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"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." ~Aristotle

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Even Less Sugar: Happy Flipping Birthday

I try to be positive.   

Sometimes it's really hard. 

Yesterday was one of those times.

I haven't been to the hospital in several days; I needed to get the house in order and the kids started at school. I needed to act as CEO of Maize, Inc. and create some routine and stability. And I did so.

But Audrey's stomach problems got worse, causing a panic attack at the bus stop and subsequent melt-down at the school when it was time to go to class... for a kid who LOVES school, seeing her sobbing in the office, begging me to take her home, the watching her wipe tears from her eyes and hugging her backpack as the principal gently led her to her classroom ... ripped my heart out.

She's my stuffer. That went to her stomach. Not a surprise. She's been in self-protection mode; she avoids Ian at home and really doesn't want to hear about him in his absence. She doesn't ask. 

Ezra still has his "issues" that make school challenging for him; he's antsy, tappy, hummy, clicky, sniffy, bored and a bit passive-aggressive. I got a teacher call on the second day of school.

He commented yesterday to all of us in the hospital room: "I'd rather you not die at the hospital. At home at least."

So it was a hard thing, visiting Ian. But it was his birthday. And it'd been a few weeks since the kids had seen him at all. 

I arrived with trepidation. Audrey had already been combating anxiety on the trip. Now we were surrounded by the unfamiliar and scary and cold. This is a world that has become common to me: not so, for my kids. Look at her: she's terrified. She can't pretend this isn't happening. She can't run away and she can't insulate. 

We entered the room. Ian was lying mostly prone, awake, but listless. His face did not light up at the sight of his wife or kids. He didn't speak first. His face was puffy. His skin was pale. His head wound is healing! But his speech was very slow. He's clearly tired... But this is a different tired. I've been thinking about how to describe it for two days, and all I can think is:

The demeanor of an elderly person you might visit in a nursing home, who may or may not recognize you or care that you're there to visit. Distant. Depressed. Vacant. Confused, but not even aware of the confusion.

I'm not saying he IS any of these things. It's just how he appears to me. He's been in the hospital more than a week, and I think I'd fooled myself into thinking that would mean steady forward progress. In fact, he's most certainly "worse" than he was when we arrived with his leaking head. 

The staff came in and sang happy birthday. We presented the cake we brought in. He ate cake dutifully, persevering through a significant and frustrating tremor: his one good hand shakes to a startling degree.

We stayed a few awkward and uncomfortable hours. Audrey had to leave the room as Ezra said pointedly: "What's going on with the tumor? Wow, he's really shaking now! Why does he have to lie flat? What does the tube do? Is he going to die here?" When she returned she did a typical "Rachel thing": curled up in a ball to sleep. She never made eye contact with him. She just can't. 

I get that.

Happy Birthday, Ian. Can we vow to not have next year's celebration in a hospital?


  1. I don't blame Audrey for having to leave the room, It is hard to see someone you love in pain and suffering. Sometimes I am in that situation.

  2. Stay strong sweet sister and friend. The Lord is watching over all of you and will keep you safe in His arms. If you need this old lady to help out, please do call. I can be a super Granny when needed.

  3. P.S. My daughter and grandson went through this 10 years ago, so I can really relate to what you are going through.

  4. Rachel, I just want to come an scoop you all up in huge arms and make it all better. I guess that's sort of playing God, huh? This type of thing is so desperately hard for kids to comprehend and gain understanding. They aren't wired for it yet. It's probably best to let them choose how they have to handle it. Ezra's reaction is what I would have expected given what you explained to me about him. I now see that he is trying to gain the information he needs ahead of time in order to fortify himself for the worst. I operate the same way. Audrey, bless her sweet heart, can't bear any of it. It's pummeling her soul. She doesn't want to see; she doesn't want to know. Yet when she has to do things like go to school and learn a freaking spelling word, it just doesn't fit into the scheme of terror she's visiting. God is the only place you can go.....and you scream as loud as you can at Him......Help us! Show me and the kids what we should DO.....lead the way, point it out clearly, and while you're at it, please touch our hearts so they don't hurt so much. I wish I could do some great thing to help you.....all of you. Like take the kids to Hawaii and home school them for awhile. But alas, not in the cards for me with my health problems. But I can listen. I'm a champion listener and very discreet. If you ever need to pick up the phone, my number is 724-479-8742. There are some times when someone you don't know well is what you need when you do know they are safe. I have come to love your entire family and I haven't stopped praying and won't. May God bless this situation with His will and His love.

    1. Amen to what Rebecca said. Call me anytime also - I will cry with you and cry out to our Father with you. Thanks for giving me more insight on how to pray for your kiddos. I love you. I love Ian. I love Audrey and Ezra. My heart aches with yours.