Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I'm back. I didn't mean to be gone, but sometimes gone is just where you are.

What happened: the day after I wrote my last entry, my mom had a stroke. Now, before you get all worried and concerned, let me say that she recovered fully within 48 hours. The stroke was of the mild variety. My dad recognized the symptoms (confusion, blurred speech), called 911, and basically saved the day.

But it was a rough 48 hours, as you might imagine. My mom had her stroke on Friday afternoon, and the next day I had to get up early and drive two hours to do a library presentation. I slept maybe three hours, tops, and that's pushing it.

By Sunday morning, my mom had returned to normal, and two days after that she was back home. So you'd think everything would be fine, and things did seem fine for a few days. It snowed--a lot--and the boys had two days off of school, and the Man stayed home from work and we played outside and built fires in the fireplace and watched the Olympics.

But a week or so ago, the post-traumatic stress kicked in. I felt it, my parents felt it, everybody did. My mom had come so far in her fight against lymphoma, and we'd been feeling so good, like the battle was over, and then--a stroke? How could that be? One of my sisters-in-law said she felt worse after hearing about the stroke than the cancer diagnosis, and I knew exactly what she meant. It wasn't just horrifying, it was so, so sad.

But this week we all seem to be better. The sun was out Sunday, and the Man and I worked in the garden. Jack had a big debate tournament, and Will shot baskets until his arms got too tired to shoot anymore. Things are settling back down. But it still makes me nervous whenever the phone rings. What will the news be today?


Okay, something else. Coincidence or fate--or what? I'll try to make this quick. Last November, we started attending the church down the road simply because it was the church down the road. We wanted to try a parish approach to church-going. This church, St. Paul's, is Lutheran, so I like it because it's close to my Episcopalian roots (weekly communion, enough pomp to be satisfying, not so much as to be distracting). The Man likes it because it's low-key and the pastor is funny and the people are nice without being too in your face.

Fast forward a week or so ago. I was watching a YouTube video of one of my favorite writers, Ann Patchett, interviewing another one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott. Ann asked Anne what she'd read recently that she really liked, and Anne mentioned a book called Stations of the Heart. I looked it up on my library's website, and there it was, so I put it on hold.

When I picked up the book last Wednesday, I saw that the author, Richard Lischer, is a professor at Duke Divinity School, which is just down the road from me. He mentions early on that he sometimes preaches at Duke Chapel, where we attended services for many years. Neat, I thought. I've probably seen him preach.

The book is a heartbreaking memoir about the death of Lischer's adult son, Adam, from cancer in 2005. It's about Lischer's faith and his son's faith. Lischer is a Lutheran. Guess where he goes to church? Yep, St. Paul's. Or at least he did at the time of his son's death.

Wait--he still does! Because guess who was sitting behind me at church on Sunday? Richard Lischer. I recognized him from his author photo.

What do you make of that? Coincidence? Or, if not, then what? For what reason? I don't know. but I passed the peace with Richard Lischer and felt sad about his son, whose death I had recently wept over.

What a strange, mysterious world.


Angela said...

It is these "coincidences" which often strengthen my feeble faith, and remind me that God knows what he is doing, and that He does exceedingly abundantly beyond all we can imagine. I had noticed your absence from blogland, and prayed for you and your Mum. Hang in there, dear friend. May you truly know the peace which is beyond human understanding.Love and blessings xx

Nancy McCarroll said...

Actually, Lischer would like to know that you wept over his son's death. A coincidence? No. Tell him next week.

P.S. I am Lutheran now also. After being in six other denominations.

Nancy McCarroll said...

Also, worry not. Remember the flowers of the field and the sparrow. he takes care of all our needs.

So glad to hear you mom is home.

Too many coincidences not to mention that I also went to the Duke Chapel while at UNC.

The dB family said...

Coincidence or not, what a special moment. Thankful to read that your mom is home again, and I can imagine the post traumatic stress you all felt and still feel when that phone rings. Glad you are all back to normal again -- whatever normal is. ;o)


Heather said...

Wonderful coincidences like that are so amazing. They make me sit up and take notice when they happen to me.

I'm glad your mother fully recovered from her stroke. It is hard when the rock solid people in our lives suddenly seem so vulnerable. I'll keep praying for her, hoping that the best years of her life are yet to come.

wayside wanderer said...

I am so sorry to hear about the circumstances with your mom. I am so thankful she is well.
Very cool happening with the author. It seems like things like that happen with some regularity. For me, it reminds me that God cares about the things I care about and He weaves the happenings of the world together in a way that reminds me of this. I am sure you were a blessing to him, as well.

Tracy said...

What a bumpy road you've been travelling. I'm glad your mum is doing just fine now, but these things certainly throw everyone for a loop. I think it's good to recognise the loop and take time to deal with it. I know my loops get tangled up and I end up in a big mess if I don't.

How special to be able to speak to one whose work has made such a deep impact on you. I'm sure you have much to bless one another with.

Pom Pom said...

Oh, I'm praying for mama, Frances.

GretchenJoanna said...

Oh, my, what a week you've had. May God strengthen you all...hmmm...probably that's what He *has* been doing by means of these trials.

And it's a wonderful coincidence He gave you, to meet someone you already had been pleased to meet in a book. That must have been a strengthening treat!

Gumbo Lily said...

I'm glad to hear that your mom has recovered from the stroke. What difficult days you've been through.

God-incidences is what I call those amazing people and things that come into our lives. God is in all those little things that sometimes we think don't matter much.

Fat Dormouse said...

May God hold you and all you love in the palm of his hand

debbie bailey said...

Life really is connected. We're not the islands that we sometimes think we are. I'm beginning to see that the independent, isolationistic, Lone Ranger mentality I was raised with isn't God-honoring. So I'm shifting my ideas more in line with what the Bible teaches about community and our interdependence on one other. I like it. It's nice.