Among Friends in Laughter and Heartache

We spent the weekend outside of London. We were there to celebrate a belated Thanksgiving with our dear friends Peter and Suzanne and their son Daniel Cole. We hadn’t seen Daniel since Patrick held him on the shores of a lake in Canada, dedicating him to Jesus Christ in front of his parents and our group of close-knit friends. We sang a few songs and prayed. I remember Patrick getting choked up because Daniel Cole represented such a miracle, a true gift from God to the arms of Pete and Suzanne.

So it is with this backdrop that we visited their family this Thanksgiving. They’d been living in London over a year and now that we were on this side of the Atlantic, we agreed to celebrate an American holiday together.

We arrived Friday afternoon. Suzanne made an amazing lasagna as we caught up on our lives. We shared how life as church planters was going and they shared about Pete’s job and their heart to love their friends and neighbors with Christ’s love. All during this time, Daniel Cole slept. Suzanne said he just hadn’t been feeling normal for the past three weeks and Friday he had slept most of the day.

On Saturday all of us except Suzanne went for a walk in a nearby park. I can’t remember the park’s name except that there were deer there and lots of open spaces. Normally, Daniel would run and chase and cavort, but when Pete asked him if he wanted to get out of the stroller he didn’t respond and sat there, content to watch. Julia was sick too and didn’t want to continue walking. The pictures below were taken in the park (except for the Thanksgiving table where our friend Lauren Vestal is seated between Sophie and Aidan). So, we walked home to the tune of Julia’s whining and Daniel’s silence.

The rest of the day Julia stayed on the couch as did Daniel. She had a fever. He felt cold to the touch. He slept.

For Thanksgiving dinner, we had a turkey, amazing Bon Appetit stuffing, weird cranberries (tasted like wine…what do you expect from England!), mashed potatoes, a wonderful sweet potato recipe made with rum, madeira & maple gravy, and pea salad. The salad was one of Daniel’s favorites, so he sat on Suzanne’s lap and placed pea upon pea in his mouth. Julia slept through part of the meal and remained feverish.

That night, Daniel continued to get sicker. Suzanne woke me up at 4:00 AM and asked me to look at Daniel. He was listless and fairly unresponsive. We all figured he was dehydrated and thought he needed to go to the ER. Pete and Suzanne whisked him to the nearest emergency room.

They called us at 8:00 AM.

“What’s wrong?” Patrick asked. He expected to hear that Daniel had the flu and they were re-hydrating him.

“He has diabetes,” Pete said, shocked.

They spoke a few minutes, Pete filling Patrick in on what was happening. We prayed. We stared at each other in shock. When I talked to Suzanne, we both cried. I wished I could’ve hugged her in that moment, wish I could’ve made the pain go away.

That day, Sunday, the hospital moved Daniel Cole to another hospital. As I write this he is in intensive care being stabilized. Peter and Suzanne are spending every waking moment with Daniel who has 24-hour care. Last we talked, Daniel’s levels were improving and he was able to drink on his own. This morning when he woke up, he said, “Hi Daddy.”

“I could see his color return,” Peter told me.

We flew home today (Monday) with heavy hearts. Part of me wanted to stay there, to be a support to friends who are mining this new world of hospitals and needles and test results and doctors–a world they never thought they’d live in. Right now, in the comfort of my home, all I can do is pray.

And you can too. Would you please take a moment right now to pray for Daniel? Pray he’d recover quickly. Pray the doctors would pay special attention to his needs. Pray that Pete and Suzanne would have rest, that their sleep would be restorative. Pray for grace for this family of three. Pray for patience in the journey ahead.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with dear friends. Today, we are thankful even more for the gift of life, the air that Daniel breathes in and out. We are thankful for Pete and Suzanne and a friendship that extends beyond sharing laughter to weeping together.

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