Thursday, December 12, 2013

Reality Check

You know, reality is not something that is always easy to deal with. So many times in life, reality can be harsh, difficult, intense, painful and even damaging to our spirits and can leave an imprint on our mind. But, when all is said and done, reality is still a necessity in life. Facing reality is a necessity, cause no matter how much we try to run from it, try to escape it, forget about is still there.

Tonight, I went to visit my granny. She just turned 96 years old on Monday. We call her the energizer bunny, cause whenever she has a set back, or physical challenge that looks like it could take her from us, she bounces back. It seems though that, the energizer bunny is starting to slow down. We know this kind of things happens all the time to elderly people, and to some not so elderly people. I just was in a denial phase that it would ever happen to my granny. That slowing down is not an easy thing to watch, nor is it something that I personally enjoy being a part of. Especially, when it affects those whom I love the most.  Tonight I sat by my granny’s bed. She went to the hospital almost 2 weeks ago, after having seizures. They finally released her and moved her to a skilled nursing facility which is adjacent to her current apartment living location. They were hoping to get her back into her apartment so she could get back to life, but it seems she just doesn’t have the strength. I sat by her bed tonight and watched her fidget, trying get comfortable, mumbling her words, repeatedly touching her face. She briefly opened her eyes and then closed them again. She barely mumbled the word “water” for her parched throat and mouth. But it was still a word I could hear. It stinks that this amazing woman, with so much knowledge, wisdom, and passion for life is lying in a bed, without the ability to take care of her self, without the ability to communicate and really even function. Reality check-watching someone suffer is one of the hardest things we will ever have to do. 

Tonight, I sang to my granny. I sang her favorite hymns, and Christmas carols. I even tried O Tannenbaum (O Christmas tree) in German. Botched a few words,but I don’t think she minded it at all. I watched as her eyes fluttered, and as she struggled to move. I watched as she perked up when she heard my cousin Emily’s voice on the phone. This woman, who used to dance across the dance floor with my grandpa, who made beautiful things come out of her sewing room, who thought that wallpaper with brown flowers on it was beautiful (cause it only cause $1.00 per roll), who made it a point to be at all of my piano recitals, who encouraged me in my music on a regular basis, is laying in a bed, and struggling to hold on to life. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the song “We Shall Behold Him”. It is an incredible song, with wonderful truth in it’s words. But, I think my favorite line in it is “We shall behold Him, then face to face”. Reality check- my granny is going to get that face to face meeting with Jesus soon. She will get to see His face and her faith will become sight. I like to think that she will waltz through those pearly gates with grandpa at her side, and then she will stop and give my Aunt Lotte a big hug and then stop and give my 3 babies (whom I never got to meet) kisses from me, along with all the other babies that my sister, and cousins and I never got to meet due to miscarriages.  She will no longer struggle to walk, chew her food, to hold her head up or to function. She will be in a new body, with no struggles, no pain....she will be free. She will be free to exist, and free from any earthly challenge or struggle. Reality check- the life in heaven is far better than it is here, and why would I want to keep her here to suffer the way she is.  There is a part of me that is jealous. Jealous of the freedom she will soon experience, but jealous that she is going to get to see the face that we as Christians dream of. The world has tried their hand at describing Him, in making him real to us, but the world may have tried to describe him, represent him etc. but nothing will be able to compare to the truth of Jesus when we will see him, face to face.

I grieve for my family, especially my mom. We mom’s and daughters have incredibly special relationships, and I know that over the past 15 years my mom has gone from taking care my grandpa, to taking care of my Aunt Lotte who died of Ovarian Cancer at the age of 53, to having to not only take care of my granny as she has gotten older, but has also helped my granny in dealing with the death of her husband, and the death of her daughter. Over the past 15 years mom and granny have developed something special. Mom has gone over to visit granny almost every single Wed since Granny and Bob (granny’s husband) got married, and in their visits she reads to them, tidies up their apt. and helps them sort the mail, visits, makes sure that Granny’s clothes are holding up and don’t have any holes in them. She even makes sure that granny has enough chocolate boost so that she can have her chocolate fix during the day. OH! And, granny is a huge fan of Marzipan, and she always has at least 1 or more boxes in the cupboard. Every Wed. mom takes 3 pieces out of the box, one for granny, mom and Bob.  She handles granny’s personal issues and is in constant communication with the nurses about what the next best steps are for my granny. Reality Check- when I grow up, I want to be like my mom. And, if I ever have to take care of my mom when she is in her 90’s, I pray that I can do it with as much grace, graciousness, patience and love as my mom.  

So, now I sit here and it’s almost 10pm, and I am so tired, but, my heart aches and feels weighed down by a truth and the hurt. Soon, I will have only my memories to think about when it comes to my granny. I won’t be able to ask her questions and show her how big my kids are getting or, what they are capable of doing now. I won’t get to hear her do her imitation of a cat meowing (which is scarily like the real thing). I won’t get to tell her I love her, or feel her wrinkly skins against my cheek. I won’t be able to look down at her thin and frail hands and remember what wonderful things they have done for so many people. For now, I will simply have my memories. Memories that are priceless, precious and are my personal precious treasures. Reality check-we don’t know the number of our moments, but the moments we are given are completely and totally ours, and the most incredible gift from the Lord. As my Aunt Lotte would say “Savor the moments”, and tonight, that is what did and I intend to continue to do.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I have often heard the phrase “Life is fragile, handle with prayer”. We all know that this is a take off of “item is fragile, handle with care”. I sit hear at my dining room table, reading through the events of my friends lives on facebook, and at this moment I am quite honestly overcome with grief. A 30 year old friend has just suffered a stroke, they found a blood clot in her brain, so she is in surgery.  Another friend of mine’s dad (who is in his late 80‘s) is in open heart surgery to replace a valve, another friend of mine’s friend just lost their baby shortly after she was born and I could go on and on. I think of these mommies and daddies who are blessed with a child, and then (whether as a baby or an adult) certain trials begin to overwhelm and flood their lives. It can start with a simple diagnosis, or start with a major incident. In any case, their lives are never the same. Our lives are never the same. My life is never the same. 

Many people know our story, while others don’t. My little Abigail Faith (3 years old) and my baby David (7months old) are my two miracles. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of God’s faithfulness. You see, I lost 3 babies before I ever had my children. They were 3 babies (that for whatever reason) God wanted with Him in heaven. I can remember after every miscarriage crying, sobbing and literally not being able to function for a while due to the amount of grief. Many people said things like “Oh, you are still so  young! You can still have another one”. One person even said that I had had an abortion because I had a DNC after we knew the baby had died. So many times I would look at these people and think “you have no idea what I am going through”. I can remember coming home after family events, or church events and looking at pet ads on Craigslist. I was even known for going into pet shops to look at pets. “Why” you might ask? Because my arms ached! They ached to hold my babies that I had lost, and they ached to hold the children that I hoped God had for me. They simply ached to be filled. If you have never gone through a loss of a child or a miscarriage you are blessed and I am grateful for the mercy God has shown you. If you have, then I am sure some of this is echoing your words and thoughts and may sound all too familiar.  

We lost our 1st baby the weekend of our 1st wedding anniversary. We lost our 2nd baby the weekend of our 2nd Anniversary and we lost our 3rd baby the week after Thanksgiving. What were supposed to be incredible and memorable celebrations instead, became a time of grief, sorrow, despair and even anger. We really don’t know what God is doing sometimes as much as we would like answers. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I would drive around aimlessly, trying to figure out what God was doing. And even though I knew He was there, listening and that He would eventually respond, I kept hearing silence. I am not sure what’s worse, silence by the other person in a conversation or them yelling in your ear. I am sure it depends on the situation, but for me , I simply wanted answers, and bottom explanation!! “God, you know how much I want to be a mom, and want to have children, so WHY WHY WHY do you keep allowing the ones I conceived die”. There was still those moments of silence until one day it dawned on me, and it was in a moment of silence. God whispered. Not a whisper that I could literally hear, but a whisper for me. He said, “”Be Still”. Be still???? Be Still?? BE STILL???? REALLY??? Could He give me a better answer than that????Sure He could have, but He didn’t. Why? I honestly (at that moment) couldn’t tell you why. But here I am 3 years later with my answer to why He told me to “Be Still”. You see God doesn’t waste a moment of our lives. He doesn’t waste an event, a heartache, a success, a dream come true, a dream lost. He just doesn’t waste a bit of it. He reminded me of that by telling me to “be still”. You see, it’s that “be still” that is hard in our every busy and busseling world. But if you complete the verse it says “Be still and KNOW that I am God”. See, it’s not until you complete it that it can really have an even deeper meaning. I could have just been still and grieved and cried my eyes out all the time and questioned God during my miscarriages, but if I had not completed what the verse said, then my faith would not have grown, I would not have grown, and I would have missed out on what God had for me, and for what He wanted to teach me. 

To some my thoughts would seem harsh, cruel or even thoughtless, but here is a reality that must be acknowledged. If God hadn’t allowed my 3 babies to be taken into Heaven with Him, I would never have my Abby or my baby David. It’s when I see my children sitting in the back seat laughing together, or hear my daughter pray at night before she goes to bed, or feel my son’s very drooly kisses on my cheek that I am reminded by God’s ever the same voice saying “.... KNOW that I am God”. It seems that my children remind me of God’s unconditional love, faithfulness, and mercy to me. Because of the losses, I cherish the treasures even more. 

So as I read these articles or updates about loved ones of parents or children, I travel back into a time of remembering what happened to my unborn children, and what was happening to me as a parent losing a child, and I weep with those who weep and celebrate with those who have reason to celebrate. See, God is still in the middle of it weaving the moments of the day into the story of your life, your history, your legacy.  You never know what is going to happen down the road and how today is going to impact your tomorrows, but God does and His is the ever perfect plan.