Monday, April 14, 2014

A Curve in the Path

I see my mother in the veins in my hands. And reflected in my brown eyes. And sometimes in the set of my mouth when I want my own way. I hear my mother's voice in my head often in the things that I say and the warnings that I hear in my head. She is the person I turn to almost first when things happen in my life. After Dave, I let my mom know what is going on. Mom, I'm getting married! Mom, we're pregnant! Mom, we're moving! Mom, I have cancer........  She is one of my best and dearest friends. She has known me through my worst and loved me in spite of it. She has accepted my quirks and my ways of dealing with things and adjusted how she responds to me. She listens to my dreams and fears, and shares her own. I am thankful to have her in my life, and to share such a relationship with her. Because of her I learned I could do anything I set my mind to. I could work and be a mother. I could learn new things and always had a safe place to land when needed.

So what do you do when that safe coven is threatened? When the health of your parents become precarious, you are thrown back to being a child. Suddenly, although you are grown, you are not ready to be fully grown. Yet, you already are. But you think ahead to the things you do automatically. Calling your Dad to let him know you made it home after a trip. Calling your mom on long car drives to just pass the time. Texting funny things you see and think about through the day. Little mundane things. Things that you will dearly miss in your every day life when they are gone. Forever.

I'm not ready. I admit it. I'm not ready to die myself, and I 'm not ready to  let go of any other family member or close friend. Not my husband or children. Not my dad or my sister or my brother. Not anyone in their families. And especially not my mom. I.Am.Not.Ready. But I know God has a higher plan. My mom has been sick since 1994. I've had 20 years with her that I may not have had. And I have not taken one thing for granted. Twenty years is a long time to battle with breathing problems and a multitude of other health issues. She is a strong woman. She is determined to live her life as she wants to. And to leave a legacy. I always thought I was more like my Dad, but I think I got some good stuff from my mom too.

Now I wonder about the curve ball. That bend in the road I wasn't expecting. With another surgery in my horizon and knowing I will weather this one alone, it's scary. But I think I have a little bit of my Momma in me. I will have it. I will endure. And I will move on. And through it all. I will be "fine" like she always is.

My mom is my hero. One of the most amazing women I know. One of the strongest individuals that ever walked this Earth. She is compassionate, sarcastic, sees the best in everyone, eager to laugh and try new things, loyal and loving. I hope I can be half the woman she is. I love you, Mom.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Do you ever find the need for quiet time? Time to just sit and exist without having to listen to the chatter of others, the drone of the TV or anything. I'm having a night like that. Where I wish I could sit outside (but I'd freeze to death), listening to the crickets chirp and the frogs croak from the pond in my parents back yard. Mentally, I'm putting myself there. Even though they have no working internet on their back porch, live in the boon docks....but you get the picture. I'm feeling the need to reground myself. To refocus. Only the people I need to refocus on are buzzing around me and I really just want the quiet time without their voices messing up my memory of childhood.

Parenting is hard work. Some days I feel like I have it all together, other days, I'm barely hanging on. Today has been just a regular day. Nothing bad. The big boys had their piano recital and it's always fun to go and listen to the kids and see the progress they have made. Another milestone we've reached together. I'm proud of them for sticking to piano even when they didn't want to. And I kinda laugh that it's my kids that take piano lessons when I was so hyperactive I couldn't sit on the bench to get through lessons at all. My sister was the piano player in our family and her kids don't play instruments at all. Ironic. :) But her girls do sing and dance.  My boys are very musical and I love to share that part of my life with them. Kadin plays the piano and the saxophone. Cullen plays the piano, the trumpet, and the guitar. Liam wants to learn the drums and within a year will start the piano. We promised Elliana's birth mom that she would be exposed to the piano as well. I love to hear our home filled with music that they are creating. It reminds me of nature's song.

The big boys and Dave went to see God's Not Dead tonight. When Cullen got home, he wanted to tell me all about it. One part of it was someone being diagnosed with cancer. Being asked how they keep hope after having such a horrible diagnosis. And that makes me think of the people I know fighting stage 3 and stage 4 cancer. How they want to hear the words I have heard. "Cancer free" but their road is long, painful, and unfair. I feel guilty thinking how reoccurrence hangs over my head when I didn't really do the time for the disease anyway. Yes, I lost a breast. And it's stressful. And I worry. And I'm on medications. But these wonderful children and adults I know and love are dealing with so much more. I pray for their healing. For balance to be restored. For the reason that they are on this journey to be revealed to them so they know they do not walk alone. How do you keep hope? Because you trust that God has a plan. And since God lives on the inside, He can't help but shine through to the outside as well. But they all weigh heavy on my heart and soul.

So, I'm needing some quiet time. Away from it all. A time to contemplate and be thankful and to just exist. For in a few hours I will have to jump back in to the craziness of a new week. But for now, I'm feeling the breeze from the country air blow against my cheek, as the bull frogs croak their magical son that lulled me to sleep every night. With the security light shining brightly into my bedroom window, I listen closely to the sounds of the night. As the crickets sing a sweet song that makes you feel safe because they only stop if danger is near. But as long as they sing, all is right in the world. May they always continue to sing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Six months ago.....

Six months ago, on a day much like this one, a Wednesday to be exact, my life came to an abrupt stop. When I heard the words 'breast cancer' I wasn't sure what would come next. It seems unbelievable that it has been only six months since that day. Other times, it feels like a lifetime ago.

It makes me think of other things that throw our lives for a loop. Illness, job loss, death..... I've been ruminating about these things for several days. Thinking about how each of us have a struggle. Each of us have had bad news delivered in a small room, in a doctor's chair. Through mine, I've been thankful that I have a voice, and that I am willing to use it. So that other women and men do not have to walk this road alone.

Which also reminds me that April is Child Abuse Prevention month and how passionate I was about children and their safety when I worked in community mental health. It's also Autism Awareness month. Which reminds me of all of the hard work I did in changing programs in Ky and NC for children with this diagnosis. I had a voice. I used it.

But today, a friends 5 year old daughter made me stop and think. So many times we talk about what we cannot do. What doesn't work right in our lives. What doesn't look good on our bodies. What exercises we can't do. How far we can't run. What we can't eat. When we should really focus on what we CAN do. And a small, red headed, spirited little girl had the best words in regards to her older brother. "Let's not talk about what he can't do. Let's look at what he CAN do." Because truly, this little 7 year old boy has moved mountains. He CAN do so much. And learns more and more every day. And with his sister beside him, there is nothing he CANNOT do.

So in honor of this sweet 5 year old, I'm changing my mind set. I'm focusing on the things I can do. I can speak up for children who are being mistreated. I can support my friends who are dealing with an Autism diagnosis, or living with one. I can talk about mammograms and their life saving benefits. I can talk about raising boys and adoption. I can talk about so many things, sharing how God works in my life, and in those around me. And thankfully, how He works in the children around us.

I have a voice and will use it. Will you? Will you speak up and share your struggles so others know? So others feel less alone? I realize that this venue is not for everyone. There are people that are very private (obviously I am not one of them!). I respect that. But I am going to focus on what I can do, in a world full of can nots. And be thankful for a voice that allows me to share, and to be there.