Sock Basket

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T’s sister was diagnosed with breast cancer a month or so ago.  She received her diagnosis on the day her oldest brother died, and it was Christmastime.  She has three little daughters.  The youngest isn’t even in school yet.  She turned 40 a few weeks before the diagnosis which is almost impossible for me to fathom.  She was only three years old when T and I started dating.  When she was six, I traveled to California with her, T, and their mom to visit their grandparents.  She was just learning to whistle on that trip.  I shared a bed with her for two weeks on that trip, and she whistled late into the night.  I can remember gently lifting up her tiny body to move her over to her own side of the bed each night.  She was eight years old at our wedding when she was a junior bridesmaid in our wedding.  She was missing her two front teeth, and she cried like her heart would break when T and I left the wedding reception that night.

She spent many nights with us during the early years of our marriage.  We’d take her to Taco Bell, for ice cream and to Indian pow wow’s.  We invented an indoor, candlelight golf game to play, and she wore an apron to help with housework.  She was our weekend babysitter when Andrew was little.  It was a sweet deal.  We allowed her to bring a friend along and paid her with pizza and movie rentals.

Today, hundreds of miles away from us, she had a double mastectomy.  There are multiple tumors, and they’re large.  She will have a month of recovery after surgery before beginning a grueling regimen of chemotherapy.

I have navigated this day, and the weeks prior, with a heavy heart.  I hate the thought of the anguish and pain she has been going through and will face over the coming months.  I hate it that her life will be forever changed, because there is no way to face such things without it fundamentally changing who we are as a person.

My other sister in law has kept me up to date throughout the day.  I ache for what she is going through, too, her husband, my 80 year old mother in law, and my three little nieces.  I hate it that this one sister who was the baby of the family and cherished by all has to go through the evil that is cancer.

And so we trudged through another work day hundreds of miles away from our family, but we were with them in spirit and in prayer.  We were not asked to be there, and we know that our presences would have accomplished nothing.  This was a time when more people would have complicated an already difficult situation.

The contrast of my day with that of my sister in law’s was drastic.  I felt guilty to enjoy a productive meeting, a bowl of soup for lunch, and a song playing as I drove home from work.  How can one life be so normal, mundane even, when another lays helpless on a table while doctors slice away hoping to eradicate the killer?  I squeezed my eyes shut several times today in a prayer of thanksgiving for this normal and boring day, and I prayed for the life of my sister in law.

Tonight as we waited for word that she was out of surgery, I started in on the laundry.  I needed to wash the bedding for our new bedroom furniture that will be delivered tomorrow afternoon.  T was working on wiring in the basement.  We’re knee-deep in the middle of a major home improvement project.  I’m excited to see how things will look with the new furniture and with one little corner finished in the mess of our house.  I felt a pang of guilt to be happily anticipating these meaningless changes in our lives.

I finished folding laundry and grabbed the basket that sits on the shelf in the laundry room.  Whenever a stray sock shows up, it ends up in the basket to be sorted out later.  I called out to the girls to look through their sock drawers for strays, and soon they joined me in the sock sort.  We talked quietly as we paired the socks.  We wondered at where their missing mates might have ended up.  We found a few single gloves and a dog bootie.  I breathed in a deep sigh as we returned the non-paired stray socks to the basket.  The sorting and the conversation with my daughters had eased the tight knot of stress between my shoulders.

Simple days, days without pain, when loved ones are within the sound of our voice are days to cherish.  I told my girls that I love them and that I was grateful for their help and their company.

Tonight I pray for my sister in law.  I want her to have thousands of mundane days ahead of her, days full of work and simple chores like sorting socks with her daughters.

The Old House

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We moved back to our hometown in 1990.  We had been headed for Tennessee, but at the very last minute, we couldn’t leave.  T had been offered a job, and we had sold our first little house.  We packed up everything as we prepared to move across the country.  We loaded it all into a moving van with the help of our families.  I’ll never forget that day in 1990.  Baby Andrew was asleep in his car seat between us in the front seat as we prepared for a long drive.  We sat for a moment staring at our first house before we pulled away, and I began to cry.  My parents were not taking this move very well.  Neither were his parents.  I don’t remember who said it first, but instead of heading for Tennessee, we headed for my parents home 20 miles away.  The next day, we rented a storage unit, unloaded the truck, and began to look for a home in the town where we had once proclaimed we would never return. Continue Reading »

F-Tards

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I shut down the blog for a few months.  I needed to detach myself from those things which were causing me stress.  By detaching myself from the stress, my intention was to come home in the evening and be present in my life instead of, even for a short time, refocusing on the stress.  Did this help the situation?  Looking back over the past few months, I think it did.  The stress still exists, but over the past months I have spent time cherishing and cultivating the good things in my life. Continue Reading »

Baseball Memories

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When I was a little girl, my father gave me the most important gift, the gift of acceptance and unconditional love.

I was in the midst of those awkward middle school years.  I was trying so hard to be cool, to be like everyone else.  Above all, I wanted to fit in.  All my friends played softball, so of course, I signed up to be on a team, too.  I hated every single moment of it.  I was afraid of being hit by a ball.  I couldn’t catch, pitch, throw, or hit.  Yet I kept right on trying.  I went to each practice.  When I got home, my dad spent countless hours trying to teach me and trying to help me improve.  Nothing worked.  I didn’t improve no matter how hard I tried.  As hard as I was working to be better, my heart wasn’t in it.  I wanted to be reading a book, or playing the piano, or spending time with my pets.  The only things I liked about playing softball was sitting on the bench, visiting with my friends, and going to the concession stand after the game. Continue Reading »

Can This Be Optimism?

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The trip to Vegas did me wonders.  I’m still feeling upbeat since my return.  There was one moment on my trip, sitting in the sun talking with two friends, when I felt a warm tingle.  During this particular moment, I felt life’s blessings surrounding me.  I was warm.  The sun was shining, and I was with friends.  I felt humbled to know that they actually like me, chose to spend time with me, and that they cared for me.  I knew it was one of those moments in life that would become a treasured memory, and I felt honored to know it as it was happening.  I sat there thinking in disbelief, “These are good people, and they are my friends.”  I had grown to believe that I did not deserve such things.  I still smile at the thought of such a blessing in my life, a simple moment that made me happy to be alive and on this earth. Continue Reading »

Brownies and Memories

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I dipped my finger into the warm, chocolaty batter and brought it to my mouth.  The scent was heavenly as flavor expanded across my tongue.  Tears filled my eyes.  I stood motionless for a moment, my finger still in my mouth, as the flavor released its memories.  I closed my eyes, and I could once again see three little blonde children chatting happily at the kitchen table as they made cakes out of Play-Dough while a baby girl banged her fist in a highchair.  I imagined a different kitchen with a maple-topped center island and tall ceilings.  I could hear the sounds of my children and feel a warm breeze blowing through open windows.  When I opened my eyes, the only thing that was left were the tears and a lingering taste of chocolate. Continue Reading »

The Women Who Came Before Me

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My grandma was 96 years old when time caught up with her.  Her body started breaking down in a variety of ways even while her mind remained alert.  One of my last memories of Grandma was visiting her in the hospital several hours before her death.  She had been hospitalized with complications from congestive heart failure and and diverticulitis.  She looked at me, and she apologized.  She said, “Pami, I’m sorry you have to see me this way.  How did this happen?  I never thought I’d find myself in this situation.” Continue Reading »