I had no idea what was just ahead 7 years ago. I was pregnant with our youngest child. We had not expected to have another child and my feelings were all over the place. IN talking with the OB – no one was concerned about the baby coming early. The research had changed guidance and we were expecting a full term baby just on the early side – 36-37 weeks. That would mid-June. On Good Friday that year, March 29th I saw that a clergy couple that went to our seminary had their baby. I remember laughing – of course the baby came this weekend – it’s memorable to say the least. By Sunday morning their baby had died. There are no words to describe the pain I felt given that I was carrying our 4th and they lost their 1st and only. I could not imagine their grief.
Within 2 weeks things changed for us as well. I began having contractions at 32 weeks. Dr suggested taking it easy and putting my feet up more. By Wednesday night (4/17) my water broke and I was in the hospital – hoping for at least 2 weeks. It was hard being on bed rest and waiting. But on Saturday I was being taken to the OR for an emergency c-section. Tim was born at 4lbs 5 oz and was taken straight to the NICU. The next 8 days we lived into a new rhythm – we found a new normal – until the world turned upside down.
Yesterday, I was not in a good mental space – I was irritated, anxious, I finally chalked it up to it being a Monday in the midst of physical distancing. I spent last evening using the leaf blower on the oak pollen & leaves on the back patio and garage area. It felt good to clear the debris and putting some order back where chaos had reigned. When I came inside, showered some things began to click. Bear with me.
During the day yesterday, I tried to stay off the news but a couple of things snuck in that bothered me but I did not realize it at the time. In particular order: people saying being intubated is not that bad; the cure for the virus cannot be worse than the virus itself; and that grandparents should sacrifice themselves to save the economy. Before I expound – I have political beliefs but what I am sharing has NOTHING to do with politics – they are my experiences as a pastor and a mom.
7 years ago our world was turned upside down. April 29, 2013 was the scariest day of my life. It was the day, that more medical professionals than I had seen at once all came into Tim’s curtained area to share the words that he had a congenital heart defect that required immediate treatment and no one in the area could do it, all while he was only 9 days old. By the end of the day he had been airlifted to Texas Children’s Hospital, had a doctor camped out by his bedside all night and was in heart failure. He had surgery the next day and we began a new life. A life that required us to watch for symptoms that may or may not occur. A few weeks later as we were inching towards discharge, we had both a cardiologist and a neonatologist tells us what it would we require for us to go home, social distancing – except that was not the words they used. They shared that a simple cold would land us in the hospital – his body could not handle it both as a preemie and a heart patient. Something more serious than a cold, like the flu could kill him. They taught us that we did not take him in public, no one touched him without being healthy, having clean hands, and if they had been anywhere – they changed their clothes before touching him or interacting with him. And we were able to keep him out of the hospital for 6 months – before a cold required IV fluids & meds.
I learned a lot about medicine and the limits of medicine on this journey as Tim’s mom but I’ve also learned a lot as a pastor who has been with families as their loved ones were fighting for their lives. I’ve been there when someone has been intubated and could not talk. I’ve sat with husbands and wives as they processed all that was going on. I’ve been there when loved ones have had to discontinue care and say goodbye. Human life is more valuable than anything else we have. We can never have another you in the world!
Our Old Testament reading continues in Exodus 12:1-14 where God gives instructions for the celebration of the 1st Passover. I know what happens next in the story, do you remember? God is instructing the Israelites “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt (verses 12-13).” God told them what they needed to do to remain alive.
Our New Testament reading Mark 9:14-29 is a healing story. The disciples had been asked by a desperate father to heal his son but they had not been able to do it. 23Jesus asked a few questions of the father who answered. “Then Jesus said: ‘If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.’ 24Immediately the father of the child cried out, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” A healing story that causes us to believe for healing to occur.
The medical community is telling us what we need to do to remain alive. We must stay the course of physical distancing. As I write this Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has issued a stay at home order to begin at 11:59 pm today and many expect our area judges to do the same. I know they do not do this lightly. I’ve spent an hour each week on the phone with Houston Methodist Hospital experts who have been teaching us pastors what we need to know to help keep our communities safe. There is a real threat among us. I know that we have been trying to keep 6’ of physical distance but not everyone in our communities have done that making the risk even greater. This is not easy BUT we can do it. Because, while I am very good at Funerals, I have no desire to lead funerals for those among us whom recovering from this virus would be impossible.
I believe in God. I believe in our medical community. I believe that there is enough in the world for us all. I believe that when we work together nothing is insurmountable.
Today’s challenge – encouraging each other to stay home until we’ve been told we are free & safe to leave. Wash your hands and change your clothes if you do have to leave. Help us protect the most vulnerable among us. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.