Friday, May 14, 2010

To Love or Not to Love

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."  ~CS Lewis, The Four Loves

Forgive me for not posting much recently.  I am going through a period of hospital mourning, I believe.  However, I also believe that God is asking me to address a little of what I'm experiencing right now.  I don't really even know how to write all that's going through my head, but I am asking the Holy Spirit to help me convey whatever it is that God wants conveyed here.

Yesterday afternoon, "E" went home to be with Jesus forever.  How could a child who I had never even met or heard of until Sunday, May 9, have such a powerful impact in my life?  I never got to speak directly to "E", but I did pray for his sweet life and watch his precious body lay on a hospital bed as hospital staff worked so diligently and lovingly to help restore life to "E".  It's so hard to imagine losing a child.  It's so hard to understand God's sovereignty and His perfect will.  It sure doesn't feel perfect as you watch a mom lose her beloved son.  A son she loved with all her heart, a son she spent her every waking moment reading to, loving on, encouraging and praying for.  It's hard to imagine why God would choose to take this boy home before the mom was ready to say goodbye.  Death is hard. 

"E"'s mom and I became close hospital friends as we watched our children fight for life.  My daughter and her son were some of the more "famous" kiddos in the PICU because of their strong fighting spirits.  E's mom and I had some fun moment of triumph and hope, but also many low moments of fear and sadness.  We've shared tears and many hugs.  We developed a relationship in just 5 days that was more emotionally intimate than many of my other long-term personal relationships.

And I missed the opportunity to hug on this mom while her son died.  I knew that the doctors and the mom were going to conference about what to do about E.  I knew things were not looking good.  E's mom asked for more prayer.  Each time E's mom asked for prayer, God always shows His mighty hand and gave a miracle answer to the prayers lifted up for E.  Immediately after E's mom asked for prayer, I returned to Chrissie's side, begging for a miracle for E.  I sent a prayer request for E.  Then Chrissie started having some complications, and I was unable to go back to E's mom.  Late last night, when Chrissie finally got stabilized enough for me to leave to use the restroom, I walked straight to E's room to try to love on his mom.  My heart sank when his room was empty.  I cried.  I didn't even get to say goodbye.

I've been shaken up, but trying to stay strong for Chrissie.  I came back to Chrissie's bedside, kind of numb, yet brewing with emotion.  I whispered into Chrissie's ear my love for her, my desire for her and her life, and I begged her, through my throbbing throat as I tried to hold back my sobs, to not leave me.  Chrissie is famous for always saying, "Mommy no leave me.  Mommy love me."  I found myself reminding Chrissie of this, and just showering Chrissie with praises.  So proud of my warrior princess, yet still in such a fragile state, not knowing how many more minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years I will have with my precious Serbian Sensation.

Then I did the same thing with God.  Praising Him for our princess, thanking Him for the gift of life, thanking Him for the hope we have in Jesus and eternal life, yet pleading with Him to grant us more time with our Christyn Joy.  Then I read Ezekiel 16:6-7a over Chrissie, as I do every day, but with a new tenderness brought about by the mourning of E.  "Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, "Live!"  I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels."  And God swiftly reminded me that our princess thinks her name is Christyn "Jewelry" Patterson.  She's already the most beautiful of jewels.  A rare one, too.

I have seen several young lives lost here in the PICU since we've been here for 26 days now, and that's just not something I'll ever grow accustomed to.  We can rejoice with the hope and salvation of Jesus, particularly with the lives of His precious little ones, but the earthly mourning left behind is tough.  One of the head of nursing staff here (who has a daughter close to Chrissie's age and has been deeply affected by Chrissie's fight) told me through his tear stained face something to the affect of how he feels that if a nurse can work in the PICU and not be affected when a child dies, then that nurse might want to work on another floor.  That's what I love about this hospital.  The nurses and doctors really connect to their patients, and raw emotion is something I've seen here day in and day out.  I saw a pregnant nurse bawling in the hallway yesterday at the loss of E.  I thanked God for bringing us to this hospital where those providing care do not look at them as mere patients, these patients are precious in His sight, precious lives that are loved by those who serve diligently in providing the best care possible for each and every treasured life occupying a bed in the PICU at Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio.

I want you to know that I am not questioning God or His sovereignty or His will.  I absolutely believe wholeheartedly that none of these young lives were cut short.  These lives were lovingly and sovereignly planned and numbered by our loving, gracious God.  I praise Him for His good works.  I praise Him for the gift of life.  I praise Him for circumcising my heart so that I might love Him and others with an agape love that only comes from Him.  What I have experienced in 26 days of life in this PICU is more than I've learned in my entire life, and while this is the hardest thing I've ever endured during my 38 years on this earth, it's an experience I will forever treasure up in my heart.

I agree with CS Lewis' quote at the top of this entry.  (Please go read it again, it's powerful.)  Thank you, God, for wringing and breaking my heart.  Thank you, God, for removing senseless hobbies and luxuries which have no eternal value.  Thank you, God, for giving my heart away instead of locking it up in a casket of selfishness.  Thank you, God, for giving my heart to You, first and foremost, so that you could teach me how to fully give my heart, my whole heart in all of its vulnerability, to my husband, my children, my family and my friends.  Thank you, God, for choosing Redemption and offering it so freely to me.  Thank you, God, for walking this tragedy with me.  You will never leave me or forsake me.  Thank you for Your faithfulness and unconditional love.  Thank you for allowing me to experience an emotion regarding the sacrifice of Your Son at a depth in my heart that only You could provide.  Please never let me take Your Precious Gift for granted.  You loved Your Son every bit as much as we love our children, yet you chose to sacrifice Him, Your Beloved, Your One and Only, for me, a sinner who had and has nothing to offer to you.  Your Gift means more to me now than ever before.  Thank you is not enough.  You are mighty to save.  You are Love. You are Hope.  You are Mercy.  I love you, Abba Father.  Thank you for holding my heart securely in Your perfect hands so that as it breaks, you hold the pieces and carefully mend my broken heart with Your perfect strength.  Thank you for choosing to show me True Love, and thank you for helping me to choose love, true, vulnerable love instead of the casket for my heart.

Psalm 139

O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.

When I awake,
I am still with you.


Lacey said...

I'm so sorry you experienced this PICU friend loss! I remember the 4 months sitting in the PICU, my heart broke so many times I can't even remember. It can be such a sad place and such a happy place at the same time!

Debi said...

Continuing to pray for Chrissie, your family and the children and families that are battling to live that you have gotten to know.
Praying for healing and strength and peace and the fullfillment of every God appointed day.
Praying for "E"'s dear mother and his family and friends. It is so hard to see such a precious child taken, but we trust God.
Love and hugs and prayers,

Matushka Anna said...

Sending you hugs.

I was a nurse for 10 years and had many, many patients die - some very young (by adult standards - I didn't work peds). We cried. Any nurse who can't cry when saying goodbye to a patient needs to find something else to do.

"Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."


I wouln't trade the privelege of the pain of life for the loss of the privelege of life.

Love you.

Lori said...

Hi Lorraine,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on your blog... I want you to know that along with praying for sweet Chrissie, I am praying for you and your family as well. I can only imagine the heaviness in your heart at not getting to be with "E"'s mom during the greatest loss a mom can suffer but as I was reading that, this thought ran continually thru my mind "Perhaps God allowed Lorraine to be unavailable so that E's mom would more fully turn to Him." Now I have NO IDEA if that is just MY thought or if there is any truth to that. I just feel in my own heart that E's mom KNOWS you care very deeply and that you will never forget her just as she won't forget you. You two will meet again on this earth, of THAT I am certain!
I am so glad you know that you are NEVER alone, Lorraine. You have the GREATEST COMFORTER in the Lord. And, though your readership is certainly no match for Him, you have us too. Please know soooo many of us here are willing to listen if you need a friend.
I am of course continuing to pray for your precious princess, Chrissie. I pray that her lungs will be miraculously healed, that she be protected from infection, from pain and from fear, that her oxygen stats, body temp. and carbon dioxide levels stabilize and stay normal! I pray that our Great Healer will work continued miracles on Chrissie so that she can get off the ventilator and REMAIN STABLE, and wake up to see and talk to her mommy that she loves sooo much!
I wonder if E's mom has ever heard of that song "Held" by Natalie Grant? It may or may not bring her some comfort--it's about what she is going thru losing a child way too soon. It makes ME cry every single time I hear it and I'm not even a mom!
Prayers and hugs, Lori

The Armstrongs said...

You loved on little E like we all love on your baby girl. Don't know her. Will probably never meet her on this side of heaven. But God is using her in our lives. I have found myself baffled so many times at how much I love her and want to see her walk out of that hospital with new life. Grateful God has allowed me to keep her in my thoughts and desiring to follow His will so closely to be able to have the peace which your family has shown through such a difficult time.

Anonymous said...

I follow your blog and read every single post for so many reasons. You have personally encouraged me when I've needed it and when we first embarked on our journey to bring home our own Serbian princess, you motivated and inspired me. Like thousands of others, I have fallen in love with Chrissie and our entire family prays for her and discusses how she's doing daily.
This post touched my soul. Thank you! I have always been the person who tells others that God can put purpose to anything if we seek Him and allow Him to teach us. Throughout our own adoption journey it has been easy to lose sight of that fact. There have been many painful and difficult circumstances and it seems like every time I lose focus on God's will, He uses you to shine a light on what He is doing. While we were in Serbia and drowning in spiritual oppression and growing weary from all of the opposition, someone who knew Chrissie when she was still Barbara, would stop me and ask about her. It was our first week there that she died. Do you have any idea how big God and Jesus' healing power became to us at the very moment that I was on my knees asking Him to forgive me for wanting to just walk away from the broken little girl that He had called us there to rescue? On the morning of April 17th, I gave up. I was broken and I just wanted to come home. I cried out "What have I gotten myself into?" My thirteen year old, who has a heart very similar to Parker's, was standing behind me in the doorway. Without hesitation, he said, "God's will." A few minutes later, I sat down and read your blog. Just like thousands of other readers, I knew that day that God called you to make Chrissie a Patterson because He had a huge calling on her life. I also knew then that His will and His sovereignty have little to do with our fleshly desires or human emotions. God sent Christ to live on this earth so that we would always know that He understood those desires and pains. He gave up His son and allowed him to suffer and die so that we would have grace and salvation and so that, when it is in His will to take our children home before us, we would also know that He understands. He has already walked in the shoes of E's Mom. He has walked in your shoes. And He is using you in ways you can't imagine. Thank you for your transparency and your willingness to be a vessel. The Calvaresis love the Pattersons!

Anonymous said...

Your time there in the hospital will change you forever but never doubt that God has placed you there and He has a purpose for you being there. Every heart break, every tear shed, every hug given, every prayer said and every knowing smile exchanged between hurting parents is part of His plan. We are continuing to pray for Chrissie, you, your family and all the other patients there waiting for His healing.

Love in Christ,
Mary Wusterbarth

Mark and Melanie said...


Thank you for sharing updates on the kids that you have requested prayer for. I don't pretend to know outcomes, but as I prayed the last two nights... for some reason, my prayers were different than they are for Chrissie. Somehow, the words that came from my heart (without even knowing the situations)were that God would touch the hearts of all those involved, giving peace and comfort to the family, friends, and medical staff and thanking Him for His will. I wish I could explain it more clearly, but I just "felt" that God was directing my prayer. Your post has confirmed what I "felt" - that those children were with Him. With Chrissie, I "feel" the healing power of God in each word that I pray and I claim that healing for her, praising Him for all the answered prayers. I am truly amazed and in awe of God's majesty being revealed in Chrissie's life! Being part of her prayer warrior team has definitely deepened my faith and drawn me even closer go our Father. Thank you for allowing me to share in the journey!

Don't feel that you have to post this comment... I realize it sounds a little off the wall so if you choose to delete it, I understand. :~)

And if you want to respond, my email is

Praying for strength for you as well!

Unknown said...

I have been lurking and praying since the day before C's surgery. This post brought me out of lurking, and tears to my eyes. I will continue to pray for E and his family as well as all of you. Bless E and his family, and bless you.

Erik and Lorraine said...

Praying for "E"s family and will continue to pray for Chrissie and your family too!
You shared a wonderful Psalm! During a difficult time with my son, my girlfriend shared that Psalm with me and told me to read it putting my son's name in it. That really spoke to my heart!

Thank you for sharing!

Carrie and Rowan said...

He comforts us in all our troubles that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:4

Lorraine, you definitely showed E's Mom the love and comfort that God has shown you. Even if you weren't there at the end...I'm sure your support and friendship helped prepare her for it in many ways. You are a tremendous Mom, and you are an inspiration to so many.

God is doing a great work in you right now, and I will continue to pray for peace, rest, and strength for you. Its not easy being here, especially for long periods of time. I think we are near 400 days in hospitals with Rowan now after this past month and a half. I see that you realize what I do though... you wouldn't be anywhere else at this time in Chrissie's life and God wants you right where you are. Our kids aren't the only one He is working miracles on, or through.

Love and continued prayers,
(call if you need a visitor, I could be downstairs in 2 minutes:-)

Kelly Pape said...

I know so well what you speak of...your heart will be forever changed by these experiences. To hear the cries of another mother who has just lost her child, and the fleeting thought of "Thank you God that my child is still alive tonight" because any minute of the day that mother could be you. The ups and downs day by day, hour by hour...your child is doing better, then they are worse...and you just want to hear someone say, "your child is going to live", but of course no one can.
Your faith is so beautiful...
I too love so many of the doctors and nurses in the PICU there. I've seen the tears in the doctor's eyes when they have tried everything they know and still your child does not improve. I've stood holding the hand of a nurse while we both cried as my child was being examined...knowing that yet another complication had come about. I've glanced up while crying over my own child on a night I was told she would not survive another hour as an RT bagged her to keep her lungs inflated...only to see tears streaming down his face too. These people live this day in and day out and yet they continue to open their hearts and allow themselves to love. What amazing people this Hospital is blessed with.
I remember saying a prayer...pleading with God one night..."please don't take my little girl, I love her too much - I will not survive this loss", and distinctly getting an answer from our father "My love for her is greater than anything you can even comprehend"..and felt this rush of pure joyous energy fill my body, and for just a moment I knew he had given me a glimpse of the kind of love he spoke of...this is something I have never been able to define in words to anyone.
We will continue to pray for Chrissie...please whisper in her ear that she is loved so much by people she has never even met. She is a jewel indeed...

Sarah said...

Praying, praying, praying for you and for your precious daughter.


Brandee said...

Still praying For Chrissie! I am praying for "E's" family and hope that they are comforted in this time. Your blog has been a blessing to me. I know God directed me to find your blog! Lord willing, soon I will be sitting in the PICU with my little girl. I can only hope and pray that I will have half the strength and grace you have exuded the past 26 days. Sometimes I just have no idea how I will do it and I wont lie there have been times I thought I couldnt click on your blog because I knew that this is the reality we face. I am by nature a weak person in crisis, but I know God has a purpose to bring me to the place where I have to DEPEND on him for strength. Too many times in the past I tried to depend on myself and I fail everytime. Continued prayers for Chrissie.

Anonymous said...

So sad to hear about E but such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. ~ Melissa

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