Friday, May 20, 2011

Faithfulness I Don't Deserve

My Mom was able to arrange for Gigi to stay in her little apartment! Praise Jesus. Hospice will just come there instead and the nursing staff will give her extra care than what is expected of them for an assisted living home.

They love Gigi there and were eager to keep her there and let her be in her home.

It was such a huge relief for my Gigi; Mom said she was so happy to get to go home. My Mom sounded like a different person than the one I talked to this morning...she sounded more like herself and I felt peace.

I read some articles tonight on grief, mourning and "anticipatory grief"--what we are going through right now. I was relieved to hear that all this weight and grief and anger and sadness is all normal. I guess it is also normal that one night I will write an angry tirade and then the next morning feel peace. the last 24 hours?

I'm not ashamed to say I am scared...I'm afraid of grief. I'm afraid of unbearable sadness and loss. I can't imagine not having Gigi in this world with me and I'm afraid I just won't be able to handle it. I know that sounds really melodramatic but that's just how I feel.

So back to the title: faithfulness I don't deserve. In my skewed sense of a holy God I thought, "Well He is being faithful to Gigi and to Mom..."

Isn't that what the enemy wants me to think? Doesn't he want me think that because I get mad I don't get God's faithfulness anymore. But that's not how it works...I can never, ever, ever earn the faithfulness and redemption of a blameless Savior which would mean I can't un-earn it either. I simply get His faithfulness, mercy, grace and redemption because I believe in Him. It seems almost too good to be true.

My Mom said tonight that she and Gigi had a talk about their faiths tonight and that they discussed that this is the time, more than ever, that the "rubber meets the road" per se. Will the profession of a Saving God and the belief in eternal life with Him all Gigi's life be what she clings to in the end or will she fail to trust in Whom she's believed at the most crucial time? Without question, she's holding tightly to Hope; she will meet Jesus with confidence.

Gigi's daddy died when she was a little girl and she has felt his loss her whole life. Tonight she told Mom she's been thinking about Heaven a lot; Mom said, "You'll get to see Bobby." and Gigi replied, "And my Dad."

Who, without Hope in a living Savior, can speak with such confidence?

While the journey ahead of me and my family seems fraught with grief and mourning intertwined with grace and peace, it appears to me that Gigi's path is straight and short and her reward is in clear sight.

May we all be able to die so well.
A Follow Up to My Drunken, Weepy Post

I woke up this morning with this verse below on my lips; thank you Jesus for speaking to me even when I don't trust You and doubt Your promises.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his mercy never fails. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22

And this one, which my Mom read to me this morning:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Long Goodbye

I make a lot of jokes about drinking too much wine but the truth is I really don't drink very much. I don't even drink once a night but tonight...well tonight is a little different. I've polished off a whole bottle of Riesling and am going strong.

I wouldn't be a good alcoholic though because I don't feel numb at all. Not one little bit.

Gigi went to the emergency room for the 2nd time in 6 days this afternoon. Tonight the ER physician was brutally honest with my Mom: she is the final stage of congetive heart failure, she needs to move out of her little assisted living apartment in to a nursing home where Hospice will to comfort care until the end. He said no longer than 6 months.

For 30 years I called Gigi, "Grama" but since Samuel came along we've started calling her "Gigi", short for Great-Grandma. Tonight in the bathtub I heard Samuel tell Emily that Gigi was too sick and she was going to die. Emily said she wanted to go and hug her Gigi.

I know some of you have experienced unbearable, unimaginable grief and I'm not trying to "one up" or try to get a bunch of sympathetic comments or anything...I'm just writing. I'm just wondering. I'm just processing.

The one thing I keep thinking about is how Grama knows what is happening; she cried when Mom told her she had to go to a nursing home. She understands...she knows she won't see another Winter, she knows she won't crochet another blanket or do another puzzle and she has to walk that journey herself. I can't walk it for her. Mom can't walk it for her. With all the love and support she has, she still has to do this alone.

I wonder if she senses when the end will be or if she is wondering like the rest of us.

When Uncle Bob got sick and the end came the last 2 weeks were brutal. Horrific. I couldn't go see him, I was afraid, but everyone told me it was horrific. And there we all were--just waiting. Waiting. The Hospice team said it was time and we all were there just waiting. And hours turned to days and days turned to more days. 2 weeks in all and we all prayed to God for mercy and it didn't come and it didn't come and it didn't come until was over. And I thought I understood God is soverign and I thought I had found peace but when I heard my Mom say tonight that she was praying for God to be merciful to Grama I got so angry I almost screamed. I want to know where the mercy is. I don't know that I can see it right now and I don't have the courage to believe in it.

I think I'm surprised how heavy this grief is already. I wonder if it is more regret than grief. When I moved from Montana to Oregon I knew it was to start a new life with Jeff and I know this is the life God has for me but tonight I feel so far away and all I want to do is crawl up in to that bed and lie with her and tell her I love her.

We have a trip planned out there at the first of July and my first reaction is that I don't want to go now because if I go I don't want to leave. Not until it is over because I can't say that final goodbye. There are no words to tell her how much I love her and how thankful I am she helped raise me and how I will never, ever, forget her or stop missing her. How do you do that? How do you walk away and get in a car and frive 18 hours knowing you won't be back until it is time to lay her next to her son? I simply can't do that.

We talk just about every other day and our conversations are so light and casual.

I don't know where I was going with that. I'm a little drunk.

I actually have to go to work tomorrow so I need to go to bed. I just needed to write and this is where I do it. I'm probably going to turn in to one of those rambling bloggers that write all in one paragraph and don't capitalize or punctuate. Shut this damn thing down if that happens.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Seattle= Kindred Spirit Capital of the World

Friday morning started off as any other morning: me waking up from a dream in which Mitchell and I were having brunch with Elton John and Catherine Middleton. While getting ready for work (I was working a 1/2 day before Hot Jeff and I headed North to Seattle) I packed a bag for Samily who were staying with Grammy Deb Sherwood and whistled a happy tune--I was only a mere 11 hours away from reuniting with Mitchell.

An hour or so into my 1/2 day I called a client and my heart stopped when I heard his ringtone, it was Journey's "Midnight Train!" Are you kidding me? I mouthed to Maryanne that I was getting an omen, she mouthed back, "what?" I left a voicemail and said in a clear voice to MA, "I got an omen! ________'s ringtone was "Midnight Train." As only a Bestie would do, Maryanne started singing, "Don't stop believing."

The morning passed quickly and before I knew it, it was noon and Hot Jeff was waiting for me outside in our gassed up Pilot. We started up the highway and Jeff said, "Are you going to be warm enough?" Odd question since he packed the coat that I had sitting on a bag next to the door but I answered cheerfully, "For sure."

Hot Jeff and I were merrily making our way up the highway and cracking each other up with our own lists of Michael Scott's best moments. We were on the north side of Olympia when he asked me again if I was going to be warm enough. "Yes," I answered. "I put my warm coat along side my bag that was right by the door."

"What bag?"

"The Mickey Mouse bag right next to the door with a black coat on top of it."

"I didn't know I was supposed to put that in. I didn't put anything in the car for you."

A sinking feeling swept over me; I immediately knew what else was in the bag and what wasn't in the car. My black hat; the one that makes me look like a celebrity. Mitchell wouldn't have his identifier. I quickly texted Maryanne who texted back she thought Jeff was trying to thwart my reunion with Mitchell.

As my mind raced Hot Jeff said, "That is all you have. You are going to be cold."

Ok...if he didn't pack the coat I had set out and he knew I didn't take a coat with me to work and he was clearly overly concerned about my warmth, why didn't he pack me a coat? I'm not sure I'll ever know the answer to this question. It turns out I never got cold but still...

We arrived safely in Seattle and awaited outside Safeco field for 15 minutes until the gates opened. The seats were all general admission for the evening and Hot Jeff wanted to be on the first base dugout directly behind the Beavs. We had no problem getting those seats as we were second in line and there were only about 4000 people in attendance.

After we found our seats I nervously looked around trying to spot Mitchell. It dawned on me at this point that if I actually saw Mitchell I may get a little shy. I mean, would I just walk up to him and ask if he remembered me from the football game last October? Has he been thinking about the connection we made? Have my hilarious lines been running through his mind the last 7 months? Has he been dreaming of the day, like I have, when we could exchange Facebook identities and outwit each other with our status updates? All of a sudden I was feeling chicken.

I was brought back from my reverie by a blond woman coming up next to me and taking pictures of the team. It was just a few minutes from the game starting and she was trying to get her unwilling son to smile while his buddies around him sweetly obliged the young looking mom to my right. As the Freshman scampered off to the dugout below us she looked at me and said, "Someone ought to talk to his mother." We laughed and she walked to her seats a few rows up.

The game started and I found myself not thinking of Mitchell as I started crushing on #2 Infielder, Carter Bell. There is something deliciously creepy about crushing on a college boy. You know that its wrong but you also know that he's over 18 and you couldn't do jail time for it. I'm just sayin'.

Around the 4th inning the crazily young looking Mom reappeared with her camera. This time I asked which player was hers and we started up a conversation. The conversation turned from small talk to Mom talk and I found her to be engaging and really, really funny. For example, after I had everyone move down a seat to make room for my new BFF Debbie so she didn't have to take pictures on her knees, she said, "What happens to those pitchers if they have to go poop? You know they have nervous stomachs. Like are they just supposed to stop the game and run off the field? You just can't trust a fart in pants like those."

Ok. Stop.Right.There. Are you kidding me? Who else in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD would say that to someone they've known for 30 minutes besides me? No one. I looked at her with dreamy, glazed over eyes...she was a kindred spirit for sure.

We chatted up the night and I revealed my crush for Carter Bell to her. Upon saying it I felt the rush of embarrassment go to my cheeks...that's a risky move when you're talking to a player's mom. There was a slight pause and I waited for her to storm off in a disgusted huff calling me an old dirty whore as she went but she said, "Don't get too excited. I've had him and it wasn't that great." Bwahahahaha! Hello? Bestie alert!! Kim White couldn't have said it better or faster herself.

It wasn't long until we were exchanging phone numbers and email addresses and making plans for lunch when she comes down to Corvallis next (she lives in WA). As we said goodbye I realized I hadn't thought of Mitchell all night.

Call me fickle; its ok. On the drive home, in which BFF Debbie and I texted the whole time, Hot Jeff reassured me I wasn't fickle, only friendly, and would have a better chance of reuniting with Mitchell at Husky stadium where we first connected. Until then, I will hold fast to the dream that my gay best friend is still out there, waiting for me and planning facial dates for us. I hope he doesn't mind if I bring Debbie with.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Won't Stop Believing

On Friday Hot Jeff and I are blasting up to Seattle for the evening for the Beaver baseball game at Safeco field. That's just how we roll--we blast to Seattle for the evening because we are just that cool.

This weekend Hot Jeff got all spontaneous and asked if I wanted to head North for the game and while he was droning on about a fun date night, all that time in the car to visit, time alone in a fun city... I was thinking "Mitchell. I am coming. Can you feel it in the air? I am coming."

If you're new to The Mother Hen then you need to stop right now and catch up. Mitchell is the one who got away...I was this close to having the great gay friendship I've always dreamed of.

Since last October I haven't been able to listen to Journey's Midnight Train (aka Don't Stop Believing) without thinking of Mitchell. My mind goes back to his infectious laugh at all my jokes, how he held an air microphone and sang with me to the Husky pep band, how handsome he looked in his orange and black scarf tied in a trendy knot.

Just a small town girl
Livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train going anywhere
Just a city boy
Born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train going anywhere
A singer in a smoky room
The smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on

I'm going to take a moment and speak directly to Mitchell. Mitchell, if you are reading this...Hot Jeff and I will be sitting behind the first base dugout. I'll have on my same black hat; you know the one that makes me look like a celebrity, and I'll be holding a Journey album with a long stemmed red rose. Wear skinny jeans so Hot Jeff remembers you're gay and doesn't think you're hitting on me but is assured that the Universe has finally brought us back together so I can have my gay best friend that I've always dreamed about.

Now, excuse me while I take a minute to speak directly to the Universe. Universe, if you eff with me help'll be sorry. I have held my tongue with you regarding these saggy boobs and this enormous not screw with me again.

Just a small town girl
Livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train going anywhere

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day
A Letter from Mama

Dear Samuel & Emily,

Today is Mothers Day and you have made a fuss over me all day. You're just getting to the ages where you can see, if only for brief moments at a time, that not everything is about you. Finally, if only for brief moments at a time, you're beginning to figure out that it is all about me.

Now before I go getting all sappy and slushy lets keep it real. You make me crazy. Like I'm on a 2 prescription cocktail of anti-depressants/anxiety pills because of you two knuckleheads. Don't be fooled by a "chemical imbalance" diagnosis--someday when my liver and kidneys are shot and Dad can't wipe himself you'll be getting a little knock-knock-knock on your doors. You fight, you whine, you keep our home in a perpetual state of needing Federal assistance, you eat every 2 hours and when I pulled the couch out yesterday to vacuum I found thousands of half-eaten, abandoned goldfish crackers.

Yes, life with you isn't all rainbows. With that said, I love my life. You have made my life complete in a way I never knew was possible.

Samuel, you made me a Mommy. I went from being focused on myself to being focused on another human who was completely dependent on me. I gave you life and I sustained you but you saved me. You saved me from a self-centered life and taught me the fullness of giving yourself unconditionally to another. How can I ever thank you or show you the depths of my love and gratitude for you?

Emily, you completed me. You have taught me that I cannot run out of love. It sounds like a cliche but the more I love you the more love I have for Daddy and Samuel. It is funny because I seem to cling to you more than I do Samuel. It seems natural to give Samuel wings as I remind him of boundaries, but you are the baby and I find myself clinging tightly to the "littleness" of you for as long as I can. All of Samuel's "firsts" were met with excitement and anticipation (and yours are too) but your "firsts" have a tinge of bitterness to them because I know there are no more to come. So forgive me if sometimes I hold too tightly.

One thing that being your Mommy has shown me is how much God loves me. I grew up knowing he was a heavenly "father" but after becoming I mother I understand God's "Daddy" love for me so much more...and yet I know that is just but a glimpse of His great love for me.

I remember one night we were training one of you to sleep through the night so I wasn't going in and breastfeeding you but Daddy or I would just walk in and pat your back and then leave. You were both fast learners and after 2 nights or so you both decided it was easier to sleep through the night and have a big breakfast. On one of these nights I remember laying in bed listening to your sad little cries, my heart breaking because I wanted to go to you, hold you, comfort you and give you warm, soothing milk. I knew though that the best thing for you was rest and to learn to sleep through the night. I'm the parent, I saw the bigger picture and I knew sadness and confusion for a couple of nights was worth your well-being in the long run.

Samuel and Emily, this is how God is with us. He sees the bigger picture and when we're neck deep in pain, confusion and suffering He sometimes lets us "cry it out" because He knows there is something better for us on the other side. I will come to your rescue most of the time; when I don't though, don't think it isn't because I don't want to--sometimes I just know better. God won't always come to your rescue. He hears your cries, He sees your pain but sometimes we have to go through the suffering to be better on the other side.

I have all sorts of little lessons like these...little epiphanies that God has shown me as I travel on this journey of being your Mommy. I'd like to write them all down for you but so far I'm a little too busy getting gum out of carpet and making macaroni and cheese. Someday...

Know this: you are my greatest joys.

Love, Mama