I’m fairly certain my big sister Andrea desires to meet every person in the world and subsequently remain in contact with them. Not sure how close she is to fulfilling her dream, but I am amazed at her ability to maintain relationships over time and distance. To this day, her closest circle of friends includes people she went to elementary school with even though no one lives anywhere near the town we grew up.
I remember one of her best friends, Lisa, who I think she met in nursery school. I can remember tumbling around the back seat of the car in the cul-de-sac at dusk outside Lisa’s house as Mom tooted the horn to get the girls’ attention. The front door would open with wave of acknowledgement and then we would watch for heads moving around in the windows as Andi gathered up her stuff. Being that there was usually an important conversation to finish, I can remember Lisa walking her out to the car just to squeeze in a bit more before the inevitable “Call me’s” were exchanged. It was 35 years ago, but I can picture Lisa and Andi in their first communion dresses and maybe even in Brownie uniforms. I remember tagging along with them to high school football games and them posing for prom pictures at our house with dates in brown and powder-blue tuxedos.
Given the fact that I lost contact with most of my elementary school classmates before I finished my sophomore year in high school, I marvel at the fact that Andi and Lisa have not only kept in touch, but remained close. Lisa’s married and living in Los Angeles so we’ve had passing contact over the years whenever Andrea comes to town; the most recent being just days before Rudy’s diagnosis. I imagine a couple things must have changed over the years, but she still looks remarkably the same and, to my ear, the timbre of her voice sounds just the same as it did back in New Jersey. Now this relationship is one of those evidences of God’s grace because Lisa is a nurse at the UCLA Medical Center.
Part of surviving a severe diagnosis seems to lie in making human contact within an involved medical institution. We’ve learned we need to become known to people so we can advocate for good care, but on an emotional level it as much for the comfort of making friends that remind us that we are not interacting with a “Medical Center”, but with people who have incredible expertise and incredible concern for Rudy. So early into this, as I was still navigating my way through referrals and clerical channels, I took the step of e-mailing Lisa and she put us in touch with her friend Joyce who has worked in the NICU for 31 years. In just a couple of e-mails, Joyce has provided a very comforting perspective on UCLA and the team there. She even told us that she would request to be Rudy’s nurse when the time comes. The waiting game we’re in right now during these weeks can become wearisome, but it feels good to say that “Joyce” will be watching out for Rudy instead of some nameless NICU staff. Can’t wait to meet her in person…
So thanks, Andi! If you ever need money for stamps or your phone bill let me know because I just don’t know when another one of your friends will prove helpful to me. And thanks, Lisa, for being one of an emerging group of caring people at UCLA. While I don’t think I’ll ever be glad for Rudy’s circumstances, within them there are already such evidences of God’s grace to us. I think clinging to those is what will get us through.