Thinkative

I’m very, very thinkative lately.

I’ve been doing my very best these days to try to choose gratefulness…  To be present to the holiness of every moment around me.  Those are messages that I have been hearing in many different places.

But I struggle…   Because I know I need to allow myself my emotions, whatever they may be… 

So how do I sit where I am…  Accept myself there…  Know that I am ok even when I am incapable of picking up my living room…  How can I accept and feel the empty feelings and the lonely feelings and the sad feelings… How do I stay present to the holiness found even there (surely it is there too, right?) without making myself sit in the mire, stuck.

I don’t know… 

It is advent.  And I am thinking again about waiting.  And about Christ coming to the desolation.  To a land barren and stagnant, where only a remnant still held out an expectation of hope. 

I want to be part of a remnant like that.  I want to wait actively, expectantly, eager for the arrival of my Lord in the larger sense…  and constantly seeking out his arrival and presence in the smaller mundane parts of my everyday moments.

I’m trying to both allow myself the grace to be where I am and to feel what I feel and to, at the same time, center myself in a place of gratefulness and hopeful expectation.

In the midst of all of that, a part of me is excited.  Part of me is hoping that in exploring my brokenness, practicing the discipline of gratefulness, and experiencing advent in my own life, maybe perhaps new things will be fanned into flame?  Maybe I will learn to see in a new way.  Maybe my world is expanding yet again and this season is giving birth to a greater sense of who I am and who God is.

Advent indeed.

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Past and Future

Thanksgiving is over and I find myself feeling sad.  Thankful, yes.  But also sad.

Why am I suprised?  I was just diagnosed with depression.  😉

I think I miss my Mom on these days more than I realize.  I made her pink stuff and her apple pie.  I remembered, without her reminder, to take the turkey out to thaw a few days ago, and for the third time at the age of 26, I hosted Thanksgiving on my own.  That has as much to do with our Navy lifestyle as it does with her being gone, but I always miss her wisdom and practicality as I undertake the task of playing hostess and cooking all the fixings.

I thought a lot about past Thanksgivings today.  I thought of the quiet Thanksgivings that we’d have at home.  We didn’t do much but eat, watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and watch copious amounts of television, while Dad worked on the Christmas lights outside.  I remember the Thanksgiving that Mom made each of us a Cornish Hen and I turned my nose up at it.  Yes, I want to smack the young version of myself upside the head.  And, of course, I remember my last Thanksgiving with Mom–just days after she was diagnosed.  Even though she felt terrible, she made the mashed potatoes for me.  It was the only time she ever got to visit us out here in Washington.  She asked her doctor if it was ok for her to make the trip and rationalized that now was not the time to be putting off living that she wanted to do.  I showed her and Dad around, and they bought me a beautiful rocking chair especially for rocking babies.  I can remember standing in the furniture store looking at the rocking chair and thinking, “It looks snuggly.  Will I sink myself into this chair when I need to feel my mother’s arms around me?”  I do that, now.  I do.  I hold my babies and I sink into the chair and I imagine it’s Mom holding us all. 

I’m also thinking about the Thanksgivings in our future.  I’m not sure where we’ll be next year at this time.  I’m not sure if Husband will re-enlist.  We could be here, or in another state.  We could be back in the places that used to be ‘home’ but feel less like it these days.  I feel a  lot of anxiety about those changes.  And at the thought of leaving, I feel a deep sense of loss.  I’m not ready to leave this place that is finally feeling solidly like home.  Sometimes I feel like I’m not cut out for this life–missing my husband, never settling down.  And that’s partly why we suspect this Navy part of our family journey is going to be shorter than longer.  Still…  it is my reality now.

I am thankful though.  I am thankful for the experience of being a Navy Wife.  I’m thankful for the country that I’ve seen and for the chance to live in the beautiful Northwest.  I’m thankful that it has caused me to fall so in love with the ocean, that I can’t go too long without sinking my feet into sand and watching waves roll in.  I’m thankful that my husband is willing to make sacrifices for our country.  I’m thankful for the wonderful friends we’ve made–many of whom were crowded around our table eating turkey and Sweet Potatoes, and Pink Stuff with us today. 

I’m thankful that it has been part of my making.  That it has helped me to grow up.  That it’s made me get over myself time and again.

And I’m thankful for this beautiful family of mine.  We’ve had times together of glorious joy and times of profound sorrow and we’ve gotten through all of them together.  So I guess when I look forward and wonder what the next few months and years will bring for us, I need to simply remember that.  I need to remember my gratefulness that we’ve  gotten through it all holding tight to one another–all of the joy and pain and beauty and gluck.  Sometimes the forward facing side of looking back is hope. 

With that thought tucked away, I’m going to go watch the Thanksgiving episodes of my very favorite T.V. shows, tickle my girls, snuggle with my husband and maybe eat a little more Pink Stuff.  I’ll be grateful for all that I’ve listed above, and grateful that I am allowed my emotions—all of them. 

Three Years Ago Today

Three years ago today I started on the steepest growth and learning curve of my life to date. 

In an innocuous call to my parents to share a bit of good news (Husband had been promoted), my Dad told me that an opacity had showed up on my Mom’s chest x-ray.  A C.T. scan revealed a tumor, and a possible lesion on her liver.

I will never forget how strained his voice sounded and how scared I was when he at first refused to tell me what was wrong and then finally told me.  I will never forget calling my husband home from work and collapsing into his arms in tears.  I will never forget waking up the next morning wondering why I felt so terrible only to remember:  my Mom had Lung Cancer.

I remember looking down at my swollen belly and instead of feeling the familiar joy at the new life within me, I was gripped with terror that my Mom might not be around to see her grand-daughter, or any children who would come after her, dance and twirl.

Three years later I’m living the reality of that fear.

The learning curve, as I said, was steep.  I started researching.  I started learning.  I found out that Lung Cancer is the number one cancer killer.  Not breast cancer, not prostate cancer.  Lung cancer.  This year it is estimated that over 160,000 people will die from Lung Cancer.  It will take more lives than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer combined.  Contrary to popular belief over 50% of those diagnosed with Lung Cancer are former or never smokers.  There is no reliable screening method for Lung Cancer, which means that the majority of cases are found in later stages when surgery is not an option.

Where is the outrage?  Where are the activists?  Why is this disease so buried in stigma that it’s not ok to talk about it except in relation to the evils of smoking? 

I don’t have answers.  I am encouraged though that little by little that is changing.  People like Kathryn Joosten are championing the cause.  Maybe some day Lung Cancer will be surrounded with as much compassion as other maladies rather than being met with a disapproving, “Was she a smoker?”  Maybe some day there will be a reliable screening technique.

Maybe someday there will be a cure.

Three years ago I didn’t know what grief was.  I didn’t know the pain of loving someone battling an evil disease.  I was naive.  I was oblivious.

I wouldn’t want to go back to who I was then.  I wouldn’t want to lose the wisdom that this journey has given me.  I wouldn’t want to go back to ignorance.

But I would to have my Mom back.

Today I am easing into ‘the new normal’ of life without my Mom.  I am raising these beautiful girls without her support or guidance or even the privelege of seeing the joy in her eyes as she gazes upon them.  I think of her each and every day.  I wish for her each and every day.  I miss her fiercely.  

***For more information, to donate money, or to find out how to help visit The Lungevity Website.

Things I Love: A Visual Happy List

 Wrapped Emotions button

 

  

This week’s Wrapped Emotions was just plain fun.  Melody asked us to, “Open your art journal to a clean page, date it and begin listing the things you love today…”It was delightful to do a visually fun version of a happy list.  And it’s always good to remember the many things that bring me joy.  There’s something freeing and revealing about listing the BIG things and the not-so-big things that I love. 

Face It

Ok, so…  I had a little trouble with this Wrapped Emotions post from the technical end.  For one thing, we didn’t have any photo editing software for me to make the photo black and white.  So…  I printed it in gray-scale…  But you see our ink is running out, which kind of worked because it de-accentuated my hair leaving just my face really.  But…  well, yes it’s all a little rough.  On top of that, we didn’t have the drivers installed for our scanner, so I couldn’t scan the photo in to post.  Hence, a photo of…  a…  gray-scale printed picture.  But darn it!  I tried!

So here it is–my liney face.  I didn’t have any grand emotional revelations while I was working on this project.  BUT it seemed very appropriate for this week, in light of my last post.  Somehow taking a look at my face, and really seeing it seemed important as I think of what defines me and what doesn’t right now.  Looking into my eyes in the photo and asking what they tell me about how I’m feeling did too. 

And then, well…  My darling little toddler enhanced the picture.  Which…  you know–fits too.  She and her sister are going to be the ones to add multitudes of smile and worry lines to my face, after all. 

So…  Though I didn’t follow directions precisely, I did the best that I could this week.  I enjoyed the process anyway, even if the result is a little garbled. 

Here is the very rough finished product (I tried to post the original, but even THAT has proven to be impossible).