Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Stand All Amazed

We have been reading specific scriptures that can be applied to our lives and then we talk about how we can use the advice given.  Tonight, I read Doctrine and Covenants 122:3-8  I have felt so overwhelmed with trial after trial after trial that this was a good one for me to read.  I have to admit, though, that I still get upset and angry and exhausted, and it's not easy for me to be willing to get up tomorrow and try again.  But then I think, " If I've gone this long and haven't given up, it would be really dumb to start now!"
Thanksgiving isn't so hard for me to get through.  Tyler would spend every Thanksgiving with his mom.  It was so important to me that he be with us at Christmas, that I was willing to forgo this holiday, so I don't have great Thanksgiving memories about him, except for the last year when we broke into his house to borrow his X-Box.  I felt like it was fair since he was always breaking in to get to my fridge!
Thanksgiving is almost here, and my heart just sometimes wants to burst with love for the things I'm thankful for.  What a cliche thing to say, but I don't know how else to describe it.  Sometimes my kids make me so mad.  Sometimes I don't like being the mom, but at the end of the day when I kneel down, I'm thankful for them the most.  If I didn't have anything else except for them and my husband, I could live with that.  I watched a video of them when they were little, and I've been smiling all day, thinking of their cute faces.  I did what every mom does... I kissed the tips of their toes, ran my fingers over their backs, memorized every marking,  breathed in their newness.  It's an intoxicating smell.
 About a year ago, I would catch a whiff of newborn, and I would scramble to find the source.  Usually, I'm looking for the smell of a wet towel that has been dropped in an obscure place, so this was a pleasant hunt.  It took me weeks to discover that it was a combination of shampoo and hair gel that my boys were using.  I would grab them and start inhaling the smell of their hair. Of course, after about age 2, you stop breathing deep when you hug your boys, but I was begging them to sit next to me.  I would smell them at random times, and they started avoiding my hug because I was "weird."  I didn't write down the combination, and they have since stopped using that kind of hair gel, so I don't get it anymore.
 I miss having young kids sometimes, but I know that every year that goes by makes me very aware of how much I'm going to miss this time too.
If you were to ask me to recall happy memories, I would immediately recount every horrible minute of childbirth.  It's funny how something so traumatizing brings you so close to Heaven.  Those are days that no matter how sad I am, or how frustrated, I will always start breathing slower and my eyes will fill with tears at the memory of those wonderful days.
I always felt that little disconnect because I had that experience with my kids, but I never got that kind of bonding with Tyler.  It would be borderline creepy if I started kissing his chubby little toes at five years old.

I spent a week with my newborn Aidan in the hospital when he got RSV.  I prayed harder than I had ever prayed. I held his little body close to mine and I wasn't going to leave the hospital without him.  I marveled at the strength he had at just a few weeks to continue to breathe, even when it got too hard for his little body.
 I marveled again when I learned that Maddie had been born with Failure to Thrive.  For some reason, she had stopped progressing in the womb and was slowly starving to death.  That feisty little girl held on long enough to be born for me to try to take care of her.  She was born on time, but was the size of being 4 weeks early. I held her and nursed her back to health, doing what I could to protect her.
 I have spent countless hours sitting next to the bed of Aaron this year, watching his body not function right.  I've watched him starve for days at a time in order to get control of his pancreas, only to want to gag him when he gets feeling well enough to talk back.  I watched him go into septic shock.  Watched his perfect little toes (Now big ugly man toes) turn purple because of lack of oxygen.  I stood there with tears falling as he asked the nurses to make sure I wasn't alone when they had to tell me...
I sat and cried with him and held my sweet dimpled boy that wanted to give up because the pain of what he was going through was just too much for him.
I watched with awe as Tyler, one day being so distraught because the doctors told him that because of severing his tongue, might not be able to swallow again because of nerve damage.He sat there for a day or two, giving up, but then one day he decided he was not going to stay there and he was not going to leave with a feeding tube! He willed himself to find whatever way necessary to get food down his throat.  He was resourceful!  I watched his body miraculously heal, and every time I looked at the scar that ran across his face, it reminded me of how grateful I was that this handsome man had come so far.
I've watched my husband  overcome things that have plagued his spirit and work so hard at creating a better life so those things can't thrive.
I have been lucky enough to not have this level of stress with Jordan, but I have watched him go through some of the most mentally trying times and he has held his head up and surprised me with strength I didn't know he had.
Each time that my children needed care, I did the best I could to take care of their wounds, give them medical help, hold them, kiss them, do whatever I could to ease a pain, but I have never been able to control or take away the mental and emotional trials that they have to endure, and sometimes I think that's harder to watch.
Aaron, Jordan, Madelyn, Aidan.  Tyler in front.  How can this picture NOT make you smile?!
In the hospital, I asked Tyler if I could help him wash up.  I had seen the dried blood on him for a few days, his hair was greasy and he was cranky.  The nurse offered to do it when I asked for a tub and shampoo, but this was all I could do for him, so I refused her help.  He sat in the chair, and I gently wiped the washcloth on his head.  He would cringe and gasp with each wipe, no matter how gentle I tried to be.  I picked pieces of glass from his scalp that had worked their way up with each passing day.  This was such an insignificant act, but it was all I knew to do to let him know how much I loved him.  I will always remember that day in his hospital room as a day that my heart ached with love for this boy.  
 As I stood at the head of his casket almost 4 years ago, I remember looking at him and thinking that it had to be a horrible prank, because he didn't look like himself.  I kept studying him and looking for little things.  I picked up his hands and looked carefully at his fingers, I pulled up his pant legs to see his tattoos and the way his calves looked.  I was horribly disappointed to recognize and know for certain that they did, indeed, belong to only him.
I wish I had kissed him more.  I wish that I didn't stop hugging him as much as he became a surly and back talking teenager.  I'm glad, though, that I got to know him and love him.
He would walk through the back door and I would hear these big work boots clomp down the hallway into the kitchen, and before I got to finish screaming, "Take. Your. Boots. OFF!" he would be at the fridge, smiling that Cheshire cat grin that made me go nuts.  He would talk to me for a few minutes while scarfing down some food and then he'd leave again, laughing as I swept up his foot prints.  What I wouldn't give to hear him clomp through the house and hear him laugh at something the kids said.

His grandma and 2 of his uncles wanted to hike the Grand Teton with Tyler, and we laughed about his training. He hiked Table Rock a couple of times and figured that was good.  I know climbing the Grand for him was an emotional and physical feat.  It was so much harder on him than he expected, but he knew that there was no way he could come down without having to still work.  His uncles gave him a good pep talk, his grandma said a prayer with him, and he was able to finish what he had started.  He was so excited when he came off the mountain that he drove over to the house and couldn't stop smiling.  He had stowed some rocks in his back pack and gave them to the kids.  He had finished something I would never dare to attempt.  His body was strong, the air went through his lungs fiercely, his heart was strong, as were his legs and his back.  I'm humbled by the things the human body and the human spirit can endure.

As a Post Script:  As we were planning the funeral, Kim, Glen, James and I were trying to figure out music.  We were looking through a hymn book and I opened to the page with "I Stand All Amazed"  I read out loud the words and we all began to cry.  This song was chosen to be sung and I get chills whenever I listen to the words.  I do stand all amazed.

"I Stand All Amazed"  If you would like to hear the music and the words, click the link, thenclick to the right where it gives the option for both.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rocks In My Backpack

Wow.  I started writing as a way to work through some of my grief, and I think every time I start to take some positive steps forward, something always throws me back.  Usually violently.
I talk a lot about my religious beliefs, but those are things that I have had to work on, and continue to work on every day.  I can believe something so strongly, and then when my life gets tossed back into the blender, it's as if I come stumbling away, shaking my head and wondering what in the world is going on.  I have to reset and try to take the things I know and give myself a new starting point.  It's annoying, really.

I have never had a high self esteem.  I wish that I did.  I just thought it was humility when you brushed off a compliment.  I thought it was bragging if you liked something about yourself.  I thought in order to try to be a better person you had to know that you were nothing in the first place.  Now I know none of that is true, and I would hate if my daughter felt those things about herself.
For a long time, I felt like many of my efforts fell flat.  I didn't ever really put myself or my talents "out there" for fear of failure.  I couldn't ever seem to catch up, I couldn't keep up with the Joneses or even with myself.  I suffered from depression.  If anybody has ever had depression, you know how inadequate you feel, and how getting up in the morning feels like such a chore, because you already know how the day is going to end.  Not many points on your scoreboard.
Because of this, I tried to overcompensate.  I wanted my kids to be extra awesome so it looked like I knew what I was doing.  I hammered home points or lectures I felt were necessary, I came down hard on them, but then backed away because I didn't want to "damage" them by having to face harsh consequences.  I am a really good threatener.  When my kids would act out, rebel, lie, or anything like that, I would take it personally.  "They had no reason to do that... I don't run a prison here, so why would they do that to me?"  I felt like it was more evidence that I wasn't parenting up to snuff.  So I became more relaxed.  Didn't force homework.  If they said they didn't have any, they didn't have any.  You weren't were you said where you were going to be?  Ok, well, when you get home, you better think long and hard about why it upsets me and never do that again.  You don't feel like doing something?  Ok, I understand.  I wouldn't want to do it when I was your age either, so I'll do it for you.
Talk about setting yourself (and your kids) up for failure!
Now, one thing I have learned is that when you don't feel good about yourself, people can sniff it out like bad garbage.  And they are usually willing to keep perpetuating those lies, because it takes the guilt off of themselves.  I felt the need to prove my worth even more, even if I was just trying to convince myself of it.  I tried to be kinder, more forgiving, relax some of my moral beliefs, and what ended up happening was me getting walked all over and I still took the blame.  I was growing resentful of everybody, because I felt like every decision was being criticized, and I could never win.  If I had a multiple choice, I always picked the wrong one!  And believe me, I was hearing it.  Once decision would disappoint someone, but the same decision would disappoint someone else for another reason.  I was living way too much for everybody else, and now I know the term as "codependence."  Bring on the psycho-babble!
I became really good at being a victim.  I felt like my life was happening TO me, instead of me being a willing participant.  There were a lot of things that happened way beyond my control, things that slowly crept in and before I knew it, I was wondering how in the world it had happened, furthering my hopeless thoughts.

Last year, after what has seemed like a hellacious few years, I decided I had so many good things in my life, that I didn't want to dwell in the past, but I didn't know how NOT to.  I knelt again.  I went to a lady that helped me in so many ways.  She brought very vividly to my mind my role in my unhappiness.  She didn't do it out of anger or frustration, but out of a very willing spirit to help and uplift.
A talk came to my mind from John Bytheway called ""What's In Your Backpack?"  I imagined myself following people around, picking the rocks out of their packs in an effort to lessen their burdens, but I was tossing them into my own.  Someone was angry?  I stuffed one in my pack.  Someone carried guilt?  I stuffed a rock. Every insult hurled my way, I was picking up another stone and adding it to my heavy load. I was so weighed down and was upset at God for making me suffer so much, but then I imagined Him looking at me, saying, "You're the one picking them up."  He had given me and everyone else a way to deal with our heartaches, but I wasn't letting Him help me shoulder my own trials and I had become angry at HIM.  Visually taking the rocks out of my pack and putting them at His feet was a lot harder than you would think, but the relief I found after doing so was empowering!  I started to view Him differently and also the people around me.  I started to view ME differently.

I have had 3 children that have had serious medical issues at some point.  I have spent more time in hospitals than I ever care to spend.  I hold together pretty well, and then one day, I lose all hope and all progress.  The past week for me has been trying, mentally and spiritually.  Sitting down to write this today helped me to remember what direction I'm headed after being in the blender.  I'm stressed out, worrying about bills, about homework that didn't get turned in, the funky smell in the house I can't find, the crafts I'm supposed to get done, about the 30 pounds I want to lose, about Christmas, about how I feel like I'm getting steady once again
and December 5 is closing in on me fast, about watching another child struggle for his life in front of my eyes, about being his nurse, and about the guilt I feel that people are bringing my family dinner but I'm terribly relieved to not have to cook... just to name a few.
  I'm realizing that I've started to weigh myself down with these things and I'm frustrated that I can't run like I want to, so I'm going to unload my pack and start over, ready to hike again tomorrow!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Just an Ordinary Day

I've spent a few days avoiding writing.I have tons of memories and thoughts swirling around in my mind all the time.  Memories I want to share with people,Things that were a part of my life.  I realized quickly how people can laugh and talk with you about the things their kids (and yours) do, but as soon as you mention a child that is dead, it gets awkward.  You're standing there, remembering something very real and probably enjoying that memory and you look at your audience.  There it is... the perky eyes, the uncomfortable smile, the nodding, them slightly holding their breath because they don't know what to say.  You feel stupid that you brought up that person, and Heaven forbid you let a tear fall and then you REALLY make them feel dumb.
I've not wanted to start writing because some of what I'm starting to get into is terribly painful for me.  I haven't been quite sure I could handle it, even though everyone in Teton Valley is very aware of my story.

One day, Tyler and I were talking about complicated things for his age, about his Mom and Dad and Me.  While we were talking, I suddenly remembered a time in high school when I was in keyboarding class.  I had been thinking how much I liked the name Tyler and one day I wanted to have a child with that name.  I kind of laughed it off because I wasn't even ready to have kids, and I had a cousin with the same name, so he might think I couldn't be original.  The solution came to me!  I would marry a man with a kid named Tyler.  Problem solved.  I imagined a sad, rich man with a young boy just searching for me.... I hoped he would wait a couple of years:)
As I was talking to him, all of this came back to me.  I felt like I had known we would be thrown together.

It was a warm September day in 2006.  I had lectured him just that morning about being where he was supposed to be.  He had a real knack for sneaking out, and sometimes being a real pain in the butt with my parenting.  We said prayers, I gave him one last "I mean it.  If I think you're on the bus, that's where you'd better be."
The kids left for school and I sat down to my Grape-Nuts and Readers Digest.  I felt this tug in my belly, once.  Twice.  I got up and went in my room.  I sat on the bed and said, "Heavenly Father, please watch over my children, and please help Tyler to make good choices."  I went back to my cereal.
The phone rang.  It was one of my BFFs (More on those in another blog).  She was anxious to know where Ty was.  I had gotten a few calls in my day about mischievous things he had done, so naturally, I sighed and asked what he did.  She insisted he was in an accident.  I was very calm and told her there was no way.  I had received no phone calls, and the police would have to call me.  Plus, he was on the bus.
I seriously didn't worry.  She called back.  She was giving me details and I was insisting she was wrong.  Life Flight can't just take a child without their parents knowing SOMETHING.  I called his phone dozens of times, but I figured the bus was too loud.  Kids were talking about this "accident," so he couldn't answer.
Aaron stayed home sick that day, so I left Maddie with him and I told him I would be back in a minute.  I needed to get to the bottom of things.
As I drove down the road, I could see that there certainly was something big that happened.  I wondered how I could be so close to the commotion, but had no clue that anything had happened.  Cars were lined up for nearly a mile.  I was impatient to get there.  I saw a friend of mine and she flagged me over.  She said, "I was just coming to get you."  Nobody would come and get me unless there was a reason.  I passed cars on the gravel road and parked at the main source of the congestion.  I jumped out of my car, barrelling my way to an officer.  Of course, they have people in place to keep crazies like me back.  I didn't know they could move so fast!  I didn't know how much strength I actually had in me to push back.  I started off politely, "I'm really sorry, but I need to know if my son was in this accident?"  They kept pushing me back.  "You don't understand, I will go as soon as I know if my son was in that car!"  He exasperatedly asked, "What's your son's name?"  My voice didn't hold.  I still don't know what I expected them to say.  The sheriff saw me and nodded his head.  Their tone was now different.  They weren't keeping out some crazy,  they were keeping out a crazy mother that needed to be kept calm.  As a paramedic explained that Tyler had a "cut on his neck" and they took him in Life Flight to make sure he could get help quicker, I noticed his boots that were covered in blood.  He was calm and soothing.  He instructed me to get my husband and meet the Life Flight an hour and a half away in Idaho Falls.
This dear friend stood with me in the highway, holding my shoulders the whole time, then drove me to get James.  Seven years later I would stand in her doorway and hug her as I cried for her child.
I vaguely noticed the school buses that were stopped in front of where I was causing a spectacle and was completely unaware of what they would be saying to my children that day once they got to school.
We spoke to a nurse that said he would be fine.  He had a cut from ear to ear, but the surgeon was getting him fixed.  We were very relieved, but wondered why in the world he would be flown for a cut?
When the surgeon came out to talk to us, it was a much different story.  Tyler's head had gone through the windshield after the car he was a passenger in rear ended a vehicle.  When his head came back into the car, the windshield severed his neck from ear to ear, nicking the carotid artery.

Now, you can look at this any way you choose.  But this is my story and I'm going to tell you the way I know it.  So many miracles happened that day.  "How?!"  You might ask.  Well, I'll tell you.
When the ambulance call came in, a DOCTOR decided he wanted to go along.  Because he was a doctor, he was able to place Tyler in a temporary coma and intubate at the scene.
Life Flight landed on the highway.  Average flight time just from Driggs to IF is 19 minutes.  Hospital staff said they got there in less than 10.
Tyler had the presence of mind to wrap his shirt around his neck and sit down.
A millimeter stood in the way of his carotid artery being severed.  That's the thickness of a piece of paper.
My son was alive.

The secretary at the elementary school got to my kids before their classmates did.  She asked me how I wanted them to handle it, and they did it beautifully.  I'm so lucky to live where I do!!  No red tape, no "procedures" at a time like this.  Another friend (and lunch lady!) Drove the kids home for me and brought them all lunch.  I don't remember asking my friend to watch my kids, but she did.  Meals were brought by.  People were willing to watch them and run them around while we sat at the hospital night after night.
When we came home that first night, we tucked our kids in bed and James hugged me.  "We could have been planning a funeral tonight."

Two days later, they discovered that his tongue had been severed as well as nerves in his neck and throat.  They had to do another surgery to reattach those and hope for repair.
He was very drugged up but he would get very urgent to get a message across to me .  He could only write...really bad.
The note to me said          Sorry       No seat belt          No bus
He would do this to me a few times and each time I told him it was OK.  My mom told me that he needed to understood that I really got his apology.  The next time I got the note, I said, "Yeah, I know!  You weren't on the bus that you were supposed to be!  We talked about it that morning and you said, "I know, Mom."  And why the hell weren't you wearing your seat belt?!  That's always been my rule! But it's OK.  You enjoy your time here, because once you get home, you are so grounded.  Forever.  I'm gonna get you better, just to kick your butt once you get home."  He smiled, nodded and laid back.  I smiled.  He knew I got his apology. He knew my sarcasm.  Maybe my calm demeanor unnerved him.
 His dad would draw pictures of elk hunting and drive Ty nuts that he was stuck in that bed.  He looked forward to friends visiting, but I don't think anyone understood the severity of the situation. They had transfused blood as fast as he was lost it.  A nurse said he lost enough to die twice.  He definitely had some brain and head injuries he would be dealing with. But they just wanted him to go back to being Ty.
I have literally been reduced to tears seeing Life Flight.  Knowing that somebody's life is changed at that moment. Will the family get to go home and be relieved that they won't be planning a funeral, or will they have to?  For some reason, this experience in my life is still very fresh to me, and the memories of it cause me to cry rather easily.  It was a day things were so bad and scary for all of us, and unless you're a strong family, it doesn't bring you closer together.  That statistic is true.