Nine months ago, in March, Lynsay and I had just left Uganda when I learned about Mabel.  Dr. Craig Sable, who loved her and had cared for her for many years, called Lynsay and asked her to work a miracle:  find a U.S. family willing to adopt Mabel, who had lost both of her parents.  Without becoming a US Citizen, Mabel would die of a broken heart.  In the US, she stood a chance of receiving a hero heart and living, free from heart disease.  How could we not rise to that challenge?

Throughout the spring and into the summer, we spoke to several families who were interested in pursuing Mabel’s adoption.  During that time, Lynsay and I kept tabs on Mabel, sometimes when Lyns was in country and other times through friends in Uganda.  My stomach would drop every time she was ill.  My heart sank when I saw photos of her in the July time period — emaciated and appearing close to death’s door.  I called the adoption agency {more than they wanted} and begged them to hurry; time was of the essence and these photos told me time was short.  I panicked every time I got an email from anyone in Uganda, wondering if this would be the notice I was trying so hard to avoid; the time when we lost Mabel.

At the beginning of August, having not heard from Mabel for a while, we sent our team to find her.  When they did, it was clear she had not been eating and certainly had not been taking her medication.  We begged Troy and Tana to go to Uganda in August and start the in-country process, even before being fully approved state-side.  Shortly thereafter, they did.  The Ugandan process was daunting and I think I slept a couple of hours a night for weeks as I waited and held my breath, praying and begging God that the adoption would be processed quickly and lawfully. Mabel was in and out of the hospital and each time, I felt that all-too-familiar-dread that had somehow come to be normal throughout this process.  But Mabel persevered and remained well enough to travel to the U.S.

After receiving clearance to fly without a medical escort, Tana and Mabel boarded a flight to London. Unfortunately (but perhaps not surprisingly given the stress) Mabel needed oxygen during most of the eight hour flight.  On landing in London, they went immediately to a hospital and my sleepless nights renewed with vigor.  By this point, I wanted nothing more than for Mabel to be state-side where {I perceived} she could get the best, state of the art care, for her heart, taking her safely to transplant.

After five or so days in London, Mabel flew to Texas and did great on the flight.  I breathed a sigh of relief at the fact that she was in the US, with a family, and would never be left alone again.  Thank you, Jesus for Your mercy.  During that month in Texas, Mabel got to experience all variety of “normal” and participate in Halloween with her family, telling her Ugandan family it was “the best day of her life.”  Sweet mercy and grace.

I think I developed a bit of a false sense of security once Mabel was stateside, thinking that only good things could come from here forward.  So I was a bit blind-sided when she went to the hospital in Houston in early November and things seemed to go quickly from bad to worse.  And yet, as my children and I talked and prayed for Mabel, I still believed God was going to do a miracle for this girl.  He loved her, more than Tana, Lynsay or I ever could, and He would allow her to have life on this earth.  Wouldn’t He?

After Mabel received her Berlin (a bridge that could take her to transplant) I breathed another sigh of relief.  And last Friday, when she woke up from sedation, I celebrated that the spunky Ugandan who I had grown to love was awake and talking to her family.  Praise Him!  Now, we MUST be out of the woods!

Last weekend, however, Mabel had to be re-intubated and sedated; that was the last we would hear from Mabel on this earth.  In the early morning hours of Wednesday, Mabel slipped into the arms of our Savior.  Her Savior.  The grief my children, Lynsay and I have felt this week has been suffocating.  We had so many hopes and dreams for Mabel — dreams she had for herself.  Dreams she wanted to share with the world.  And her family — the Sykes family — they had dreams for Mabel that would never be fulfilled on this earth.  I’ve said a lot of different words this week (of varying appropriateness) but the one that remains is simply this:  Ouch.  My heart hurts.  It aches for Mabel and for the Sykes family and for all of us who loved her and will never meet her this side of heaven.  Just, ouch.

Thank you, Pure & Faultless family, for supporting the Sykes family adoption of Mabel.  Thank you for giving Mabel a chance.  Thank you for believing that HE is able, no matter what the medical tests show.  Thank you for taking a flyer on a sassy, sweet, small Ugandan teenager who wrote in her journal while hospitalized:  “I love you Jesus; deep down in my heart.”  From the bottom of our hearts and Mabel’s too, thank you.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18