Courage, Faith, and Life

A woman sat in the doctor’s office with her one year old baby girl sleeping in her arms.  She was a mother of four, two boys and two girls, ranging from age twelve to one.  Her husband sat by her side as the doctor delivered the news.  After almost dying with her last two pregnancies, she was pregnant again.

The doctor explained that he had met with a board of obstetricians and there was the unanimous agreement that she should abort.  He spoke softly about the simple “procedure”, and the increased risk of her death if she should carry full term.  The momma wept and the father looked on tears brimming in his own eyes.

She was told that she had just a week to decide, and they left the office with four kids in tow.  The father readily admitted that he was afraid, there were four children to think of, and possibly a fifth, and if his dear wife should die, well, he shuddered with worry and sadness at the idea of raising his family alone.

It was obvious that momma was already sick, nothing stayed down, and the doctor had explained that she would be on bedrest very early in her pregnancy if she were to decide to keep the child.  In her mind she wondered how she could take care of her kids from her bed?  Was it fair to her 12 year-old daughter and 10 year-old son to put the weight of their baby sister’s and little brother’s care on them?

That night they wept tears of sadness and prayed with all of their hearts for an answer as they curled together in their bed.

In the morning momma told her husband that she could not abort her child.  He nodded, relief and fear flooding his heart.  His wife’s face showed her determination to see this high risk pregnancy through, and she set about the task of arranging for her mother to come from Iowa to Long Island to help with the children over the next six months.

And they were hard months.  Momma swelled, she could not keep anything down, her blood pressure soared, and her children snuggled in her bed as her belly grew.  Her husband worked long hours and continued to get his education, and he came home at night to pour himself a mixing bowl of cereal for supper.

People rallied around them, but many whispered about how the momma could be so selfish to have this child when she could die leaving it and her other children without their mother.  Momma and her husband knew about the whispers.  They wondered themselves what would happen if she were to die.  But she simply could not kill the child within.

Toward the end she was hospitalized, they tried to stabilize her blood pressure with meds, and soon labor began in her 8th month.  A team of doctors oversaw the labor and delivery while the father sat with his mother-in-law in the waiting room.  He describes the agony of that wait, would she be okay?  He thought about his family growing, and the extra pressure of more mouths to feed, and was excited about this new addition but mostly, he prayed and allowed his faith to comfort him.

Soon the nurse came, beaming from ear to ear, all was well.  Everyone was fine.  Tears of gratitude flowed.

So, why would this story matter to you or to me, you wonder?  How would this woman’s courage affect us.  It’s a nice enough story, for sure, and we know not all have happy endings.

What would you have done if it were you?  I ask myself this many times.  What would I have done if the risk was so great to carry this pregnancy all the way through?  And what would have happened to this momma and her family had she decided to abort?  These are questions that remain unanswered.

But this is what I do know, and why it does matter that this woman chose life.  Had she not, you wouldn’t be reading this, because she would have aborted my twinsie and me.  There would be no Harmony’s Pearls, our husbands would be with someone else, there would be no children unique as ours with our DNA, no wedding coming up, Twinsie’s grandchild would not have been born.  And I can just keep thinking of the very tiniest and biggest of things that just matter because our mother chose life. This wonderful life.

The story of Roe v Wade, its impact on our society, is unfolding before us.  Whole generations now have been raised on the back of that decision.  Friends have mourned their own babies that they have aborted, wondering what life they would have had.  Others feel confident that they made the right decision.

This is a debate about life that will continue long past the time my eyes close in death from a life that could have never been.  For now, I am just truly grateful for my mom’s courage back in 1958/59 when an abortion had to be decided by a board of doctors.

I’m blessed to have this life, to know all of you, to have these beautiful children and an amazing husband, and my most prized friendship ever, my twinsie.

The right to choose is ours, but choosing life is a choice, too.

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And the Beat Goes On…

downloadI wake in the morning and I have to slow my thoughts.  There is so much I want to do in the wee hours.  I want to walk the hills and paths at the doggie park by the river and watch Eugene splash around in the water, and sit and feel the early sun on my face. I want to write my blog, as a million ideas are chatting like a bunch of old ladies in my mind and heart, each speaking over the other to be heard.  Of course, I want to play my sis-in-law and try to beat her on Words With Friends, and catch up with my friends on Facebook, and I could really do a little housework every morning…and soon I’ll be watering my flower gardens as I swat blood sucking mosquitos from my damp flesh. And I can’t do it all in the few hours I have before I go to work, so I have to choose, and it’s a close fight this morning between the ladies chatting in my head and the doggie park.

I used to take Brinkley to the doggie park a lot, and I can’t remember what was troubling me during a certain time, but it was late in a not very snowy winter, and so I bundled up, passed by the dog people with their cups of coffee steaming in their hands, and Brinkley and I would head down the steep rocky hill to settle on a stump at the water’s edge and I would sit for a long while with Brinkley beside me looking out over the cold water while the sun came up in earnest. And I would think.

I don’t remember now what was so troubling that I needed to meditate through it on the river those months, and it just goes to show that most things causing us to worry and be anxious do pass and are forgotten, even though they become part of who we are, just by having lived through them with a big yellow dog at our side, and a muddy river flowing unceasingly like time on a clock, or calendar pages floating lazily — discarded one month at a time — to the ground.

Today, I chose the blog and my abs and strength training exercises.  I simply don’t have time to do both the blog and the doggie park/walk and exercise  and get to work at a decent hour.  When I started my blog which was exactly three months ago today, now with 74 blog posts (not including this one), 4205 hits, and 69 bloggers following along with another 20 or so non bloggers, I realized early on that I would not be able to get my blog written and my exercise or dog walking in and get to work at my usual hour, so I delayed my start time by one hour, and that seems to be working. Except when it’s busy and so I need to drop something else here to get there…  And so the beat goes on.

The choices I made today will impact many different things — my physical health, my emotional health, my doggie’s health, my writing health.  And those are just the ones that I CAN choose from, some I am unable to make a choice about  because they are there and I must take care of them because I am the one to do it. Like a very busy shop, and payroll, and flowers wilting in a summer drought. And yes, the beat goes on…and isn’t it wonderful?

I’m so grateful for this blog and for the people who take the time to read it.  A couple of days ago a beautiful woman stopped me to tell me that she reads my blog everyday and had not connected it to me.  She just read this “person’s” blog and it turned out to be a familiar stranger with whom she has many common connections and now the blog is another.  I got goose bumples all down my arms and legs as she was talking to me, because it was amazing that this person related to what I’m writing so much that she looks forward to reading it everyday.  She told me a lot of other complimentary things, but I honestly can’t remember them all right now, I just know that it made me feel like what I’m doing is relevant to more than just me, and worth more than just my time.  It’s worth hers.

Red ball, green ball, purple ball, four… Juggling, juggling. Juggling more…

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This is me, well it was drawn by me, and my nose is pointier, and my hair more plentiful, but you all know the feeling of trying to keep the balls in the air, and catching each one.  This is our lives on many days, and if you’re a young mom or dad, there are a couple snot covered balls in the air, too, which makes them so much harder to catch.

I’m trying to keep the balls in the air and catching them, and watching them, making sure Eugene doesn’t get one and chew it, and you know, it’s so much responsibility keeping all the balls in the air. It’s exhausting.

Some days we are so darned good at it, right down to the last ball (yup, that’s you) that pops around in your head while you’re sleeping.  You’ve tucked them away — bathed, powdered, and sweet-smelling. Maybe you even fell asleep in the tub for a bit while you soaked, while the ever-present ball, the one that represents you, floats pleasantly in the warm sudsy water.

Today, the balls are not the same as they were when I was a young mom, but they are still my balls to juggle nonetheless.  They need my attention, and are no less important than the ones I’ve had in the air my whole life.

But here’s a question, how many balls do we willingly take on that we can just let bounce away?  Worry?  That’s a heck of a ball, very difficult to keep in the air, but we continue to try, and the truth about worry is it does nothing to enhance today, and actually has nothing to do with tomorrow or the next day, because worry doesn’t change anything.  Let worry — that ugly ball go. And, don’t you dare go over to that dusty corner and pick it up, as tempting as it is, leave it. Enjoy the juggling of one less heavy ball.

And some balls are heavier, the weight of a sick or aging parent makes a very heavy ball, concern over your big sissy’s arthritic hands, unpaid bills, the laundry (okay, not so heavy, but a ball nonetheless), a sick child, world hunger, the national debt — we can add a ton of balls to our juggling act.

We need to choose very carefully the balls we juggle.  Try just letting one go — let one go today.  Give your sissy’s hands to God in prayer.  Trust the caregiver to see to your parent’s needs, remember that children are resilient and bounce back faster than the ball we insist on tossing in the air endlessly.  Insofar as the laundry, if anyone figures that one out, let me know.

Your son, yah, you’ve worried about him, but it’s his life to live, add him to the list of prayer and take him off the list of juggling.  When it’s the weekend, take work off the list, don’t juggle today what doesn’t need to be juggled until tomorrow or the next day.

Don’t forget to ask a person to help when the balls get too plentiful, it’s so much more fun and productive juggling with a friend, a coworker, spouse, child or sibling. Imagine what happens when your balls dwindle to just one, or two?  It becomes a game of catch, or volleyball, who wouldn’t love that?

We can’t rid ourselves of the responsibilities of our lives, nor would we want to.  But some days we can organize it into one easy to handle, fun to play with ball.  So much easier to keep in the air and by golly a lot more fun.

Juggling is a part of our lives; it keeps us focused and alert, and relevant.  Keeping the balls we need to juggle in the air is much easier when we toss the balls of worry, fear, and anxiety aside.  Those balls do us no good and take our eyes off the ones that are important.

 

 

Around the world I go, me, Id, Ego and Integrity, trying to make sure to leave Regret at home.

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United States, Spain, Canada, Republic of Korea, Brazil, Australia, India, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates — 9 countries, 233 hits on my blog in one day, 1604 hits in 3 weeks and 3 days on 30 blogs.  Numbers again.  Numbers and places.  People reading, or at the very least stopping in.

Every morning I wake up ready to write the blog.  I mostly don’t know what I’m going to write about as I let the dogs out, let Lily Belle back in with hubby to snooze a while longer, let Eugene finish off Mason Diablo the Cat’s breakfast, do some practice with Eugene — sit, stay, leave it, roll over, shake — get my water, get settled on the chair, then Gino gets settled on my lap, and then the blog idea is there. And the words come out marching across the page like little messengers of love or angst or renovations or memories or thoughts that float to the surface about the man and his grass in a small town 50 years ago.  And it’s a little bit of heaven for a small person like me to think that someone in Republic of Korea, or Brazil or Australia, or India has stopped for a peek at my blog.

Lest Ego get involved, Id says, “But, you posted two blogs yesterday morning, and then reblogged that awesome blog last night, so that huge number yesterday was pumped up by extra blogging.  Id is so true, and Ego slinks away into her little place in my gut to ruminate about that darned Id and her honesty, but it is Ego that got me to put myself out there. Gave me the gumption and fearlessness.

I hear that a lot from people who are reading.  You “really put yourself out there” and Ego fuels that desire to write down the bones, but Integrity is the one who truly rules my insides, both Id and Ego are nothing without her, they both know that.  And Integrity says, “Brush off the Editor from your shoulder and get to it, otherwise you’ll have mean old Regret around to haunt you, and no one, not a single person ever plans to invite Regret to the party.”

And this is basically the instinctual, intellectual and creative struggle inside my heart that fuels my writing.

Regret, no one truly plans to invite her to the party, yet she often shows up because we are careless, or tired, or afraid.  Regret preys on our weaknesses, so that in the end, we say, I regret that I didn’t…I regret that I did…you can fill in the blanks.  You’ve invited Regret, too.  We all have.  Until Regret has the final say in something, we don’t realize how strongly a part she plays in our unhappiness.  It takes Courage to stand up to Regret, to make sure she does not have the final say in a certain relationship, in our careers, our marriages, our parenting, our lives.

Ego, Id and Integrity know that the reason I write is to touch someone’s life, to reach across rivers and oceans and over mountains, and through valleys and deserts and forests to the mind and heart of someone I’ll never meet, but maybe, just maybe, they will relate to my words in their world.