Friday, July 29, 2011

Files of Memories Part 2

(Read Part 1 here)

I was numb as they carried Holly to the operating room. The trauma of the night before and precious little sleep were taking their toll. Worried about what would happen to Sweet Holly, I took a seat. Was it on the window sill or the radiator? I don't remember. There was no waiting room. No comfortable chairs. I was there with our friend Laura and our not friend Missionary Wife. Missionary Wife tried to comfort me with her own stories. "Well if you think this is bad . . . " Her chatter did not help. My mind was in a fog and I wasn't really listening anyway.

I don't know how long we waited. An hour? Four hours? It seemed like an eternity. Finally out came the nurses carrying Holly. They had smiles on their faces. They went on about how well Holly did. She didn't like the shot but afterwards was completely happy during the whole ordeal, smiling and cooing. She was always a happy baby. I often thought I should have named her Joy. I spoke with the doctor. I was told she was the best in Romania. I'm not really sure what that means in the realm of national healthcare. She performed micro plastic surgery on Holly's pinky. It was necessary to shave 1 mm of the bone but she was able to save the root of the nail.

We went home and waited for John. How could I tell him that his baby was injured? That her hand would never be whole again? When he arrived, I ran out to meet him at the gate. I didn't want him to walk in and see Holly's hand bandaged up without knowing what had happened. Once again, I don't remember what I said. Some things about the entire event are so clear and ever etched in my mind. Others are just a vague dream.

John was sad for me and for Holly. If his emotions were more than that, he held them in for my sake. He was the strong one. He was gentle and gracious and loving.

We went back to the hospital the next day to have it checked. Please keep in mind that we were in Romania. Do not envision your local hospital. And this hospital or at least the ward we were on specialized in hands and feet. Doctors and nurses were required to wear white jackets. Because it was cold a bathrobe would suffice. Patients were walking around with their hands and feet bandaged. It looked like something out of "Night of the Living Dead." Someone in a bathrobe came up to me and started to reach for Holly. At first I was shocked thinking we were in the looney ward. Then I saw her ID badge and realized she was a nurse.

We donned the required white jackets (no street clothes allowed) and took Holly into an examining room. Snip, snip, snip with the scissors and off came Holly's bandage. Then the nurse turned around to a man sitting in the same room. His hand was also bandaged and oozing . . . not a pleasant sight. She used the same scissors on that man. I wonder where they were before Holly?

We all survived these traumatic events. Amazingly her finger healed without any infections. It is scarred and the nail grows over the tip of her pinky. One day we hope to have more plastic surgery, here in the United States, to correct it. Hearts have healed as well, also with some scar tissue. But that is a story for another day.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Files of Memories

Today I was going through some of the boxes in the den - our collection site for all the things we don't know what to do with or haven't gotten to yet. Some of the boxes are ones that we brought back from my mom's. She so graciously stored them for us for a long time; some nearly a decade. I found a file of pictures drawn by Gabriel and Hannah circa first grade.

They brought a smile to my face. Sweet memories of my now grown children.

I find myself wondering what Hannah was wearing that day that made her draw her shirt or dress like that.

There was another file. It contained only two items. An x-ray and a slip of paper from a Romanian doctor. I don't know what the paper says. I've always had a difficult time reading Romanian handwriting - and this was written by a doctor! But the x-ray was self-explanatory. A tiny baby only nine months old had suffered an injury. She was so tiny that the bones in her hands had not yet fused together. There was another hand in the x-ray - a nurse holding the baby's hand down. Or perhaps it was me. I don't really remember.

It was January 1999. We were in Brasov, Romania. John had taken a trip to the United States. Gabriel, Hannah, Holly and I had been alone for nearly 10 days. We were fine. We had several good Romanian friends. I knew the language well enough. We would be fine for those 10 days that John needed to be gone. It was on that last night that we found it necessary to visit the Romanian emergency room. I was supposed to go to language class that evening. I was tired and decided not to go so I called the teacher and told her. Gabriel, Hannah and I were having fun building with K'nex. We decided to build a tower taller than Daddy before he came home. Holly was crawling around and making a mess out of the process. So I got the exersaucer and put it just outside their bedroom door which was right next to the kitchen. We made our tower, took some pictures and with a sigh I realized we just had one more night to get through. John would be home the next day.

I went to the bathroom to start Hannah's bath water. She asked if she could play with some Tupperware in the tub. Sure. She knew where it was. She opened the cabinet, took what she wanted and closed the door again. She didn't realize that her baby sister had put her hands on the door. She couldn't know that the door would become a knife to a tiny finger.

The scream that reached my ears was one that could stop a mother's heart. It was more than pain. The blood that I saw terrified me. The tip of her pinky looked frightening. Was that her nail . . . or bone? I searched the cabinet for any sign of flesh but found nothing. I grabbed a clean towel and the phone. No one I knew was home. And there was no 9-1-1.

"Oh, God!" I prayed aloud, "help me!" Hannah sat in the living room and sobbed. I told Gabriel to pack the diaper bag. We were going to the hospital. He didn't really know what to do. Hannah was my helper in that department. I kept making phone calls. Finally, in desperation, I called a missionary wife that didn't like me and made that fact obvious. Her son answered the phone. I remembering him telling me to calm down. I didn't realize I sounded frantic but I must have been. She came right away. She was the right person to get ahold of. She knew where to go, what the procedures were.

We went to the children's hospital for the x-ray and then on to another hospital. At both places, they put some medicine on the finger and wrapped it up. "Come back in the morning for surgery." Really?! There's no surgeon now? Can't you call someone? "Who are you to wake the surgeon up?" I was told.

So we went home. By then, our good friend Marius and Laura were home. Marius went to get Ildi who lived many miles away in a Hungarian village.
Ildi helped me with the kids and the house while I was at language class. She adored Holly. Before she arrived, I looked at that cabinet door again. There it was on the edge, the tip of her pinky from the fingernail up. I don't know how I missed it earlier except that God must have blinded me to it. I'm not sure I could have seen that at that point without having a nervous breakdown. Ildi came and cleaned up the blood and washed Holly's outfit. We took turns holding her all night. Meanwhile, John knew nothing. At the time of the accident, he was on his way home. Even if I could get in touch with him, what could he do?

I took her to surgery the next morning. Our doctor in the States advised me to not let them give her a general anesthesia. A local was all she needed. The night before I had trouble remembering English but that morning, I was arguing with the surgeon in Romanian. "Who told you this? A pediatrician? He is not a surgeon!" So I gave my sweet baby back to God. "She's your baby Lord. Do what's best for her." Then the surgeon came back out and asked how much did she weigh. Eight kilograms. They said they would only do a local. "Thank you, Lord!" And with that, they took sweet Holly down the hall and behind closed doors.

To be continued. . . (Read Part 2)

Call Me Crazy

Holly is still away at camp. This year they have a new program where they can choose from several "classes" like archery and hiking. I heard from one of the other kid's mom that ALL of our group chose to do arts and crafts in order to escape the heat! Who can blame them in this oppressive suffocating weather. It's supposed to be 96 there today with a heat index of 105.

Today John is going on his own adventure. He is going with a good friend of his to Pensacola to visit with Gabriel and Hannah. I know that many of you think that I am CRAZY not to go and see my kids but let me explain. First of all, I have my own trip planned to fly down in October. Second, on short trips like this, it's easier to not take the whole family. John will be able to spend more individual time with them. Plus there is a major factor that some John's days off are while Holly is still at camp. Finally, and might I add mainly, it's JULY. I do not want to be walking around the college campus in this scorching heat. I melt. I get raging headaches. It wouldn't be an enjoyable time. So I am staying home. I enjoy these rare moments when I have some time to myself. I have a lengthy to-do list and hope to get a portion of it accomplished before Holly arrives at home tomorrow night. What do you do when you're home alone?

Monday, July 25, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

There are so many things to thank God for every day but how many times do we complain instead? In my effort to get back into the habit of blogging, I thought I would try this weekly meme on gratitude. These are a few of the things I am thankful for:

  1. the LORD who is my shepherd and watches over me
  2. my Shepherd who is also the Shepherd of my children and loves them more than I do
  3. Holly who is away at camp and quickly becoming a young woman
  4. Gabriel and Hannah who are far away at college but ever so close to my heart
  5. their summer jobs to help pay for college
  6. my husband who works diligently and loves his job
  7. for God's presence with each one of us no matter where we are
  8. a home - a house with a front and back yard
  9. air conditioning to keep us cool in this oppressive heat
  10. an ice maker that we now have after nearly a decade of being without
  11. a washer and dryer - side by side
  12. music to soothe my soul
  13. the opportunity, ability and desire to homeschool my children
  14. a new school year that is about to begin
  15. the privilege of going boldly to the throne of grace
  16. answered prayer
  17. the promises of God
  18. a piano that survived a trip from Romania and four years in storage
  19. forgiveness
  20. God's mercies which are new every morning
What's on your list?

The Long Awaited Week

The long awaited week has arrived. Holly is now in a van full of kids on a 7 hour trek to camp. She loves any and all youth activities whether it's simply Sunday School, a Friday night time of fun at the youth leader's house or the mega event of the year known as camp. Taking a long ride in a noisy vehicle just to march around a campground in hot sweaty weather and then sleep on uncomfortable beds is not my idea of vacation. Not to mention camp food! But the teens love it. And I love hearing all the stories on Friday night when they return.

Meanwhile, I have plans of my own for the week. Here is a list of a few of my goals:

1. Unpack the boxes that are patiently waiting their turn in the den- such a never-ending job!
2. Pray for Holly
3. Homeschool planning
4. Purchase science and history books at ABeka materials display on Thrusday
5. Wonder what Holly is doing
4. Blog (like I'm doing right now!)
5. Read - I'm not sure what yet. Trying to read non-fiction this year.
6. Remind myself that the LORD is Holly's Shepherd too and the He loves her more than I do.

If you are one of the two or three people who read my blog, please pray for Holly and the other teens at camp. Pray for their physical health and protection, safety as they travel and that God will work in their hearts and lives. Thanks!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

I am sorry for my four years of neglect and my sporadic attempts of keeping this blog going. I feel I have some valid excuses but they are, in the end, simply excuses. I blogged faithfully in Romania; almost daily. I was busy there too but somehow life was different. And you, dear blog, were a connection to reality, to family, friends and peers who spoke English.

Leaving Romania not only broke my heart but it destroyed my routine. I haven't found a new one yet as life has constantly been changing. We moved to Virginia and John worked a security job while waiting to be hired by the State Police. We found it necessary for me to work as well. I worked a combination of part and full time jobs substituting in the public schools - and homeschooled my children at the same time. Then John was in the academy and only home on weekends. A new routine was needed. January 2010 was his graduation. Gabriel and Hannah were seniors in high school. June was their turn to flip their tassels. And the following September they found wings and flew away to college. How life changed with only one child at home!

Amongst the business there has also been heartache, frustration and sorrow. There were days that I might have had time to write but I did not have the heart. Not that all my days have been somber. Many have been filled with happiness , laughter and good times. But too often, the enemy would step in and steal my joy.

Those first four years were also years of apartment living. And this spring, we decided (God did actually but that is another story entirely!) that it was time to move. So God led us to a nice house and we are still in the process of getting moved in - and finding a routine. I am hoping that blogging will be a part of my new procedure.