Friday, December 28, 2012

A New Kind of Beautiful

I recently had a friend text me.  She said that it is both a beautiful and hard time for me right now.  She is right.  But on that day I texted back, "Today it is just hard."  She is one of those friends where you can be brutally honest, so I was.

We have had a lot of "just hard" days.  Death and dying sucks.  I haven't wanted to write a post because I don't want my blog turn into this whiny, depressed, instead I have stayed quiet for a little bit, and wept and grieved with my family. 

It was really great to celebrate Christmas with my sister in town.  Once again I needed to shift my expectations.  One of the biggest side effects of the heart failure that my mom experiences is exhaustion.  So she spends a good deal of time sleeping, or trying to sleep.  So I tried to be grateful for every awake moment we had on that day.  My mom also really struggles with eating right now.  She has a lot of nausea and vomiting, and food rarely sounds good to her.  But on that day she had two "helpings" of Christmas dinner.  I laugh because her two helpings barely touched the one helping I had, but it was a small celebration none the less. 

Saying goodbye to my sister was hard.  Every time I leave my mom's house it is hard.  Many times going to my mom's house is hard.  It feels as though we currently live in this deep valley.  While I want to run out of it with all my might, I also want to sit in it forever because I know my mom won't make it out with me.  Mom-I will sit in this valley with you as long as you need.  I will sit in the discomfort and the tears.  I will sit in the sadness and the pain.  I will sit right here until you are called home.

My mom has kind of plateaued.  She is still really close to dying, yet in the same breath not quite there.  It is hard with heart failure because 50% of the time, it is an arrhythmia that can start at anytime which would take her life.  This is what I want and what I am rooting for (please forgive the fact that I am a wee bit morbid).  The other half of the time death is caused by pump failure.  Earlier she seemed to be consistently declining, but now we have some what leveled off in a shitty place.  It is as though her body now holds her soul captive, and I pray often for it to be released.  I pray for her to be able to go home to heaven all the time.  I pray for this season to be over and for the ability to climb out of the valley.  I pray because I want her to have peace.  Pain free peace. 

Until then I try to hold onto the fact that God is the giver and taker of life, and his timing is perfect.  I also try to convince him that now is a good time.  My mom told me the other day that she is ready for this all to be over.  I agree.  So I will continue to plead with God to take her home, and I will continue to absorb every last hug, memory, tear, and breath that I have with her.

Jon's mom was kind enough to bring over his ornaments from his tree growing up.  Many people know that I am an ornament snob.  The ugly ornaments go in the back, if they even make it on the tree, and all the visable ornaments are glass or metal and shimmer and shine in some fantastic way.  My mother passed this lovely trait on to me, and because of it my tree is freaking beautiful.  As Jon went through and reminisced about his ornaments, I bit my tongue as he hung them right in the front of the tree.  He knew the rules.  In that moment, I had my internal battle (I have a lot of these) where I debated about moving the ornaments when he went to sleep or letting them be.  I'm sure in the future Grayson will make me some hideous ornament that I will love because he made it, and I would eventually have to let go of my ornament snootiness, but I didn't think I was going to have to do it this year. 

Maybe it is  because of how much we have had to grow this year, but I left the ornaments on the tree, right where Jon had put them.  And looking at them now, I can see how they are a new kind of beautiful.  I can see how our lives are a new kind of beautiful.  Celebrating the fact that my mom ate dinner is a new kind of beautiful.  Getting over the fact that I still carry most of my pregnancy weight and starting to accept myself is a new kind of beautiful.  Looking at my skinny momma while she sleeps right now and appreciating the fact that there are no tears streaming down her face is a new kind of beautiful.   In the past I would never have called this season of my life beautiful, but slowly I have learned. Just as I have learned that there is a place on our tree for ugly ornaments, slowly I am learning that this season is a piece of my life and my story. 

So my friend was right.  It is a beautiful and hard time for us right now, sometimes I just need to reframe it as a new kind of beautiful.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

One more day

All I want is one more good day.

My sister was able to come in from North Carolina.

Feel free to cry happy tears.  I did.

Tomorrow we are celebrating Christmas as a family.  We are going to make at least one ginger bread house, and eat Christmas dinner together.  One last time.  It really sucks that it will be our last Christmas together, but I am so grateful to have one more day with everyone under one roof.

So I am pleading with God for one more good day.  One more day for my mom to have a little bit of energy.  One more day for her to have her pain under control.  One more puke free day.

Please don't get me wrong.  I would like hundreds of more good days.  But, I am pleading for just one.  Because I know that once my mom goes home to Jesus she will have millions of good days.

Facebook lets you do your "year in review."  I think I barfed in my mouth when I heard that.  Reviewing and reliving this year sometimes feels like the last thing I would ever want to do.  How in the world did it all happen?  How did I practically live in hospitals with my mom for a couple months sleeping with my big 'ol pregnant belly on pull out chairs?  How did I watch my mom almost die three times, to only have to watch it in slow motion all over again months later.  How did my once young and healthy mother get admitted to hospice?

But then I slow down, and I start to reframe.
How did a community of people, both near and far, encircle my family with prayers and pictures?  How did people love us enough to donate money to a fundraiser to help us survive?  Why did so many people drop whatever they were doing when I sent out our desperate prayer requests?  How did so many people join us in the fight for my mom's life?  How did coworkers know exactly what I needed?  How did I become a mom?

I could ask "how" and "why" forever, but it doesn't matter.  In two weeks time we will be in 2013, and this year will be over.  The book will be closed on what might be both the best and the worst year of my life.  For one reason or another, this was my path to walk, this was  my family's path to walk, and we were blessed enough to not have to walk alone.  I will never be able to change 2012, so instead I will let it sear into my heart.  I will let the pain hurt, and I will feel the joy.  I will remember it all and let it mold me and shape me.  I will say prayers of lament and gratitude.  And all in all, we will be better for it.  I have learned to laugh harder, and cry louder.  I have learned to love deeper this year, and for that I am grateful.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Not a Normal Christmas

My church just did a series entitled, "Not a Normal Christmas."

This year is just that for us.  As the holiday season continues to ebb and flow, my mom continues to decline. And while normally this season brings me great joy and excitement, I am instead filled with sadness and honestly some anger. Tears seem to come readily now and I try to cry at least once a day in the safety of my shower so that I don't explode at a more inappropriate time.

The holiday season magnifies emotions.  The happiness is extravagant and the sadness is painfully deep.  Celebrating Grayson's first Christmas while coming alongside my mom as she dies is a tricky dance.

My youngest sister is flying out on December 17, so my hope and prayer is that my mom is able to live and to not decline much until that point, but honestly after my sister has some quality time with my mom, I hope she can go home to Jesus soon there after.  As I have said so many times before, we want quality, and we have really lost that.  My mom has a great deal of unmanageable pain in her foot and her shortness of breath is really starting to take a toll.  My once strong mom has been broken down.  I am ready for her to go to heaven and have her body restored.  I'm ready for her soul to be renewed as the exhaustion and pain has worn down her spirits as well.  I'm ready for my mom to once again be made whole and complete.

This is just not a normal Christmas.

I am not ready to not have a mom.  I know that time can heal and that we have so many people ready to step in and love us however we need, but there will always be that hole. That hole that only she can fill.

In the midst of the sadness and anger is so much love.  I will forever treasure the memories I have of my mom and Grayson.  The kid naps with her like no other.  She will forever be the baby whisperer.  I will also cherish the many little moments I have spent napping besides her, or simply saying nothing as the tears would stream down both of our cheeks.  I know she loves me and she knows I love her.  Sometimes you just don't need words.

I told my mom the other day that we will be O.K.  We will.  My sisters and I will keep marching on and slowly we will heal.  We will band together and hold each other up.  Jon and I will make it through 2012 and 2013 better be boring as hell.  He will hold me when I cry myself to sleep.  Grayson will be told stories of his   Nanny that he won't remember but he will know how much she loved him.

While this is not a normal Christmas, I am grateful for it none the less.  I am grateful for the time that I have had with my mom and I will be even more grateful when she is able to celebrate Christmas in heaven,  whole and complete.

I'm glad this little cutie can keep us smiling.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Sorry I have been absent lately.

I have been kept busy by my sweet baby boy.

My mom isn't doing very well.  Could you please pray for us as we walk through this very difficult holiday season?  Can you please pray that her pain in her foot and tailbone/hips improves?  Will you please pray for peace as my momma goes to meet Jesus?

I will be back as soon as I have more monumental things to say and share, but right now I just want to take in all the time with my mom and my babe that I can.