Light and Shadows

Before we left Missouri, we visited the site of mom’s ashes one more time.  We left flowers, and smiled to see butterflies dancing and birds chirping.  It is good to know her final mortal remains have a happy and peaceful place to rest, and that we have a beautiful place to remember her besides putting ourselves in danger beside the highway.

We also finalized plans for the family service and burial of the rest of her ashes for later this summer, and that feels good for it to finally be settled.  I think the only other piece for temporal “settling” that needs to finish is the insurance battle about who has to pay her hospital bills from that night – the driver of the jeep, or the driver of the truck.  We wait on that, but it has nothing to do with us, and so mostly it’s a matter of closure.

On the way home, we stopped to visit my grandfather.  He is my father’s father, and a million years away.  My aunt said we could stop by, and it was a good visit with her as much as with him.  I am glad Nathan got to spend some time with him, especially since he never met my dad in mortality.  We promised to return for Nathan to play some songs on the “fiddle”, which is as fun as Nathan playing “violin” – just bouncier.  My grandfather was excited for that, and smiled for just a moment.  That made me happy.  We will go back soon.

When we got home, I sat in the nursery for just a moment.  My brain and heart have been pounded with the roller coaster of reality this year, and I think I needed to just sit there and know it hadn’t all been imagined.  The miscarriages were hard, and it was my room when mom lived here before it was a nursery, and the guest bathroom nearby was still ready for the tornado storms that happened just before we left town.  I was blurry, and needed to be still and catch up for a moment.

I resigned from disaster response, having experienced this last scene – which was bigger by damage, but nothing compared to Joplin as far as bodies.  It is different now, with more volunteers locally, and with me having a family of my own.  It’s one thing for me to sacrifice everything when it’s only me in the world, but now that I have my own family and reconnected to my extended family, it changes how I make choices because they are not just mine to make and there are more variables in the equation than there used to be.

Nathan and I returned to work today, and it felt good to be in routine.  Even mowing the lawn after work was a good kind of normal, though my garden is out of control because of all the storms and being gone.  Everything is growing well, but I need more time to weedeat around the sunflowers and catch up the weeding in the garden.  I think we lost an apple tree in the storms, and that makes me sad.

Tomorrow we both work a very long day for our jobs, because Thursday and Friday and Saturday is our final foster care training classes.  It’s surreal, after waiting so long.  Our classes have been rescheduled six months in a row, and we first completed all our paperwork last November.  We still are not entirely sure what our contribution could possibly be, but we have received confirmation after confirmation that this is the plan for us.  So we will do what we can and learn along the way.

We are also still waiting on my lab results from last week.  We met with the obgyn and the oncologist, for follow-up about my miscarriages.  The miscarriages are happening because of the past treatments, and we knew I would be high risk.  So they are sending me to a specialist later this month, but everything looked healthy following the miscarriage and there was no physical sign of cancer or tumors returned when I had my scans and ultrasounds last week.  That is good news, but we are still waiting on lab results to confirm.  A 25 is a good number and means I am better, and a 35 means still holding steady at my miracle rate that the doctors don’t understand but I have had for two years.  We will see.

Thursday is the funeral for Nathan’s violin teacher, with a special gathering of her former students in the evening.  This is tender and special, and we hope to honor her.  She was amazing.

These are the experiences of our holiday weekend, which we spent at the same resort as where we had our honeymoon.  It was a good time to get away and rest and be still and go on long hikes in silence, while Nathan got revisions done for one of his musicals, worked on casting for an upcoming show, and tackled several other projects.  We spent Sunday with my brother and his wife and their children, and said goodbye to mom in a peaceful and prepared way to close out the sudden shock of how we lost her.  It was a weekend of reflection of so much that has happened, discernment of what we can let go of to more fully focus on all of our family, and how we can best serve God.  With such pondering and praying, we had powerful lessons in our personal study time and in our couples’ study time.  I am so grateful for revelation and for a Father-in-Heaven who hears us, answers us, and teaches us.  It was good and powerful and refreshing and quickening.   We needed it, and we are grateful.

The best thing about today, though?  It’s Nathan’s mother’s birthday, which means we get to cause her trouble tomorrow night!  That sounds like fun, right?  All teasing aside, I love her so much.  She exemplifies generosity, and charity is one of her spiritual gifts.  She teaches me so much, and she is a good example.  I am grateful that she has been a mother-in-the-gospel to me, and I am grateful she did so well at raising me such a fine husband.

This is life, I think, in all its blessings and all its shadows, and all the Light that brings us both.

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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