It was June 26, 2012.
The day was a yoga pant-t-shirt-baseball cap kind of day. I got up and got the kids fed before the babysitter arrived. The kids had only been out of school for a few days on summer vacation and were already on my nerves with their constant fighting. I was thankful I had somewhere to be even if it was to be hooked up to a machine for three to four hours at the hospital.
Back story on why I need to be hooked up to a machine twice a week:
Twenty-one years ago I was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 19 (for those doing the math, I’ll save you the trouble. I’m 41). I was fortunate enough to have found a match amongst my siblings and had a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, my brother’s bone marrow didn’t take as well as they had initially hoped and I developed what’s called Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD). Basically it means that the bone marrow is rejecting and attacking different areas of my body. My eyes (hence, no tears. Read previous post for that story), gastrointestinal system, lungs and skin were/are affected. For 21 years the doctors have been trying to get my body to accept this new bone marrow. Three years ago I headed down to Maryland to the National Cancer Institute to participate in a study about my disease. Apparently, I’m a medical anomaly. Great! *sarcasm* They recommended Photopheresis treatments. So, twice a week I go down to a hospital here and get hooked up to a machine that processes my blood to help stop the rejection. It’s working. I’ve been healthier since starting it. It’s just not something you look forward to doing.
I get down to treatment. My nurses have become my friends and they can tell that I just don’t want to be there that day. They are surprised that I didn’t call in and take a mental health day as I had been doing several times over the previous weeks. Needless to say, I was surprised too. I was in no mood to be there. I went to my corner of the treatment room and started my own pity party. I just wanted them to hook up the damn machine and let me drift off to sleep and make this whole procedure go by faster. I love my nurses. They try in vain to help me cheer up. I don’t want to cheer up. I want to be healthy. I don’t even remember what it’s like to be healthy! Begin pity party now….
I finished treatment and headed home still lost in my thoughts, trying to remember how I felt before leukemia. It was a futile effort. I was pretty much on auto-pilot all the way home. Then, it hit me. Not a memory of my pre-leukemia days but a Nissan Altima. Right into the driver side of the front of my car. I had come to a stop at a T-intersection a couple of miles from home. I checked both ways before making my left turn. I saw the Altima but thought he was turning. So, I went. *S*M*A*S*H* That was it! The icing on of this proverbial crap cake of a day. The dude in the other car just kept calling me nasty names and jumping around the intersection like an idiot (guess he’s not hurt). I called the police. Reports were taken, information swapped, yadda yadda yadda. I drove my limping car home and that’s when I broke down. I just sat in my car shaking and crying (see previous post for how THAT makes me feel).
My pastor’s daughter was my babysitter that day and he came to pick her up. He noticed how shaken up I was and offered to pray for me. He prayed that I would feel God’s peace in this situation and that I would see His presence in my life. He left and I walked up the driveway to examine the damage on the car and take a few pictures. As I was walking up the driveway, something caught my eye. There it was, plain as day, God’s presence. Immediately following was His peace. Right there, in the middle of my son’s green bean plant that he brought home from school, was God’s wink that said “I’m here. Rest in me and I will give you peace.”
The best part of it was that I checked this plant every single day looking for green beans to show Nathan. I lifted every leaf looking for new growth. Never had I seen this particular leaf. I would have noticed it! I love butterflies. Since I became a Christian butterflies have had special significance to me. They symbolize rebirth and new life. They symbolize my transformation from my old life without Christ to my new life with Him as my guide. God KNEW that this is exactly what I needed right then. God answered my prayer immediately!
I watched this leaf over the course of the next few days. It never looked this clear again. Some days it was hidden behind other leaves that were probably moved by the wind. Other days it was not as brilliantly green and alive as it was that first day I saw it. But, I knew it was there. Just like I know God’s there all the time. Some days He’s hidden by things in our lives that block our view of Him. Some days He’s not as brilliantly seen because our eyes are clouded over with doubt and worry. But, He’s there. He’s always there. You just have to ask Him for that “wink” that says “I gotcha! I’m here!”