Last week’s story isn’t quite complete without the other side of things. While I was fighting to heal my heart, my dad was fighting for his heart too. Fighting to keep his newly transplanted heart out of rejection and strong enough to go through a terrifying bone marrow transplant and countless rounds of chemotherapy.
My father was diagnosed with Amyloidosis, a rare and fatal disease that is similar to cancer, except that instead of bad cells, you have bad proteins. These proteins turn on your organs; my dad’s heart was first to be attacked. He miraculously received a heart transplant and a few months later, a month after I moved back home, my dad went off to receive a bone marrow transplant with the hope that this would get rid of his amyloidosis and prevent it from attacking his new heart. It was scary. He got so sick. And then it appeared that it didn’t work. The back-up plan was chemotherapy.
During those months, we’d wait for updates. Is his heart in rejection? What level? What about his amyloidosis count? Is it too high? Is the outlook good? It’s too soon. He’s so young. He can’t die.
And every once in awhile I’d feel so selfish. I was too sad and too worried about myself that I wasn’t allowing enough worry for my dad. It was hard to keep the sorrows fairly balanced.
My dad was at a hospital a few hours away and my mom was by his side through this ordeal. That left me home with my 15 year-old sister who did her best to keep up with her activities, stay on top of her school work, and continue a fairly normal life. It was lonely. And the worry was taxing.
It just so happened that the two hardest things I have ever faced in my young life happened at the same time. But it was truly for the best. When my dad got sick, some families in our church began bringing meals over a couple nights a week so my mom wouldn’t have to worry about dinner. When my parents went off to the hospital, they continued to bring meals to just my sister and me. We weren’t the sick ones, and we could definitely fend for ourselves, but a few nights a week, someone would stop by our house, their arms loaded up with a warm meal, and yummy drink, and an amazing dessert. They’d come in and chat with us, see how we were doing, and sometimes invite us over to their home for a movie night or girls night out.
They didn’t just bring us a meal. They brought us so much more. Love and comfort to two young, scared girls. Many of these people I didn’t know well, as I had been away at college for the past few years. But I felt loved. And I felt cared for. Their meals for a family with a sick dad also provided healing for a girl with a broken heart.
So to those who were there for my family in one of our toughest times, from the bottom of my very healed, very happy, and very grateful heart, thank you.
I know my dad’s strong and healthy heart thanks you too.