Lincoln Blogs

An Update
January 23, 2010, 2:00 am
Filed under: Life

It has been about seven months since my last post. I don’t know if anyone still reads this, but I’ll take the time to write anyway. The last several months have probably been the most eventful time of my life. It has been a roller coaster ride, filled with many peaks and valleys.

My last post contained pictures from last summer’s trip to Colorado. That seems like so long ago. Upon returning from Colorado, I spent a few days back at home before leaving again, for Scott Lake Lodge in Canada. It was my second time to travel north of the border with my grandfather and two cousins, Tyler and James, and it was an incredible experience. The memories from that trip will last a lifetime.

During that summer, there was constant excitement, but fear, about something much more wonderful. My mom was pregnant with a baby girl. It was fantastic news, and family and friends were elated. But at the baby’s 18-week ultrasound, we received a troubling report. The baby, who we found out to be a girl in that ultrasound, had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. I won’t explain it fully, but it is basically a hole in the diaphragm that allows the organs of the abdomen to migrate up into the chest, hindering the development of the lungs and heart. We knew right away that it was extremely serious. The doctor told us that the survival rate was only about 50 percent. We also knew that God was sovereign, and that “all things come not by chance, but by his Fatherly hand.”

The baby was on all of our minds, and we awaited her birth hopefully. School started in late August, as did football. I played for the Oklahoma Patriots for the first time. I had a great time being on the team–I played quarterback and cornerback–and plan to play again next season.

In late September, my family moved to Dallas in anticipation of the baby’s birth. My parents had decided that Children’s Medical Center would be able to provide her with the best care possible. I stayed in Oklahoma, moving in with my best friend Hunter’s family, so I could continue attending class. Although I greatly missed my family, I enjoyed staying with them, hanging out with Hunter, going to OU football games and Thunder basketball games (I had my dad’s car),  studying together, etc.

Then, on October 8, tragedy struck. I had just come home from football practice and showered when I received a call from my dad. I could immediately tell by his tone that he had bad news, and I feared the worst about the baby. Instead, he delivered a shocking blow by saying that my cousin, Tyler, had died in a shooting accident. I couldn’t believe it. I had known Tyler literally my entire life. He had been with us in Canada just the past summer. I cannot describe how hard it hit me, it was my first experience with death. I felt sick for my Aunt Christy, Tyler’s dad Robby, his brother James, his sister Mary, my grandparents. Tyler was the nicest guy you could ever meet, and everybody who knew him loved him. First Baptist Church of Bartlesville was filled for his funeral, which was held just a few days later. Tyler was a strong Christian, and the fact that we will see him again, and that God is sovereign, comforted us. Still, in the months that followed, and now, I thought about and missed him often, and I look forward to the day that I will see him again.

The whirlwind continued a week after Tyler’s death, as the baby was born in Dallas on October 15. Anne Marie. Her journey was chronicled on my parents blog, which I encourage you to read, as I can’t describe the events that followed any better than they did. Her lungs were seriously underdeveloped, and she was placed on a ventilator immediately. My mom wrote about her status five days after her birth. On the 21st, I caught a 6:30 flight to Dallas to see Anne Marie for the first time. Even though she was hooked up to a lot of medical equipment, I could see how beautiful she was. I stood and watched her, touched her hand, stroked her curly brown hair. It was a difficult time, but God was ever present. The roller coaster continued. On October 21, Anne Marie opened her eyes for the first time. The surgery to repair her hernia was scheduled for October 29. I traveled to Dallas again for the surgery, which went extremely well. Although the doctors repaired the hernia, the lungs were still very weak. Anne Marie remained on a ventilator and ECMO, which after a while could cause complications. So, the doctors decided to try to wean her off both treatments. At this point, her lungs were still not performing their job, and the doctors were not optimistic. After several trial runs of taking her off ECMO for a little while, the time came to take her off for good. The potential complications outweighed the benefits. Frankly, nobody gave her much of a chance, but we still trusted in God, and for good reason. Her condition did not dramatically improve or worsen over the next few days, and she had another surgery to complete the abdominal repair. However, she was still extremely sick, remaining “stably unstable.” She was fighting for her life. Eventually, there came a point where the ventilator could not support her. Her lungs were too weak. She died in our mother’s arms on November 21.

In six weeks, I had lost a cousin and a sister. I didn’t know why, and I still don’t, but I know that God is in control, and that Tyler and Anne Marie are in heaven together. Those facts, along with the overwhelming support of friends, were my only source of comfort. In the weeks that followed, I thought a lot about Tyler, and about Anne Marie. As much as I was hurting, I knew that others must be in even more pain. I ask you to pray for Tyler’s mom, my Aunt Christy, for Robby, for James and Mary, for my grandparents, my other cousins, and all of Tyler’s friends. Pray for my mom and my dad, my brother and sisters, my other grandparents, who stayed with my family in Dallas the entire time they were there and were an incredible help.

As I look back at the last several months, I am amazed. Although it was most definitely the saddest chapter of my life, I am thankful for many things. I am thankful for the time I spent and the memories I made with Tyler. I am thankful for the life of Anne Marie, and for the inspiration she and my parents were to so many people. I am thankful for great friends, who have made it that much easier for me. I am thankful for an amazing family, with whom I have grown closer to in the midst of adversity. And I am thankful for Christ’s perfect life and sacrificial death, thanks to which we will not perish, but have eternal life.