Tonight I will partake in the downing of a large amount of alcohol! I must, it’s the economical/waste not side of me that cannot bear to see a good bottle of wine go to waste.
Why, you may inquire (ICYMI), would it go to waste? Well, you see, our RV fridge is on the fritz. Actually, “on the fritz” implies there’s half a chance of it working again. In all honesty it’s broke. Eff. The kids had a blast today eating every blessed food item in there, surprisingly, or not really, the only thing left is my Tofu. They cleaned out all the eggs, the lunch meat (Dan’s purchase, not mine, lunch meat makes my skin crawl), the mayo, the tomatoes, the avocado’s, the frozen fruit, the frozen veggies, the cheese, the lettuce, I mean everything, even the butter (God only knows what they used to scarf down the butter), everything … save the Tofu, oh and the Zinfandel cooling in the fridge, waiting for the perfect romantic moment …but today, screw romance. Cardy hand over your pocket knife, mommy needs the corkscrew!
I tell ya what, the past three days have been a shitstorm of nothing less than constant trial after trial. No, nothing major, no health issues, no deaths, no being hunted by blood-thirsty terrorists intent on killing every last “infidel” on the planet, no ebola, no border woes, no IRS letters, seriously, nothing all that major, but rather little things coordinating in great numbers to steal my joy.
Our truck with the brand new engine blew a bunch of hoses, while Brody was driving, AGAIN, on Sunday, on Labor Day weekend. Spent 6 hours in a furniture parking lot waiting for a tow truck, with 11 kids who know not how to sit still, who don’t engage in meditation, who aren’t lulled by computers and who have no interest in napping. I’m exhausted from Sunday and today is Tuesday. Tuesday, mind you, with Pep Boys, the only place open on a Sunday and the only place open on Labor Day, not that it mattered, really because we are still waiting for them to track down the parts needed to fix the bloody hose contraption.
In that parking lot, with 11 kids, in the blistering heat of Riverdale, NJ and a humidity index that literally melts skin, we pulled out all the longboards, scooters, cones and helmets. We made a track and raced around the empty parking lot, we played dodge ball and spread eagle and chased Eddy all over the place. We climbed the railings (gasp), we raced up and down in sprint races, we even threw our rubber PRG flip flops at each other all the while Dan worked. Coby looked like he belonged in a sweat shop. I looked like I belonged in a … never mind, no-one needs that visual. At like a little before midnight, around 8 pm the tow truck finally arrived and the driver was one dramatic dude and his cigarette stench filled our RV and he never once stepped inside!
Right now it seems as though our departure from Parsippany, NJ (where the truck currently sits) may, or may not, happen, we’ll see.
Monday, in the vicinity where the truck was towed, we found a pretty sweet little park to play at, though. I am done with parks now until 2018. It was a 10 hr park session, 10 flippin hours at a park. I enjoy parks, for exactly the same reason every other mom on the planet likes parks … they wear kids the stink out. But 10 hours is overkill. RC cars, longboarding, swings, slides, backflips, contests, acorn fights, our no rules basketball games, football, volleyball. capoeira, we filmed pranks and fails, we scaled trees, scootered and believe it or not, even more. We made a scene, it’s true, by 5 pm I was letting them do whatever the heck they wanted. Everyone was staring at us, we wanted to charge admission fees or, at least, take up a collection for ice cream …
So any rate, in the last three days, our RV fridge dies, the glass on the oven shattered, Dan’s cell fell and cracked all the way through to the LCD screen, Kady’s iPad cracked, my Kindle cracked … and now Dan is searching for parts because Pep Boys’ only answer is that they have been discontinued. Know one thing about me … I despise incompetence and nothing is impossible, ever! Discontinued, whatever! Dan figured out a solution, sans missing parts, called Pep Boys, explained it to them, and they are doing what needs to be done as we speak!
All this and we’d even been to mass on Sunday darnit! This feels like a little mini spiritual war. I’ve come to notice that there is a resounding theme that seems to be playing throughout our lives recently. I seem to be getting the message that we need to interpret and evaluate our lives in regards to the Gospel and not in terms of worldly aspirations. And that, while it sounds beautiful and poetic, is hard as shit to do when all hell is breaking loose around you. We are well aware that a cracked iPad, a destroyed cell phone, a broken down car, a non-working fridge, whacked out wiring, budget woes, etc. is nothing compared to people who are dealing with the horror of a sick child or the innocents in Iraq being slaughtered by ISIS. We get it. But even still, I find it’s hard to pull yourself up out of your pity party, when it feels oh so good to wallow.
That is until you force yourself to embrace the fact that suffering and self-denial are central to the Christian life. And once you grasp this and understand that it isn’t about you, then you can start to deal with your struggles in a new frame of mind…one of gratitude.
Don’t think I’m getting preachy, because I am absolutely the last person in the world who can sit on a high horse when it comes to dealing with issues in a state of gratitude. I have two emotions, super super happy or super super angry. I was in super super angry mode yesterday. But perspective is everything. I spoke to a friend whose daughter is battling cancer, she has new symptoms. Suddenly I realized, again, that what I’m dealing with is simply annoying. It’s not that I didn’t know this, it’s more that I got lost in my own selfishness, in my own sense of entitlement that I forgot, for an instant, how blessed and untroubled I really am!
My friend would trade places with me in a heartbeat. If all she had to worry about was a few annoying things, but she’s sitting by her child’s hospital bed praying for a miracle, terrified.
I’m embarrassed, ashamed and humbled. I myself, have a point of reference that keeps me grounded and cuts short my pity party … ALWAYS.
I’ve sat at the side of a hospital bed, overcome with fear and worry. I’ve been on my knees begging God, proclaiming I’d give up everything we had, we’d live on the streets, in a box (those were my exact words) IF ONLY he would make my little boy better. Recalling this, my heart clenches, I remember it all too well. Maybe you’ve heard the story?
We were getting ready to go to Texas to camp and meet my biological sister, Alicia and her family. Kenny was sitting on the back seat in the truck watching, while Dan finished installing the console TV in the truck. Kenny scooted back and fell out of the truck and landed flat on his head. I was in the basement grabbing the last of the bags and I heard Dan call me. I heard the fear in his voice immediately and I raced up the stairs. Kenny never lost consciousness, but he was almost incoherent in his moaning.
After cuddling him and loving him, I did what I always do, I offered him a popsicle, a lollipop, anything to take his mind off his boo boo. This time was different. He didn’t take it. We laid him down in our bed and kept waking him. He woke once and started to vomit. I almost threw up myself. I grabbed him, ran down the stairs, jumped in the truck and drove as fast as I could to the ER. In the process, Brody jumped in with me. We waited as they took Kenny to get a CT Scan. The news was terrible. He had a slight brain bleed and had to be ambulanced down to Grand Junction, CO because there was no neurologist, should he need surgery, at our hospital.
I literally prayed and quietly cried the entire trip down. It was a 1.5 hour drive and I was alone, my sweet Kenny slept the whole trip. When we arrived I was greeted by the most impersonable neurologist who joined me in my guilt ridden accusations. The nurses tried to assuage my hatred of myself for allowing this to happen, but how could they? My four year old son was injured. I’m the one who was fully responsible for keeping him safe, I didn’t and so it was and remains my fault.
We were placed in ICU!! ICU! I layed in his bed and prayed and prayed and prayed. I didn’t stop for air, to pee, to drink, to sleep, nothing. I’d never prayed harder in my life. I was visited by the billing department. I heard nothing she said, I just kept praying and signing. She could have told me payment required both my legs and I would have gladly paid. If that’s what it took to make Kenny better, take my life, whatever. She asked if I wanted the Chaplain to come pray with me. I nodded. He was there within 5 minutes and what he said changed everything. He invited me to place my hands on Kenny and then he said, “Lord, as you say in Matthew 18:20, ‘When two or more are gathered, thy will be done’ these parents gather before you with friends and family to ask for healing for their son. And, when he is healed, they will go forth and spread the word of your miracle.”
“And when he is healed” … the moment these words were uttered a great peace came over me. I felt God’s presence. I knew he’d be OK. Fear turned into hope. Immediately after the chaplain left, Kenny’s nurse came in to take him down for another CT Scan. ON the way down he said, “don’t pray he’s better, because these things don’t just get better, pray that it isn’t worse.” Kenny was still sleeping. I prayed he was healed. My God is greater than all the doctors in the world. They don’t know what He knows, they can’t do what He can do.
After the scan, there was a lot of hustling going on. The doctors invited me into the room to view what they were seeing. The brain bleed was gone. They called the hospital for another copy. They compared. They showed me the brain bleed in the first scan and the absence of any bleed in the 2nd. He was healed. We returned to the room. I instantly saw a picture on the wall. It was a gold frame, with a pink matting around a white Iris. Below the picture were the words in all capital, “KENNY”. I pointed it out and Kenny’s nurse drew in his breath and said, “I’ve never seen that before.”
Kenny woke up that evening during an illicit visit from Dan and all his siblings. They had all made cards for him and when he looked at Kady’s and saw scribbling in the corner, he laughed and said, “Kady must have said, ‘Oh no Cardy’”!!! One hour later, he was transferred to a room on the Children’s floor and released the next day! The joy, the exaltation, the thanks, the renewal in our priorities and the way we viewed things. We were spared the heartache that too many other parents know. I will never EVER forget that.
I’ve been there. I know what everything else in the world means. I was there again in March 2012. I was pregnant, just found out. I awoke in the middle of the night bleeding. What was strange was that I was dreaming it and it jolted me out of bed right into the reality of it! To say I flipped out, is not even close. I googled and googled. And then with the weight of what was happening on my heart, I waited for Dan to wake up. I dragged him to the church to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament … for hours. We went to the dr. We were referred to a dr in, again, Grand Junction, and found that while we most likely lost a twin, another little baby’s heart was beating soundly. It was a strange feeling. “Most likely” but not certainly. That is a quiet pain, always deep in the recesses of my heart. It can’t reside in the front, we were blessed with sweet perfect Coby, we rejoice in that, there is no dark cloud hanging overhead, nothing but pure joy when we look at him. I will know for certain when I reach Heaven if there is a special angel waiting for us.
So, you see, I’ve been there, in a place, where I was willing to give up everything else and live a life with nothing, no comforts, no money, no stuff, in exchange for my child’s health because that is all that really matters. It wasn’t an abstract thought either. I bartered with God. My heart knows. My head is stubborn, it wants everything, but everything is not available in this life … that’s what awaits … but in this life, we have to carry our crosses with Jesus.
I’m one of those who wants life to be easy. I do everything I can possibly think of to make it so. I eliminate distractions, I live simply, I take joy in free things that nature offers … sunsets, rivers, woods, snow, rain, you get the drift. But no matter what I do, I can’t control it all. I can’t control the fact that in order to keep our costs as low as possible we drive 15 year old cars and with those cars come breakdowns.
But I can control how I react. Instead of falling apart because my truck dies, I need to be thankful that I have a truck to drive at all. Instead of being angry because our RV fridge goes down, I should be thankful I have an RV with a fridge and a husband who can fix anything!
I mean here we are living this amazing life, with our amazing family, traveling. We are all together. Our kids are healthy, Dan & I are healthy. Life is great! And it’s even better when looking through thankful lenses.