Lifestyle changes… Yet I can only be thankful right now that we have these difficult days ahead.
It’s truly amazing how God crafted the events of this week. Don’t get me wrong- I wish they hadn’t happened. Selfishly, I wish we were all excited and joyous about Sikes’ arrival and the Lees were preparing for a trip to Tifton to stay with NiNi and Grumps. But there are so many small miracles that worked together to ease the burden of these days. I can’t help but laugh a little as Romans 8:28 pops in my head, “but we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to his purpose”. While this is a well-known verse, it’s most familiar to me because Mrs. Ann, my dad’s long-time secretary, has signed every email and card I’ve received from her with this verse, she keeps it on her desk and her screensaver.
Thursday morning My dad experienced chest pains but instead of being stubborn and ignoring them he sought medical help.
Even though his EKG was normal the cardiologist chose to do a heart cath anyways and was able to catch these potential threats.
Although the timing has been awful for me, both of my brothers are on break and have had freedom to be with my parents in Macon.
Friends and family arrived in the waiting room in droves to support my family, to pray with them and for them.
Today my family woke up to snow- not much- but enough to bring great excitement to my Lees and fill my burdened heart with joy as I watched them play.
While these words are mine and I can only share my chapter in this story, please know that my gratitude is on behalf of my entire family. We cannot adequately express how much your love and support has meant to us.
Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”