Lea completed her third consecutive 16-hour day of breathing on her own, with eight hours of overnight rest, today. She is handling the challenge to breathe on her own so well the ventilator was completely disconnected from her for 2 ½ hours this afternoon! She did very well, without tiring much at all, which indicates that she is very close to getting off the ventilator entirely. She will start doing eight-hour trials tomorrow, with rest on the ventilator in between, until she is able to go longer periods, and eventually come off life support entirely.

The staff plans to install a different tracheostomy equipped with a speaking valve tomorrow, and will begin working with her right away to train her to use it. That means that she is going to be able to talk, and set the record straight. I’m thinking I might call in sick tomorrow, because I may not want to hear what she has to say to me after all the wise cracks I’ve made while she couldn’t talk! 

We received some wonderful email messages relating to adjustment to others’ experiences with scars from surgeries. We read those this evening, and she seemed to listen closely, but didn’t really show any change in heart if there was any. I’m sure that kind of emotional blow will take a while to get over. I’ll help her as best I can, and hope that the skin graft will make a major improvement in what she has seen in the current wound.

I never thought much about how these letters would affect others until we started receiving those wonderful comments about how folks have forwarded them on to others they care about, and that folks we haven’t yet met have benefited from them. Below is one such letter from a cousin who tells of talking to a beloved aunt we have in common.

“. . . . I’ll tell you about our conversation yesterday. She asked me if I’d heard the wonderful news about Lea? I told her, “Yes! Isn’t it wonderful?” I told her how I had tears in my eyes when I read those first words the Lea was awake. She then went on to tell me what she thought of you & Lea.

I explained that I never really knew either of you well because I didn’t live close and didn’t grow up in Missouri. Until yesterday, I didn’t know that Lea was from Hannibal! She told me that Lea has a wonderful family and that they were very kind to her and (her adolescent daughter) when they were by themselves in Hannibal….often inviting them to share a meal.

We spoke about your obvious love and total devotion to Lea during your entire marriage and especially since she’s been ill. She said that it’s always been like that. A love that everyone around could witness from the very beginning. (She) said that you adored your wife and centered your life around her and the boys. That you had a gentle heart and a caring nature.

I smiled with pride as she was telling me this, because I felt exactly the same just from reading the daily email’s that I’ve received over the past 3 months. By her telling me this, it was proof that what I was reading wasn’t just someone who could write well….it was true!

Because of everything that you both have gone through, I remember more often to thank God for every tiny little blessing that I have. It’s oftentimes difficult being a single mom and dealing with ordinary issues without a partner. BUT…. at least my hope in so many things has been renewed because of both of you. Thank you for that! If you ever had the slightest doubt about what people thought of you, you shouldn’t ever.

Even though this has proven to be the greatest challenge of your lives, you have touched so many others. I look forward to when I can actually visit with you both and give you a big hug, because both of you are so deserving of love and thanks from us all. Please give Lea a hug from me and know that both of you are in my prayers.”

Thank you! Praise God for the many miracles He has worked in our lives as we traveled this difficult road together; you, us, and those loved ones to whom these messages have been forwarded. Lea is being healed, and to the glory of God, lives are being healed in so many ways in so many places. It is truly remarkable to experience, first hand, His love at work.