Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Letter: Caysen is TWO

Dear Caysen,



Well little buddy, you've made it to age two - which is quite the accomplishment considering all you have been through in your two short years. Looking back I never would have guessed we would go through all that we have, that I would have cried so many tears in the past two years, and know all of that and just how much you are THRIVING now.



It was two years ago today that my world was grey (literally!) and you entered this world screaming but with 'wet lungs'. Three days from that day, after just being discharged home, we went through more than we could ever guess, due to your half of a heart that was not detected prenatally or even postnatally.



Despite the warnings about the cardiogenic shock and the damage to multiple organs and resulting brain bleeds affecting your motor movement, your eating habits, and your overall ability to function; you continue to prove to everyone just what you CAN do. And if you get anything out of this letter or living with half of a heart, that is what I want you to focus on. Exactly what you can do.



These days you are still hovering around 21 or 22 lbs. You are getting taller, having gained an inch in the last month or so, measuring in at 32 inches. You wear anything from 12 months to 2T, 2T things swallow you up. Pants and shorts tend to range in the 12-18 month area. Your swimsuit is a 12 month size and we can barely keep it on you! You wear a size 4 diaper, a size 5 shoe, and a grin as big as Texas, with a single dimple in your right cheek that one easily gets lost in.



You continue to grow teeth in the most random of patterns, and are currently cutting some eye teeth. You still only have 4 bottom teeth, but have about 8 on top. Your eating habits vary greatly. On days where you have a fever from teeth, you don't eat at all. We end up using your g tube to push veggies and fruits in you. Otherwise you have a fairly good appetite. Some of your favorites are still hummus, salsa, avocado, hot dogs (you bring me the hot dogs from the fridge allll the time!), the soft and crunchy parts from Daddy's cajun trail mix, steak, most fruits, goldfish, and you really love pomegranate. You still get meds and soy formula through your g tube as your intake is still small in regards to what you need to eat to grow. We keep hovering around that 22lb mark!



You have the greatest laugh. I can't even describe how bubbly and heartwarming it is to hear your giggle. And when you laugh your dimple comes out and I just want to eat you with a spoon, you are just so adorable! You are almost always smiling (unless you are teething), and you LOVE to be outside. You beg to go out almost non-stop, especially now that it's warm.



Finally, you are starting to communicate more! You can say "bye" really well (which sounds like a southern bye-'bah'), mom, dad, brother, bubble (for Bubble Guppies the show - or to blow bubbles), Pearl, all done, more, thank you, bath, night night". Just this past week you started saying "no", and it sounds so cute when you say it (I'm sure that'll change, but for now - your tone is adorable!) I'm sure that I'm missing some, but that's a majority. You sign some words that you don't say, Like "please". Sometimes you will say "more" while signing "please". Even though you don't talk a whole lot, you get your point across. You will walk up to whoever you want to talk to and bang on their leg or arm with your open hand until they respond to you. Once you have their attention, you point. And let me tell you, you are the valedictorian of pointing. You can point at all sorts of things to get your needs met, or to get people to understand you. You answer most questions with "uh huh" in yes fashion, while nodding. It's pretty adorable, because we can ask you all kinds of things and you will mostly respond with a yes, with your slow and deliberate head nod.



Your memory amazes me. I can still show you a picture of Andi and you smile and point. I thank God for using you to allow me to meet such a beautiful person and have her in my life. She played a huge role in your life, and even though you won't remember her in the future, I have some priceless pictures of you two that I will always cherish! I will always talk about her to you, and I hope that you will always know what she meant to our family. We were so blessed to have her in our lives while we did.



You love the water. Showers, baths, swimming pools, puddles. You can't seem to get enough of the water to tide you over. You love being outside and that coupled with water - the swimming pool may be your best friend!



You also really adore your brother. You will talk about him, ask for him, point out things that are his. You know to take his blankie to his room and put it on his bed so he can find it after school. You love to do anything he is doing, eating or trying. He's extra patient with you, and your relationship is quite precious to see.



Another major milestone for you was allowing time away from Mommy and tolerating drop off at the church nursery. Now, you walk in proudly, eager to play with their toys. You will pop your paci out of your mouth, give me a little wave and say "bah bah" and you're on your way. You still love your Mommy comforts, but lately you have been more of a Daddy's boy than EVER! You ask for Daddy all the time, you call for him in the night, you want him to hold you, play with you, and you want to go with him EVERYWHERE. When I get home in the afternoons before Daddy, you almost always point out his mower and his blower and remind me that it's "Daddy's", and then ask to mow.



Your sleep schedule is still pretty whack. You do what you want to and when you want to! You are sleeping through the nights a little better, but some nights you are up and the only way for you to go back to sleep is to bring you to the center of the bed with Mom and Dad. Don't get too used to that buddy - it's just that Mom and Dad are desperate for sleep! You usually go to bed around 9/930 and are usually up to see us off about 545ish. Luckily your Cici watches you during the day so you can nap as you are tired. On a normal day you will nap about 2 hours at midday - but you're always switching it up on us, sometimes needing two naps.



Speaking of your Cici - how thankful are you for her? I can't think of a better way to have things for you. You get to stay home in your germ free environment if needed, and you can nap and eat on demand. It works out great because Physical Therapy and Speech Therapy still visit us at home, and Cici takes care of all of that. She makes you food, vitamixing healthy things to put in your gtube - like beets and kale, she rocks you when you're teething and need extra cuddles, and is there to give you round the clock Motrin and Tylenol when you are teething or sickly. She's been there for you through thick and thin, especially through the really difficult times. We are so thankful she can do this for you!



This fall should be an exciting time for you and Cici. Your dad and I talked seriously about putting you into daycare, but at the time you still seem to have so many demands and it's so expensive for part time care in two places. So far we have decided to keep you at home for a bit, and allow you more freedom. This fall you will start a gymnastics class, and you will also go to a daytime Bible Study Fellowship class once a week. You still get interactions with more kids, hopefully learn some more social skills all while still being able to care for you and your special needs. This will allow us to keep you close in case you get sick or aren't feeling well, without anyone having to miss extra work time.



We are so excited for what your future holds. Of course, in the near future is another open heart surgery to complete the palliative care, but other than that - seeing what else you can accomplish when something is put in front of you is rewarding to see. When I reflect back on everything, I get flash backs of Chris and I wearily dropping ourselves into bed at night after the long NICU days, interactions with doctors, doing everything we could to be a part of your care and getting well, as well as trying to care for your older brother. I vividly remember the outfit you wore that day to the ER, the staff gave it back to us to take home that night because there was no way you were going to wear it with all those lines. At the time, it was like a gut punch. Were you ever going to wear it - or anything for that matter, again? Your daddy and I took that little newborn sized onesie, and we put it on a baby pillow in between us in bed, along with a prayer blanket that was made for you. Nightly, we would clasp hands and pray over it - praying for you, for your future, and for all that God could do in your life. They were often clinging, desperate and begging prayers, but nevertheless, we prayed over that little white button up onesie with animals on it. Some nights, I would be home so late - I would wake your Daddy up to pray, or sometimes even clasp his sleeping hand and pray while he rested. We did that during your whole NICU stay, praying that you would get to come back home to us, believing in God's faithfulness and never giving up hope.



Just the other night, you cried from your crib in your room. Your Daddy went to grab you but before he got up he said "its already 4, can I just bring him here?". I mumbled yes, while he stumbled to get you. In that time I thought back, to the onesie. When it was just your clothing between us for 70 long days and nights, not knowing if you would ever make it home again. And now, you'll cry at home, and we get to put your little 22 lb self between us. Time can change so many things. In two years we went from a tiny and empty onesie to having you really there with us, and we have taken many steps and detours along the way. But hitting each milestone? Is such a beautiful blessing.



Caysen, you are living proof of what you CAN do. Of what God CAN do. You have had more near death and terrifying experiences than most people do in a lifetime. And here you are, showing what together you and God CAN do. You can achieve whatever you dream of! You have proven exactly what you can do by walking and now running after your brother. If you want to run a business, you can. If you want to help others (and I hope you always will), you can. If you want to play sports, I'm sure not going to stop you (cardiologist approved, of course!). But I want you to know, that living with half of a heart may come with disappointments. Be prepared for those. There are times where you may not be able to keep up. Where you will have to sit out. But I want you to remember that is momentary. Please focus on the fact that you CAN do whatever you put your mind to. And you have done it! You can walk. You can talk. You can eat. You can. You can. You can! Don't let the can'ts discourage you.



And that Caysen, is the truth. God is why you can do anything you put your mind to. You can! God is faithful. God is good. He will see you through. You may not always understand why or how or the path it takes to get there, but He will always see you through! The Lord will fight for you, and he already has. If you learn only one thing in this life, I hope that it is just that - faith and trust in the Lord, and just how far it will take you!



We love you so much Caysen, your hiccup laughter, your darling dimple, blond hair and ornery sense of humor. You, my little one, are a perfect example of mercy and grace and God's promises. We love you to the moon and back!



As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be,



Mommy











































































I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 27:13-14 NKJV

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Nine months

It was just yesterday that I was dropping of my big boy for his first day of Pre-K. And here we are, finishing up the year and I have a Kindergartener on my hands.

How exactly does it happen?

I reflect on just how much he has changed in that span from August to May. In all reality, 9 months is so short - its just the time it takes for someone to have a pregnancy, the time it takes for people to safely lose weight, and its the amount of time it takes to get a copyright. In that time though, big C has had a birthday, a few good holidays and all the seasons in between.

When I dropped him off for his first day of Pre-K, he was still three. He was shorter, ornery, and huggable. He liked extra cuddle time, he needed help making every little decision and he was learning about his personal choices and consequences. He adored spending time with my best friend, Andi. She would come and play angry birds with him on the iPad, give him hugs and build marble tracks with him. He loved it.

He's so big now, the boy that made me a mom.

So opinionated. He moves so quickly, is tall, and is four. He's a great big brother, often sharing with his brother or pointing out the new things his brother has learned. He prays nightly for his friend Andi that he misses, and prays for her family. Every. Single. Night.

He is the most tender hearted, compassionate guy when it comes to his loved ones. He loves stairs, thrives on routine, and still is addicted to his morning sippy cup with milk. (Daddy swears the milk doesn't taste the same if you take the sippy away, so I guess it will stay for now).

Caysen has changed too. He went from just learning how to walk, to trying to run. He went from no teeth, to 12 teeth. (only 4 on the bottom!) He went from super short and barely growing to gaining inches. He went from barely talking to nodding yes and no, signing more and speaking more clearly. He went from crying at drop off to church nursery, to walking in and waving bye, as he's ready to play with their toys. He went from crying in swimming lessons to begging for more, wanting to jump off the side over and over.

I look at how my life has changed. I stopped pumping for Caysen in that time, dealt with another winter, learned how to shoot a gun, took on an intern at work, and Caysen got his first real sick bug, which was super scary for a bit because of course all the signs of sickness are also the signs of heart failure. I learned the importance of a good strong hug. I learned the importance of appreciating others. I learned that I desperately love thieves essential oil to help with any sickies. And, I lost my very best friend, in an incredibly unexpected and painful change to the story that I had pictured in my head. Through her loss, I gained a new best friend. I researched more than you would imagine about health concerns and HLHS. I cried more than I ever thought possible. It's hard to describe the changes that are so small yet they seem like something insurmountable, but really, things are just SO different.

When I think back to where I was in August, I NEVER would have pictured this road. The way things have changed. Doing life so differently than I was before, yet still so similiar.

God has a plan. He knows what he is doing, and He knows better than I do about what will come and what is to be. I have to trust in Him. Trust in the path he is taking us on. Trust that this road that we are taking, this one that I didn't picture, is indeed the perfect path.
God always has different ways of drawing us near, bringing us back to Him. In those moments when we feel alone, those most painful nights, God is closer than we can imagine. He is over everything, walking us through it, by our side. Like it says in Exodus 14:14 - The Lord will fight for you, You need only be still. And in those dark moments, he is fighting to draw you close.

2 years ago in May, I started having health problems while pregnant with Caysen, including loss of vision. If you had told me 2 years ago that this is the road we would travel and the path we would take, if you were to tell me all the things that were to happen to us in that time, including heart defects, open heart surgeries and traveling across the country for medical care; I would NEVER in a million years believe you. I wouldn't believe the people that have come into my life. In the same respects I wouldn't believe the ones that have gone WAY too soon, jerked so painfully out of my life that the hurt remains. I wouldn't believe the things we have seen and done, or the things we have put our kids through. It would be hard to fathom what we as a family could survive and endure; and how we could grow our faith like we have.

But God is good, and always good. We will shout it from the rooftops, just what he has given us. Best friends that save our child's life. (I mean, how many people can say that?) A child that we can look at and just appreciate how far he has come in a short time, that is nothing short of a miracle. Friends, family, and another day to share His great love, and to love each other. Take it all in, friends. If you learn anything from me, please don't miss that! Time here is short, be thankful for what you have loved, and for what you have loved and lost.

It can be so easy to wall off, close up, shut everything inward. But no, we are supposed to share burdens, love unconditionally and speak life into one another.

So thankful for the last nine months. For the growth as a family. When I reflect back, I am sure to cherish each step. Because in those 9 months I learned just how quickly life can change, and how short our time is here.

So...how are you using your time?



First day:



















Last day:











Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Time. And thoughts...

May already? Where does the time go?

Time.

Time passes so quickly. Caysen is two months shy of 2. I can't believe it! I'm 3 months out from losing my best friend. It seems so short, yet like an eternity. Our lives are but a mist, as it says in James 4. Hard to keep that in perspective, but we will be reunited. Must. Focus. On. That. It's still so difficult, getting further away. You know, the distance and space of time. It's all really hard to wrap my brain around and to fully comprehend.


Pain.

Pain is still so strong at times, and at others leaves a smile on my face. It's weird how it does that. God doesn't protect us from the pain, but he calls us on these paths. And its on these paths that so often its incredibly painful before it's beautiful. It is hard to focus on the beauty in the midst of pain. I know there is beauty in the fact that she is happy, healthy, hearing, whole, loved. Doesn't mean it isn't still painful, though. This translates into many other parts of my life. It is incredibly painful to watch my child undergo procedures or surgeries and to not be able to take his pain. It can be physically painful for me to hold him down while he cries out wanting me to save him. But in the end, I can look at his journey and see how beautiful it has been. How strong and brave he is, the courage that he has. It reminds me what a testimony he has to share with others, and most importantly the new and valuable relationships he has brought to my life.

Trust.

A smart friend of mine said that "insecurity breeds lies and vulnerability breeds trust". Learn to be vulnerable. Be honest and open. It takes bravery, but it allows you to be restored in a way that only God can do. Trust is the single hardest thing to do, because when you trust, you have to believe in others. You wear your heart on your sleeve and risk being hurt much easier and deeper than others. But by trusting others, you are allowing yourself to see true beauty that you can't see if you are guarded and closed.


Loyalty.

Having those people in your life that you can count on. That you can call on to understand you or just "get it", are imperative. Knowing that no matter what happens, you have that person/people on your side, it's a true gift. Don't let those people go. The ones that fight for you, when you forget how to fight. They are a true treasure, with the God given ability to pick you up when no one else can.

And the greatest of these is Love.

Love and appreciation for those that have impacted my life is ever present. I am better able to recognize what is important in my life, my list of priorities has definitely changed. Don't take a single second for granted! Love is never wrong, and is always worth it, even if it causes pain or heartbreak. I love to love.  This includes people, friends and family, as unconditionally and strongly as I am able. Why? Becuase that is how God loves us. "His love is fierce, it is strong, it is furious". God's love for us is so deep, that we can KNOW that he never starts something without having a plan. We may not see the end, or understand it when we get to it, but He has his reasonings. Maybe its because he's saving us from a future we can't understand, or torment we don't deserve. God can help us to heal, He loves us. In His arms we can know the true meaning of love. I've learned the beauty of loving others as Christ loved us. It's one of the best things we can do, and despite the pain, the vulnerability, and the sacrifices, it's truly one of the most honest and rewarding things to do.

Just some quick thoughts on this Cinco de Mayo.



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On Grief


Grief.

It's a tidal wave of emotions, a pool you can't seem to swim out of. You seem to have forgotten your life vest, and you do your best to just float.

Some days are good. You accept things, you realize why things are that way and the hurt is minimal. But other days...it hits you like a ton of bricks. It's so incredibly difficult and no matter what you do, you can't seem to get out of your funk. You question why repeatedly, and you just can't seem to understand. The hurt cuts so deep that you would do anything to get away from the pain.

I was watching Grey's Anatomy a few weeks ago they said a line about one of the characters who was undergoing a surgery and not expected to live.

"She's in my head, but I'm not ready for my head to be the only place where she exists." 


yeah, that. Do you think anyone is EVER ready for that? I can make a safe assumption here to say that in most cases, no. People aren't ready for that. I can think of all of the friends, family and co-workers of my dear Andi, and I can tell you in that instance? Beyond a shadow of a doubt, NO. Definitely not.

I've done a lot of reading lately, Bible devotionals, books, really anything. A few on the specific topic of grief and healthy grief. One thing that seems to come up repeatedly is that if you don't talk about it and deal with it from the beginning, it manifests in unhealthy ways and will continue to be a bother for years, even messing with your own personal health.

I read this particular exerpt in one of my Bible reading plans on YouVersion. It's called Deep Grief and is by Lysa TerKeurst:

Deep Grief

I stood at the side of a casket too small to accept. Pink roses were draped everywhere. And I watched my mom as she lay across the casket. Within that casket laid part of her heart, so quiet and so still. Her little girl was gone.

It was the type of loss that cuts a heart so viciously it forever defines you. A loss called "deep grief'.

I remember standing paralyzed at the funeral. Just days before we were doing everyday things; suddently it all stopped. People were everywhere. Soft chatter filled in the gaps of our stunned silence. Eventually people went back to their own lives, and we carried on with ours, bound in deep grief.

I desperately longed for God to fix things. To take away my bloodshot eyes. To take away my anger toward him. To take away my guilt for being the one that lived. I felt I didn't deserve to be happy, ever.

This is the reality of deep grief. Even when you love God and believe in his promises, healing takes time.

It takes wading through an ocean of tears.

It takes discovering one day that the sun still shines and it's okay to smile.

It takes prayer, and a decison to stop asking for answers and to start asking for perspective.

Then one day you take off the blanket of deep grief. You fold it neatly and tuck it away. You no longer hate or resist it. For underneath it, wondrous things have happened. Things that can only come about when Divine hope intersects with a broken world.

And finally you can see years stretching before you once again. You look up, blow a kiss, wipe a tear and find it's still possible to dance.


I just love how she worded this. It is so honest and true. Those are all of the initial feelings that one might feel, and it is just so hard to accept. She goes on to the part where she talks about taking off the blanket of deep grief. The first thing I noticed is that she didn't mention a time frame. Because, there is no time frame. It takes as long as it takes. You may wear that blanket for a LONG time. It may take a while before you feel comfortable without it. You get to a love/hate relationship with that blanket. It's almost like a security blanket, but at the same time it's not healthy. Because what grown adult takes their blanket with them everywhere? But that doesn't mean that it's a bad thing. In that moment, at that time, you do what you need to do to cope. To grieve. She gives hope, saying that eventually one day you will be able to step away from it. You won't have such a love/hate relationship with grief. The part where she mentioned that you will "see years stretching before you once again"? That part is SO comforting to read. When you lose a loved one, and especially unexpectedly, it seems like you can barely see until tomorrow. The thought of looking ahead is an impossible task. There is just no way to even think of seeing years ahead. It is just unfathomable.

It's good to know that one day it will be.

Even in the Bible, Jesus wept over the death of his dear friend, Lazarus.

It says in John 11:33-36; (we pick up where Jesus is speaking to Mary - who was the sister of Lazarus)

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"

How beautiful is this scripture? Jesus wept right along with them. Jesus was not above the painful and crushing emotion. Jesus wept. And so can we. It's perfectly normal. God wants to hear your heart, and by letting it all out he can slowly begin the process of helping you heal. God weeps along side us as we grieve our loved ones. He feels our hurt and knows our pain. And when we start to heal, he can give us hope and comfort. We may begin to realize what a beautiful place our loved ones have reached. To have all the things the Lord can bless them with in heaven, and to be perfectly healed and well, and rejoicing in His greatness.

But for now, it's okay to cry. Its okay to hurt, to be mad and sad. To be homesick to join those loved ones in heaven. Because they are experiencing one of the most beautiful things that anyone has ever been given, and to join them one day in heaven will be a glorious meeting. Our time will come, but for now we must carry on their legacy here on earth. And what an honor it is, to have the chance to do that!








Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What you need to know about.... PTSD.

PTSD.





Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 





Most people don't know what that is, or the different levels of severity. I'm here to say that just about everyone out there has likely had some sort of experience with a traumatic event in their life. PTSD is all about those traumatic events and how we cope. Keep in mind, it can also be a reaction to a traumatic life stressor, and everyones stressors and how they handle them are different.



After my experience with Caysen, the last few weeks of pregnancy, the first few -- oh 10 months of his life -- I would say that I have a touch of PTSD. I always considered myself the opposite of a helicopter parent. I was laid back with Camden, letting him eat dirt based off the philosophy, "God made dirt, dirt don't hurt". I let him cry it out, a little bump on his head never hurt anyone, and once when he split his forehead open a little bit - I just super glued it together instead of rushing to ER.



Then Caysen came along, changed up my whole parenting style. Suddenly, I became a germ sanitizing freak, carrying a cart cover and hand sanitizer everywhere. I hover, and when he sniffles and I tend to worry about hospital stays, needing oxygen and watching for prolonged blue spells. Why? Because in the past when he tanked, it would happen so fast. And having watched your child fight for his life on more than one occasion, it tends to mark you.



Most of you all know that I work in the health field, specifically mental health. In all of my years of experience if I have learned anything, its that no one is spared from this area. Mental health is an interesting thing, really leaving no one untouched. PTSD from events can effect you and shape your future.



Life events can leave you scarred and scared. Scared to break down walls, to unnumb yourself, to share your feelings. They can leave you feeling isolated and alone, leaving you clammed up and in bed, not wanting to face the world.



People need to know that there is no shame in getting help when you need it. About talking about your stressors. Talking to friends, to counselors. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you can't do it alone. In fact, there is more strength in admitting you can't do it alone. That is admirable, admitting you need support and taking things in stride with your head up, determined to not let it win.



And most importantly, I hope people use this time to know that their one true helper and healer - is God. He's always on your side, he will never leave or forsake you. I read in a book about a golfer - and how they look to make shots. Do they focus on the trees they are trying to shoot through, or do they focus on the gap and what's beyond it? The gap. That. That's what we have to remember. Keep your eyes on him. Keep your eyes on the gap and what is beyond.



I have seen PTSD come in so many ways, shapes and forms. I have seen it attack loved ones in the form of sick family members or illnesses, to physical attacks, to a variety of emotional situations.



It can rear it's ugly head at any second. Caysen quits tolerating his feeds for two days and naturally I want to start getting jittery and analyze every waking move, take notes on every missed or vomited feed and try to figure what the root of the cause is. I tend to pray for fevers and diarrhea so I can chalk it up to a virus - and not something like poor heart function/heart failure. My life is so drastically different with child number 2, I never expected to pray for a virus to ease my mind.



This is just my own personal experience. But in my world, I have witnessed many different people battle PTSD and each battle is unique. Just remember, that you never know what someone is fighting. Be compassionate, live kindly. Encourage others. And when someone wants to open up to you to talk? Listen. Share. Encourage them to seek help however they may need. And remind them of their Heavenly Father who loves them so deeply, and so intensely and is the comforter to us all.



And finally - the why. Why does PTSD exist? I have no answers for you except that we live in a broken, broken world. And that is why our hope lies in Him.



Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." - John 13:7



The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yes I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. -Lamentations 3:19-23



Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. -Luke 6:21








Thursday, March 5, 2015

Time Heals All Wounds...or Not.


Yesterday was tough. A month has passed, and Andi just seems so incredibly far. I don't want to be further away. The further away from that day we go, it almost seems to make it worse.




The saying goes, "Time heals all wounds".




That saying makes me wrinkle my nose in frustration. 





Why, you might ask? Simply because, the wounds remain. Eventually, like you would have with a real life wound, it will scab over and be covered with scar tissue but visible scarring remains. On top of that, you also have the emotional pain associated with the injury.





No matter how you are hurt, scars remain. Those scars remind us that the past is, indeed, incredibly real. 





Unfortunately, as time goes on from such a great loss, the pain remains fresh for those close. The wounds they bear seem to be cut that much deeper, wider and the injury is just so intensely and consistently present. To those that weren't as close, they seem to carry on without as much pain or hurt. It's as if their scars heal so much quicker, and those of us trying to slowly heal get left behind and forgotten about. We seem to sit behind stuck in a dimly lit hospital room attached to a wound vac because our non-healing and stubborn wound has left us hospital bound, unable to free ourselves from cords to get out to the fresh air and everyday routine. (sorry for the hospital reference there..)





The hard part about losing a loved one? The scars aren't visible to just a passer by. To co workers, to strangers, or even on a day by day basis. You can't know the injury by looking, there is no attached wound vac, no zipper scar, no visible chest tube scarring. When others look at me, they don't know the scars on my heart and soul, the pain of my loss, or that I have only acknowledged that loss no less than a hundred times already in the span of six hours upon waking for my day.





Sure, time will help to heal the wound of loss, but there will always be reminders. 





But at the same time, I almost don't want to heal. I want those reminders. I want them repeatedly, so that the legacy of my beautiful friend lives on. I don't want it to heal completely and be like our friendship never happened, our support of each other, our disagreements, and our amazing triumphs over difficulties and trials. I want to be marked, forever. People need to know what I knew about her as a person. They need to know how she changed lives. They need to know about her compassion for others, how genuine her love was for her patients and families, and the way she served others. They need to know how she saved lives. 





In the same way, I want to be sure that I live my life so it is known that I have been marked by Christ. I want reminders of his goodness, his grace, how he has walked me through the hard times and how I can prove it by my scars. People need to know Him. I need to share with others His goodness, His encompassing love that surrounds me and gives me peace when I feel like there is just no hope. They need to know how He changes lives, how He cares for us.  In the same way that Andi helped saved Caysen's life, others need to know He saves lives. They need to know that we get to see her again, because of Him. That she is safe and healthy and with those who went before her - because of Him. They need to know by His grace, we are saved through faith. They need to know that He saved her.





Wounds suck. Especially the slow healing ones. As time goes on, it seems as if others have forgotten, but I have not. I'm still deeply changed by the loss of Andi, and always will be.





Thankfully, God has given me new interactions to try to help me with healing. Friends and family of Andi's that are with me as we walk through this healing process. I will always speak of Andi and share about what she did for us. I will always try to live my life in the way she did, serving others and being so incredibly selfless. (I remember when she told me that she couldn't drive through a McDonalds without donating EVERY TIME to Ronald McDonald House because she knew how many people were served by those - including some of her very dear friends.) She spent more time thinking about others than herself. She always went the extra step, whether she had the time or energy for it, she did it anyway because she cared. She was dedicated to helping those in need - and the more I think about it, that is very Christ-like in itself. 





I want to be sure I live that way. Caring for others, devoted to them, and most importantly sharing the love of Christ. Andi is happy and healed and well in heaven, and we can all have that too! We all have that to look forward to. We have that because of God's deep love for us. All we have to do is accept it.





It's a place that is so beautifully perfect, we don't need time to heal wounds. We will already be healed. Perfectly. 





There will be no scars. 





"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who has seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these things are trustworthy and true'". - Revelation 21: 4-5





“Listen to God with a broken heart. He is not only the doctor who mends it, but also the father who wipes away the tears.” 
















Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On Writing

Well hello there, it's been a while hasn't it?



Life has been so extremely busy, that I lost the chance and time to write. I didn't write Caysen an 18 month letter (mom fail), and I haven't been using my outlet of writing for myself, for my kids, for anyone to remember our journey.



Sometimes you just have to be in the mood to write. Sometimes, there just isn't enough time in the world, to sit down and say what you want to say. The words you want to write that you feel inside just don't fall out onto the keyboard the way you like or hear in your head.



I have written lots of letters, summaries, stories for both boys, our families struggles, all on this little old blog. Usually they are fairly easy to write, to tell and to express.



But a few weeks ago, I was given the beautiful opportunity to write for my friend. The chance to speak at her funeral was one that I knew I wanted to do, no question. The hard part? The hard part is the writing. How does one, with a heart so incredibly full of love and words and adjectives, summarize the best friend they've had into a short little speech that explains what her life meant to you and your family? How is that even remotely possible?



It wasn't an easy thing to do. I started over many different times. Deciding what to say that could adequately explain what she meant. I think I did a good job, yes. But I think with more time to heal, more time to deal with emotions, I could come up with a novel.



As I sit here while I type this, my sweet little half of a heart youngest son, Caysen, sits in my lap. He lets me play with his extremely cold, blue hand and I kiss his hair, he looks at me with his yogurt stained face, watching the tears slide down my cheek, and he tries to understand what that means. He doesn't understand tears, and searches my face for what I'm feeling. And what I'm feeling is that I still can't believe the journey that our family has been on.



The very journey that Andi played a HUGE role in, and that I will forever be grateful.



The hardest part to accept - is that she is no longer here. I can accept and know that she is safe, healthy, not in pain, hearing without hearing aids, and will be waiting for us in Heaven when we get there.  I feel that she was saved from something worse, more than we could ever think or know because we aren't God himself, and only he truly knows. I know that God took her because that was the best option for her.



But, the hard part is that she IS NOT HERE. She isn't here to watch my boys grow. To see Caysen get big, after all she did for him. To know the role she played. She is not here to talk me down from the proverbial medical ledge with a corny joke or funny story; when I'm stressed out from germs and lab results and upcoming heart caths and open heart surgeries. She isn't here to continue doctoring, to finish what she started. To finish what she had such an amazing drive and determination to complete - despite having every POSSIBLE and potential thing she could have to make things more difficult. (hello - have you ever met a deaf doctor - that was still a total bad ass? Have you ever met someone living across the country from her husband and still one of the bubbliest and funnest people you have ever met?). Yeah, didn't think so. Because despite the odds stacked against her, it made her more determined, more confident that she was doing what she was supposed to be doing.



That is such an admirable thing. To know, without a doubt, despite the troubles and hardships, that God has put kids and medicine on your heart to do, despite every road block. I pray when God speaks to me that I will always be so obedient.



A wise friend told me, which knocked the wind out of me -- but she said that she would never, ever consider bringing Andi back and taking her out of the grasp of our Lord and Savior. She said she couldn't be that selfish. The more I think about it? So true. When we are in His presence, it will be such a powerful thing, so awe inspiring, that we won't even be able to stand upright. We will fall to our knees as His greatness renders us speechless. How could I take her away from that? What a great and beautiful thing, that she is up there happy, healed, whole, with all of the loved ones who went before her, patients she cared for, and her grandmother that she spoke so highly of.



I think about her often. I think about her husband and family. I know that if I am hurting, they are hurting a thousand times over. I pray they find peace in the Lord, their Savior. I pray they know, they see, His glory and his goodness. I pray that they turn to Him, as there is nothing, NOTHING, Andi would want more, than to spend an eternity in heaven with her family and loved ones.



It doesn't take away from how hard it hurts. Tonight, at bedtime, Camden and I were saying his prayers. He prayed for Andi and her family, and said "Please help them to not be sad and to not miss Andi while she is in heaven". Then he turned to me and asked me "Mom, were you Andi's friend?" I answered yes, and he did something he never had before - He prayed "Please help Andi to not miss Mom too much, and for Mom to not miss Andi". He was hugging me in the same way Andi would hug me, standing high enough so I could hear his heart. I always took comfort in hearing her heart beat, strong and powerful. I would always pray that Caysen's would sound as strong as hers. But at the same time, it was all so bittersweet.  I realized I don't get to listen to her heart anymore. Physically or emotionally. I miss physically hearing her heart. I miss knowing what's on her heart. I miss that simple comfort.



But because of her, I have THREE hearts in my family to listen to. To savor. To love on with my heart. Like I have said before,  she made our family whole.



We both said, and I even have it in her handwriting, that God knew what He was doing when that pharmacy messed things up. Him bringing us together was a gift in more ways than we could ever count. Thank you, God. For your goodness you bring to our lives and allowing this angel into ours.



"You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world". 1 John 4:4