Home at Last

Two weeks ago yesterday, we packed our vehicle to the gills, loaded two tired kids into their car seats, grabbed a few fizzy drinks for the road, and hit the highway in hot pursuit of home. The asphalt seemed to pass under foot much faster during this trip than the last time we made this drive as a family in the opposite direction. We were leaving with hearts full of joy and gratefulness for the grace of God on our family during the previous 5 1/2 weeks.

Although I had been able to get home for a week of work during Linden's stay in Cincinnati, Laura hadn't been back for a month and a half. During the last leg of the trip, instead of taking the highway around the loop of the city to the north side, Laura requested that we get off the highway and drive straight down the main street.

"I feel like so much has changed since I was last here... is that a new hotel?"

It wasn't... it's amazing how unfamiliar your native territory becomes when you are removed from it for an extended period of time. The unsettled feeling leaving your temporary home only to arrive back in a city you feel has continued normal (pun) life without your careful supervision is an odd sensation to be sure.

Pulling in the driveway, we threw open the front door and were welcomed by the familiar smell of home. The only thing I can really liken it to is coming back home after being gone at college for a semester. You could never really describe to anyone what your home smells like, but you know it when you walk in the door... unfortunately, we had left cottage cheese in the fridge so it was a bit more sour than normal but you get the idea.

Life on the Homestead

Arriving back in Normal and and resuming normal life are two totally different things regardless of how similar they sound. While being at home has certainly been a welcome relief from doing life inside a single bedroom dwelling, the circumstance surrounding the reasons for staying cooped up remain the same. Linden is still in isolation and will be for another 5 or 6 weeks (October 4th to be exact). Until she is totally off of her steroids and her anti-rejection pill doses are lowered, she is still very susceptible to sickness and viruses.

I think originally we were much more optimistic about what isolation would mean once we arrived home. However, just before leaving Cincinnati we were informed that Linden had acquired EBV virus during the days or weeks following her transplant. Almost everyone has been exposed to this virus at some point in their life, likely without any noticeable symptoms. The only thing that made this a larger issue for Linden was the timing of her exposure. Due to the fact that her immune system was inhibited during the time she was exposed to the virus, it opens up the door for complications. Some of these complications can be as small as an extra scan or test, while other times it can mean additional months in the hospital. That being said, our tolerance and caution level for what are appropriate environments for Linden has been significantly heightened.

This ultimately means that Laura is still at home with the kids most days, and spends much of her time entertaining them with crafts, stuffed animal fights, hide and seek (hint: Graham is in the closet), or just letting Linden dump the entire tupperware full of the kids plastic ware on the floor (I choose my battles she says). She is being a trooper and a wonderful mother to our kids but could use your prayers as she disperses every ounce of her sanity, strength, and creative energy through these final weeks of isolation... oh, by the way, did I mention that my beautiful wife is pregnant? She is... and yes, she is tired... and sick. My wife is a superhero. And also, this was not planned. Did you guess that already?

More than we can handle?

At the beginning of this journey, I had always thought that the Bible promised us that we would never be given more than we could handle. I have found this to be entirely false throughout the course of Linden's short but very eventful life. In fact, I find this to be true on nearly a weekly basis. I don't say that to claim the Bible is lying or somehow contradictory, rather I mean to prove the point that in our own strength, courage, and stamina, we would have failed long ago. Thankfully, God never asks us to bear the heavy burdens of this life that we so often feel tasked to carry. It is not our responsibility as children of an all-sufficient Father to tough it out, or do it on our own, or meet God half-way, rather we are graciously called to \"cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you\" (I Peter 5:7).

I could copy and paste an entire article I just read reminding me of this very thing, but instead I'll just give you the link (read the article here) and ask you to take 5 minutes and read it. It helped me to remember that my faith does not reside in my ability to be a good father, a good provider, a good person, to hold up under pressure, to comfort a hurting heart, to heal my child, to handle my problems, or to predict tomorrow. My faith rests squarely on the one who “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32).

— P.S. other awesome article for those of you in the reading mood.

Jake Bennett