Some say that the thirteenth is an unlucky day. Some say the exact opposite!
I don’t think it is either lucky or unlucky. Believing in God, who numbers the hairs on my head and who has numbered the days of my life, means that luck does not play a role.
He holds me and my life in the palm of His hand. He is in control.
However, the thirteenth has certainly marked some momentous – not necessarily eventful – days in my life the past thirteen months!
Firstly, most of them were influenced by what happened on 13 December 2013:
On that day Emma, our first granddaughter, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with the added complication of the Philadelphia positive translocation.
Life as we knew it changed forever.
On 13 January 2014, with trembling heart, I flung my first words into cyberspace!
It was just a comment – admittedly a rather lengthy one – on a blog post that had touched my heart, but it was one giant step for this Nanna!
Looking back, the 13th of February was indicative of what lay ahead in 2014:
Emma’s chemo treatment had started and she and Lisl spent the day at the hospital. Emma had a high temperature, high respiration rate and pulse, threw up and had an upset tummy. But her heart sonar showed no obvious problems and all was set for the insertion of her central line the next day.
My WhatsApp group update on Emma for 13 May 2014 reads: “Emma is doing quite well. She needed platelets at the end of last week but otherwise she has been relatively healthy. She’s been doing a lot of walking for the first time in the last few months. Praise the Lord! Going back for a week of chemo next week. Please pray with us: the ward is being renovated and it is chaos!”
On 13 June last year I wrote: “Emma’s temperature was elevated this morning when we went to hospital for a scheduled blood draw and daylong chemo. At the hospital her temperature spiked to 39 (very high for chemo patients) before serious attempts were made to lower it. By God’s grace it seems to be under control now. She has also been put on antibiotics. What was supposed to be a day chemo has turned into another hospital stay until her temperature is normal for 72 hours. In this journey one learns not to be surprised by the “unexpected” but sometimes it still catches you unawares! But we’ll carry on running through the dark because the Light of the world is in us and with us and He knows the way!”
On the 13th of July nothing specific happened, but this was the general – rather sad – state of affairs:
Emma had another E.Coli bloodstream infection. She was being fed via a naso-gastric (ng) tube with elemental food. She was allowed to eat only 4 things by mouth. The daily neupogen injection, given by Lisl, was causing emotional and physical distress. The chemo was being secreted through her skin in the places where one sweats, causing the skin there to look as if she’s suffered second degree burns. She was on two anti-hypertensive medicines to reduce the risk of another seizure triggered by a high BP. Yet her blood pressure remained high. They (Emma and Lisl) were in the 4th week of isolation. Emma’s sense of emotional security was so shattered that she could not bear her mommy leaving the room and Lisl was taking serious strain having to be on call 24/7.
By the 13th of August Emma had rung her bell signifying the end of her intensive chemo. She was on maintenance chemo. We thought that our challenges were to get her to stand, to walk, to eat. Then she had occipital lobe seizures.
New medicine, new unknowns, new challenges…
After a roller coaster month Emma passed away on 13 September 2014.
Exactly 9 months after her initial diagnosis.
And a part of me died with her.
Today, 13 January 2015, I posted my first blog post on my new blog!
My beloved daughter Lisl commented:
“Beautiful mommy!” and my heart rejoiced!
So, some of the thirteenths have been heart breaking and sad, some awful, some bad, some just ok, some good, some joyful. Through all of them – and on the in-between days – because the actual date itself is not what determines what happens – God reminded me:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters I will be with you and
when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire you will not be burned;
for I am the LORD, your God, the holy one of Israel, your Saviour.”
(Is. 43:1-3 NIV)
And we wait on Him and we are renewed and we walk, we run, we soar like eagles!
And on the hard days, the dark and difficult days, the days we simply cannot, we wait.
That is what we are called to do.
May we go into and through this year knowing He holds our days in His hands.
The 13th’s and all the other days!