Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Some days...

Some days, life is hard.

My sister showed up on my doorstep last night, 
and in a matter of seconds I felt like it was some twisted de-ja vu from, 
well 7 months ago to the day.
"Hey Rachel, has mom gotten ahold of you?"  
"No Becca, whats up?"
"Oh, well, something is wrong with dad, they are on their way to the ER..."
And almost as a repeat from that Saturday morning that rocked our worlds, I closed the door, started crying, dried my tears, got dressed and....

...I made it from my house to Mayo Hospital in about 11 minutes...

I walked in to see my mom and brother and sister, all teary eyed and crying.  All my mom could say was, "they think its another stroke, he is having a ct scan done now."

I didn't want to believe what she was saying.  No way, why dad?  Hasn't he been through enough? Why would God allow this?  If He didn't cause it, He will redeem it for some good, but WHY?  Perhaps ours isn't the place to ask why...it is hard not to wonder though.  How is it that the good get what the bad deserve and the bad seem to get what the good deserve?  No part of this seems fair. Why another set back?  He has fought so hard to regain some semblance of life, even though its far from what he wants.  How will this change things?  I hate change.  Will he be able to walk?  Will he be able to swallow?  Will he be able to communicate with us at all?  No, no, no....my mind is a dangerous place, rapid thinking is my specialty, and it can be exhausting.  My entire body was shaking from the possibilities of what could happen and how this could just totally change this new normal that we have all been working really hard to learn and to live.  But we will not ever give up on him, my parents have instilled in us the importance of being there for your family and never giving up on them.  I think I tend to extend this to those I care about as well.
When I looked back over my pictures, I have a love/hate feeling going on when I see the one I posted of my mom standing beside my dad.  I hate it because they were still working to get his seizures to stop and they were coming in every few minutes to call his name and check his eyes and check his vitals.  A nurse was in the ER room with him the entire time.  I hate that this shows a setback for my dad. BUT I love how this is such a raw example of true love. It isn't always easy and it isn't always pretty, in fact I don't know that true love is ever easy...but it remains.  It stands the test of time and circumstance and challenge and heartache...and yet it remains. This to me is a pretty strong visual representation of their reliable, constant love for one another.  He refuses to let go, she continues to hold him up, even when she barely has the strength to stand on her own. I've seen my dad support our family and now I see my mom support our family.  We wouldn't be who we are today without both of them.  I am incredibly grateful for the example they set to not give up on those you love, no matter what.  This world has changed my dad and his body and his language skills and his ability to function like he once did, but it hasn't changed his love for my mom.  This world has changed my mom, it has taken parts of my dad that she misses terribly but it has not changed her love for him.  Theres is a true example of how beauty fades and this body is temporary, but true love...nothing shakes that.

Ok, sorry about that tangent, now back to last night....

Mom got up to go back and see if dad was back from ct scan.  That left me and my brother and my sisters in the ER waiting room.  I will say one nice thing about being the oldest of four children is that when something is going on, we do have some built in support in each other.  I am grateful that when times are tough, we know how to pull together and stand strong for each other and our parents. I got a text from mom that one of us could come back...I pulled the oldest child card and went back first....
What a huge sigh of relief to find that he was having seizures again. That there was no new brain damage.

Funny how life changes us, this time last year I would have never felt relieved that he was 'just having seizures'... They started IV meds to stop the seizures, so now it was just a matter of time.  That indefinite progress of existence when you are waiting for something unpleasant to come to an end, feels like an eternity. This time the seizures presented differently than they did last time. You start going back in your mind to different instances over the past few days and wondering if, 'when that happened was he having a seizure?'  It could have been some medication issues, it could have been a fall last week, it could have been when he hit is head, it could have been the antibiotics and the infection, it could have been....and at some point you settle with the fact that you don't really know what caused it....hey maybe this time he will get more of his right side back.  Maybe it is just the brain jump starting those parts that have not been used for 7 months. 

While we wait for him to get the ok to return home, he gets to stay hooked up to the EEG for 24 hours.  He has had seizure meds pumped into him via IV since he has been in the hospital.  We have gotten to have a mini reunion with the doctors and nurses who all remember him.  This morning while hanging out with him, I heard doctors and nurses and therapists comment on how much he has improved and how he is doing an amazing job, how they remembered him and remembered our family.  We have a special connection with the 5th floor of Mayo Hospital, their responses all seem to be the same, "Hey, its so good to see you all....well not under these circumstances though."

We delivered breakfast to my mom this morning and Seth provided some stress relief when he asked her to build one of his Lego sets he got for his birthday.  While I strongly dislike how things are right now, I am grateful for the opportunity to show the boys a real life example of what it looks like to be there for those you love and care about, no matter what.  Our world doesn't seem to understand the importance of reaching out - a text, an email, a phone call, breakfast, a card in the mail, lunch, a Lego set, it doesn't take much to let others know you are thinking about them and care for them.  Sometimes it hurts to reach out to others because I feel their pain, but yet I can't imagine not being there for somebody because my pain gets in the way. 

It's weird but Mayo has provided some deep seated tranquility in my life. Familiarity. I never thought I would hear myself saying that or thinking it.  Nurses and doctors who are genuinely amazed by my dad and his progress.  The decorative glass in the ceiling. This time he was back in the same room he has been in before. To this point, they have always saved my dad. Sitting in his room today and hearing "Code Blue 4th Floor Room ---" makes you really stop and count your blessings. I think about the people who were on the fourth floor when my dad was, whose outcome was not as positive as his. I feel overcome with sadness and notice tears fall to my keyboard as I think about them and the pain of their loss. I think of how few people I see with a scar on their head like the one my dad has, because not many survive it. Some days I miss my dad.  I miss our phone calls and I miss his jokes and his stories.  I miss the sound of his voice.  I miss his confidence.  I miss the treasures he would find for each of us.  I miss who he was.  I try to look forward to who he is becoming, and can't wait to see how God continues to use my dad, I know He is not finished with him yet.

I took the following picture as my brother and sisters and I were trying to find our way back to our cars parked on the ER side of Mayo.  I haven't been able to get this picture or these thoughts out of my head since...It was almost 11 at night, it was dark, we had no clue how to get back to where we needed to be - outside of the hospital....we have learned the inside of the hospital rather well.  So I think it was my brother who said, "hey there is a sidewalk lets see where that takes us."  We all laughed at the novelty of such an idea - walk on the sidewalk?  as opposed to the middle of the road?  As we walked we saw a raccoon cross our path, and then the sidewalk ended. The magnitude of that moment was intense for me.  How many people walk through the doors of this hospital, and this is where their sidewalk ends?  This is where their earthly path stops?  No warning.  No signs. No symptoms. Here one moment, and gone the next. The hedge, the lighting, its like when the path stops, look at that heavenly glow just shinning down....showing us where it goes for those who don't walk this earth with us anymore. Oh the irony to find this sidewalk on the grounds of a hospital. This picture has spurred some other thoughts as well but I will save that for a separate blog.  In our case, it has just been a matter of stepping off the sidewalk, into some unfamiliar terrain, burning our own trail and keeping each other hydrated as we see what waits just around the next hedge....

Sunday, June 19, 2016

My Mother's Quilts

My Mother's Quilt
Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family and Faith
Written By: Ramona Richards

About the Book:

quilt is love that serves a purpose. 

The devotions in My Mother’s Quilts are inspired by family heirloom quilts, some more than 100 years old. With humor and sincerity, Ramona Richards shares her memories and lessons learned from the quilters whose legacies live on in their work. Rich, personal, sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, each reading provides a lesson and encouragement from the faithful women who crafted the quilts. Together, these devotions depict the enduring legacy of faith, family, and beloved traditions. Includes full color photographs of each of the 30 quilts!

My Thoughts:
Whenever a new book arrives at my doorstep, I feel like a little kid on Christmas morning.  I am filled with anticipation as I open the package and eagerly read the back cover.  I will admit once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down.  I enjoyed the rich color pages and beautiful pictures of the handmade quilts.  I have always been intrigued by quilts, one time I was feeling ambitious and thought I could make a patchwork quilt out of a lot of scraps of material that my great grandmother used to make me outfits when I was a little girl.  I don't think I went any further than gathering all the scraps.  A lot more goes into making quilts than I ever realized. I enjoyed reading this book and hearing about how each quilt had a special meaning.  I also like how the author linked it to something important with regards to faith or our spiritual journey. This devotional would be great for somebody who is busy.  The devotions are short and sweet and to the point, but so deep and profound. I was grateful to have the opportunity to read this book.  The neat thing about this book is that they are currently hosting a contest, and one lucky winner will have the chance to win one of the quilts that are featured in this book. Enter for your chance to win....a Friendship Quilt

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one of the products mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, June 13, 2016

Forgiving My Daughter's Killer

Forgiving My Daughter's Killer
Written by: Kate Grosmaire

Book Description

                                          Forgiveness is possible even in impossible circumstances.

On March 28, 2010, Kate and Andy Grosmaire received two pieces of news that would change their lives forever.
The first was their worst nightmare: “Ann has been shot.”
And the second was the dumbfounding addendum: “Conor was the one who shot her.”
Their nineteen-year-old daughter had been killed by her boyfriend, a young man who had lived with the family and had come to feel like part of it.
In a beautiful, tragic testament to the liberating power of forgiveness, Kate Grosmaire tells the story of her daughter’s murder at the hand of her boyfriend—and the stunning, deliberate forgiveness and help that Kate and her husband offered to the young man who shattered their world.
Part memoir, part spiritual testimony, Forgiving My Daughter’s Killer is the story of a family whose faith was put to the test and so found the capacity to do far more than they could have thought or imagined.

My Thoughts

What an amazing story of forgiveness and living like Jesus. Showing others a Christ like love, even when they have hurt you. Even if, and especially when, your life has been dumped upside down and your heart is aching for the loss of a child, one taken too soon by somebody you cared about.  How do you wrap your head around that?  It is hard enough when somebody we know and love dies from cancer or old age or some other ailment, but when taken by a weapon... I don't know what I would do in their situation. I would like to think these parents have set quite the example, though I hope and pray they are never footsteps I have to follow in. This book grabbed my attention from the moment I read the title. Having two children of my own, I was intrigued by the title. I remember thinking if something ever happened to one of my boys, I don't know that I could forgive the person who did it. This book held my attention, I didn't want to put it down. I smiled as I read memories they shared about their daughter, I cried as I read how they were with her when she was removed from life support, I felt angry as I thought about the boy who killed her and how could he? but I also wondered how hurt he was, long before he ever pulled the trigger. Not saying that is an excuse, but I have heard the saying before, "hurt people, hurt people." I felt bad that he reached a point in his life where he wanted to end his life. I highly recommend this book. Two quotes that really stood out to me, so much so that I wrote them down are these - "When we fail to forgive others as God commanded, we fail each other." The other one is, "Forgiveness is not a pardon. But it is a refuge: a place where broken people can come for healing, where the guilty can come for relief, where the wronged can come for hope."

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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