I’ve made quite a few new online friends recently, and I realized most probably didn’t follow my Carepage story and really have no idea who I am or what my journey has looked like for the past few years. Here’s the first part of the story and I’ll add to it in the coming days. Honest, real, gritty, joyfully painful life began for me in 2004. My late husband and I were excited to announce that we were expecting our second child, we were building our dream house, he had just taken a huge leap of faith and started his own gym, and I was a stay at home mom to two year old Caleb. Our life was about as close to perfect as you could get. We loved God, thought we had our faith pretty much down to a science and God was obviously very pleased with our coasting through the American dream because we hadn’t had any problems. We were a blessed family… or so we thought before our lives, our hopes, and our dreams all came to a crashing halt the first week of May. I went to what I thought would be my three month routine ultrasound checkup only to discover every mother’s worst nightmare. I was informed that my baby had suffered a stroke in utero and was now showing the signs of severe hydrocephalus, and then I was advised to immediately abort the pregnancy and start trying again for a healthy child. I was told repeatedly by some of our area’s finest doctors that this baby would certainly not make it to birth alive and if he or she did manage to somehow be born, it would probably die almost immediately or on the operating table due to all of the complications it was sure to have. This began my intense search for life, life for the baby, life for my family, life for me, life that Christ talks about when he said, “ I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly” John 10:10. It became a three month search for healing for this child through what the Bible had to say about it, speaking and believing, growing faith to move a mountain, literally getting rid of everything and anything that could potentially stand in the way of my faith being productive to bring about a miracle for my unborn baby. I entered the throne room of Almighty God for hours every day to beg, plead, believe, and pray for healing for this baby. On August 12, 2004, one month early, I gave birth to Lucas, my beautiful, miracle baby. The only visible thing wrong with him was the extreme buildup of cerebrospinal fluid on his brain which caused him to have two year old’s head at birth. For two weeks I waited on pins and needles as I hardly hoped for the miracle I believed in my heart but while also trying to prepare for the worst as every doctor had predicted. Finally, on August 26 2004, the last tubes were released from his fragile body and he was declared healthy enough to come home.
I find it a privilege to write on Jessica’s new blog. She thought it might be interesting to have me write from a man’s perspective some of the things we deal with on a regular basis. My first “guest appearance” might be somewhat controversial, so feel free to voice your opinion but make sure they are pointed at me and not my beautiful bride:)
I have found it interesting how many people who know us and many who do not, have an opinion about our relationship and our grief process. We have decided to step outside of the box a bit and embrace the blessed life God has granted us. Nobody knows the pain we have endured before we met nor the pain we have shared with each other. There is no doubt we have moved quickly in many aspects of our new life but in no way have we been rash in our decisions. God has guided and often given us slight nudges along our very unusual path. The culture we live in often expects us to mourn forever or at least a year or 2 or 5 or…I guess it depends on who you ask:) Well, we didn’t ask and neither one of us is grieving any longer. That does not mean we didn’t love our late spouses and it doesn’t mean they have been forgotten, it just means we are living our life together without them in it. I know that sounds brutal but the only example I can think of to back our way of thinking from a biblical perspective is Jesus’ death. The advantage Jesus’ disciples had that the rest of us miss out on is He revealed Himself to them later and reminded them that His purpose had been lived out and now they must pick up and move forward to fulfill their own. I can’t recall Jesus ever saying “as soon as you finish mourning my death” you can get started. Jason and Kaci are in the same heaven that Jesus reigns over, so I believe the same is true for us. We are supposed to pick up the pieces and fulfill our own purpose and God has great things planned for us and for all of you if you are willing. We are not to let life pass us by because something awful happened to us no matter how bad it seems in the moment. I believe God has carried me through some horrific events but I have a choice to make: wallow in my grief (which is accepted in our society and often expected) or let God lead me to the next level of life full of new joys and new happiness. I’ll be the first to tell you that the latter is not always the easiest route to take and many feelings are hurt initially but for me, it’s the correct answer and the path less traveled. I have much more to say about this particular subject but it will have to wait until I’m invited to write again, that is, if I’m invited to write again:) Now, as Jess would say…just keep livin!
I’m reaching out for some input today. I’ve been blogging for about a month now and I really enjoy it. Writing allows me to process so many thoughts and feelings and it also gives me a chance to get feedback from others in similar situations. I was a little nervous about whether or not anyone would want to read anything I had to say because my life wasn’t sad anymore as it was the first time I wrote in front of an online audience. I’ve found that generally sad makes for good writing and reading, and I imagine that my other story was probably right up there with really sad stories. A young, strong, personal trainer, husband and father fighting brain cancer for three years while his wife and four young children, one a severally handicapped child, try to maintain some sort of life in the midst of so much pain and suffering. People gravitate towards sad because it is a universal feeling of all mankind. Everyone understands pain, from Africa to America to Australia and back to Canada, it is the tie that binds us in our humanity. People also tend to feel a little bit better about their own lives when they are reading about something so heartbreaking that someone else is going through for it puts their personal lives into a different perspective. Finally, it is the heartbreaking aspect of it; we can hardly turn our eyes away from the grotesque suffering of it all, and we root so hard for those suffering to experience joy once again. So again I wasn’t sure anyone would want to read about my happiness when “sad” seemed to sell so well the first time around. Someone on my former blog commented that reading my writing was interesting because they felt like they were literally inside my head. Unfortunately you are when I write. I may buffer it down a bit, “graceful grit” as Ryan would call it, but generally I write what I feel, maybe with a softer edge than if it were vocalized but it’s the same idea in the end.
Today I’m trying to get a feel for what people like to read about on a blog or on my blog for that matter. I’ve read the blogger advice of “pick a topic and stick to it” but I don’t know if that’s my style. I have a lot of thoughts about a lot of things. I know I like to read about controversial topics on other blogs, or topics that no one else will write about because it might offend someone, or just hot topics that people are talking about in their inner circles. There are the mom blogs with the mom take on everything, which I do enjoy reading, but I have to say, most people get bored rather quickly just reading about your children’s antics unless it’s grandma or grandpa reading the blog. There’s the grief part that I enjoy writing about and it’s about as universal as it gets. Everyone has experienced grief in one way or another and there are oodles of books out there telling you how you should work through it and whether or not you’re doing it properly. This I find very interesting because it’s usually based on just one person’s take on how the whole world should be grieving. Obviously I have some thoughts on this topic. I could write about being married to a widower/widow. Now this is a topic I never realized had an entire subculture of silence surrounding it until I became a part of it. This is such a sticky, messy, potentially emotionally draining and challenging subject that many may not get a lot out of it unless they are personally involved in it. It’s very hard to even begin to grasp the feelings of what goes on in and around one of these marriages, especially in the early stages of it. Ryan and I have written our own rule book on how we choose to handle it and it works very well for our relationship. I could write about faith, or marriage or sex but not sure you want that topic from the woman with 7 kids🙂 I’m asking for some input today because I don’t want to become monotonous or boring. Write me, message me, or email and let me know if the above are interesting topics or if you have something else, and I’ll do my best to tackle it. Maybe I can even get my husband to write a time or two for he is also part of the BIG mess, and he’s a writer so he can offer a different perspective.
Just keep livin!
We finally sold my old house and the new owners move in today. When I built this house with my late husband it was my dream home; a stone cottage with a little bit of land where I planned to plant beautiful gardens, grapevines, and fruit trees. We built it for us, and we had plans to live there forever. We envisioned ourselves growing old and gray there and having the grandchildren over to spend the night where their parents once slept. When we started the plans we had one child and during one of our meetings with the builder I mentioned that I wanted at least four bedrooms because I planned on having 3 or 4 children. He laughed and said something about me getting ahead of myself and then incorporated 4 bedrooms into the plan, with the possibility of the basement holding another bedroom someday if we needed it. This house was all me. I really loved the idea of an old farm house but we knew that they weren’t real practical or reliable so we decided to build a new house with the feel of an old farm house. It has three stories with a 3rd floor attic room because I always wanted a house with an attic. For me, attics conjure up images of forgotten memories and secrets and I love old stuff like that. All of the bedrooms were upstairs and the downstairs felt like a 100 year old house with very distinct rooms, not the open floor plans that most people favor today, which did cause some difficulty in attracting the right buyer. I have a bit of an old soul and I had “old grandma” (as Ryan affectionately calls it) wallpaper in the den with big beautiful flowers, textured walls throughout the main floor, antiques splattered throughout the house, and ivy growing up the sides of the exterior. I never thought I’d leave so I didn’t take into consideration that someone else might not like my taste. I just did what made me happy. But life had a different path for me than one that ended at Baylorpond Court. Initially in the process of getting the house ready to sell we kept my creative touches because it was just too painful to have Ryan or anyone go in and rip it all out. Creativity was one thing that was able to often occupy my mind so that I didn’t have to constantly dwell on the cancer aspect of our lives. My daughter’s room had a beautiful hand painted motif that I designed during the months leading up to discovering Jason’s brain tumor, and in the baby’s room I had created this unique wallpaper tree with colorful leaves and sparrows and the verse above it, “His eye is on the sparrow, for I know he cares for me.” I would look up at this verse of the wall and be reminded of God’s faithfulness as my newborn lay asleep in the crib next to me and my husband slept in the master bedroom across the hall, too exhausted to move anymore from the effects of multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. This house also had Jason’s touches all over it. He, after my coaxing, signed up for a one day stone laying class and proceeded to do all of the stonework on the front of the house and for the fireplace in the family room. He built the deck, painted the whole house, and did work in the basement with very limited eyesight due to the tumor’s effects. Granted, he was not a handy man and not at all gifted in the area of carpentry but he was very determined. So, while I appreciated his efforts to make our house what I envisioned, I now appreciate my new husband’s ability to fix it all! The gardens were the hardest to leave because they are finally looking absolutely as I had always dreamed. Eight years of blood, sweat, and tears, and today they are exactly as I wanted them. They became my sanity and my therapy during the summer of 2010. I had this spot that I called “Jason’s brain” where I would head to whenever we received bad news. It was a small circular flower batch surrounding a beautiful pear tree, and I would imagine that it was Jason’s brain and every weed that I could pull out was a cancer cell. I remember getting so frustrated one day that I just broke down sobbing because no matter how hard I tried I could not pull every weed out of that patch. Today, June 1, 2012, I say goodbye to the stone cottage on Baylorpond Court that held my memories, my hopes, and my dreams for 7 years and in doing so I remember it’s just a house. It’s built of sticks and stones as every other house. The truly important things in life I have all around me in my new home. I welcome the new memories, the new hopes and the new dreams of a new path God has put me on. Life is a journey, the good and the bad, and we can accept and embrace, and venture onward or I guess we just get stuck. I’ve decided to keep going.
Just keep livin!!