Tuesday, March 26, 2013

One Year Later

My senior year in high school, I wanted to go to our last home JV football game... but I wasn't able to.  I don't remember if I was sick- or grounded- but I remember pleading with my mom.  "But Mom... it's the last home JV football game of my high school career!"  Her response (in true Janer fashion) was "Yes.  And this whole year you are going to have lots of 'lasts'.  This will be the last Thursday in October that you are in high school.  But we can't mark every one of them with an event.  That logic won't work this entire year."


But that is how I work.  I bench mark days, weeks, events... all of it.  I remember significant dates- the good and the bad- and use it as a marker of where God has brought me.  I do it with lasts... and also with firsts.

These last 5 days have been hard for that very reason.

Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the last time I saw my Daddy.  Last March 22, he and Mom drove down for lunch and to see E's new playhouse.  He and I sat on our porch swing while Mom and E walked through the yard.  We talked about Mom's health deteriorating and how thankful we were that she had an upcoming appointment to help us gain an official diagnosis.  We laughed at how funny E is.  At lunch, he messed with the server by oversharing how we were all connected.  I cried Friday as I passed West Town.  That booth will forever be etched in my memory, as will that day.

the last picture I have of Daddy... he was trying to make E laugh.
Anticipating that Friday would be hard, I kept E home from school and we had a big day.  We took Mom out to lunch and shopping.  I allowed myself to cry when I needed to, and I'm again thankful for friends who aren't scared of my tears.

Saturday marked one year from the last time I spoke with Daddy.  My friend Angela and I were driving to our retreat and he and I had a typical conversation on the phone... ending with me hanging up on him because he said something inappropriate.  I looked at the clock Saturday around that same time and thought "I cannot believe it's been a year since I've heard his laugh."

Sunday, while not the calendar year mark of "the" anniversary, was the one year mark in the traditional sense.  It was as church was letting out that I was trying to reach Dan to let him know the unfathomable news.  Sundays were painful for me for weeks.  This one proved to be the same way... 

And Monday.  The one year mark.  One year since my Daddy left us.  One year since I became as lonely as I have ever been.  One year since I became grown up in ways I never cared to be.  Anticipating the pain of the day, I planned every hour to the fullest.  I met friends for lunch at a spot filled with memories of my Daddy.  I delivered some treats for friends who had "done good" for us over the year.  We had dinner with friends who love us well... and most importantly, love E well.  This whole year has gotten me thinking about who would fill in the gap for her whenever she has to walk down this miserable road.  She is fortunate to have loads of my friends who love her and who would "Momma" her if I weren't around to do it.  While the pain would be no less strong, I know that she, too, would survive.

So as I wrap up my painful anniversary, I want to leave you with some key things Daddy taught me:

1. Always invite people to share a meal with you.  Even when your house isn't clean and you "can't afford it", you'll never regret time spent feeding people you love.  And send home leftovers.  You might lose some Tupperware in the process, but it's worth it.

2. When shopping, if you see something that makes you think of someone else, buy it for them.  This is true of "gifts" as well as groceries.  Daddy stocked up in a "prepper" kind of way... not to take care of his own needs, but so that he could give things away to others.

3. Always take time to talk to someone when they need it.  Even if they make you crazy.  It's not always about you.

4. Keep in touch with people who were part of your life years ago- family doesn't just come from blood relation.

5. Being inappropriate is sometimes exactly what is needed.

6. Tell little people that you love them... and also let them know that you are the boss.

7. Shop at Home Depot.

8. Start traditions... throw parties... go big or go home.

9. Good coffee is made from one coffee scoop/ 3 cups of water (marked on your carafe.)

10. Do good.  All the time.

11. One bonus- not from Daddy- but from that horrible time one year ago: People Puppy Chow helps everything taste a little bit better.

I wish you all could have known him.  He was truly one of a kind.  Half of the time we were grateful for that... because one seemed plenty.  But what I wouldn't give to have another one like him now.  Do good, y'all.  The world needs more people who will.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Second Trimester Honesty

Last week, I posted about how much I struggle with March.  I either tempted fate, karma, satan or something... because true to form, my week deteriorated.  I ended up in the ER Monday night with my asthma flare up, then ended up in the OB on Thursday with some complications from an infection.


All of this was on the tale end of spending the previous week on the couch as a result of a respiratory infection.


So for two weeks, my life was on hold more than I care for it to be... and my emotional state was one train wreck after another. 

We spent the weekend with our Foster Agency at Great Wolf Lodge... Dan and E enjoyed the water park and the Magiquest- I enjoyed time in the room (and a pedicure!).  I'm still not back at 100% breathing wise and my other infection has yet to clear.




I am celebrating this milestone- not just because of the obvious "Yay we did it! we are past the yucky risk mark!"... but because... in full disclosure... the first trimester sucked.  Yep.  It did.

There is a huge part of me that doesn't want to post that.  The part who never thought I'd get to experience this miracle of life again.  The part who feels like I've won the "Miracle Lottery".  The part who can't wait to find out gender and plan a nursery.  The part who has recently gotten baby fever by seeing all of these little sweet peas around.  The part who feels flutters in her belly and thinks "Oh this!  This is the good part!"

But it did.  It sucked.

The first 1-2 weeks (6-7 gestation, but 1-2 of our "awareness" of this miracle) were SUCH a rollercoaster.  I couldn't believe it as we began to tell people- I felt like I was on an episode of Punk'd.  I kept waiting for a punch line.  I kept crying over the difference in this pregnancy and last... I re-grieved losing Daddy and Mary and them not knowing this baby... as well as this baby not knowing them.  In full disclosure, I grieved life as I know it- the freedom I have with my self-sufficient 6 year old, our pattern of life, our ease of travel, and the beauty of having an only child.  (Sidenote: I never thought I wanted an only child... as someone with a sibling, I always wanted a sibling for E.  However, there is a beauty that comes with having "just" one that is hard to describe... I know her so well.  She knows me so well.  And part of my rollercoaster was realizing I had to let that go.)

Those first few weeks I was also hit with all of the usual first trimester yuckiness- the exhaustion (and OMW is it worse at 37 than it was at 31!), the nausea, the food aversion... then add that to my illness that kicked in around week 10--- it honestly just. wasn't. fun!

But you can't say that, right?  You have to put on your happy pregnant face and say "We are so thrilled!"  Because honestly we are... but that doesn't make the earlier stuff any less real.  I am sharing my body with a little person who makes my breathing more difficult... that's hard.  I am rethinking everything we thought would be "true" about our lives in the days to come.  I am having to remind myself that plans are made with the potential to be broken.  I am mindful of the miracle, yet living with reality... a fine line to juggle.

And please know that we are thrilled.  Our days now involve discussion of baby names, nursery plans, thoughts of sweet baby smells, E constantly talking about how fun it will be to have a little brother or sister... it's good.  But it's way easier for me to say it's good now that I have my appetite back, I'm not constantly one step away from a nap, and I don't feel like throwing up every time I see an Applebee's ad.  Well, that last one might be an exaggeration, but that might not just be due to pregnancy...

Just because you're on the receiving end of a blessing- and one that you want to receive- doesn't mean it's always easy.  I never thought I'd be the one saying those words, but how true they have become in the last 13 weeks.  Looking forward to the next 27 and praying for good health along the way.  Oh, and sweet baby?  If you're reading this later?  EVERY MOMENT we waited for you was worth it.  It was just kinda hard sometimes.  Life is hard... blessings and all.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Ides of March

March is a tricky month for me.  My history with March isn't great, yet there have been great moments through the years.

* All through college, I ended up in the hospital each March.  We have hypothesized that- given my hospital admission each March- there had to be some sort of environmental trigger.  Apart from the usual UNC vs. Dook game, the only thing we could determine was that was when the Bradford Pears would begin their stinky-yet-beautiful blooming.  Without fail, sometime during the "true" Ides, I would be admitted to the hospital.  I began to dread those dates- March 9-15- on a calendar.  I lived in fear that I would never get out of the bondage of hospitalization... or at the very least, a prednisone taper.

* Upon moving to Winston, no more hospitalizations occurred in March... until 2010.  That's when (on March 14, no less) we discovered that "random" non-cancerous tumor on my kidney which needed to be removed.  (Sidenote: during our prayer and research period when we were determining whether or not to have the surgery, Dan sought out the advice of a friend who had expertise in that area.  Dan handed him the "If this were your wife, would you want her to have the surgery?" line and the friend responded, "Yes, especially if you are planning on having more kids.  Having a tumor like that while pregnant could be detrimental."  Dan responded- with great confidence- that while we were not planning on having more kids, our friend's advice pushed us over to the "let's just remove it" camp.  Little did we know that three years later, we would indeed be expecting a child... and we are beyond grateful for that advice, Dr. Steve!)  That surgery led to a week's hospital stay, followed by nearly six weeks of recovery... some of the hardest weeks I've ever experienced- physically.

* March 2012 was when my world got turn on end- when I unexpectedly lost my Daddy.  I've blogged about that time upon time this past year, so I hate to rehash it all again... but I'll say this: if you have never lost a parent, it is the worst.  Not a day goes by that I don't miss him... I want to call him... I want to yell at him for "leaving me"... I want to hug him and smell that hairspray/cologne/mint/Daddy smell... I want him to fix the part that is messed up on the grill he bought us... I want to tell him all the funny E stories he has missed... I want to hear him say "How the hell did that happen?" when I tell him that I'm pregnant... I want him to threaten to kill Dan... I want him to get frustrated with me for missing him so much... I want him to say inappropriate things about my girlfriends... I want him to get angered about the loss we experienced last year... and I want to sit outside, drinking a beer, and laughing with him telling me stories- just like I did almost a year ago today.  I daily struggle- struggle- with missing him to the point of pain... and yet life goes on.  I've never lost a child that I've held on this earth.  I've never lost a spouse.  But the pain of losing my Daddy- TOO SOON- is crippling.

* Also in March 2012, Mom received her official diagnosis and we began the journey of getting her the help that she needs.

Needless to say- I don't love March.

In fact, I dread it a lot of the time.

This February 28, I sat at the dinner table with Dan and one of my oldest friends and cried over the turning of the calendar page.  I was filled with dread over what this March would "feel" like.  I wanted to make sure to honor the "one year mark" of losing Daddy in an appropriate way... and at the same time, I didn't want to spend the entire month re-mourning.  They allowed my tears to flow without awkwardness (something I have become more and more thankful for in the last year)- and we talked through how this month "should" look.  I've enjoyed being intentional to look at the world in a way that is both honoring to my Daddy and pleasing to the Lord... and it's helped March not be quite as painful as I anticipated.

And isn't that the way of life?

While I dread March, I also love the TONS of people who are born this month.  I have some of the very best memories of this very day back in high school: I baked birthday cakes for my two best friends (twins) and two years in a row, we found ourselves enjoying a snow day on March 11.  Both years- because of my Mom's travel schedule- I was staying with Daddy and Mary.  Mary (a school teacher) and I enjoyed the girls' cake(s) as breakfast, and had to re-bake those cakes once the driveway was passable to go back to the store for more Funfetti mix.  I would not trade those March Snow Day Memories for anything.

The afternoon I referenced above- one year ago- was a beautiful March afternoon... Dan and E were working in their garden, I was sitting in an Adirondack chair with a Blue Moon and my first "real" conversation with my Daddy in weeks.  He had just returned from a cross-country trip and we were able to catch up on all that we'd missed in our snip-it conversations during his travels.  As we hung up, I looked at Dan with tears streaming down my face and said "No one in this world makes me laugh like he does."  (Sadly, to this day, that remains to be true.)  (Work harder, people.)

March 2006 our life changed when I officially learned that I was pregnant with Elizabeth.  I remember the world looked different that spring... it seemed that there was new life everywhere.  Trees and flowers were beginning to bloom... baby geese were trailing behind their Momma when we went to the bank... it seemed like a month of hope and promise.

Just yesterday, I stood in our driveway talking to a neighbor just long enough to have evidence of the sun remaining on my neck.  The time we had outside- our kids playing- gives some of that same hope and promise.  I see some of that hope in the sidewalk chalk left on our driveway... I notice it in the "flowers" E keeps picking for me.  ("Why do some people call these weeds, Momma?")  And I have to choose to continue to look for those glimpses so that I don't drown in the Ides.  Both exist for me this month... in fact, both exist most month.  And yet still, we go on.

Psalm 34 reminds me that The Lord is Close to the Brokenhearted... and it also reminds me to Do Good; Seek Peace and Pursue it.  Apparently the Lord knew that those concepts, for me, would be March.