Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It's Going To Be Okay

Shortly before we found out Lincoln was a boy I had a dream. It was the dream that not only told me he was a boy-which I didn't believe because I kept thinking we were having three girls- but that something wrong or troubling was coming but in the end it would be okay. As those of you that follow this story know not only was the dream correct in telling me he was indeed a boy but that he had heart tumors that first we had to worry could cause fetal death if hydrops developed, and then once he made it through the scariest part of the pregnancy  we had to worry that it was connected to a genetic disorder that would cause tumors to grow on his other organs and cause a variety of other problems for the rest of his life.  They told us he would have to go two years without any other tumors or evidence of the disorder appearing anywhere else on his organs before they would dismiss his case as a rare occurrence with multiple heart tumors that were not in connection to the disorder.

I still experienced a lot of crazy anxiety during that pregnancy but let me tell you that dream is what reassured me time and time again. I believed in it. After my miscarriages I prayed and prayed for something to reassure me about getting through a third pregnancy. Though I have had "visitation" dreams I had never experienced a dream of something in the future like this, and I haven't had one since.

Though I was confident months ago that he was going to be okay, I kept waiting to "experience" that moment in the dark nursery where I knew it was all okay. Though I would sit in that dark nursery rocking my baby boy many times, thinking how I knew in my heart he was okay, and would even ask myself was this possibly the moment I dreamed, it never "felt" like that moment.

Two weeks ago he went for his last EEG of this first year rotation. A couple days ago Kennedy Krieger called me to tell me once again that he was clear of any signs of seizure activity from brain tumors. And that he does not need to have any more EEGs! We're suppose to follow up with Kennedy Krieger this summer, and I'm not sure at this time if they'll have him undergo organ scans like he did at birth again or not. Either way I continue to be confident my baby boy is okay. Not only do I thank God for answering all of our prayers but for even answering the one to ease my anxiety in some way. That dream carried me through my pregnancy and beyond. I truly believed God sent me that dream.

Except then something happened the other night. My cousin that I grew up with was diagnosed two weeks ago with breast cancer at age 34. That has obviously weighed heavily on my mind now these past two weeks. Then one week later my older cousin (my sisters and I are the only other three girls on this side of the family tree)  received the news she also very possibly has cancer so now we are also waiting to hear her prognosis. My mind has been distracted and worrisome of late to say the least.

On Sunday night after we found out our water heater was leaking again for the fourth time in four years, I was tired from a quick weekend trip up north to see my husband's family, and it was almost an hour past my own bedtime, and my fighting daughters who should have also been in bed woke up the sleeping baby I was just ready for one of my own mommy meltdowns. So I grabbed that screaming baby out of his crib and sat there in that dark nursery to rock him. Of course my mind was still wondering if my cousin with the breast cancer had received her PET scan results yet because we were still anxiously waiting to make sure the cancer hadn't spread and it was contained. But as the quiet and peace finally settled around me in that dark nursey I told that sleeping baby, "You know it's all going to be okay. We're all going to be okay." Within moments I realized right then was the moment of my dream! But the "going to be okay" wasn't about my baby boy and his heart and this possible genetic order. It was about my cousin, my family, and this damn cancer. All this time I took the moment in that dream to be about the baby and his heart.

Was the dream meant to reassure me about him after all? Or was it meant to reassure me now? I don't know. But I do know this. I was meant to believe in it. Believe in it this whole past year when I thought it was meant for Lincoln. And believe in it now when I realized maybe it was meant for this moment with my cousin(s) and family. I've always felt that God talks to us and sends us messages if we believe and listen. He's there. We just have to believe and we have to look and listen. I'm listening and I believe. Thanks for always praying for us. We will continue to need them in the months ahead for my cousin as she begins chemo, for my one and only older cousin as she faces her own cancer path, for Lincoln as we hopefully continue working on ruling out this genetic disorder this summer and revisit his cardiologist in May to check on the hopeful continued shrinkage of the tumor he does have, and for all of us on this journey with the ones we love.

 
 
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Cancer and the Warrior Within

I don't know if cancer has ever walked into your life. It has mine. Once it does you don't walk back away from it the same way. Even as a twelve year old kid when I had to watch my dad and my cousin lose their brother and father to cancer that time in my life marked me. I get and understand now that I'm a pretty emotionally overcharged person, but that's part of why as even a kid when I watched my uncle lose his life to cancer at only 41 years old I understood how truly unfair life is.

From that point on I've spent my life wondering when and who cancer was coming back for. Though it showed it's ugly head briefly for a year with my aunt we were fortunate in it was caught very early and taken care of. Other than that we've gone 23 years since that last battle. But it's claimed one of us again. Possibly two in the same month.

I'm stunned. Stunned that it really did come back for one of us again. Stunned at who it claimed even though I always feared it's returned. Stunned that it struck us again so young. I'm mad. Mad that she has to go through this. Mad that my family has to watch someone they love go through this again. I'm scared. Because I've seen the worst of what this monster can do. I feel so many emotions right now for this person that I love very much. This person that I have spent very little of my life without and has been such a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. But despite being stunned, mad, and scared, I'm also hopeful because this monster didn't come back for the weakest of the weak. It came for the strongest of the strong. The strength of this person has amazed me since I was a kid. We were family, we were friends, but this person is also one of the most the most inspirational people in my life. She can and will beat this, and she will come out the other side even stronger than she already was. Because, little brave, those of us that know you, know there has always been a warrior within you.







Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Hard Truth of Marriage


I don't know about you but This is Us I think speaks so strongly to me because-wow, the way it is US-probably so many of us- is so creepy accurate. I just watched the scene of Jack and Rebecca screaming at each other. Unfortunately, that very scene has played out more than once in my own house.

It played out with each of them wanting the other to see what all they had given for the other and for their life, feeling that their part to the life they've created has gone unnoticed and underappreciated. As parents we work together, raising our kids and building our lives, but somewhere along the way I often wonder do we all lose ourselves and each other for a bit in the journey?

 
It's so easy to think behind the closed doors and the flashing moments on social media that all our lives and marriages are without struggle. Though mine is not currently in a rough spot it is not immune to them. I think understanding the reality of that is important to any marriage's survival. In the early days of our marriage my husband use to tell me it shouldn't be so hard.

 
Our fighting, our disagreements, our broken trusts and promises at times all must have meant we were broken in some way. Ten years into this though I think we both know now marriage is not easy. We see Jack and Rebecca's love story as this beautiful love story, especially in the beginning before we know all the details. I look at the love stories of those a generation or two ahead of me and as a young naïve kid I only saw the beauty in the imperfect lives of others’ happily ever after stories, and didn’t see the sweat, tears, and time that went into making those love stories what they were.  Life is messy; we as humans are complicated and all carry our own battle wounds from life's experiences; therefore, marriage can never be a perfect union. Nor was it ever meant to be. The love stories that we find beautiful and look up to are the beautiful stories they are because they endured the hard. They navigated the messes of life and complications of one another, and they came out the other side. But they fought, they cried, they misunderstood each other, they wronged one another, but they also picked up the pieces together. Marriage isn't finding your way to the alter together, but finding your way back to each other over and over and over again.



 

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Commercial Break of Life

I can't remember where I heard this from but it always stuck with me. "The happy moments of life are the commercial breaks." I look back at these past three years and there's kind of a dreaded truth to this.

Three school years ago is when I went through two miscarriages in five months. There were months after though that were like the commercial breaks of living life. I remember that spring and summer finding contentment with where I was in life and with our little family, though that nagging question of if and when we were going to have a third child always hung around me in the dark corner of my mind. Now that I know how that story ended-and it did end happily- I wish I would have let myself enjoy that commercial break a little bit more.

Then we got pregnant and it should have been a joyous commercial break as well, but it wasn't. I spent too many nights that school year up in the middle of the night while everyone slept eating yogurt (really loved it while I was pregnant this last time) on the couch, worrying about my unborn son's health. Then after he was born and we made it past the worst part of the danger with his heart concern, I had a wonderful four month long commercial break. I still think back on those four months almost a year ago now and all that time I had to just enjoy my three kids and be a little less stressed than I had really been in a long time. It really was a wonderful time. Then the commercial break ended.

Throughout this third year, the job has really been sucking the life out of me (as well as my department as two just said here's my two week notice and left in the middle of the year so obviously the stress of this job is getting a little ridiculous). Then my grandpa died on my birthday and it's times like those that it's hard to be far from home and away from your family. That was followed by the worst mental crackdown I've ever had or maybe it was the best one because I dropped everything and sought help right away because though I've always "managed" before when my anxiety and stress get the best of me, I couldn't even think about how to move forward. I got better and found myself able to "manage" again. But then we got told my husband wouldn't have his position next year so though they have to give him a position somewhere when you've worked your butt off the way he has you don't just want to be thrown into some random situation into some random school. A month later there has not been one hopeful positive sign for a position for him next year. So once again we felt defeated. Who knows where he'll be next school year and I need a new position myself. I have to get away from that hour plus commute. It gives me way too much time in my own head. Though it may lead to great writing content on here sometimes, I have to get out of there. Especially lately. Then more news came this week and now all of that trouble of the past three years seems like the commercial break compared to the road ahead.


I feel like a pretty blessed person. I don't look at other people and think why do they have it easier  because I know so many have it harder than me and mine. But damn why are some people dealt such a harder hand in life than others?  I know I shouldn't be mad about that, but I kind of am. I talked to my dad this week, the guy I go to when I need someone that can get me out of my own head. He's had a tough year. After growing up without his mom who passed when he was two, he lost his dad this past fall. Then he lost one of his good friends a few months later. This year has really sucked for him. Even he said, "Can't we catch a damn break."

One thing I've learned in my short 35 years is when that much needed commercial break comes hit the damn pause button! Don't fast forward to the next dramatic, gut wretching, having you on the edge of your seats scene of the movie that is your life. I know we all want to know how the story plays out, we want to see the anticipated conclusion. But next commercial break just hit pause. Slow down, take deep breaths, close your eyes and savor that moment, lock it away in your memory box to pull it out when the movie of life resumes. Let's not wish our time away. Let's not let our anxiety of the unknown and uncertainty steal our happiness of the moments that make life totally worth living.

I always think before our life here on Earth and after our life here we watch our whole life story like a three hour Hallmark movie where we laugh and we cry as the characters navigate their journeys. I always like to think just as if we were watching any other movie we see the trials and challenges as the defining moments that make ordinary lives extraordinary; that despite the heartbreaks in the story line it stays with the audience long past the concluding credits, inspiring them to look at their lives a little deeper and live it a little differently.

Life is just in a hard place right now. I know we won't stay here forever, and we will come out the other side of our trials and challenges stronger than before so for now we just pray for the journey ahead and for that next commercial break to get here sooner rather than later.





Sunday, February 26, 2017

I Have to Let You Grow Up


"Why did the fairy godmother cry at the end of the play, momma?" asked my older daughter as she was obviously still contemplating the steady stream of tears that flowed from the senior actress's eyes as she took one last bow on the stage of probably one of her greatest childhood memories.

"As excited as she may about college and growing up and whatever awaits her in the next chapter of her life, it's always a little sad to say good bye to the chapter in your life you're ending," I told her. They still looked slightly confused. "Our lives consist of chapters. Your childhood here with us is  your first chapter. Then you start a second one after you graduate school, and how many you write depends on how many doors you open and close in your life. But we all write several chapters as our lives are constantly changing and growing. You know how mommy use to grow up in Missouri where Nene and Papa and Aunt Kel and Te are, right?" At their nod I continued, "Well, as excited as I was to start a new exciting chapter out here with your dad where we would hopefully create the life that we did end up creating here with you kids, I was closing a huge chapter in my life back home. I probably cried all the way across the state of Missouri the day I left. As excited as you are about what's to come you still mourn a part of what you're leaving behind. It's all a part of growing up and moving through life."

"Mommy, I don't want to grow up. I don't want Lincoln to grow up," my younger daughter said for what was not the first time. In fact this growing up thing seems to have been weighing on her mind a lot lately as I had lost track of how many times she has told me this of late. I looked down at her with those huge hazel eyes framed by those ridiculously long lashes with all the innocence of five years old shining one that little precious face of hers that still has that soft feel of new baby skin.

God, how I wish I could keep her, her sister, and her baby brother bottled up in their childlike innocence, naïve to the sometimes harsh realities of the world. But the world awaits you, baby girls, and I have to let you grow up. Believe it or not one day you will be ready to grow up. You will be ready to walk out that door of your childhood, the silence that follows echoing in your parents' saddened heart because that door closes a chapter of our life as well as yours. We will watch in the shadows as you pursue the visions you spent your childhood fantasying and pretending about in your childlike wonder of the grown up world you imagined.

That grown up world may not always treat you kindly, but know it is yours to conquer. If you work hard and take risks for the life you want to build you can make it happen. Find your talents- and you have talent don't doubt that- and share them with the world. Know you are always enough. You are enough for the people that truly love you and you are enough for the roles you play. Take risks. It takes risks to find great success. Taking risks are how you make your dreams a reality. Life will get busy and crazy but always hold those that love you near and make time for them as the older you get the faster the sand will pass through the hourglass of time. It's okay to grow up. I don't want to let you sometimes, but you'll be okay.  Hold on to you great wonderful childhood memories and all the others you'll make as you move through life as those memories will get you through the tough patches. You'll be sad to leave some things behind but remember to focus on the great things that are always ahead, and great things are ahead for you both.