We are HOME! Bran is cozy in his p.j.'s watching a movie, and it feels so incredible to all be together. I wanted to give you all an update, and please, pass this on to all the people you reached out to for prayer. We are so grateful, so grateful. We want to give glory to God for all that's happened this week.
As you know, on Friday things were not looking good. The Dr.'s told Matt that Bran's kidney function was dropping every day, his blood pressure was dangerously high, he was non-responsive to all the meds, and he was carrying over 10lbs of fluid, and it was rising each day as his kidney function was dropping. They thought they would have to move him to I.C.U. and begin dialysis to get the fluid out, and that would then help the blood pressure drop and get him into a safer place. The specialist expressed grave concern for him, and we were afraid, really afraid. By late afternoon, after Bran's dr. made phone calls to specialists in other parts of the country, it was decided to give him the second chemo treatment, and then wait to see for one more day.
Friday night my dear friend Tyler drove to the hospital for a late night delivery of a blessed icon of the Divine Mercy Jesus. A year ago Tyler's grandmother was sick and was told her life was basically over. This icon was loaned to her and told that it had been all over the world and that the people who lived with it for a while experienced healing in some way. His grandmother did recover, and although her health isn't perfect, she's living a good life long past when she was told she'd be here. When she heard about Brandon she told Tyler to bring the painting to us.
As I rode the elevator back up to Pediatrics, I read the words along the bottom of the artwork.
Jesus, I trust in You.
I wasn't feeling trust, I was only feeling fear. I said, "Well, I'll say it until I mean it." And I began to read that line over and over and over. I went back to the hospital room and Bran had woken up. I hung the icon on the head of Bran's bed, and lay down with him because he seemed restless. He'd been emotionally low all day, he seemed depressed, and expressed a lot of homesickness. I suggested we pray together, and told him I'd start, and he could repeat each part after me.
"I am healthy, I am healthy, thank You Jesus, I am healthy.
I am healed, I am healed, thank You Jesus, I am healed.
I am thankful, I am thankful, thank you Jesus, I am thankful.
Bran repeated each line, and then without a word just took over leading and I began repeating each line he said.
This was the litany/prayer he whispered...
I am blessed, I am blessed, thank You Jesus, I am blessed.
I am strong, I am strong, thank You Jesus, I am strong.
I am wonderful, I am wonderful, thank You Jesus, I am wonderful.
I am blessed, I am blessed, thank You Jesus, I am blessed.
I am courage, I am courage, thank You Jesus, I am courage.
I am loved, I am loved, thank You Jesus, I am loved.
I am light, I am light, thank You Jesus, I am light.
I am the stars, I am the stars, thank You Jesus, I am the stars.
I am the sun/son, I am the sun/son, thank You Jesus, I am the sun/son.
I am grass, I am grass, thank You Jesus, I am grass.
I am flower, I am flowers, thank You Jesus, I am flowers.
I am birds, I am birds, thank You Jesus, I am birds.
I am the breeze, I am the breeze, thank You Jesus, I am the breeze.
I am a dog, I am a dog, thank You Jesus, I am a dog.
I am the way, I am the way, thank You Jesus, I am the way.
I am the truth, I am the truth, thank You Jesus, I am the truth.
I am the life, I am the life, thank You Jesus, I am the life.
I am mighty, I am mighty, thank You Jesus, I am mighty.
I am water, I am water, thank You Jesus, I am water.
I am the tune, I am the tune, thank You Jesus, I am the tune.
I am the bread, I am the bread, thank You Jesus, I am the bread.
I am the Eucharist, I am the Eucharist, thank You Jesus, I am the Eucharist.
I am the chalice, I am the chalice, thank You Jesus, I am the chalice.
I am the tabernacle, I am the tabernacle, thank You Jesus, I am the tabernacle.
I am the Church, I am the Church, thank You Jesus, I am the Church.
I am the Lamb, I am the Lamb, thank You Jesus, I am the Lamb.
I am the family, I am the family, thank You Jesus, I am the family.
I am peace, I am peace, thank You Jesus, I am peace.
I am sleepy, I am sleepy, thank You Jesus, I am sleepy.
I am in heaven, I am in heaven, thank You Jesus, I am in heaven.
And then he was asleep. I lay there on his pillow, now soaking wet with my tears, and could not believe how holy the air in the room felt, and how at peace I was. I had the same sensation I'd had years ago at St. Jude's when the teens and I had an over-night lock-in on a carpeted area next to the glass-walled room where the tabernacle was. I remember laying there in my sleeping bag in the dark with my sleeping kids all around me...in awe, feeling Jesus so close by, so physically present. I felt Him in that hospital room with Brandon and I, and I told Him, "I trust You, I trust You, I trust You..."
In the morning Brandon woke up bright eyed and full of giggles and good spirits. We went for a long walk in the hospital and just enjoyed each others company...and he needed to walk to help keep the fluid out of his legs. We went and played Wii in the play room for a while, and when we were heading back to his room he suddenly began to get sick. He threw up all over the floor and scared the hell out of me. I kept my cool, but this was really upsetting behavior for him...he's only thrown up once or twice in his life with us, and never from this illness. I got him into bed, and he sipped tea with honey until he said he was tired and wanted to go to sleep. He was shivering and upset. The nurse checked, no fever.
When he woke up several hours later, his blood pressure was down, he'd lost a pound since the night before, and the best...his kidney function was suddenly higher than the day before.
He was still not losing enough fluid, so they put him on a much stronger kind of med thru his I.V., and we waited.
After dinner that night I received a text from someone at our co-op, telling me a priest who's renowned for his healing ministry, was on his way to the hospital to see Brandon. I'd heard about him from several people over the years but had never met him. When he walked in the door of Brandon's room I was struck by his gentle voice, his beautiful, African accent, and that he seemed rather shy. He sat right down and said that God had told him to come, and so he came. He began to talk quite boldly about many different things...(including about several assassination attempts on his life over the years and how God had saved him repeatedly, and talked about the people who were brought back from the dead in the Bible...how God can do anything...and one thing that jumped out at me was when he said,
"With out fear, Satan has no legs."
And he shared part of Job's story from the Book of Job where this is illustrated in the way that Job goes to offer sacrifices in the temple one night and he's worried about his kids and asking God to not let any harm come to them, etc..., and Fr. Ignatious said, "Fear is not worship." Job was acting in fear, he did not have his eyes on God, his attention was on his fear...and how fear is a foothold for Satan. He said Satan studies us, learns our weaknesses, and then hits us there...and how fear is a powerful tool he uses so that he can get our eyes off of Christ.
He told us that disease and suffering are not God's plan for us, that Brandon's illness is not God's will. That day God had told him Brandon was going to be healed, and he shared this with us. He then gave Bran the anointing of the sick, blessing his head, hands, and feet with holy oil, holding a crucifix against his forehead while casting out all sickness and disease from...and he named organ after organ, fingers and toes, each hair, finger nails, and on and on. He gave him the Eucharist, prayed over him some more, and then told him, "Okay. You are healed. God has healed you, Brandon. Have a good life."...or something along those lines...and barely shook my hand because he suddenly seemed shy again, and he was trying to walk out of the room without us saying anything to him... but I just grabbed his hand in both mine, so he had no choice...and basically that was it.
The Dr. came and said she was thrilled with his progress, amazed at the turn around, and felt that if he continued to pass fluid thru the day without the diuretic in his I.V., that he'd be going home today. When the doctor left his room, Bran looked up at me from his bed and said very matter of factly..."Well, strong prayers the priest said. He said God's healing me."
And here we are, HOME.
Brandon isn't in remission yet, but as of today his protein levels are dropping for the first time. As always, he is in God's loving hands. We don't know what the future holds for us, but we trust God to be in the middle of it with us. We also know that we will be surrounded by love and prayers and care, because this week we've had such a taste of what you are all capable of in the way of support...and the support this week has been mighty indeed.
We are grateful beyond words for all the love and prayers that have been poured out for our family. We have felt very carried, and in our moments of great fear we'd been reminded to keep turning our eyes back to Jesus. All week Matt said, "God has never let us down, never let us down...He's not going to start now."
Please keep praying for Brandon's healing, and for the wisdom of his Dr.'s.
On Friday another healer (and Catholic mystic), Brother Paul Miller, is coming to our home to pray over Bran. What a blessing.
God is good, all the time.