It was a regular day.
I rose early, like I always do. I made coffee. I let the dogs out. I did my Bible study. I went to the gym.
When I returned home from working out, sweaty and exhausted and needing a snack, I was greeted by a strange sight.
My 17-year-old was laying flat on her back on the couch. At 10 a.m. She was pale, and when I said hi, her response was weak.
"I feel really dizzy," she commented. "Like, if I sit up I want to throw up because my head starts spinning so bad."
I am not an alarmist mom. Never have I ever been. I'm much more likely to say "rub some dirt on it and suck it up and go" than I am to take a child to the doctor. In fact: I once made this same dizzy child walk around for 3 days on what I diagnosed as a twisted ankle before finally caving in and taking her to the doctor. It was fractured. Poor kid. BAD mom.
So, I did what I always do when a child is sick or hurt. I listened, I asked questions, and then we moved forward with our day. I gave her a snack, some headache medicine, and a big glass of water.
She was leaving for a missions trip in 5 days, after all. No time to be sick. Too much to do.
But she didn't get better, not really. She's tough, and rallied a bit. But she looked pale and weak. Concerned medical friends encouraged me to take her to the doctor.
So a Sunday afternoon found us at Urgent Care.
As we sat there, waiting, listening to the doctors discuss her symptoms and say big, scary words like "heart murmur" and "eye-abnormality" and "brain issue" that they wanted to rule out...
I had this slow-motion, internal meltdown.
It wasn't just a regular day anymore. It wasn't just a lack of proper nutrition or hydration or nerves that were making her sick. SOMETHING WAS WRONG.
But I kept my face neutral. Because she kept looking over at me from the exam table. Seeking support from my eyes. Checking on me to see if I was okay.
She knows me well, this first-born of mine. SO I looked at her only when my eyes were clear, and spoke only when I could get words out past the block of panic in my throat. I gripped my phone tightly in my fingers to still the shaking.
It was such a long day. I won't bore you with the details of emergency rooms and doctors who thought I was being overly dramatic, or nurses and attending physicians who told my child there was nothing wrong with her but that, to be safe, she shouldn't go on her trip. There's no reason to rehash how I was totally calm with the doctors and nurses, but how I straight up dissolved into a basket case when we were alone.
My husband and daughter looked at me, and I knew they knew I was barely holding on.
"I cannot be involved in this decision," I said finally, my voice trembling and tears spilling over. "Rationally I know that I cannot be rational. I'm freaking out. So I'm going to just sit here."
Because, you see...Sundays can start off normal, and they can end up being the beginning of a spiral of pain you don't think you'll survive.
I had lived a Sunday just like this before. With hospital rooms, and brain abnormalities, and unanswered questions. My sister...she died...on the mission field...of a brain bleed...
And everyone who looked at me was thinking "she's being overly cautious because of her history..." One of the doctors even SAID that to me.
So I let my rational, logical husband and daughter discuss what we wanted to do next. And I trembled, and my jaw shook from holding back my terror, and I could not get warm enough, no matter how close I snuggled to my girl in that tiny, sterile bed.
We left the hospital with only a few questions answered. She wasn't pregnant (no kidding, stupid doctors) or on drugs (again...no kidding) or anemic. They had done preliminary blood work only, and found nothing of interest. So...we returned home.
Her primary care doctor was as unsatisfied as we were with the lack of results and answers. So there was more waiting, and more tests. And still no pinpointed reason for her dizzy spells and heart palpitations and eye-abnormality.
But...as Tuesday morning dawned, a brain bleed had been ruled out. That was what we needed to know for sure before deciding whether or not she could get on a 15+ hour flight.
I won't lie. I have never been more afraid. The shaking was only barely concealable. I was on the brink of tears all of the time.
Her doctors really didn't want her to go. Since we had no reason for why she wasn't well...they wanted her to stay.
My husband and I talked alone, agonizing over what to do. "Do we let her decide? It seems like such a big thing to ask of her. Do we just tell her she can't go? It'll break her heart. And what if it's the wrong thing? What if we stand in the way of what God wants her to do?"
I sobbed. I begged God to give us a clear directive.
And...so did she.
Because she was afraid too. For herself, yes, and for me. She knew, even though I was trying so hard to hide it, that I was triggered worse than I ever had been. She knew I looked at her and I saw my sister leaving, and that I couldn't stop the reel in my head that went "you hugged her goodbye and you never saw her again..."
It choked me with its terror, those memories. And so I looked at my kid...pale, undecided and trying to be brave for me, and I told her the truth. "You cannot make this decision because you're worried about me. The Lord was with me when your Aunt Joy died. He will be with me if you go on this trip. If you feel like He is telling you to go...I'll be okay. Ask Him what He wants you to do, and do that. If you want to stay, that's okay too. But you decide, for YOU, what He wants."
An hour before we needed to leave for the departure of the trip, she said to us, "I think I'm going to go."
And I swallowed hard, and my husband nodded.
And we held our breath for the next two weeks.