Saturday, March 5, 2016

Death & Life (Another stroke/Another adoption)

Of course this isn't how id imagined sharing our exciting news. I imagined such joy and excitement as I explained to you again the wonders and mysterious ways of the Lord, and yet to be honest my heart is currently so crowded with grief that im only writing now in hopes to make room emotionally for the joy I so desperately and eagerly await to feel again.

Ferrill and I decided months ago to begin another adoption. Where and with whom we didn't know, but our hearts were in a place to move forward and we positioned ourselves to hear and await our next step from the Lord. It wasn't long after that, one Wednesday that I was upstairs in our bedroom getting ready to take Finley to the park. I felt the easy presence of the Holy spirit step in for a chat. I guess in my heart I was waiting for it to feel like it had with the first adoption. One grand moment of total THIS IS IT and theirs no changing what I know in my heart I was to do, but this adoption, it felt so casual, the same weightiness that had happened before felt lacking this go around, and that concerned me. It was after these thoughts and concerns were shared, that the Lord shared with me his opinion. He basically said-I have given your heart the desire and capability to adopt. That is a gift from me to follow a biblical instruction. Obviously I love adoption because all my children except one are adopted, and at any time in your life should you desire and choose in your own hearts to adopt, I will always meet you promptly with affirmation.- So it was after this while still upstairs that I thought heavily about my choice, and in my heart and out loud I uttered a yes. Yes Lord-I want this, and I trust what you've spoken to me. Immediately I had a vision of Jesus leaving me to go ahead. The Holy Spirit clearly gave me Deuteronomy 1:29-31 and before I read it he paraphrased it. " The Lord is going ahead of you, pioneering the way for you to receive your child. Do not be afraid or full of dread. You know him now to be faithful, and he will do again for you what he did with Finley. The Lord will waste no time in showing you this is his desire, be wise be quick to receive his promise. The actual verse itself says "Then I said to you: Do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God is going before you, he will fight for you as he did for you in the land of Egypt before your very eyes and in the desert. You saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his sons, all the way you went until you reached this place." wow! even now rereading that and typing it im blown away at his faithfulness. Surely he is our God of HOPE who completes every tasks he sets out to accomplish. It was in that moment that I conceived in my heart our second child. I felt it with its tornado of emotions and beauty.

Meanwhile Ferrill had been praying for where wed adopt from. We weren't unhappy with our previous agency. We are grateful, but we didn't have the peace needed to reach out to them a second time. After a short time Ferrill said he wanted to correspond with an agency in Kansas. That's right folks.... Kansas. After numerous emails ,questions and calls our hearts said yes to this starter agency in Olathe Kansas. The same day all that happened after being at the park with Finley I went to a local coffee shop. A sweet girl a few years younger than me leans over the oversized counter and greets Finley warmly as she always does. The girl, whos name is Myles says to me "I've mentioned before how beautiful your daughter is, and last time you said you wished you could take all the credit .Is it safe for me to assume she is adopted.?" Yes I said. "And are you ready to do it again? The second is always the best one" This caught me totally by surprise! This thing that had happened earlier in my heart I hadn't even shared with anyone, let alone to be shared first with a girl I vaguely knew. I responded with a timid "yes, at least I hope so. Why would you ask me that?" Her response was nothing short of a sign and a wonder. A key part of this story that I will cling too always. She said " Because I was the second one adopted in my family. My sister was from Florida, and I was from Kansas!" I was speechless. she then proceeded to unknowingly speak such life over Finley and I. She said to me "you know we (meaning the baristas) we talk about you every time you stop by. We talk about how good a mother you are, how lucky Finley is. You know you were meant to do this right? She then hands me my iced vanilla latte and comes around the counter to talk to Finley. "You know what Finley, you and I are so special, never forget that. Moms and daddies love their babies but you were loved twice. And your mommy here (looking at me) she pursued her love for you." Somewhere along the way she expressed how much she loved that she had been adopted and how "eclectic" her family was." My mom was a nurse, my dad this loud Italian, my sister is my closest friend who looks nothing like me", as she touched her own fun curly red hair." It is different, but its so fun, and you can totally do this".
 I thanked her only mildly for her kindness before exploding into tears the moment I sat in the privacy of my own car. Had that really just happened? What were the chances? My brain quickly trying to make this just a quiencadence. But theirs no way. Of all the places, all the times, this was a God ordained moment, and I refused to need any more convincing than that. I went back the following week to thank her personally and explain that we were in fact applying to adopt in Kansas and how much shed affected me with her kindness, but when I arrived her co workers explained to me that she had taken a job in south Florida. That had actually been her last day when we spoke. crazy.

So all that happened quickly and we patiently wait to hear from the agency, but instead of the agency calling with good news, 2 Sundays ago my dad called with bad news. My mom had had another stroke. A bad one. He had taken her to the ER and she was currently unresponsive. Needless to say it was a sleepless night. If you dont know,when someone has a stroke, it takes 5-7 days for the swelling in the brain to subside enough for doctors or therapists to really see how bad the brain was damaged so it becomes a waiting game. Monday, the day after her stroke I truly felt like my mom had died. She wasn't responding to touch or sounds. Unable to move at all. Her eyes turned so strongly to one side, the area of the brain affected that only the whites showed. Apparently I just shut down under extreme stress because Ferrill took the day off work to watch Finley and all I did was cry and sleep in my bed all day, and book a flight to go home that Friday. It was so much. The unknown, the phone calls. Id volunteered to call my aunt (my moms sister) to tell her what had happened. Hearing her cry painfully on the phone while about to clock into work for a 12 hour shift was so brutal. To be so far away and helpless was a terrible feeling for us both. Miraculously by Thursday (5 days post stroke) my moms body was fully functioning. She could walk on her own, take herself to the bathroom but mentally she was gone. Didn't know who my dad, sister or brother was when they were in the room and she had yet to speak.Her reflexes in her throat had not returned, so their was always great concern that her lungs could easily fill up with water just by trying to take a drink, causing her to drown. All these crazy things unknown to anyone unfamiliar with strokes. The brain is truly a sign and wonder, Gods creative ability at its best. Scans determined the areas affected were the short term memory, motor skills and language parts of the brain. Days of tests showed no indications of what was the cause of them, A concern because without understanding where and why the body is clotting, others would be inevitable.Shed had a stroke 3 years earlier ( id blogged previously about that event) that affected her in many ways, but the one personally that affected me was that she could no longer write. In addition to talking a few times a week wed often mail cards, packages, small things here and there and she went from having the most beautiful penmanship to what looked like chicken scratch. I treasured all the letters and cards in my possession that had her beautiful words on them. Suddenly they were more precious. But now... to think that not only may I never have another conversation with our voices again, that she may never look me in the face and know I was hers... that is the pain that tries to haunt me. A searing burn in my heart as I try desperately to swallow an unimaginable reality. For an independent soul like myself I have moments where i feel so wildly alone in the world now outside the presence of God. Im amazed when i feel it. Amazed that just knowing she was out there,just a phone call away made me feel safe somehow.

So that Friday I drove 2 hours to the airport (cheapest tickets) flew 3 hours (to Missouri where im from) road 2 hours and finally arrived to the nursing home/rehab facility they'd transferred her too. I sat in the car a few minutes to myself. How do you prepare yourself for these things? I determined that you cant, asked the Lord for strength and made my way down the sterile hallway to room #236.
I stepped in the room to see this woman who is my mom. The one who gave me life when she was 36 after doctors told her she was too old to have children, the one who I think favored me because I was born on the one day my dad requested she not go into labor, a rainy Sunday morning throwing off all his church plans. The one who's role is to declare life over you, in every area, always.  I sat beside her on her bed and took a deep breath as I looked at her face waiting, hoping for her eyes to find me. I waited... and I waited... and for a moment the fog had lifted and she saw me. "Sharon?" her first muttered words. She gave me a hug, started to rock me back and forth like her baby patting me gently on the back and began to hum. I cried letting her love me for as long as her mind would allow and then she was gone. Almost a suttle push at not knowing what was going on again before she pulled away and she drifted off again to somewhere unseen. It was painfully beautiful. Ill spare you the rest of my 6 days there Extreme highs and lows, uncomfortable moments and conversations between siblings about who's to try and do what. My dad who retired last spring now a 24/7 exhausted caretaker to his wife and elderly parents. My sister becomes the nurse checking in daily since she lives close by and giving my mom baths. My brother and I painfully and helplessly at a distance watching them do what we cannot. I am currently back home now but in many ways im still not.She seems to have made no further progress since I left. I feel this consistent sadness the hovers as I go through the motions of mundane life and responsibilities. Somewhere in the midst of it all my husband calls to tell me the agency in Kansas has called and accepted our application. I feel us both pause on the phone as we both smile. A tender moment almost swallowed whole and forgotten due to such difficulty.

 I was talking to one of my dearest friends a few days ago trying to explain how im feeling. "I want so badly to stop being sad, so that I can move forward in joy in this adoption." But that's the thing I cannot change. I cannot change or rewrite the beginning of our story. I cant change that the last time mom and I had a conversation I was telling her we were adopting again. The joy and hope she carried for me is painfully felt and missed. I feel like I must respectfully entertain grief a while longer even though his presence is unwanted. Grief is an interesting topic im discovering. People ask me how im doing and I don't know what to say. But when I do say that I am sad or still sad, it makes people uncomfortable. People are uncomfortable with grief and sadness. We only show the highlights of our lives so when something so strong like grief opposes it we want it to go away. Let me first say before this next part, that I have chosen to not mention what has happened until now. I like to deal with issues very personally and privately almost to a fault. I believe everyone who has asked me how I am, how she is loves me very much, but I do think, when you pass me by so quickly and say How are you, I sometimes feel like you ask that, for me to make note that you were kind enough to ask, not because you are willing to take more than 30 seconds to listen to how im really doing. When I say im not good you want to fix it because you love me, instead of respecting my sadness and allowing me to take my time. I also think it would be nice if we could make the whole wearing black during mourning socially acceptable again. If I could go out in public and people see and know I was mourning without me explaining why, and they would chose to be gentle towards me for however long I needed all just by wearing a color... that would be great. Genius actually.

So here I am. I thought perhaps id feel better afterwards and maybe I do a little. The Lord has taken care of all my needs and I am blessed. We will soon give more details about our upcoming adoption and I have no doubt it'll be an adventure, but for now, im going to sit for a while and let the Lord care for me while I rest. I will need lots of strength for the road ahead... that beautiful exciting narrow road ahead.

If your mom is still living do me a favor, call her. Hear her voice and close your eyes. If she is near then hug her when you see her and when you do, count to ten instead of your usual 2. Look her in the eyes and setting aside all of life's issues tell her that you love her.

All my love, Sharon

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