This month marks eleven years... eleven years that we might not have had... eleven years into our investment of a life... eleven years since Eric had his heart surgery. It was a frightening time for us... knowing that something was wrong with him... but not knowing what. Those months prior... of doctors and x-rays and exploratory surgery... they were emotionally draining for a young couple whose children were almost-four and almost-one. But then there was an answer... I remember so clearly... our doctor coming out of the emergency room and meeting me in the waiting room... a dimly lit, dreary place, disguised as an ordinary living room. He came in and with a smile on his face said I have good news... I smiled back, with weariness, and he continued... Eric has a hole in his heart. I tried to continue that smile... but my mind was deciphering... good news... hole in the heart... good news... good news? How is that good news? Our doctor continued on... talking about how we finally had an answer... and it wasn't cancer. Okay... that sounds like good news. But how to repair this hole in a heart so big and full of laughter? As it turned out, the hole has been there since birth... and no doctor in all of the 29 years of his life had ever discovered it. Maybe it had been a small hole... but over the years, the joy... the laughter... the struggles... life... had stretched out that hole until it was calling for help. Eleven years ago... the only way to repair this silver dollar sized hole was through open heart surgery... and six weeks of recovery. I will admit that the scariest parts of that were his being out of work that long... and the scar I knew he would carry the rest of his days. Perhaps God led me to focus on those things... instead of the prospect of a huge surgery... and perhaps, life without the man who made my life whole. Again, I remember the waiting room... this time a big open, bright room... filled with families... waiting.... and I remember our doctor, who had asked to scrub in, coming out to me with a smile on his face... and a jar... containing the flap of tissue they had replaced with a Dacron patch. It was as if someone had taken a piece of Swiss cheese... and rolled it out so thinly that you could see through it. And I was so thankful for Dacron... and could only think of the TV commercials with one of those country singers in a bright blue pant suit touting the benefits of Dacron. It is still the picture I see today... in my mind. The hours and days after the surgery were tough... the work he had ahead of him to regain his strength... and banish the depression. And all the while, the hospital staff, and many others, would comment on his youth... and the unusual situation.
We made it through those weeks... and life eventually resumed... but not without a change of attitude. Thankfulness abounded. And our outlook on life in general changed. How could it not? Had this hole not been discovered... we might not be here together today. Life is fragile... and short... and full of mystery. Each new day brings along a challenge... and thankfully, sometimes the answer is as simple as we'll have tacos for dinner. So this month... marks eleven years. Eleven years of thankfulness... eleven years of life patched up with Dacron... eleven years of love... and counting.