It was a cold wintery morning, Dec. 12th, 2012 when Derek and I drove at 5 a.m. to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to have his first minor surgery on his left ear. Still jet lagged from our most recent trip to Africa, our excitement for the upcoming holidays was our entire conversation. Christmas lists. Planning. Dreaming. Envisioning our kids on Christmas morning. Church events. Decorations.
These were the last moments I had with Derek before our lives changed forever.
And here we are- October 4th, 2017. Just shy of 5 years. Once again, driving across country to California for his second brain surgery.
At this point the first surgery seems to be a huge success. Though some symptoms are hard to tell if the left side is causing problems or if it’s still the right side.
His left side has definitely gotten worse. At times overpowering the side that is corrected. Making it difficult most days to feel a huge difference because he is just plain miserable. We have been graced with natural supplements to help him combat his migraines and he has been free of them for the past two months as well as sleeping for the first time in years. This is a miracle.
If you would have told me five years ago, that we would be living full time on the road, become what feels like a truck driver,sleeping between trucks at truck stops, fighting insurance companies for years, countless hours of researching, standing up to doctors who refused to believe us, becoming Derek’s advocate, virtual schooling our son, living apart from our children, I would have never believed it.
If anything, life has taught me this: Never say never.
Oh how we have changed.
Climbing into the truck this time, I’m a different person. Pulling a large 5th wheel down the road is almost second nature to me. Driving down the highways, slowly making our way across the country, the scenery before us brings back a flood of memories of the last time we passed these places. Because the last time we were on these highways, we were driving to other hospitals in search of help for Derek.
For this has become our life.
Change is all around us. Some change for the better, and some is down right pure evil. Our hearts go out to all the loss, pain and suffering in Las Vegas. There are no real answers that will ever give such horrific loss justice, but one thing I do know is this:
In the face of adversity, history has taught us that the American spirit is unbreakable. One Nation, under God. It is time to rise up, and not let evil prevail.
Our own situation seems so minor compared to what all those families are going through. And honestly it’s a harsh reminder that most of the time we worry about the dumbest stuff. May the tragedy in Vegas build us all up to pray for one another, forgive those who trespass against us, and let love prevail over evil.
This brings me to our next journey and the decisions we have made as a family. This trip, we decided to go solo. Not only because of the expense to fly our kids and stay in LA, the fact that this has been ongoing for years, we want nothing more than to give our children a chance to live their own lives.
Nothing makes us more happier than to see our children go after their dreams. Our prayer is one day they look back at all this, and not see the loss, but the gain. That we never gave up. We blazed new trails. We fought back and we relentlessly believed in miracles.
Because miracles DO happen.
Alex, Whitney, and Gavin:
Go. Be. Do. Own your life. Don’t hold back in life.
Take a shot at every goal. Every chance you have to make a difference, jump at it. And never ever forget the real reason we were put on this earth, to prepare for the next life; heaven. And to bring as many with as possible. For nothing else matters.
6 months ago, when we traveled for Derek’s first brain surgery, we were blessed to see Derek’s aunt and uncle one last time.Both were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And both joined Jesus recently.
One of my last conversations with Aunt Gail was her telling me that she was still believing a cure for her disease would be found. She never gave up hope. Not even on her death bed.
Uncle Eldon was a faithful servant till the end. He told us he never shed a tear with his diagnosis. Because he isn’t afraid of dying. He knows exactly where he is going. Heaven.
When you have people like this in your life who surround you with their faith and hope, you begin to live life like you are dying yourself.
Not the – is your glass have empty- depressing kind of way- but the glass have full – inspirational kind of way.
Derek and I took the last two months, and lived like we were dying. We weren’t able to jump out of plane, sail around the world, scuba dive, ride a hot air balloon and many other things on our bucket list of life- which we will do one day. But we were able to do the most meaningful things on our list. Spend time with our kids, and granddaughter, family and friends.
Since the Lord has graced us with hanging onto the farm yet, though we have no house, no water, and only electricity -I like to say I’m half Amish now- a dream come true of living a simple life.
We learned to make the most of it.
To spend time together as a family. Soccer games. Family dinners. Visiting pumpkin farms, college football games. Campfires with treasured friends. A girls night. Wedding dress shopping. Loving on our granddaughter, Miss Scarlett healed our brokenness and made us realize that we are some of the most blessed people on this earth.
We are human, our emotions do get the best of us at times. We mourn and grieve our old life. The traditions we used to have, our old way of life isn’t the same anymore. This is when we have all learned to let go, and let God be.
These trying times have made me realize the importance of taking care of ourselves. Putting the oxygen mask on myself first, so I can then help the rest of my family. I have done exactly this the past two months. Feeling the best I have felt in years, I”m ready to go back to battle. Derek and I may be solo on this next trip, but we have an army of angels covering us.
As I was packing up the camper last night, shutting down my office, I came across a notebook from a work conference last year. Having a ‘Chevy Chase Christmas Vacation’ kind of moment, I sat down, and read my own notes. Flipping through the pages I found this:
I had written this over a year ago from a friend who had inspired me with her words.
And that’s the message I want to leave with all of you.
Don’t quit before the miracle.
Whatever you are facing, instead of living in pure frustration of what you don’t have, take some time to stop. Listen. Pray. Ask God to reveal to you what He is trying to teach you.
We are just one small example, that we didn’t listen to everyone else around us. We didn’t listen to all the doctors around the country who gave up on Derek. We didn’t quit.
A link from a Kohl’s cashier sent us on yet another cross country journey, 100% out of pocket – we risked it all, because we believed that God not only has a sense of humor but He works in mysterious ways. We leaped on blind faith.
That link from Dr. Oz- led us on a crazy chase that landed us at UCLA hospital in California to Dr. Gopen and Dr. Yang.
Most quit before the miracle can even happen. Sometimes our job is to just not quit.
Pray like you mean it on October 12th for Derek’s Miracle to unfold. And we proclaim victory for Derek and will dedicate our lives to sharing our story with the world to show off God’s glory.
Sarah Hein the Pioneer