Thursday, March 17 — Thoughts from re-entry

It’s been a minute.

First, the update: Heath continues to heal and recover really well. We have had A LOT of follow-up appointments with cardiology, oncology, and orthopaedics and, while anxious, feel really good about the way things are trending. He has been a steady presence at school, at church (greeting people at the welcome table with his friend Harris this past Sunday at church (photo credit to the wonderful Kim Garcia)), and is out in the world more and more. A few Saturdays ago Heath, EB, and I took a quick trip to Greensboro to watch the semifinals of the ACC Women’s Tournament. It is an absolute joy to be able to do more and more, as he gains strength. He continues to heal well and we are shifting towards gaining strength along with that weight. His hair is growing, too, which makes him really happy. Carrie and I are surprised each day with how strong he is and how he continues to flourish.

Which leads us to two more things.

THANK YOU. We continue to be so grateful for your support and love and prayers. But our ‘thank you’ takes a more tangible form this time. You all donated a lot of wonderful supplies for bags for medical staff, and we’ve delivered multiple big bags of them each time we’ve gone to Duke – to saints on the in-patient side, in the clinic, the day hospital, all over. We took bags to the wonderfully kind people who check us in and make sure we know where we are supposed to go for our next appointment. The front desk staff actually made us a thank you card (SEE PIC), because it meant so much. They often feel forgotten, too. We’ve purchased extra supplies for the PICU, needed by staff for families who find themselves in the worst moments of their lives without the time to gather all the things they need (staff members often purchase this with their own money, much like teachers do for their classes): adult undergarments of all sizes, chargers of all sorts, small hairbrushes, adult coloring items & word searches, tissue packages, and q-tips. Your kind donations have made so many staff members’ days. The social worker and a PICU nurse who helped unload the entire back of Carrie’s car the other day sent messages almost immediately upon arrival in the PICU that staff were overwhelmed by their thank you bags and all the helping items. We still have some of your monetary donations left, and will wait a bit to feed staff and see if there is something special we can do in the next few months. Your gifts keep giving.

With help from the church, Westminster hosted a blood drive on 3/15, and we filled all the slots and had a great afternoon hanging out and thanking folks who gave.

This is all so important, and we are grateful.

The other thing we’d like to say is that re-entry is hard. We are so grateful for where we are, but we’re still struggling a little bit to find our ‘sea legs’ as we transition into our post-cancer reality. When you have been through something really intense that requires so much of you, even though you yearn for ‘normal’ life, it is hard to manage. We’re pretty tired. The details get overwhelming. Carrie and I are both ramping up at work, which is so good – it is a gift to have jobs you love working with really great people – but it is a lot. We’re back to our weekly calendar dates to plan out meals and meetings and pickup and baseball practice. I’ve found myself struggling to maintain casual conversation sometimes…(insert crack about how I wasn’t very good at it to begin with). We have lived through this amazingly difficult experience, and we are so glad to be, for the moment, on the other side. But we aren’t the same people we were before. We won’t really have much of a sense of how this has affected us and what it means for us in quite some time. We are wrestling with when to reflect, when to try and move on, when to remember, and when to work really hard to forget. There are days that we feel like we are doing an okay job. And there are days we don’t feel like we are handling all of this well at all. Don’t get us wrong, we are profoundly grateful. But we’ll never be the same. Like Jacob after wrestling with God by the banks of the Jabbok (Genesis 32), we walk with a limp that may never fully heal.

Our struggles have also made me realize that more of us are limping than we know. There are people all around us who have gone through something extraordinarily difficult, and that can mean many, many different kinds of things. I suspect all of you reading this has. We all limp, whether we notice it in each other or not. I wonder what it would be like if we took just a little more time to tend to the wounds of those around us, maybe especially people who look like they are doing “just fine”? There is a tendency to want to put things behind us and move on. The world really wants us to move on. It is easier that way and allows us to avoid talking about anything hard. What would a community of people who spent just a little more time tending to each other look like? My prayer for the days to come is that as we limp, we’ll limp a little more slowly, so others can come alongside.

We are so, so grateful for all of you.

32 replies
  1. Mitzi says:

    So glad to hear you’re getting to experiment with familiar routines that don’t center around medical schedules AND completely understand how out of practice you and all the questions that can bring. And for what it’s worth – I think you’re spot on regarding opening more space and opportunities for folk to show up with their limp rather than donning their ‘Sunday best’ the way many of us were taught. Blessings as you continue to celebrate and discover the rhythm of this time for you and your family.

    Reply
  2. Linda Johnston says:

    Thank you for the update. God Bless you All and give you strength, endurance, and PEACE. Praying 🙏 for continued improvement daily and hoping you feel the love ❤️ of so many surrounding you!

    Reply
  3. Jane Pritchard says:

    So thankful for Heath’s returned good health and for all you and Carrie have shared about this life changing journey. Take good care and a little slower is just the right speed.

    Reply
  4. Becky Glick says:

    You’re surviving and that’s a wonderful thing. Recovery even with the difficult steps is your victory. The physical and mental fatigue will in time go away. Relish each day of recovery. Relish each breath, each limp, each word of encouragement. A long time ago when I was a young mother, my doctor said he would not have given a nickel for my life and I’m still here. God is taking care of you and your family. Rejoice!

    Reply
  5. Nora Holley says:

    “But we aren’t the same people we were before.” So true and not always acknowledged. We are so glad to know that Heath is getting better. Thank you for the privilege of allowing so many of us to accompany you on this hard journey and for informing us with your wisdom and grace as you have dealt with this incredibly hard thing.

    Reply
  6. Faye says:

    Since I currently fit in this category, actually limping following foot surgery, I see the future getting better
    every day, (well, maybe every other day). It does make you realize that someone is limping more than me.
    Thanks for your insight.
    Faye

    Reply
  7. Greg and Wendy Lunsford says:

    May God hold you and all of us up as we “limp” through this life. Our family remains thankful for and in prayer for your family❤️

    Reply
  8. Patricia Hill says:

    Yes a lot of people are limping these days but it is always good to know your not alone …it was Jesus who said when the footprints in the sand disappeared it was when I carried u
    So even when we limp along God will carry us if we can no longer walk
    God Speed

    Reply
  9. Sharon says:

    Your blessing bags are such a wonderful and thoughtful thing to do and those who have been through so much can truly know well how to serve the care givers. I cannot imagine that you will ever be the same. Your wisdom, insight, and perspective means so much to those of us that limp along this journey home and how important it is to do it together. I will continue to keep you in my prayers❤️ and send hugs.

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  10. Nancye B Bryan says:

    I think it’s reasonable to say that we Bryans do our own variety of limping. We surely understand… God bless the limping people!

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  11. David Wiseman says:

    Very good to receive this up-date. Jeannene and I give great thanks for all that has been and for all that will be. Remind yourselves that you are not rubber bands. No one expects you all to snap back immediately, at work, home or school. Take it one limp at a time. Love to all.

    Reply
  12. Margaret Beatty says:

    Delighted to see you, Carrie, at FPC Burlington for the Friendship Group program and lunch. Wonderful news of Heath and all the family’s return to normal activities. Limping along and helping others as they limp, I believe is what God wants us to do. Thanks for your message.

    Reply
  13. Jan Swetenburg says:

    Wow. Using your last two paragraphs for a devotion tomorrow for my Bible study.
    Thank you and love to all of you.
    Stay the course.

    Reply
  14. Scottie Cannon says:

    Your journal entries have been a gift–all beautifully written, and full of things the rest of us want and need to hear, even when they are hard things. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    Reply
  15. Terry says:

    So much good news!! When you’ve been in crisis, holding on by your fingernails, you can’t stop to get the really deep, healing rest you need. Getting totally away from all of it, just the two of you, in a place where there are zero demands, nature, fresh air, and no plans whatsoever, is just so important. Picking up where you left off after so much trauma may leave you feeling more in control and normal, but your minds, your spirits, and your bodies need to heal. Your kids have their friends and they have youthful resilience AND they have fabulous parents who have nurtured them through all of this! Please take the time to nurture YOURSELVES, p-l-e-a-s-e! Love you both, Terry

    Reply
  16. Charlotte Edens says:

    Your feelings resonated with me SOOO much! Thank you for your insight and your wisdom. I love thinking about walking with a limp, it’s so true. And, to add to that, “broken crayons can still color”. So, I for one like so many of us am going to continue walking with my limp and color away! Love you guys!

    Reply
  17. Betty Berghaus says:

    Such wise words. Yes, you have changed, hopefully for the better (Check out the song from “Wicked,” “Changed for Good.” Since I’m referencing songs, another one that comes to mind as helpful is “You Can Do This Hard Thing” by Carrie Newcomer. You have shown us you can do this hard thing. As hard as it has been, and still is, it make you more compassionate for what others go through. I am so glad Heath is doing so well.
    God bless you all.

    Reply
  18. Diane Hill says:

    I’ve been thinking about you all a lot in the past few weeks, knowing something about the challenges of returning to “normal,” and wishing I could help with this challenge. Love and prayers continue!

    Reply
  19. Libby Inman says:

    Those pictures make me so happy…tears of happiness. And prayers for all of you as you limp along. Love to you all.

    Reply
  20. Beverly Thompson says:

    This is amazing good news. And you all have huge reasons to be “limping” for a while. In reality it’s the aftermath that reminds us of our humanity! Prayers continue to surround your precious family.

    Reply
  21. Bonnie Maready says:

    You’ve been on my mind and in my heart as I’ve wondered how everyone is doing.
    How can you not be different or changed??? I tend to think WE are all changed too going through this from afar.
    The “Blessing Bags” sound awesome and Thank you for sharing your truest feelings.
    Sending Hugs and Love

    Reply
  22. Corise Gambrell says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey. So many people rejoice with you. Special appreciation for the updates on thank you gifts for all the medical and hospital personnel. You set a wonderful example.

    Reply

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