via Super-glued Soul
I felt like I should write about the pandemic although I don’t really want to because I just feel so tired and I worry that I won’t have enough energy to use proper punctuation perhaps this will be one long run-on sentence and my english teachers will haunt me saying, “period. exclamation point. comma. comma. comma, amel-i-a.” you know like the song. i did it. i used a period but i will no longer use capital letters because i can’t. what day is it? i just want to go to target. or somewhere. anywhere.
me and my littlest breathing treatment buddy…a fave pic from years ago
but i am vulnerable. and i don’t choose to be. i have a lung disease and an auto-immune disease and so i have been staying home for weeks. almost 4 weeks. but who is really counting? oh, me. i am a busy body. i like to go. ever since i quit working weekends in the hospital years ago, i dreaded the medical paperwork. the “occupation” box highlighted my insecurity because i hated filling in “stay-at-home mother.” because i don’t. i am a “go wherever i’m needed mother.” like most of my mama friends.
oh, man. my heart just keeps aching for my fellow hospital working sisters and brothers. i wish i could sneak into the equipment rooms and give them all a big hug. a long one. or an iced water. or something substantial. i cry for them. those with grieving exhausted eyes. those who hold their pee all shift long. those who have the tenacious capacity to hyper focus on the patient: the daughter, the sister, the mother in front of them and care for her in the most extraordinarily compassionate and self-sacrificing ways.
when you have been the patient far too many times to count, like me, its all too easy to imagine the pain. the terror. the sufferering. and yet, the tangible love and beauty winding its steady way through every hospital room, hallway, stairway, waiting room. the helpers have carried me through my darkest moments. they have showed up in the wee hours of the moon morning when i needed to get out of bed but i couldn’t do it all by myself. the helpers have brought me my medicine. my iced water. an extra gown to cover up my ass. they have taught me it’s ok to be the weak kind of strong, the scared kind of brave and that healing is a journey not a moment. they have listened to me moan, laugh, cry, and they have recognized my silence.
i read about them. i know them. i worry about them. we pray for them. i squeeze my eyes shut to hold my tears inside when my precious eleven year old boy pleads for God to care for those working in the hospitals. please, God, please, hear his heartfelt prayer. please make this all end soon. please help us all to do our part. give us the courage, the strength, the love and place your hands on top of ours as we grow weary yet still hold onto hope.
After having an amazingly simple birthday without parades or “over the hill” signs, one of my twin boys came to me crying at bedtime. He sobbed and said, “what did you mean when you said that this morning?” I quickly tried to remember what I may have said in a hurried morning state of mind. My son responded, “You said you were happy you made it to 40.”
Oh. That. I still felt a bit confused as to why my tender-hearted boy couldn’t contain his sobs beside me. Through his snot and tears, he continued, “What does that mean? That you made it to 40.” I began to understand that he may have thought I had an expiration date. And I got it. I understood his worries.
One of my biggest fears as a woman and mom who has Crohn’s disease and has experienced countless surgeries, procedures and complications is that I will not live to see my boys grow up. All the way up.
I’ve been in many hospital rooms in a desperate, totally dependent state. My boys have happily visited me, sat gently on my bed, and eaten the nurse-issued hospital popsicles. Still, it tears a hole in my mothering soul not being able to care for my children when my own health takes center stage. I’m pretty certain it’s because of those difficult times that I play harder, hold on longer and love the best and most that I can. When I can.
I worked for years in the pediatric emergency department, an environment where you can’t help but learn how terrifyingly fleeting and fragile life can be. In an attempt to somehow honor those who died too soon, I try to live my life without regrets, albeit imperfectly. It’s not possible to do this every moment of every day because bills, stress, mean people and life can get loud and my inner voice doesn’t like to scream.
My youngest boy studied my pearl necklace at dinner last night. He asked, “How do you make a pearl?” My husband and I explained how a piece of sand gets into the oyster shell and how the oyster works hard to get the sand out. In the process, the oyster makes a pearl. We explained how it’s rare, but it creates a beautiful masterpiece. In the process, I’m sure the oyster isn’t stoked about the dirt in its cramped space. (As it turns out, after some five minute Wikipedia pearl research, it’s more of a microscopic parasite or tiny crab invasion that makes the mollusk work to protect itself, thus creating a pearl to envelop the invader. Still, pretty dang awesome)
One of my hopes and life goals is to find the pearls amidst the pain. I’m aware that my life and perspective has been altered time and time again by laying on too many doctor’s tables to count and waiting to get better. I fight. I grumble. I cry. Then, I guess I try my best to envelop these intruders in something beautiful. Like a mollusk. Who can forget those paper sheets and backless hospital gowns? We cannot control all that happens to us in life. Sometimes it feels like we can’t control much at all. But I do believe in the great power we hold to choose our perspective. Make our pearls.
If we can take the time to recognize the tiny moments filled with so much beauty and love, it’s impossible to deny the gift of the life we have. Our lungs. Our breaths. Our hearts beating. We get to live amongst belly-laughing, freckle-faced kids, hummingbirds and weird mushrooms. If you buy a pair of binoculars, and use them correctly, suddenly you can feel like you’re riding on the wings of a great blue heron. We live in a amazingly simple yet fascinatingly complicated world. If you look gently and persistently, you will find that beauty often surrounds the pain.
Last night, I held my ten year old boy, snuggled up to him. I apologized if I made him worry. I helped calm his fears and my own and I tried to help him understand the best I could how extremely grateful I felt to turn 40 yesterday. I let him know that I hope to live forty more years. I cannot begin to enunciate the echoes of love in my heart for the life I get to live. I am so deeply grateful for those who hear me, see me, love me and cushion the blows that sometime come my way. No matter the extent of my pain, God has always provided me with the greatest, most supportive human pain relievers, helping me create funky shaped pearls.
Here’s to a new decade of playing in the water and probably falling repeatedly on my ass. And getting back up, over and over again, whole-body laughing all the way.