I’ve started a number of blog posts in the past months.
But, like our incessant laundry, it’s hard to finish things sometimes.
A couple weeks ago, I returned to the hospital to pick up a scale for Becky. As I visited with the doctors and nurses, I reflected on Becky’s amazing outcome. It’s hard to even remember a routine filled with oxygen tanks and cardiac medications. Her good health now allows us the luxury of settling into a predicable rhythm of therapies and feedings. Which is a welcome change from a chaotic life of frequent ER visits and surgeries.
As I left the hospital and walked to the car, I caught a glance of the Ronald McDonald House across the street. Just the sight of that building reminded me of the abundant support we have received over the last 18 months.
Texts. Emails. Phone calls. Video chats. A really fantastic lentil soup.
I can never adequately thank everyone for helping us navigate the challenges of raising a special needs child. We have received tangible support like meals and childcare. We have been sustained by the prayers of people around the world. In both big and small ways, people have joined Team Becky.
Today’s post is about a simple comment that made all the difference during our last hospital stay. A short phrase, left on this blog, gave me the exact words I needed at a critical moment.
But before I tell you about that comment, I must first introduce you to a kid named Charlie.
Michael and Charlie met in high school. They weren’t in the same social group but they were friends. Throughout the four years, many of their activities overlapped and they took almost all of the same classes.
They played basketball and ran cross country together. They were members of the Flannigan Rifles Drill Team.
Charlie was the Battalion leader for the school and Commander of the drill team. Naturally, he carried the American flag in the Memorial Day parade. Because Captain America always carries the flag. And Charlie is as close to Captain America as you can get on this side of a Marvel comic.
Charlie and Michael were competitors. In the best possible sense. They battled on the sports field, in the classroom, and on the drill floor. They made hilarious Pauvre Anne videos for their French class which sent Madame Siobhan into fits of laughter. Despite duking it out for grades and accolades, they remained good friends and respected the other’s achievements.
Francesca is Charlie’s mom. Michael ran into her this past fall while he and his friend Mick wandered around various tailgates.
When Michael started high school, we didn’t know anyone at the school. Literally, no one. That quickly changed when I met Francesca at a cross country meet. She’s the kind of person you always hoped to see at a sporting event or school function. She greets you with a hug and a warm smile, making you feel as if you are her very best friend and the most important person in the room. She has a magnetic personality and sweeps you into her circle. It’s not hard to see where Charlie got his personality and concern for others. Not to mention his good looks.
Michael and I danced next to Francesca and Charlie at Salute to Youth, the last event of their senior year. Francesca once told me that she was grateful for Michael because the boys pushed each other towards success. So it was fitting to dance next to them. There was good natured ribbing regarding the boys’ college selections: Charlie at USC and Michael at ND. Together, we shared a final dance with our sons.
I imagine Francesca misses Charlie as much as I miss Michael.
Although the boys have graduated high school, Francesca still keeps in touch via text and occasionally comments on my blog. I read one of her comments before Becky’s last surgery. It was simple: Becky the Brave. I’ll be with you next week. I doubt she knew how her words would impact me when the medical team struggled to place an IV.
It has always been difficult for nurses and doctors to place an IV in Becky. Normally, they put her to sleep with a gas before putting in a line. On this particular day, the PICU team attempted the procedure while she was awake. And it was awful.
A team of two nurses, two nurse practitioners, and a tech worked to get an IV before Becky’s brain MRI. It was difficult to see her being held down. Eventually, I pushed into the mix to be near her.
As Becky screamed in pain and contorted her body in a futile search for relief, I had nothing but my voice to comfort her. I tried singing. I recited a poem. I begged God for mercy. But nothing seemed to help. I felt my anxiety rise as I began to despair.
As my tears flowed, Francesca’s comment suddenly came to mind: Becky the Brave. I’ll be with you next week. In that helpless moment, as I hovered over a hospital bed, Francesca had given me the perfect phrase: Becky the Brave.
As I gently pressed my forehead to hers, our tears mingled and I began to whisper these words to my child. Becky the Brave. Becky the Brave. Becky the Brave. Over and over again.
Each time I spoke the phrase, I willed Becky comfort and courage. And the team success. The mantra soothed my soul as well. I couldn’t take away the pain but perhaps this phrase would resonate somewhere in that precious soul. The team was not successful despite multiple attempts. When the ordeal was over, I wrapped her in a blanket and rocked her. I continued speaking these words. Becky the Brave. Becky the Brave. Becky the Brave.
In the past few months, I’ve thought about this moment at other difficult times. It’s a testimony to the impact another person can have. With a short phrase left on a blog post. It’s also a powerful reminder that when a person randomly enters into my consciousness, I must respond in some way.
A quick text. An email. A phone call. At the very least, a prayer.
I truly believe that these aren’t random events, but the movements of the Holy Spirit. A gentle nudge from above to look outside of my life, even if just for a brief moment. It might make a world of difference to someone. Just like Francesca’s comment made for me.
Becky the Brave. Becky the Brave. Becky the Brave.
Thank you, Francesca the Friend.