Sunday, May 3, 2015

How you handle a crisis

Honestly, I wanted to write every day about being joyous.
It was a joy to think about writing every day... I so enjoyed writing for the 31 Days of Vision, and wanted that outlet to be able to write about how I feel... and when I picked the word "Joyous", I truly meant it. I am joyous... and I do sing praises daily for being able to find something to be joyous about...
Then I think maybe when you say how thankful you are... you are tested.
The first of the year brought sickness to my sweet mother, who is nearing the end of her long life... but we aren't ready to let go yet... so we fight for her, want to keep her, and maybe make the wrong decisions, but keep plugging along with her.

How do you make decisions... life decisions... for another person? How do you do what that person wants and not allow your own feelings to trickle into the process?

My mother told us, my sister and I, maybe 15 years ago that she didn't want to go through any more surgeries. She said that she didn't want to be resuscitated, if she was in a life and death situation... no measures were to be taken... and you know, I agreed with her at the time.
I also disagreed with her that she shouldn't have surgery ever again. Though I know that during the course of my life, she has had numerous surgeries and each one has been a necessary one, and that they all served its purpose... and that it is something that you just can't say, well... I won't ever do this again... because unless you are superman... or wonder woman, you might just have an emergency that requires you to have surgery.

I know that very well on my own, but when it is your mother, well, it brings new meaning to the statement... you will die without surgery.

We were faced with the decision a couple of times in the past 20 years. Mom had been sick, the doctors saw her in emergency several times and sent her home... the last time she went to the hospital with pains... they did this and that and finally sent her to have xrays or something... when she came back, they just left her on a table in a little room... I went in and she was shaking uncontrollably. She was so cold, and hurting, and I panicked and ran to get the nurses... they asked if she was having pain, yes... chest pain... I thought that was why she was here... and they ran to her and admitted her into CCU immediately and found that she had a large blood clot that had turned loose. She had a pulmonary embolism... and lost a large part of one lung to it.
So now she has COPD... well... that's a fine how do you do.
We had to make a decision as to what to do, my brothers , sister and I, had to make the decision as to what to do. The reasonable thing to do was to have an umbrella filter in her abdominal vein to stop the chance of having another embolism... But she didn't want to have another surgery.

So, what do you do?

When you have your brothers with you, it seems to be an easier choice. Mom wouldn't get onto them for deciding they want to keep her around, would she? no... she would be able to graciously tell them that she loved them and was glad to have the surgery to stick around and baby them a little longer...

The next surgery, was a pacemaker. Her heart was just too weak to keep her going when she was sick, and it needed a bit of help. So we said yes... and she was upset, but well... she was alive.

The next was a bit more major, and a bit more invasive, and such a terrible thing to have done... she had another blood clot, this time in her arm, and they took quite a while finding what it was, so her arm either had to come off, or they were going to have to literally split it from elbow to wrist to relieve the pressure of backed up blood, so that the circulation could resume... I said yes, but it was going to have to be a consensual decision. Problem was, one of my brothers had already passed away, and the other was miles away... so my sister agreed. I made her sign the document though... and she has never forgiven me for that.

Well, the good news was that Mom made it through the surgery very well... and the arm was saved, and the surgery that followed to stitch up the gaping incision went very well... and well... all was well.

Then came the problem a couple of years ago. She had to have emergency surgery on her colon. They ended up taking a part of it... and it was the surgery that would change all our lives...

I think, but am not positive, that she actually signed the papers for that one herself. I know I wasn't there when they decided to do the surgery, I know that I was not going to be the one to sign it... because I felt so strongly about the promise that I made to her... after the last surgery that "I promise I won't put you through that again"... I just couldn't... do it.

But that surgery was the hardest I think. Even though it should have been an easy one, it was horrid. The anesthesia took it's toll on her, but the morphine afterwards was the worst... she was trying to get up and walk out of the hospital... she was out of her mind from the medication.
Then she had an episode in the hallway where she collapsed and they sent her to ICU... and I thought that she wasn't going to make it... but... the took her off the morphine and she actually got better.

Well... now....this surgery was  a joint decision between my sister and I. It had to be done, and I just couldn't allow my mother to just die... so I said yes... I wanted to hear all the options, but I couldn't ever just leave her to die... no matter if she died on the table as they thought she might... my decision didn't waver...

That is why I am joyous...

I knew that no matter what, that Mom would be in less pain, less agony, and would either be alive or not... but that whatever the outcome...

I was ok with it.

Mom can be angry with me, but she will be angry... not dead...
and if she is dead... well... she can holler at me when we meet again.

It has been a week and a day since the surgery, and it has been all good since.
She has gone into a new nursing facility that is bright and clean, and we know people there... they are friendly, helpful and on top of her needs... and I am joyous!
I think Mom is, as well. OK, maybe not yet, but I think when the pain is less, she will be. Her mind is not the same, but she does recognize everyone... and ... maybe she will actually like this place. She will be taken care of, will be able to have nutritious meals, exercise, and people around her that actually care.

I am joyous, that my mother is still alive and not in pain. I am joyous that this was the right decision to make, that it was made... and no matter what, it is going to be ok. Whether Mom lives a week or a year, or ten years... it is going to be ok. I will keep making the decision to keep her from being in pain... from hurting in a way that can't be managed... and to ease her transition into the great beyond in a manner that would be courageous and graceful...

I suppose that is all we can ever ask... 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Working on a piece of jewelry today,  thinking about being joyful... I sing when I work, and it is because I am so happy to be doing what I love. I think that is the best sign of a joyous heart... singing.
There are so many times in life that you don't feel like singing. When you get fired or when you wreck your car, or when a loved one dies.  the old song goes, Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice...
I had a rough marriage to a man that ended up being polar opposite to me... and I was miserable. When we first married I sang all the time, hummed, whistled, and at the end of our 17 years together, I was a bitter, silent woman. I am sure he didn't feel like singing either. I am a hard person to get along with. I am set in my ways and I am pretty opinionated.
My ex and I had fought for so many years that I was a changed woman. I didn't sing anymore, and I felt like there was a weight around my neck, dragging me under in a swift current. It wasn't fun at all. Not the reconciliation type arguments either. They were the below the belt, mean fights. He would always say things that were never possible to take back or possible for me to forget. I held my tongue for years and years, wanting to say things but knowing that once said... that would be it, I would be done.
When I had enough, I lashed out and said the things that I needed to say, and it was over.  My marriage was over, my whole life was over. I moved away, leaving my childhood home to him, and left the thought of ever being happy again. But you know what? Life had surprises in store for me. I met a man while at a High School class reunion, someone that I vaguely remembered from school... and he made me laugh. Just over two years later, I married him. He made me laugh, not that contrived laugh or politeness... he made me giggle, guffaw and actually made me smile inside.

I never thought I'd be able to have more kids... but the year after we were married, I had a son... and we were truly a family.

The years passed much too quickly, and  there were too few of them... and my love, my life passed away. Suddenly and without warning, he was gone.. and I was left to pick up the pieces and to raise our son without him...

I never thought that I would be able to be joyous again... but... just the thought of my love, our love... makes all things a bit brighter. God was with me, carrying me through the dark times, helping me to cope, to bear the loss of my darling husband. And he helped me to remember that I was, for that brief moment of time... able to laugh. To love. To be whole.

Now I can laugh again, with funny stories, fun memories and the knowledge that there are few people that really find a person that makes them whole. That renews their faith and their joy. There are few people that really find their " soul-mates"  and I am one of the lucky ones. Yes, it was a brief moment, it was too short a time to be together, and if I had my way, we would have had 75 years together rather than the 7 that we did. But I would not begrudge heaven of the laughter that rings now throughout the place... I am sure all the jokes and the fun that he is having with my brother... who passed only a month before my husband... is bring joy to the angles.

I can laugh, I can find joy in simple things again... that because I found love and peace...I opened my heart to someone, but not just to him... I opened it to God and to the peace that he provides. I had forgotten that.. I had forgotten that he does provide... we just hae to be able to accept what he puts before us... and of that, I am truly joyous.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Joyous in all things

There are times that you can't help but be overjoyed, births, marriages, a new house, new car, new job... all so full of promise of happiness. Births are my favorite, new babies are so wonderful and you feel the blessing of creation, the fragility of life that is before you. Such sweetness and goodness, no blemish on the spirit or soul.
Death is quite the opposite, isn't it? You feel the sadness and weight of regret, Time indeed heals the wounds but the sadness never quite goes away. Is that the way it is supposed to be? Does God not tell us in Phillipians 4:4- "Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS" ? Does it mean that we should always remember to be happy? I think it does. I know it is hard, but even in death, we can find something to be happy about. Especially if the person that has died is a Christian, there is the reason in itself to rejoice.
In the Christian faith, it is believed that all persons that die either go to Heaven or to Hell. I don't know much about  Catholic faith, but there is purgatory for them, a waiting period if you will... and then you are dealt with and will go to the place that suits you best... hopefully Heaven.  Now, I don't claim to know what is in the afterlife. I believe in Heaven. I believe that is whatever it is, whether it is a state of mind, an actual place... whatever it is... it is good enough for me. No one knows if there is an actual place or not. No one living here on earth can actually, factually state whether the spirit passes boundaries and lives on. No one.

So... Christians should rejoice when a loved on dies, right? Especially if they are Christians, right? If it were that easy.

When my father passed away, I was terribly sad for many years, his passing was sudden and brutal, and it left us all in a daze. It wouldn't have been one of those times that you could rejoice. But I have a feeling that when it says, "rejoice in the Lord always", that it really means it.
My mother is nearly 90 years old. She has been terribly sick for the last couple of years, we don't really expect her to make her birthday this year, even though it is this week. I am trying to prepare myself and my kids. Bracing for the worst, praying that God's will be done... which is so hard... but it is selfish for me to wish anything else.  Really. I am selfish though, I want her to stay on for a while... but I just can't pray for that, no matter how selfish I am. I would never ask that she live longer. She is ready to go and has been for a while now. Some days she doesn't remember that she has been so bad and has energy and wants to get up and around, but those days have gotten fewer and further between.  Since she was sick the first week of the year, it has been worse. She doesn't want to get up and dressed, she doesn't want to read, to eat... that is not how she wants to live. That isn't how any of us want her to live. It is time to let go, but that is so hard to do.
I was thinking last night about how she has been so vibrant for so many years. I have friends whose parents are much, much younger than my mother. Some of them are not doing well at all. One friend was telling me that her mother is something like 60 and is not able to do much of anything, she had a hard life, lived hard, and now is paying for it with her health. I thought how wonderful it has been for me that my mother has been so active and healthy for so long.
I'm the youngest in the family and have the youngest kid, when I was pregnant with my son, I was worried about my mother passing away and him not having the chance to know her... well, he's had 12 years, and for the most part, they have been very rich and rewarding. Even the past couple of years it has been good, even though he has seen such heartbreaking things like her not being able to get up because she was so sick, but... it has given him a respect for life that many of his friends don't know. He has see how precious it is to have someone that you love to be gravely ill, to sit with them and to nurse them and to comfort them. I am so proud of the way he is with her.
That is something that we should rejoice in.
Even though my heart is heavy with the knowledge that it won't be long, I am trying with my whole being to be joyous. I want to be, I have so much to be thankful for. I have had my mother for longer than many do, I have had two wonderful children that will remember their time with their grandmother, dearly. I have everything in life that I need... Blessed, Thankful, Joyous. 

Monday, January 5, 2015


When I am alone, there is a silence that falls on me, a quiet that is somewhat disconcerting. I try to shake it off, but it is a nagging feeling that there is some impending doom. Some manifestation of wicked that is lurking just around the corner that wants to devour me and all my loved ones... 
Yes, I know that is ridiculous. Yes I know that it is just my subconscious that is making me think there is something wrong, something missing, something about to happen... and then I remember, Psalm 40: 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. 

When I joined the 31 Day Survivors, I had been recovering from the experience for a couple of months, I waited until the first of the year to go back to my blog to look again at my writings. There were a few days missing, from the time when I was the sickest I have been in quite a while, and I thought about filling in those spaces with what I have written and saved in drafts, but again, I decided to wait, to think about whether or not I want to fill in the gaps.  There is a reason that they are there, like my life, there are gaps when there is something bad going on, and I shut those times out of my head. This is a coping mechanism for me. I shut down and try to forget the bad things... and I am sure that is where my feeling of impending doom comes from. 

Joining the 31 Days Survivors, I found the One Word. I found the idea of this to be, well, wonderful. One Word to help you focus... The first week of January is always a week of resolutions, and the One Word is such a wonderful idea, instead of choosing something as a resolution, and forgetting it in a week or two, having one word to remind you all year that something  can happen, not that impending doom, but something that will bring you closer to what you want to be, closer to what you know is right, and closer to God.

I thought and thought and well… thought about what one word described what I want to be, and nothing was quite right. I want to be happy, healthy, thoughtful, obedient, creative, studious, caring, and you know what? In all of those things, joyous is the one word that would come of any or all of those words, being.

Scientific studies have shown that people with a good outlook are healthier, that’s good enough for me…
If you are happy, you think about other people, wanting them to be happy as well…
To be obedient, which is one of the toughest words… you have to be joyous. If you are unhappy you cannot be obedient. It just doesn’t work out.  You start to resent being obedient, you start to want for more… or less… That doesn’t mean that you have to be comfortable all the time, or that you don’t have to work hard, or be in situations that suck. It means that you accept the things that you cannot change, and you change those things that you can, and you do what you need to do, what is asked of you, expected of you, and do it with a song in your heart.
Psalm 100:2 Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. To whom your love is given, though you have not seen him; and the faith which you have in him, though you do not see him now, gives you joy greater than words and full of glory:
- Basic English Bible
To be creative, I have to have a song in my heart and that is about as joyous as it gets. I sing when I am happy. When I was young, I sang all the time, I whistled, I hummed… and along the way, with unhappiness, I quit singing.  I need to find my way back to being happy enough to actually sing, not just have it in my heart.
Psalms 63:5-7 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
So, you get he picture, I want to do all these things and be happy. I want to do all these things, and live my life with contentment, not that fear of some wicked and loathsome disaster looming above. I am not asking for an easy life, but a life filled with joy that I can take the bad with the good, the hard with the easy, the rain with the sun. I have made my life and I will live it, but I allowed myself to be drained of joy, and that is my own fault. I vow to try my best to avoid those people that make me miserable, I vow to seek out those people that bring fulfillment to me,  to praise and worship in a manner that brings that joyful noise into  my heart.