Foreshadowing

This photo was taken the morning my mom died.

The week she went into the ICU was Spring Break week for me in school, so I pretty much moved into the ICU room with my mom.

That week was also Parent-Teacher Conferences for my son, and Student-Led Conference for my daughter.

Monday I drove like a bat out of hell to Des Moines, because the nursing home called and said she was going to Mercy Hospital (again) by ambulance. She’d been having trouble breathing. I left my home, 15 miles farther than the home from the hospital, and took the fastest way to the hospital (freeway). It’s a little longer, but you can drive faster (legally). I beat her there, so I waited in the ER waiting room next to a guy who appeared to be sleeping. I say appeared to be sleeping, because he would look like he was asleep, and then he’d lean over on my shoulder and try to continue his nap-taking. I would move, and he would sit straight up and then appear to go back to sleep, and then lean over again. This happened off and on for about ten minutes, and I finally moved. He smelled like poop.

After she arrived in the ER, they led me to another room, one that was darker and poorly lit, and asked me to wait there until she was processed and hooked up to machines and such. A doctor from the ER came into the room and told me that she’d stopped breathing on the way to Des Moines, and they had to put her on a ventilator in the ambulance. The machine was now breathing for her. Barry got there, and a chaplain came in to pray with us. (This made me nervous, because when he walked in, he said that the nurse called him and told him to come see us…that we would need him)

She was assigned to room 6 in the ICU, and we had to wear the yellow gowns and gloves (which I ended up pretty much living in for the week) in order to be in the room. I stayed Monday night. Went home Tuesday afternoon, for a shower, change of clothes, and Jessup’s P-T conferences, and then drove back to Des Moines for the night. The only visitors she had were a wonderful, caring couple from our church who drove down to see her. No one else came down during that whole week, and only Barry and I were there on Friday when my mom died. I’m sure no one expected it to end the way it did, and they all have busy lives, but she was proven right when she said that people would care for me, and people would care for Barry and the kids, but it wouldn’t make a difference if she were gone.

I stayed with her until Thursday, when I had Ainsley’s conference to attend, and I really needed another shower. I stayed at home that night, and left before the sunrise on Friday morning. I needed to be at the hospital early to meet with her doctors, and talk about the next steps. I took this photo (while I was driving-shh, don’t tell) because I felt it was a fitting picture, considering what I knew was coming, and what my future felt like at that point. I was facing a decision that I never thought I’d have to make, and I was (and have been) so torn by it. Did I make the right choice? Did I do what she wanted? Did the 36-year old me make the decision, or did the teenaged me make it? All I can do now is try to find comfort in the way things are now, and try to find the strength to go on.

I’ve been here again this past week or so. I’ve been having nightmares every night about my mom. About the choice I had to make. Dreams have always come easily to me, and this last week they’ve been dark. They’ve been looming over each day like a cloud. Knowing what they have been. Knowing that they are coming again. Fearing the sleep and rest I so desperately need.

Barry has done all he could to fix my outside, but my inside is still a lonely, ugly place. Someone recently walked up to me and said that it looks like I’m fine. It looks like I don’t miss her, and I seem to have gotten over her pretty easily. Then they followed it up with, “But, of course, you didn’t want her here in the first place, so you must feel such relief.”

Is that how people see me? A cold, cruel daughter that doesn’t/didn’t care about her mom? A woman who can just get over something like that without a thought or care? Do they think that what I’m feeling is relief?

Relief is not the word for it.

Guilt.

Fear.

Pain.

Shame.

Regret.

Loneliness.

An overwhelming sadness I cannot shake.

Medicine hasn’t helped. New clothes haven’t helped. A new hairstyle…nothing is helping me to shed these feelings.

I can only hope that somehow I will find out that I’m not as alone as I feel in this. I’m wishing that a lot of things were now the way they were a few years ago. Wishing that I felt more cared for. Wishing that there were people to turn to…a pastor to look to for guidance and comfort. One who would’ve been there for me when the choices about my mom had to be made. One who would have at least visited once during that week. The chaplain at the hospital was so nice, and very caring, but it’s not easy to pour your feelings out to a man who doesn’t know you, doesn’t know what you’re feeling, and is never going to see you again. I have a lot of unfinished feelings about my childhood, and about my mom, and things she did and said to me throughout my life. None of those were a reason to let her go, but all of those factored into my decision-making. In one morning, I had to make sure that I wasn’t being cruel, I wasn’t getting back at her, and that I was truly doing what she would have wanted, and what was best for everyone. TRULY what was best. Not just what was easiest. THIS was not an easy decision.

I challenge God to show me His will through this. To make me believe that it’s really for the best. To show me that I did the right thing. That the decision made was in His prefect will, and that it isn’t my fault that she’s gone. He has not done so to this day. Maybe in the future. Maybe He never will. Maybe I will have to live with this forever, and I will never get over it. But, I will tell you this: I don’t ever want to have to bury or lose another person I love. It’s too much. I’m at the top of my family tree. I’m tired of losing people. It’s been one person every six years on average, and there are so few left to lose. Those losses would be so much more devastating. So much more painful. And they would cause so much more anger than I’ve felt before. I was so angry when my dad died. I’m angry again at the loss of my mom, when she’d finally moved her to be closer to all of us, and now she’s gone.

I wrote all of that on June 29, 2012.

It’s now January 10, 2013.

I still don’t feel peace. I still don’t know if I made the right decision. I am confident that taking her off the machines was what she would’ve wanted. She didn’t want to be attached to machines. She stopped responding two days before she died.

She. Stopped. Responding.

Monday and Tuesday she would squeeze my hand or wriggle her toes when I talked to her. Wednesday she stopped. No movement whatsoever. No way to know if she was still there.

How could I tell if she was still there? How could I know? She wasn’t brain-dead, but she wasn’t living, either.

Wednesday and Thursday, even into Friday, I begged my mom to answer me. To respond in some way. Before I had that final talk with her doctor, I begged her. I cried and begged her to let me know she was still there.

Still, I got no response.

I remember feeling so empty that day. My thoughts were unclear all morning, until I heard the phrases that I knew I needed to hear. The things I needed to know before I could let go.

1. Your mom will be on a machine for months…very likely for the rest of her life. She will always be in a bed. She will probably never walk again.

2. Your mom is not living her life anymore. This…living on a machine…this is not living. This is not the quality of life she would want.

3. Any measures taken, from now on, will be to keep her comfortable. To get her beyond this place, would take extreme measures.

I needed to hear that it was permanent, that her quality of life would never improve, and the phrase “extraordinary measures”. I knew that once I hear those terms, that I could let go.

And I did. It was like the fog lifted.

At her request I let go.

At her request I didn’t have a service.

At her request I made the decision to say goodbye.

And I’m still sorry. I still hate that I made it. I hate that I had to make it alone. I hate that I didn’t celebrate her life in some way.

I hate that the person to hold my hands while I prayed about the decision was a stranger. Someone I was unfamiliar with. The person who should have cared, didn’t. They weren’t there. They were less than an hour away and were never there.

She said no one would care if she were gone. She was wrong.

I care.

Life with her was never easy, but I wanted my kids to see a fun side to her. To see her smile and laugh. I don’t think they ever saw that side. She’d been in pain and sick from the moment she moved here. I didn’t see it often, but I knew that side of her.

I still have the dreams. I don’t sleep much. I’ll go for weeks with no dreams, and then I’ll have them for several nights in a row. I’m hoping that they stop at some point. To wake up in the morning without having cried myself back to sleep at least once during the night. I long for a full night of rest and sleep. I can’t even remember how good that feels. I only seem to know exhaustion. I’m learning to live with it.

There is no easy answer when you’re getting through grief. There’s no road map that is perfect for everyone. This landscape is far different from the one I traveled all those years ago when I lost my Dad.

So I walk. Sometimes I crawl. Alone. My heart continually aching for the parents that I no longer have.

I pray that Barry and I will be around a long time for our own children, and eventually for our grandchildren. I pray that the steps we’ve taken to get healthy will have been taken in time. That they will have been enough.

For now, here I sit, a sad, broken, lonely, little girl.

Today is March 23, 2013.

It’s been one year.

11:35 a.m., March 23, 2012.

One year since that foggy morning. One year since I held a strangers hand. The chaplain came in a few minutes after I arrived at the hospital that final morning. He held my hands as we prayed. God blessed me with the same chaplain nearly every time I called that entire week. I needed a familiar face, especially that morning. I got one. He was a very caring man. Empathetic, easy to talk to, and most of all, available. He was there. His was the face I’d seen all week. He and Nurse Abbey saw me through that week, with it’s terrifying and difficult decisions. Together and separately they offered me peace, hope, comfort, and clarity.

That week of being alone. That week of knowing, feeling, fearing what was on the horizon.

One year and 12 hours ago, I watched my mom draw her last breath. Her body struggled. It seemed to be trying, but all efforts were in vain. Her body had been breathing for 69 years, and it was habitually doing what it was designed to do. The last breath escaped. Her torn, exhausted body was, at last, still. For some time after they took the tubes out, I secretly hoped that she’d just keep going. That she just needed that final push to start breathing on her own. That somehow she would fight through it, and keep going. Finally, it was clear to me that she was gone. Her mouth was open. Her eyes empty. All that remained of her was her shell, lying on the bed, bruised, torn, scarred, and battered, but she wasn’t there anymore. After such a long time of being in pain, she was gone, and her body was at rest.

Today’s date will live in infamy…in my heart.

I still feel alone. I still feel orphaned. I know that God takes care of the orphans, but I still feel it. My people are gone. There is no one to call and brag to about my fabulous children. There is no one to call and ask advice on tough situations. There are no more Saturday calls that, while sometimes I would have rather done anything else, I looked so forward to.

I have, especially over the past year, seen a lot of my parents in my children. The quirks, and the annoyances. The humor, and the drama.

I miss my parents. I realize now how important it is for family to be together, and for us to make memories while we can. I realize that, while my childhood memories might be abnormal to many, they are mine, and they need to be remembered. Now they are all I have.

Mom, I miss you. Daddy, I miss you, too. It’s scary to be at the top of the tree. It’s lonely.

I hang on with all my strength, all the while trying to let go so I don’t suffocate what I have left.

I’ve been so busy hanging on, that I’ve forgotten how to fly. I’ve forgotten how to let the ones I love fly.

So, here’s to flying. Here’s to letting go. Here’s to not being so afraid of being at the top, that I lose my focus on the view around me.

UPDATE: I survived the day…not too much worse for the wear. In fact, it was a good day. And it ended well. And that’s always the best.

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Brain Dump Friday

Yet another Carnival Cruise ship was stranded somewhere this week without hope of immediate rescue. I’m going to book a trip with them in about two years, because I figure by then…they will be paying people to give them a shot. Cheers is still really funny…after all these years (about 30). I’d really like a place like that to hang out…or even work. That would be a fun place to work. However, I’m afraid I’d be Diane… sigh. Cheers is one of the TV shows that shaped my humor…and my perspective on life. Sometimes I wonder if I got all the humor, though, and if I did, how did my parents let me watch that? I could watch whatever I wanted on TV (mostly), but I couldn’t listen to any music except for the Christian station until I was 13. Cheers probably did more damage than Journey or Kenny Rogers ever would have. Hindsight. I, on the other hand, was/am far more strict with what they watch rather than their music. I will say that neither of them likes anything too bad, music-wise, but still…I could definitely do without One Direction blaring at all hours when Ainsley is home. Jessup and I have the same taste. I love our plumber. I hope his wife doesn’t mind… Last Saturday morning the city sewer backed up into our basement and we went down there to find SIX INCHES of “poo water” in our basement. Needless to say…eeeeeeeeew! Time for a new house…this one is ruined. I am making a giant birthday card for someone today. It’s the first project that someone has called me up to ask me to do. I’m so excited! I think I’d like to start decorating the house. A little at a time. Find my style, and make this house mine. Ours. Whatever. Monday is my Anniversary. 18 years. My, has it gone by in a blink! People I love are just starting out…and I don’t feel that much older than they. (…than they are…?) Jessup brought home posters for his play…and they are SO great! I can’t wait for the play! I wish so badly that I’d been in high school plays…that I’d been allowed to even try out. That was a lifetime ago. Hopefully Jessup and Ainsley will look back on their school days with much fonder memories than I. I have great pieces of memories, but overall I’m glad it’s over, and you couldn’t pay me enough to go through most of it again. I have always thought that, if I could, I’d go back and change a couple of things, but one little change could ruin what I have now. And what I have now is pretty great. I like it. I want to keep it. It took three of us (Schulers) to figure out how old I am. Jessup finally got it. That’s really sad. He said, “But we’re all 5’s, so that means right now we’re all 7’s.” So I’m 37. Ainsley is the oddball. (All of that means that Barry, Jessup, and I were born in a year that ends in 5. Ainsley was born in a year that ended in 8, so she the only one who’s age doesn’t end in a 7). This only proves that Jessup loves being his age, Barry and I would rather forget our own ages, and at some point, Jessup became smarter than us. I think that point was several years ago, but I’m only going to count from last night. I wonder what it would feel like (or sound like) if our ears could fart. Sometimes we have ridiculous conversations in this house. It will be so quiet and sad when the kids are gone. Nothing fun will ever happen again. OK, it will…but it will be so different. Boring. Barry and I aren’t funny enough to live alone. That is all.

Brain Dump Friday

I’ve decided to give Twin Peaks a try. The pilot premiered in 1990, and since I was 15 at the time, and my parents were still in charge of my every movement, I wasn’t allowed to watch it. It’s probably still too mature for me, but I’ll give it a go. See what all the fuss is about. Already it’s treading on rocky ground. The first scene, I mean the FIRST thing I saw was a bird. I don’t like birds. Hopefully it’s uphill from here. I’ve been re-working my resumé. I wonder if I can call myself a “Community Organizer” based on the fact that I am helping promote and lead a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class at our church. I mean it’s for the community. And I’m organizing it. Hence: Community Organizer. That looks much better on a resumé than “attendance taker at weekly church class”. I can’t use Domestic Engineer, because I’m barely domestic, and without medication I can’t engineer my way out of bed every day. Something like “Supervised and coordinated all aspects of domestic technology”. That sounds good. “Director of Domestic Systems and Technologies”. I could come up with these all day. I wonder if that’s a job. “In charge of all aspects of home-based supervision for weather-related phenomena while maintaining and following all safety protocol”…watching it snow outside from the safety and warmth of my blankie. But it sounds so much better with the big words. I ate a Twix. It was delicious. It’s funny how a story can start out so harmless and normal, and then, when one little tiny aspect of the story is revealed, everyone erupts into laughter, and the story then becomes timeless and memorable. It doesn’t matter that it happened five years ago. It feels like yesterday. And yet, if you leave that little part out, it’s just a story that no one will ever remember. I love that. Finding the little things…the little pieces of an everyday thing that make it so much more. I’ve applied for four jobs already today and my brain hurts. If I never again have to list all the jobs I’ve had, it would be OK with me. Professional Doodler and Part-Time Writer should be a paying gig. If I could figure a way to put all the things I’m good at to work for me, I’d be the happiest person alive. I would write, doodle, and design things for a living. Graphic design jobs all want related college degrees, and way more experience than I have. I don’t know all the programs. I can’t afford to buy all of them to learn. I think I’m going to start telling stories. Stories from when I was kid, and stories from my little family now…see what develops. Several people have suggested I do my brain dumps in another forum. A couple people have suggested newspaper columns. One person said the radio…like a morning program. I don’t know if it’s funny enough for that, but it would be a fun experiment. So…if you like this nonsense that I write, and you think someone else would enjoy it, please feel free to forward it on. Recommend it. Re-post it. Whatever. I don’t care. I’d love it. Maybe something will come of it. Or…maybe I’ll just make a new friend. Either way. That is all.

Brain Dump Friday

I do not like the Doctor’s new girl. Ok. Let me clarify. Jessup and I are going through all the season of Doctor Who that Netflix has. We are currently in the second year of David Tennant as The Doctor, and Billie Piper has just “died”, but she not dead, just in another reality. Anyway, the new girl is Catherine Tate. I really, really disliked her on The Office, so she’s already got a black mark against her…but she’s yelling a lot and whiney, and I’m not a fan so far. Right now she’s a bride, and has just been zapped into the Tardis, and there’s a giant spider in a spaceship in the sky. I don’t ever think I’ll ever be able to look at another Santa statue. If you don’t get it, you won’t get it…too bad for you. Jessup is sick again…three days now. We (Barry and I) are about to start (for the second time) leading a Financial Peace University class. I’m so excited! I love Dave Ramsey. His program is really hard for me, but I love it! JESSUP GOT THE LEAD ROLE IN THE HIGH SCHOOL PLAY!!! There. I bragged a little bit. Just a little. I’m so proud of him. SO. PROUD. Of course, right now he’s too sick to go to rehearsals, but he’ll be right as rain soon enough. Tonight is writer’s group, and I am in charge of the activity. Nervous. Whew! Catherine Tate was not the new girl…she’s just in the one episode. YAY! I learned to love another Doctor, I guess I’ll learn to like a new companion. I’ve got lots to do today…and I’m exhausted already. Only got an hour and a half of sleep last night. Stupid brain. That is all.

What Is Love?

Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more…

Now that I have that song stuck in my head for the rest of my life…and you probably do, too…

We don’t do this holiday in our house.

Well, Ainsley does, but she’s the nice one. Somewhere in her room, there is a gift for each of us, waiting until we can all open them together tonight. She needs to do this kind of thing. Giving gifts, and sharing what she has…is like oxygen for her.

I love to get gifts, and I love to give gifts, but, despite that, Barry and I have never celebrated Valentine’s Day. I guess it’s just another day…not a big deal. I got to thinking about it, and while it’s an important day for a lot of people to show someone that they love them, it’s a concept that shouldn’t be saved for just one day. We should realize that every kind act toward another is an act of love. Not romantic love, otherwise we’d all be in a lot of trouble, but general, every day kind of love. There are many kinds of love. Parent/child love, sibling love (maybe the rarest form, spoken about only in gentle whispers, but it’s still out there), romantic love, crush love (teenaged girls feel this on a regular basis for members of boy bands, and TV/movie stars), friendship love, Good Samaritan love, and, saving the best for last, nerd love (Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Fringe, etc.). Nerd love can be shared by anyone, and does not depend on space or time…

So what is love? What does love look like?

Love is…

A hand held next to a hospital bed.

Holding your baby for the first time.

A flirty poke in the ribs in a darkened movie theater.

An intimate look between two lovers.

Waking up to bad breath and screaming kids, and still getting a kiss.

A wedding day.

A desperately needed hug.

Burned meatloaf in a first apartment.

Celebrating someone’s life after they’ve gone.

The shock of electricity from the lightest touch.

Eyes meeting across the room.

That feeling in your core that someone thinks about you as often as you think of them.

Being alone together in a room filled with people.

Memories and stories told, shared, remembered.

Love can be just about anything. It is fun, playful, intimate, sometime strained, painful, shared, personal. Little moments that can sometimes mean everything. Love is everywhere. Everyone needs to feel love. We all need to know that we are loved. You will never feel more alone than those times when you don’t feel loved.

Showing someone that you love them shouldn’t be saved for one day. It should be done every day. Every day people need to know that you’re thinking about them. Whether you’re in love with them, or you just think they’re spiffy, they need to know it. They need to be told that you care about them. You never know what a hug, or poke, or word of encouragement might do to brighten someone’s day. It might be just what they need to give them the first step out of a dark place.

What are some of the ways you’ve shown love? What are some of the ways that love has been shown toward you? From tiny little things to great big, extravagant things, it doesn’t really matter what it is. If it showed love, it was worth it.

I know, that no matter how I might feel on a particular day, I am loved. I have a husband who comes home every night, kids who don’t hate me, friends who take time to say HI to me, and most importantly, a God Who gave His Son for me. To save me. A sacrifice so great, so tremendous, so extravagant, that I can never repay the love shown to me. I will never be worthy of that gift. Ever.

It’s a difficult thing to understand, that everything has been done for me, and I can’t work it off, earn it, or pay it back. To grasp the concept that my relationship with God is not fair. It’s not even. It can never be even. It’s not based on how good a person I am, or what I do for my church and community. It’s based on His never-ending love for me. My only responsibility is to accept that, and choose to love Him back. Despite my faults, He loves me. The God of the Universe loves me. I still don’t get it. He gave all for me. I freely choose to give Him my love, because He gave me everything, and yet, I owe Him nothing. I don’t have to love Him. I don’t have to do anything. I could choose to go my own way, live my own life, do what I want…and He would have still given His Son for me. Free will is an amazing thing. It allows everyone the choice. Love Him. Don’t love Him. It’s not fair. To give your precious Son, and still have so many who still don’t love you.

If I gave up my son so that everyone else could live, and they didn’t love me in return, I would…I would…I would make every radio station play only The Macarena. I would make them wear shoes made from porcupines. I would make everything taste like lima beans. I would make Gigli the official movie of the Earth, and everyone would be forced to watch it every day. With toothpicks in their eyes so they couldn’t blink. I would make a car horn blast from tornado sirens 24/7. Louder at bedtime. Everyone would have the hiccups.

He gave everything and I still get the choice. Amazing!

SO, on this day of love and squishy feelings, I challenge you to love someone today. Show someone – anyone – that you love them. Even if it’s a pat on the back, let them know you care.

They will appreciate the love…

Stability – And All The Crap That Comes With It.

Someone told me yesterday that I have beautiful kids. Well, of course I do!

But I think it’s more than looks. It’s attitude. I think it’s that they’re happy kids. They are secure.

I believe that there’s a confidence and a joy that comes with knowing that you have a quiet, happy, love-filled place to go home to at the end of every day, and that you’re not going to walk in to World War 3…or something worse. A house that’s full of people, and completely empty at the same time. A house that silently strangles you with dread and fear every time you walk in. Like a coat of pain, that’s zipped up so tight, you can barely breathe.

There’s a simple joy in stability. I think, I hope, that you can see it every time you look at them.

I am not trying to say that I have some magic formula for happy kids, or that you shouldn’t make the changes that are best for your family. I’m just saying that my kids haven’t had to experience sadness. Not to such an extreme that it’s darkened them.

Sometimes I worry that this is bad. That when sadness comes, and it will come, they won’t know what to do. They won’t know how to deal with it. They watched me (and continue to watch me) go through losing my mom, and I fear that, because of the situation, because of my relationship with her, they haven’t witnessed a healthy grief. Whatever that looks like.

The home I walked into every day, for as long as I can remember, wasn’t happy. There was tension. There was an unspoken sadness. There was an inexplicable fear. I felt dread every time I walked into that huge, heavy, black door with the brass Dexter deadbolt. It was like walking into the unknown every single time. My dad said he would never divorce my mom, and that was it. No matter what kind of crazy stuff she did, or how she hurt him, or me, he kept his word. He quit good-paying jobs to stay home with me, and be there when she was. He took terrible jobs, with terrible hours, so he could be there for me. He did everything he could to make life bearable, and it did. Mostly. He tried to keep his promise, and keep me happy and safe at the same time.

There was an incident when I was in third grade. I only have vague recollections of it, but I remember it being bad. So bad, that he and I moved to California that Summer, and I spent the Summer in Camarillo, California with my grandparents while he found a job nearby and my mom stayed in Arizona. I was told that the only job he could find was in Ventura (12 hours from my home), so he could stay at my Uncle’s house, and I could stay with Granddad and Suze.

Of course, this was quite an adventure for me…a whole summer! Swimming, and going to the beach, and volunteering at a hospital…it was awesome! I don’t really remember missing my mom. I got to talk to her every week on the phone, while my dad was in the room, and then I would leave the room and he would talk to her alone. I had my 8th birthday that summer. I remember him asking me if I wanted to go home or stay in California when the Summer was over. I don’t remember feeling the weight of that question like I do now when I think of it. Had I been any older, I wouldn’t have chosen to go back to her. Only a couple of years later I was fully aware of what it was like to live with her, and how I hated it.

I only ever doubted the “only job I could find” thing after the last phone call I ever had with my dad. It was the day he died…only about an hour before, in fact. He said something about taking me away, but not being able to keep me away. Not being able to break his promise, and that’s why we went back. That a girl shouldn’t grow up without a mom. It was years before I put the two together.

That choice, going back, made me who I am today. Every decision he made, made me who I am today. For better or worse. And isn’t that all we can do as parents? Make the best decisions we can for our kids? Do what we hope is the very best for them, every day, and pray that they don’t get too screwed up in the process?

That’s all I’ve done. I believe that the best thing, the glorious ideal, is for every mom and dad to stay together. Barry and I have had to work very, very hard to do that. There’ve been times…for both of us…that it seemed like too much. But we tried again the next day, and the next, and eventually it all settled out again. There has been so much forgiveness, and letting go, while still holding on to each other. I have found that it’s impossible to hold on to the person and their faults at the same time. You have to let go of one. If you choose the person, you cannot hold on to all the crap that comes with them. If you choose the faults, eventually your clenched fists are holding on to their faults so tightly, that the person you love slips out of your hands. <—Read that part again. It’s the key.

I am not naive. I am completely aware that sometimes it just won’t turn around. It just cannot work out. I have so many friends who’ve given all they had, and it wasn’t enough. I have other friends who’ve stayed too long, and that did more damage than good…especially to their kids. Still others have been broken and damaged in the most painful ways, and have somehow found the courage and strength to forgive and go on. To let the “stuff” go, and hold on to the person.

So here are my questions:

How long do you stay in a situation that is worse than leaving? How long do you stay when you fear for your safety, or that of your kids? How long do you try before you realize that you are broken, and your kids are damaged, and that leaving really is the only option? How much hurt do you endure? How much can you take and still, somehow, stay and fight for the one you love?

Am I damaged? Yes. Have I been broken? Yes. Should my dad have left? I have no idea. I don’t know what it would have been like without my mom. I only know what it was like with her. I know the reality of having two parents that stayed together “for better or worse, in good times and bad, until death parts us”. And death did part them. But sometimes, I think they were parted long before that. Back when I was turning 8 without my mom. Back when I was having such a glorious adventure, and learning to swim, and getting to know my grandparents. I don’t think it was ever the same at home after that. My dad later took a job that got him out of the house regularly, but when he realized what leaving me with her for days at a time meant for me, he quit that job, and took a terrible, smelly, dirty job in town. But he was home every night, and he was the first one the school would call if they needed to.

Sometimes protection is love. Sometimes, when you’re not able to walk away, all you can do is wrap your kids up in your arms, and hold them tight through the storm. Storms still come when you stay. They come and they pound you with all they have, and you get battered and bruised, but when it ends, and the sun is shining again, you pick yourself up, dry yourself off, and go again.

Stability comes in all kinds of packages. Sometimes it comes in one parent at a time, rather than two who aren’t really there at all. Sometime it comes in Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, Guardians, Foster Parents, Adoption…

I can only write from my own experience, only from my side of the story. I can honestly say, that I believe Barry is much easier to live with than I am, so, most of the time, I think he got the raw end of this deal. But he has stuck with me though it all. And I with him. We have held on to each others hands, rather than our faults.

You don’t judge me, and I will never judge you…I will celebrate you for doing what’s best for your kids…no matter what that looks like.

Here’s to real life. To not being glossy and polished, but being dirty and real. To being strong. To being faithful. To forgiveness. To letting go, and holding on tight. To being the best that you can be, for yourself and your kids. *clink*

Brain Dump Friday

One of my favorite movies is Must Love Dogs. I don’t even like dogs, but I love this movie. I watched it about two weeks ago. One of these days I’m going to have to watch Doctor Zhivago. I can’t believe I spelled that right the first time I tried. I heard on the radio this morning that a list of students’ GPA’s was released at a college or university to the entire student body recently, and now the school is sending out an apology, and offering counseling to all those affected by this incredible tragedy. *sarcasm* Seriously? Counseling? I could see some tutoring for the student ashamed of their horrid grades or struggling in some way, but counseling? For what? For the trauma of a few people in this great big, people-filled world knowing what your grades are? Is that really necessary? If you are so damaged and broken that you can’t handle someone else knowing your GPA, then you shouldn’t be away at school. You should be in your crib, at home, with a pacifier to shut your whiney little mouth. If you’re embarrassed, do better. If you’re ashamed, try harder. Here’s the deal: I need counseling…you do not. *end rant* Today is another quarterly appointment for Jessup to go to the doctor. This time is all the appointments (except G.I.)…asthma, allergies (since Spring is around the corner-I hope), and Alpha-1, plus Pulmonary Function Testing. Sometime, later this year, we will do the chest x-rays to see the progress of this awful disease…I am so afraid. I missed Bible Study last night. I was on the couch for many hours yesterday, in such pain I was nearly unable to move. I took three times the allotted dosage of one medicine for a 12-hour period of time, and then took a different medicine after that. My liver survived the night, but my stomach has been burning all morning. It was better after some breakfast, and a little milk. I’m pretty sure there’s probably a hole in my stomach and the acid will be burning a hole through my skin any minute. You’ll be able to find me today…I’ll be the human sprinkler system. I know I did a bad thing. You don’t have to tell me. I knew it, and I did it anyway, because I wanted to feel better. (That must be what it’s like for addicts) I cannot wait for our insurance to kick in so I can get this taken care of, once and for all. We have it, just needing a letter from the old one to say we had it until January 31. New insurance is valid from February 1st. I am just being overly cautious. However…another day like yesterday, and the appointment will be made. With or without the letter. Sorry for being gross. That is all.