Stupid Pumpkin Pie

As a child, I thought that only kids daydreamed.  I assumed that once I was an adult, I would no longer get lost in imaginary worlds.  What a crock!  I still get lost in my imagination.  I still daydream.  Sometimes reality is so intense that I need to escape to a place more heavenly, where there is no loss, no pain, no disease, no hurting children.

I tend to get lost in my own little world.  Often.

My mind also races from one subject to another.  I can start off thinking about what I need to get from the grocery store and end up thinking about muppets.  My husband finds this sometimes fascinating, sometimes frustrating.  I find it exhausting.

Apparently, I have a very distinct look when I’m in La-La Land, because The Husband will ask, “Whatcha thinking about?” with the curiosity of a child who finds a new toy.  And, although I know his question is genuine, I never know how to answer that.  Does he really want to know that I’m wondering why did we have to take trigonometry in high school?  Who uses that?  Or what is the big deal about bacon anyway?  Do I need to water the flowers at the church today?  I wonder if John Edward will be able to live independently when he grows up?  Who will take care of him when I can’t?  I love “The Labyrinth”…I really want to watch that movie when I get home.

So, while driving yesterday, he asks me his usual, “What’s on your mind?”

My response?  “Pumpkin pie.”

pumpkin pie

Since my thoughts are always all over the place, he was content with this answer, but it wasn’t really an accurate truth.  It wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t a full truth.  The truth was that I was thinking about a meltdown that I had just a few days earlier.  I was making a list of the things that I needed to get together for Thanksgiving.  (Oh, Thanksgiving!  My favorite holiday of the year!  Such a day of simplicity, just a day with loved ones, celebrating the things that we are thankful for.)  I was making a list of the ingredients needed to prepare the dishes that I always bring for Thanksgiving when I got to the pumpkin pie: 2 pumpkin pies.  One for the family.  One for my grandfather to bring home.  Then the realization sunk in.  No, just one pumpkin pie this year.  This is the first Thanksgiving without my grandfather.

The last picture I ever took of my grandfather, exactly one year ago today at Philip's Veteran's Day program.

The last picture I ever took of my grandfather, exactly one year ago today at Philip’s Veteran’s Day program.

I lost it.  Thank God I was at home.  I know that we should be prepared to lose older family members; I know it’s all a part of the circle of life, but it amazes me how it’s the smallest things that make me miss my loved ones.  Like stupid pumpkin pie.

Overall, it’s just been a crappy year.  This will be a Thanksgiving of many firsts.  Not only did I lose my paternal grandfather, but I lost both maternal grandparents.  So, I only have one living grandparent left.  I love her dearly, and I am petrified of the day that will inevitably come when she too will be called Home.

Also, my parents got divorced.  Old friends will be surprised to hear this.  My parents will probably not be happy to read this.  (Sorry Mom and Dad.  I respect your privacy, but this is my story too; I have a right to tell it.)  So, things are different.  I’m getting to know my parents as individuals and not as a couple.  Sometimes it’s great; sometimes it’s saddening.

Health wise, it’s been a really hard year.  My doctors (of whom there are many) pretty much all agree that I have Multiple Sclerosis, but there is not enough clinical evidence of it yet, so no one has given the definitive diagnosis, which means I am on no treatment as of this writing.  (For any medical buffs out there, I don’t have enough lesions on my brain/spinal cord–I only have 2 lesions on the brain. I’ve had signs of MS show up in my spinal fluid and had an abnormal VEP.  Apparently, this isn’t enough for them.)  Of 2013, I have only enjoyed a few weeks of the spring, August and September, and I have been feeling very well the past 2 weeks.  That’s it.  I’ve spent weeks in bed at a time and have had moments of honest hopelessness.

With that being said, this is not a “woe is me” post.  Things are hard; I’m not denying that.  There are definitely days where I have a hard time making it through without locking myself in the bathroom and crying like a baby.  My faith has wavered this year, especially through this last relapse–I’m working on that with the Ninja-Priest-Friend.  I’m angry that my children are suffering.  I’m angry that their childhood is rifled with such seriousness.  I’m saddened at my perceived abandonment of God.  (Note the word perceived…I know that He is with me.  It’s something I’m working on.)

No, I am not in a state of self-pity.  I do wish that things would be different.  But they are not.  I don’t know why this is the hand I’ve been dealt, but it is.  This is my life, and I’ll live it to the fullest.  I am truly thankful for every day that I have.  I am truly thankful that I am writing here today.  I am thankful that you are taking the time to read my ramblings.  I am thankful for you.

And I am thankful for pie.  Even stupid pumpkin pie.

Advertisements

Lost Treasure

I’ve been staring at an empty screen for about 30 minutes, not really knowing where or how to start.  I recently received a message from a reader, which says:

“Hello my sister,

How are you?  Almost 2 months and no new item on your blog.  Are you alright?  You used to share your wonderful emotions and God experiences.  Keep moving with your difficulties.  You are not alone.

May God bless you with good health!”

 

The problem is, I haven’t really had anything to share.  Nothing good, at least.  I try to be a positive person, not focusing on the negative, but life has been pretty hard lately.  So, I’ve kept the negativity to myself…no need to share that, right?

The short version is this: our long-awaited visit to the MS specialist ended up being a total letdown.  The doctor basically told me that it’s possible that I have Multiple Sclerosis, but he does not want to diagnose me unless I get much sicker.  We were expecting to start treatment, but instead, we took about 10 steps backward.

So, the next few weeks were filled with even more testing, some of it intrusive, some of it painful, all of it uncomfortable.

Still no definite answer.

Three specialists say it’s MS, but no one will formally diagnose me, so no treatment.  Don’t get me wrong, not having MS would be wonderful news!!!  But, then what is wrong with me?  (Besides the obvious sanity issues, of course.)  Medically, at this point, I’m just in limbo…a medical purgatory, shall we say?  (Oh Lord, help me.  I just laughed at my own corny joke.  I really need to get out more.)

Besides being utterly disappointed by my lack of progression towards health, I was still very ill.  Though I no longer had vision problems, I still suffered with quite a bit of pain, as well as fatigue and cognitive issues.

I was pushed to the brink emotionally, and my faith was wavering.  I flip-flopped between knowing that God was with me to feeling extremely alone.  One minute I had faith that my trials were to serve some greater good, then the next minute I was angry.  Not only was I suffering, but my husband was missing his wife, and my children were missing their mother.  I physically could not be as available to them as I normally am.

I felt like such a failure to my family, and the guilt was almost too much to bear.  I just could not find the purpose for this…I was not living but merely existing.  I was in an emotional and spiritual funk that I just could not shake.  Even the earnest attempts of the Ninja-Priest-Friend could not help my spiritual desolation.

Then, one day I woke up and felt a little better–emotionally and physically.  And the next day, I felt better still.  And each day progressed with a little more happiness and a little less pain.  For three weeks, I’ve felt decent.  I’m still not at my best and haven’t been since January, but each day is an improvement upon the previous.

So, I’m taking each day slowly, thankful for whatever progression emerges in that particular day.  It’s amazing what you can relish when you feel like you’ve been down to nothing.  Getting out of bed without pain in the morning makes me giddy, and being able to chase the kids around the house gives me the greatest feeling of contentment.

I’ve always been one to enjoy the simple things, but now I appreciate them with a fervor never felt before.  I hope to continue to improve, even if we don’t know why, even if I never know what was wrong with me for the past 5 months.  And, even if I never reach optimal health, I know this:  I will be thankful for whatever is given to me.  Because I know what it feels like to be down to nothing.

Life is such a treasure.  I forgot that for a while.  I lost my treasure and couldn’t find a map.  But life is a treasure that cannot be found in any location; it is found in time, in experiences, in days, in moments.

So, day by day.

Moment by moment.

I’ll cherish it all.

 

Leaning In

“Regardless of your personal situation, regardless of your heartaches and pains, remember that it can always be worse.

We are all blessed.  We just don’t always see it.  But, if you quiet yourself, if you look around you, if you listen to the whisperings of your heart, you’ll hear it.  You’ll hear the sounds of God working in your life.  You’ll see Him around you.  You’ll see your own blessings.”

Little did I know that these words–my words–would be a challenge once written.

As I clicked “publish” on the above post one week ago today, my phone rang. And within one minute, my world changed.  Yet again.

My dad was calling with bad news…my grandmother died very unexpectedly.

So, here’s a quick recap of 2013 so far:

I’m not one for superstitions, but I’m starting to think that there may be some truth to the number 13 being unlucky.  At this point, if I’m still standing in June, I think we’re doing good, don’t you?

I had just written about finding blessings in a world full of heartache and pain, and now I felt as if I was being challenged to follow my own advice.  I sat in silence for a moment, letting this loss sink in.  Memories and thoughts of my grandmother flooded my mind and heart, bringing an immense sadness.  I waited for anger.  There was none.  I waited for self-pity–after all, how could this happen to me?  I just finished IV treatments!  There was no self-pity.  I waited for cynicism.  There was none.  I waited for feelings of “that’s not fair!”  That never came either.

All that came was sorrow and loss.

My own feelings puzzled me.  It seemed like I should be angry.  Why won’t God just give me a break this year?!?  Why is it one thing after another?  Why can’t I just have one really good day?!?  I had just finished IV treatment a few hours earlier; I had just taken out the IV.  Why couldn’t I have just enjoyed being MS symptom free for a little while?  These are thoughts I would’ve normally had.  But instead, I had a calm about a very chaotic situation…and that confused me.  I struggled to find the source of the calm.  Good Lord, I’ve actually flipped my lid.  I’m calm because I’ve actually lost my mind. 

And then it hit me.  I wasn’t losing my mind.  In actuality, it was the exact opposite.  I had an unbelievable moment of clarity.  It didn’t matter why my grandmother was gone.  It didn’t matter that this year has been horrendous.  It was completely irrelevant.  The fact of the matter is that bad things happen every day.

Maybe I’ve matured.  Maybe I’ve hardened.  Maybe I’ve gained wisdom.  Maybe I’ve just gotten used to crappy things happening.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s something more.  Continue reading