Today is Greg's One Year Anniversary with his new heart!! Hooray!!! We are so thankful to have made it to such an important landmark! And we are grateful for every one of you who has supported us this year (and many prior years) through prayers, cards, encouragement, hugs, financial help, supporting our families, etc. We certainly have not been on this journey alone, and I don't think we would've made it if we were. You have been a beautiful picture to us of the body of Christ - your kindness toward us has been his "hands and feet" in so many ways.
The month leading up to today has been difficult for us. We both (but Greg most of all) have been dealing with flashbacks of horrible things that happened in the months leading up to the transplant and right after. It's odd how memories can pop up when you least expect them. There were things that I just pushed to the back of my mind once Greg's new heart came because we were just SO overwhelmed by gratitude - and then fear when his condition worsened - and then we were just focused on getting him home and his recovery - and then on returning to ministry. But a lot of experiences that I'd pushed back have been coming back to me and now I'm realizing that I have a lot more to process.
So for a lot of reasons we've felt some dread of today - and some guilt for feeling that dread. It is a day of celebration for sure, but also a reminder of some very hard things. I pray that over the years November 25th becomes more and more associated with the gift of life and not the close call with death.
How are we doing, one year out? Well, it's a mix for sure. There are so many wonderful things to celebrate: we are back in full-time ministry, working with students and staff that we love; we have made new memories and spent holidays with family; Greg's heart is very healthy and he still hasn't experienced any rejection; we are able to have fun again, and to enjoy people and hobbies instead of being completely focused on health 100% of the time; Greg has not been readmitted to the hospital since his transplant; God has provided financially through many people not only for the transplant but also our other needs; we've seen God answer so many prayers, etc.
And then there are some tough things: this experience has changed us deeply and we struggle to hope that we can experience good things in this life; we have lived through some horrible things that affect us daily; we are still not sure how to move forward from this experience; neither of us feels back to "normal" yet- but we're also wondering if there is a "normal" or if we have to make a new "normal"; we're living under the shadow of "life expectancy" and not sure how to do that yet unable to ignore it, etc. We have good days and bad days, much like anyone else, but our bad feels exacerbated by this experience.
I'm not sure what to write now that I've shared how we're doing - but I'd love to ask you to keep praying for us.
Most of all, I want to say that Jesus Christ is the only reason we have not been utterly crushed by this experience. If you've seen any good qualities in either of us through this whole experience, it is only by the grace of God. Apart from him we are weak, fickle, hopeless, scared, and completely unable to face tragedy. Yet somehow he gives us what he promised, grace to get through each day - sometimes moment by moment. I really hope that our story of Greg coming so close to death points you to the only One who ever overcame death. He alone is the reason we are able to get out of bed each day. And we cannot wait to be with him forever.
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."