Tomorrow is never promised

It’s been awhile and for good reason. First of all, following my last entry, my son is doing so much better. He is healthy, happy and managing his alcohol at an acceptable level for now. It wasn’t because of rehab. He just decided to pull himself together.

I am also doing better and not only because he is doing better. I had a very serious medical diagnosis and I did a lot of reflection, a lot of praying, and it finally hit home to me in a very real way that all of the worrying I have basically done my whole life has changed nothing. It has had a very negative impact on my health and well being and that was all that I gained from it.

I found out I had a brain tumor in late May of 2019.  I saw a neurosurgeon in early June and had craniotomy surgery in late June of 2019 to remove the tumor.  I didn’t know what would be the outcome. So after the diagnosis, I basically had one month to get my shit together.  My whole family pulled together and became my great support system. I prepared my will and my medical advance directive and did a lot of praying.

I thought I had always prayed the “right” way and at least in words, gave my family over to the Lord’s care. But you know, I said the words but I couldn’t cross that line of actually believing they could be in the Lord’s hands and would be okay without me. Until I was faced with my own possible demise, I never really took the step back to look at our family dynamics objectively. I had to take a lot of steps back and take a long hard look. I did a lot of praying and really releasing them from deep within my heart and into the hands of the Lord was not easy, but I did it. I gained a sweet peace when finally giving them over completely to the One that knows and loves them best.

I had three life changing moments that I want to share with you.

One, although I wanted the best probable outcome, through prayer I found peace that no matter what the outcome, it was a win/win situation for me. If I survived the surgery (which was risky due to the location), I would wake up to see the faces of my family. If I didn’t survive surgery, I would wake to find myself worshiping at the feet of Jesus. I could not lose!! But, I did pray that if it be at all possible, I would like to spend more time with my family. Even if I lived to be 100, time on earth is so short compared to Eternity. It was a selfish prayer I guess. But, since I am writing this right now, it was one that was answered. I cling to the peace that I have found in knowing, fully knowing, that my eventual death will not be anything to fear.

Second, I asked the Lord to send an angel to be by my side during surgery. Very clearly, in my thoughts, He replied: “oh honey, you won’t just have one angel, but a whole operating room full of angels”. And I saw it all in my mind. Me, on the operating table, and angels slightly behind each person on my medical team, whispering in their ears and guiding their hands. Other angels were behind them with their arms crossed over their chests, guarding. I remembered those words and that scene as I went into surgery.

Third, as I was being wheeled away to prepare for surgery, I looked at my whole family and realized that they would be okay without me.  We all had stood in a circle with our hands together in the waiting room and prayed. They were facing the possibility of that being the last time we might see each other. They were strong, they had each other and they were prepared.  That moment brought home how the dynamics of family changes.  To me, my husband and my children are my everything. But to them, they have gone on to have their own children and families and those people are their everything.  And, that is how it should be for them and I’m glad I raised them to love their families with all their might.

In closing, my surgery was a complete success. My neurosurgeon said there would be residual but he got all he could physically see. With residual, I would need follow up radiation and the post mri would show how much we were dealing with . My post MRI showed the tumor was successfully removed with no residual. Praise God. I will have another MRI in January of 2020 to see if there is regrowth.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story.

May you find peace in the midst of your own storms.

 

Where to go from here

Here is where we are at today. My son spiraled down after signing divorce papers. He was drinking up to 2/5 of vodka a day. His depression, his alcoholism was winning. He decided to go to the emergency room at the local hospital (on his own) which was a good thing. I took him there and stayed with him until they discharged him several hours later with no admission into the behavioral unit. He is at our house now and actively seeking a treatment center for co occurring and dual diagnosis treatment. This is where it gets tough. His medical insurance is not very good, he has no money or resources and he will probably lose his job. All web designers make every treatment center look good. How to choose and how to not rack up so much debt that he’ll never get out from under it but get the treatment he needs to lead a whole life is overwhelming. Please pray for him to find the right path. Yes, his life is worth every cent of debt but if two centers provide quality treatment but at a vastly different cost, then these options must be weighed. It is going to come down to how much he is willing to fight. I hate it that cost even has to be considered in any way. I’m trying to step back and let him do the work because I feel it is important for him to make the decision for treatment. I gave him over to God and now I have to work on myself to not intervene. If you believe in prayer, now is the time to offer up a prayer of guidance on his behalf. His very life depends on it and I don’t want to lose another son.

Oh God, where art Thou?

Last week brought heartache to our family. My son’s wife left him, taking her son from a previous marriage with her. That precious boy is still our grandson, no matter what happens next. In my heart, there are no step children or step grandchildren in our family and divorce, if it comes to that, will not sever the tie between our grandson and us.  My husband and I feel the same about this. My children and grandchildren are his own. His son and grandchildren are my own. Any grandchildren that were brought into our family by prior marriages are treated and loved the same as the others.

Who, what, why, when and where are all questions that come to mind in regards to this break up. I could probably answer all those questions, if so inclined, but I am just now settling my mind down to some sort of acceptance so I don’t want to push it.  My son is an alcoholic although doing better these past few months, this is the consequence for actions when he was at his worst.  He also suffers from depression and usually winter is a very hard time for him but not this year. This winter, he didn’t have his usual episode of darkness and found himself smiling for no reason. Until now.  Although I am not surprised that his wife left, I have to question, why now? Why now, when he was smiling and happy?

I ranted and raved a bit at God. He doesn’t seem to ever answer my prayers, at least that I can see. It seems like my prayers are futile about so many things: healing for the sick, hope for the depressed, among others. My prayers are not blanket prayers such as “heal the sick” but very specific and very heartfelt.  The silence from God is more profound, the more I pray. Sometimes I wonder that if I never prayed at all, never expected a miracle or answered prayer for healing, hope, peace or joy for those I love, would I be better off?

So, when I get to feeling this way and don’t know where to turn, I open the Bible. It never fails that as I randomly just pick a passage, it always speaks to me and gives me peace. Who randomly reads a passage from Micah? This girl and it did speak to me, and put me in my place and gave me direction.  In the first few verses of Micah Chapter 6, the people of Israel are getting a little tongue lashing. Ouch, I read this right after ranting and raving to God. So, this humbled me and I had to ask forgiveness and acknowledge that even though our family has had more than our share of heartache, God has always, always, been with me. I never went through anything alone. He always provided.  Ouch again, Micah chapter 6, verse 7 “shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul”? I sort of lost my breath during that verse because yes, my son is my firstborn, the fruit of my body and I had ranted and raved to God and now regret it. But then, verse 8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”. And verse 8 of Micah chapter 6 is the direction and attitude that I must take.

So, as I move forward to a new week, I will try to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. I needed this reminder to stop making everything so complicated.

 

A Winter Smile

My son, who suffers from depression, stopped by for a few minutes the other day.  It’s winter and gloomy and this is the season in which his depression rears it’s ugliest head. A typical winter brings a sense of despondency in his life which leads to his “family team” to make multiple suggestions and ask questions such as “maybe you should try a new medication”, “have you seen your doctor?”, “how about trying light therapy?”, “are you feeling suicidal?”, “drinking in excess?”, “are you ready for rehab and/or inpatient?” and so on.  I have come to the full realization that I am helpless to help him.

Several years ago, more like 25 years ago, I dreamed that he was full of joy.  He was looking at a woman and a young girl and on their faces were looks of adoration and on his face was pure joy. I’ve always held on to that dream and I’ve prayed to God so many times for him to have joy. My wish for him is not fame or fortune, but pure joy.

So anyway, getting back to his visit, I invited him to stay and eat with us.  As we were eating and chatting about nothing of importance and ignoring the elephant in the room, he told me that this year is different. He doesn’t know why it is happening but he said “I catch myself smiling for no reason.”  I thought about that long ago dream again and a glimmer of hope fluttered in my heart. This!! This is what I want for him!! Smiling for no reason! Joy! I’m afraid to hope that it will be long lasting but I would give anything for it to be true. I’m almost afraid for the next visit or the next phone call that may indicate a downward spiral into that dark pit of despair.  But for today, I am so very happy for the winter smile. I love you, son.

 

36 Hours and Counting

Read Dysfunctional Thanksgiving, if you haven’t already, and then we will pick up from there.

36 hours from Thanksgiving Day and I don’t know what to expect. My sister sent a letter to my mom explaining why she feels the way she does. It really opened the door for reflection and reconciliation.  My siblings and I got a copy as proof that it was not mean spirited or hateful, which was most assuredly the accusation that would be hurled from the receiving end. The letter was very well written and had not one negative or hateful word. It was written in honesty and grace.

There was a bit of an instant messaging frenzy taking place between my mom and sister after the letter was read. Mom stating she was not invited to Thanksgiving, which the letter clearly states she was invited. Mom stating she never talks negatively about us, but which she does and so on and so on and so on.

Then, something in the air completely changed.

Within the span of just a few hours my mom went from angry mom to victim mom to martyr mom to super mom. My head is swimming but I like super mom. It’s a nice change. I hope she stays there. So, for now, I am just going to sit back, enjoy the show and pretend that this switch is real and forever and that we will have the perfect family relationship from now on. I know the switch will reverse itself in time from super mom to martyr mom to victim mom to angry mom but for now, I will just settle into this little happy spot and enjoy it. It feels like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day or being wrapped in my husband’s arms. Contentment.

My mom’s health is extremely bad and I would not be surprised if this is her last year on earth.  So, even though our relationship is extremely dysfunctional, I am thankful that she is with us, that she is trying to be less critical and that she is super mom today.  So, if your family relationships are a little rocky, try to see just one positive attribute of each person. Just one and then focus on it. It won’t fix everything and maybe not anything, but in the long run, it will help your own well being. God bless.

 

Aim high

My son asked me to make him a stained glass window. Eight years ago, I took one stained glass class. I said “sure, I would love to do it” because he rarely asks me for anything and I love him.

So, I just invested $400 in supplies and equipment.  I figured it was a good investment and maybe, just maybe, I’d get really good, sell my work and be independently wealthy. I thought I’d start out slow so I made teeny ornament with a total of 4 pieces. I was frustrated with it. Soldering just didn’t come natural. I gained a tiny bit of confidence, two burns and four cuts to my fingers.

Now, you would think I would start on another project with maybe 5 pieces so as to work my way up to the window. That is not how I do things. Project number two had 18 pieces and was 10 times larger than the ornament. No cuts or burns so I must be getting better. It took me a long time to complete it and I no longer have illusions of future wealth.  I figure I would make 50 cents an hour if I put it up for sale so I’m keeping it. It is hanging on a hook in my kitchen window and I am looking forward to seeing the sun shining through it in the morning. I’ve checked the hook four times. If the stained glass piece is laying broken on the floor in the morning, I will have a major crying fit.

I sent him a picture of  the 2nd finished piece via text.  He sent me a message back stating “I knew you could do it!” I feel so happy that he has faith in me.

Encourage one another at every opportunity. His words of encouragement make me push myself a little harder, not so I can please him by fulfilling his request, but because he believes in me.

Good night all and God bless.

A verse with no chorus

My oldest son suffers from depression and suicidal thoughts.  He self medicates with alcohol. As you may or may not know, we already lost one son due to alcohol. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop with fear and trepidation. I hope I am wrong. I pray I am needlessly worrying.

When my oldest was in his late teens or early twenties, I would wake in the middle of the night and pray for him. As parents, we did pursue the usual avenues to help him such as hospitalization, counseling, medication and so on. But when it all fails, what is left but a miracle?

During one of my all night prayer sessions, I wrote a song. I tried to put myself in his mind and it was so very dark there. I imagined what it must be like for him to look in the mirror and thus, I wrote the following song. It starts out as a slow, sad tune but just before the chorus, the tempo changes and the chorus is jubilant. You will just have to use your imagination.

Title: God is greater

Verse:

I look in the mirror

Tell me, who am I?

Down deep in my eyes

Are pools of pain and despair.

Darkness surrounds me

Feels like I’m drowning in this world of sin.

(transition as tempo builds)

But a message of hope

of peace and a light

Shines deep from within.

Chorus:

’cause God is greater, greater

and greater is in me.

God is greater, greater

and greater is in me.

You pick me up when I fall.

Your love, it carries me.

You are the light of the world

and you give me peace.

You are my rock and my hope.

My joy and my strength.

Oh, light of the world,

Shine your light down on ME!

Recently, during a 45 day stay in inpatient rehab, my son left me a message on my phone. He sounded so happy and content. He was feeling peaceful. I saved the message and I listen to it sometimes. His peace did not last long. He is self medicating and depressed again. How sad it must be for him, to live in that darkness. A verse with no chorus. He found peace for a brief time and I listen to his phone message to remind me that it could happen again. You know what my biggest fear is? That I will accidentally erase the message and I will no longer be able to hear those moments when he was what he was meant to be, even for a short time.