Last week our nine-year-old, G2, had surgery. He’s absolutely fine and healing well. But I’m not sure I’m fine. Monday morning I took him down to Sacramento for same day surgery. G2 is a sweet, sensitive child and was scared to death of being put to sleep. He thought he would die.
A child development specialist visited every patient to see how they were doing. She quickly realized G2 needed help. He was calm and obedient, but the poor kid was terrified. She talked to him for quite awhile and then accompanied him into the operating room. G2 held it together until I had to leave him in the hallway, then he just sobbed on the gurney. I kissed his forehead and prayed over him. After they wheeled him away tears overwhelmed me.
I walked to the bathroom wondering why I was so upset. I knew G2 would be fine but felt a little traumatized. When I returned to the waiting room, the child development specialist came out to speak with me. “Who died in the hospital with your son?” She asked.
“Did G2 tell you someone died?”
“No, but he has PTSD. Who died?”
Tears streamed down my face. I felt like I had PTSD too. “His cousin, Anna. G2 adored her. She didn’t die in the hospital, she died at the scene of the accident, but her dad was in the hospital for a week after the crash. I’m sure G2 remembers all that. Losing Anna really tore us up.”
The child development specialist spent some time with me. Guess you’re never old enough to be her patient. When she left, I tried to process G2’s woundedness. I’ve made peace with being one of the walking-wounded, but realizing G2 was wounded too really hurt.
I know all our kids are wounded from Anna’s death.
I think most of us walk around wounded in one way or another. It makes us human beings. We live in a broken world where bad and sad things happen. We go on with life and try to survive the best we can, but nothing is the same after we experience a tragedy.
I’m not sure I’ve done an adequate job ensuring our kids are okay after the loss of their cousin. What I’ve realized is that children try to hang on to their carefree ways after experiencing trauma. They just want to continue with a normal life. None of our boys wanted to talk about Anna after she died. Garry would pray every night that she was happy in heaven, and we would both cry, but that was it. He wouldn’t say Anna’s name during the day.
His brother, John, who was twelve when we lost Anna, threw up in response to her death, and then sobbed beside the road where his sister had pulled the car over for him to be sick on their way to school. Scott and I were at the hospital with Anna’s parents. Why did we send our kids to school on the day Anna died?
I realize now that first week after losing Anna, I was hardly home. The boys’ sisters cared for them. I was with Anna’s family most of that time in a fog of grief. After the first two days, Scott stopped going to the hospital and stayed with our boys. Scott felt they needed to keep doing their everyday things. So they went to school. They played sports. They did their homework. When I was home, I couldn’t stop crying, but I wasn’t home much until after the funeral.
In the waiting room on Monday during G2’s surgery, I battled fear that something would happen to G2, but I told Jesus, “He’s yours. I am just blessed to be G2’s mom. I’d really like to keep him, but if you take him now, I know he will be so happy up there with You and Anna. I know you’ll take good care of G2 along with Anna.”
I don’t think this is normal for surgery. The chance of my son dying during this minor procedure was probably right up there with a Great White shark attack or grizzly bear mauling. But I learned with Anna that life is fragile. It can be over in the blink of an eye. We don’t know who’s going to be here tomorrow. All we have is today.
I’m so thankful G2 woke up like this after his surgery.
I wish I had recorded the waking up. The nurse warned me he’d probably be crying when he awoke. “Usually, kids wake up in the same state as when we put them to sleep,” said the nurse. “It’s like their brains shut off and then pick up where they left off.”
I was prepared for the sobbing G2, but he woke up so funny.
“Why haven’t they done my surgery?” he demanded to know when he opened his eyes and he saw me.
“You’re all done! You did great.”
“NO!” G2 said in the funniest way. “I just blinked! They can’t be done!”
G2 has this loud, sure voice. I think every nurse on the floor heard him.
“Really, it’s all done. And you woke up! Isn’t that great?”
“God was right!” G2 shouted. “I’m okay! He said I’d be okay and I’m okay!”
I had told G2 I believed God told me he was going to be okay the night before his surgery. Several nurses peeked into the room to see what was going on. G2’s nurse, Kyle, a man with a fun sense of humor, was laughing.
“Maybe you should become a nurse,” I told G2, with those three nurses smiling at him.
“WHAT?! Nurses are LIARS! I’m going to be a pastor! I’m taking over for Pastor Doug.” G2 cried.
I was mortified. “Why are nurses liars?” I asked, afraid to look at the nurses’ faces, but I could hear Kyle laughing.
“They told me it wouldn’t hurt! But that IV hurt! They told me the gas would taste good! Like root beer!But it tasted terrible!”
“He’s usually very sweet,” I told the nurses. “I’m sorry, G2’s not himself right now.”
“He’s great,” said Kyle. One of the other nurses told Kyle he was done with his shift. It was time for him to go home. “No way! I’m not leaving G2,” he said. “He’s the best patient I’ve had all day.”
I was so impressed with the pediatric nurses at Sutter Memorial. They were wonderful with G2. The nurse that prepared him for surgery wouldn’t leave her shift either when she could have gone home. She also said, “I’m staying with G2 until he’s done.” And his doctor, the head of UC Davis pediatric urology was amazing.
“Do we get to keep the wheelchair?” G2 asked as we waited for valet to bring our car to the front of the hospital as we were leaving.
“No, you’re fine. You don’t need a wheelchair, Get in the FJ,” I told him.
Right across the street was Sutter’s Fort. I’m in the middle of researching about John Sutter and was just writing about him in the novel I’m currently working on. I pointed the fort out to G2. “Isn’t that cool? I just wrote about this fort in my book.”
“Stop!” G2 yelled in the car. “I want to see that fort!”
I pulled into a parking space right after we left the hospital. “Are you sure you can walk to the gate?”
“I don’t feel a thing,” said a grinning G2.
That was the truth. I had a nine-year-old drunk on my hands. The doctor said G2 could walk just fine, but to take it easy for a week or two. Let G2 rest at home. No playing at school or doing sports. He didn’t say anything about not walking to Sutter Fort’s gate.
G2 was so proud to stand in front of the fort to have his picture taken. “Put this is in your book!” He cried, capturing the attention of a nearby homeless man. Seeing the homeless man looking at us, G2 yelled, “My mom writes books!”
“You obey your mom!” The homeless man yelled back.
“Is he okay?” G2 asked in his big, loud voice because the homeless man was a mess.
The homeless man went a little nuts, yelling completely random stuff at us. I hurried G2 back to the car.
That night we both fell into bed. It had been a long day. When my head hit the pillow, I thanked God for his mercy. This surgery had hung over our head for years. I know you’re all wondering what it was, but G2’s a little embarrassed about it and I don’t want to share his personal stuff. He’s all fixed now and should be absolutely fine.
In the midst of all this, I’d forgotten that months earlier, I’d signed one of my books up for a promotion on Amazon. I hadn’t thought a thing about it with G2 going to the hospital. Tuesday G2 was in a lot of pain, so we hunkered down by the fire and rested. I worked on my WIP, which is a “work in progress” referring to an author’s unfinished book, and the day passed peacefully.
On Wednesday I work up realizing my Mother Keeper novel was being advertised on Amazon. Our harvest hit right after I released this book this past summer and I’d done very little to let people know it was for sale. Honestly, I still feel like an imposter as an author. Like any minute now people are going to discover that I’m a terrible writer and wonder what on earth am I doing so I hardly market at all.
I can’t tell you how surprised I was to see my book climbing the ranks on Amazon last Wednesday. By the end of the day, The Mother Keeper was number 1 in three categories. Right up there with some big name writers. This kind of thing happening to an unknown writer is like winning the lottery. If I believed in luck, I would say I was lucky, but I don’t believe in luck. God made this happen and it scares me. Because now a lot more people will read The Mother Keeper and they might discover they hate my voice. Writers have a voice just like singers. Not that I can sing, but we can recognize writers by how they sound on the page. I love Francine Rivers’s voice. She’s one of my favorite writers. Ann Voskamp is like this too. Her unique voice is very recognizable when you read her writing.
The truth is, nobody knows why some books become bestsellers and other’s don’t capture readers’ attention. Industry insiders call this lightening in a bottle. If publishers knew the secret of what makes a book a bestseller, believe me, they would turn that secret into success over and over again.
Here’s another truth about books. Very few authors make more than $10,000 dollars a year. Indie authors like me often lose money on their writing. My book became a free bestseller on Amazon this past week. Which means I don’t earn a dime unless people buy my other two books for sale on Amazon right now. The interesting thing about this Amazon stuff is that it hardly mattered last week that my book hit number 1. What mattered was G2’s healing.
I hadn’t realized how much Anna’s death impacted my children. Don’t get me wrong, I knew losing Anna was life-changing for us, but watching G2 sob before his surgery just broke my heart. He really thought he was about to die.
Life is so out of our control. It deeply truly is, but we seldom realize this hard thing. The amazing thing is that God is completely in control of everything. I call God my Papa. I’m the kid constantly tugging on his robe. “Please, Papa,” I pray a hundred times a day. I even prayed for Papa to help the homeless man who yelled at G2 at Sutter’s Fort.
If you’re wounded, or even if you think you’re perfectly fine, I want to share another kind of lightning in a bottle with you. Faith. Honestly, if I could give you faith in Jesus rather than write you a story about faith I would. As I create books and blogs, I always pray that God will put his Spirit in the words to draw people to Himself. I love my Papa so much and if you don’t know Him, I want to tell you God is your Papa too. He’s a good, good Father. I’m weeping as I write this because it’s so true. But Papa can be hard. When Anna died, I cried, “Oh Papa, what have you done!”
Papa sent Jesus to assure me that this severe mercy was needed. Anna was happy in heaven. And Papa wanted my whole family to turn to Him. He was using Anna to draw us to heaven. I stood on our front porch before dawn the day after Anna died crying out to Papa.
In an instant, in response to my broken cry, Jesus stood beside me on the porch. It was like the whole universe stilled for a moment when He came down to be with me. I couldn’t see Jesus, but I knew with every fiber of my being He was there beside me. I’ve blogged about this experience already, so I won’t go into the details again. And it was such a supernatural experience that trying to explain it pales in comparison. It just can’t be explained.
But I want you to know Jesus and Papa and his Holy Spirit are real. Everyone is offered God’s lightning of faith in a bottle. The Bible says to ask for faith. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-12.
“But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind” James 1:6.
I’ve been kneeling beside G2’s bed at night, praying for Papa to heal him, not just physically, but emotionally as well. Being wounded is hard, but lacking faith is even harder. God gives faith because our heavenly Father loves us. Faith comes from God in the form of a gift. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– Ephesians 2:8.
If you don’t have faith, but want it, ask for the gift of faith. I find myself asking for more faith almost every day. I believe, but I want to believe more. I hope you want to believe more too. This time of year, I often follow the Gospel of Luke. I’ll leave you with some verses from Luke that touched my heart a few days ago. A people prepared has stuck with me. I want to be prepared for the Lord. I hope you do too.