It’s been 8 months since cancer showed up in my father’s body and all our lives changed forever.
We thought we would only have 4 months and have been given the gift of twice that and are hopeful for much, much more. When first diagnosed, my no-nonsense, take no prisoners friend Rebecca, told me to get over my Mommy guilt. She said living with and learning to care for ‘Pappy’ would be a gift to my sons’ character and lives. She was right.
I spent my 39’ish-sorta-again birthday, not at a fancy dinner or party. I didn’t open gifts and left cards on the kitchen table unopened. I spent it in the hospital with my Dad.
The night before he whispered, “Happy birthday!” as I quietly tucked him in for the night. I reminded him my birthday wasn’t for another day. Without missing a beat he looked up at me and said, “I know. I just wanted to be the first to tell you.”
Marriages can shred under economic pressures, new jobs, and caring for an ill parent. We are experiencing all of the above mixed with the general mayhem of raising two curious, energetic and old soul boys. While my husband and I have a few bruises and cuts from these sharp-edged realities, we are finding a new way. We are realizing what a gift we are to each other. I couldn’t get through some days without him. I believe he would say the same about me.
He sent me flowers to my office for my birthday. I’ve spent the last 25 birthdays asking for him to do that very thing. This year, he did.
47 people wrote birthday greetings on my wall from Facebook. 47. I didn’t know I knew that many people. They ranged from, “What are you, like 60?” (from a high school friend who still retains his lovable snarkiness); to “Happiest of happies to KimRo on this, the day of her birth. May the words pour forth and Snow White sing you a merry tune while doing the “back it up” dance. Humor and good will for you and your coming year.” (from a writing sister who I swear is Snow White undercover). Others shared heartfelt sentiments on how I was a gift.
In the all-consuming tyranny of the moment I forget these threads both thin and thick which tie me to people. The gifts of simply worded wishes on a cyber screen were so powerful I couldn’t read them until the next day. The gift of a text or a quick call to say, “How are you?” which really means, “I know it’s tough and you are hurting and overwhelmed and alone. I can’t make it better. What I can do is to help you remember you are not alone.”
I saw a picture on Facebook and the saying was a gift to me. I share it as my birthday gift to you.
The best kind of people are the ones that come into your life,
and make you see the sun where you once saw clouds.
The people who believe in you so much,
you start to believe in you too.
The people who love you, simply for being you.
The once in a lifetime kind of people.
Thank you for being my once in a lifetime people.
You are the few, the proud, the readers joining me as I step into another year eating less, praying more and loving abundantly.
The tinkly, brittle crash of glass. In my retail store, where I work part-time, that spells trouble. Crash accompanied by a crying child spells disaster.
I ran over a few customers to get there. A ginormous bell-jar had toppled and splintered all over the middle of the store when a child reached into it. Thankfully the little girl, all gussied up in her “Go to Santa” photo clothes, was spared any injury. Only seconds later I was not and ended up dripping blood all over my growing pile of glass.
My co-worker, an amazing Speech Pathology graduate student, said, “You went straight into Mommy-Mode.” It made me stop picking up shards for a minute to think.
Mommy-Mode = action. I had to clean up the mess and secure the child. I didn’t think twice about grabbing jagged daggers of glass to keep the children and other customers from doing so.
Mommy-Mode= comfort. Days before this incident I found myself wrapped around my 5-year-old. We were standing in front of the toilet and he was enduring his first bout of stomach flu. I didn’t hesitate to hug his heaving frame to my chest. I cheered him on when he was calm. I changed my shirt and cuddled next to his fevered body the rest of the night.
Mommy-Mode = attention. While my son slept after being sick in the bathroom, I did not. I stayed awake for hours. I watched him sleep. I kissed his forehead. I listened to his breathing. I tucked him again and again.
I can’t help thinking about “Mommy Mode” being a weaker version of what the “Father Mode” is from Heaven. I forget how often He has chosen to remove the jagged shards of broken soul or shattered dream from my heart. Too quickly I believe it was I who avoided that accident or screw up at work or other problem which miraculously worked itself out. My head becomes wearied from holding it up rather than resting it upon the chest of the One whose heartbeat keeps mine going.
Tonight, I’ll ask for Him to go into Father Mode. And I’ll wait until I feel arms around me and a kiss on my forehead. Tonight I pray you do too.