This past weekend I took a mental break from my normal routine to just relax. And I realized in 9 months so much is going to change in my life. While most people associate 9 months with having a baby and life changing in a sense of less freedom, less sleep and less time, 9 months has a very different meaning for me. It means more freedom, more sleep, and more time. It means I've finally come to the end of the grad school road. And I can finally breathe again.
For the last 3 years I have woke up the majority of days at 5 or 6a to study...or go to work because I needed to leave at a decent time in order to come home and study. I have sacrificed vacation for clinical hours. I have sacrificed sleep to spend time with friends and family. I have sacrificed Friday nights out for Friday nights writing papers. And although I have managed to 'manage it all', it has not been without exhaustion. And in 9 months it will be over. And I will have graduated and get to enjoy coming home after work and not having to balance dinner, homework, research, & reading. I won't have to feel guilty because I want to train to run a marathon...and running means time away from studying. I won't need to wake up at 5a unless I want to, which I doubt to ever actually want to do again! I won't need to drink coffee...I"ll drink it just because I love it.
The last 3 years haven't been easy. In between late nights and early mornings of homework, studying and writing papers, there has been extreme heart ache, abandonment, change and challenge. And halfway through this journey life came to a momentary halt and everything changed in my world. And I had to make a decision to press forward or stop. And pressing forward meant moving in a direction that I really couldn't see. But I've never been fond of quitting or losing so I pressed on. And in 9 months it will all pay off. Over the last several years, God has taught me more about perseverance than I ever imaged I could learn...certainly more than I ever wanted to learn.
Yesterday a friend was in the middle of mini meltdown due to just feeling overwhelmed in life. And her comment to me was that I seemed to balance a lot more in my life. I had to correct her...that it's really just an illusion. Each and every day is tough...but I have learned to tough it out. And not give up. And just press onward.
So each day that I wake up exhausted because I have failed to balance it all...I remember:
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
So in 9 months, I'm expecting a piece of paper that confirms I am indeed a Doctor of Nursing Practice and this perseverance has all been worth it.
9 months, meltdowns, and coffee,
Today marks one year since I've seen this beautiful woman....I miss her every single day. There are so many things I want to talk to her about and get her insight on, my heart just aches missing her. I'm so incredibly thankful God gave me her for the first 30 years of my life. Now her lessons live on in my heart until we meet again. I had the pleasure of giving the eulogy at her funeral last year; it was a weak attempt capturing the essence of this amazing woman in a brief moment:
Better known to family and friends as “Dot” and even better known to loved ones as wife, sister, mother, or g-mom was an amazing woman who leaves behind an example of faith and dedication to the Lord like none before her.
Today as we celebrate her eternal life through Jesus Christ those closest to her reflect on the legacy she impressed upon our lives. Some of the important lessons in our lives we learned from this beautiful woman…
To some she taught how to be a ‘real’ lady – and that to be treated like a lady, you must conduct and carry yourself like a lady.
To others she taught the importance and impact of a parent’s presence at important life events such as graduations, commissioning and other ceremonies commemorating significant moments in our lives.
And still another learned lesson was the impact of one’s words and the value of thinking before you speak…especially when those words are mixed with strong emotion.
She also taught us service to the Lord is demonstrated by honoring others including our spouses, children, parents and siblings…even when it seems they might not deserve it.
Her devotion and commitment to her loving husband is an example of true marriage built around the loving Savior and how love goes way beyond the words “I love you” – love is demonstrated in attitude and actions.
She also taught us less important lessons that I’m sure will sneak up as subtle reminders of her in moments throughout our days….for example:
The fact it is perfectly acceptable to vacuum one’s house every single day
that it is okay to cheer for the Miami Dolphins regardless of how the team actually plays
the fact you can never have too many rosters, baseball cards, Barbie dolls, beanie babies or movies…even if that means you accidentally purchase a duplicate copy of any one of these things.
But perhaps the most important things we learned from her were in her final years with us. Her faith and love for her Lord and Savior were an example to family, friends, medical providers and even complete strangers. Even up until her final week with us on earth, she taught us everything works according to His Will and His timing. Her faith in the Lord was so apparent that it was no surprise to some of us that the Lord waited until a Sunday to call her home because that was “grandma’s day”.
Her passion for the Lord was unmistakable- to such an extent that on the day of her departing, a granddaughter said “She’s been waiting her whole life for this. She’s finally home”.
Her life exemplified Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
May each of us carry Dorothy’s legacy and honor her example by honoring and loving Jesus Christ each and every day.
May the Lord comfort all those who mourn her absence in our daily lives.
Grace, strength and beauty,
There is a big disclaimer to this blog...because I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about. For starters, I am not a mother. And second, I have never lost a child. But this was on my heart from the moment I woke up today until I wrote the blog. And I am learning when God puts it on my heart...it's for a reason.
Although I may not be the mother of a child that has died, I have been surrounded by mothers of dying children for the last ten years. Both in my career and in my personal life, God has blessed me to know such incredible women that are able to persevere through this insurmountable pain. One of my college roommates lost her younger brother several years before college and her mother shared with me something I will never forget. She told me she often felt like a misfit in society because there really wasn't a place for the mother of a child that died. When you lose your spouse, you are a widow or widower. It is fairly normal to lose your parents. But when you lose a child....there is nothing for you. I'll never forgot the pain in those words.
I started my day by sending a message to a childhood friend's mother...because today marked the 1 year anniversary of day she lost her son. And I can't imagine how a mother is supposed to get through days like today. It just doesn't seem fair. And I had absolutely nothing to offer her...in fact I even wrote, "There are no words so I just pray." And I lifted her up in prayer all day long. And this led me to lifting up all the mothers in my life that have lost a child. So if you are in my life (or I cared for your child when they were fighting for life!) and you have suffered this unbearable, indescribable loss...please know you were in my prayers today. And you aren't alone. You are never alone...no matter if it feels that way. When you feel like a misfit in society remember God surrounds you in love. You aren't a misfit to God...God gave you the honor of being a mother to a child that would only be on this earth for a short period of time. He picked YOU to be their mom because He knew you were strong enough and would be able to impact them in such a short period of time. Several years ago, I was caring for a sweet girl that was losing the battle for life and her amazing parents decided it was time to stop the fight. Her mother said to me, "God gave her to us 8 months ago and it's time for us to give her back to Him." In that moment, I saw love like never before. Love for both God and child. That is one amazing mother. Not all mothers could do that. So remember, there is a reason why God trusted YOU to be the mother of a child that died.
So even when you can't feel it, He is there loving you. And because of this love you will make it. And you will make your child very proud. And please know, there are women around you, admiring you and your strength. Even in your greatest moment of weakness, you are strong. And we all see it.
And please remember...you are not alone. And it's okay to weep and mourn and cry and scream....yesterday, today and tomorrow. This doesn't reflect your strength, it reflects your loss. And it's okay. Remember Mary, the mother of Jesus, had to witness her Son on the cross. And God provided a disciple to comfort her...
Standing near the cross were Jesus' mother, and his mother's sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there bedside the disciple he loved, he said to her, "Woman, he is your son." And he said to this disciple, "She is your mother." And from then on this disciple took her into his home.
So during the tough moments...remember to let others take you in and care for you. It isn't weakness, it is part of God's plan. It's part of Him surrounding you in love.
Incredible women, God's plan, and a whole lot of weeping,
July is finally here. I wish July meant crazy things...like watermelon eating contests, Christmas in July sweater parties, and water gun fights. July should be full of warmth and sunshine. And although the summer heat and humidity has set in, warm memories are still absent. July is a cold month for me and I assume the rest of my family. I would imagine we are all struggling in our own ways for so many different reasons.
Tomorrow marks the day we lost a childhood friend and the day my sister lost a love...I remember getting a call from her ridiculously early in the morning the day after he died and her telling me the news. The call came almost at the same time as the call came from my grandpa. It was almost like a catalyst for the worst week of my life.
Yesterday while most people were celebrating America's Birthday....I was thinking about the fact that on the 4th of July last year it was the last time my grandmother discharged home from the hospital. And Monday will mark the day my grandpa called to ask me to please meet them back at St. Anthony's ER because something was wrong with her heart and my grandma wanted me there. It would also be the last time I heard my grandmother's voice prior to the stroke she would suffer the next day. And then the week is a blur...but the pain certainly isn't. I remember the overwhelming heartache in making the decision for us to give up the fight. And I remember painting her nails through tears while she lay lifeless in the bed because bare fingernails were never her thing. (I share her affinity for nail polish...unfortunately grad school doesn't lend extra time for such things these days.) I remember all of us gathered around her hospital bed singing "How Great Thou Art" while she was hanging on for life. I remember counting her respirations for hours...did you know the human body can actually live on 2-3 breaths a minute for over 24 hours? Up until this point in my life, I sure didn't! It's actually still pretty hard to believe that. All of these memories...and absolute heartache. I am dreading the next week because each day brings forth another painful memory. And no amount of distraction will diminish the pain.
Psalms 34: 18
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
I tried to distract myself this morning by taking my dog to the Fort DeSoto dog beach.
But once I got there, I realized I was at Fort DeSoto when I got the call my grandmother took her final breath. The nurses had strongly encouraged me to leave the hospital for a few hours because there had been been a small incident when I got in a disagreement with the nurse over not giving my grandma a dose of morphine. The nurse was trying to explain to me that my grandma wasn't taking enough breaths a minute to get more morphine...and I had to politely explain that I was well aware of the number of times she was breathing a minute because I had been counting her breaths for a week (okay, so "politely" might be a little bit of a stretch!). Long story short...they gave her the morphine. I was totally becoming one of "those" family members. And if you are in the medical field, you know exactly what family members I am talking about. It's okay....I'm not afraid to admit it. I was losing it and needed a break. So I did as the nurses encouraged and went to the beach for a few hours with my cousins. And exactly what you don't want to happen, happened. My grandma died while I was there. Thankfully, I was at peace with the entire situation and was just so thankful she was finally not suffering anymore. And looking back, I really hope the nurses don't feel bad about strongly encouraging me to leave. It was the right decision...for everyone at the time. And so while I was trying to distract myself, my grandma went to her heavenly home. The distraction didn't help last year...and the distraction really didn't work today either.
So here's to July. May it pass ever so quickly.
Fingernail polish, Fort DeSoto, and morphine,
PS - As I was finishing up this blog, a song I listened to over and over again the week my grandma died came on Pandora. I have never heard it played on my Pandora station until this moment. Life is relentless sometimes.
Revelation 2: 10
Don't be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.