On August 24, 2015 I woke up with what I thought was a crick in my neck, but as the day went on, it became much more than that. By midnight, I sat alone in Baylor Grapevine’s ER and heard these words: "Mrs. Williamson, we have to CareFlight you to Baylor Dallas because we don't have the equipment for the type of neurosurgery you'll require.”The ER doctor then proceeded to tell me the mass was the size of a golf ball and I should “get my affairs in order.” I wanted my precious husband to be home when the children woke up for school, so I called him and the doctor repeated everything. And that’s when the journey began.
Before I left that ER, headed to Dallas, a fellow Covenant Christian Academy mom was there with me. She could see my fear, worry, and doubt. She followed the ambulance all the way to Baylor Dallas, staying close so I could see her headlights and be comforted. She texted me the entire way to stay in touch. It was the longest drive to Dallas I’d ever taken. But she was there. And she stayed the night with me as others cared for her children. And for the next 17 days, the CCA Community was there for me in many different ways.
I learned MUCH more in those 17 days than science. As we ruled out tumors and aneurysms and blindness, I learned how precious every moment is and how miraculous every heartbeat is. I learned what real physical pain felt like as I experienced 90 days of post-surgery pain. I didn't think a human could experience this much pain and still survive. 90 days. And they were there. Praying over me. Cleaning our home. Bringing us meals. Taking our children to the State Fair. Delivering chapel pants the night before we moved to winter chapel. Leaving treats outside of our door. Driving me to appointments when Jeff couldn’t. Texting and calling constantly. They ministered to my husband. They prayed with him. And prayed. And prayed.
I learned what it looks like to be there for people when it counts.
I learned to pray ceaselessly and desperately to the Lord without caring what others think and to ask others to pray for me.
I was reminded again that your zip code, business card and paycheck don't matter AT ALL.
I saw God's provision as people did basic things for me when I couldn't care for myself. I saw God's love as people took care of us, stayed up all night with me, cried with me, brought me soft fuzzy blankets, sat with me in more urgent cares and ERs, and carried messages to us from the Lord that He gave them in their dreams. It gave us hope.
11 doctors, lots of prayer warriors, 7 MRIs, 8 CT scans, a notebook of questions, a folder of test results, and 17 days later I had surgery. It wasn't a tumor. It wasn't cancer. It wasn’t an aneurysm. It was a weird, rare thing with no lasting effects that the doctors meticulously removed through my nose. God showed His power and glory in 30 different ways and I was spared.....and given a gift.
It was scary. It was humbling. My empathy grew 10 times its size like the Grinch's heart. It was beautiful. I was changed forever in many ways. I daily think back to what I thought was important during those 17 days.....not what my flesh or society tells us is important. Those 17 days when the doctors said "Get your affairs in order." Those 17 days when they said your skull bones have been eroded from the inside because the mass is so large and has been there so long. The moments before surgery when I didn't know if I'd see my children again this side of heaven. Those moments when I tried to plan how Jeff would tell the children if I didn't make it. Those moments the night before surgery when CCA people came to my home and cried with me and prayed with me, and helped me make plans for a family without me…..just in case. Those moments in pre-op when I was surrounded by love and prayers from the CCA community as I asked the doctor. “So, I’m going to either wake up in glory with Jesus, OR…..” And the doctor responded “I’m going to be near your optic nerve, grey matter, and carotid arteries with very sharp objects for a very long time, so either heaven or the ICU.”
What was important THEN is what's REALLY important NOW and I don't want to ever forget. And it wasn't status, business, what people think, success, or trophies. When you think you're out of time, you see what's real. It was like finally seeing through a fog to discover what's REALLY concrete and lasting.
And for me, the CCA community was one of those few things.
I was blessed to have those 17 days of clarity and I will never forget. And I hope this story somehow reminds you of what's REALLY important. Let's focus on those things. Ask someone if you can pray for them and then do it. Smile at people on campus. And however you can, be the hands and feet of Jesus. Whether we have 17 days or 28,762. ❤️