Thursday, May 29, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, Part 2

Welcome back! Before I talk about 1997, we have to back up a bit to the fall of 1996. I don't want to digress too far from the main story, but this is important—both to my adoption story and just in general—so please bear with me. It is likely that this entire entry will deal with something completely separate from my adoption, but it really does have a lot of bearing on the story, at least in my mind.

It was a Sunday afternoon in early fall when we found out that my brother and his wife were expecting their first child. And not just their first child, but the first grandchild for my parents—the first niece or nephew for me! It was such an exciting, elating announcement for us all! Of course, we were all torn because we also knew that my brother and sister-in-law were planning to move to Colorado the following year. L So we began to prepare for both of those big changes.

And then came January. That's when we got "the visit" from my brother and his wife. The one that immediately followed their ultrasound. The one that I can still remember like it was yesterday. My mom, who is an elementary school teacher, was still at work, but my dad and I were home. They weren't able to wait until she got home—they needed to talk about it right away. Something was wrong with the baby. He had a condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Oh goodness, I can't even begin to explain what exactly that means, but basically everything worked fine in the womb; but within a few days after the baby was born, his heart would no longer function correctly. To this day I feel like I've been punched in the stomach when I think about it.

Over the next few months, as I was studying, preparing for graduation, and trying to select a college for the fall (which I didn't do until April of my senior year!), Kurt and Mary were busy researching HLHS—treatments, hospitals, life expectancies, etc. They decided to have the baby at University of Michigan Hospital, because they had a strong success rate with this condition, which was wonderful because it was only 3 hours away. The baby would need 3 surgeries in the first 2 years of his life, the first one shortly after birth (anywhere from a few hours to a week, depending on how well he was doing when he was born). They also turned down her job in Colorado, because the altitude may have caused a problem for his condition. They bought a house close by, since they had been renting but now knew they would be staying local.

Finally, the weather started to get warmer, and with it our hopes all started to rise. My sister-in-law graduated with her PhD in something-rather-complicated-but-I-think-it-has-Neurobiology-in-there-somewhere. (I'm pretty sure that's not the official title, but that's basically it in layman's terms. J) I graduated as Valedictorian of my high school class, and got to enjoy the fun perks of that. (Seriously. We got to do some really fun things!) I was also very involved in Bible Quizzing, and was preparing for Internationals—the Christian & Missionary Alliance's championship among all of the districts. It was my final year, and I was determined to do well. I spent anywhere from 4 to 8 hours each day studying the book of Matthew.

We got the call that my sister-in-law was in labor on Saturday, June 21—early on Saturday. We all packed our bags and headed for Michigan, hoping that we didn't miss the arrival during our three-hour trip! We didn't need to worry! J Logan hung out in his mommy's belly for a few days, not making his arrival until Monday (evening!), June 23. It was a long weekend, full of a lot of fast food and card-playing at the Ronald McDonald house. J We were ecstatic to see him, and the doctors said he was doing amazingly well.

On Tuesday, my parents and I made the drive back home. Of course, we didn't want to leave EVER, but my dad had to get back to work, and it looked like Logan wouldn't need his first surgery for a few days, so we planned to head back up the following weekend. By Thursday morning, my mom couldn't wait any longer and went back up without us. My dad and I were supposed to join her the next day. Unfortunately, that never happened.

I don't remember if it was my mom or my brother who called, but I remember answering the phone and I remember knowing that something was wrong by the sound of the voice on the other end of the line. I handed the phone to my dad. And when he got off the phone, all he could say was, "Logan's not going to make it."

Early morning on Friday, June 27, just four short days after we welcomed him into the world, Logan went home to be with his heavenly Father.

The days following that phone call are a blur of family and tears and… so many things. But I need to stress here that although this is one of the hardest things I have ever experienced—not only for my own grief, but because I watched my brother and sister-in-law and parents grieve as well—it was also absolutely amazing to see how God worked through it all. He brought my brother and sister-in-law closer to Him. He brought them closer to each other, and closer to my parents. He allowed them the sweet joy of getting to meet that little boy, and also spared them the pain of raising him for 2 or 3 years, only to lose him to HLHS then, as happened to friends that they made during their stay at the Ronald McDonald House. Logan's story is sad for us, but glorious for him, as he got to be loved so dearly on earth, and got to go home to heaven so quickly. And he touched so many lives in his four short days, I do not doubt that God used him in many ways that we may never know.

Wow, that got long and heavy, I know. I apologize again for seemingly getting so far off-track, but it's important that you know all of this to know my mindset when my 18th birthday came, just a few weeks after Logan died. But I think I've given you enough to chew on for one day. I'll pick up there soon.

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