We have worked pretty hard in the last 14 January’s to be in places that require sandals and sneakers rather than snow boots and slippers. And we’ve been moderately successful. Oh, there have been a few snow sightings over the years, but nothing that lasted more than the morning. We’ve had to pull out the sweatshirts and fleeces on occasion, but most every day held the possibility of ‘sunny and 70’ whether or not it was actually achieved. This year was to be no exception.
But when an extreme gall bladder attack revealed two masses on the pancreas of my sister Elna in Vermont, I knew that snow boots and slippers were in my January future. With the blessing and support of my dear hubby, I was on a flight to New England at the first opportunity. My other sister, Joie (and her sweet husband), arranged to pick me up at the airport, and together we descended on Elna and Henry to do what we could, even it just meant staying on top of the laundry and dishes. As we made our plans, we really weren’t sure what we would face. We just knew we had to Be There. Guess it’s just a sister thing.
We arrived post-biopsy, but pre-results. Elna was home from the hospital, and actually feeling quite well. Her painful gallbladder episode was over, and in all honesty, if we didn’t know she was sick, we wouldn’t have known she was sick! The biopsy results came shortly after we arrived (yes, the masses were malignant, but it was renal cancer which she had dealt with 20 years ago (a much better scenario than pancreatic cancer)). I was able to go with her (and hubby and daughter) to meet with the surgeon to gain a better understanding of what very probably lay ahead. He was very optimist about a good outcome, even though the surgery would be extensive. All in all, the situation was serious, but in our finite minds, not as grim as first thought.
With surgery scheduled for January 25th, we had no other option than to make the best of our time together. In other words, we were blessed with a super sweet, mid-winter, totally unexpected, bonus Girls’ Week! While it had a more somber undertone than our usual Girls’ Week, it had all the important elements. We laughed and we cried. We played games and ate chocolate. We watched the snow fall (instead of the trees budding) and the birds enjoying their backyard feast.
We did a bit of dusting and taking care of some chores around the house. Thanks to the internet, we even did a bit of shopping! (You should see how nice her new dining room chairs are!). We worshipped together and joined with other believers in rejoicing in God’s perfect care of Elna. We did have a couple of husbands around, but all in all they weren’t too much trouble.
Joie and I staggered our departures, but we both had to leave before the surgery. With a 7 day stay in the hospital following the surgery, it was either head home before it happened or stay for another 6 weeks. And that didn’t seem very practical. We left her in the capable care of her husband and daughters, trusting the Lord with the days ahead. It was a hard leaving, indeed.
Today Elna is several days post-op. Her 8+ hour surgery (a Whipple procedure) went well, and the surgeon feels it was a success. Her first days have been rough, but every day has been better than the day before. The recovery after such extensive abdominal surgery will be long, and we’re not quite sure just what that will look like. I’m keeping my snow boots and slippers at the ready, just in case.
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing will spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Isaiah 58:8 –