The one thing currently standing out to me like nothing else is how the world goes on.
It does not stop moving.
While you are trying to put one foot in front of the other, feeling broken, days keep rolling in and rolling out.
Then there is me at the grocery store walking through the cleaning aisle to get some toilet paper and an employee flashes me his biggest smile and asks how I’m doing.
How on earth do I answer that question?
Yeah, I smile and say “good” and “thank you”.
But on the inside I am screaming.
There is a heaviness deep in my chest that makes it hard to keep moving, to keep breathing, to keep doing anything at all.
. . . . . . . .
I don’t think anyone expects to receive bad news when they are having a moment with God.
I was holding our brand new little lady in the morning sun.
Smitten by her wonder. Lost in worship. Sputtering words of gratitude.
Then my phone rings.
“I think your dad just had a heart attack,” says my husband and for a second it doesn’t register.
I call mom and somewhere in me I am convinced it’s nothing serious, that it’s all a false alarm.
But with each call it keeps going to voicemail and my hands begin to tremble.
Minutes turn into agonizing hours as I receive updates bit by bit.
Mom tells me it’s a stroke.
His whole right side is paralyzed.
He can’t talk.
And the whole thing feels like a nightmare.
Sick to my stomach, I start to wail.
Face to the floor, I literally wail!
“I want to wake up, God! Please! Please have me wake up!”
. . . . . . . .
Dad was a truck driver.
But that was one of the many titles he held.
He was strong, self sufficient, who could do just about anything. A proud, confident, charismatic man whose stress level was lately getting a little out of control.
And on this particular trip with mom, the itinerary included a few days in the Northwest.
Some quality time with my sister, attend a friend’s wedding, see extended family, etc.
It was the kind of rest he was looking forward to.
There was one last drop off in Tacoma. Mom was already staying with family in Oregon. The plan was to be back by early evening and have the weekend festivities begin.
Then at 5:45 in the morning, inside his truck, feeling a little off, he decides to call mom and his speech starts slurring.
He collapses to the floor and the entire family is a frantic mess, trying to figure out where he is and how to get him help immediately.
And life, with all of its plans, comes to a screeching halt and shows you that time was never on your side, that you don’t hold the days, that regardless of your status, regardless of how important you may feel, regardless of how busy you are, God can bring you to your knees with a blink of an eye.
Suddenly there is so much uncertainty.
. . . . . . . .
My sister sends me a photo of dad with wires and tubes.
She tells me that she’s really scared.
And I’m scared too. I’m terrified!
I stare at the photo and sob in ways I never thought were possible.
Questions and fears flood my mind.
How much damage did the brain incur?
Will he ever walk?
Will he ever be the same again?
In the midst of trying to make dinner and nursing the baby and getting the girls ready for bed, I cling to my phone for any kind of update and do research upon research and feel like vomiting at the idea of my dad having permanent disability.
Hours turn into days and it’s a struggle to function.
All I can think about is him.
My phone constantly beeps with text messages of photos and videos.
He can talk much better now.
He is eating and drinking.
He can wiggle his toes.
He can move his foot.
It’s a roller coaster of emotions.
We rejoice over every little progress he makes yet weep over the uncertainty of the days ahead.
There is no guarantee of a full recovery. It’s a step by step process. It’s the possibility of accepting a new normal.
And I hate it.
The thought of it all.
I hate it!
The whole family hates it.
Yet no one is more shocked or more affected by this than dad himself.
As a physical therapist slowly helps him into his wheelchair, he completely loses it.
He sits there and sobs loudly.
Because none of this feels real yet it’s so very real and it hurts to feel helpless and dependent and so small.
. . . . . . . .
What has been hard for me is managing who I am.
I am a wife.
I am a mother.
Yet . . . . I am also a daughter.
When my husband sees that I am wreck, that I haven’t showered in days, that I am constantly on the phone, that I am spacing out on and off and not really listening to our 5 year old telling me about her day at school, he begs me to be strong, to focus on our family.
So I try.
I get in the shower.
I blow dry my hair.
I turn on the curling iron.
I tell myself to put on some mascara.
I do the laundry and step into the kitchen and force myself to bake a loaf of banana nut bread.
But who am I kidding!
Each step in trying to keep moving hurts like hell!
A friend stops by with salad and a hot pot of soup and I tell her how I don’t know what to do.
How do I take care of my own family when I, myself, feel like a little girl who desperately wants to be with her daddy?
And she can’t give me an answer.
There isn’t one that would take away the pain or make it any easier.
. . . . . . . .
Somewhere in the back of your mind you think your parents will always be around.
Even though time is moving pretty quickly and my own children are getting bigger, it never really dawned on me that I am getting older, that my mom and dad are getting older.
I sit on the corner of our living room couch and breastfeed and think and think about so many memories.
How dad was always a man of his word, a man who never broke a promise to his children.
It would be a scorching summer day and we’d count the seconds and minutes for him to get home from work because he said he’d take us to the lake as soon as he got back and sure enough he always did.
He’d pull into the driveway with exhaustion in his eyes from a laborious job yet never said “not today.”
Instead he’d make us laugh, have mom pack a cooler with food and drinks and off we’d go.
Then there was us asking him for a sleepover.
He’d stay up with me in my room into the wee hours of the night.
We’d lay side by side on the bed and talk about all sorts of things. Like where do clouds come from? How does an earthquake happen? Do you think heaven will have lots of food? And could you please make French toast in the morning?
And now I am here, out on my balcony, rocking a baby in my arms and seeing so very clearly how everything is temporary and it fills me with intense sadness.
I watch a group of people run by, a lady stretch her arms, someone walk their dog, and it wrecks me.
Because daddy loved to jog. He always jogged.
. . . . . . . .
I know everything happens for a reason.
Oh yes, I know it is such a cliche saying and frankly, I want to burn it. Torch it!
However, no matter how I feel about it, it’s the truth.
It has been six weeks since dad collapsed.
Six weeks of taking it day by day. Of sitting in silence and pressing into God repeatedly and trying to process all that has taken place.
A total blur.
We have not questioned why.
We know that God has not forsaken us. We have felt Him hold us.
Of course it doesn’t change the fact that it’s been painful to breathe in and out. It’s been especially painful for both mom and dad.
And I have cried out for supernatural strength, supernatural peace.
When I read Voskamp write about how we should be brave, how we shouldn’t pray for the hard thing to go away but to pray for a bravery that is bigger than the hard thing, it is a truth that gets me on my knees, pushes me to keep holding on.
Because we all know that growth requires pain and as much as we don’t like it, it is necessary and worth it.
But then there are moments where the worry and the anxiety suffocate, where my sister tells me dad is weeping and mom is not eating, where I think about those simple days of hanging out at the music store with him, looking through aisles of cd’s for new and old gems to listen to, where my 5 year old tells me that she misses him, and my oldest wants him to come back so that they can have a sleepover and he can make that special breakfast – it is then that I get really scared and beg for the hard stuff to stop.
. . . . . . . .
At a Trader Joe’s parking lot, my emotions are all over the place.
It is pouring buckets.
The kind of rain that isn’t planning to pass by any time soon.
It’s strong and flooding the streets and I’m sitting there in the car with three children wondering what to do.
My husband tells me to go home, to text him the grocery list, that he will take care of it all for me after work.
Yet I want to get it done myself and I feel like I’m going to breakdown then and there and I really don’t know why.
There is frustration and anger and a whole lot of discouragement.
Then my grandma calls me.
She asks me how I am feeling.
And before I can even respond, we both start to cry.
He is my daddy and he is her son.
“It hurts,” are the only words I can muster up and they come out like a whimper.
I hear her blow her nose and the rain beats even harder and everything in me is desperate for things to be easy.
Oh God, how I want it all to be easy!
“I know. I know it hurts. But praise God,” she says, “Praise Him!”
As I listen to her say it again with more emphasis, more tenacity, I stare at the trees being terrorized by the wind and silently nod.
Despite this valley my family is in, there isn’t an ounce of doubt in me about His goodness.
I know God is good.
And this act of praising Him, the power that lies in lifting His name with a joyful sound, is something He has been slowly revealing to me for the past six months.
But now it is speaking in greater volumes, it is clearer and louder than ever before . . . . . .