My mama explained how furious she was with daddy. She watched with a heavy heart as my small head disappeared beneath the murky waters of Lake Kemp. Mama was not a swimmer—neither was her baby girl. Daddy just looked at mama, laughing, a bit puzzled over her hysteria. "She'll be fine!" he called to her. And sure enough, after a few moments, I bobbed up, spitting and giggling.
We were supposed to be fishing. In fact, mama had agreed to this lake trip because fishing was safe. Anybody can stand on the bank and throw a line in the water. Daddy, however, had decided it was time I learned to swim. So, when he suddenly threw me into the water, all mama knew was her baby was being pitched into the darkness, into the unknown, and she could only hope I would surface again.
This is how life is for most of us. Just when you think everything is safe and you have control over your life, something (sometimes, someone) comes along and pitches you into the unknown. This has certainly been true throughout my life.
Life has been good. Life has been bad. Life has been joyous, beautiful, wonderful, trying, terrible, tearful, enriching, exuberant, and often downright disappointing and frustrating. But somehow, by the grace of God, we get through it. Life, we learn, is an ongoing saga of being pitched into ever-deeper waters, as our resolve and faith are tested time and again. We have to dig deep within our soul, spitting and kicking to cope with these challenges, and yes, even try to find the humor in them as we fight to resurface one more time.
When our oldest daughter suddenly became ill at age thirteen, I had no idea we were about to be plunged into very dark waters. Thinking she had the flu, I expected she would be well in a matter of days. Little did I know then, fourteen agonizing years would pass before we would resurface.
Our daughter’s fight with adhesion-related disorder, also known simply as adhesions, was the most difficult test of her life, as well as ours. While Melissa battled illness, we battled for an answer. I simply could not accept my daughter's life (health) had suddenly changed so dramatically. To go from a healthy, happy child to being told a disease (Crohn's) had taken hold of her body...well, I just never believed it. Something had gone awry, terribly awry, but the diagnosis didn't seem to match the symptoms.
As I struggled to understand how to help my daughter deal with ongoing pain and symptoms, I came to realize the medical world does not appreciate a parent that questions...and questions. Sadly, not only did I face a fight for my daughter's life, I later realized I had battled a political fight with a nationwide medical establishment that has largely turned a deaf ear to those who suffer from adhesions.
Fortunately, in life's trials, God provides us coaches and instructors. We have people who support us, who fight for us. Those brave souls stand waiting, arms outstretched on the bank, while some plunge in the murky water with us and encourage us to bravely fight that which could easily swallow us up. These people rejoice in our successes.
Thanks to my daddy for the confidence to toss me into my first murky waters. Obviously, he had the foresight to know I would swim. Mama, though fearful, never let her eye leave the place from where I'd been thrown.
Lastly, deep within, we have our own spirit. The God-given desire and strength to push upward, above the trials of life, above the darkness that threatens to overtake us. Each time we break the surface, we move one step closer to the path that God has for our life. We gradually begin to see that we were indeed created for a purpose.
I believe one purpose of my life is to communicate my daughter's experience with adhesion related disorder and fight to spread awareness of this crippling illness. In my own way, I hope to serve as an encourager for those who are bound by illness, most especially those who have been given no hope for recovery.