In December of 1986, while I was out Christmas shopping for the family, Cyndy had an acute seizure. I called our children’s physician, Dr. F. White, but he was not available that day, so Dr. Bobby Garrison saw Cyndy. That was when we started with Dr. Garrison as the children’s doctor. He was very concerned that a neurologist was not following her more carefully since her seizures were so serious.
At that point, we were in agony about Cyndy. I felt like Mark and I were always in crisis mode, waiting for the next medical emergency. I just felt so helpless whenever she was sick, and nothing the doctors tried seemed to improve her condition. We were attending Calvary Presbyterian Church in Norfolk, Virginia, and our pastor at the time pleaded with us to expand our options for treating Cyndy. In January of 1987, our church sent us to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to see a neurosurgeon that our pastor knew. That particular doctor worked at a clinic that could possibly help treat Cyndy for her seizures.
We started our drive on a Sunday morning, and the weather report indicated heavy snow all the way up the mid-Atlantic coast. Hoping to beat the storm as much as possible, we left early in the morning, listening to dire predictions of at least six inches of snow and even more accumulation further north. When we left our home, the snow had not begun to fall, but by the time, we reached the eastern shore of Virginia, it started snowing heavily. The snow obscured our visibility so much that we had to consider turning around and going back home.
It was as though a small voice, incredible and amazing, spoke at the door of our souls. The Holy Sprit told us to keep going, reassuring us that things were going to be turn out for the best. It didn’t seem logical or even safe to keep going in snow that was deepening by the minute, but we kept pressing forward to our destination.
We were determined to keep going, remembering that we were doing this for our little girl who was in the greatest need of essential medical attention. Our hopes were hinged on this trip to save our precious daughter’s life. We just kept praying and asking God what we should do, remembering that God had provided the means of transportation and the money for food and lodging as well as the medical expense. He was supplying all the means for us to have Cyndy treated. We just kept moving onward, trusting God to get us there and back home safely.
When we got to the Maryland/Delaware border, we could not believe our eyes. The snow lay piled up on the side of the road, reminding us of when Moses parted the Red Sea. Exodus 14:21 (ESV) describes this sight: “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.” The roads were clear and dry all the way through the state. We knew then that God wanted us to keep going, and he was providing the way. Nothing could prevent us from finding out why our daughter was seizuring so much, and from obtaining help for her. It was smooth sailing the rest of the trip to Philadelphia, and we arrived there that night.
The snow started to fall in earnest through the night, and by Monday, that area had received over a foot of snow. Since we did not have snow chains, we could not get around town, and the clinic remained closed due to the storm. Cyndy’s test was rescheduled to take place over the next two days. Once the tests were completed, the doctors gave us some sobering news about Cyndy.
We could not have been prepared for the doctor was about to tell us. You could not tell me that Cyndy was handicapped, and possibly going to die, in a few short years. I did not want to hear this news from any doctor. I was exceedingly furious with anyone who would tell me she was handicapped. I did not want to hear it.
Our daughter was mentally handicapped, and her brain was severely underdeveloped. While it was structurally intact, her brain’s wiring and connectors would never developed to normal capacity. Over time, the demands on Cyndy’s brain and the frequency of her seizures would be so great that her brain would simply not be able to handle them anymore. We were devastated at the thought of our precious daughter not being able to do things that we all take for granted. I absolutely refused to accept that Cyndy would learn basic skills so slowly, or not at all. I just wanted to fight to give her a normal life and believe she could get better.
Mark and I cried almost the whole time we were in Pennsylvania. We were not sure how we would come back home and tell the rest of the family that our little angel was gravely ill. The doctor could not tell us how much time we had left with her. Anger toward God came spewing from my mouth, and my heart accused Him of being unjust and uncaring. How could a loving God be so cold-hearted and careless when He had seen to us getting to Pennsylvania safely? Nevertheless, amazingly enough, God forgave my hatred and rage toward Him. He cared about me and was not about to let my temper tantrum get in the way of His love for me.
We made the best of the trip and were able to see some sights like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Philadelphia mint. The kids were too young to remember the trip, but Mark and I will never forget it. We especially enjoyed the huge snowdrifts, which are very rare in eastern Virginia. Mark Jr. and Cyndy had the biggest smiles on their faces as they played in the deep snow. Some of the snowdrifts were taller then they were. They both had seen snow, but never snow this deep.
Back home, we started to work with some different doctors, Dr. Bobby Garrison and Dr. Larry White. They worked with us to keep Cyndy going and to get the services we needed for Cyndy and Mark Jr. at that time. We also met some new doctors who would become involved with Cyndy’s care: Dr. Kitty Meredith, Dr. Gorge Kale, Dr. Tony Thomas, Dr. Victor Mickunas, Dr. Carolyn Riegle, Dr. Murphy, and Dr. Forrest White. In addition, we had Dr. Chaves, Dr. Svindor Toor, who were in Dr. White’s office. We were extremely blessed to find these doctors and to have their support. In addition, we thank God for our church family who were so incredibly encouraging to us. These dear physicians and friends were a part of Cyndy’s life until her death, and they continue to be a part of our lives today.
This was the beginning of our long uphill battle, but now we were moving in the right direction. Although each step forward was small, we were continually encouraged and amazed to see Cyndy do things that we thought she would never be able to do. God is good to us, and His faithfulness is everlasting.
Thank you; Lord, for sustaining us through rough times in life. Your grace and mercy are sufficient even when things seem bleak. Thank you for the love you have shown us. Thanks for the sun that always shines after a rainy day.
In Christ, Amen.