Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I've mentioned before that I am a fan of denial.  Actually, I'm not a fan of it.  Denial just seems to be my M.O.  It's the place where I lived for about the first year of my mom's illness.  Close to two years ago my mom started having episodes of vertigo.  She would be dizzy for a few days and then get better.  Eventually the episodes lasted for longer periods of time with shorter recovery between.  She went to ENT's and neurologists and vestibular balance center.  Doctors performed the epley maneuver (useless in her case), prescribed vestibular rehabilitation therapy (helpful at times but never a fix), she had CT scans and MRI's (no cause for the dizziness found) and various medications (again, no fix).  She would have good days and bad days.  I assumed, and I think we all assumed, that the episodes would just stop.  Eventually, though, the bad days overtook the good days.  Now, there are bad days and not so bad days... and even the not so bad days kinda suck.

My parents had been living the retirement dream since they moved to Virginia from Ohio.  My mom joined my dad on the golf course when she got clubs for her 60th birthday.  They had a boat to take out on the lake and a busier social schedule than me.  Of course living so close to their grandkids was an extra perk!  Now, though, so much of that has been taken away.  She hasn't played golf or driven a car in close to a year.  My parents tried to take the boat out this past summer and it made my mom's vertigo unbearable.  It takes all of her energy and stamina to stay upright.  Even having my girls around can feel overwhelming very quickly for her.

Just as my mom is off balance, our life feels off balance.  She can't come with us if there is too much walking.  She isn't able get up and play with the girls when they visit.  She is not enjoying life the way she used to or how she wants to.  We cannot do the things with her that we want us all to do together.  I know that a lot of people my age are going through this "phase of our life", but it feels off balance to hold Cadence in one arm and have my mom holding herself steady on my other arm.

Yet, to add to the frustration of this debilitating illness, we have no answers.  No reason as to why this is happening and no ways to fix it.  I can no longer deny the effects this has on my mom and dad.  I can no longer deny the fragility of my parents.  My mom has been so strong through all of this.  If I were in her shoes I think it would have brought me to my knees long ago.  My dad, too, has been supportive in a way I've never witnessed before.  But I know that they are worn down.  They (we) are holding on to one more hope, one more possibility for answers.  We are headed to John Hopkins Hospital this Friday.  The neurologists are the "best of the best" we are told.  Please, please say a prayer for my mom.  Pray for some answers, something to make this better, something to bring back her old life. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My intention for 2013

I've posted before how I feel about New Year's resolutions.  Essentially I'm not a big fan.  They feel like a set-up for failure.  (Probably because mine aren't always realistic.) 

The day after Alyssa died a mylar balloon landed in our yard with a note attached to it.  The note said "Judy, love you, miss you, wish you were here with me. Bob" I couldn't help but wonder if Alyssa was hanging out with Judy up there watching where the balloon landed.  I posted this on my facebook page.  An old co-worker of mine, Kate, responded that her "dad is Bob and her mom was Judy".  I remember when my co-worker quit work to go be with her mom when her mom was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I have thought about Kate often, especially when she had a baby, knowing the ache she must feel with her own mom not there to see her grandchild.  Kate told me that her dad had just released a balloon about a month before this (though not the same one).

I could look at this as just a crazy coincidence.  I could brush it off and say "Wow, that was weird!" But it doesn't feel that way.  I was moved that this "event" touched Kate and as my heart was breaking about Alyssa it brought me a little comfort to think about how all of these people could intertwine. I remember hearing a phrase once about "God whispers".  That little voice in the back of your head that is so easy to ignore, but if you slow down, stop, and listen you may hear so much more.

What does this have to do with New Year's resolutions?  Another friend that I admire wrote something in response to that same Facebook post.  "One of my intentions for the new year is to pay attention to all the small miracles and mysteries - like this. They are so abundant and so inspirational."  I love the word "intentions".  It sounds less daunting than "resolutions".  I love the idea of being more mindful and aware of each moment and the small things that happen everyday and go unnoticed.  Therefore, my intention for this year is to listen and observe for these miracles, these God-whispers, and keep them close to my heart.

Friday, January 18, 2013

How technology is killing us

Okay, so maybe it's not killing us, but it surely it is decreasing our quality of life.  Don't get me wrong, I know that there are an infinite number of ways that technology helps us and improves our day to day life.  It's those other moments that you see all of the time.  The ones where someone is completely oblivious to the world around them because all that they see is their phone. Or maybe you don't see these moments.  Maybe you, too, miss it all because you are too busy looking at your phone.  Maybe you missed that beautiful bird that flew by or that perfect moment when the sun set because you were checking the game score on your phone.  Did you see that loving glance from your spouse or your daughter was doing her first perfect cartwheel or were you too occupied checking Facebook?  Or maybe there is practically a circus going on around you but you miss it all because you are too busy texting?  

Lisa and I went trapezing a few weeks ago.  It was a Friday night and it was busy.  There were all kinds of classes and practices happening.  While waiting for my next chance to climb the ladder and fly I looked over at my other classmates.  Five out of six of them were on their phones.  With all of this awesomeness going on around them, they were on their PHONES!  Don't get my wrong, I get it.  When I am walking out of work in the morning my phone feels like an itch in my pocket.  It just feels like I should be doing something with it!  Since when do I need something else to occupy me other than just walking out of work?  But I have to actively NOT pull my phone out to mess with it.  The same thing happens at home with my I-pad.  I want to glance at it in the morning while I eat breakfast, but I am sitting at the table with my kids.  Although everyone may be in a silent early morning stupor, I should just "be" with them.  If I'm looking at my I-pad I might miss Laurel's sweet smile across the table or giggling with Sierra when she dribbles her milk.  And to think that all of my classmates missed this: 

I'm probably okay with the fact that they missed this!

But I was pretty stinkin' impressed with this...

And Lisa was fairly impressed with this!

The grand finale!

Next time you feel that itch, try to resist it.  You never know what you might see!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Brown eyed girl

Brad and I finally got to see the beautiful, moving documentary "Somewhere Between" last week.  It's a documentary that follows four teenaged girls who were adopted from China.  As if teenage-hood isn't hard enough, these girls struggle with additional challenges.  They say that they feel like a banana or Twinkie - yellow on the outside, but white on the inside.  They struggle with wondering why they were abandoned, not "good enough" for their own birth parents.  I laughed and cried as I watched this movie and this very small time in these girls' lives.  I left the theatre feeling dissatisfied.  I needed more.  I needed resolution and to feel like they found the answers that they needed.  But this will be a lifelong journey for the girls in this documentary.  For all adopted children. 

I know that we will have issues that Cadence will deal with as she gets older.  When the depth of her questions grow beyond "Where am I from?" to which she excitedly exclaims now "China!".  When she starts to wonder about the "who" and "why" of her history.  When she tries to figure out what part of her heritage she will want to embrace.  Maybe even as she tries to figure out where she fits in exactly, in a community with a very small Asian population.  I know what I want for her, but I cannot "fix" anything that might cause her pain and grief as she walks this journey.  All that we can do is anticipate what she might want or need, answer her questions, and love her.

Ironically, a few days after the movie, Cadence started asking me about eye color.

Cadence: What color are my eyes?
Me: Brown.
C:What color are your eyes?
M: Blue.
C:What color are Daddy's eyes?
M: Blue.
C: What color are CeCe's (Sierra's) eyes?
M: Blue. (I'm starting to feel anxious now)
C: What color are Lulu's (Laurel's) eyes?

(Now usually I would answer blue for the sake of ease, but suddenly I'm thinking "She's going to feel excluded from our family because she is the only one with brown eyes."  That being said, Laurel's eyes are a weird blue/grey/green/hazel combination.)

M: Hazel.
C: Awwww... (very disappointed)  I don't want brown eyes.

(I'm thinking "Already?!  Really?!  She is already going to have issues of wanting to change herself to fit into our family/community?  Ack!!)

M: What color eyes do you want?
C:  I want my eyes to be hot pink!

Phew!  Dodged that bullet for a little longer!  I hope that we can raise this little girl to accept herself and all that is wonderful about her - including those deep, beautiful brown eyes.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dance, Alyssa, Dance

To say yesterday was a hard day would be an understatement.  Brad, Sierra, and I went to the celebration of life for our sweet friend Alyssa.  She fought a long and brave battle with osteosarcoma.  On New Years Eve Alyssa left her earthly body, on to other things that we can only imagine.  I struggle with religion often, but I don't doubt that there is a place that is our own perception of perfect that waits for us after we die.  That helps a little when a loved one passes but it cannot take away the hurt and the want to have them here with us.  We have known Alyssa's family since Sierra and Laurel were very little, but we were lucky to become close with them over the last couple of years.  I would often visit Alyssa and Lynn when they were in the hospital for treatment.  Sierra and Alyssa shared a love of books.  Laurel and Lexie share a love of silliness and being center stage!  Alyssa was comfortable enough with my nursing background to sleepover at our house this past summer.  We celebrated birthdays and raising money for cancer research.  I have been blessed in so many ways to have grown close to this family.  I have gotten to enjoy Alyssa's wit and humor, to witness the very special relationship between sisters, and an amazing love among this family.  I have watched in awe as this entire community came together to support Alyssa and her family.  We will miss so many things about Alyssa.  Sierra is doing okay... processing Alyssa's death as a 10 year old is able.   The service yesterday was heart wrenching and beautiful.  Jeff rang the bell that Alyssa was never able to since her fight with cancer continued even after chemo was finished.  There were songs and dancing for the children that made us laugh as Alyssa would have.  So many meaningful words were spoken.  Among my favorite though "Live, Alyssa, Live.  Dance, Alyssa, Dance.  Play, Alyssa, Play" as well as "Live, Lexie, Live.  Live, Lynn, Live.  Live, Jeff, Live".  The strength, courage, humor, and love of Alyssa will live on in our hearts forever.  We love you all, Divers family!