Posts Tagged ‘Adversity’

New Book Giveaway

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick note to let you know that today is the last day of my book giveaway on goodreads.  I’m excited for you to read the new book as it has some neat contributions – my 9 year old son wrote some insights, my 7 year old daughter illustrated the book, and a friend’s eulogy to Jim is included in the book.  It is entitled When Miracles Aren’t Enough: The Lessons Tragedy Taught Me.  It has been well received and I’m excited to be giving away 20 books.  Please share the link as well with your friends.  Thanks so much!  Erica

Here is the link to enter the giveaway (again make sure you do it by the end of today – Friday March 4th): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27314454-when-miracles-aren-t-enough

 

A Year After the Death

I’ll try not to complain
About the things I have lost
Cause when you have something great
That just means there’s a greater loss
So when you look at yourself
Tell me who do you see
Is it the person you been
Or the person you’re gonna be
Don’t take your life for granted
Don’t take your life for granted
Why don’t you hold on tight
To what you’ve been handed”

—-From the song “Hold on Tight” by Greg Holden

I have been listening to this song a lot lately as the one-year anniversary of my husband’s death is here.  So many emotions bubbling to the surface – many of which I thought I had dealt with, maybe rearing their face again as other sad moments unrelated to Jim’s death come – reminders of the “makes no sense” and the lack of control.  The ripping away of something good when it is good and without a choice, a voice, or the ability to change the course of events.

Listening to this song reminds me of two things that should be shouted out as I reflect on my late husband and the gift that he was to me and to so many others.  Jim and I had a great life together.  We produced two wonderful children to remind me of this everyday – part of the reason why the loss is so great.  But as the song states –  I don’t complain.  I try to appreciate.  I try to give back some of that kindness, grace, and love that Jim showed every day.  If his life is to mean what I believe it did – in part his reminder to us all is that life should not be taken for granted.  Life is wonderful, but it can be short and taken away prematurely.  And regardless of how much time we have left, we should not take our lives for granted.

The second “hit home” portion of this song is about me as a person – who I was and who I will be.  When you have such loss, when you see such suffering, when you witness such horrible things, and feel the betrayal of institutions, friends, and family, your perspective and outlook on life changes.  How could it not?  Part of this maturation comes with age and experience in general but there is something about the extreme loss that shoots those of us in this camp down a different path altogether – a diversion along life’s main highway.  There is a crispness in what we see, an intolerance for fluff, and an instant deep connection to those who are also traveling on this path, shaking their heads and trying to make sense of it all.  I do not know who I will become, but I do know it is different from that which I had envisioned before Jim’s health started to fade.  Before Jim’s death.  I will continue to pull on my resilience and force myself to take some power back by deciding what to do rather than letting the event dictate to me.  And I pray that I can enjoy the new path and focus on the new, unexpected, but good things that wait for me along the way.  And as the song says I “will hold on tight to what [I’ve] been handed.”  It is good still.

If you are interested in the song and/or video, click here

Can a 25-minute encounter change your life?

The doorbell rang.  I was impressed on the punctual arrival.  A sweet elderly lady greeted me with a smile.  She had travelled an hour to pick up a hospital bed for her husband.  The same one my late husband used.  We went to the garage and I showed her how to put it back together (it was in parts for easy mobility) and we talked logistics.  Then the question came, “Why are you selling the bed?”  I had to explain.  I was grateful for the question – so many people avoid talking or asking about Jim these days for fear they will upset me.  She looked shocked.  I was reminded how shocking it is that neurological Lyme disease can kill a person.  Then she told me her story.  Her husband had a stroke.  At first the physicians misdiagnosed it as Parkinson’s disease.  Then while he was walking in his disabled state, a car struck him.  I was horrified for her.  We both fought back tears.  We talked about the pain of seeing someone you love suffer and the frustration of not being able to help them in the ways we would want to.  Then she announced, “Come meet him.”  I didn’t realize he was in the car.  We walked over and I opened the door.  Another lovely wide beautiful smile.  A face aged by years of “doing”.  Wrinkles, crow’s feet, and signs of stress and age on the face.  A beautiful face.  We chatted for a bit and then I excused myself so I could get the bed into their van.

After we loaded up the bed, the woman asked, “How much do I owe you?” as she pulled out an envelope of cash.  “There is no need,” I replied, “I hope you enjoy the bed and that it is helpful for your husband.”  Then I paused and added, “I’m happy it is going to you both.  It served Jim well and I hope it does the same for your husband.”  Again, the woman had the look of shock on her face.  “No, I insist I pay you something,” she protested.  I again said no.  Then her tears flowed, she embraced me with the biggest bear hug I’ve had in awhile.  “God bless you,” she said.  “God bless you too,” I replied back.  She stood back and then came to hug me again, so genuine in her gestures.  Several more times she commented “God bless you,” and she meant it.

I approached the man again in the passenger seat.  His wife had told him the bed was a gift.  He started tearing up and then the tears started to fall.  The three of us were all there crying with the connection of pain, blessings of having lived good lives, and the frustration that comes with the knowledge that things sometimes go wrong and you can’t control them.

As the van drove off and I waved goodbye, my tears continued to stream down my face.  This couple, elderly and so full of love for each other, had just blessed my life.  I was saddened in that I had thought Jim and I would get to that point – be the cute elderly couple who still enjoyed each other so much.  I was glad too though to have made a small difference in this particular couple’s lives.

My 25-minute encounter with these two beautiful people reminded me that there are blessings always and that even though we are not in control of events, we are still in control of our attitudes and perspectives.  Thank God (literally) for amazing people to come along and remind us of the important things in life.

A New Year and the Change that it Highlights

New Year 2015

It is a strange feeling. Even though Jim was so sick for so many years, I always had the belief that “next year will be a better year” or “this upcoming year is Jim’s year to be healthy again.” Such thoughts kept me going, kept things bearable and we both worked hard towards this goal of health regained. But at the start of 2014 we celebrated the new year in the hospital and for awhile, I wasn’t sure we would be able to get Jim home. This became the new goal and we accomplished it. The remainder of 2014 was filled with ups and downs, but obviously Jim’s illness steadily overtook him and after half of a year, we lost him. So this year, 2015, my usual thoughts of “this is the year for Jim – for us – for our family” are gone. There is no Jim here anymore, there is no chance for health recovery here anymore, only a sadness and emptiness that the dreams we both had cannot be accomplished here anymore.

But a new year does bring the time for reflection in a formal way. A time to consider the review of the previous year and the aspirations for the upcoming one. Even though my new year is looking very different than I envisioned it last year at this time, it is an opportunity to embrace the gifts and blessings that surround me and my children. There are so many. Friends who invite you out and treat you as they always have, friends who pay special attention to the kids and take them on outings to remind them how good the world still is, family who send you lots of Christmas gifts to remind you that you are loved, friends and neighbors who contribute towards us going on a vacation and colleagues who pitch in to allow for the opportunity. Strangers and acquaintances who pray for us, helping to propel us forward. Sunny, cloudless days on a crisp winter day highlighting the trees and birds flying through the skies, reminding us all that there is beauty in the world. Always.

What is Cinderella’s Message? You May Be Surprised….

My 3 year old daughter loves princesses (and beating up her brother and climbing trees too) and so it was a given that when Cinderella was re-released, we would buy it.  I was a little torn about this purchase.  I knew she would love the movie, but I was worried about the message it would send.   What I remember about my childhood Cinderella viewing several decades ago is the romantic happy ending – the girl finds her prince and they live happily ever after.  I also remember the cute mice from the movie helping Cinderella, but that was about it.

File:Cinderella Christmas exhibit, Minden, LA IMG 2295.JPG

So when my son (who was protesting the viewing) and my daughter and I turned on the movie, I thought I knew what to expect.  I again worried about the message this movie might send my kids.  Since my husband is very ill, our lives have been turned upside down.  I ache for my children and their lack of their daddy’s daily influence on their beings.  While my children know love and happiness, I don’t want them to think there is always a happy ending and life is full of your prince charming waiting for you.  They know sadness too and I don’t want them to be charmed into the illusion that there is always a magic cure for problems – a fairy godmother waiting in the shadows to “bippidy boppidty boo” all woes.

So when the television was turned on, I braced myself.  I was struck initially by the song that Cinderella sings at the start of the movie.  I didn’t hear the entire song for my husband called for help in the middle of it, my daughter needed juice, and other distractions were present.  The gist of the song was that if you believe in dreams, they can happen.  Hmm…  I thought.  I’m intrigued.  The movie continued with a positive Cinderella focuses on the good gems hidden when most people would only see the ugly stepmother, the awful step sisters, and the unfairness of the situation.  “How about that?” I thought.  Then came the memorable part.  The fairy godmother comes, makes everything better, and Cinderella gets the man.  When I viewed this scene with my adult eyes and my years of experience, I saw a girl (Cinderella) who is grateful for goodness, a girl who believes and therefore is open to seemingly impossible things being possible, a girl who graciously accepts help and a girl who makes the most of a precious time.  As I saw my son get excited about the chase and the victory of Cinderella making her escape at midnight (my 3 year old daughter had fallen asleep by this point), I smiled knowing that he sensed it too.  The good did win over the bad.  Positive mindset can take you places.

So the Cinderella movie of my childhood is very different from that which I saw recently.  I thought Cinderella was just a fairy tale: one that was too good to be true and possibly one sending the wrong message to our children.  But then I paused to think about the movie again.  What really was the message?  Was it “girl gets boy and that is the only thing that will make you happy”?  I thought that what I learned when I was little.  But then, I wondered…. perhaps Cinderella had affected me  when I was little in a different way and I never knew it.  Perhaps Cinderella has helped to shape my purposeful positiveness mentality.  Was it possible that Cinderella is partially responsible for my attitude that belief can become a reality if you truly believe and work toward that goal?  Did Cinderella help me see that looking to the good in things, no matter how bad life is, can save you? 

All I have to say today is Yeah for Cinderella!

Get Over It Already

I know everyone has them.  Bad days can sometimes turn into bad weeks.  I know it happens to everyone.  Still doesn’t make me feel better.  Well, maybe a little.  But not much.

I am just tired.  So very tired.

My bad week has started with one of our long-time nurses, one we depend on very much, just not showing up one morning.  He was “over” (as he put it) the nursing company, and quit.  But we suffered.  Scrambling around to find coverage.  Me serving as the nurse.  Again.  Not that I mind of course.  I love taking care of my husband.  But it’s a lot when you throw in the other stuff.  Like picking up a sick child and trying to tend to his needs.  Trying to pick up milk, butter, and medicine for your husband and literally not being able to leave the house you are in the role of nurse.  Then there are the constant phone calls.  “Who is going to pick up this shift?”  “What are we going to do about X?”  “Let me try to get through to the insurance company.”  There are always the calls, never a break.  And then the bills – new ones this week for a new round of IV antibiotics that are not covered by insurance.  More supplements, more over-the-counter medicine.  Hundreds of hundreds of dollars later, I wonder how I’m going to pay for the electric bill.

Then, on top of all that, just when I think the tide is turning, something else happens.  My husband had a doctor’s appointment this morning.  The nurse helped get Jim ready and down the stairs.  I had phoned a handicapped van service to pick us up.  I dropped off my daughter at a neighbor’s house (my sick son is still with me today), and I’m thinking all is going well and things are taken care of.  Jim was going to get something done at the doctor’s office that should help him.  Okay, it is going to be a good day.  Minutes after the van should be here, it is not.  I call.  The driver is on his way.  More minutes go by.  Finally, it is here and Jim is being loaded into the van.  My cell phone rings and I look at the number – my heart sinks.  It’s the doctor’s office.  “Erica, where are you?”  the nurse asks.  “We are 4 minutes out – max.  The van is just here to pick us up.”  I plead with her to let us come.  A kind person, she puts me on hold to see if the doctor can still squeeze in Jim.  He can’t.  I guess the good news is that I didn’t have to pay for the trip.  So, we unload Jim and frustration abounds.

I’m trying to get over it.  I am.  But, the only time Jim can be squeezed in before the doctor is off for training and conferences is Saturday morning.  Of course we take the appointment.  But, it’s the same time as my son’s soccer game.  I had to miss the game last week.  He had to miss practice on Monday (because I was the nurse that day).  I am just so tired of shuffling things and asking friends for favors.  But I do ask, because frankly I have no other choice.  I am blessed that my friends are so nice. 

So I’m trying to get over it.  I decided a venti skim chi latte from Starbucks will help.  It does a little.  As I drive back from Starbucks, I really do try all the things I know that have helped me in the past.  Nothing is working.  I am frustrated and tired of everything being dictated to me.

But then it happens.  I return home and see it.  My sick son is resting on the chair watching television and my husband is sitting next to him in his wheelchair.  Not ideal for either one of these people.  My son doesn’t feel well and Jim is out of his comfort room and chair.  Still, what a nice sight.  The two most important men in my life hanging out, bonding in a way that so many of us take for granted.  I smile and am happy for the occasion.

Maybe the tides are turning.

God-Intended Detours

I just finished listening to a sermon by Joel Osteen.  One thing that he said during the sermon really resonated with me.  He made the comment that sometimes detours appear in our journey that seem to lead us away from where we want to be, but that these detours often provide you with valuable insight.  If you just trust that God is in control and release your desire to micromanage your own life, then amazing things can start to happen.  What might be perceived as a stumbling block by you could really be a building block leading to success.

The tricky part becomes when to recognize a detour as an opportunity rather than using the detour as a distraction and finding yourself unable to move on from here.  I think Joel Osteen would say, “Let it go, don’t worry too much about it.  Don’t try to overanalyze it.  Trust God.”  I see the value of this – at some point, you go need to release things.  You may have tried everything you know to do and now it may be a matter of trusting things will work out as they  should.  I also see the value of paying attention to what may be waiting for you at that detour.  For example, is there a stranger who is giving you valuable advice?  Not acting on the advice may get you stuck at your detour rather than allowing it to serve as the pit stop it was intended to be.   This needs to be the time when you follow your gut instincts.  These instincts may also be God at work, helping propel you down the right road, leading you to success.

Rather than hissing at the detours in your journey, greet them as a gift and pay attention to what God has intended you to learn from this temporary stop.  This attitude can help turn your journey during troubled times much more enjoyable as you take and use the gem you are learning along the way.

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