June 1st, 2010.
Probably one of the most significant moments of my life. For obvious reasons. It was the day my daughter was born. I've told the story a million times. Here, at groups, conferences, to friends, family...but there's parts of the story I always leave out.
Sophie's birth taught me something very important. That this life, as long, scary, intimidating, tiring, or lonesome as it may seem at times, is one of the shortest, most insignificant parts of our history. When I told my Doctors I was pregnant, I was advised to terminate the pregnancy. It was too risky for someone like me. They advised me of the risks I was taking and the complications I would face. But for some reason, by some miracle, it never, not ever scared me. I thought about it a lot. I mulled over the "What If's" in my mind. But it never caused me to panic. I never second guessed my decision to give Sophie life, even when it meant putting mine at risk. So, when the time finally came for Sophie to enter this world, we were well prepared. The whole team knew exactly what they were doing, and I was ready for anything. At one point in the delivery room I felt myself blacking out. And for a moment, I thought, "This is it, I've done my job. And now I'm leaving." And again, I wasn't scared. I was OK. I felt this overwhelming sense of peace. This unusually thick, warm blanket of serenity. The room was in chaos. But to me it was quiet. All the noise seemed dimmed by my mind. I could hear voices, but they were so far away. I felt my heart exploding with love for this tiny human being that had finally been born. But she was off being cleaned up. It was just me, a light, and a very warm, calm sense of companionship I felt between myself and something or someone else unseen. When I think back to this moment I tear up because it has left such a lasting impression on me. My mother was there, she made sure I got the oxygen mask ,that I was okay. She was taking care of me, along with a whole other team of very special people, all the while I was off somewhere else. In a place of pure peace. Until I got to come back. And watch Sophie experience this world for the first time. And understand that her birth was sending ripples. Ripples I was just beginning to comprehend.
I don't know everything. I don't have answers for much. But I do know one thing. That Sophie and I are kindred spirits. That our history began before a time I can remember. I know that. I saw it and felt it that day in our delivery room.
And I don't believe God necessarily intended for me to make mistakes as a teen, mistakes that would lead me to get pregnant. But I know Sophie was part of a grander plan. Too many things took place for it not to be 'meant to be'. I can't have kids anymore. Sophie was my one and only child that will ever be born of my own flesh and blood. Sophie HAD to come when she did. She HAD to get to her family somehow, and I was the missing piece to that puzzle. But I NEEDED her too. For so many reasons. You can't tell me there isn't a bigger plan after I've seen what I've seen and felt what I've felt. You can't tell me there isn't a reason why she's here against all odds, and I am too. That day has forced me to look at life through very different eyes. Sophie's birth was huge, but so small compared to what her life and the change in mine, will produce.
I believe life is short. So very short.
June 3rd, 2012
I went to Africa knowing I was taking a risk. If anything were to happen to me I was in big trouble. There are no hospitals adequately prepared to help a heart patient in trouble in Tanzania. But I didn't care. I was dead set on going, had been for years. I didn't care if I died there, I was going. Well knock on wood, I died there. Died and came back to life twice. (thank you ICD) Sounds ridiculous, sounds dramatic, but that's what happened. And I don't care. Because I'm here now, things worked out. And I got to feel it again. That peace. The first time my heart stopped we were out on a dirt field. I don't remember passing out. What I do remember is a very bright light, distant voices, and a total sense of peace. My words and descriptions CAN NOT give what took place the next 72 hours justice. Again, utter chaos. Panic. Terror. For everyone but me. I wasn't there. Mentally I was.not.there. Something took me someplace else. To keep me from panicking. To keep me calm. Those who know me, know that I am SO VERY IN TUNE with anything and everything that goes on inside my body. How fast my heart is beating, how my head feels, how my legs feel, how my skin looks. To the point that I'm paranoid. If I had been coherent during those days in Africa, I would have created more of a panic, I probably would have caused more problems. So, I went somewhere else for a time. And I got to feel the peace again. A feeling that I try to re-imagine daily because I yearn for it. Who wouldn't? For a while I knew without a doubt that things were okay. Nothing scared me. Should have, lots of thing should have scared me. The fact that I was dying in a third world country should have scared me. But I thank my Father in Heaven all the time for what he did for me there. What he taught me, showed me, gave me. Incredible.
June 1st, 2009
My brother Clint had just left on his mission. I was working at subway that summer. On this day, my good friend Erica walked in to the store. For a moment, I smiled and thought, "What a pleasant surprise!" Until I noticed her face was red and there were tears in her eyes. My heart sank. I couldn't breathe but I said, "Erica, what is it, what's wrong?" And before she could say a word her voice trembled and her body shook, more tears started to fall down her face, and she told me it was my brother. Initially I panicked, thinking my younger brother at home was in trouble and we had to go. NOW. But then she shook her head and said no, it was my older brother. Clint. The one eight hundred miles away. The one I couldn't run to and make sure things were alright. The one we had, just two weeks prior, placed into the Lord's care. I left work with Erica immediately. I was in shock the whole drive home. I'm sure I cried, I don't remember. But I do remember thinking I needed to hold it together. I had younger siblings at home who were going to need me. My parents had already jumped a plane to California to see Clint. He had gone running that morning in a park with his missionary companion. He dropped to the ground and quit breathing when his companion began to yell for help and two park workers, who also just happened to be volunteer paramedics, approached the scene and administered CPR until the ambulance arrived. Clint was defibrillated several times before they got any kind of rhythm. Long story short, Clint was gone. Someplace else, experiencing that same peace I felt in Africa, the same peace I felt when Sophie was born. He was in a coma for over a week, intubated and all. The prognosis was scary. If he woke up, he could have serious brain damage. Or he could be fine. Either way, if he survived, he was going to need an ICD, like me. I was finally going to have a twin in the family. Long story short, Clint woke up. Thanks to some amazing nurses and doctors, a Mother's tender love, and lots of faith and prayers. And he got the surgery for an ICD, and went right back out on his mission, completing the full two years without ever coming home. He's a rock star. He's seen it all. He knows God and Angels are real. Ask him. He'll tell you.
When my parents left to go see him, I didn't know what we'd hear the next time they called. As far as I knew he was already dead, and they were taking him to an E.R. But I prayed and prayed and prayed for a miracle. We all did. And as we prayed, Clinton was in the care of some great people. Some seen and some...well, not seen.
On this day, and every day, I can smile when life gets rough. I can cry. Because I'm human. And a girl...But then I can smile because I remember what it feels like to know none of it matters. There is SO MUCH MORE in store. So much that DOES matter, amongst all the things in life that DON'T. And I thank God every day for teaching me that so young.
I'm so grateful for what I've seen and felt in just the first 22 years of my life. Not one day goes by that I don't think on the things/people that have changed me the most. My mother is one of the most amazing people I know. No, she IS the most amazing person I know. She's never had it easy. She's never had it all. Yet she's so at peace. She's so close to God, she's so giving, so calm, so selfless. I can only dream of ever becoming half the woman she is. She's taught me a lot. She's carried me through even more.
I gave my mom this poem last year as a gift, because she's always telling me everything you should hear from a mother. "You're beautiful, you're strong, you're smart..." But for the first time in my life, I finally believed it, and it was thanks to her consistent praise and support. She, aside from the heavenly peace I've felt, is the one thing I can always count on to make things okay. She's truly an angel. And if you know my mother, then you know she's special. And so anyway, here's the poem...
People always say I have a laugh like my mother does. Guess that makes sense. She taught me how to smile when things get rough. I've got her spirit, she's always got my back. When I look at her I think, "I wanna be just like that." When I love, I give it all I got, like my mother does. When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray, like my mother does. When I feel weak and unpretty, I know I'm beautiful and strong because I see myself, like my mother does.
I guess the point of this post is to describe how I've came to understand the phrase "live like today's your last day". Cliche I know. You hear it all the time. But until I cheated death a few times myself, came close to losing people closest to me, I didn't REALLY get it. I didn't really TRY it. But now, it's on the fore front of my mind, all the time. And it is what has made me ME. It is what has influenced my life the most.
Anyway...as always, I hope this has sparked some kindling of thought in your mind. 'Till next time;)