Saturday, February 22, 2014

After the Storm

I spotted a ladybug on the van, after paying an astronomical amount of money to get it fixed. 
I'm kind of afraid to say this, but life feels like it's getting back into a normal groove. I feel like myself. I feel genuinely happy.

Last weekend, I cleaned my whole house. I cleaned the carpet in our bedroom. I even vacuumed out my car. I paid all the bills.

I cooked all week. I went to the gym twice. We got the van back. (We're not going to talk about how much it cost to fix, I'm still recovering from that panic attack.) I didn't leave work Friday with a giant list of things that I haven't done yet.

I still worked too much. I still didn't sleep enough. I still ate three brownies and a donut. Oh, and I had my first Shamrock shake, which I really shouldn't have. It felt like an Eve in-the-garden moment. Now, I have the evil knowledge. I was definitely better off when I didn't know what that tasted like.

But - I feel like we're getting there.
Storm clouds out my dad's hospital room, yesterday. He's doing better, by the way.
It was 70 something degrees yesterday, before the storms rolled in. And even though it was cooler after the storms, the sun came back out.

So, maybe that's where I am now. The sun is coming back up. It's not as it was before these storms, it's different.

But the blue skies are peeking through, and you can feel Spring coming.

I'll take it.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Different Kind of Valentine's Day Celebration

You know, the thing about Valentine's Day is that it changes.

It's always on February 14th. But the shape it takes in a relationship changes. If you've been married, or in a long-term relationship, you probably know what I mean.

I have a core value that is this: If it feels forced, it's probably not what you should be doing.

I could have gotten Michael a card and a bottle of wine. He could have rolled up to Kroger and gotten me roses and chocolate.
But - we didn't.

And you know what? It's totally okay. All we wanted was rest, together. And we got it. I just woke up after sleeping for 12 hours.

Life since last Summer has been one heavy challenge after another. Life has tried to tear our love apart and tear our teamwork down.

But we stand. Strong enough that all we need is a text message to mark the holiday about love. This morning, I looked back through previous Valentine's Day posts and I love each of them. This year, we'll celebrate five years of marriage. And already, you can see our seasons through those posts.

Our rule for Valentine's Day is homemade gifts only. So I guess the wine and chocolate I mentioned above wouldn't have worked anyway. When Michael asked me to marry him, he posed the question, "Will you spend the rest of your life making memories with me?"

My answer: yes.
So - this Valentine's Day, that's what we do. Homemade valentines. We make memories.

Previous V-Day posts:

The One with the Update on my Dad

You can tell I've been back at work, because I haven't written a word in a week.

Well, that's not true. I've written news scripts and e-mails. But every time I go to work, the blog dies a little.

Anyway. We received the news about my dad not long after I wrote that post at the Starbucks last Saturday. He has irreversible lung disease. The scarring that has already happened won't heal, but they can treat him to slow it down and the goal is to get him home. He's made awesome progress in the last week. He graduated to a regular oxygen cannula. Yesterday when I visited him, he sat up in a chair beside the bed for more than an hour, soaking up the sunshine.

My brother will be home Monday. I know my dad is looking forward to seeing him, and has worked hard to get stronger for Chris.

This roller coaster is intense. I'm glad for every moment we have left together. No matter how long that is.

Last week, when I was crying and writing at the Starbucks, I saw this little girl and her dad.
I wanted to grab her little hands, hold them tight - and tell her to stay as close to her dad as she can. Love him, lean in to him, learn from him, and be friends.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hope Floats Up In The In-Between

Over the Summer, I read Jeff Goins' The In-Between. Great book. Get it.

The In-Between is right where we are right now. My dad survived a risky lung biopsy on Thursday. He came back off the ventilator yesterday.

Now, we wait.
Until Monday, at least, that's what we are thinking.

That's when the pathology results are expected. So that we can know what it is that appears to be quickly destroying his lungs.

It's hard to think about anything else. It's hard to stop googling and reading medical journals and studies.
That's because we are in-between.

Jeff writes, "There are no throwaway moments - not when it's easy, not when it's hard, not when it's boring, not when you're waiting for something to happen. Throw those moments away and you will look back someday, bereft at what you missed, because it's the good stuff, the best stuff. It's all there is."

So, we wait.
My dad's room in the ICU is filled with laughter and memories the past couple of days. For now, that seems better than quiet and beeps, so I'll take it.

Each moment of it.
As I brace myself for what is next - whatever that may be.

My sweet, giving mother-in-law is in town, taking care of Michael and baking cookies and taking Brokaw for walks.

I've been able to enjoy time with my sister and my brother's girlfriend and my sweet baby nephew, Caplin.

I've had deep, tearful phone conversations with my mom.

All in the in-between.

Meanwhile, the amaryllis my mom gave us for Christmas is like two feet tall, and the pound of coffee I bought my dad for Christmas sits in the cabinet.

And when I have a moment to sit and think and pray, I'm blessed with verses and book quotes and movie quotes that pop in to my head.

I love this one right now, too - from Hope Floats:

"Beginnings are usually scary, endings are usually sad, but it's what's in the middle that counts. So when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. And it will."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Holding Hands and Holding On

It's dark in the living room right now. Brokaw is sleeping beside me. Michael is still sleeping in the bedroom. I'm up by the light of the competition on the television, having a cup of coffee and half of a cannoli.

The fog is back.

I spent yesterday at the hospital. We got no good news from the doctors about my dad. The tall Indian doctor leaned over his bedside, looked into my stepmom's eyes and said - loudly and clearly - to make sure she understood - that things are very serious. He said they were "running out of options."

I sat in that hospital chair that reclines, off to the side. My sister's mom held my hand that I had crossed across my body, and squeezed it. I couldn't stop the soft, slow, warm tears.

Not long after that, my stepmom and my bonus mom went to lunch. And it was just me and Dad. It's so dark and quiet and calm in his room in the ICU when no one is in there. There are predictable sounds. The ventilator going up and down, the occasional beep. The wheels of carts being rolled by, just outside the door.

I sat there, holding his warm hand, with one hand.
He had a tight grip that pulsed - like a muscle spasm.

With my other hand, I texted my brother and sister all of the information I was able to absorb from the doctor. I copied and pasted my updates in another text - to my husband.

What's happening is so hard to understand. He was doing better, it appeared. He was sitting up beside the bed. Yesterday, he was supposed to have a swallow test. Now, here we are.

The doctor mentioned, kind of off-hand to us that Dad is his most stable patient right now. That slammed me up against the wall. I cannot imagine having that kind of stress in my life! Since he said that, I have not stopped praying for that man!

Thank you for your prayers and support and your offers to help in any way that you can.
Know this: There is peace. There is quiet. There is calm. There is strength among the women of this family who sometimes have nothing in common - except for the love they had or have or will always have for my dad.

I want him to pull through.
I'm not giving up, yet.
I'll head back up there today, and grab a hold of his hand again, and squeeze.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Life Under The Heavy Things

2013 wasn't my favorite year. And it really didn't end well, with my dad getting so sick, out of nowhere.

Now, it's February 2014, and it feels like 2013 just won't leave me alone.

I feel like I used to be a blogger.
I used to be a CrossFitter.
I used to cook.
I used to read.
I used to have clean carpets.
I was working on a book, remember?

My resolutions for 2014 were to live in the restoration (1 Peter 5:13), to work less, to continue getting healthier. I want to be content.

I am so weary.
Almost nothing is going well.
I go to work - to relax. There is nothing healthy about that.

I miss my little normal, so much. I need that routine. I want my dad to get better. I want Michael to find a home health aide so that I'm not constantly on duty. I want to have time to blog and go to the gym. I want to have motivation to not eat fast food, and to cook the healthy, fun meals I buy ingredients for.

There have been really great and fun moments in 2014, don't get me wrong. And every weekend, I think "this week - it will be better."

Then - a setback.

Listen, I'm used to juggling.
That is my life - working in a demanding job that I love, managing my home at the level I like it to be managed, working around my husband's special needs.

I know how to juggle.

But when there are a couple of REALLY HEAVY objects out of balance - forget juggling. The heavy things just sit there in your arms. I'm carrying a lot right now.

I miss all of you. I miss pouring my heart out in my writing. I miss lifting heavy things and seeing my friends at CrossFit. I miss doing fun things with my husband. I miss seeing friends.

There are things I'm incredibly grateful for in this season - like my husband, my mother-in-law, my co-workers, my family, my friends and of course - Brokaw.

I don't really know what I'm writing, here. I'm just exhaling. Next, I'll inhale, and get back to those heavy, hard things that are my 'now.'

I miss the light things.