A year ago, I woke up to the news that Ryan was terribly sick. His liver was failing from complications of the chemotherapy. This was causing his kidneys to also fail. He was struggling for every single breath. To complicate things further, he had infection and no immune system to fight it. There was an impossible battle between Ryan’s blood clotting and bleeding.
It was an early Sunday morning. I was scheduled to speak three more times that day at our home church, Christian Assembly. Instead, Titus, Mel and I sat in room 3525. Most of the day, Ryan was on Titus’ lap. Mel sat beside us reading medical journals about hepatic veno-occlusive disease on his phone. And I cried what seemed like gallons of tears.
We felt the anguish that comes from loving. There was great suffering and uncertainty.
At one point, our beautiful nurse, who we had come to know and love over the last 20 days, hugged me in the hallway. She didn’t have words to fix what was broken in Ryan, and so she didn’t try. Instead, she stood with me and cried, sharing in the weight of it all. A gift I will always remember.
Towards the evening, our friends Sarah and Sarah stopped by the hospital and brought us sandwiches and Christmas cookies. As they entered the room, Ryan had just vomited all over me, and Sarah D. graciously lent me her mom’s cozy red and white polka dot sweater. Until only recently, I remembered the sweater being red with white hearts. It certainly was a symbol of love on a very dark day.
While the Sarahs were with us, Ryan perked up a bit for a few moments and surprisingly wanted to eat applesauce. Something about it felt very holy to me. In the dark days that would follow, I often wondered if it was Ryan’s last meal or somehow a gift telling us there was still life to come.
On this Sunday morning, one year later, I am so grateful it was the latter. I am grateful for the healing that would slowly come. I am grateful for the sounds of play all around me that include Ryan. It’s loud and messy these days, all that I hoped for and what I feared was lost on that dark Sunday.