Hiking Past Death

I am so sorry.

I am so sorry.

I am so sorry.

I am so sorry.

I am so sorry.

I am so sorry.

I am so sorry.

I am so sorry.

That’s how many times I said that yesterday, before it was even time to almost-crawl-into bed before having to go say it four more times in the night.  From newborn to the ancient, and everyone in between, those with huge families and some with no one, those who were expecting death to come and those for whom it came suddenly, this is what we do:  I am so sorry.

It was my turn for Sunday shift yesterday at the hospital.

I was fortunate that after some ER pages Friday night, that I crawled into bed about 4am and then had no more all Saturday.

This gave me time on Saturday to rest and play with the children, before crawling out of bed at 5am yesterday. We even got laundry done, the yard work done, and the house cleaned.  We got all that done with the two new boys staying overnight.  It went great!

But getting up again on Sunday, and leaving them to go cover the hospital chaplaincy for Sunday was so hard. Nathan was playing violin in another ward, and now that we have so many children it is harder for me to get to go hear him.  This time we had to have a friend stay with the kids while he did that and I headed to the hospital.  When did this become our life?

It was also my turn to preach at the hospital, since I was on shift, and this time I was grateful since the new CPE unit will include preaching seminars.  I was grateful for the practice, as I am used to giving talks or presentations but not ecumenical sermons.  The pager went off all day, about every hour, and into the night.  I had twelve deaths and four funerals, and got about 45 minutes sleep before the pre-surgery alarm went off this morning.

I could have had an hour of sleep between 1030 and 1130 last night, in between an ancient death and a premature infant death, but I brought my cello and longed to play in the amazing sound space of the chapel. I can’t tell you how amazing it is there, but you know how those sacred spaces make you crave the temple?  It is like that there for me, a temple-like space, all alone in the chapel, with just me and my cello and my God.

I am glad I played.  It nourished me, feeding my bones.  I missed my cello these last few weeks during finals.

This morning I showered in my room at the hospital, then got ready and packed up.  I left as soon as I was able to hand off the pager, and then I was on my way to a full Monday of work with only 45 minutes sleep last night, and about four hours sleep in two days.  It was the hardest weekend I have had so far, with the extra jobs overlapping.  It’s never been that painful as today was painful.

I am worn out now, but everything went well today.  Today was gorgeous, so I decided to treat myself to a sunset hike.  My body yearns to move, to breathe, to be healthy, and to be strong again.

It’s been a year since the Cancer drama began to unfold, and I am anxious to have my body back.

I don’t mean my body shape, though that would help.  I mean my body functioning and capacity.  I mean my body that does strong things.

It is so much better than when I was sick, with less pain less often, and my daily energy is back most of the time.

But I don’t yet have energy that is expendable.

I am getting there.  I can mow the lawn again! I can even mow the lawn and still walk the next day, even if I also work in the garage after! So already I am better than I have been in two years, and I am so grateful.

(I am also grateful for Nathan’s dad, who worked on shredding and bagging the pile of sticks and leaves on the side of our house.)

But I have only just now been cleared to trying and get strong again, and I am nervous.  They told me if I lose weight, the Cancer will win.  So how do I know it’s ok, now that my body is huge-er from steroids and hormones and medicines? How do I know I can work out without lymph nodes blowing up?  How do I move my body from fragile to strong again?


That’s how, they said.

So today, when I had a chance for a leisurely stroll through a park, a slow and easy hike with lots of resting places if I needed them, I had to go.  I had to go.

And oh! The sweetness of the azaleas and honeysuckle beginning to bloom!  The sound of brooks and birds!  The sun on my skin and the air crisp in my lungs!

It thrilled me! I maybe was slower than the past, but I could do it! I maybe didn’t go as far or as long, but I was okay after! I maybe didn’t run any trails, but I walked them and soaked in every second of every sense of smell and vision and sounds and taste of the spring air with wind blowing in my newly grown hair.

It made me so happy!

And it brought me such rest and respite and life and energy and healing!

Maybe I can do it now, the being alive again, when I nourish myself with days like this, when I can hike my way past Death.















































Flower Pulling

In a break between work and children and typing notes, I managed to get the yard mowed again before it rained.  My order of new weed eater string finally came in, so I got that finished, too.  The yard was so neglected that year before we moved in that I don’t know if I will ever get it edged again.  I can keep it contained, but that new sharp look has passed, I think.

While I was doing the yard, I was delighted to discover that some of the Irises and other bulbs (that people gave me last summer when I had cancer) were starting to bloom!  I was so excited!  I did not have my phone with my to take a picture, but I planned on getting back there before the rain came so I could share my excitement.

Except then I had to finish work, and kids came home, and I had to type notes.  Then it was time to run and pick up the pager for the ER.  Then it was time to settle the kids down for supper.  Then it was time to do dishes.  Then it was time for Nathan to leave for his Folk Jam event that he leads once a month.

I wanted to go with him, and thought we could as a date, as long as we took separate cars in case I got paged to the hospital.  But then we looked at our schedule and saw how crazy next week is, and felt it would be better for me to spend time with the children while I am home instead of being gone an extra night – even if it was just for date night.  So I did not go, and did have fun with the children.

Until they picked all my flowers.

I wasn’t mad.  And I held it together long enough to smile, and pat them on the head, and let them kiss my cheek, and squeeze my thank you’s.  But when they scampered outside again, I cried.

I cried because no matter how hard I try to be a mom, I am selfish and self-absorbed and self-centered.  I knew it was true.  I knew it was true because I was crying because they picked all of my flowers, even pulling some of them up by the bulbs, and pulling at the leaves on other bulb plants so now they won’t grow flowers anymore.  We have talked about it a hundred times, but they are just too little to understand, and so my flowers are gone.

I think it stings extra because I miss my huge food garden I made in Owasso at that house, and long to have that again, but know that we do not in this season have the time or energy or resources to start over again.  We lived on that garden!  I am finishing the last of what we had canned, and I don’t know how we will feed our family without it, though, so I keep some root vegetables and other things I brought from seed, I keep those things going, so slowly I am building my supply up again from pots until I have enough to start a garden again.  I am proud of me for trying, at least.

But there will just be no backyard flowers, I think, until the kids are older, and so it is.

Except I felt silly for crying over all my flowers pulled up, because for them it was magical and beautiful and we talked about roots and stems and how flowers grow.  They learned so much!  And they were giving me so much: they saw beauty, and flowers which they know I love, and wanted to bring it to me!  It was a precious gift, I know, and I saw the loveliness of their tender little hearts.  They did not do anything wrong, so much as they were finding ways to love me, and that makes me love them even more.

Even if they pulled up all my flowers.

But really, flowers are for picking anyway, right?

And these are prettier than the weeds they usually bring, yeah?

So imagine how thrilled they were to find such fancy things!

I even took a picture of it for them:

That’s when I saw it: I had gotten Anber in the picture.

Normally, I would have to crop her out part way, so as not to show her face, and then go one with my iris grief.

Except that’s not my life, this crying over flower bulbs.

It’s Anber.  She’s my life.  It’s those kids!

She’s my life, and she can be in pictures now!  I think we keep forgetting!  I still have a panic attack every time we post a picture, or think I need to go back and change a fostering blog to private after it’s been posted 24 hours.  Except I don’t.  She’s here.  She’s ours.  And she’s amazing.

And she picked me flowers.

That’s when all that grief blew away with the sprinkling rain.  I am not failing because we don’t have our food garden, and I will get it started again when the time is right.  Flowers are for picking, and now our dining table is special with its iris-in-a-mason-jar.

And in that very moment, when on his overnight day here, Big Brother told us “I fall a lot sometimes, so please don’t be mad at me,” because he was still a little scared that we might beat him just because he has CP, and we assured him that he won’t be in trouble for falling.

That’s the moment that he ran outside, headed toward the swing set, tripped over nothing, and landed right on my peach tree – the last of only two trees that survived the move from Owasso.

I caught my breath, then, in that moment, at the sight of Big Brother upside down on the ground, with his arms and feet curled in the air the way my puppies roll in the grass, and my peach tree laying beside him, broken right off its baby trunk.

The whole tree was snapped in half, just like that.

But I didn’t care.

Because all I saw was Big Brother, laying on the ground, trying to catch his breath.

And I didn’t cry.

Because all I felt was my body moving in slow motion to get to him, to make sure he was okay, and then to back off and make myself make him pull himself up, brush his own self off, and make his own self try again.

Because we cannot do it for him.

Because he has to learn how to fall and be okay.
Because he has to learn how to fall and get back up again.

Because he will fall.

And I hid my tears again, except this time it wasn’t over flowers.

It was over children, and how they fill my heart before they are even mine.

And over a new understanding that maybe that’s how Heavenly Father feels sometimes, too, when he watches my pain and struggle when I fall, and when He has to let it happen, and when He has to let me get back up again.

That’s a lot of love, I think, and I almost tasted it, for just a very small moment.

And then I made Big Brother give me a high five with his weaker hand, told him to go play, and tossed my peach tree in the dumpster, right on top of that bag of broken glass from the pile of my mother’s things I found when working in the garage today.

Because that’s not my life anymore, growing all my food and caring for my mother.

Right now it’s my turn to be the mother, and to grow children, and to care for them.

My life is lifetimes away, long ago gone, and yet has finally here, and is all new altogether.

Because these kids, my family, that is my life.  This is my life, right now, right here.

And that means taking their pictures, right in the middle of fish and chips, just as the last green bean is shoved into her mouth, even while she is proudly sitting by the iris she picked for me.

Anber is Legit!

“The first should be last, and the last shall be first.”

While Alex has to now wait another month, Anber is completely finalized and officially our daughter!

We are rescheduling the sealing, so that they can still go to the temple together.

Alex got to talk with the judge for a long while, and is doing okay (though he is obviously disappointed “because I don’t understand why someone can’t do their job?”).

Here is Anber’s picture with her judge!