Monday, October 15, 2012

We live right across the street - Mia McDonald

Many of you mourn with me this week over the news of Mia. I know I'm still in shock. My heart hurts so much for this family we know and love. I met Mimi through our local YMCA, when, four years ago, the staff was holding a bake sale to raise money for this precious little girl waiting for a new heart. I was immediately drawn to her picture on the poster board and found out Mimi had started a blog to keep people updated on baby Mia. I commented on her blog, sharing with her about Luke's heart, and we met soon after at a support group meeting at Seattle Children's hospital. This is where Luke had both of his open heart surgeries and where Mia was fighting to live until a donor heart became available. There were no surgical options for Mia. She needed a new heart and soon. The doctors didn't think she would make it more than four months waiting, and at four months and one day old, the McDonald's got the call that a heart for Mia had come. With one selfless decision on the part of the donor family, this sweet girl had a second chance at life.

And life this girl did live. I'm not sure I have ever met a happier girl. Along with so many of Mimi's blog readers, I was so excited to hear Mia got to go to Disney World to meet Minnie Mouse as part of the Make-a-Wish program. I think Mia was a little excited too.

The family headed to Florida last Tuesday and by Wednesday, Mia was at the local Orlando hospital, being treated for what they thought was pneumonia. In actuality, her body was rejecting her donor heart, and they docs decided to do an emergency biopsy of her heart to find out how best to treat this rejection episode. Mia has battled rejection a couple of times, but the episodes were treated successfully with steroids and a medication regimen. She has had multiple biopsy catheterizations, but something went very wrong this time.

Her heart stopped and she came out of the cath lab on ECMO, a heart-lung life support machine.

Two days later, even though her heart had begun to recover, it was discovered that Mia had no brain activity. She would not make it.

The heart community, along with all who knew and loved the McDonald family, was left reeling. How could a seemingly healthy little girl, on the trip of a lifetime, pass away? How can a family survive something so, so terrible? How can God ask someone to bear this tragedy?

What I wish is that I could tell Mimi, "This is is why this happened. This is what God is doing." Faith is so hard when we can't see the "why".  When all we can do is cling fast and lean hard on a God Who says "He will never leave us or forsake us."

I know the Bible tells us not to be surprised by suffering and that we should be prepared to suffer for the Lord, but how do you prepare for the pain Mia's family is feeling? My heart has hurt, ached, been burdened and broken for Mimi this past week, but I can't truly understand what she's going through. What I can do is be her faith for her. To remind her that it's okay to be angry, confused, broken. To let her know that she is not alone and that God has not forsaken her.

I pray she is lifted up in the days and weeks to come by all those who love her and loved her little girl.

I pray that God will give her glimpses of His Goodness even in what I would imagine are the darkest hours of her life.

I pray that in her brokenness, God would be more real to her than ever.

I love Mimi and I loved Mia. I am so sad she is gone and so sad this family has to live life without her beauty. But I know, deep-down-know, that God will bring purpose through her death. I say that, even as our family lives right across the street from a tragedy like this. This is not a cross-country tragedy for our family. We live with the reality that Luke's most important organ is broken and that God may take our son before we're ready. I pray so hard that is not the case, but we face that possibility more than families with healthy children.

I don't begin to say I understand God's ways and why He allowed Mia to die. But as Jesus wept when His friend Lazarus died, I believe He is weeping with the McDonald family. And He is using their community to carry them. A community of people like my friend Katie, who drove 11 hours to attend Mia's service on Saturday. People like the 40 heart moms who wore red to the funeral, to show their love and support for the McDonald's.

The heart community is not one I would have volunteered to be a part of, but the people within are without compare when it comes to sharing the load.

We love you, Mia. You will always be remembered.

Katie & Maddie, Me & Luke, Susie & Teagan, Mimi & Mia