Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Wish to Friends and Family

As the hymn says, "Now the day is over, night is drawing nigh..."

It's not exactly night right now, but the holiday is definitely winding down. The presents are unwrapped; the ham, potatoes and yams are in the oven; wrapping paper and bows are strewn across the house; and the kids are all occupied with either naps or their Christmas treasures.

It's a good feeling.

I admit that there were moments leading up to this day that I doubted I could pull it off, what with two surgeries in the last two weeks. And in fact some traditions had to be put aside. The family picture that was supposed to grace our Christmas cards was scheduled to be taken the day Natalie planted her face into a tree. Various new ideas for a clever card never turned into a finished product. Same with gifts for friends and coworkers.

I did manage to purchase and wrap enough toys for under the tree to keep the kids happy, and bake enough goodies to keep their bellies full. That in itself is a small miracle. But over the last couple of days my mind has repeatedly gone to the greetings I didn't send; and the people I love who didn't receive them.

And so I'd like to take a moment before setting the table and cleaning up that gift wrapping to send a wish to you all, I just hope I can put my thoughts into proper words.

I'm sure you've heard the wish that every day could be Christmas. That's not the wish I have for you--but it begins the explanation. I know this will sound strange, but in one way this past year has been like Christmas every day. Not that there's anything festive about cancer treatment. Or something I'd wish to do every day. But I don't think a day has passed in the last year that I haven't been the recipient of at least one act of kindness.

Some days I'm overwhelmed by the number and amount of good things that have been done for my benefit: tangible gifts like jewelry, flowers, home decor, and of course food. Lot's and lot's of comfort food. Then there's the messages--by phone, by mail, by foot, by text, by email, by Facebook they come; offering encouragement and love. And I can't forget the prayers. I could never forget the prayers.

I remember one friend apologizing for not calling me when she got the news. "I didn't know what to say," she said. But then she continued, "And so I just prayed."

"You did exactly the right thing," I told her. And it was true. I can't explain the feeling of knowing that hundreds of prayers are going up to the heavens on your behalf. But it truly buoys you up at a time that you know you should feel your very lowest, but instead it feels as though the hands of God are literally cradling you.

And so, with that explanation, this is what I wish for you, my friend: I wish that each of you would take a moment this season to realize and appreciate your magnificence. Yes, yours--not your children's or your spouses or your neighbor's, but yours. And I'm talking about the person you are today--not the one you hope to become after you figure out how to organize your time or lose a few pounds or stop getting mad at the kids. That person might be fabulous too, but the person you are on this day is truly amazing.

I can say this with assurance because I have witnessed and felt your truly caring nature. I know from experience that you carry the light of Christ within you. You are not only born in the image of God, but you are a beautiful emulation of Him. Your love and concern for your fellow man is as tangible as the gifts given on Christmas day.

I can never say thank you enough to those who have been helpful to me throughout the course of my treatment. It boggles my mind to even think about it. And maybe after Christmas I'll get around to sending out a proper greeting. In the meantime, this wish will have to do.

Merry Christmas, my dear friends! And Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Speaking of counting

I am not one to shy away from confessing my age. At least not since my scare with heart failure while still in my twenties. But now...well let's just say I'll be doing the happy dance on each of my birthdays. One of which happens to be today. Yes that's right. My 48th. Happy happy 48th.

And while I need to go join the family celebration, I want to quickly share my philosophy.

First, when it comes to birthdays in general, they are very good things. Waaaay better than no birthdays. I have known way too many people who no longer have birthdays, and I'm not voting for that plan.

Second, there's this whole deal of pretending you're younger than you really are. Frankly, I don't get it. If I were tell someone I was, say, 29; chances are good they'd either flat out know I was lying, or wonder what the heck happened to me. SHE's 29? Are you kidding me? She look's HORRIBLE!

But if I tell them my real age, there's a chance they'll think I look a lot older than that, but if that's the case, just imagine what they'd think if I told them I was 29? Odds are better, however, that they'll think I'm holding up pretty well for someone of my advanced years, especially one who's been through the ringer. (Besides who but a 48-year-old would even think of the term ringer?)

In sum, I'd much rather have folks think I've held up well than wonder what the heck happened to me, so for that reason I always tell the truth about my age and take my chances.

I guess I'm weird, but that's what I think.

Not that anybody's keeping score

Just in case someone besides my insurance company is keeping track...yesterday makes three in two months. Four in fives months. Reese family surgeries that is.

After three weeks of studying and taking finals with her collarbone shifting around more than the San Andreas Fault, we finally got a plate put onto Natalie's bones to hold them steady. Last night, after a full day at the hospital complete with IV lines and nausea and vomiting and all that good stuff, she called it the best day ever. Not because she's into that kind of thing. Because she was able to lie down without the bones shifting, which apparently feels really good.

I feel bad for waiting the three weeks, except that we didn't know the bones wouldn't stay aligned so it would have felt like overkill at the time. So we take the "lumps" as they come (in this case literally) and try to stay grateful for the blessings - like having a daughter who's enough of a trooper to take finals while in excruciating pain. Bless her little heart.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Race Is On...

Wow, was my last post really in October? Thanks to those of you who nudged me back here. One good friend even used the word verklempt. As in she gets verklempt when I don't blog for a while. I have no idea what that means, but it does not sound good. And so I must write.

I have begun kind of a marathon existence, running from one activity to the next with barely time for mundane things like eating, let along blogging. This life on the run began a few months ago when I started a part-time writing job. Just a few hours a day, enough to get me up and dressed and out of the house every day. Or so I thought. And in theory it should work fine. But I'd literally only been on the job a few days when my Daniel needed that inconvenient emergency surgery. Between the new job, hanging at the hospital, and regular life stuff, there wasn't time for anything else. Once he was healed up, I started this new distraction:

Not the best picture, but as you know, I'm in a hurry. Anyway, when I wasn't at work I was helping my oldest learn to sew this adorable outfit. Yes, I failed as a mother and never got around to teaching her when he was still at home, so it was the least I could do. Awesome slam dunk for a first time sewer wouldn't you say? Yeah, it was ambitious, and kept us busy, but Jen learned a ton and I got to spend all that time with both my girl and grandbaby.

Things should have slowed after that, but two things got in the way. First my book group asked if they could review my book. Not my current one, but my new one, Perfectly Normal. Which of course meant FINISHING it. That was incredible by the way, with rave reviews, so watch for news on that. Working on the book took every spare second, at least it would have if it weren't for Thanksgiving.

This was possibly my last chance in a long time to get all the kids together, so we decided to spent the holiday at a cabin. And that meant gathering food, including a holiday feast, for over a dozen people. And even though I had a couple of weeks to put it all together, it still seemed like a marathon getting us all there.

During all this rush, rush, rush, I kept thinking that I could blog about all these great things while sitting by a fire at the cabin. First though, I did this:

That's me at the top of the hill, and again near the middle with my hubby, trying not to wet my pants. Good, good times. Oh the blog posts I had planned. They were hysterical.

But then this happened a few minutes later:

I stepped into the cabin for just a few minutes. Just a few. And when I came out they were in the trees. Stupid, stupid trees. We are so very happy she is alive. The collarbone is broken, and you can see the face. The worst part is that she's in the final weeks of her first semester of college. She is back at school as of today, but hurting like crazy.

Which leads me to my next!!! For me!!! Just two days away. A coconut-ectomy. Basically just preparing me for the real reconstruction in a couple of months. And honestly, I'm looking forward to the forced rest. Not to mention losing the coconuts.

And yes, the medical bills are staggering, both in number and amount. Let me go on record as saying I am so grateful for insurance. We're thinking they may just ask us to move into a hospital wing, to save on paperwork and such.

So there it is, my two-month marathon in a very fast nutshell.

If nothing else, while rushing and running and reminding myself to eat I am constantly reminded of what a rich, and very full life I have. Despite all the stress and pressures of day-to-day, I wouldn't trade a bit of it. (Well, okay I could do without broken collarbones and pancreatitis and cancer. But I'd keep the rest in a heartbeat.)