I believe in Hope

September 11, 2009

On August 31st, we received a call from Auntie Kay and from the tone in her voice, I knew the news wasn’t good.  I immediately thought something had happened to D’Arcy’s father, who was scheduled to undergo an angiogram that day, but she told me that our friend Chris had had an aneurism the day before,was on life support and that there was no hope for recovery.

We couldn’t believe it.  Nobody could believe it. Chris, full of life, is 44, husband to Gwen (who also happened to be our vet when we had the dogs), and father to Tara & Quinn.  Our lives are interconnected through a variety of activities and friends.  I don’t remember meeting Chris for the first time, but I guess I really got to know him around the time Auntie Kay & Uncle Hug got married and I was very pregnant with Evan.  So pregnant, we had to leave their reception to go to the hospital where we were told the baby was going to arrive “anytime”.  (He was born four weeks later.)

I went on to have Alex, then miscarried twins five weeks apart, then got pregnant with Sarah.  We were living here by that time and we had tickets to a comedy show that Chris was putting on at the church to raise money for something.  (I don’t remember for what anymore.)  The morning of the show, we got the terrible news that I was having another miscarriage and that there was no hope.  The doctor wanted me to wait before undergoing a D&E to see if my body would get rid of the baby naturally.  I was devastated and D’Arcy suggested that we just stay home that night.  Not wanting to be alone with my own thoughts and misery, I suggested that I would rather go and be distracted to make the time go faster.

Chris was so funny and he actually made me laugh that night, despite my grief.

(As if turned out, after ten days when my body didn’t miscarry on its own, the doctor suggested I have blood-work and an ultrasound done before undergoing a D&E.  Low and behold, we saw a second sac with the flash of a tiny, beating heart next to the dark one.  Sarah had a “vanishing twin” which she absorbed by our 18 week ultrasound!)  There was hope!

After Sarah, we went on to have Olivia, and saw Chris often.  He was there whenever we dropped the kids off at preschool, his son Quinn was in D’Arcy’s Beaver Colony, Tara’s music lesson was right before Alex’s; he volunteered at the new school, we’d see them at the kids’ runs, etc, and always at church.  Basically, you could say that it is a rare day during the school year when we don’t see Chris most days of the week – and on most of those occasions he’ll joke with me about being pregnant and ask if  I’m expecting again yet…

Alex was in the kitchen with me when I got the phone call with the awful news and when I told D’Arcy, so we told him & Evan the truth right away because they could see how upset we were.  We told them what we had heard – that Chris was very sick and on life support and wouldn’t get any better.  We told them that Tara, Quinn & Gwen had said good-bye to him and that as soon as his parents came to say good-bye, he would be taken off life support and would die.

The mood in our house was so heavy that day; all any of us could think about was Chris.

At suppertime, Alex was crying.  I hadn’t realized that he, in his nine-year-old mind had taken my words to mean that Chris was awake and would say good-bye to his parents at which time the doctors would essentially kill him.  I tried to explain as best I could that Chris was already gone to Heaven and that just his body was still here.  I told them that they were waiting to turn off the machines that were keeping him breathing until his parents could see him one last time and tell him that they loved him just in case he could still hear it or feel it because nobody really knows, but that Chris would look like he was sleeping and would never wake up again.

Alex cried himself to sleep that night, out of sadness for Chris and empathy for Quinn & Tara.  He cried because he was afraid that the same thing might happen to D’Arcy or to me.  I cuddled with him and while trying to reassure him, felt helpless that I couldn’t promise him that it won’t.

The next day, we received another phone call and an email from Gwen:  Chris didn’t die when they expected him to!  When they did a second CT scan, there was slight improvement!  He had had surgery!  There was hope.

We couldn’t believe it.  I haven’t written about their story here, because I didn’t figure it was my story to tell in such a public way, but Gwen has started a journal for Chris, a blog of her own, so you can read their whole story there:  http://marathon-of-hope.blogspot.com/ There was even a huge story in the local paper about them.

Last Friday, there was a run/walk/bike/waddle (Gwen’s very pregnant sister’s shirt read “I Waddle for Hope”) for hope and support of Chris and family, so our whole family attended along with approximately 200 other friends, family, colleagues & acquaintances.  It was wonderful to see so much support and moving to see Gwen, Tara & Quinn.

IMG_7480

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Family & friends from the Animal Hospital

Family & friends from the Animal Hospital

Gwen speaking with Quinn's support

Gwen speaking with Quinn's support

Everyone signed in and wrote their connection with Chris so that he can have it when he recovers

Everyone signed in and wrote their connection with Chris so that he can have it when he recovers

Quinn & friends holding hands at the end of a prayer

Quinn & friends holding hands at the end of a prayer

Our family, after the run

Our family, after the Run for Hope in support of Chris

This morning, we got the news we’ve all been waiting for – Chris woke up yesterday and knows Gwen & the kids’ names!!  He is able to answer questions and to write!  Most importantly, his sense of humour seems to be in tact!  I can’t wait for the boys to get home from school so we can tell them!  If we feel this jubilant, I can only imagine how Gwen, the kids & their families are feeling!

I guess the moral of the story is that miracles do happen every day and you should never, ever give up hope!!

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2 Responses to “I believe in Hope”

  1. LeeAnne Says:

    Annie, this is such wonderful news!! I hope and pray that he continues this amazing recovery. Keep us posted on how he’s doing, please!


  2. […] 14, 2009 · Leave a Comment D’Arcy got to go and see our friend Chris today for the first time since his massive brain bleed. His wife, Gwen is back to work three days a […]


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