On grief . . .
I have hesitated to write this post because it doesn’t feel like our story – but our lives in Kenya are so intertwined, that often one family’s story becomes another’s. . .
When we moved to Kenya, on our second weekend in the country, a family we barely knew asked us to go camping with them in the valley. We went, danced the delicate dance of getting to know each other, and began building a friendship that would become a bedrock of our time in Kenya. That trip led to many more – camping, the coast, Crete, and nights watching American Ninja Warrior and doing push ups together every time anyone fell in the water. But more than that, they were the ones who blended our girls into their family when we left the country. Their daughter’s fall on either side of Madeline and feel like they natural stair steps in our family and we move in and out of each others homes with ease. Their son is one of David’s good friends and mountain biking buddy whom Adam affectionately calls “my dude.” Stacy and Rich have been bedrocks of wisdom and sanity, safe places when everything else seems out of place.
In July, days after we landed in America, Stacy texted to say Adam was out of breath and asked me what to do. I told her in Kijabe I would get a chest x-ray and asked if that was possible. . . from there things unfolded quickly. The heart was big on the x-ray which led to an urgent visit to the pediatric cardiologist in California (where they were also on home assignment) which led to a two week admission to the Cardiac ICU because his heart was failing – barely moving on the doctor’s pictures and in need of medicine after medicine.
Countless phone calls flew back and forth as we walked through the unimaginable with some of our best friends. We face-timed with every member of the family, individually and together, fielded questions from Kenya, cried and encouraged, and processed as best we could from across the country.
We watched as people gathered around them, around us, and we lived in uncertain limbo as we waited to see what Adam’s heart would do. Their daughter Gabi flew to meet us and moved into Madeline’s room so she could start her term in Kijabe, the only home she has ever really known. Over the last 3 weeks we have navigated her grief and processing, learned together what life in Kenya is without the Davis’s, and kept in touch – phone call to phone call, appointment to appointment.
Friday, we got incredibly difficult news again – the heart failure is not from a virus as we hoped with good chance of recovery. It is because of a gene, and without a miracle, his heart will get worse, not better. They can’t come back to Kenya anytime soon, and most likely at some point in the next few years he will need a heart transplant.
In July, we boarded planes to America on the same night, within 20 minutes of each other – each planning to return to our lives in Kenya in six short weeks. And today we sit in a place neither of us would have dreamed.
We are grieving. We are reeling with the reality that permanent things can be temporary and temporary things can be permanent, that our plans are like the wind.
Tears come easily and in unexpected moments but so do moments of hope. We are trying to walk with each other, with our girls, with Gabi, with Adam, with Lydia, with Rich and Stacy minute to minute, hour to hour.
We are striving not to live in the land of what-if, but to know that which is Good, and real, and constant.
To hope with faith for a miracle, and at the same time to live what Daniel said, that “even if not, He is still good.”
If we’ve been a bit silent for the past few weeks, this is why. We are walking an uncertain road and trying to be as present as we can in the ins and outs of the day, in the subtle shifts in mood, in the adjustments to the new rhythm of three girls in the house, and to life as we know it being different than we knew it.