Saturday, December 12, 2009

What Happened and Why?

Sara's autopsy report was recently completed. Sara experienced a massive stroke that caused uncontrollable brain swelling that led to cerebral herniation (brain being compressed into the base of her skull) which led to restriction of blood flow which led to brain death.

There was a slight delay in getting the final autopsy report completed because Sara's brain made a trip to Washington D.C. The pathology team at Wilford Hall did not find anything that pointed to a cause for Sara's stroke. So, her brain went to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in D.C. for the "big-wigs" to take a look. Results...inconclusive.

I am okay with this finding and actually predicted that "they" were not going to be able to pinpoint a cause. As Sara was in the hospital for her final days, 100s of tests were run and they all came back normal. This was frustrating for the doctors working the case and, after discussions with the doctor who performed the autopsy, frustrating for the pathologists working on finding a cause. There seems to be no clinical reason for the stroke.

While in Dallas (for the Komen Race a few months ago) I was having a philosophical discussion with my older brother, Jay. We were talking about Sara's life, and the impact she had on so many while she was alive...and that her impact seemed to increase after her death. Jay brought up the fact that it did not seem like the cancer was the cause of Sara's death. We started discussing lots of "what ifs..."

Here are some of the realizations we had that night.

Though the cancer did not kill Sara, the cancer...

- caused us to move back to Texas, near our family and friends, for the last 5 months of Sara's life.

- caused me not to deploy. My squadron in Japan left for a 6-month deployment on the day Sara had her mammogram. I was supposed to be on that deployment.

- is the reason why this blog was started.

- allowed our family (and 1000s of others) to see Sara put COMPLETE TRUST AND FAITH in the Lord.

- allowed Sara's inner beauty to RADIATE more than ever before. When I picture Sara, I see a pregnant bald lady in a hospital bed...not the image of her when she was in her prime health. I love that bald pregnant lady more than the woman I married 5 years ago.

- helped our marriage to become "rock solid." Sara and I had a great marriage from day 1, but over the course of the past year, we grew in amazing ways together...even though Sara was "locked up" inside the hospital on bed rest for a lot of the time.

- allowed me to fall more in love with my wife, as we spent an unprecedented amount of quality time together this past year.

As I was thinking back over "the cancer journey," I thought back to the first morning after we got the bad news about Sara's mammogram. I had a hard time getting out of bed and told Sara to turn on some music. This was my "low point" on our journey into the unknown. A few minutes later, I was holding Sara in my arms as we danced in our living room listening to the song "There Is A Reason" by Caedmon's Call. I had my hand on her belly, praying for the Lord to spare the life of our new baby inside of her. We were both in tears, but truly believed that God had a reason for this trial in our lives.

A few verses from "There Is A Reason" by Caedmon's Call

Late at night I wonder why
Sometimes I wonder why
Sometimes I'm so tired I don't even try
Seems everything around me fails
But I hold onto the promise
That there is a reason
There is a reason

He makes all things good
He makes all things good
There's a time to live and a time to die
A time for wonder and to wonder why
Cause there is a reason
There is a reason

In Ecclesiastes, there is a passage about there being "a time for everything." I referenced this verse previously, but now that Chloe is here, it hits home even more. We had been trying to get Sara pregnant for the 6 months prior to it actually happening. Had the pregnancy not happened when it did, Chloe would not be here. Sara got pregnant on the final opportunity we had before we found out about the cancer. THANK YOU, LORD!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance... --Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

So, WHAT HAPPENED? We will never know what was going on in Sara's body to cause the massive stroke that led to her death.

WHY? I am confident that Sara died in order for God to receive GLORY through it. Though hard for our "earthly" minds to comprehend, I believe this completely. Soli Deo Gloria!

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. --Psalm 116:15

A few days after our Christmas Tree had been decorated (thanks, Mom), I was looking for something and just happened to open up a random drawer in the entry way table (where we have nothing stored). I found this ornament in that drawer, all by itself. I have no idea who or where it came from or how it found its way into that random drawer in my entry way.


slotmachinemimi said...

Brady, Maybe that little angel was put in your entry hall drawer, by Sara, you know that "angels walk amongst us". Just remember that you have an angel in heaven (Sara) and a little angel on earth (Chloe). My prayers remain with your family during this holy season. Susan

adele said...

Your blog continues to inspire me and fill me with such compassion for you and your family.
God bless you.

Ms. Anthropy said...

In your post of Sara's delivery, you stated...

Around 8:00pm, Sara opted for the epidural. After the needle was in her back, they administered a "test dose" to make sure the needle was placed correctly. All of a sudden, Sara's neck started hurting and they put her on oxygen.

Is there any reason to believe a misplaced epidural could have contributed to her eventual death? Has that possibility even been considered?

SLKozul said...

Brady - another inspiring post. May God continue to bless you & Chloe.

Anonymous said...

Just listened to "There is a Reason" by Caedmon's Call. I hope you feel the strength of Sara radiating from heaven. You have an angel with you on Earth (Chloe) and another in heaven (Sara).

Ren said...

Hi Brady,

I'm a total stranger halfway around the world who found your blog while searching for something else. I've read all your posts and I don't know what else to say, other than that I am praying for you, Chloe and your family. May the Lord's grace that was so apparent to you and Sara throughout this journey continue to drench all of you, especially in the coming Christmas season. And as you so deeply desire, and as Sara would have wanted, may His glory be seen in your lives.


Rae Koonce said...

I have a friend who lost her mom. My friend was 25, and her mother was mid life, certainly not old. My friend and her husband had just bought a new house, and it was Thanksgiving time, so they had the whole family over so they could share their new home. Her parents came from TN. They left for home the day after Thanksgiving, and my friend kissed both of them and told them she loved them and to call her when they got home. Late that night they called her and told her they had made it home. Then early the next morning her dad called her husband and told him that my friends mother had died. She had gotten up around 6 to run some errands before her day began, and while she was driving, a man who was driving on the same road in the opposite lane, was coming home from a late shift and fell asleep at the wheel and as they were about to pass each other, his truck suddenly swerved and hit my friends mother head on. She died on impact.
Then, to make matters worse, they found out that the driver of the truck had fallen asleep because he had just started back to working the late shift, after an extended time off. The reason for his time off was that his wife had died.
The man was not a Christian. But because of the accident and my friends family be so forgiving, he came to know Christ days later.
In the months to follow my friend was really going through the "anger" stage, she got pregnant soon after her mothers death and this only caused her more devastation because her mother would not be there. She and I were talking about it and about how angry she was at God.
I asked her "If your mom was given the choice, and God told her 'This guy is going to hell but if you give your life, it will change his and he will come to me.' What would she choose?" She didn't even hesitate, she knew that her mom would choose to give up her earthly life if it meant saving someone elses eternal life.
And that is what she did.
I think that it is kind of the same with Sara, except on a much greater level. Because of her death, so many now have an eternal life to look forward to!

lily said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leslie said...

Brady, you continue to amaze me with your strength, both in faith and character.

Number 6:24-26
The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’

Peggie said...

Brady, I learned of your blog from my daughter, who is an AF wife. I've read every post and cried along with you and Chloe. I was especially moved to read about your "philosophical conversation" with your brother. I had a similar experience when I was younger. I had two young children and found myself unexpectedly pregnant with my third. I was not ready for another child, but I knew the Lord would not give me more than I could handle. As time progressed, things went horribly wrong with my pregnancy and I had a miscarriage. Through the problems, hospitalizations and testings, they found a problem with my heart and I was required to have immediate open heart surgery to save my life. It all happened so fast! But, like you, when I looked back and see the cause and effect of things that happen, I could truly see God's handiwork. If I hadn't gotten unexpectedly pregnant, and then LOST that baby, I never would have had my heart condition diagnosed and I would have left THREE children motherless for their entire lives! The Lord really does work in wonderful and mysterious ways. I look forward to reading your future blogs and see what the Lord has in store for you and Chloe. God Bless you both.....

Jan @ Struck by Serendipity said...

Thank you for continuing to share inspiring posts with us. Through Sara's death, I have become stronger in my walk with Christ. Reading your posts reminds me how precious life is and to thank God every day for each day I'm given.

Danielle.Ervin said...

Profound and so well spoken. You are truly amazing! The little angel with Sara's name on it gives me the chills........ God works in mysterious ways.

Jenny said...

I first learned of your blog right when Sara had passed. Somehow I know someone who knows someone who knows someone else (and so on) and I ran into your family's story. I have to say that your courage (and that of both yours and Sarah's families) is incredible - something I would like to aspire to.
I have had some health concerns over the last year brought on as a result of having a baby about 2.5 years ago, and I have had MANY moments of fear. So far things are going well, but I have had times where I feel like the unknown is too overwhelming and I cannot find comfort. I must say that your blog has taught me something. I can't really put it into words... maybe it is grace, maturity, acceptance, or something else, but it is something I did not have but think I am now building.
In addition to personal strength, you have helped me along my path with my faith. I have always been a Christian, but I haven't always embraced my faith as the primary place to ground myself from. I was also never very vocal or outright about my faith. I can't say that I am where I should be just yet, but I am certainly moving in a better direction with some momentum.
I said all of this really just to say thanks for sharing your life with the world. It has taught me something I can only hope to teach and share with others as I make my way through life.

Kyle and Amy said...

Brady, what a wonderful man of God you are! Your blog continues to be a blessing each time I read it. My husband and I pray for you and Chloe and the life that you both live each day and we are truly touched by your sweet ways you speak of Sara. She is and always will be a beautiful blessing to all who knew her and even though we do not know your family personally, the Lord does and we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and we are praying each day for you all! May God bless you and little Chloe in a very special way! Your courage and your strength is amazing and you truly are a blessing to others! Prayers are going up for you all across the world! And the best part about it is that we serve a mighty God and while we do not always understand why things happen, we do know that He has His precious arms wrapped around us and He will never let us go! May you find comfort and peace in the days to come. Praying for you in Georgia! Sincerely, Amy and Kyle Brooker

pinamarie said...

Hi, I wanted to introduce myself. I started reading your blog right after sara died. I think I got the link from Angie Smith's blog. Your story has touched my heart and your faith is beautiful. Praise God for the perfect timing of your wife's pregnancy and your sweet daughter's birth. My mom just finished her breast cancer treatments and is thankfully cancer free now.

God bless you and your family.

Dawn said...

what a wonderful unexpected find in your hall drawer. Sara's smile will never cease and your strength and love for your wife, daughter and Christ is a beautiful reminder to all of us, thank you!

Cathy said...

I have been reading your blog and it has helped with the loss of my husband. He went off life support on February 20th. Thank you for sharing your song "There is a Reason". Some days it is hard to understand.....

Sabrina said...

We received our Sara Sullivan reminder bands in the mail this week. Thank you! My husband has already had the opportunity to share your God story because someone asked about his band. Soli Deo Gloria! Simply Awesome!


Melissa said...

You don't know me but I happened to come across your blog randomly a few months ago and have been keeping up. I am really inspired by your strength through all this and have been touched by Sara's story. My mom has been clear of breast cancer for 4 years now but that was such a scary time. God Bless!

Shannalee said...

That was beautiful.

Mad Fat Woman said...

So glad you have peace with the autopsy. Praying for your family.

Trixabelle said...

Brady, You don't know me either. I came across your blog several months ago and have been following you ever since. I know that Chloe is here to continue to bless your life in ways not known at this time. I also know that you will be able to see Sara again one day. Thanks for allowing complete strangers into your life. You are a great example to me of love and faith. I only hope that I can be as fortunate as you to find someone to cherish me the way you love and cherish Sara and her memory. God Bless!

Kelli said...

May God bless and keep you and Chloe always!! Thanks for sharing of your heart and of God's great love for us!

Andolicious said...

Beautiful and moving post. I am glad you were able to get the results... but hate that results didn't say what caused the stroke. But I'm glad that you are okay with that. Cancer didn't kill her, but it seems like in a way it saved you two. It saved Chloe. Thank God she got pregnant when she did. Thank God you were not deployed, thank God you two were able to be with family! I know you are thankful for that. I'm so saddeneded for you and Chloe. I pray for you all the time. I pray that God will comfort you and continue to provide peace.
That song you two danced to, I loved the lyrics. I need to listen to it. I'm so sorry you don't have her here. What a beautiful person she was. Oh and the ornament... I think it's Sara's doing :) God Bless you!!!

Sara Graham said...

I love the list of things that happened in God's perfect timing. Medicine may not be able to provide the answers as to why your precious wife was taken so young, with so much left to do. But by the time we get to heaven and you dance with her again, it won't even matter.

Praying for your continued strength. I wish I could give you and your darling Chloe a hug.

Stephanie Cobb said...

I just wanted you to know how much your blog means to me. I have been reading and following this blog since around july/aug when my best friend introduced me to it. Over the past year my husband and I have experienced some of our own difficulties and reading your blog never fails to bring me to my knees. We are currently pregnant with a "miracle" baby that the drs have absolutely no hope for. It is hard for us to hold tight and believe in Gods reasons for things. My husband and I believe that God has called this child to live and not die. But learning to surrender and say.. Lord whatever the outcome is.. I will still love you, I will still serve you." You have helped me evolve into this place and I want to thank you. God has used you and Sara to touch my life. I remember feeling so depressed when Sara died.. I had been having my church and my sunday school class pray for her and I was so sure she would pull through. There is a reason. Her life.. your words.. my child.. all the trials we go through everyday that drawl us closer and closer to God. There IS a reason.
Thank you for all that you are. We are praying for you and your family. Psalm 143:8

Shonda said...

God just keeps blessing you Brady =) EVERYtime and I mean EVERYTIME I read your blog my eyes fill up with tears and my heart aches but they are GOOD tears and it's a good ache, you are truly an inspiration to many you have never met...for that I thank you!

Keep up the good work Brady =)


Diana said...

Sara continues to touch my life and other people's lives. I shared her story with a pharmaceutical rep and she ended up knowing someone who knew Angie and her husband. She read the entire blog and was touched. You and Chloe are always in my prayers and thoughts. Chloe is getting so big and is so cute. She looks so much like Sara. Chloe will be a blessing to everyone she knows she will be just like her mother:)
God Bless You.

Kel said...

Ok.. I can't see to type at the tears of joy from reading this one. WOW... just and the angel.. yes you do know how it got there and especially why~ Have a merry Christmas Brady with ur babygirl.. Sara will be smiling on you the whole time! What is awesome is that I totally get what you meant by her death amazing it is when it all starts making sense..thank you for sharing these thoughts with us..hugs

Diana...aka...MeMe said...

What a gift to find! God bless Brady... Merry Christmas to your bundle of Joy-Chloe!

bass family said...

So encouraging to hear how you so clearly see the Lord's hand in the midst of tragedy. Love the comment that was left... "cancer didn't kill her, but it saved the two of you" - and perhaps gave you Chloe. What seemed like the most devastating trial you could've faced may very well been a blessing in disguise. Your honesty and vulnerability inspire me. Still praying for you and your sweet baby girl.

Melissa's Thoughts said...

Thank you for the encouragement that each day is designed by God to bring him glory. I pray that we all see His glory today.

Donna said...

Brady, thank you again for sharing your life. I have always felt in my heart that if things don't happen in a certain way, then other (really good things) don't happen. God's will is unknown.
We are just along for the ride with Him. And what a ride it can be if we only trust HIM!

Skye and Sydney said...

Thank you Brady. I continue to miss Sara everyday and struggle with the whys also. I know there is a reason but still find myself wishing there were another way. Sara on the other hand, would never have wished that. Her ultimate joy would be to be used by God for his Glory. I wear my band every day and smile every time I realize the impact Sara has made. There are over 2400 bands out there. Praise God!

Soli Deo Gloria.

Love you both and hope we see you soon.

devro said...

Wow! You are such a good writer. I get more and more attached to your blog every time a new post is up. You really need to write a book someday! It's through your words I feel your pain and I'm in tears everytime I see that baby girl! You are an awesome man! I continue to pray.
Devin (Longview, Tx)

The Lugo's said...

You continue to inspire me Brady. Love that little angel with Sara's name on it. Thank you for sharing the love you have for the lord and for your wife Sara. It truly touches my heart.

Still praying

Kate said...

Hey Brady-
God Bles you, Chloe and your family.
You and Sara are an inspiration to me.
Deer Park High School 1995

ogs_mom said...

Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. Chloe is a beautiful little girl. My thoughts are with you at the holidays. I know it must be a very hard time for you. Your strength and love for Sara and Chloe is amazing. Nicole

ogs_mom said...

Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. Chloe is a beautiful little girl. My thoughts are with you at the holidays. I know it must be a very hard time for you. Your strength and love for Sara and Chloe is amazing. Nicole

Anonymous said...

So glad you got the results back finally. It's just as you predicted when we spoke about this long ago. I had this on my mind recently and Gabe asked me if I had heard anything more about it. Thanks for updating us all about the situation. We miss you and love you.

Tiff & Gabe

Beth said...

Amazing...amazing list. I pray that God would continue to give you peace and strength to walk this road.

Kelly said...

Brady, We've never met but my sister, Johna, was one of the nurses who took care of Sara while she was on bed rest. I was visiting her on the day Sara passed and we both started reading your blog. Thank you so much for sharing your entire journey in this blog. It has helped me in my own life. Thank you for that.

I've been able to share your story & blog thru my own work. I'm a Massage Therapist who had a client come in after the Race for the Cure in Dallas. I asked her if she walked near anyone with the SaraStrong blue shirts on. She had but didn't know what they were for; so I got to share your story with her. She went home and read the blog from start to finish and is now part of the Sara Strong Team. Just wanted you to know that you are still affecting people with your journey!

Ashley Andreano Photography said...

As always Brady, thank you so much for posting and sharing your heart. Daniel and I are praying for yall! Always!

Anonymous said...

Many continued prayers for you and your precious daughter.

Melissa said...

We're a fellow Air Force family stationed at Eglin AFB and have ordered to Mountain Home for next year (don't laugh! LOL) Your blog has been such an inspiration and it's also refreshing to see a military member so outspoken and true in his faith. We don't see that often. We're praying for you and Chloe.

The Gephardt Family
Gus, Melissa, Ethan, Trey, and Rachel

Anonymous said...

Though I don't know your family - I have dropped in on your blog from time to time...I appreciate your willingness to blog, it's an encouragement to read.

Rachael said...

Brady, James and I continue to pray for you and Chloe! We miss you guys terribly and are sending extra prayers this Christmas season. I know Sara is smiling down on you. You are doing an amazing job remembering her and raising your daughter! Love, The Fagans

Amber said...

I am so glad we serve a living, mighty God. Still praying for you and Chloe and Sara's family.

Anonymous said...

Wow...that angel ornament with Sara's name on it gives me the chills..God is giving you comfort

Anonymous said...

I noticed that Sara's headstone does not even mention her being a mother to Chloe Grace. Why did you leave that off? I was stunned to see that missing from the headstone! It seems that having Chloe was her greatest achievement in life and would it be wonderful for Chloe to be included on that headstone. She wasn't just your wife. She was Chloe's mother, too.

Cindy said...

I do not know you. I heard of your family from several classmates. I have been reading your blog for a couple of months now and I just wanted to let you how touched I am in every aspect and I tell people I know about your family. I pray every night for you that you may be guided by the Lord in raising your precious baby girl. I hope you continue to receive strength during this time.

tracy said...

Hi Kaylee114, While Sara's headstone may not have included the fact that she was Chloe's Mom, please rest assured that Chloe Grace WILL without a doubt know who her Mommy was in a way that will have much more impact on her life than having it written on a headstone. Brady is very aware everyday that Sara was not just his wife, but also the beloved mother to their beautiful daughter.

Anonymous said...

Thinking about you and Chloe this Christmas. Although my loss of loved ones is nothing compared to you losing Sara, I listened to some sermons that really helped me through those difficult times. I wanted to share them with you:

RachelRhoden said...

Brady&Chloe-I think about you and your family so often. And i really hope that you can find joy in this Christmas. Because of Saras life and testimony our group of party animals are waking up on Sundays for the early service. I think we all caught a glimpse of something truely amazing and we want more of it. (I believe that angel was no accident either.)Stay Strong Brady!

Paula said...

Hi Brady,

I found your blog through a long trail starting with, through Angie Smith's blog to here. You kept me up till 5 am reading last night. =P

Thank God for your beautiful wife, your deep strength and your precious daughter. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Ms. Anthropy asked whether someone's looked at the link between Sara's neck pain during delivery and her stroke. I wondered the same thing. If you google "epidural stroke", you'll see journal articles documenting cases much like Sarah's.

God bless you and Chloe. You are such a good father to that little girl.