You know how awful it feels to lose a job or have some other life changing event happen? It feels like the world has come to an end. I have lost jobs, been divorced, had no money, wrecked my car, lost loved ones, and more. Many times I can look back on these events and see that something good happened as a result of this event that would not have ever happened otherwise. Looking back....we can see...but in the present, while it is happening, it just feels awful, like the whole world is spinning without us, no one cares, everyone has a purpose but us.
I've learned this in life, because of my life experiences, to look for the silver lining and anticipate good things.
In 2012, my little 16 month old granddaughter Sadie Caroline was diagnosed with a terrible cancer that took her little life in a short six weeks. This is one of the most tragic things I can imagine...the life of a child taken away. While it was happening, I was strong, but no one could have convinced me that I could look back and see the blessings. It seems almost crazy to think about the blessings, but you see, that is what gets me through each day. Everything about her...every moment, good and bad, was a blessing in my life because it was Sadie...and she was our perfect blessing.
Three things stand out for me as blessings that many of you might fail to see as blessings if it happened to you, but I see these in my mind's eye every single day that I go forward.
The first was the phone call...that terrible phone call that told me something bad was wrong with Sadie. They thought maybe meningitis, but were running all kinds of tests, including a bone marrow test to eliminate cancer. I sat down at the piano and just played the sweetest music I could while these tests were going on, and I prayed. After traveling to be with her, amazingly she was better! They determined that she was OK and ruled out cancer. Now here is the blessing...we had the best few days together anyone could hope for. We played and hugged and sang and read books and played hide and seek. It was wonderful! But then we soon discovered that the cancer was hiding and after about a week she was back in the hospital and the diagnosis was not good. We could have been bitter that they didn't find it the first time, thus delaying her treatment, but instead I have thanked God a thousand times for that time together, because you see, it was her last time at home, and I got to spend it with her and make it the most special weekend possible.
The second was at the hospital.....she was attached by wires and tubes to all kinds of medicine and monitors....so attached that she could hardly play or move and it was so difficult to hold her and love on her. A different doctor came in the room and ordered all that stuff detached from her. For that one evening, she was able to walk down the hallway, play and move around and live the life of a little baby girl what turned out to be her last time of freedom. Her Daddy, Tim, in fact spent a lot of this time with her and talked about it at her funeral as his lifetime of memories with his little girl occurring in that one night. As it turned out, this was her very last night of freedom to have fun. We could have been bitter that this happened and felt that her treatment was delayed a little, but instead we were oh so grateful for our time with her...but more than that....her time to have some fun because it would be her last.
The third was when Amber called me and someone had gotten us tickets to go to Amy Grant and Vince Gill's Christmas Concert at the old Ryman Auditorium. It was close to the hospital and we were so tired and stressed, it seemed like a good thing to just go. At that time Sadie was in intensive care - she was paralyzed, nearly blind, had holes drilled in her head to relieve pressure - everything was just awful and not looking good at all. Tim was going to stay at the hospital with her while we relaxed just a little while. Amber figured it out that she could come get me and we would stop by the hospital on the way to see Sadie. It was a miracle because the hospital let us all go in the room at once - this had been the only time the family had all been together at one time since the diagnosis. We all went in the room, we smiled and played with her as best we could, then she started to fuss and was in pain. Everyone left the room for a brief time and I held her little hand and sang a lullabye and also a silly little song I always sang to her, and was able to sing that sweet baby to sleep one last time. You see, that was Tuesday night, and by Friday we had lost her. I will forever remember singing to her that last time as she was not very responsive after that evening. I treasure that moment, even though it was in intensive care and the most awful thing I could imagine. I will always treasure those moments and remember them as special as they were.
Sometimes in life we are dealt with all kinds of problems and times when we can't even think about facing tomorrow, but I can tell you from experience...there is always tomorrow and it can still have joy. I don't have the kind of joy I would have had with Sadie in my life and watching her grow, but I still have joy every day. I have these three blessings in disguise and many, many more from my life to remember in my minds eye - and many more to come. Sometimes we don't know they are blessings until the time has passed, so we must always be aware and looking for them because they are always there. God is always with us, and for sure, He knows what He is doing in our lives. It's up to us to look and see and count our blessings, even the ones in disguise.