Despite the signs of spring, this time of year always has me on edge.
Nine years ago, the week before Buttercup's third birthday, three of the four kids had colds. Nothing to be concerned about, except that we were headed to Ohio for a big family gathering. Both of my brothers and I had had babies within the previous 5 months, and I was throwing a baby shower for my sister. It was going to be a big affair where everyone could meet the babies, celebrate Buttercup's birthday, and celebrate my sister's upcoming baby.
Three days before we were to leave, Star woke up with a puffy, pink eye. It didn't look too bad, but with the trip coming, I wanted to get it taken care of sooner rather than later. After the examination, the doctor said that Star had periorbital cellulitis. Not knowing what he was talking about, I asked if that meant we would not be going to Ohio.
Doctor: "Where in Ohio are you going?"
Doctor: "That's fine. They have good hospitals there if anything goes wrong."
Me: "Perhaps you should tell me a bit more about this cellulitis thing."
I was horrified to find out that it was a nasty infection. If it got into his eye, he could go blind. If it got into his bloodstream, he could die.
He got a good strong shot of antibiotics in the office, and we were sent home to keep a close eye on him.
We cancelled our trip to Ohio.
That night, Star ran a fever of 104, so the next morning we were back at the doctor for a follow-up.
As the doctor was examining Star, all hell broke loose.
Both Buttercup and Giant went from a few sniffles to spiked fevers in a matter of moments.
Buttercup started hallucinating, screaming that she was going to fall, begging for someone to catch her.
Giant, at the age of 5 months, went into a seizure right there in my arms.
The doctor went into emergency mode, giving orders to everyone. She hollered out the door to a nurse to bring some medicine. She did a quick check of Buttercup. She told Hubby and me to get Buttercup and Star home, but get Giant to the hospital immediately. She would meet us there.
Hubby took Giant, I took the other two. A neighbor had Phoenix, so that is where we went. I cried the whole way there, but tried not to, since I was driving and didn't want to hurt the kids any more than they were.
I told the neighbor what was happening, and gave her the name of one person to call for help. It was someone from church that just happened to be the preschool teacher for my neighbor. I told her that none of my family could come to help, as they had all just had babies or were about to deliver one. Oh, and we hadn't been in the parish for too long, so we don't know too many people all that well. I then left for the hospital, not knowing what was going to happen with any of my children.
The doctor and I got there at the same time. She handed me a prescription for Buttercup. In all of the commotion I never did get a diagnosis for her. She ended up with bronchitis.
The next several hours were filled with awful procedures, trying to figure out what was wrong with my baby. I had to hold him down while they put an IV in his head, twice. He was x-rayed. Got an MRI. A spinal tap. That one left my doctor teary. It is a procedure no one likes to do, but on a sick, thrashing 5 month old baby, it is a nightmare.
My little Giant had pneumonia.
In the midst of all of these tests, I was able to call my neighbor. What she told me completely changed my outlook on people.
My neighbor made one phone call to the woman from church. Within one hour, there was a schedule of pairs of people(many of whom were nurses or parents of large families) to stay at my house with the three kids for the next three days. Overnight and all. And they didn't need to simply watch the kids. Two of those kids were really sick, needing to be watched carefully and given medicine.
One person was assigned to do the grocery shopping.
Another was in charge of laundry.
Since I was breastfeeding Giant and couldn't really leave much, a whole different schedule was made to take care of us in the hospital. They came to bring us food, items from home, support, and prayers.
I had never seen such an instant and complete outpouring of love and support.
These people dropped everything they were doing to help a family that they hardly knew.
And for over a week after Giant came home, people were still sending cards, making meals, and taking care of us.
I am crying right now, thinking about what all of those people did for us.
Not just in the physical way that they helped us. But in a spiritual way as well. They really showed us what Jesus at work looks like. They showed us what it means to be a blessing to others. And it changed us.
Ever since then, we have looked for ways to help people. To pay it forward. To be blessings to others. To be the people Jesus wants us to be.
People struggle every day. We can't help all of them, no matter how much we want to. But we can help some. We can follow through with our good thoughts and intentions.
We may only be able to do something small. But combined with the acts of others, we can change a person's life. And not even know it.
Today, and for days to come, we will be praying for those hit be the tornadoes.
Will you join us?