Monday, September 22, 2014

Heroes among us

He was my first best friend. I adored him. Still do, if truth be told. He always played with me, included me (albeit sometimes reluctantly) with his friends. As a teenager, he took me to my first concert (Hank Jr! Seriously.). He bought me my first pair of cowgirl boots, and they. were. awesome. He used to pretend there was a monster in the closet and scare the daylights out of me. He infuriated me when he'd talk about a "woman's place is in the kitchen" just to rile me up. One time I literally chased him with a frying pan, swinging with all my might at him and cracked the paneling in the living room. He knew how to push my buttons.

I one time told the (Pretty large really large) guy down the street who was picking on me that "My brother will come down here and kick your butt!". Then I went home to beg him to please do it. Never mind that Chris was a lot smaller than that guy!

He one time burst into the room where my dad was about to give me a spanking to come to my rescue. I was screaming like I was being killed. Truth was that my dad hadn't even touched me, but Chris was going to make sure I was okay. He threw open the door, yelled "Get your hands off my sister!" only to find that my dad was still on the other side of the room giving me the "this is gonna hurt me more than it does you" speech. In a split second, I watched as my dad grabbed Chris, said "You don't tell me what to do" and gave him the spanking I deserved. (Sidenote: My dad was NOT ABUSIVE! Our parents spanked, and we deserved it. We learned right from wrong from their discipline, and all is well in the world)

In all of this, though, Chris was sick. Diagnosed at just 18 months with diabetes, I watched him suffer. A lot. I watched as he received injections of insulin every day, multiple times a day. I watched as his fingers were pricked for blood sugar testing. I watched as he had insulin reactions at times. I watched as he had to limit sugar intake while all the other kids were sucking down Kool-aid and Coca-Cola like crazy. I watched as he struggled with vision loss from retinopathy.I watched as his body took much longer to heal from things that others could heal from because of his disease. I watched.

Once, we were home alone when he had an insulin reaction. It is still vividly stuck in my mind, not the sickness itself, but the feeling of helplessness I felt that day. I remember that day saying to myself, "I never want to not know what to do when someone is sick again". Chris is the reason I'm a nurse today. He was my inspiration through all of those nursing exams and clinical days and studying for Boards.

In the past several years, I've watched as Chris's kidneys have begun to shut down. It's nothing he's done wrong. It's the wear and tear from the disease of Diabetes. We often belittle diabetes to just "cutting out sugar and carbs", but it's deadly folks. There's nothing little about diabetes. And Chris has dealt with it almost his entire life. So his kidneys have suffered a great deal, to the point of needing a transplant. I can't even tell you how hard it is to watch one of your life's biggest heroes struggle like that. The helplessness is painful.

But..oh, there's a great "but" here!
But God knew this day would come.

In 1990, I met a guy flipping hamburgers at the BCM on EKU's campus. He was handsome and eventually we fell in love. He was the first guy that my brother ever said "Don't screw this up, Holly. I like him". The first time I brought that guy home to meet my family, Chris learned that he could juggle. He proceeded to pull things out of the refrigerator and throw them at Jeff to see how much he could handle. He even pulled a ham out! And Jeff juggled it without batting an eye!

Jeff and I married, grew a family, and life went on as it has a way of doing. And all the while, inside of Jeff was a kidney that matched my brother. We didn't know it; I always assumed mine would match as his sibling, but nope. Not mine. Not our parents. Not his wife or daughter. Jeff's. And what's more, Jeff was more than willing to sacrifice that kidney for my brother to have a new lease on life.

How do I even explain how this feels? The love of my life offering a gift that will save the life of my first best friend. I'm not sure there are enough words in the world to adequately explain this. What I do know is this: I am profoundly thankful for this. And I'm profoundly proud of this. I'm proud of how Chris has faced kidney failure, with faith that has never waivered and courage that is humbling. I'm proud of how selflessly Jeff has offered his kidney, never once stopping to think of himself, but saying "I love my brother in law, so why not?"

Folks, this is love. This is what it means to be a follower of Christ, on both ends of the spectrum, as the giver or the recipient. John 15:13 says "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends". Jeff's not gonna die, nope. But he is sacrificing. And Chris has lived a life that is honorable to Christ by never questioning God's sovereignty over him. I've had a front row seat to both sides, and I'll tell ya that it's pretty amazing.

Pray for these two, my brother and my husband. October 16th is the big day. We covet your prayers. Thanks be to God for how he provides. And to Him be all the glory!


Vickie said...

I have never heard of your blog, until today. This is the second of your posts I've read as the first one is what brought me here. This one brought tears to my eyes. I have marked Oct. 16 in my calendar and will be praying for all of you that things will go wonderfully well. You, all of you, are fortunate indeed. God is GOOD!

Bird's Words said...

thank you Vickie! We appreciate your prayers!!