A lot of time has passed since my last blog entry. Life has a way of getting far busier than we’d like, and we have to fight against that to change it. We aren’t great at the slowing down until we’re forced to do so. Still, LIFE has been happening, and that in and of itself is a GIFT.
As I write, it has been just over 22 months since Myka’s liver transplant. Goodness, a LOT can happen in 22 months, 22 days and even 22 hours/minutes/seconds. When the transplant team “prepared” us for the transplant process, they told us to anticipate a difficult first year post-transplant. And that it was, to say the least. Complication after complication after complication came against Myka, against us and our stamina. BUT GOD — He was faithful, IS faithful, even in the bleakest moments.
Myka’s bravery, strength and pure FIGHT continued to prevail. Even in the past month as she went through her abdominal wall closure surgery, she showed us her grit and determination to handle true pain like a champ. (I watch my mouth about what I complain about a whole lot more living with a child like Myka!) She is thriving — running, playing, eating by mouth, talking and causing all sorts of toddler mischief. For each of these gifts, we are so grateful. Her labs this week were very stable, and we continue to see her recover and persevere from her most recent procedure.
This past summer, Richie and I even escaped the country for a week together without our kids. Many marriages suffer greatly when caring for a child with special needs, and we have felt the pressures of these challenges. It’s easy to blame one another when we’re stressed. Add in the weight of being in vocational ministry, and we can easily take out any sort of stress on one another. Our time away was so good for us to have FUN together and to focus on each other for a short time.
During our trip, I received a message that truly took my breath away… a message from Myka’s organ donor’s sister. A message we had long prayed for and hoped for, a message that was the start of a precious relationship with a family we haven’t met but with whom we are forever connected. Myka’s organ donor was a 32 year old woman named Ashley Hardaway Theriot. Her sister told me right away that Myka had received a well-traveled liver, and she wasn’t kidding! Ashley was a world traveler, spoke many languages and was full of life and energy. Learning more about her LIFE has held a joyous heaviness in my heart…as a mom and a sister the emotions are wide and gaping, often leaving my mind spinning and my heart aching. Yet because of her SELFLESS GIFT OF LIFE, Myka is thriving. Ashley’s life, spunk, energy and enthusiasm live on daily in Myka Joy. Our new connection and friendship with her family is one of the greatest gifts we could have never imagined coming out of this journey.
During Myka’s recent hospitalization, Ashley’s older sister, Aubrey, immediately recognized the pandas that were on Myka’s hospital gown. She wrote about it on her Facebook page, saying that the girls (Ashley, Aubrey and Aimee) called themselves the “pretty pandas” when they were young girls. Myka was a panda for Halloween to honor Ashley, her hero. Today my girls received a gift made by Ashley’s mother, Elaine — two handmade pretty pandas. And so we’ve added Myka (and Alivia) to their club of “pretty pandas” – not by chance or coincidence, but because God allowed each painful step of both of our paths to cross at a very distinct time. To Rob, Elaine, Skip, Aubrey and Aimee — we love you, pray for you and forever hold Ashley close to our hearts. And to Myka’s hero, Ashley Hardaway Theriot — your gift continues to grow and gives us JOY each day. We are forever grateful.
If you are not an organ donor, would you consider this important decision? It truly is the gift of life! http://www.donatelife.net