Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Drug of Choice

This morning was a complete blur. You would have thought that I was drugged with the illegal type. Last night I started getting the sniffles. The kind that doesn't let you breathe properly when lying down. I decided that I wasn't going to go to sleep at my normal sleeping hour, around 1 or 2am. For one night this week, or should I say one night since February 22, 2010, I was going to take medicine to help me sleep, and not replay in my mind over and over what could be different, if my mom was still here, and what could've been done so that she didn't have to have cancer. I know I sound crazy, but for the last 19 months, I've had a hard time going to sleep because of my thoughts that don't turn off.

All this to say, all heck broke loose, my kids were screaming their heads off and going crazy for an hour before I had any recollection of the fact that I am mom. When mommy is sick, the world continues. Moms have no time to be sick. Thank God, my cousin was here and watched dinosaur train and gave Jericho milk so that I could stay in my unconscious splendor for another hour. I finally woke up at 8:30 because the screaming alarm clock wouldn't stop. I got out of bed, still lost in the cloudiness of Tylenol PM and carried my sweet Karis and placed her in my lap. My cousin walked into Karis’ room and explained the past hour to me. I'm sure I looked crazy...out of it. He asked me what drugs I took...I responded slowly, "T-y-l-e-n-o-l P-M." I was out of it. Really out of it. I couldn't even imagine myself on the illegal drugs. SCARY. And I thank God for keeping me away from them in high school. Many, many years ago I had some friends that had the goal of getting me get into it with them. I know that with my type of personality, if I would have given in, it really would have destroyed my life.

Yesterday was the first day of MOPS. I can't say enough about MOPS, and what an amazing blessing it has been to me this past year. The speaker talked about faithfulness and asked us to think about what was hindering us from being faithful.

A culmination of different conversations, a recent argument with the hubby, exhaustion, and sleepless nights came together and confirmed: BUSYNESS.

I have always been a busy person. For those of you who know strengthfinders my number one strength is arranger. In layman’s terms it means multi-tasker and living passionately and striving when being able to live this way.

I don't know why this surprised me. Or why it took me ALL these years to accept. In high school I was involved in everything possible ASB, cheerleading, choir, clubs I was president of, because God forbid I couldn't just be a part of something. Committees, fundraisers, oh dear God it makes me tired just typing this. In college I was a Nursing Major. Nursing majors had the reputation of being the people you went to school with for four years and no one knew because they were always so busy studying. But to no surprise I was in choir, a resident advisor, and I prided myself when people were surprised that I was a nursing major.

This "strength" has always driven my husband crazy. The detriment of this strength for me is that when things get hard, I delve even more into busyness. Busyness is my drug of choice. The thing that numbs the pain and helps me to forget what I don't want to remember, until the night comes, everyone is asleep, and the only person I am left with is myself. Which is why, even though my children sleep so amazingly, 10-12 hours to be exact, since Karis has been a baby, I still have sleepless nights.

The day my mom died I told James, "It's time for me to go back to work." Right away I contacted my previous company and told them that I was ready. I was ready to take on new projects. I started emailing around inquiring about jobs that I heard about. Retrospectively, I was looking for something to fill the void and numb away the pain of losing my mom.

A few weeks ago the routine of September began. Mommy and me preschool Monday and Tuesday, MOPS (and being a part of leadership) on Wednesday, Positive Parenting Class on Thursday, Bible study with two of my best friends at the crack of dawn on Friday morning. We are scheduled every single day, not to mention taking care of my children, feeding them a decent meal, getting a couple of showers in sometime during the week, the normal taking care of my family and my own life, having a decent relationship with my husband, and taking care of my mom’s affairs. I was beginning to feel a little run down. Did I mention that I'm a part of the women’s ministry at church, and working on starting a new ministry? No wonder I'm exhausted.

Yesterday I started to accept the fact that my busyness, my lifelong coping mechanism, was starting to wear on me and my kids AND my husband.

This morning we stayed home. I didn't rush out the door to our scheduled activity. The kids and I stayed in our PJs until after 1pm. I was able to have a phone conversation with a dear friend who has been encouraging me in my marriage and with my blogging. I got to tell her how thankful I am that we were able to become friends because she sought me out because I "wear make-up."

I had a great conversation with my aunt who I needed to talk to about my mom. We talked about how it still doesn't seem real even though it has already been two months and we were there with her when she took her last breath. We talked about how much we miss her and how I wish things were different.

At 10:30am, my sister, who is a teacher, called me. She was on her way home from school. She lost her voice. I convinced her to come sleep at my house, so that we could be together.

If I continued to succumb to my drug of choice, even though my kids are sick and exhausted, I would've missed out on two very needed conversations this morning. My sister wouldn't have come over to sleep at my house, and I would continue to be crazy and busy and numb to the pain of not having my mom's presence in my life.

One day of being home with my thoughts, my messy house (because we are actually home to ransack it), and the ability to rest, has helped my soul to continue to mend and be present in my children's lives, and to those around me.

So starting today I will be more purposeful, in what I choose to do and choose not to do, and know that it will take time. It will take lots of time to heal from missing my mom so much, but it is ok. I will try to not fill the sadness with busyness anymore. I know it will take time to overcome this addiction of busyness. But through God’s help, and the grace of those around me, I will get through this.

Monday, September 12, 2011

How to Live with Cancer

If I’m being completely honest, I want to rip down every Colon Canswer, Prostate Canswer, and Breast Canswer billboard I see when I’m driving down the freeway. The truth is that the particular hospital that displays these billboards does not have all of the answers about cancer. I cringe every time I see them because they give such false hope to people battling this horrid disease. Two and a half weeks before my mom died, she had an appointment for a second opinion with this hospital. The doctor she met with told her that she could try the last chemo that she was on and all he could recommend was hospice.

I was there with my mom during that appointment, and her response was, “We just have to pray that this one works.” I was speechless. I felt like I got kicked in the throat. I could not get any words out of my mouth.

You see, through the 17 months that my mom knew she had cancer; she lived with so much grace and courage. To this day I do not understand how she never broke down or got angry. Maybe she did in the quiet of her own soul, but never outwardly did I see her anger.

Since the minute she was diagnosed her response was always the same. “I’m not scared. I know where I am going. He can take me any time.”

I hated when she said that because I WAS NOT READY. Didn’t she want to see my kids grow up? Didn’t she want to be with us for as long as she could? We were just starting a brand new phase in life. We just moved back from San Diego so that the kids and I could spend time doing all of the things that daughters and grandchildren do with their mom and grandmother.

The thing about my mom is that she had an eternal perspective. God was close to her, she never stopped praying. And even though I prayed and BEGGED for God to heal her, He decided to heal her in a different way.

My mom’s faith was secure. She did not have any regrets in life. She was steadfast in her hope in the Lord. She had peace. She loved God. And she was ready to be with Him when He was ready for her.

Unfortunately, He was ready before I could ever be.

God forbid I ever have this horrible disease. But if I do, I have an amazing example of someone who lived with grace, love, and hope during the hardest time of her life.

Thank you, mom for loving God and trusting Him with your life. I have a lot to live up to.