This quote was as on our calendar this past week and I have been thinking so much about it.
As Mike has been working his muscles hard at physical and occupational therapy , I have been trying to work hard on this muscle of gratitude through these tough days.
It’s amazing what sleep can do to help that. The past month has been by far the hardest we have endured. And I realized yet again what exhaustion can do to the body and especially the mind. It makes me feel selfish , sorry for ourselves , and so angry that Mike is suffering . It makes me compare our family to other families doing “normal “ things this holiday season as Mike has struggled to learn to walk again without a walker. But this email is not to lament on all the things I am upset and sad about. It is to work my gratitude muscle which seems to be getting a little stronger just like Mike’s walking . He climbed a flight of stairs at physical therapy yesterday 🤗
15 days in the hospital and dark yet sleepless nights have for sure caught up to me (us).
And though I am always grateful for all the people and all they ways you show up and love us , I found my heart and soul had never felt more alone. It’s strange how you can be surrounded by so many people that would do anything for you ( including trade places with you) and yet in deep suffering , way deep inside I have hurt in a way where nothing or no one seemed to ease the pain. It is something I must experience and go through myself. While in the hospital this last time I struggled to get past self pity and find the gratitude muscle.
Yet the people who love you , know that . And you STAY anyway.
You all have held the light for Mike and me and after some sleep , I realize that in an even more deeper way. No matter how late or how early, you stayed. No matter if I talked back , sat in silence , or cried. Even when you don’t know what to say , you show up. And you stay.
You bring you food and wait to watch me take a bite. You bring you an egg crate for the hard sofa in the hospital room. You bring donuts , coffee, prayers , water , magazines , half eaten bags of almonds, bracelets, favorite pretzels , Panera tomato soup , homemade bread , contacts , Chick-fil-A , underwear and hair ties. And so much more. You text early or late and worry with me. You don’t let me drive home and say you will be my Uber . You fill up my car with gas with the very chance of not making less than a mile to the gas station. You bring poinsettias , refrigerators , and get Christmas tees. You keep our kids and move our elves. You sit with Mike and stay , even in the scariest moments.
Mike and I have never been alone.
And I know and remember each and everything you have done and are doing for us. It is embedded in my heart forever.
My mom shared Alabama’s song with me - Angels Among Us - one day a couple weeks ago.
You all are angels among us.
And remind us each day of Gods love and light.
I am especially grateful for his doctors and nurses who continue to believe in Mike. Katie, Mona , Christi, Megan , Maria , Joy, Brenda, Justin, and on and on. We had so many amazing people caring for him in the hospital those two weeks , who are now on our wall of soldiers to be grateful for each day.
But especially Dr Kota and Dr Arellano who respond at all hours to make our lives easier. Have showed up as friends and loved us as family. They have pulled him through another hurdle and have given us the gift of another Christmas together with our kids. The gift of time. They have no idea how much they mean to us.
Mike and I have for some reason been gifted the gift of more time this year and it really is a gift from God. A gift I will cherish and be thankful for forever .
Our friend John , Emily’s husband, texted me one day a few weeks ago to check on us. He said this journey and caring for Emily as sick as she was , brought them closer than anything in the world. And for us to hang in there.
I have been trying to put words to my feelings of the same. Although I hate it so bad it hurt that Mike is not able to be his strong, hard -working, fix anything, busy self that takes care of me and our kids - Being able care for him during this painfully slow time has been my greatest blessing. And although I know he wants so bad to relieve me from having to care for him like our 4th child so he says. I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world.
It has given me a closeness to him, that I would not know from any other circumstance.
I think this is what Jesus’ life of suffering means in our world. That you will understand God’s love for us through his suffereing, through our suffering. Deep love is born and known from deep suffering. That’s all.
I think Mike and I have been given a gift at a young age. In a world where independence and “I can do it myself” attitude is what is celebrated, and I agree should be celebrated. I also believe that there is strength to be celebrated and especially love to be found , in the vulnerability of caring for others and allowing yourself to be cared for. Making lunch and delivering it on a tray ( Celia’s favorite:) , a cup of coffee, putting on someones shoes, small things that are big when you can’t do it for your self.
I had an eye opening experience as we sat at physical therapy one day last week. Mike has obviously not been able to climb stairs but listed it as a goal so he could go put the kid’s to bed at night again.
His therapist asked us if our stairs had a hand rail . Mike told them only on one side but I quickly argued that there was one on both sides.
Of course I was wrong. But it hit me I had never had to pay attention to it , because I never really needed it.
The days have been that slow for Mike. Watching him relearn to do things I never took the time to think about has also brought a deep appreciation for the little things in life we take for grated. Breathing. Bathing. Walking. Dressing.
This slowness of just breathing, incentive spirometers, walkers , sitting down in showers , reminds me of God’s timing. The painfully slow pace God allows miracles to occur. We rush and rush , but that’s not where I find God. The little things are miracles.
I have found God in the slowness . of the simplest gifts of just being with one another. The simple
Gifts of small acts of love. Some times painfully slow but even then , God is with us.
Truly , Thank you for reminding me that Gods love is alive everyday .
I will admit I struggle with allowing others to take care of me , I too want to be able to do it on my own. Kinda like Graham with the kitchen shears and knives 😳
But I am learning that when I do it alone , this is when I lose God. We are meant to do life together. We need each other.
Christmas morning our friend Kay organized a Share Love breakfast for the nurses and staff on the BMT floor. She had all our second moms pull together, purchase and make breakfast and treats to take to the floor.
The prayer shawl Ministry At Shallowford knitted shawls and stockings all year for us to give out Christmas night .
And Heather , organized a dinner that would feed the staff at night.
As I have been too exhausted to pour myself into the foundation , I have amazing angels who love us so much that they are still making sure it keeps going. Thank you for donating , buying t-shirts and sweatshirts, delivering goodies, providing breakfast for care givers and nurses, knitting prayer shawls, and too many more things to name. You have no idea what hope this brings me. Thank you for also sending me pictures of you wearing your shirts !
We have raised an incredible amount of money this year that will help the lives of so many ! This keeps me going on sad days.
We still have sweatshirts!! Sharelovethatsall.org
You all are holding the light and sharing the light for us each day. It provides great hope and reminds me that love is always alive .
Gratitude , faith , and love are just muscles that need to be worked too.
There is always a blessing in even the darkest and scariest times.
Mike and I are at the end of 2019 , simply grateful.
Don’t worry , we still had a very American Christmas with Santa bringing a sinful amount of toys (from amazon and secret shoppers) out of frustration from cancer robbing us from a trip to Disney. Retail therapy at its finest. That I now regret 🙄
But I realize we are all just doing the best we can each day. We are not perfect. Give yourself some Grace. Life is hard.
Mike is making slow progress but could still use many prayers for strength and healing. This is not easy for him . But he is not giving up. The end of this week has given us more smiles and a little relief from some symptoms and we are grateful for the baby steps of progress .
We hope you had a very Merry Christmas and we wish
you a slow 2020 with lots of moments where you feel As loved as we have over these past almost 4 years .