1:04 PM Gosh, things have been happening quickly for us lately. The good news is that we are all well, so we give thanks for that. Susan seems to have no lingering problems with her pleuritic pain, and she even had a follow-up appointment with our regular doctor that went well. Sophie is trucking right along--she is spending this week in Virginia with her "Grammy" and, from what we can tell, she is having a grand time. When I dropped her off on Monday, she was practically bouncing off the walls she was so excited, and when it came time to say good-bye, she simply said, "Bye-Bye, Randall!" (she thinks it's cute when she calls me by my name and she does it with pride). There were no tears or crying or anything. We've talked every night since then and she's as happy as a clam. I'm glad that we've been close enough to Susan's mom and grandmother these past few years for the girls to get to know them as well as they have.
Speaking of which, we have news about where we are going. I have been appointed to serve at Hamlin Memorial UMC in Farwell, Texas. My sister (hi, Sabine!)--who has turned out to be a bit of a "Texas chauvinist"--seemed very happy that we would soon be fellow Texans. Actually, we're only going to be "just barely" Texans because Farwell sits on the New Mexico/Texas state line. As Susan puts it, after being several days' drive (or a long flight) away from New Mexico for the past five years, we will now be able to walk to New Mexico on a regular basis. In fact, Clovis, New Mexico is about 8-10 miles away.
For those of you who are wondering, we will be about equidistant from Amarillo and Lubbock, Texas, both of which have hospitals that are affiliated with the Children's Oncology Group. Our doctors in Chapel Hill are coordinating a relationship with one of the facilities in that area (we aren't sure yet which one), so Sophie will be getting follow-up care in either Amarillo or Lubbock. That care will consist of once-a-month check-ups and blood draws the first year, which will eventually taper off to once-a-year check-ups for the rest of her life. I am very thankful that the New Mexico Conference was able to find us an appointment within reasonable distance of a children's oncology hospital (they are 1 1/2 to 2 hours away). Given the enormous size of the New Mexico Conference, we could have been placed several hours away from a COG facility.
Of course, the finality and reality of this appointment means that we really are going to move. Although we are very excited by the change and the promise of a new experience and looking forward to being in Farwell and the congregation there, it also means that we are going to be saying good-bye to this community, our church, Elisabeth's school, Sophie's day care, all our friends, and Susan's work (although she will continue to "tele-commute"). This place has meant so much to us, especially after what we have been through with Sophie's illness.
It is a time of very mixed emotions. None of us "wants" to leave this place, although we have known for the past five years that it would only be temporary. We have nevertheless made some really strong connections that will be hard to let go of. Up till now, nobody has taken us up on the offer to go with us to Farwell (although I had a clergy friend jokingly ask if he could go along--I think he's unhappy where he is serving).
Throughout this whole experience of Sophie's illness and treatment, I have had the sense that we were being carried--carried by the prayers and support of a wide community of friends and loved ones, and (more importantly) carried by the hands of God. Looking back, I think that we were not just carried through this experience, but carried to it, and I would include in that being carried to North Carolina in the first place. We are still being carried, even as we are getting "carried away." That gives us a great deal of comfort and a great deal of confidence as we face these uncertain days. I hope and I pray that all our friends who keep up with us on this blog will continue to carry us as we enter into this period of change and transition in our lives.