When your only sister faces a health crisis your heart beats faster as your brain treads on a momentary stabbing pain of 'if' ...and it scares you to death. Then you rationalize and try to just move...and do something.
Both Mary and I have intimately known this fear before. Mine as she underwent a harrowing spinal surgery, hers, likely through various portions of my two bouts with cancer.
But this time around (and all along these three months prior) I've been terrified about the health and safety of two precious lives...my sister and her unborn baby Rachel.
Just after Thanksgiving we learned that the baby Mary was carrying (who we had just learned was a girl) was in trouble.
Fluid was accumulating inside of her, threatening the development of her organs. We feared together as Mary and Karl learned the odds were not great. The terror they felt as they were given an option to terminate her pregnancy woke my family into a reality that once again, life can be as cruel as it is beautiful.
But somehow my remarkable sister and brother in law were given a gift- medical hope for an experimental inter-utero intervention. Faced with little other options they chose this sliver of hope...and they chose to try.
I watched my sister press on with courage and incredible love for this little girl who she and Karl wanted very much. Even though there was fear in her heart she kept her love and anticipation and her belief that this little life would make it.
We took Mary and Karl's lead and held the fear at bay and celebrated the hope they had been given that this little girl might have a shot. Many people didn't even know that the baby they were expecting had been dealt such a tough prognosis. That is because we kept up the celebration. We were waiting for a new life...just like any other family.
And Tuesday at lunchtime my brother in law texted me a picture of a cluster of nursing staff lifting a tiny little form into an incubator. My eyes filled with tears. The next text was "she is here and she is breathing on her own".