I’m trying, God.
But you’re going to need to help me out tonight. Right now.
This is a really long shift.
How am I doing?
I feel like I’m flailing. Tumbling. Or failing. Maybe all three.
Where do I need to improve? It seems like everywhere.
I prayed as I loaded the dirty dishes. Tears dripped down my face. Below freezing temps give me the never ending chills. The winter funk. I thought about stepping outside to see if my tears would freeze. They’re probably too salty. Maybe the bitter air would numb my overfeeling heart. And solidify my tears. A cool crying experiment of sorts. My dog would probably come lick my face repeatedly and ruin my weird backyard science lab.
Why do the smallest things ignite the fastest growing fires?
I need a winter hummingbird, God. Please. Send one.
Spilled hot chocolate. Rejection. Dishes everywhere. Insecurities fall onto the floor. I sop them up with a small stained dishcloth. Back and forth I walk to the sink to wring out the mess.
I hear the dragging sound of a nine year old boy’s house shoes behind me. He doesn’t pick up his feet, much like his mother.
“Mom? Sorry your day was stressful.”
Oh, he noticed. Perhaps he sees my smeared eye makeup. Or did I remove my heavy daytime armor revealing my worn-out nighttime emotions and feelings underneath?
My sensitive-souled boy hugs me. I rest my head on his. A few tears slowly sneak out. I don’t let go. Not yet.
“I love you the morst, Mom.”
I know in my thirty eight year old heart. It’s not possible.
“I love you the morst, buddy.”
My winter hummingbird stares me in the eyes. Hanging in my kitchen window. Sheltered from the snow. A reminder of my Grandma’s love. Given to me by a dear friend who sees, hears and listens with her heart.
I am trying. And some days my trying is better than others. You know this, God.
Thank you for moving me. Past my fears, insecurities, failures and doubts for tonight. Thank you for helping me notice the fluttering boy that entered the room.
I trust that God sees me. He grabs the paddles and resuscitates me with endless love and ever-present hope. Fills me with a warm peace. He surrounds me with tiny moments that reveal the love tucked away, sometimes under the snow. He hears my cries, the silent and the loud ones, in between the running water and the dishes clanging. He holds a place for my busy thoughts, slithering worries, constant questions and my hopes that get trapped, forgotten or lost in my heart-mind translation. He gently transforms my defeated thoughts.
Please send me a winter hummingbird.
I asked for one. And I had the honor of saying “goodnight” to three.
Oh, my beating heart. Thank you for those hummingbird boys of mine. They love with an energy and passion and joy that leaves me humbled. Inspired.
I’m trying, God.
I will keep trying.
We break things. All of us. It’s one of our strongest family traits. My boys play hard. I unload the dishes hard. Sometimes I even put ice cold water in crystal bowls and pitchers to cool them off from the steamy dishwasher. Perhaps they got a little pissed that I didn’t hand-wash them so they retaliate by shattering. Everywhere. Overreaction, much? Or maybe they overheard me say one too many times, “I never registered for crystal.” I’m not a crystal person. Because I break things, remember?
We have a specific designated area on our kitchen counter where we place broken things. It’s similar to a waiting room at a doctor’s office though it’s not on Google maps yet. My husband waits for enough of these broken pieces and parts to accumulate to justify a super glue session out in the garage.
“Next in line. The super-glue doctor will see you.”
Despite my clumsy tendencies and big-hands and haste that often makes broken waste, I have a patient, loving, gorilla-glueing husband. I believe in him. Truly. I think he can super-glue damn-near anything back together again. I’m talking to you, Humpty Dumpty.
“Just set it on the counter. Your Dad will fix it,” I confidently tell our children.
He’s not only spectacular at super-glueing back together broken pieces and parts of toys, pottery, chairs, tables etc. he also helps fix people. He harvests time, even when he’s exhausted and burnt-out on people. His time is always in season. He listens and questions and hugs and forgives and tries so hard to understand. Jesus would be proud. Super proud.
He has helped super-glue my worn-out and anxious soul back together time and time again. Especially when I feel so unfixable. Or broken in too many pieces. He waits and searches under the bed or in the closet. He gently knocks on the bathroom door. He helps find the parts of me that matter the most. My joy. My laugh. My compassion. My empathy. My weary confused soul. My resilience.
Life can be fragile yet it can break us. There’s nothing wrong with having a special broken space on the counter or in your room or in your car, especially if there’s a certain someone who knows how and when to super-glue you back together.
It may be thoughtful to let this person know from time to time how he or she mends you.
Thank you, Cory. You’re the greatest super gluer I know.
It’s perplexing to define you. But still I will mumble. I will try.
I stare at you.
I tend to you.
I’m often inconvenienced by your existence. Your constant presence.
What are you?
Are you a wound that will never heal?
Are you a beautiful yet strange rose that will always live?
Depends on the day.
Depends on the hour.
Depends on the moment.
Perhaps it also depends on my bitter intolerance or my overwhelming gratitude for you.
The life you give me.
A different life I will never know.
I should adopt you.
I should accept you.
I should spit out the hideous aftertaste. The venom left behind from the life I once imagined.
The dull life in which I envisioned lists coming true.
A boring, comfortable thoughtless existence. Barely a fingerprint. No wake left behind me.
You make me think.
You beg me to feel.
Your thorns protect me.
You are my rose.
I can’t show you to the world but I know you exist.
Your beauty is disguised in loss, uncertainty, mortality and pain.
You are fragile. And so am I.
Your truth lives in the eyes of many.
The ones I see while others pass by.
The ones I can’t stop thinking about.
The ones I can’t stop feeling for.
All of the shame made me wiser.
All of the pain made you stronger.
You will never die.
Because of you,
I will always live.
One of my boys asked me how I hurt my forehead. Oh. Ouch. Sweet compassionate boy. However, it’s not quite the story he might have hoped for. The knot protruding from my forehead is the result of what I’m assuming is wacky hormones in the form of a megazit, (not a “megabit”, spellcheck) a zit that shames all others. No filter can hide the new life force that has landed on my face. It may have a tiny brain but I don’t feel like getting a CT scan. What if my baby zit brain has a sympathy baby tumor on its pituitary gland? That would be a real pain.
I know I’m not the only one who gets gigantic hormonal zits. As a grown ass woman.
Wait. What? But who cares? What’s the point? The other night I was feeling joyful about our Christmas tree and our life. But it’s not perfect. It’s a bit weighed down, a bit crooked. It’s really messy, literally and figuratively. “The Christmas room” has all sorts of stuff in it. I wanted to take a picture and write a brief post, but then I got to feeling inadequate. It seems like this is the time of year when everybody posts these pictures of perfectly clean rooms with runway model Christmas trees. Perfect family photos. Sometimes, I tend to care more about the zits. Of life. The imperfections. The messes.
Our house is a mess. I can’t seem to get it all cleaned up. What a satisfactory homemaker I make.
I try my best but I get so easily distracted by people. So, I leave the house. Strangely, when I come home, the secret cleaning, organizing fairies have not come. I told a few new small group friends that I thought if I could just get all my messes cleaned up and organized, surely some transformation would occur. But I think that’s a lie.
I sat with the sweetest woman today who constantly reminds me of what life really is about: helping each other out. She lets me give her a hand massage and rub the old nail polish off of her nails. She tells me beautiful love stories. She speaks to me gently and genuinely. She matters and she reminds me that every small act of kindness and love matters. She has experienced loss. So much loss in her life. But she keeps on living and saying, “thank you” to those who surround her. Everybody wants her to live forever. How do I get so lucky to know so many heart filling people? I always wish I could give her a giant hug but I would hurt her. Yet, again, she teaches me how to be more gentle. More present. More aware.
She teaches me to be kind. Always. She unknowingly reminds me of my freedom, my gifts. And I love her for who she is and I love her for loving me, a stranger who turned into a friend. She asked me, “did you know you were going to help take care of another child when you signed up for this?” I laughed and told her that it’s my pleasure, that I don’t have a daughter. She smiled. God continually stirs up this beautiful pot of Love stew.
It’s heart work. Soul shaping. People work. And so I will boast of my insecurities, my uncertainties, and my fears because I know God moves in these times. He shifts the fragile ground on which we all walk. He moves us in the direction of love if we let him. He crosses our paths with people who teach us, guide us, help us and love us.
God loves me. Imperfect, messy and easily distracted me. God loves me more than I love my joyful, dancing tree decorators. Hard to believe because I love those boys in heart pounding, heart stopping ways. I look up at our Christmas tree. We are the the most weighed down branches. He is the tree. He holds us up. He carries us through. He shines light and love in our lives. No matter what.
God’s pulse. Ever present. Strong as ever. Never leaving. Steady. If you slow down, place two fingers on your wrist. You can feel it. It’s fascinating. Your heart pumping blood throughout your entire body. God’s working a never ending shift out of the love He has for you and your life.
Keep up the good work.
“The Crohn’s is probably enough.”
A kind and sympathetic nurse conversed with me in (a semi truck)* lithotripsy procedure while my doctor figured out the best way to blast my sneaky large kidney stones. This nurse was right. The Crohn’s disease is probably enough. The extra specialists that I have added over the years sometimes feel like too much. The Crohn’s makes me prone to lung problems. The Crohn’s makes me prone to kidney stones. The Crohn’s depletes me physically yet somehow continues to recharge me emotionally and spiritually.
The Crohn’s also makes me prone to seeing the raw beauty amidst the unfair pain. The Crohn’s makes me more prone to routine feelings of overwhelming love and gratefulness for my concrete support system. The Crohn’s makes me prone to testing my faith and wearing my emotions on the outside, along with my bag. The Crohn’s makes me prone to being authentically myself because it’s too exhausting on my already-tired body to fake my way through life.
One of my boys worried about the medicine they would give me for my lithotripsy procedure. A few weeks ago, he wanted to learn how to do the moonwalk. We watched videos, listened to songs and talked about Michael Jackson’s life. Which also lead to a conversation on how he died. And so a week later, my son asked this question after he made this connection all by himself (kids are so damn smart)
“Mama, will you get the same medicine Michael Jackson got?”
Ahhhh. I know this boy’s thinking all too well. An eight year old boy shouldn’t have to worry about his mama dying in a kidney stone procedure. We talked and I told him, “I will only be getting a little bit of medicine to help it not hurt. There will be nurses and a doctor to take care of me. Michael Jackson took way too much medicine.” I asked him if he was still worried a few days later. “No, cause you’re just getting a little medicine…for thirty minutes.”
I’ve had ongoing days and weeks and months of kidney pain. Some days are way better than others. On the hard days, it’s been me telling my boys too many times to count, “I can’t play right now. My back is hurting too badly.” I’m hopeful that I will get relief soon though I have unexpectedly acquired a pretty high tolerance for pain. Thankfully, I possess a stubborn, competitive spirit that keeps fighting back when one of the many side effects of my disease challenges me.
I’m convinced that yesterday my strong and worried mind kept me alert during my procedure, despite the valium, versed and fentynl, because I wanted to reassure my deep thinking and feeling son. Particularly, I didn’t want to die on a day that I had made the worst gluten-free waffles for breakfast. The. Worst. Though due to the nasty waffles, the breakfast dance party was pretty awesome.
After my procedure, all three of my boys came up to my room to check on me when they got home. They get me. Every single time. They have an abnormal amount of compassion for their ages, most likely learned through watching their daddy lovingly take care of me when I’m wounded. One of them brought me water and a pain pill. One of them asked if I would be able to come down and watch a movie and saved me a perfect spot, right next to him. He kept making sure he knew which side of me was hurting. The sweetest.
I woke up feeling pretty good today. I’m a little sore but it’s totally bearable without the obnoxious pain meds. I have to do these exercises where I drink a lot of water and then lay on an incline to help get the broken kidney stones out. My dog wanted to maul my hair, lick my face and then finally gave up and decided to lay down next to me. Moral support-ish. I’m not sure if his presence will help move the stones but it always helps my spirit to have a friend willing to hang out with me, right side up or upside down.
As always, thanks for reading. Thanks for sending your prayers for my spirit to stay positive and hopeful. Thanks for supporting me and my family in too many ways to count. Thanks for caring, for dinner, for worrying, for checking in, or for talking with my husband or helping with our boys.
*Yes. Seriously. Who knew? Not me. I was raised up in my wheelchair onto a traveling semi-truck. The truck is cost effective in that it goes around from location to location doing lithotripsy procedures out back. Literally, out back, in a semi-truck. Crazy. My husband laughed when we arrived in the office and the nurse told us. Then, he didn’t believe her so I asked him to go take a picture of the truck. Here is living proof that you can pretty much do anything out of a truck. Anything. Buy tacos. Zap kidney stones. The mobile truck industry is strong. Just set your mind to it. Get going.