Yesterday was so Hopeful

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Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

Yesterday was so hopeful.

My brother has been waiting four and a half months for lungs to become available. His pulmonary fibrosis is taking it’s toll on his body and on his mind. A transplant of his lungs is the only cure for this devastating disease. His blood-type, B+, represents about 9% of the population.  Lungs that become available have to be that blood type from someone close in height to him and they have to be healthy.

Yesterday was so hopeful.

A cardiac event donor.  The potential for two lungs. We waited. They moved my brother to the pre-op holding room. We waited. His sons came to sit with him and his wife. We waited. So many things need to line up once a donor is identified. We continued to wait. Then, 16 hours after being told there was hope, it was taken away.

Yesterday was so hopeful.

When hope is taken away, what are the words you are supposed to say to someone who is so much a part of your life?

I know there is still hope. I know that there will be “other lungs”. I know that these were not the “right” ones. I know that the “right and perfect donor is out there”.

We all know that.

But in the moments that follow the words spoken by a caring physician who has the horrible task of delivering such horrible news, there are no right words. Nothing to be said that will ease the pain, the fear, the complete loss that is felt.

The feeling that hope is gone.

I don’t know what it is like to be my brother – unable to breathe without help, unable to move around without help, to stay in a hospital for weeks and months just waiting. I don’t know what it is like for him, I can only be a witness to his experience. I will continue to be that witness and to support him in any way I can, in any way he needs.

Sometimes, though, it just gets really, really hard.

I wrote the following yesterday, before I knew that the wait was almost over. Before I knew that the loving support I so willing have given my brother was to go from prayer to celebration. Before I knew that we would all be quickly returned to providing loving support while he continues to wait. What I wrote was meant to be hopeful…

 

How long can a person stay strong? How long can one be a shoulder, a calm word, a prayer partner? How long can someone search for the right word or light-hearted joke? The gentle teasing or the soft words of encouragement to get someone through a tough moment, day, week, month, year?

How long can someone be that someone that someone needs?

In the moments when you feel you can’t do it any longer, when you begin to think “what about me”, return to the place where you began to care so much. Return to the space where you first asked, “How can I help?” Remember that experience. Remember the difference you made and how you felt. You were in that moment – you were filled by that experience. And so you did it again and again and you are still doing it today.

But…what about me? Yes, within each of these moments of caring for others, there is a you that needs caring for as well. You don’t need to start saying no to those who reach out. You simply need to ask one question.

“Will you hold me as I hold you?”

There are many ways to ask this question. Of the person you are holding, of friends who are witnessing the experience, of family or simply of the God of your understanding. Sometimes, most times, all we need do is ask to be held and the arms are there.

The arms of God are everywhere and come to us in many ways. When your arms are holding someone else, feel that embrace and know that you, too, are being held.

Please hold me for a while. Please hold my family while we regain our footing and begin to hope again.

From my heart to yours, Diane

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