Thursday, December 19, 2013

Unexpected Advent

My morning started, as usual, with a cup of coffee.  As I reached into the dishwasher to get a mug, I noticed that my Grandmother Allie's mug was clean.  So instead of grabbing the closest one, I rearranged and got her mug.  As I was readying my coffee, much the same way she taught me when I was 3 without quite as much milk and sugar, I began a letter in my head to my grandmother.  I wanted to share with her what my children are doing.  I wanted to tell her about Stephen and the joy I feel at seeing him in love and with new purpose in his life.  I wanted to share with her what Allie is doing in Africa.  In my head I wrote about how the tradition of strong women has continued down the line and that the granddaughter named after her is maybe one of the strongest yet. I told her how right she was back in 1985, Jack McKinney was/is the one for me.  I share with her how much he loves me and cares for me.  I told her how he makes me laugh. How he makes me feel so safe.   I described my knitting group to her and told her the stories of each woman there.  I told her about the joy I receive from being part of that group.  I express my regret that she didn't live long enough to see her craft become so popular or the new glorious yarns that are available.  I thank her for her early lessons in crochet and for sparking the interest in me long, long ago.  I tell her that I think of her almost daily.  That I love her.  That she lives on in all of our hearts.

In other words, I experienced advent this morning.  Peace, love, joy, and hope.  They flooded my heart as I wrote that letter to my Grandmother.  In the midst of the busiest week in a long time for me, advent found me.  And luckily enough for me, I listened.  How about you?  Have you stopped long enough to hear the bells ringing?  Have you listened for the soft whispers of your heart and soul?  Have you felt the warmth of love flood your heart?

Stop.  Listen.  Feel.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Extremes of Emotions

The sun is out
I am full of joy.
News of death
I am full of sadness.

My children are handling their problems
I am full of pride
My children are hurting
I am full of pain.

My life now includes new friends
I am full of happiness
My life now includes lots of change
I am full of uneasiness.

I am loving my independence
I am full of playfullness
I am longing for my role of motherhood
I am full of loneliness.

Duality, extremes, opposites,
My life seems overflowing with these
Sometimes I can't keep track
Of where I am.

Am I sad?  Am I happy?
Am I lonely?  Am I satisfied?
I cannot answer one question alone
For I can answer yes to each one at the same time.

This is not new, I know,
But when the house is quiet
these are the thoughts
on which I brood.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Let My Light Shine

The shadows grow longer as the sun starts its descent
The temperature begins to dip until there is a chill
Lights begin flickering on all around the neighborhood
People begin to settle into the evening.

It is a time for reflection on the day
Was it a day well spent or not?
What determines a good day from a bad day?
How much work was done or who was touched by our lives?

The shadows lengthen in my soul
The darkness threatens to block all light
What will push away the anxiety or depression?
What will make my heart still?

I remember the friend I spoke with on the phone,
The joy of decorating my home for fall,
The fellowship of my knitting group,
The thrill of creating a gift which will touch a friend.

No money was made
No glories bestowed
No to-do list crossed off
No lives saved.

Yet, a difference was made today,
My friend needed a laugh,
I received support for tomorrow
And my soul is full from creating.

Yes, it is dark outside,
but inside my soul
a light is burning
so shoo shadows
let my light shine.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Soul Breathes

Cool breezes and the crashing of waves
Pelicans soaring and diving
Blue sky peeking from behind the clouds
A hot mug of coffee

This is a place and time of healing
The balm my soul needed
The silence different from the silence of my home
The birds sing a different tune here

It is a place to think, to ponder
It is a time to reconnect with my love
It is a place to consider my future
It is a time to remember who I am

Delight as my eyes soak in the sites
Joy as my ears fill with the sounds of the waves
Relief as my nose fills with the saltiness of the air
Peace as my soul breathes freely

Thursday, October 10, 2013


The the chasm inside me tears open
the burning in the center of my chest sears my flesh
the longing...the yearning...the neediness
my soul quakes with the urgency.

Her head is clasped to my chest,
her arms encircle me and hold on tight,
the perfume of her shampoo fills my nostrils
the bubbling laughter fills my ears.

The excitement of youth expressed by one I love so
it reverberates off her being and enters mine
I soak in the sunlight of her smile
and bask in the glow of her youthful aura.

I drive away and the yearning starts small
with each minute I drive away,
the burning gets hotter,
tears rush unbidden to try to wash the wound.

For though this is a child I love,
it is not the child I crave.
But the sweet aroma of her shampoo and her warm embrace
will tide me over till the child I crave is in my arms.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Beauty can grow from pain

I learned a very important lesson yesterday: As painful as confrontation can be, when misunderstandings and truths are revealed, something beautiful can grow in its place.

We all have people in our lives who we butt heads with, find annoying, or who hurt us.  Some of these people are in our lives not by choice, but by marriage, neighborhood, co-workers, family, parents of children's friends, etc.  We are forced into situations with these people and have to find a way to co-exist.  I have always thought I was a pretty honest person.  What you see is what you get.  But in reality, that is not true.  When I encounter these people in my life, I hide from them, I put up walls, I even become something I hate....passive aggressive.  I am not even aware of it most of the time.  I do another thing I hate...I talk about them to people I know love me and care for me.  Instead of having the guts to make the first move and try to work out the problems, I let fear of conflict rule my decisions.

Yesterday, one of these relationships in my life was forced to the open.  Years of fear and mistrust were revealed to the public.  At first I was humiliated.  But, fortunately the other person reached out to me.  That reaching out, gave me the courage to take it one step farther and meet with them one on one.  What ensued, was one of the most honest discussions I have had with someone other than my husband.  I owned my own part in the relationship.  I confessed my own misdeeds.  I apologized.  I listened and really heard what she had to say.  We cried together.  She forgave me.  I forgave her.  I left that house feeling euphoric.  A feeling I haven't had in a long time.  I am grateful for her honesty and her grace. 

Looking back on my life, I see several of these relationships.  Some, I have tried to reach out and have an honest discussion, only to be slapped away.  Some, I didn't take the time to sit down and be open.  I regret those relationships, now.  I wonder what good could have come from an honest discussion.  But I also have to realize, I was not at a place in my life that I could be that honest and vulnerable. 

For most of my life, I didn't want anyone to think that I was not perfect.  I one is perfect.  I knew that in my head, but my heart couldn't stand to think that others thought ill of me.  This was paralyzing and extremely hurtful to my psyche.  It has taken years and many friendships to teach me to love myself in spite of my imperfections.  It took others' love to show me I was okay.  Poor Jack has been waiting years for me to see what he sees.  But, I guess I just couldn't do it until now.  I am thankful that I am young enough to live out of this place and didn't go to my grave with these incorrect thoughts and feelings.

I am also thankful for all of my friends who have loved me and tried to teach me that they loved all of me, not the perfections, but the imperfections too.  I am thankful that Jack never gave up on me.  He continued to love me and show me grace. 

I am also proud of myself for taking that difficult step in talking face to face with someone whom I had built up quite a bit of fear towards.  I am thankful for her making it easy for me, for being as vulnerable as I was, and for her grace.

Who do you avoid in your life?  Who do you grit your teeth when you have to be with them?  Is it possible that there is grace there?  I know not all relationships can be confronted and not all people can be vulnerable.  And I realize there are relationships that must just be walked away from.  But from now on, I will try to be more aware of my own part in my relationships, especially the difficult ones.  What about you?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Crossing off things on the List

I am a list maker.  I love having all of my "things to do" written down where I can see them.  I especially need lists when I am overwhelmed or really tired.  Sometimes, though, the length of the list becomes even more paralyzing.  Today, I had a whole new experience with crossing things off my list.

Last week, I sat down and wrote down all the things I needed to get done.  The list was long, but not overwhelming.  I immediately set out to cross off each item.

1.  Call BCBS check about Malaria pills - CHECK - but have to call back on Monday to see if it went through.  (I hate when crossing something off your list makes you add something else!!)

2.  Call State Farm to cancel Allie's car insurance - CHECK

3.  Finish knitting socks - CHECK

4.  Start a new pair of socks - CHECK

5.  Finish Mother/Daughter scrapbook - CHECK

6.  Buy Steripen

Suddenly today as I was crossing off the scrapbook, it dawned on me that the faster I checked things off this list, the sooner Allie was leaving.  I felt sucker punched.   Now, I know that if I don't check things off the list, she is still leaving...but the realization of her impending departure just knocked me out once more.

Readers, I guess if you don't want to hear about empty nest, sadness, etc. you might want to check back in a couple of months.  I am sure by then the joy of doing what I want to do when I want to do it will have taken over...till then...I am in my bed...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

20 days to Empty Nest

In 20 days, I will put my daughter on a plane to Stanford, CA.  Then 10 days later, she will board a plane with 30 or so new friends to Dakar, Senegal.  After 18 years of consuming my life, she will simply board a plane and be off to a whole new world.  18 years.  18 years of day to day worry, concern, laughter, joy, chatter.  I want to use the word GONE!  But I keep being reminded, that it is not gone, it is just changed.  Different.  As a mom, I know that things will change, it will never be the same again.  I have already experienced this with my son.  I know when she finally gets home next May, things will be different.  She will have spent 9 months on her own having experiences without me.  Oh, she will share, she will miss me, she will still love me...but it will be different.

I want the change for her.  Of course I do not want to raise my children to be dependent on me for the rest of their lives.  I have purposefully raised them to be independent and good citizens of this world.  Now it is time to send them off to do so.

I am beginning to feel the loss.  Last week she was at my mom and dad's in Texas.  I missed her terribly.  She texted me every day.  But in the upcoming 9 months, she will not be able to do so.  I will have to rely on her blog, facebook, emails, and maybe skype.  But all of this will be intermittent as she may have no electricity or access to internet cafes. 

For now, though I have 20 days.  I will make the most of these days.  I will listen, laugh and spend as much time as she will allow me.  Then I will cherish these days as I get through the first few weeks of her departure.

Parenting is a series of losses but the gains are so worth it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Living with invisible diseases

You are sitting there, reading a book and drinking a cup of coffee.  You take the last sip, and think about getting up to get a refill.  Most people either jump right up with no thought except extending the caffeine pleasure.  Some will linger feeling lazy and wishing they didn't have to move.  But then there is a group of us who look like the latter on the outside.  We look like we are lazy and just not wanting to move.  If you could peek inside our brain you would see a very different scene.  Inside we are thinking, "I just got comfortable, my hips have settled and are not hurting anymore."  "How much do I really want another cup of it worth it?"  Then we take the plunge and get up.  The first pain starts in our feet.  We feel every joint in our feet creak and hurt as we plant them on the floor.  Next it is the knees.  Trying to straighten up hurts in the hips and lower back.  We know we look silly, afterall, we are only 20, 30, 40 years old and we look like our grandmother.  Once we get going, we are usually only aware of the stiffness, not the pain.  Then we get to the coffee pot and we have to extend our arms, the shoulders creak and cramp, the elbow hurts, the fingers take a minute to relax enough to grasp the handle on the pot.  We get our coffee and start the whole process over.  For just that short amount of time that we were still, the joints have stiffened again.  This whole process feels like we have run a marathon.  We are usually winded by the time we sit back down.  Our thoughts have now gone all over the place.  It is difficult to sometimes remember what we were doing before the coffee urge took over.  This difficulty to remember is not the typical, "I walked into a room and forgot what I came in for."  It is sometimes a pure panic because we were so wrapped up in our bodies just trying to cross the floor for the coffee that all else was lost.

Usually as the day progresses, movement becomes easier, but it is never so easy that it is not in our thoughts.  Every time we rise, we are aware of the effort.  But now a new issue arises, the lack of energy.  It is not a lack of motivation.  It is not a lack of initiative.  It is not a lack of desire.  It is quite simply an empty tank.  So much energy is used in doing the simple daily things, that often by mid afternoon, we are exhausted.  We need a nap to continue our day.  Plus, as the day turns into the night, the joints begin to stiffen once more.  So more energy is needed for the simple movements.

Yes, this is a normal day for many of us.  This is not a busy day with lots of appointments, or the cleaning the house day, or the running errands day.  This is the simple day where you stay at home.  So imagine adding all these other activities to our day.

Sometimes we snap at people or are not the most pleasant. Some days we appear to be impatient or maybe even irrational.  Sometimes we are teary for no apparent reason.  Some days we just seem to be depressed.  Well, think about it.  Wouldn't you?  Most days, you aren't even aware of anything going on with us.  We have become great actors.  Most of us have found that given the choice to be negative or positive, we choose positive.  We paste smiles on our faces, we look on the bright side and realize we are alive and things could be so much worse.  We search for people who help us get outside our own bodies and think about the world and other people.  We look for ways we can be useful and productive. 

We are your sons, daughters, spouses, partners, neighbors, co-workers and friends.  We are the ones with invisible diseases.  Don't pity us.  Just stand beside us as we stand beside you.  And?  If you happen to notice our coffee cup is empty and you are getting up anyway?  Would you offer to refill it for us?  Thanks, and we will reciprocate later in the day when we aren't so stiff!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Empty Nest...Fear or Joy?

Last week I had both my children in my home.  This is an experience which is starting to become special.  Especially since my daughter will be leaving for Africa in 46 days.  We were all in the car and I uttered this statement, "I am no longer responsible for anyone."  A moment passed as I really digested that.  It is strictly true.  Allie is 18 and Stephen will be 21 in September.  Then Stephen piped up, "And how are you feeling about that?"  At the moment I was able to answer honestly that I was actually looking forward to being only responsible for myself.  Of course I have not gotten to this point easily.  Many of you with children still in your home are probably surprised by this statement.  Sure there are days you yearn for the day that no one is relying on you or you wish this teenager would get out of your house, but deep down you can't imagine having an empty nest.

I have been lucky in that Jack has never let me lose sight of him or our marriage.  We have nurtured our marriage and taken time away from being mommy and daddy from the very beginning to be man and wife.  He has encouraged my individual pursuits.  Many women and men lose themselves in parenting.  Their whole persona becomes Mommy or Daddy.  Then when the kids leave, they are truly at a loss of who they are/were/want to be.  So I am blessed that Jack has helped prepare me for this day.

All of this is not to say that I am not nor will I be sad.  I am 48 years old and my parents are still sad when I leave after visiting them.  I will miss all the things that being a Mommy to Allie and Stephen entailed.  I will miss hearing about their daily joys and struggles.  I will miss the times we talked in the den or at the dinner table.  I will miss the smiles, hugs and kisses.  Yes, I will miss them.

But, I look forward to watching the fruit of our labor grow and ripen.  I love the man that Stephen is becoming.  He came back from Chili looking just a little bit more mature.  He is facing adult situations and sometimes succeeding and sometimes not.  I hurt for him, but am fascinated by the process of him coming into himself.  He is a good person with a great, sincere heart.  I am anxious to see what he will do next.

Allie is an incredible young woman.  She is embarking on a journey that few adults would take on.  Her bravery from a wee little thing has always astounded me.  She is going to grow and change in ways that I cannot even imagine.  And for the first time, I will not have a front row seat to experience this with her.  I will have to wait to hear about it.  That is going to be hard.  I will miss that.  But I know that the woman who comes home next April from Senegal is a woman I will be thrilled to know and love.  Her huge heart, her caring spirit, and her fabulous sense of humor will still be just may be even more.  Just like Allie.  She is and always has been more.

This week I have had a taste of the empty nest.  Allie has been at camp where no contact was allowed, and Stephen has moved back to Boone.  I have enjoyed the freedom of jumping in the car to go shopping with my friends without a thought to who needed dinner when.  I have enjoyed the afternoons when Jack got off early to spend knitting and listening to him read to me.  I have enjoyed the collaboration on dinners and grocery shopping.  Yes, there are many things I look forward to this upcoming year. 

As Stephen and Allie go out into this world, they go with my heart.  I will always be near and ready for a call.  But I will also be going out into this world.  I will be pursuing new interests and enjoying old interests.  And when we are all under the same roof again, I look forward to sharing with them as well as listening to them. 

Yes, this year brings lots of new adventures.  I will not let fear hold me hostage.  I will live this next stage in life to the fullest!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

My Seven "Daughters"

Allie has four girlfriends that she has been close to since they were seven years old.  In 6th grade, they really started bonding and hanging out together more and more.  That year we started a mother/daughter book club...didn't go anywhere.  We went on a mother/daughter camping trip that has become an annual event.  We had mother/daughter Christmas parties.   We went out to eat, celebrated everyone's birthdays, even the mom's, took trips to Asheville, and played lots.  Needless to say, these four girls each found a place in my heart and feel like they are my own.  Three years later we added two more girls to the group. And we added a mother/daughter beach trip.

Two weeks ago, the twins, part of the original group, graduated.  It triggered reflection over the past few years.  Memories of carting all of them in my van and them singing at the top of their lungs with the CD from Mama Mia!  They even came up with motions that literally made my van rock!  Memories of each and every one of them at some point curling up next to me for a hug and a snuggle.  Memories of serious discussions about life, school, boys, girls, future, and sex.  Memories of seeing their love for each other in how they cared for one another.  The love was shown in their creations for our "homemade" Christmas gifts.  Memories of them crowding around Allie after her first big surgery and their concern for her everyday that summer until she healed.  Memories of laughing until I almost peed my pants.  Memories of just sitting back and watching them grow each year and the amazement that I was privileged to be part of their incredible lives.

I am not only setting my own daughter off into the world, but also six other "daughters".  One is going to California, two to Tennessee, one to Greensboro, two to Asheville, and my own to Africa.  Someone said sending my daughter to Africa was like empty nest on steroids...she was right, but what she didn't realize was that I am sending off seven that is empty nest on steroids!!

I will miss them all dearly.  Sometimes the thought crushes me, but then I remember that I will get a front row seat to these seven girls' amazing lives.  How exciting to see how each of them blossoms in this coming year.  I have coerced a promise from each of them that when they are home this coming school year, they MUST come see me!  (YOU HEAR THAT GIRLS???)  It won't be the same as hugging my girl, but it will be the next best thing!  Then next summer they will all be back and I will get to listen as they share together, laugh together and cry together.

I am one lucky Momma!

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Series of Letting Go and Loss ... Parenting

Recently, Jack made a comment that has stuck in my head.  He said, "Isn't that what parenting is?  A series of letting go and loss?"  The comment had the effect of stopping me in my tracks.  Suddenly I felt my mind expand as the concept grew.  First, we let go by bringing them into this world.  No longer is it just you and the baby, but the whole world gets to be part of your baby's life.  Next they start crawling and walking and no longer stay snuggled in your arms.  When school starts, they begin to have friends and experience things during their day that you are not part of.  Sure, we are kept informed in the early years, but in reality, they are experiencing things without us.  This is the first huge step in separating from us.

Each year in school they continue to grow closer to friends, and less close to us.  I think our voices slowly start to fade in their ears as their friends' get louder.  Finally comes that day when they drive off in the car, and it hits you smack in the face...the illusion of being in control is no longer in your grasp.

Don't get me wrong.  We celebrate each of these steps toward independence, afterall, that is a parent's job.  It is amazing to watch this little bundle grow and become a person.  As frustrating as it is when their opposition is aimed at you, there is also pride.  Pride that you raised a child that is not afraid to voice their opinion.

Then comes the day when you drop them off at the dorm or airport and they fly off.  They are now entering a world that will only be available to you when they decide to let you in.  No longer is anyone calling you with reports, no longer do you know all their friends, and their doings.  All you know is what you glean from facebook, if they friend you, and from what they say when they call or text.  It is startling the first time your child's girl/boyfriend says, "Oh,   (your child)  LOVES okra!"  WHAT????  You could never get okra past that child's lips for 19 years!!  And now, this person knows your child better than you.

This is just the beginning you realize as you look at your own life.  How involved is your mom in your day to day life?  How many of your friends does your dad know?   If they don't live near you, they know only what they glean from your facebook, if they are on and you friended them, or from your infrequent phone calls.

Like everything in life, there are two sides.  Yes, losing my children is hard.  Not being the main person in their lives anymore is tough.  Not knowing who they are becoming except in glimpses from facebook and phone calls, is depressing.  The other side though is glorious.  You get to see that kind man that shone out of your son's eyes at 5 years of age.  You get to see the brave woman that emanated from your 6 year old daughter's being.  You get to give up the role of disciplinarian and become a friend/confidant/encourager/sounding board.

You also get your life back.  After spending 20 years sacrificing your own needs for those of your children, you finally get to be selfish once more.  You get to take care of yourself.  You get to find who you are 20 years older.  Hopefully, if your parents are still alive and well, you get to show your appreciation for all they did for you.

Yes, parenting is a long serious of letting go and loss.  But the journey is so full of surprises, adventures, and love that I would do it all over again.  Plus, I hear grandbabies are the great reward at the end!!!

Friday, March 22, 2013


I hope that anyone who knows me will say that I am pretty honest about my life.  I don't usually hide the bad that is going on in my life.  I am transparent.  People who only knew me through church, might not feel this way.  I tended to put up a wall there because of past betrayals.  But I try with all my friends to be honest.  I have never been the mom that only told the good of my children.  I was quite open about the hard times too.  It is a difficult topic.  You don't want people to think ill of your children or you as a parent, yet you long to connect with someone else who has the same pain.  Today, that is not what I want to talk about though.  There is one area of my life that I have not always been as open about.


Depression settles around me often.  I have good reasons for it.  I am chronically ill, often in pain, and there is no cure in sight.  I have dealt with that depression for years.  In the last couple of years, new factors have presented themselves:  children leaving home, parents aging, and finding myself in a new role of motherhood. 

My son leaving home left a huge gap in my life.  His baseball gave a certain order to our lives.  He played year round so we only had November, December and part of January "off".  When he left, I struggled to order my life.  Luckily, my daughter was still at home and needed me to drive her carpool to and from school.  She was member of a choir that needed parent help, so that gave me something to do.  But this year, my daughter drives, is no longer a member of the choir, and is quite independent.  My son left to study abroad.  My mom almost died.  My job changed.  My daughter learned she will be going abroad next year.

Now, there are days I don't want to shower or get out of bed.  There are days I get several "things to do" marked off my list.  There are many days, that I shower, go into the den, sit in my chair, and knit and watch TV.  I survive.  My creativity seems to have dried up.  The bubbling passions have waned.  I just get through my days.

The sun helps, it seems to penetrate the gloom somewhat.  But it doesn't seem to quite make it to  my soul.  Exercise helps, walking Sunshine gives me a boost, but it doesn't seem to last quite long enough.  I take medications and that helps too.  I have friends to talk to, but there are days there just isn't enough energy to make that call.  The most help comes from my husband who gets it and doesn't judge.  If I don't seem to get the laundry done and he needs clothes, he just puts a load in.  If the dishes haven't been done for two days, he just loads the dishwasher.  Most importantly for me, though, has been the connection we have every night as he reads aloud to me.  We began this long, long ago, but were very sporadic about it.  Since he has changed careers, we have started back and have read several books together.  I look forward to that everyday.

What I dislike most about depression is how insecure it makes me feel.  I have feelings of being a loser, a nothing, or insignificant.  I feel like I am always in the wrong.  I can do nothing right.  I beat myself up.  I feel guilty for not "doing" more around the house.  I project these feelings on Jack which causes friction.  I feel like a bad mom.  I feel like a bad friend.  I know none of these statements are true...but I feel them.  When I am depressed, I don't always have the energy to fight them off.  It is much easier to succumb to the feelings of doubt.  I dislike how my focus turns inward instead of outward.  I don't like being a "woe is me" kind of person.

I know this too, shall pass.  I know that I am not alone.  So why am I writing this downer?  Because maybe you do feel alone.  Or maybe your spouse is depressed or your friend and you think they are the only one.  Mainly I am writing because writing helps me.  It helps me sort out the words and feelings.  So this is me.  This is what you don't always see behind the smile.

Friday, March 8, 2013


My first week in Texas, my mom was in ICU and everything was hour to hour.  You felt on constant alert except when you got home and just dropped into bed. Then up early to start over the next day.  That week my cousin, Donna, was here.  She was with my mom through the first surgery, and I was supposed to be there for the home recoup time.  Donna was exhausted from the first week of caring for my mom.  Regardless, she was adamant about staying until Mom got out of ICU.  At times it was hard having constant company, but mostly it was comforting to not be alone.  She is older than me, so I did not really know her from my childhood.  It was interesting sharing the stories of our grandmother and aunts and uncles.  We each had such different experiences. When we talk about looking for the positives in any situation, this was it for me.  Getting to know her better made that time in ICU so much better.

Donna had a surprise for me.  She had made a quilt for me.  It was made of 1930's replica fabric and just the right size.  It has daisies and she didn't even know that was my favorite flower!  I spent a lot of time under that quilt napping, or watching movies as I sat by mom's bed.  It was a constant reminder that I was not alone.  My family was behind me.  They were all a call away.  Donna may never realize what that gift meant to me.

Now I am home, and as I write this post, my quilt is on my lap.  Here so far from my family is a constant reminder that I am loved and part of a great big loving family.

Thank you, Donna, for sacrificing your time to be with me and mom.  You continue to look after her and I want you to know I appreciate that so much!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Friend in A Time of Grief

In the last six months, I have opened myself up to the possibility of new friends.  I have made several new friends through this meetup book club I started attending last September.  What I didn't know at the time, was that opening myself to this possibility would save me later on.

My family in Texas often talk about Shirley.  Shirley loves my folks, and does a lot for them.  She and her family live here in Temple where my parents live.  Her husband, Kenny, and my brother, Kade, are good friends.  I have met Shirley a couple of times, but I never felt a connection with her.  But this last week, I think because I have opened myself to the possibility of new friends, she has worked her way into my heart.  She has sat with us in the waiting room.  She brought me a new hoodie with more color than my borrowed one!  She cleaned Mom's kitchen and cleaned out the freezer, bought me coffee and stevia, and is open to anything at all.  She even likes to shop at Goodwill!!!!  More importantly, I have found someone with a similar belief system as myself.  When I come home to Texas, I am coming into a totally different culture than what I live in NC.  So I usually feel quite alone here.  Not anymore.  It has been such a relief to find someone who has similar feelings about the things that mean a lot to me.  Don't get me wrong, my family is tolerant of me and my liberal beliefs...but just tolerant!  I think they mostly think it is funny.  So, here I am in the midst of this horrific time with my mom, and I make a friend.  A friend I can talk to, a friend I can call, a friend who can just sit with me.  What a gift.  Thank you, Shirley, for the gift of your friendship.  It is the greatest gift I could receive at this time!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Siblings as Grown Ups

Saturday, after getting the call my mom was being rushed back to the hospital after a surgery the week before, I started packing.  It was a rush as tickets were changed to an earlier date, packing commenced, and calendars checked for important activities to hand off to Jack.  When the call came announcing Mom was being rushed to surgery, the urgency increased tenfold.   After getting to the airport and taking a breath, an inner calm settled over me.  Worry?  Yes.  Scared?  Yes.  But a strength welled up inside me as I prepared to help my mom fight for her life.

Stepping inside that hospital and back into a family I only see periodically, was jolting.  The person I speak with the most, text the most, and skype with the most, was laying unconscious in a hospital bed with a breathing tube down her throat.  Luckily, I have family members who it feels like I just saw them yesterday.  We fall right back into our relationship seamlessly.  Others it is more difficult.

But I am stepping into their lives.  They know my parents' friends.  They have routines when they come here.  They have jobs to go to.  They have friends to come to the hospital.  I am getting to meet these people that my family spend their time with.  I am seeing sides of my brothers I have not seen.  We are not at home being the silly kids we used to be.  We are our grown up selves at the hospital dealing with grown up situations.  But we don't really know these grown up people.  We are all very different and lead very different lives.  Hopefully we will all be open to seeing each other as grown ups and getting to know each other in that role.  Because the situation we find ourselves in is not for kids.