Lessons from the Nest – Plan B

We can figure this out. We just need a plan.

Except sometimes our plan is not the right plan or the best plan or the plan at all. Plan A gets blown up for Plan B.

It has been an emotional week in our house. Our family on my husband’s side has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows across the span of seven days…

A new baby was eagerly expected and it would make my husband’s parents, Nana and Pap-Pap, grandparents again for the first time in almost 12 years. It would mean the arrival of the first cousin for my children on this side of the family tree and it would make my husband an uncle for the first time. The excitement in the air could lift off a hot air balloon.

For my husband’s sister it would mean her first child and therefore, her first delivery. I remember all the nervous excitement and fear that occupied my mind as my first was nearing her entry into this world and I can only imagine that it was magnified for my tiny sister-in-law with each day she ticked past her due date.

I remember before my first delivery focusing on all the wonderful things about the birth and fully expecting to get the complete basket of goodies – our perfect baby would be placed on my chest after an easy few hours of labor (courtesy of an epidural of course) while I was looking great (in the perfect lighting no doubt) so we could document every amazing second. My Plan A did not include things like forceps and a baby whisked away for breathing problems. It did not include stitches and someone invading my privacy every ten seconds. It did not include a worried husband that forgot to ever even pick up the camera. I had a plan but the plan didn’t bother to show up so the replacement was called in – Plan B.

This week’s new baby also came along with a Plan B.

I am convinced due dates are just guideposts to remind us how little we control and birth plans are just an activity to keep us busy while we wait. Plan A is like throwing pennies in a fountain – it is fun to do and there is minimum loss in the activity but results are rarely seen.

For this family no matter the plan or the path, a baby arrived and we are overjoyed. The news was received with cheers and tears and we are all so excited to meet the sweet boy that will likely continue to throw curve balls at his parents and make his own plans…

A week before this day of goodness and new life, we fell into one of our lowest days ever.

No one expects illness to hit a healthy person in their lives and especially not someone that is always the rock for everyone else…

With Uncle Doug before we became engaged Circa 1998

My husband’s uncle is the reason we met over 20 years ago. He had moved to Nashville and my future husband was spending the summer living with him while interning in the music industry. Sparks flew and we became inseparable. When the summer ended and my husband returned to college in Pittsburgh, Uncle Doug flew me up to see him and meet the rest of his family. I barely had two pennies to rub together but he bought me a ticket and was my travel companion to the steel city. The North and South collided and the rest is history. I was welcomed in and we all became family over the next few years.

To describe Uncle Doug as a great man seems hollow; somehow, incomplete. He loves like no other. He values family more than anyone I have ever known. He brings wit and humor to every situation. Like a patriarch, he is loved and revered by everyone in this family. The middle names of the two men in my house, my husband and son, combine to form his name, Douglas MacCallum. He is an anchor for all of us.

The news of his leukemia diagnosis this week rocked this entire family, through every branch of the family tree it spread. His long-time friends felt the impact and booked plane tickets. Church members and pastors encircled his hospital bed. My husband decorated his sterile room with Pittsburgh sports memorabilia including a James Conner jersey to remind us that these things can (and will) be beaten. We all hugged him and his wife and shed tears.

Plan A never included a sick Uncle Doug.

So we all began to pray and I returned home to make a paper crane for him with a message of healing hidden inside.

Earlier this fall my Plan A was to make 1000 cranes as a meditative process and the Japanese tradition also promised, as a bonus, that a wish would be granted at the end. During my time in Spain last month I had realized that what I believed I would ‘wish’ for at the end was actually not a wish but a choice. I had packaged something as a wish that I actually had complete control over; I simply needed to be courageous, unapologetic in my commitment, and stay on this path to obtain that which I desired.

A wish is not a choice. It is something that we can’t control. For Uncle Doug, I wish for complete healing but I know that I alone can’t control the outcome. So Plan B for the paper cranes now includes a new hidden message inside – Hope for Healing. The crane making speed has gone double-time.

From delivery and new life to health and life’s plans, Plan B seems to be the norm.

However, there is one Plan A from this week that I feel confident will come true. I heard my husband declare this week when he found out that his sister’s baby had arrived safely that he planned to be the kind of uncle to his new little nephew that Uncle Doug has always been for him. Sounds like a great plan to me.

  • Kate
    Posted at 18:51h, 14 November Reply

    I know Uncle Doug means so much to your family, as he was like a rockstar to the two kids I met so many years ago! I have been praying for him and for your family. For him to heal and be peaceful; and for your family to deal with this in the best way- together. My prayers will continue! Love and miss you so!

  • Donna Owens
    Posted at 20:16h, 14 November Reply

    I lift my Cousin Doug up in prayer everyday…..He is such a gracious, and kind man. Thank you for telling his story so many more can lift him up in prayer.

  • Doug MacCallum
    Posted at 20:55h, 14 November Reply

    Thank you for your beautiful words as always, Jess. This week has been traumatic and uplifting at the same time. We cherish the birth of young Sam to Lauren and Leigh. I have great hope for my future, but that hope is surrounded in prayer and love from so many family and friends and I love you for what you are doing and for your love that you have your writings. Thank you!

  • Amy Jones Wedemeyer
    Posted at 06:05h, 15 November Reply

    I have been keeping you all in my prayers

  • Patty Harbison
    Posted at 09:38h, 16 November Reply

    Friend of Jeanette’s here… We’re all just gutted by the news of Doug’s illness, but I know you all will kick the stuffing out of “Plan B.”

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