Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My moon angel...

Sadness engulfed me that morning, as it sometimes does. Still grieving the loss of innocence, hearing news of new suffering, it’ll sometimes settle on me for the day. Less frequent now, it does show up unexpectedly, but I know it’ll pass. Tears remain just under the surface threatening to take over. Sometimes I allow them to, sometimes I hold them back. I’ve become an expert at holding them back. On those days, bone weary fatigue takes over and my mind does not focus. Somehow I muddle through the day, feeling in a fog.

On this day, I sat in front of my doctor describing these symptoms. Anti-depressants, counseling and menopause were woven into the conversation. I know the sadness leaves me, so I don’t want a pill. I’ll look into counseling again. And menopause, well it’s a part of a woman’s life. There is no escaping these sad days. I’ve learned to embrace them until they are used up.

I slipped into bed that night, still sad, still teary, but hanging onto hope of a fresh tomorrow. My bed is set in the back corner of my room just under two large windows. As I snuggled under my covers, I looked up and out the window into a windy sky. And there it was, my moon angel. I blinked not sure of what I was seeing. Somehow the night sky with its clouds just beneath the bright moon created a clear, distinct shape of an angel. The face was the moon, illuminated and whole, the wings feathered and airy spread out on each side. The body hung down like a heavy robe. It was an angel, a moon angel. I looked again and that fast it was changing, moving on the winds of darkness and it was gone.

Angels are sent by God to protect, comfort and herald messages to His people. They are big, strong, powerful beings, neither male nor female. I am grateful for the reminder of God’s ever present presence in my life.

My moon angel…

Monday, April 14, 2008

I had a PTSS moment...

And it surprised me.

It started as just a routine trip after school to take care of the girl’s horse, Freedom. It was one of those rare spring days, where the grass is new green and the air is spring fresh and the trees are covered with pink puffs.

I relaxed in the car with the windows rolled down, soaking up the sunshine while I read my book. I had just seen my fourteen year old riding Freedom up the long driveway towards the orchard. Joshie was climbing a tree across from the barn. Having finished mucking out the stall, mixing Freedom’s grain and filling his water trough, my fifteen year old had also settled down with a good book. Only she was perched on top of the white fence encircling the pasture where the other horses were lazily grazing.

Suddenly, I heard the galloping of hooves on the long, straight driveway. I looked up to see Freedom running rider-less towards the pasture, his tail flying behind him. I quickly turned looking up the driveway where he had come from and there was his former rider hobbling along, shaken and pale. By this time I was out of my car and running towards her yelling, “Are you all right?” “Yes” she hollered back. Her voice was trembling.

My fifteen year old had easily grabbed Freedom’s reigns, because he had run right towards his buddies in the pasture. After finally reaching his stunned rider, I began to examine her bruised body as she told me what had happened. Freedom had been calm munching some grass peacefully one minute and the next second he had jerked his head up, twisted his ears around and then began to buck in circles. Thankfully, she had fallen off onto the grass after she had flipped forward and backward a couple of times. She landed only two feet away from the blacktop driveway. Her hip was bruised. Her elbow was sore. But then she said the words, “My neck really hurts.”

With those simple words, I could feel my body being overtaken with panic. I wanted to rush her to an ER somewhere to get her neck x-rayed. I quickly called my husband. He was calm and told me to just come home. “But it’s her neck” I shouted, and all the memories of that week came rushing back.

Memories of Joshua’s neck being sore: How Josh had held his head funny, walking hunched over. How he had had trouble sleeping those five nights, obviously uncomfortable. How the pediatrician had thought it was just pulled neck muscles and the chiropractor had wanted to adjust it and I had known in my gut not to let him touch Josh’s neck. How my husband had been out of town that week coming home on a Thursday morning. How he had felt the ER was unnecessary that Thursday night. We had gone because of Josh’s whimpering, but once the Motrin had set in, Josh seemed fine and my husband had wanted to go home saying there was nothing wrong. Then the ER doctor had walked into the room and suggested we take an x-ray before we go. The picture was snapped exposing a cancerous tumor in my then four year old’s neck vertebrae. In that second with that one x-ray our lives had changed forever.

All it had taken were those simple words spoken by my 14 year old…”My neck really hurts” and I was experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I realized what was happening. I took a deep breath calming myself down. We drove home and she was fine. She was sore for a few days, but her neck was well. I smiled to myself that night, proud I had recognized I was having a PTSS moment. It had overtaken me at first; I had recognized it and I had not allowed it to flourish.

It’s been almost three years since Joshua’s cancer treatment was finished.

But it’s been about a year since I’ve had a PTSS moment…

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I live between two worlds...

It’s a weird place to be. I seem to have one foot in each world, but I want to live in just one place and I know I never can again.

Recently, I was asked to facilitate a small woman’s Bible study group, which wanted to study a book on parenting. I was asked to lead because, well let’s just say, I’m mature. My life experience is such that I’ve been parenting, training and mothering for 21 years, plus I still have two teenagers and a young son at home. I quickly accepted this humbling offer, because I’ve known I need to get back to “raising” my children and especially my young boy, Joshua. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get my focus back, but I still find myself unfocused.

I feel torn wondering just how important it is to spotlight my parenting skills now. On one hand I’m wanting my children to love the Lord and grow up to be kind, thoughtful, hard working citizens and I know I have a responsibility in this, but on the other hand I’m thinking about the relapse of cancer that seems to be all around me, watching other children relapse and their devastated parents struggle to figure out what to do next. Or I’m meeting newly diagnosed children whose parents are confused and lost.

So in one half of my world I’m talking about life and death issues concerning children. Who cares about parenting when your child is dying? Who cares about raising hard working children when you know your child doesn’t even have long to walk this earth?

Then I think of the mom’s whose children have had full brain and spinal radiation. The devastating effects of this have them spending the majority of their time in special therapies trying to help their child learn and develop somewhat normally. But their brains have been damaged. Who cares about parenting when your focus is on how to help your little girl be able to just read and write a little. Wondering how to explain to your precious daughter that she’ll never be able to have children of her own? Wondering if your baby will ever lead a “normal” life?

At first my goal in facilitating this group was to help me refocus on my children and to be able to encourage these young mother’s as they move into teaching and disciplining their young children through grade school, the teen years and on into young adulthood. Now my goal is to passionately impart to them the privilege, honor and joy they have set before them to even be able to teach and train their young children. I know some mother’s who would give anything to be in their shoes.

One of the realities I live in is filled with mother’s who focus on raising, and parenting their precious children. The other world is filled with mother’s who wonder how long their precious children have to live.

I find myself trapped between two worlds…