Help Me.

April 7, 2017

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“I have decided I need to make some bread,” said the Little Red Hen.

“Why on earth would you do that?” asked Mr. Pig, the Little Red Hen’s baker. “You have bread. It has cinnamon swirls!”

“I know it has cinnamon swirls, but I’m pretty sure it’s poison.”

“How could you say that? It’s cinnamon swirl!”

“Yes, but the air is getting pushed out of my lungs and my heart is squeezing into a pulp and it’s not getting any better and I’m pretty sure it’s the bread.”

“Pshaw. It’s definitely not the bread. It has cinnamon swirls. Besides, have you put the bread in the fridge? Or in an airtight bag? That would probably help with the poison.”

“I think I just need new bread.”

“You don’t need new bread. It has cinnamon swirl.”

“But….”

“CINNAMON SWIRL!!”

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“I’m definitely baking new bread, Mr.Pig.”

“Well, I suppose you can if you want to, even though I’ve seen you eating the cinnamon swirl, and you like the cinnamon swirl. Whatever you want to do, though. Good luck with the new bread.”

“Will you help me, Mr. Pig? Will you help me make the bread?

“Of course I will help you.”

“Thank you, Mr. Pig. Will you give me some of your wheat so I can make bread?”

“Not I,” said the pig. “But,I will give you bread. Cinnamon swirl. Just focus on the cinnamon, not the poison.”

“But you said you would…”

“NOT I!” said the pig. “Cinnamon Swirl.”

And so the Little Red Hen tried to think about how much she liked cinnamon swirl, and focused on eating that instead of the poison eating at her insides. She gave Mr. Pig all her money, and he baked her the cinnamon swirl bread, and she ate it and ate it and ate it, until the poison got to be too much for her. So, she set about again to find a way to make new bread. Knowing that Mr. Pig wasn’t going to help her make the bread, and being quite out of money, she decided to go see Mr. Sheep.

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“I’ve decided I need to make some bread,” said the Little Red Hen. “Will you help me make some bread?”

“Slow down, Little Red Hen. Why on earth would you say you need to make bread? You have bread. Cinnamon swirl, and Mr. Pig seems to be a pretty good baker.”

“Yes, he does seem to be a good baker, and I do have bread, but Mr. Sheep—I’m afraid it’s poisoning me!”

“Poisoning you? Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. The air is getting pushed out of my lungs and my heart is squeezing into a pulp, and I know for sure it’s the bread.”

“Wow, that sounds pretty serious. You know, this reminds me of a story I heard about the Speckled Gray Goat. She had it pretty bad. Not as bad as you, but still, pretty bad. I heard that she made new bread and it was really hard for her, but she’s much better now.”

EPSON MFP imageThe Little Red Hen, after hearing about how the Speckled Gray Goat was feeling much better with some new bread, started to feel quite a bit better herself. And so, with a small amount of trepidation and a great measure of hope, she asked, “Will you help me, Mr. Sheep?”

“I will,” said the sheep. “Here. Read this article about how to keep your bread fresh. Perhaps you could put your bread in the fridge or an airtight bag.”

“I’m fairly certain I just need new bread, Mr Sheep.”

“Have you tried the fridge? And the bag?”

“Yes, of course I have, Mr. Sheep, and I’m still getting sick from the bread. You believe me, right?”

“Oh, I believe you, and I can see how well Speckled Gray Goat is doing, but I do think you just need to eat the bread he makes you. It’s up to you, of course, but really I think you should stick to the cinnamon swirl.”

“I’m going to make new bread, Mr. Sheep.You have so much wheat; all the barn yard animals give you their extra. I don’t have extra wheat, Mr. Sheep, and Mr. Pig has all my money. Will you give me a small handful of wheat so I can grow enough to make some new bread?”

“NOT I!” said the sheep, “but I will give you a coupon for a loaf of cinnamon bread from Mr. Pig.”

Quite discouraged now, the Little Red Hen went home and cut herself a slice of cinnamon swirl bread. She chewed it up, and she swallowed it down, and she forced air into her lungs and blood into her heart, and the whole time she was thinking about how she could get ahold of some wheat.

Just then, she heard a knock at her door, and it was Plump White Goose. “Well, hello, Little Red Hen!” she said. “Did you hear about Proud Purple Peacock? Her baker gave her bad bread! She ended up at the vet.”

“Oh, my goodness!,” said Little Red Hen. “How awful! Whatever is she going to do?”

EPSON MFP image“Can you believe it? She’s going back to the same baker. The same one who made the bad bread! I mean, can you imagine?”

“Well,” started the Little Red Hen, but Plump White Goose just carried on, “I mean, I would NEVER go back to the same baker that made me bad bread. I would just walk away! No one needs bread that badly!”

“I’m so glad to hear you say that, Goose. See, the bread my baker is making me is not good bread. It’s pushing the air out of my lungs and squeezing my heart into pulp. It’s poison!”

“What? No!. You have cinnamon swirl! I would kill for cinnamon swirl! It’s not making you sick, I’m sure of it.”

“Oh, it is making me very sick, and it’s getting worse. Will you help me?”

“Of course I will help you! You know, sometimes when I feel a little sick from the bread, I just put it in the fridge or an airtight bag. Keeps it fresh. You should try that. It’s worked wonders for me.”

“I’m pretty sure I just need new bread.”

“How can you say that? You have cinnamon swirl! Don’t you know how lucky you are?

“I’d choke down dry rye and be happy to do it if it wasn’t pushing the air out of my lungs and squeezing my heart into pulp, Goose.”

“Don’t be so dramatic. You should be grateful. Cinnamon swirl! Try the fridge, try the bag.”

EPSON MFP image“I’m going to make new bread, Plump White Goose. I just need a little wheat. Will you help me make the bread?”

“NOT I!” said the goose, “but if you ever need to talk you know where to find me.

“I don’t need to talk, I need….” but Plump White Goose was already out the door.

And now, with all hope gone, and not even one extra penny to buy any more wheat, the Little Red Hen called out in a rather rare and dramatic emotional outburst: “WHO WILL HELP ME MAKE THE BREAD?” The words bounced around her tiny kitchen, and in the echoes she could almost hear them answer back,

“Not I!” said the pig.

“Not I!” said the sheep.

“Not I!” said the goose.

“Then I’ll do it myself,” whispered the Little Red Hen, picking up a single kernel of wheat from a dark corner of her kitchen, a stray from the last loaf of bread.

“Then I’ll do it myself,” she said a little louder now, adding a second kernel to the first.

“Then I’ll do it myself,” she said, yelling now, determined to find a way to find enough kernels to make a loaf of bread, even if it took her until the cows came home.

And so The Little Red Hen gathered her kernels, and she forced air into her lungs and she forced blood into her heart, and piece by piece she gathered all that she needed for her bread.“Then I’ll do it myself!” she said, again and again, day after day, and it was a long time until she had enough for just one misshapen loaf. Somehow, though, even though her bread was lumpy and dry, and although it had no cinnamon swirl, it was the best bread she had ever tasted. Suddenly, it was easy to breath and her heart pounded with all the hope of what could finally be.

She sat there in the warm spot near the window, the place where the sun shone in, and she swallowed another bit of the bread. The rest she wrapped carefully in a towel and set it in her finest basket. She adjusted her feathers, and swept the tiny kitchen for the last time. She walked out of the door, and she walked down the path, past the pigs and the sheep and the geese, until she found herself at the very edge of the barnyard. She stood there a moment, at the threshold, and she knew that all that was left to was to walk through the gate and close it behind her forever.

“Then I’ll do it myself,”

And she did.

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Face the Sun

September 23, 2016

This too shall pass, and when it does it will still be raining.

That’s what I get for living in a rain forest, a baseline of gray and damp. It’s not that it gets especially cold, but that 55 degrees latches onto those droplets of ocean air and seeps right through my Carhart’s jacket like it’s not even there, fingering its way through my skin and settling right in those blasted shoulders in the dead center of my back.

You remember my shoulders, right? The ones that used to work so normally, never to be considered, never to be symbol of the pain that is my life? The ones that were once functional and a non-thought, until they were victim to an oversight, a ton of metal and plastic cushioned (quite ineffectively, I might add) by a narrow tube of rubber?

Yeah, now they hurt.

Sometimes worse than others, and to know what kind of a day I’m having, no need to bother asking me. It’s as simple as a glance out the window or a Juneau weather update on your phone.

Which, of course, is how I ended up in Florida in the first place. The pain was awful back then; I could barely move. I tried everything, but then, one day, in a conversation with my best friend the answer came, and it was very simple. Get warm.

So I cranked up the heat, but heating oil is expensive. So I piled on the sweaters and electric blankets, but that only works if you never leave your armchair. (A rare occasion to be sure, but still. Nature does call on occasion.)  I felt like Ralphie on The Christmas Story anytime I had to get up—a virtual Micheline Man of synthetic fiber.

There was another way, a better way of palm trees and beaches and Shamu, and above all, a warm and glorious sun. I found my chance, made my chance, and I jumped on a plane and I only looked over my shoulder once.

He was back there, back in Juneau, stomping his feet and balling his fists. He didn’t want me to go, but his job was in the rainforest, and I was seeking the sun.

Four and a half glorious years, and they weren’t without rain. Kids in lousy schools and stress at church and over zealous CPS and neighbors and accidents and pain and me the tired single-married mom dying of liver disease. Oh, Florida rain, with your pellets of hail, your furry and your wind and your buckets and buckets of painful water. Horrible, awful, intense, condensed and powerful beautiful pain, and in mere minutes, this too shall pass. Yes, this too shall pass, and when it does, the sun will still be shining.

And now I live in the rainforest again, forced back by trickery and circumstance, and I’ll be here a good long time. I live in the ever cold, I live in the ever damp, and I live with the pain in my shoulders every day the sun doesn’t shine. I crave the sun, watch for it, wait for it, and when it shows its face I breath it in. I welcome it’s warmth and beauty, and in my shoulders bones I know—This too shall pass, and when it does it will still be raining.

I live in a rainforest again, and the rain brings me nothing but pain. I live in a rainforest, and I shiver in the damp and cold. I live in a rainforest and when nobody is looking, I cry out at the pain of it. I live in a rainforest, but I won’t look back over my shoulder this time. I won’t look back there, not ever again, because while I live in a rainforest, my soul lives in the sun.

Oh, the rain of my soul, with your pellets of hail, your furry and your wind and your buckets and buckets of painful water. Horrible, awful, intense, condensed and powerful beautiful pain, but in mere minutes, this too shall pass.

This too shall pass, and when it does, the sun will still be shining.

“Say what you say,

Then you do it to me anyway,

Do what you do, 

Then you walk away,

Yeah, I know when it’s through.

And God knows that it’s hard to find The One.

But in time, all the flowers,

Yes, in time, all the flowers,

Turn to face the sun.”

-James Blunt, “Face the Sun”

Deciding Moment

July 1, 2016

I decided in one moment I would marry him, and I was just a child.

The first day of a college computers course, he standing up and introducing himself, I sitting and arguing with God.

A moment I never thought would happen. Love wasn’t supposed to work this way, at least not for me. But here I found myself, sitting in a hard moulded plastic chair, ignoring all that was around me, staring at the man I just decided to marry. What could go wrong in a moment like that, when a child in innocent faith meets the boy God wants her to marry? A decision made in a heartbeat, sealed 6 weeks later, and I just 19 years old.

Just 19, but old enough to know best.

Old enough to know God’s voice, and that was the only voice I trusted. Sure, there were other voices: excited roommates in awe of my fairytale courtship, happy parents thrilled I was doing it right, friends dreaming of their own princes to take them to temples of white.

When will you have children, they asked, where will he go to school? What will he become and where will he take you? Just two young people following God, smiling in the photographs, and no one thought to question a child’s wisdom.

I am not a child anymore, but a woman, and I have decided.

A decision coming as an accumulation of moments stretching 18 long years, and I can’t be married anymore.

What about the children? they ask, as if I haven’t thought of them first for always. How can you rip apart your family? they wonder, as if the damage hasn’t already been done. Geography, after all, means little to forming minds.

Just stay with him, they plead, he has the education and the job and the insurance, and you the uneducated fool. How on earth will you survive?

Any two people who truly love God can stay married, they say, waggling their metaphoric fingers as if they can see and understand our hearts and home from the outside looking in.

And perhaps they are right. Perhaps I could stay with him to the further detriment of my children, stay married for the sake of a certificate and certain eternal glory, stay married to him for the money and insurance, and he has plenty of that.

I could and have listened to all of them, but now, in this moment, it’s time to remember that I am yet just a child. I am a woman, but just a child in His eyes, and there is only one voice I hear.

Your children need you to rise, He whispers.

Consider the lilies of the field, dear child, I will care for you.

Eternal progression is just that, little one, and eternal life is more than mistakes and healing, but earth life is all about that.

But most of all, he whispers in the quiet moments, pouring generous doses of the balm of Gilead over my weary and broken soul, you, my dear child, are worth it. You can do this, and you are worth more than this.

I have decided to leave my husband, and I am just a child.

I am a spiritual person.

I am a spiritual person, and I was born this way. Some may think I’m playing word games or trying to be snarky or disrespectful, but I’m not. In my very core I know that I am a child of God. It is of no consequence what anyone says to me ever, or anyone does to me ever, no matter what happens in my life or in the life of others, nothing will ever change that I am a spiritual person. It doesn’t effect who I am when people make rude or demeaning comments in Facebook threads about my ‘imaginary’ beliefs or when I’m called derogatory names or my intelligence is called into question based on who I am. Sure, it hurts my feelings, but nothing and no one can ever impact who I am, even if I wanted them to.

The way I choose to express my spirituality is by attending regular church service at a specific church. But even if I didn’t attend every week, even if I didn’t choose to read my scriptures, even if I stopped praying or went to a different church, I would still be a Christian, because this is who I am. Nothing and no one can change that.

It’s probably no secret to you why I’m writing this blogpost at this time. Mostly it’s because I feel like there have been some misunderstandings about religious people and the LGBT community. Some on both ‘sides’ of the issue have made a rather large mess, I reckon.

I don’t think it’s that complicated.

It starts and ends with respect of lifestyles and an understanding of why those lifestyles exist, and how conflicting lifestyle choices can coexist.

I can’t speak about the LGBT community, because I am not a part of it. I also can’t speak for the religious community because I am only one member of it. But I can lay out my logic on why there is discrimination against the LGBT community by the religious community, where I think it’s appropriate, and where I think it’s not.

Starting with my HOME. We pray over meals in our home because we are religious and we really believe that what we are doing is important. I will not insist on (or even ask about) praying in yours, but if you are in my home, I would ask you at least sit quietly and respect our behaviors of religion. Please abstain from displays of affection or conversation about sexuality and the like in my home. (If it makes you feel any better, I don’t allow alcohol or swearing in my home either. I promise its not personal. It’s just that I am a spiritual person who chooses to be religious.)

Extending on, to renting a room in my HOME. I think it’s important to point out here that for some religious people, the act of sex is actually a sacrament to God, and a very spiritual and religious experience that is intended to be between one man and one woman within the bonds of marriage. You may not agree, and that’s okay. What is not okay is expecting me to allow an unmarried couple (of any sex) to reside in my home to coexist and have sexual relations that go against the core belief systems set out in the home. It’s just not okay. I won’t let my children bring their girlfriends/boyfriends over and spend the night in their room, no matter their age, so I surely shouldn’t be expected to be forced to allow strangers to do so just because I am collecting their rent.

HOWEVER, if not under the roof of my home, I personally feel that it is none of my business what people do. (Example: owning apartment complexes.) Sexual orientation and religious beliefs should not be considered when renting to people if not in someones home where they are residing.

SMALL BUSINESSES when there is a direct correlation between a religious belief and the services or goods being offered. It should be pretty obvious I’m talking about wedding cakes and wedding planning as the go-to example, here.

HOWEVER, if the small business is, oh, I dunno, pulling something out of thin air….making and selling pizzas, I don’t see a religious reason to deny services based on sexual preference.

LARGE BUSINESSES AND EVERYTHING ELSE BIG LIKE SCHOOLS AND GOVERNMENT: Religious people, get over it. Sexuality and religion really shouldn’t be a topic of consideration in these types of places. I don’t think there should be prayer in schools, except for private religious schools. (Which prayer? Which God?) This is supposed to be done in the HOME, because it’s not okay to push who we are on other people. (which is also why it’s important we are allowed to practice our lifestyles in our homes the way we choose.) We shouldn’t be praying in board meetings, and religious CEOs should not be able to make arbitrary decisions that force their belief system through policy on their underlings. (not mentioning any specific arts and crafts businesses specifically…cough-cough) If it doesn’t have to do with the business, it’s none of your business. The laws cover basic morality already, you know, the stuff we can all agree on. The basic crimes against humanity like stealing and tax evasion and murder are already laid out. Beyond crime, people should be allowed to make their own choices.

Listen, it’s really not that hard.I want you, (no matter who you are) to be able to live any ol’ way you choose. Whatever path you choose to take, no matter the life you choose to live, no matter who you ARE and what you were born to be, go do you! But please, please. Let me be me, too.

And lay off on the imaginary stuff in the comment sections. It really does hurt my feelings.

 

This post was written by an anonymous husband who wishes to express that he would never tell anyone else how to handle their personal hygiene.

Someone put Axe body spray in my stocking this Christmas, and so the next time I took my wife out for dinner, I sprayed a little on. The results were amazing and instantaneous. Turns out they are really not lying in those adds about how with just one little squirt your lady will be all over you. I mean, she could not keep her hands off of me.

Since it worked so well the first time, I decided to give it another go. Before I knew it, I was wearing it every day, even to work. That’s when I realized that some of the women at the office were giving me second looks. They seemed distracted and giggled a lot, and found reasons to stop by my office or talk to me in the break room. They touched my shoulder or my arm while talking to me, and kept trying to look into my eyes. It was a little weird, but I shut my office door and put it in the back of my mind.  I was working on a big project and didn’t really have time to deal with it.

That night, though, as my wife and I were laying in bed, she laid on my chest, inhaled deeply, and said, “You smell soooooooo good!”

“Oh, that reminds me,” I said, “some of the ladies at work were acting weird today.” She asked me in what way, and I told her about the giggling and touching everything. She did not seem pleased.

“You wore it to work?!?! Well, no wonder.”

Confused, I asked her what she meant. “Come on, you were basically asking for it. Everyone knows that when a guy smells good, we can’t resist them. I mean, are you really surprised?”

I was stunned. Could the way I smelled really make women act that way? Cautiously, I asked my wife if she had ever noticed another guy wearing cologne. She rolled her eyes at me and said, “Duh.”

“It was pretty heard to get my work done today,” I told her. “It was really annoying, actually.”

“Then don’t wear it. I mean, they’ll leave you alone if you don’t smell good. Well, you don’t have to smell bad, but just don’t smell good. Think about it from her point of view: She is also trying to get her work done. How is she supposed to concentrate? I mean, you have no idea what it’s like to be a girl. Those pheronomes are powerful stuff! It’s basically science. Besides, aren’t some of those women married? Imagine how hard it would be to be faithful to  your husband if you were worrying about how another guy smelled all the time. I mean, it’s really hard on us.  So, yeah, I suggest using a Lever 2000 type soap in the shower and an off-brand deodorant. And NO aftershave, and NO cologne, and for heaven’s sake, NO AXE BODY SPRAY! What are you, fifteen? You really don’t have the body to back that up anymore.”

I thought about it long and hard and realized she was right. I was completely out of line and potentially breaking up marriages by wearing it. SO….from now on, I have decided to NEVER wear Axe Body Spray except in the privacy of of my own bedroom, or if there is a special occasion at church or I forget to shower or something. But then I’ll make sure to only wear a little bit, because I’m trying to be a good example for my sons. I would really hate for them to grow up and think that they can just go around using cologne any ol’ time they want to. That is just asking for trouble.

Stairs.

December 9, 2014

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Concerning events that happened November 28, 2014:

It’s  the day after Thanksgiving, the day after the miracle of the kids’ dad being able to find a cheap ticket and join us, the day after the day of gratitude and good food and good company and good times.

Thanksgiving is easy when you go to a beautiful and delicious restaurant in quiet and quaint North Georgia, where the trees still hold their red and gold leaves and the mountain air reminds you you’re alive. Thanksgiving is so easy when the kids are getting along, and there are animals to pet, and the Macy’s parade is on the big screen. Yip, Thanksgiving is easy as Southern pecan pie when you stand up after an amazing meal that you didn’t cook, to leave dishes for others to do, and then head to a nearby mountain lodge to rest.

It’s easy to forget your aches on Thanksgiving, when everyone is smiling and your kids are happy and your husband is there to keep eyes on stray mittens and hats and shoes and underwear and children.

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But then, the day after Thanksgiving is the day you remember you are broken, that your joints are just sore and your muscles are just sore, and that you haven’t slept in your bed for going on 7 days.

And today is mountain day.

There is a lovely place in North Georgia, just a few minute’s drive from the lodge. It’s called Tallulah Falls, and all but one were excited.

It’s hard for me, as a card-carrying Mountain Goat who as a child would run ahead up the hills, navigating narrow and dangerous trails, laughing and playing games with my brother and my sisters all the way. But then life begat life, and I grew up and became a mom. How much fun I had! I would take my babies fishing where the Kenai meets the Russian River, hiked the trails in Hatcher’s Pass, played in frigid ocean waters, wandered trails in places most never see.

But then came the day I got run over by a car, and that was the day it all had to change. I couldn’t do it anymore, and my kids were little, but some of them remember. Some of them remember the mom who could jump on a trampoline, hike up a glacier without real consideration, could run up a mountain side.

It’s been more than 6 years, and we’ve had no choice but to adjust, and through adjustment we seek acceptance.

But then, you know, the liver thing happened this year. And after that my joints completely gave out. And somewhere in there I ran completely out of steam and turned 112. I will never forget the day I knew it. We had spent just over 2 hours at Universal Studios, hadn’t done anything special, and I could barely make it back to the car. The kids all ran ahead, and I literally limped along, unable to make my hips or knees or toes bend in anyway that aided walking. My oldest daughter stopped there at the car, turned and saw me. I was still far away, but she saw me for what I really was. She looked at the ground, discouraged and hurting, wanting it to be different not just for me but some for her, too. It was like the day she looked at her brand-new diabetes kit, and cheerfully said to her grieving mother, ‘and when I’m done with this diabetes thing, I can use this fun bag!” Imagine the pain in having to look at your 8 year old daughter and speak the words, the ones about how she would never be done with this diabetes thing. Imagine your daughter looking at you limping to the car, and she knowing you would never be done, either.

And so I do my best, because my children are tired of watching their mom tire.

They stood in front of the sign at Tallulah falls, at the top of the staircase trail to the suspension bridge. They read it and they laughed, reminding and taunting me that I couldn’t do it because the restrictions where spelled out in black and white. We’ve read so many of these signs before, and i’ve had to decide again and again if it would be worth the price I would have to pay.

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This day, the day after Thanksgiving, I stared at that sign, reading the number of steps, testing subtly to see how the ol’ joints were holding up. The assessment was, that while they weren’t horrific, they weren’t necessarily in good shape, either. I was a week into being company, and my body was reminding me it was weak. But, I didn’t want to be the one left behind again, didn’t want my kids to feel bad their mom couldn’t go. “I can always turn around,” I rationalized, “It’s the down that really hurts my joints. If I need to, I’ll just turn around and go back up.”

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And so I began. One step down, one foot at time, right-left-right with my best friend by my side. The pain increased with every step, but I pretended I was doing okay. Right up until I got to the last major staircase. Straight down, steep and long, so long I had to count to cope. Thirty-six. Thirty-six steps and I was sure I couldn’t take one more.

I stood there on the top of those stairs, staring down and deciding if I must go back. I knew how badly my hips were aching, how bad my knees felt, how shaky I was. I looked up at the sky, and I took a deep breath, because this was the deciding place and then I felt it there, felt it sitting in the cool mountain air, a simple sentence hanging before me: “You’ve already paid the price.”

I blinked and looked again, just to see if it was still there. I stared at that sentence and it grew up in me, and I knew the truth of it. It didn’t really matter if I took one more step: My hips were going to hurt. My knees were going to ache. My toes were going to stiffen. Even if I didn’t go down even one more step.

So, deep breath in, and the sentence was in me, had grown to be a part of me, and with that breath in I took the first of thirty-six.

My hips were aching, and my knees felt bad, and I was so shaky, but I paid the price for exactly thirty-five more. Then, down just a few more that were now so easy, and I just like that, lickety-split, I was on the suspension bridge. I was watching the white water below me, hearing my children laugh, watching my husband play like I once could. I stood on that bridge and I shook, but it wasn’t just my joints anymore. I had just paid a steep price and almost given up, just before the price would prove worth it.

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And so I looked to the sky and breathed in my life again. In that breath I knew I had taken one more step, not just towards a suspension bridge, but towards acceptance.

I am 112.

Thirty-five steps to go.

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Tears

November 18, 2014

If you are new to the liver stories, click HERE to read them in order of post

 

She always has a kind word, she always takes my hand,
She speaks with such a quiet voice, but with words hearts understand.
She barely stands up to my  shoulder, but my, she stands so tall,
Kind heart, kind hands, kind knowing eyes, ever watchful for our God.
 
Three days so far on life support, words so hard to hear,
To think I once had need to ask that you shed “No Tears,”
“No tears for me,” I said back them, “save them for those still here,
Left without the touch of love, left alone with hollow tears.”
 

That was so long ago, it seems, though not so very long at all,
Nine months, one life, rebirth achieved through sacrificial call.
I think about that day sometimes, about why it had to be.
How God could make a choice between another life and me.
 
Flesh and bones, love and tears, service with a smile,
People who still need her, looking upward, suppressing guile.
“Pray for her!” we beg, with bitter tears that sting the eye,
Nothing to the pain in soul, as we contemplate that word ‘goodbye’.
 
“No Tears,” I begged back then, dying, as tears rolled down my face,
Tears for the one that gave me life, the life I live today.
I wept then for her family, her friends, her life un-lived,
I wept with all the angels, about all that could have been.
 
“Tears!”  I now beg from you, “Stay those tears no more!”
My friend. She might not make it, just as one who passed for me before,
Life and death and death and life, life support of one so weak,
Machines and beeps and Doctors’ tests; it’s stability we seek.
 
We watch and wait and pray and cry, as another lies in lonely bed,
“No fair! She’s good! She loved us all, with her example we were led,
Please, please, our God, don’t take her; Let us longer feel her love?”
Minds know, hearts fill, we’ll always have thy blessings from above.
 
Tears roll down through such tired eyes, eyes looking up to Him,
Lord, take my heart, my liver’s yours, with it death’s toxin full of sin,
He makes me clean, He changes me, my will to His I bend,
He suffers me, He holds me close, He saves me in the end.
 
His will be done, He has a plan, and she *has* given life.
To know her is to love her, and to know the love of Christ.
No tears, I change my heart again, know that God’s plan enough will be,
No tears, my ever watchful friends, please; No tears for me.

card 1 card 2

If you are new to the liver stories, click HERE to read them in order of post

And Witches Don’t Have Hearts.

Just Lose It

Did you know that when you go into acute liver failure they give these super-strong steroids to save your life? Which is all wonderful, but that steroid also messes with your body and brain and cost me (temporarily, I pray) one of my prided life skills: Explaining things in a way that even a kindergartner can understand. Which is fairly important….when  you’re trying to explain something to an actual kindergartner.

“Mom, when are you going to get better?” Oh, you poor thing. Third grade has been nothing but heartache for you, and I’ve been so sick and in the hospital for almost a week now. Baby needs her mama!

And then my big mouth was moving without my consent. Again.

“When I get a liver transplant, so who knows. Could be months, or  even years.” and suddenly there were 5 sets of very round and very scared eyes looking back at me. Dang medications! Focus, woman!

“So you are for sure getting a new liver?” and the 7th grader’s voice started out low but ended up in a high enough pitch that I could barely hear her above all the dog whistles sounding off in the area.

“ Yes,” I stated with confidence. “ Otherwise, I will die.” Good grief, Linsie. Get it together!!

“She’s not going to die. Don’t worry.” Good save, Grandma.

Five pairs of eyes blinking, the kindergartner looking rather confused. The freshman catching my eye and shook her head ever so slightly, and I could see it coming a mile away. She and I have always  had a special connection, and we lead each other quite often. Mama needs her baby in 5, 4, 3, 2, ….

“So how does it actually work, Mom?” Perfect queston! Okay, you can do this.

“Well, they take a liver from someone else and put it inside of me.” Blew it again!

BLINK BLINK BLINK BLINK BLINK

Then I started rambling on at about 100 mph about how let’s say someone, anyone, maybe grandma, was on her way to see me, and there was a terrible accident and she ran into a telephone pole and on her license she was an organ donor….

(Wider panicking eyes from the four youngers) BLINK BLINK BLINK BLKINK

And then the freshman schooled the master again, and started laughing. We all just sort of looked at her.

“I’m not going to say it. What if… No, I can’t. Okay, fine!” and she was laughing and giggling. “What if someone threw a bucket of water on grandma and she melted into a puddle of goo!” Still laughing, but even harder, “Because she’s the wicked witch of the west, get it?!” and we all just busted up, and she had saved me again.
“Right,” I said. “So now Grandma is just a puddle of goo, and her liver and kidneys are just sitting in the middle of it…”

“But  no heart,” my mother interjected, and we all agreed and laughed, because come on. Witches clearly don’t have hearts.

“So then the doctors take the liver and kidneys (But not the heart! hahhahhahahaah!)  out of the pile of goo that used to be grandma, and they look at a big list of people who need liver or a kidney and they take the person at the top of the list. They call that person on the phone, and they come to the hospital. Then they go into surgery where they take the yucky liver or kidney out and put the new one in.”

“So the person who will give you their liver will be dead?” It was my sweet boy, and he was clearly affected.

BLINK BLINK BLINK BLINK BLINK

“Yes,” I said. “But that part is not up to us. The person would be dead whether they gave me their liver or not. So isn’t it wonderful that they can take part of that person, who is not going to be able to live with or without their liver, and give it to someone who will live if they do have it?”

And they all blinked at me again, only some of them were now blinking back tears.

And I think in the end, even the kindergartner got the gist. Phew!

And…..the moral of the story is only drink and smoke if you have to to impress  your friends. Wait, no, wrong moral.  Stay away from ‘roids unless you have to use them to save your life!

Goodbye, My Liver

March 30, 2014

SurgeryIf you are new to the liver stories, click HERE to read them in order of post.

Wherein we come to the place where I seal off my breathing and lie numb in the red cold light drip of oppression. Desperate, but never alone.

Empty.

Lying with pain and hunger since zero dark 9:45, now midday light 12:35 on this, the luckiest day. Sleep eludes me, but tears do not.

Time.

Through the double doors and into the ice, a sterile sea of metal outcroppings and bobbing scrubs twisting around IV tubes and the captain’s command.

Unseen

No notice for the tranquil, a slab of common driftwood heaved onto the table, pricked and prodded and plugged in, flesh forgotten becoming one with job and machine.

Submit.

Eyes closed; I’m listening. His rapid snare owns limp thoughts, carrying them away from center, leaving no mark. Now nothing is left, and I breath.

Numb.

No warning, I am gone, dreamless sleep encases me in the safety net of sweet oblivion, and I lie with angels.

Taken.

In light comes the orchestrator, cutting through flesh, removing the dark distorted toxic, makes me whole through perfect sacrifice.
Love.

I am his, and I am hers; my life no longer mine.  My soul and body clean at last, I lean on you to save me.

Live.

Mr. Mailman?

March 25, 2014

On which day I decide to throw a tantrum.

If you are new to the liver stories, click HERE to read them in order of post.

 

You know what I need in this moment? A postcard from James Blunt, postmarked with his love.

I bought tickets to go see him in concert in Atlanta, you know, and I was going to surprise Dale with them for a 16th year anniversary gift. But then I found out that Dale had to work in Alaska, had a project he can’t work around, and wouldn’t be home for it.

And I was sad.

But I kept my chin up and decided that I would go with my best friend, maybe take one of my kids, and have a good time. Then my best friend told me she found out it was his last concert tour, that he was retiring! We were laughing and cheering that we had tickets, because if there is one person on earth who loves James Blunt more than I, it is she. If that’s even possible. We were so excited and so happy and we talked about it every day.

And then I got sick.

Sick, sick, sick.  SICK.

But surely I would be better by the beginning of May, right? Right.

And I somehow found myself in acute liver failure, with transplant was the only option, but no worries, go live your life until you get the call.

And I got the call, sooner than I dared even hope, out with the old, in with the new, sign here to live the rest of your life at your leisure, please. Holy cow, the happiness and hope that comes with that call. There are no words.

Except, even with all of that, now I’m not allowed to go to Georgia. No travel for 3 months post-surgery, and I’m going to miss the concert. His last tour.  The only chance I will ever have, and it’s gone.

And I’m sad.

I know I’m supposed to be grateful that I got my liver, and believe you me….I am. I will take the yucky medicines that make me feel shaky and lousy and fake and not myself. I will take that medicine! I have a LIVER!  I’ll put on my happy face and pretend that eating no fat meals is no big deal, that it’s not that hard, because I have a LIVER! No pomegranate ever again? No problem. I have a LIVER! Horrid pain from laying on an operating table for 7 hours in open surgery being sliced and diced, and straight back to a hospital bed? I have a LIVER! Kids with Dad at Universal without me? Can’t wish I was with them…I HAVE A LIVER.

And I wouldn’t trade it. I really wouldn’t.

Except maybe I would.

Because I’m learning to accept something, here, and it hasn’t been easy. We’re told to not think this way, we’re told it makes us appear selfish and nasty and ungrateful and whatever else, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is just plain not fair.

It’s not fair. it’s not fair, it’s not fair. This is not fair.  NOT. FAIR, and I’m pretty mad about it sometimes if you want the truth of it.

So if I don’t seem over the moon about things being hard or unpleasant it’s because I’m not. Why would I be? No sane person is ever over the moon about things being hard or unpleasant.  I’m happy to be alive, but I’m not happy I almost died. I’m not ungrateful I have a new liver, it’s just that it’s not okay with me that I had to have a new one in the first place. It’s not okay with me, I don’t think it’s fair, and I don’t have to like it.

So there.

 

Want to hear more about the nitty-gritty of a receiving a liver transplant? Come on over to my Love Be a Liver Facebook Page a place for documenting, journaling, and discussing the good, the bad, and the ugly about being a liver transplant patient. Everyone is welcome, but this is a place for education, support, healing, emotion, spirituality, humor and honesty. Viewer Discretion is advised: There will be pictures posted of my surgery scars and other potentially disturbing images. Feel free to “Like” , but only if you like!