Friday, July 13, 2012

He Gives And Takes Away

God gives, God takes.
   God's name be ever blessed.
Job 1:21

God Gives:
Andrew’s mischievous grin and sweet hugs are a part of why he's had me wrapped around his finger for the past three years. About five weeks ago, Andrew was playing soccer at school and cut his toe. Afterwards, he walked home barefoot. He complained to his aunt of pain and stayed home from school for days in pain. That’s when we found out something was wrong. Andrew is an extremely active boy (which is a nice way of saying “that boy can’t sit still”) so to find out that he was staying at home in pain was a big sign that something was wrong. After a trip to a clinic, it was discovered that Andrew had tetanus. By that point, he had lock jaw and was screaming in pain. I learned a lot about tetanus these past few weeks and the horror that it is (if you wondered why we get that shot, read here). Kait, Hope Alive!’s nurse, just so happened to be beginning her required internship at Nsambya Hospital and just so happened to be starting out in the same ward that Andrew was put in, allowing him to have good and dedicated care those first critical days.

God’s miracles are seen so clearly throughout this.

I visited Andrew at the hospital then. Have you ever seen the show 24? You know when Jack Bauer is torturing someone and the spine chilling screams that the person lets out in those moments? That’s the best way that I can describe Andrew’s screams that day. Only this wasn’t some criminal or stranger. This wasn’t TV. This was reality. This was a little boy that I love so dearly. All I could do was sit there and cry. That day, I thought it was all over. I thought Andrew would die.

The hospital did not have a ventilator and without that, Kait knew that Andrew would die. As she put it, “I wouldn’t let my dog die the way that he was dying”.  She found out about another hospital in Kampala that had a ventilator and even an ICU. While we didn’t know what condition these were (hospitals here aren’t, how shall I say, up to US standards), it was Andrew’s only chance to survive. Andrew was put under full sedation, hooked up to machines and tubes that I’ve never seen elsewhere in Uganda and slowly…slowly…improvement came. It’s been over a month since Andrew was put into the hospital.  A couple days ago I went to visit him. At last, he was awake! He was smiling, laughing, stroking my face with his little fingers and hugging me. I felt as though my heart would burst with joy! That day, he was being moved to the general ward and, God willing, Andrew will return home next week.

The nurse in the ICU told me that their hospital had seen many cases of tetanus come through, but Andrew was the first case of tetanus that they had seen where the person had lived. She said, “we did all that we could, but truly, it was God who saved his life”.

God Takes:
This past weekend, as I started to hear the joyous news of Andrew's recovery, I got a message from my sister-in-law that my grandpa’s health was worsening. It wrecked me.

The week before I left the States was the 65th wedding anniversary of my grandparents. My grandpa’s dementia led to him being put in a nursing home just a few weeks earlier. My aunts and uncles came into town and we celebrated together in the nursing home. There were a few seconds in that time where grandpa’s sparkle in his eye would come back. It was a good day for him but it was also a realization that this may be the last time that I would see him. 

I’m someone that always has a glimmer of hope. I’m that girl that will drive around the parking lot one more time because there just might have been a spot that opened. While I knew that it might be the last time I saw my grandpa, the glimmer of hope stayed inside of me. Maybe, just maybe, he would still be alive when I came back to the States in two years.

My sister-in-law’s message wrecked that hope. With the first message, I held on to a small glimpse of hope…that was soon dashed by another message stating that the situation was worsening.

I have cried more in the past week than I have in months. I cried over the loss of a dear sweet man who has meant so much to me. I cried for my grandma; her husband of 65 years is dying. I cried for my mom and my aunts; they were losing their father. I cried that I was so far away. I have never felt lonelier than this past week as I mourned alone without my family. I feel at a loss of words to even describe it. I struggled to know if I should go back for the funeral. I wanted more than anything to honor my grandpa and to be there with my family as we all mourned. I called airlines for bereavement fares. I called my family in the States for updates. I was an emotional wreck, especially when I realized that I couldn’t come back.

At 12:30am Wednesday night/Thursday morning, I got an e-mail from my brother telling him to call me. I knew then that my grandpa was gone.

Our last picture together
He gives. He takes. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

This week has been one of high highs (Andrew) and low lows (my grandpa). I’ll be bursting with joy about Andrew one minute and breaking down in sobs about my grandpa the next. It’s been insane. I’ve felt insane. Maybe I am?

I had prayed that God would either provide the finances for me to attend the funeral or give me peace to stay. I woke up Wednesday morning with God’s all-surpassing peace and I basked in that. I knew that He would be the Comforter that my family needed more than anything. He will be there when I am not. He is here to comfort me even when I’m not with them. That verse in Job has never been more real in my life.

Oh God, help this to be the theme of my life. In good times. In bad times. When You give. When You take. Blessed be Your name.