Joyfully thankful

February 1, 2020 - 12:00am -- Living City

Joyfully thankful
A mother navigates her fear as her son’s heart surgery unfolds

Last year I was told my eldest son might have to undergo heart surgery. This news was completely unexpected, given my son’s young age and a lack of cardiac issues in our family history.

After months of waiting, my son’s cardiologist finally confirmed he would need to undergo the dreaded heart surgery. This was really a moment where my belief in God’s love was put to a test! However, I realized that it was Jesus, who suffered on the cross, and he was asking me to embrace him in this suffering.

The fear lingered on for a while, until one early morning, a week before my son’s scheduled surgery. I had to be taken to the emergency for an apparent heart problem. Fortunately, at the end of the seven-hour stay in the emergency room, the doctors cleared me of any heart condition.

In the days and weeks leading up to my son’s hospitalization, my fears for him began to manifest, and I began to realize how much was lacking in my way of looking at life.

One day a quote by Focolare’s founder Chiara Lubich caught my eye: “God’s will is not, as we might sometimes think, a burden that we have to resign ourselves to ... His will is that we joyfully thank him for the gifts that we have received.” So, I started to place my whole trust in the Holy Spirit, that he would be my guide and help to discern God’s will in this situation.

When the day of surgery came, the three hours in the waiting room (with my youngest son) seemed an eternity. But finally the surgeon came and gave the good news that the operation was successful and that my son’s heart was strong.

Despite this good news, seeing my son in the recovery room, sedated and hooked up to medical equipment, was still disconcerting. I wanted to cry but no tears came ... I could only say a silent prayer of thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit.

After a few days, he was discharged and we returned home. The reality of the level of care that my son would require dawned on me as soon as we got home. Fever came within the hour, and we had to call the helpline for guidance. More challenges unfolded immediately afterward, but I did my best to improvise in my new role as caregiver.

With the help of another of my sons, we did our best to live each of these moments with a persevering love. I had to take over the functions of the nurses, the cooks, the cleaners and everyone else — all to help make him comfortable. Each moment was an offering to ease his pain, his discomforts.

Rest was not an option either. Every sound coming from him rang like a bell for me to do whatever was needed at the moment. When I thought I was too exhausted to continue, I would offer my action with the words, “For you Jesus!” Somehow the burden would seem lighter.

After many months, my son has recovered remarkably. He is now able to do things that we would never before have thought possible. I joyfully thank God for all of the gifts we have received.

- Siony Palad, Canada

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