Brain Surgery: Part 1 of 3
Have you ever felt that life couldn’t get much crazier?
That was how I felt when I heard the words, “Kristen has a brain tumor.”
Kristen was about to turn seven years old. She’d had a few headaches, and she’d had a mild seizure. Even though these symptoms don’t sound significant, they were alarming to us because they were different. And “different” in a child with special needs signals a call to the doctor. A CT scan showed there was a brain tumor. Not cancer, but just as deadly. It was in a bad place and growing fast.
My head was spinning. Rick and I talked through logistics–surgery dates, plans for our other girls during Kristen’s hospitalization, his leave from work, etc– and to outsiders we might have looked calm and collected. But on the inside I was like a bowl of jelly, trembling with all the unknowns.
How could this be? She looked so healthy. Should we get a second opinion? Did they just say she had to have . . . brain surgery? Brain surgery? Oh my gosh. Brain surgery.
If I closed my eyes and thought about it, my hands shook. My whole body shook.
So I planned her birthday party instead of thinking about brain surgery.
Her 7th birthday was two weeks before her surgery. It was my saving grace. I needed to take her brain surgery in tiny sips, not a big gulp. So I put all my energy into planning the biggest party I’d ever given.
The only thing is, we were on a strict budget (in other words, we were pretty broke).
But God is good. He knows our needs before we even voice them.
A local church rented their gym to us for a reasonable price. We invited all Kristen’s first grade class, all her close friends, and our family. And they showed up!
Everyone knew about Kristen’s upcoming surgery. Her friends, and their parents, showered her with love. People I didn’t know hugged me and Rick and told us they were praying for Kristen. They told us again and again they would do anything we needed, just let them know.
I felt like my heart would explode. I was overwhelmed by the love and grace these people lavished on us. I almost couldn’t handle it.
Here’s what it showed me:
Friends want to walk beside you in the pain as well as the joy.
If it had been up to me, only a few people would have known about Kristen’s surgery — I’m uncomfortable in the spotlight unless I’m hamming it up. But word had gotten out, and news spread like wildfire. However, if people hadn’t known about her surgery, we never would have realized they cared.
God is still trying to teach me this lesson.
I’m not good about sharing my pain when I’m in the middle of it. I’d rather say, “I’m fine” than hint that I’m hurting. And I have a feeling a lot of you can relate.
Why is that?
Why is it we’d rather act like we’re fine, when the end result (i.e.,getting love and support) is beyond-words-wonderful?
- it could be our pride (I’m raising my hand)
- it could be we’re fearful we won’t get love and support (ok, I’m raising my hand on that one, too)
- it could be we’re just not accustomed to letting the barriers down (yep, that one too)
Regardless of all these reasons, I’m looking back on my story today and trying to trust. To be more vulnerable in the moment. To remember that God is in control, and He wants us to love each other (John 13:34). Part of loving my friends means I’m going to be honest when I’m having a hard time instead of saying “I’m fine.” It’s hard to change lifelong habits, but the end result is worth it.
I’ll always treasure the love and support showered on us at that birthday party. But the only reason we had support is everyone knew our crisis. It wasn’t a secret. It’s my goal to be more vulnerable and real, not fake fine. I don’t want to miss the sweeter side of life because I’m too fearful.
How about you?