"So, I have some bad news. You have Congestive Heart Failure."That's it. That's all I made it through. I could hardly make it out of my dad's room before the tears started. I walked straight into the bathroom, locked the door and I sobbed. I remember thinking, wow, this is it.
I thought my dad was going to die that night. I was overcome with fear. I didn't know what to do. I didn't have the amazing group of friends that I have now to call. I didn't want to call Grandma and Grandpa since I knew they would sleeping. I just wanted to have someone there to hold me while I cried, but I didn't. There was no one there with me to support me and tell me that everything was going to be okay.
As a last resort, I prayed. God started speaking to me that night and it was the first time in a really long time that I actually listened to him. Since middle school, I have been questioning God and His reasoning for everything in my life. Until that point, I felt like He failed me. Even at that point, I remember thinking why this and why me? Why do I need one more bad thing to happen to me? That's when he told me it wasn't about me. It was like He was yelling at me to look at the bigger picture. I was so focused on my circle and my dot that I failed to realize God's plan.
I wiped up my tears, texted my mom the diagnosis and went back to my dad's room. He, of course, asked where I went in which I let him know that I needed to use the restroom (I know he didn't believe me.)
The night drug on. I tried to stay awake with dad to keep him company. The doctors and nurses were in and out of the room. It was long and exhausting. Around 11 in the morning, we were finally transitioned to a room on the cardiovascular unit. Once dad got settled in, I went to his house to get my school stuff and then headed to my mom's to shower, rest and do some school work. I went back to the hospital in the evening to check up on things and get everything squared away.
For the most part, the rest of the day was very mellow and was a big stepping stone into what is now a normal life.
The rest of the week was a mess. I spent every free moment I had from class at the hospital. Between exams, interviews and birthdays, there wasn't a free moment in my life. We celebrated life in multiple ways that week. We celebrated the life of dad and at the same time we celebrated the birth of baby Walton. We celebrated the monumental 16th birthday of Hope. Although not ideal and while things were completely different than we would've liked, things were okay.
After dad was released from the hospital, things were completely different. I spent most of my days at his house, monitoring food intake, driving him to doctors appointments and making sure all his medicine was adequately filled. Since that week, dad has gone through a quadruple bypass surgery and has hit a stagnant point in his recovery. More or less, we are playing a waiting game. A diagnosis of congestive heart failure, small vessel disease, diabetic retinopathy, coronary artery disease...... and the list goes on, have made for an extremely trying year. There is always something and there will always be something.
Looking back at my growth over the past year is both overwhelming and gratifying. My life has taken a complete flip from how I had it planned. My linear path to success turned into a mess that I still haven't figured out. Somehow, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Without this past year, I would not have the relationship with Christ that I have to this day. Through dad's illness, I have spent a lot of time crying, praying, and reading the scripture. I was able to realize how loudly God was yelling at me to listen to him. I was finally able to realize that my path for my life was not God's path for my life and that His path is SO much greater.
I have gained some of the greatest friends, all of whom have supported me in my faith and have allowed me to grow, both emotionally and spiritually. I am continually thankful, humbled, and blessed for the amazing friendships that I have with them.
Dad's illness was a bump in the road. It still is. Every day that we get to spend with our dad is a blessing and there is no way of knowing how many more we will get. At times, it may be frustrating, overwhelming and cause insurmountable amounts of grief, but we are very thankful for his presence with us on earth.
God has allowed me to see outside of my comfort zone and has stretched me in a million different directions this past year. I never imagined that dad's illness would bring me so much closer to God, but I truly believe that without it, I would still be lost.
There is a handful of verses that I always find myself relying on when I feel overcome with grief and worry. Each of them is unique and valuable in its own way.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:6-7
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phillipians 4:13
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:4
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. John 16:20
So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:22
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10And my most favorite of all:
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Luke 12:25