June 12, 2008 was a day that changed our lives forever.
At 7:59 pm Marley Anne Dillon was born by C-section at Hillsdale Community Health Center in Hillsdale, Michigan. I'd been in labor since 7am that day, and I was never so glad to see an operating room in my life! Even with an epidural, it had been a long, harrowing day. This had been a pregnancy full of complications and a very scary incedent about halfway through, and I remember that Jim and I were so impatient to meet our little blessing. The doctor had told us to expect a big baby- maybe 9 pounds- so imagine our surprise when he held up a tiny 6 lb. 14 oz. little girl for us to see! I'll never forget that first glimpse of her as the doctor raised her up above the sterile blue sheet after he had removed her from my body. She was a mess and squalling like crazy, but she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I never understood unconditional love until I saw her. In that split second between when I heard her first cry and first saw her face, I knew there was nothing on this earth that I wouldn't do to take care of her and keep her safe. After a quick kiss on her precious face, she and Jim were whisked away to another room and Dr. B returned to working on me. I'd lost a lot of blood, so I was woozy and more than a little loopy, but I remember feeling such huge relief that she was finally HERE. I also remember feeling more than a little irritated that I didn't get to hold her right away. I had to go to recovery, and I wanted my baby!
Just look at the look on his face! Jim used to rub it in that HE was the first to get to hold her, not me. Looking back, it seems fitting. In hindsight, I know that he had less than three years to hold her, and I'm glad that his arms were the first to hold her tight, that he was the first to stare into those beautiful big eyes, the first to cover her tiny face with kisses. I wonder what all was going through his mind in those moments? He wasn't really one to put his thoughts into words, but I remember the way he looked at her. Like she was the most amazing little girl he'd ever seen. I even saw his eyes water up more than once. Jim wasn't one to cry. I have no doubt that he was experiencing the very same fierce, protective, overwhelming feeling of love that I was.
And then it was MY turn! Since I'd had a C-section, Marley and I had to stay in the hospital for four days. Those were the most wonderful four days I think I've ever had. Even though I was in considerable pain and could hardly move, I've never felt so blessed. Being adopted, I'd never had the joy of sharing similar physical characteristics with my family. I was so overjoyed to discover that she had the same hands and feet that I do. As a newborn, she looked so much like her daddy, but these were characteristics that were mine. And I had her all to myself. With the exception of a few hours the first night when I still couldn't walk, I got to spend every moment with her. There were no chores to do, my meals came to my bedside, and all I had to do was hold this precious tiny little thing. I couldn't stop looking at her and I couldn't put her down.
She was a dream come true, an incredible answer to prayer, and God chose to give her to Jim and me.
I've been sitting here at the computer for awhile, procrastinating. For me writing is one way of processing all the things running around in my head. And this is something I don't want to process. I'd rather stuff it down and ignore it. But it’s time to start working through it. So, please bear with me…
Where to begin?
Lots of people have been asking me the very same questions I've been asking myself lately. Are you going to sell your house in Michigan? Are you going to move to Indiana or stay up there? Are you going to quit your job (teaching Kindergarten)? How are you doing? How is Marley doing? Have you gone through Jim's stuff? What are you going to do with all of it? Did you find a home for your dogs? Are you going to trade in the truck and the Jeep and get a car? Are you going to rent or buy a home down in Indiana? Are you going back to school for nursing? Are you STILL living with your parents? :-)
My mind is spinning with all of the things I have to think about on a daily basis. Thank God for good medication! But that's a whole different post. Focus, Megan. (Yes, Mom. I said "focus". If you're a Payne kid, you get the irony here...). The truth is, the answer to most of these questions has evaded me.
And it's mostly my fault.
You see, I remind myself of an ox. When presented with a heavy load to pull, I tend to put my head down, throw my weight forward and pull against the harness with all my might. I don't look cool while I'm doing it, cause if I did, I would remind myself of a horse. Horses are beautiful and cool. Oxen, not so much. When I think of an ox, I think of an animal who is strong, stocky, and efficient. I also think of an animal who will pull and pull and pull until it falls down from exhaustion. An animal with a ridiculously strong will. An animal that needs guidance.
When Jim was sick, he was receiving treatment at one of the best hospitals in the country. The Cancer Center at U of M is top-notch in treating the very rare type of cancer he had. But it was also HUGE, and a research and teaching hospital to boot. That meant a ridiculous amount of red tape. Referrals to different departments within the same hospital could sometimes take weeks. Getting a call back from a doctor was nearly impossible, and getting one from a nurse was sometimes difficult. But if you have the mentality of an ox, you put your head down and start pulling. You ask lots of questions and educate yourself. You don’t wait for those doctors to whom you’ve been referred to call you with an appointment. You call them every day until they give you an appointment. When a nurse doesn’t return your call in a timely manner, you call her again. You get to know which lady at the message center will be proactive for you, find out her name, and ask for her every time. And if your husband is in terrible pain and doped out of his mind from a procedure and isn’t strong enough to walk but won’t stay in his hospital bed, but no one will help you keep him there or answer the call button you’ve pushed four times, and it’s 4 am and you haven’t slept in two days, you go out in the hall and YELL FOR PAIN MEDICATION AND THIS IS NOT MY JOB, GETIN HERE RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!! It is times like these that having a personality like an ox can be helpful and can get you results.
But that was then, and this is now. Being an ox doesn’t help me. I can’t bring him back. I can’t help my daughter understand the finality of the fact that her Daddy is never coming back, because there’s part of me that doesn’t quite get it either. This is all still very fresh and raw for both of us.
So, now what? I have to admit, I’m having trouble hearing God. Yes, I’ve asked Him all those questions I started this post with, and many more. Many times. Now and again, when I get quiet enough, I think I hear “Wait.”. I was encouraged to have this confirmed by a pastor at my church in Hillsdale. He and I hadn’t spoken about it, but when I went forward for prayer during a recent visit, the word he was given was that I was to wait and to work on my broken heart. Confirmation is always good!
Mostly what I’m hearing is quiet. Not silence, but quiet. There’s a difference. God is there. I know this. Honestly, I think He’s waiting for me to settle down, make a few practical big-girl decisions, and listen a little better. One thing I know for sure is that right now it’s too painful for me to live in my Hillsdale house. Maybe later it won’t be, but it is right now. Am I running away from reality? No. Trust me, I know it’s there. I just don’t have the emotional fortitude to deal all at once with everything the last three years have left for me there. This ox is tired. I’ve fallen down from exhaustion So, for the summer at least, Marley and I will be living in Indiana in an apartment. We will make visits to Michigan and process our life without Daddy in little pieces, a step at a time.
I will seek, I will listen, and I will WAIT.
“For they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings as eagles.
They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
I use the devotional Grace for the Moment, by Max Lucado. Today's was really good. Here it is:
You Were In His Prayers
Then Jesus went about a stone's throw away from them.
He kneeled down and prayed.
The final prayer of Jesus was about you. His final pain was for you. His final passion was for you. Before he went to the cross, Jesus went to the garden. And when he spoke with his Father, you were in his prayers...
And God couldn't turn his back on you. He couldn't because he saw you, and one look at you was all it took to convince him. Right there in the middle of a world which wasn't fair. He saw you cast into a river of life you didn't request. He saw you betrayed by those you love. He saw you with a body which gets sick and a heart which grows weak...
On the eve of the cross, Jesus made his decision. He would rather go to hell for you than go to heaven without you.