Valentine’s Day

It has been a Valentine’s kind of week!


  
  

The kids were very excited for our final preparations this morning!


  

We had strawberry heart-shaped pancakes, yum!

We had our special brunch after meeting with Joshua, so we were just finishing up when the doorbell rang.  It was a Valentine’s surprise for me from Nathan!  I got a serenade song for Valentine’s!

I was so surprised!

It was such a special treat!

I loved it so much! I didn’t know if I was going to laugh or cry, because it was so amazing.  My face hurt from smiling, and it entirely melted me.  These guys were incredible, and it was such a sweet offering! I was so pleased, and so happy, and so grateful to them and to Nathan.

They came in for two more songs, and it was the best Valentine’s Day ever!

I got a rose at the end, and was so happy of it!  What a lovely surprise!

The kids made valentine’s for our home and visiting teaching families, and for neighbor friends, so we spent the afternoon delivering those:

Then they planned a special supper for us, as they have been doing, and we cooked for the grandparents.  They trimmed hand-picked fresh green beans, sauteed mushrooms, and made homemade chicken nuggets out of hormone-free chicken tenderloins we cut with a breading made from organic corn flakes, coconut, almonds, and onion.

The BBQ sauce was the last of some sugar free BBQ sauce that someone found for us this winter.

They colored a little “Happy Valentine’s Day” banner sign while they waited for dinner to finish, and we used it to decorate the table for the evening.

We had another good day, with lots of laughing and giggles, enough to make me crazy, but way better than screaming baby fits.  I am so proud of them!  They are trying so hard!  Nathan and I are trying hard, too, and we are all learning together.  We aren’t exactly good at it yet, but we have a testimony of progress, and of the plan of happiness, and of the joy that comes from just trying again every day.

Nathan’s parents babysat for us in the evening, and Nathan took me out for garlic pizza.

Yes, garlic pizza.  Because garlic is my favorite food.

Then we went to a movie he wanted to see, and it was crazy.  It was telling eighteen stories at once, with juxtapositions so mixed and sudden that I was almost not smart enough to follow what was happening.  Parts of it were making fun (but not making light) of legit writer struggles, and actor encounters, which is one reason Nathan wanted to see it.  We laughed at stories that reminded us of New York or our own experiences at events, but it was a crazy movie that left me overstimulated and exhausted a lot like having six children!

We visited with Nathan’s parents when we got home, and I am always glad to visit with them when we get a chance.  There is so much chaos when they come to see the children that it’s hard for me to hear, and that time is for the children anyway.  I enjoy our late night visits after the children are in bed, even though it’s not the same as the old engagement days when we had hours of chatting without interruption earlier in the evening.

My body is so tired now, not just sleepy, but not working well.  I am so grateful to be alive, and to be enduring this, and do not at all mean to complain.  I am even grateful for my very short hair that makes me look like my brother, because at least it is hair, and it is growing, even if it is coming in with gray patches.

The challenges I face physically now are limitations I did not have before, a shape I did not have before, and pains I did not have before.  My lymph nodes often swell until they burst through the skin, and it is very painful.  My bones are on fire, and burn with pain that make me slow to move but afraid to rest for fear I won’t be able to move next time I try.  My hands officially have the neuropathy they warned as a side effect, so they burn and tingle and feel numb and on fire all at once.

On a particularly bad pain day this week, I told Nathan that if I had known this would be life post-chemo, I wouldn’t have bothered.

But that’s false, he said, because the alternative was death, and I am very glad to be alive.

That’s true.  I am.

I am just so very tired, and every day is fighting through molasses, willing my limbs to move and my body to keep going and my mind to focus through the routines of our days.

I don’t talk about it much because I don’t want to complain.

And cancer is such a long term thing that it would just sound whiny.

And so many want to help, but we also need to be self-reliant, and I haven’t any idea how to balance that.

That’s where I am at, though, in the world of cancer.  My hands burn and hurt and tingle.  My bones are on fire and it hurts to move and some days I can’t at all.  The fatigue is swallowing me, even as I wait for spring to come because it promised… two years ago, it promised.

It’s worth it, though, to see these smiles, and to hug these tiny people, and to curl up next to Nathan at night, and to try again to connect myself to the world around me, and to have another day to try and do better than yesterday.  I need all the time I can get for that, for sure.

That’s what I think about on Valentine’s Day: how glad I am to be alive, how grateful I am for the people in my life, and how very much I love them even while learning to love them better.

“Occasionally discouragement may darken our pathway;
frustration may be a constant companion.
In our ears there may sound
the sophistry of Satan as he whispers,
“You cannot save the world;
your small efforts are meaningless.
You haven’t time to be concerned for others.”
Trusting in the Lord,
let us turn our heads from such falsehoods
and make certain our feet are firmly planted
in the path of service
and our hearts and souls
dedicated to follow the example of the Lord.”

–Thomas S. Monson,, “Finding Peace”, Ensign, Mar. 2004, 3

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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