The miracle lies in the mess.
The miracle is not in the test results. It is not in the acceptance letter. It is not in the job offer. It is not in the accepted apology. And yet…it is not in the rejection. The miracle is not in the nightmarish news. It’s not in the moment your life spins so much your whole body tingles and your vision doubles. The miracle lies in the mess.
Kel. What the heck are you saying? What I am saying is this: I have been on both ends of heartbreak. I have received earth shattering news that brings to life nightmares unfathomable. And also, most recently, I have received news that creates sobs of relief and unspeakable joy.
The peek at that news came as I sat with my dearest girlfriends after a morning filled with scans. We donned matching ghost costumes and had the typical case of the giggles we get upon a reunion. My phone lit up, and the doctor’s reports filled my FollowMyHeath app. Not one to understand the complicated language of doctor gibberish, my best ladies and I scrambled to translate as best we could. All 3 of them quickly copied and pasted the report and passed it along to their respective friends in the medical field. I continued to read and reread the report, the words “significant decrease” jumping out from my phone all the while blurring my eyes completely. In an instant, they all received confirmation from their medical professional friends that it seemed the impossible had happened: my tumor, a neurofibroma, incurable and only scientifically able to shrink through further surgery and radiation, had shrunk .4 centimeters. We engulfed one another in a moment I will never forget-but reminded one another to stay grounded as we had yet to receive the official thumbs up from my neurosurgeon himself-and knew he could have caught things on that same report that might not be as joy-inducing.
3 days later, the call came while I was again on a Walt Disney World bus, sitting next to my mother. I knew the number instantly. My heart quickened. The other line of this call held the last year of questions and the next year of life.
“Well, we don’t really have any explanation for you, but…it shrunk.”
I shot eyes at my mom who stared back searching for any indication of what the final news held. I couldn’t speak for a moment. I motioned my hand pointing down to her. She grabbed it and squeezed. I squeaked out, “Uhm. Wow. Is this normal?” He laughed, he himself clearly in shock too. “Well, no. It’s actually not even really possible.” He chatted me through the exact dimensions (3.2 centimeters by 1.9 centimeters, down from 8 centimeters pre-op, and 3.6 centimeters by 1.9 centimeters post-op). He let me know of the signs to watch for. He confirmed that I need to continue to keep up with my pain journal. He encouraged me to rest a bit more. He asked me to keep in touch as usual as the next year passed before the next round of scans. He wished me well. And off he went.
Have you ever wept on a Walt Disney World public bus while the Winnie the Pooh theme song plays in the background, and tourists look at you like you’ve lost your marbles and are about two hours past due of the infamous Post-Disney-Nap? Nope. Me neither. Not until this weekend. Now, I’ve done it twice.
A miracle happened. The one we prayed for fervently. The one I grew to resent as I never thought it possible. Let me reiterate: neurofibromas only shrink when subject to further surgery and radiation. In the last year, since November 14th, 2017, I have had neither. Just prayer. A lot of those prayers said shakily, nervously. Often, admittedly, even hopelessly. But still said.
But here’s what I want us to remember:
The miracle was not in that call. It is in the way this story, and yours too, will bring hope to others. It is in how I will choose to live this next year with a smaller burden on my back (literally). It is in how I will choose to direct my thoughts to it when I am feeling defeated on any given day. It is how I will remember that everyone has a story-that everyone is fighting something-that everyone has overcome something if they chose to do so…if they don’t let it stunt them forever. The miracle was in the look on my mom’s face. The sound of my husband’s voice. But guess what? All of these things would happen even if the news was horrible.
I have dear friends who this very week received the exact opposite news about two of their loved ones. The brave prayers they had been praying, the good news they had been envisioning…didn’t exactly get answered and didn’t exactly play out how they expected. But there is still a mess. There is still a miracle.
I know someone who feels so lost in their career they battle insomnia and night terrors every single night.
I know someone whose heart is yearning for the next step of her life so deeply it has completely encapsulated her so much so that she is missing entire months of the now waiting for the one day.
I know someone who just lost her father.
I know someone who just lost his job.
I know someone who used all his might to muster up the courage to call his mom on her birthday after years of not speaking.
But all of those things bring miracles. None of them are miracles. Quite the opposite, really. But miraculous moments are not miracles themselves-they are catalysts of miracles.
When I was on the other end of this-when I received the test results no one ever wants to-the miracle was in those who showed up. The miracle was in my husband distracting me with holiday cooking videos as the doctors on the other side of my hospital bed squeezed out more blood of a near empty Kelsey arm. The miracle was in my family members flying down from all over the country. My brother in law bringing Luke comfortable pajamas to wear as he stayed in the hospital with me. My sister Courtney taking Luke on walks down the hospital aisles, asking him questions about fish species and things she could truly care less about, just to help distract him. My coworkers coming to the hospital in Christmas pajamas to brighten my spirits. The hospital therapy dogs. My sister Haley flying down to cook literal gallons of food for Luke and I to freeze. The letters and messages I received from people I hadn’t talked to in ages. The many, many, messages of, “me too” I received when I would share my stories of healing. The miracle lies in all of those things.
The person who battles insomnia? The miracle lies in her coworker seeing it without it even being spoken, and taking the time to lean into her life to sit with her in this. The man who just lost his job? The miracle lies in the outpouring of support and, “I think this person is hiring! Let me call for you!.” offers. The sweet woman who just lost her father? The miracle lies in the peace brought by the clear picture of him nestled safely Home, reading the paper pain free with fully regained hearing. The miracle lies in the reunions held, in the stories shared of times past, shared through misty eyes and bittersweet laughs. The miracle lies in the piece of him forever alive in her. The miracle lies in the mess.
I don’t know what side of the coin you’re landed on in this chapter of your journey. But I do know, there are miracles in whatever you are looking at. Things pretty quiet for you right now? Well, that means you’re up. It’s your turn to bring the miracle. Be the hands and feet. Make the call. Write the handwritten letter to someone unsuspecting but deeply in need. Send something snuggly to someone receiving not-so-favorable test results. Slow down enough to tune into the people around you. The answer might be right in front of you-but it’s up to you to find it and see it through.
Life is so messy. Life is so miraculous.
Big Hugs. Always.
Kelsey, I am so happy for you.
Keep up the great work.
I to went through this diagnosis the year I moved down here 2011. Sad that the only family I had here were cousins. Dana, was in Tallahassee. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long for my results that everything was gone.
God Bless You and Luke, and your whole family. I will be praying for you.
Tell mom I said hi!
Love Denise Matz