Next February, will mark the 5 anniversary of when my hospital nurse came to my room with a syringe filled with Epinephrine to treat a recurring allergic reaction. A split second after she began pushing it into my IV, my life was changed forever. My heart pounded out of control and my head felt as though the top was blowing off with each drop of medication. As I screamed and then found myself gasping for air, darkness came and I thought, I am dying…
Now, I am one of the lucky ones. The majority of people who are overdosed with epi step into the darkness as I did, and never come back out. They die tragic deaths due to horrific heart attacks or have massive strokes. While I have struggled mightily to recover, I have gained back some of what was lost. Or, at least, have learned to cope with the differences my brain injury has caused in me. I am indeed blessed.
Sadly, while so much attention was focused on me during my first years of recovery, far less than normal was on our kids. Our daughter Faith was just 11 years old and a sixth grader in middle school and our son, James, was just 10 at the elementary school across the way. The morning of my over dose, both kids fully expected to see me home that night; neither dreamed I would be in a hospital ICU hooked up to tubes and machines unable to sit up or even give them a hug. I can’t imagine how helpless they felt and how afraid they were when their world crumbled around them.
Now there is no doubt that their daddy did an amazing job. Phillip was rock solid and stable throughout those days, weeks, months and ultimately years as I endured endless doctors appointments, therapies and oh so painful surgeries.
And, my family our friends were incredible too. Still, the stronger I have become, the more aware I am that Faith and James were left to struggle through times they never should have had to alone. This aloneness impacted their hearts and their ability to trust deeply. My condition scared them and left them waiting for the other shoe to drop. It left them vulnerable to fears of abandonment and loss. The overdose changed my brains ability to function correctly, but it also changed my kids souls from soft and pliable to hard and guarded.
In Febuary of 2013, though only two years had passed, it felt as though suddenly Faith was a young woman and James was a young man While I had physically been present, I was so emotionally drained by recovery, they had grown up right in front of me and I hadn’t even noticed. So much attention and focus was on me, that my my kids had fallen out of focus. Something had to give.
It was time to get to know my kids again. It was time to let me see me for who I was including my faults and weaknesses. It was time to start showing up, laughing and growing together. And so, with the help of amazing counselors, we started to rebuild.
At first it was awkward. I didn’t really know my kids any more. The things Faith and I connected on before she no longer enjoyed. James interests were vastly different too. I was a stranger in my own family. During the previous two years the kids and Phillip had rebuilt their lives without me as a functional member of the family and now I needed to push my way back in. That pushing however was more complex than you could ever imagine. Quickly I learned I had to respect the kids had boundaries. Where they once came to me with their heartache their hearts were now locked up tighter than Fort Knox. It was not a smooth process. A laugh here, led to a smile there with a whole lot of blow ups in between. It was painful and gruelingly hard for all of us. It was also our finest hour because we discovered healing together is a far greater journey than apart.
Rebuilding something that is broken is incredibly painful. Once broken, shattered, and scarred as we were, nothing can ever work or look the same as it once did. However, it can be better and more lovely even with scars because they represent courage and overcoming. Most important in our lives though, those scars represent trusting God with the most delicate and sensitive areas of our hearts believing he would gently and softy heal them. Today, I can say without hesitation that is exactly what he is doing!
We still have healing to do. There is no doubt about that. It is with great anticipation that I look to our futures. I see the hand of God working, healing, restoring and rebuilding. I see his faithfulness and promises found in Isaiah 61:3 coming true.
To those who have sorrow in Zion I will give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. I will give them the oil of joy instead of sorrow, and a spirit of praise instead of a spirit of no hope. Then they will be called oaks that are right with God, planted by the Lord, that He may be honored.
They aren’t my little girl and little boy any more. No, they’ve grown up a lot. Our hearts are healing together and our hope is strongly resting in the Lord. We’ve learned, there is no safer place to be!