Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Old Friends"

Seven years later we found ourselves in Josh and Renae's new home cackling and cutting up like time had just stood still.  We picked up where we had left off,  like we'd never been apart...

Here's the story...


Andy and I had moved to South Carolina from Virginia for a job.  We started attending a small church and were so excited to see a few more young married couples around us.  We went to a Sunday school class where we met a few couples.  We instantly connected with one couple who seemed to be the talk of the church as their wedding was to be that very Saturday.  They eagerly invited us to attend, but we laughed it off "as if we would attend a wedding of someone we just met."  We should have because they quickly became part of our family.  The other couple present that day that we remembered were the Bradley's.  Josh recalled instantly disliking Andy and commenting to his wife about "that poor girl..."  They too became part of us. 



We were inseparable.  We were all idealist young couples on fire for God ready to take on the world!  We didn't need a program or a diagram on how to do life together... we just did.  We didn't practice "loving on each other" or "doing loving things..." We just truly loved each other.  Together we had a family dinner at least once a week and grafted in a few more couples as time went on, but there has always been a heart connection between the four of us that no matter how far away we've stretched those cords... they haven't broken.


Josh and Dawson

Andy and I were the first to get pregnant in our group, and I still remember the day we told Doug and Melissa we were expecting.  We were sitting in their apartment and Doug said, "Throw away the pills, Melissa, it's time to have a baby!"  And they did... almost exactly nine months after us.  God must've known how much we would need these friends during our pregnancy with Abby.  We were across the country from my family, but we had family. 

On a side note so worth mentioning... Not only did we have these couples, but I was team teaching with the "dream team" as they were referred to.  My "mom" was across the hallway.  I so looked up to Jan because of her a ability to get to the heart of any discipline issue.  I even asked her once or twice if I could watch and listen in as she disciplined a child because I was awestruck how she would correct the heart and ignore the behaviour.  I still think of her when I disciple!  Next door were Dale and Susan, my Grandparents. I was a first year teacher and they taught me how to teach.  Dale taught me how love opened the door.  If my kids knew I loved them, then discipline was far easier.  He was right.  That first year with them, during the first month one of my girls was diagnosed with Leukemia. The last week of school she died.  The next year I was pregnant with Abby.  I'm sure it was all coincidence ;)

Back to our buddies... There were many appointments with a pregnancy like ours and halfway between the hospital and our house was Little Pigs BBQ which Doug and Melissa owned.  We stopped there many times to "let" them hold us while we cried.  We were so scared.  As we were whisked from our last ultrasound directly to the hospital to deliver Abby, it was Renae and April (one of my fellow teachers) who went to my house and got my suitcase since they wouldn't let us go home and get it.  I held it together through all the doctors coming and going in pre-op with all of their warnings of what my Abby would be like, until Renae came through the door.  I didn't have to pretend with her.  Not only were these friends close by, but word spread that the waiting room was full on a moments notice.  We had checked in for an emergency c-section, yet they dropped everything and rallied around us.  Of course they would; why wouldn't they?  We were family.

It just so happened around this time that a new neighbor had moved in.  She had a 2 1/2 year old boy.  She was from Belgium and her husband from Indiana.  My Anne...we became family too.  She had just spent weeks in the NICU with her son to come home with all the monitors and tubes still connected to her little dream child.  She had done the countless doctors visits and therapy sessions.  She had a perfect little boy standing next to her.  I never saw the boy that "wouldn't do anything."  She had just walked the path I was about to embark upon...

We had a bit of calm before the storm of life with a child with disabilities kicked in because Abby bore no physical features of her diagnosis.  It wasn't until she started to miss milestones that the chaos ensued.  We were instantly caught up into a world we knew nothing of.  Doctors, specialists, geneticists, therapists, special education, social services... this is not what we signed up for.  We loved Abby deeply, but our lives were spinning out of control.  We believed the optimism of her therapists, so we decided a sibling was a good idea.  The plates I was juggling quickly came crashing down as Abby developed health issues and began to cry for hours on end for no reason, and asthma/allergies/viruses became a mainstay in our lives.  Dragging a newborn around town to the endless appointments, I soon became a basket case.  I couldn't even pick up the phone to ask for help because I didn't even know what I needed.  This was my life and I couldn't handle it.  Being pretty self-sufficient, I thought that admitting where I was would mean that my faith was weak.  Such a silly girl I was (still am more often than I'd like to admit).


Dawson

At the same time Josh and Renae were preparing to head west to Tennessee to join another couple in ministry there.  We were heart broken and lost in our own world as our friends had no idea how lost we were.  Anne was pregnant and sick with her second.  She needed a team of help all of her own, yet somehow she mustered the strength to walk or crawl alongside me too.  Bless her... Doug and Melissa were celebrating and adjusting to their firstborn as Josh and Renae endured infertility heartache and set to move on. 

Who would believe where God has placed us now?  Josh and Renae went to the hospital to adopt a child, but when he came out... Trisomy 18.  Ninety percent die within the first year.  I held Dawson last week.  He's five.  Yes, he had two seizures within the first three hours I spent with Renae; but he's perfect.  Renae is a mom of a special needs child now too.  DJ ran circles around me and hid when I first came.  He's three and they adopted him out of foster care.  We let them go what feels like a lifetime ago, but they'd never strayed far from our hearts. 


Josh and Renae are church planters.  They planted two months ago.


DJ

Anne picked me up in the morning so we could spend the day together while her boys were at school as Renae had appointments for Dawson.  When Andy picked me up later that evening he said, "So what did you girls do?"  We giggled like school girls and in unison said, "Nothing."  That's just it.  We spent most of the morning at the whole foods store sipping coffee and eating gluten free muffins.  We progressed to the tractor supply to look at the baby chicks and the flowers at the garden center, lunch,  and then to school to pick up the boys.  We had a wonderful day of nothing!!! It was bliss!  Anne's "special needs" firstborn, Reed,  has turned into a different kind of exceptional as head of his class and part of a study on how to develop such gifted children!!!  Her second, Evan, is Belle's age and not so happy I didn't have my play friend with me.  A couple of years ago we stayed overnight with them and we didn't see Belle and the boys for two days.  They played non-stop.  On a side note... Evan was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.  Oh how our lives are still so intertwined.




 
You see, we moved here with a lot of baggage.  Among the worst was lost friendships.  I felt like I had lost the world I set out to gain.  I had to come back to my family like the prodigal son and beg to be part of this life I once ran away from.  I never stopped loving my family.  They've always been there... here for me.  The life we wanted to have was gone, but...

 
Reed and Evan

Last week we got to strengthen the chords and touch base in person rather than skype.  Although my heart is hurting and I'm apt to break out in tears if you ask me how my time was, I'm grateful for those friends and I long so much more for eternity.  You might catch me dreaming about love like that which is just easy, but like them I too carry more baggage than I did back them.  I'm a different girl now.  It's the ones that knew who you were that can appreciate more who you now are.  I guess it's in the knowing of their stories that makes me respect and love those girls on such a higher level. 





1 comment:

  1. that was a really beautiful post. I was really touched reading it. I mean, I enjoy all of your posts, but that one was truly lovely.

    ReplyDelete

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