… 17 hours

Draped in her hospital gown, Josh on one side of her and me on the other …

At this very moment no one else existed, nothing that we had ever gone through mattered.  Once again nurses and doctors buzzed around us, more papers to sign and one last time the risks were laid out for us.  Surgery would be no less than 15 hours, Elizabeth would be monitored by the Chief Anesthesiologist himself.  He was a believer and asked if his team could pray over Elizabeth before putting her to sleep.  He went on to tell us that he would have a team of residents that would be with him and that he would come out hourly to update us on her progress.  Then he told us it was time, that he would give just a few minutes to hug and kiss her one last time …  She was no longer mine, I had to be obedient to her Maker and give her back to Him.  I had to trust in Him, His plan for her life.  I kissed her cheek, told her I loved her and let go.  As if in a dream I was standing in a cold white tile hallway.  There were two sets of doors, to the left Elizabeth would go and Josh and I turned to the right.  We walked together but when the doors opened he went one way and I the other.  My mom and dad were standing there waiting for me and I fell into their arms.

From across the waiting room I could see them.  It was just the two of them sitting next to each other, both crying … I didn’t see my ex-husband and this girl who had wrecked a home and divided a family but instead I saw the love of a father who was as scared and fearful of that day as I was.  I saw him stand and walk out of the waiting room leaving her there alone.  I felt the presence of God and His hand extended out to mine, I took it without question and walked over to her.  I sat down, put my  hand in hers and let her cry.  Not one tear fell from that moment on for me.  I told her that everything was going to be okay, that Elizabeth was going to fight her way through, she always has.  Forgiveness ….

Within minutes of returning to my side of the waiting room I looked up as Josh stood in front of me and asked if they could sit with us.  The olive branch was being returned, God was healing a broken family.  A nurse came out and told us that Elizabeth was asleep and the doctor had just made the first cut, now we waited, prayed and allowed God to do His work.  Minutes seemed like hours, visitors would come and go, Josh’s family joined ours and soon we were all talking and sharing stories.  I would occasionally look at my mom who would look back as if to say is this really happening?!

Caroline and Alex buzzed around me, friends would call and text for updates and every hour someone new would come out and give us a report of how things were going.  We knew that the vertebrae were going to be replaced, fused together and then 2 titanium rods, each 24 inches would secure her spine.  We knew that this would be an incredibly painful recovery and we expected 3-4 days in ICU followed by several weeks in a step-down room until the pain could be managed at home

People would come and go, we would watch families take their children home so very happy that all had turned out well for them.  There was a board on the wall that listed each patient and their status.  Just as I watched those machines after Elizabeth had been born I kept a watchful eye on Elizabeth’s name.

“Forester, Elizabeth Forester family …”

17 hours had passed.  I stood and Josh followed me.  The nurse told us that Elizabeth was in recovery and that the doctor would be out to talk to us soon.  The anesthesiologist, who had told me would see me every hour and I did not see the entire day emerged first.  He told us that Elizabeth did perfect.  She never lost her stats, he never had to use any extreme measures, that she remained as steady as she should have.  He went on to tell us he had never seen anything like it, that he didn’t leave her, he couldn’t … he said God Himself was in that operating room that day and felt His presence.  When the surgeon came out he said two words to us …”text book”.

Do you believe in God?  Do you believe in the power of prayer?  Do you believe that His plan for our lives is greater than anything we can ever imagine?  Do you believe that God can use a child to mend a broken family?  We knew that Elizabeth was still very sick, we knew the next 72 hours were crucial and that we had a very long road ahead of us.  When we were finally able to see Elizabeth it was like a scene out of a movie.  She didn’t look real, machines and tubes and wires were everywhere.  Her pain was almost unmanageable.  She was the bravest little girl I knew …

Less than 24 hours later we had been moved to the step-down room and 12 hours after that we were in a room on the floor where we would spend just 4 very short days.  On morning number 5 the doctor came in and said to me that the nurses tell me you are doing all the work, do you want to go home?  And just 5 hours later we were home.  Do you believe miracles?

When A.C. died I spent a great deal of time asking the question “why?” and not understanding how this young man could be ripped from his family, his future at such an early age.  It was not right, not fair and I was angry with God that A.C. was missing out on so much.  A friend, a dear friend … a woman I looked up to and admired took my hand and shared with me that when her mother had passed away she too had these same feelings.  Her mother was so good and loved her family, just as A.C. had.  My friend was a teacher and would see these children come into school unfed, dirty and starving for the love of their mother and she just could not understand why God would take hers and leave others who were not as good as her own.  She went on to tell me that someone told her very simply that God had finished His work in her mother and those still here He was not finished with yet and needed more time for His work.  I found deep comfort in that as that I knew A.C. loved the Lord and was obedient to Him and while I was so very selfish to want him here with me His work here was done.  I thought of that story on the way home with Elizabeth.  How could this child who was not expected to even make it through surgery be on her way home 5 days later?  Whatever He is doing in her life must be something so amazing, something that I can’t wait to see and experience and how blessed am I that He chose me to be the mother of one of His children who will do great things in His name?

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