September 10, 2011
My 9-11 Story
September 11 is a day of mixed emotions for me. How could the same day that saved my life in more ways than one be such a horrible day for so many others? How can I do this day justice? Celebrating my healing, while mourning all that was lost that day. There is no way for me to express how I feel, other than to tell my story. My story, like so many others from 9-11, is one of calling out to God and finding Him faithful. I pray that the survivors and those who lost loved ones will be able to tell their own redemption story. That God will come near to them, as He did for me.
The God Who Came Near
Do you remember where you were when the towers came crashing down? When the world seemed to stop for a moment in horror and disbelief? I imagine that thinking about it hits you right in the gut and shakes you to the core. I do not have this kind of visceral reaction as I recall 9-11. Peaceful, quiet sleep kept me blissfully unaware of what happened that day. Heavy sedation lured me to dream as a surgeon's gifted hands sliced along the line drawn down my spine. Blurred images of nurses and family members awakened me in the ICU after 10 hours of surgery. The family had debated about sparing me the details of that day, while a nurse nonchalantly broke the news. It didn't matter. It would take days in my hospital bed, watching each awful account on television, for this surreal event to hit me like a brick. The survivors, mourners, and I were forever linked by one day in history. God came near as my view of suffering narrowed.
Another surgery a week later and another week to recover. Finally seeing light at the end of a long tunnel, I was ready to get back on my shaky feet to walk again. This time free from the pain that had plagued and haunted me. With legs that would not collapse from under me. No longer destined for a life bound to a wheelchair.
But, then the fever came and consumed my body, causing me to shake, sending my stomach into knots. Nurses rushing around, filling my bed with ice packs, bringing in huge machinery for testing - the panic in their eyes unnerved me. As I was rolled rapidly down the hallway for another test, that was the moment. The moment I thought I might die. Though my life did not flash before me, I began to mourn the life I had yet to live. The children I had not been able to conceive. The long years ahead with my husband, as we would comfortably slip into a life of retirement and rediscovering each other. Those thoughts filling my mind, I slipped into full prayer mode. And, I cannot explain it. The calm that overwhelmed my soul, overtaking the panic and the fear. The God I had known most of my life, but had held at arm's distance, came down. He hovered over me and lay down in that rickety, uncomfortable bed with me. He held my hand as I listened to the hum of the CT machine. I felt Him there in the most tangible way I'd ever known. I knew in that moment that if I lived or died, He'd be with me, and it would be okay. It was a thin place, but it was well with my soul.
"'I love you, O LORD, my strength.' The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. The cords of death encompassed me, and the torrents of ungodliness terrified me. The cords of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress, I called upon the LORD and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears." Psalm 18: 1-6
God continued to draw near to me as He healed my broken body. The staph infection that had raged within me went away and strength was restored to my back and legs. More important, though, than the physical healing I experienced was the balm He placed on my heart and healed me in a way I didn't know I needed. In a hospital bed in Atlanta, GA, I surrendered completely to the God Who Came Near.
The full story of why I needed surgery in the first place is posted here: Why "Titanium Woman?".