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Happily Even After


July 29, 2013

(This is the conclusion of last week’s post.)

As we prepared for Mom’s surgery, some observations surfaced:

The very real comfort that comes from true friends: Soon after hearing about Mom’s diagnosis with a brain tumor I emailed some of our very dearest, closest friends — our “go-to” support network. It reinforced how amazingly helpful it is to ask for prayers in time of need. Even without their replying to my note, I could rest in complete confidence that they were holding all of us in prayer. Of course, they did reply often assuring us of a Mass, rosary, or chaplet being said for Mom, our family, and the doctors.

The day before surgery was a strange one: We arrived at Mom and Dad’s a few days before the surgery and had a few days of fun vacation all together. We took a pontoon boat trip and saw a major league baseball game. We saved the day before surgery for some down time around the house together.

Joshua wisely pointed out the morning before her surgery that it could be a fairly emotional day and he was right. There was a good bit of unknowing. Certainly we all wanted to be hopeful and think the surgery would go smoothly (there was absolutely no reason to think otherwise). But there is also the very real possibility with brain surgery that Mom would not survive. Which left the day before a strange mix of being potentially the last day of my mother’s life and wanting to honor that appropriately with good experiences and not leaving anything unsaid. That sentiment competed with the desire to remain completely hopeful and treat it like just another day.

Frankly, given the ministerial training and experience I have under my belt, I have to admit I thought I would be better equipped to navigate these waters. But nothing really trains you to “deal appropriately” with the possibility of losing your Mom.

God works to provide for us through time and space: A few months ago I was able to accompany a woman going through out-patient surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. She had to go through the same surgery three times. I was with her for two of the procedures. By my second time through (her third) the whole process was familiar: arrival at the hospital, admissions, preparation for surgery, good-byes, waiting room, recovery rooms, etc…

As I prayed in the hospital chapel the day of Mom’s surgery, I realized what a gift it was to my present hospital experience to have had that fairly recent previous hospital experience. Everything about accompanying my parents to the hospital that morning seemed familiar: arrival, admissions, preparation for surgery, waiting rooms, recovery rooms. Thanks to that familiarity, instead of feeling fearful and intimidated, I felt very free and able to be present and attentive to my parents and their comfort. It was a great gift to feel as though I had something to offer on that uncertain day.

Praying in the chapel, I realized that sense of familiarity was God working through space and time to provide for me and my family. In the simple act of accompanying a friend months ago, God was at work and present to my future.

Note: With gratitude to God, Stacey is happy to report her Mom had a completely successful surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.


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Happily Even After

Happily Even After

Josh and Stacey have been married for 16 years. They have three children–one of whom is newly a teenager. The Noems live in Indiana, where Stacey teaches in the Master of Divinity program at Notre Dame and Josh is a freelance writer.

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