It is four am, on a Saturday, and I am awake.
Lame. Lo sababa.
When we were getting ready for bed last night, which was about 9pm now that we are old sick people, I discovered that there was only enough night time cough medicine for one of us. Neither of us having the energy to go get more at that moment, I said a quick prayer and dosed it out for Nathan and made him drink it before he noticed there wasn’t any more.
When we got blessings for our colds, mainly because Nathan’s fever was holding at 102 and rising, it said that I would not be as sick as him and would he would heal quickly. It seemed that if he were more sick than me, and needed help healing quickly, then he should have the medicine.
That seemed very noble and good until I hacked all night and woke up early fighting for air.
Excepting, really, it was all just fine, and won’t even ever be remembered, and now it is morning so I can take daytime medicine and have a little nap later.
This is my lesson, over and over again, that these sacrifices we first think are so big and hard are really nothing at all. I find that the only thing I am actually suffering is the letting go of my own ego, which always needs a bit of help submitting. My patriarchal blessing says that I will be blessed as I further align my will with His, which is a very gentle way of saying I need to get better at doing things His way.
Today is nine weeks since mom was killed, which I cannot believe.
The driver of the jeep had court while we were in Israel, and did not show up, now claiming the accident is the fault of the driver of the semi, who he claims was playing road rage games and caused the accident.
I wasn’t there.
I just know that my mother died.
It doesn’t matter to us, really. Our insurance totaled her car, and we finally got the check last week, and with the donations to the funeral fund it was enough to pay for the cremation. We didn’t even buy an urn or anything, just the cremation. So that is settled. The driver of the jeep is just fighting over his own personal charges, and getting fault determined so they know if it is his insurance or the insurance for the semi that has to pay our insurance back. It’s also because the hospital charged him directly for all of mom’s medical bills from that day, not even her health insurance, just him. This is a blessing to us, leaving us out of the battle so that it has nothing to do with us, and we don’t have to participate in the argument at all.
I just know that my mother is gone.
Except she is here. I can’t tell you how much she is here.
I have known enough grief to know it comes in waves, but it is the sucker punches that knock my feet out from under me. Her death certificate came while we were in Israel, and it was dated my birthday. Yesterday her tickets for the survivor dinner for Relay for Life arrived in the mail. The other day I had to pick up 25 boxes of girl scout cookies she had ordered. Her ashes still sit in my room, waiting for the family to schedule the time and place for us to scatter them and bury them between her parents in the family cemetery in Missouri. Tonight we are taking her best friend to dinner at one of mom’s favorite places, just to say thank you, and to celebrate mom, and for all of us to be together again.
She is close, sometimes. I can’t tell you how close.
I feel her, hear her, and see her.
I receive her help and I receive her love.
I am grateful.
The nightmares that were so horrible after her accident are rare now, and good memories of the past are slowly replacing those flashes from those traumatic weeks. Slowly.
Life continues, somehow even better than the past, even in the normalcy of sick days and silly days, happy days and hard days.
Our fingerprints for becoming foster parents are turned in, but they keep scheduling our final classes wrong. Everytime we don’t finish that class, it is a whole other month before it can be rescheduled. So now, even though we start our monthly training next week and already have our paperwork done and even have been given the supplies to get started, we probably will not have any children placed with us until after April.
The blessings we got two days ago from our home teacher surprised us with powerful and profound insights, strength, and promises about the whole foster care thing. It was amazing.
In the meantime, I keep working and writing.
I work because I have a naive but sincere idea that people want to conquer what is not-of-God and claim better lives for themselves, even when it is hard work to do so.
I write because writing is what I love.
I was reading a talk by a Rabbi yesterday, and he was addressing a woman who wrote to him asking, from an ultra-conservative point of view, whether it was okay she become a typist to help with family income while they were in crisis. His response was wise: type if your family needs you to type, but don’t become a typist because you are already a mother. It surprised me how much I loved this.
I have experienced sometimes a polarization with religious people that is not always healthy, a cultural battle for extremes. I am so very excited, truly and really, to have become a wife with promises of motherhood. I feel very strongly that these are my first and primary roles, and I am grateful for how the Spirit has worked in my life to teach me these roles and increase my capacity to perform them. I am sure that I will be far better at it years from now than I am today, but the Lord does give me strength and wisdom with good guidance from prophets and other wives and mothers, and I very much enjoy my marriage and family life. I am happy.
But within that context, the very best thing I can do to support my husband and his work is to be wise with my own work. I am getting better at saying “work” now instead of career, because I feel my “career” will shift and flow with who we become together, rather than just being my own thing as it always has been in the past. I have the amazing opportunity right now to work for a really good company that provides for my student loan debt to be written off in four more years, pays us fairly in the meantime, and gives good benefits so that we can go to doctors and care for ourselves while my husband focuses on his writing.
Any starving artist will tell you that writing in of itself doesn’t provide for dental appointments or mortgage payments, though it it is a craft than when tended to will provide as much sustenance and variety as my garden in the backyard.
So for now, I work while my husband writes, grateful for work that is flexible so that I also can have the laundry done and dishes finished and house cleaned. I am grateful for a diligent and faithful husband, who lives the “equal partners” and “individual adaptation” of the family proclamation, so that he is willing to help in little ways. Starting the dishwasher while my digital ears are away is a great comfort to me, and changing the laundry loads over so that the clothes are ready for me to fold and hang up and put away is a great help to me. There are some chores he just likes, and it is helpful when he does them, and others that are not his thing so I just do them because they have to be done. We are a good team in this way, only because to us writing is our top priority as individuals and as a couple. Rather than fussing about what interferes with writing, we work together to accomplish the normal household duties so that our time and energy is freed up to focus on writing.
I do not blog as often or the way I used to for several reasons. First, my new role as wife and mother takes top priority; however, that doesn’t mean I am a wife instead of blogging. Writing is helpful to me, is a way to process, and nourishes me in a way that keeps me being a good wife – even becoming a better one. Sometimes writing is just helpful as a discipline, such as the Jeremiah blogs, which I now know were primarily assigned last winter to help me through the upcoming death of my mother. I am grateful for that assignment, but also glad it is finished. Second, the opportunity to write for Deseret has provided a more formal venue with which to experience the refining efforts of editors and deadlines, which sometimes win out over blogging that now feels like playtime in comparison. Not that blogging is not my thing anymore, but it is the place where I write just to write, where I write for the sake of writing, where I write to process, where I plant seeds of ideas that become talks and articles after months of refinement. Third, this kind of writing I only do when Nathan is gone (giving violin lessons, at sign class, helping with youth orchestra) or sleeping, which is why the four am writing happens. If all my patients are seen, and all my paperwork done for my job, and Nathan is still working, then I feel free to work on articles for Deseret. But blogs I only do in my own free time, and my free time that is actually “mine” is very different now that I am married.
And also, there is Hebrew class.
This amazing opportunity to get another degree, this time in Jewish studies, is a miracle to me. I first studied Hebrew in undergrad, but due to a variety of circumstances and the need to sustain myself financially with practical job to support my writing work and other adventures, did not find an entire program in Hebrew or Jewish studies that I could finish in and of itself. I have studied Hebrew since I was a child, but only in bits here and there I could gather, or from my father’s books from Bible college, or things I found in church libraries. Attending theological seminaries for double majors as I obtained my degrees helped me learn more in entire chunks, but was not a focused or formal study of Hebrew in and of itself. This is huge, the experience I am about to begin, and my first class starts next week. My class this semester is Jewish Theology. I am so very excited, and have already drooled as my texts arrived in the mail this week.
But the exciting part is that this school has let me enroll in Hebrew class with BYU, and then transfer the credits to them. This will help me get ahead a little in finishing the degree, but also give me the LDS perspective as I study Hebrew. My BYU class for Hebrew started last week, and I am loving every minute.
It reminds me of the first learning to hear with my cochlear implants. Studying the simple sounds that were so hard for me, learning to speak with that little microphone attached for digital voice in my head, and shaping concepts and words I have always known into this new digital framework. It was both exciting and infuriating. This is how I have felt about my Hebrew studies thus far, knowing so much but having such significant gaps – especially in knowing the sounds and in speaking modern Hebrew. It takes me almost three times as long as everyone else on the activities because I have to listen, and listen again, and listen again, and listen again. My brain is pushing my digital ears in new ways, straining to hear brand new sounds and make sense of them. I get 100’s on the written work and the reading comprehension, but the listening and speaking is such a challenge. I am doing well thus far, but it is so very hard for me, though I am loving every minute.
But it leaves me dreaming in Hebrew, dreaming in digital sound for the first time.
In my dreams, people and things become words and concepts, with vowel points dancing around us instead of sign language. Instead of talking or sign language dreams like usual, my dreams have now become the sounding out of vowel points. Instead of being able just to speak, or just to sign, every word must be sounded out, consonant by consonant and vowel point by vowel point. It is exhausting, leaving me worn out even when I wake, and yet making me hungry like I have never wanted anything more than just a taste of a little Hebrew.
And so I learn, and so my life goes, and so I am happy.
Except for the sneezing.