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You Can’t Love Too Much One Part of It

Thanksgiving is behind us, and Christmas is around the corner. It’ll be 2017 soon. These days I look forward to coming home and plugging in our Christmas tree. There’s something that is so peaceful and soothing about turning off all the lights with only the glow of the Christmas tree, and reading a book or watching TV. I’d take this calmness every night if I could.  Makes me want to keep it up all year! (We have a fake tree. I’m allergic to real ones.)

Michael had to work Thanksgiving Day, and he’ll be working again on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We have to get creative with the days we celebrate, so this year Santa is coming on Christmas Eve Eve.

Thinking back over the years, I think Michael and I have spent more holidays apart than we have together. Nature of the job (Army and police officer), huh?

2016 has been a doozy, I tell ya. I’ve spent more time praying, and most recently, reflecting, this year than any other. And if I’m reflecting in true honesty, which isn’t exactly laced with positivity, then I’d just like to go ahead and lay it out by saying…I really wish this damn year would end already.

With that out of the way, despite the craziness, I really am more thankful this year than ever before for all the ways my family has been immensely blessed and saved this year. This doesn’t mean the year was any less stressful, but, I can really look back over it all and see God’s hand in all of it.

My dad’s cancer came back with a vengeance this summer, after being in remission for several years. Three weeks ago his doctor told him that it looks like the chemotherapy is doing its job again, so they can go ahead with the bone marrow transplant next month. This means he’ll be in a hospital in Louisiana for a whole month, but I am grateful that the chemo seems to be doing its job, and we have some more time to spend with him.

Cancer sucks.

My mom had a stay at the hospital, battling pancreatitis, at the beginning of the year. She still isn’t fully recovered, but she’s been able to manage well, carefully planning out the kinds of foods her body won’t reject.

A few weeks ago my Poppy went into the hospital after passing out in the bathroom. Three days in the hospital, and several tests later, he was found to be very healthy and, thankfully, only suffered severe dehydration and was diagnosed with a virus.

A few days after he was released from the hospital my Granny went in for chest pains. They found a heart condition, which now requires her to be on a specific medication every day. She’s doing well now, and we’re all thankful they caught it and it’s treatable!

The most traumatic event this year, happened almost 7 months, when Michael was hit by the car.  I can honestly say that not one day has gone by that I haven’t thought about that day, or what we went through. I remember everything so vividly, just as if I were watching a movie. I know I reference it a lot on social media, and I probably do in real life conversations, too. I try not to bring it up too much because I don’t want to be one of those people who just doesn’t shut up about one particular event, so I really do try to have some restraint, but there are so many things that give me reminders and cause me to stop and be so grateful. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and every time the emotions come over me, or something reminds me, it’s hard not to bring it up. Everything he does now utterly amazes me. He runs, it’s amazing. He marches, it’s amazing. He walks, IT’S AMAZING! I’m amazed by him in absolutely every way possible. His strength. His perseverance. Most especially, his attitude through it all.
It doesn’t feel like 7 months ago. If I pause long enough to think about it and the events of that day, I get chest pains. The phone call. The escorted drive to the hospital. The walk up to the ER…
It’s truly a miracle that he’s still here with us. That Blake still has his daddy around, and that I still have my husband to wake up to every day. God is so good and so gracious.
I have nightmares from time to time, that things went completely differently for him that day, and rather than it being the joyous celebration that it was when I actually saw him at the hospital, I instead discovered I was a widow. It’s been so real before that I’ve even woken with a gut-wrenching emptiness in my stomach. There are daily reminders that I can’t escape, not that I try to escape them, but they are just ever present. I drive by the scene every day on my way to work. Sometimes I catch him limping, even though he’s trying not to. When he grabs his leg in slight pain, or his back is aching him, I know it hurts, but he never complains about it. Blake still mentions he has a hurt leg like daddy from time to time. (Kids really do have excellent memories). Each time Michael goes for a bike ride with Blake, or he runs, or does anything active, I think how miraculous it is that he’s able to do those things, not quite like he did before, but he’s doing them! I don’t think the constant reminders are bad. I’m actually thankful for them, because it’s a beautiful reminder to never take one moment for granted. Tell your loved ones you love them, hug them a little tighter every single time they walk out the door, and tell them every day how much they meant to you…even if it’s in a text!
Michael’s injury has encouraged me in so many ways. It’s put a different perspective on the every day stressors I have in my life, knowing that if he can come out of this the same person (if not stronger) then I can certainly overcome any obstacles I face, especially with him by my side.
Michael has come back from it and not once seen it as a hinderance, but as a “life event” that he just has to move past. If you don’t know my husband, just to give you a little glimpse into the kind of person he is and that he is always looking on the bright side and trying to see the fun in everything, this is a selfie that was his idea to take in the ambulance ride over to the hospital with another officer. By this time he was doped up pretty well, but despite that, this is so him! He wanted to document this once in a lifetime event! HE’S SO CRAZY!
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To further his amazingness, and without going into too much detail about the events, he continually kindly asked about the guy who hit him with the car while he was in the trauma center, wanting to know if he was okay. Numerous times he said he wanted nothing bad to happen to him and that he wished the best for him. (Me, on the other hand, they were only lucky that Orange County Correction Officers were guarding his door which was only down the hall from Michael’s, because I was ready to bust up in there myself. And I wasn’t looking to be as tender-hearted as my husband!)
Michael is truly my real-life hero. My Captain America! (I always did think he looked a little like Chris Evans…) At the close of this year, I will hold on to him a little tighter, knowing we almost didn’t have another year to spend together.
To the man who changed our lives forever and who is responsible for this, every few weeks or so I revisit the word “forgiveness”. At the moment it happened I was fuming and wanted the worst for him. I don’t wish this anymore, yet, I’m not ready to be okay with it. In my heart of hearts I know I need to forgive him to truly move on, but admittedly I am still struggling with this. It’s a little easier to move onto that stage now that Michael has made nearly a full recovery, but then that tiny little “what if” creeps back, fully knowing the intention of this man was to kill him. And so I just can’t bring myself to say that I forgive him, because I would be lying. I was hoping I’d be there by the end of the year.That 2017 was my fresh start. That I could say I’d done it, I forgive you, then I’d feel better, and move on. Because, I want to forgive him. I want to close that grief, that blame, and get on. I’m just struggling. I just can’t. Not yet. I am thankful Michael was saved. I am thankful he is here. I am thankful to all who came to our aid. The lot of people who cooked us meals, took Blake, cleaned our house, stopped by, brought gifts, sent cards, called, texted, and loved us through it. You are a blessing. I can accept that this happened to him, but I’m not ready to forgive.

I’m a writer a heart. I don’t claim to be a good one, but I’m a writer. I formulate lengthy letters, conversations, advice, silly stories, and blog posts in my head throughout the day as I’m driving, or have a few minutes to myself to think. I’ve often written letters in my mind to this man, attempting to bring closure to my thoughts enough to say “I forgive you.” I haven’t quite made it. My husband’s court date is coming up soon. It makes me think of what I would say or write to this man if I was given an opportunity to do so. The number of letters I’ve written to him in my head would at least make a nice stack on someone’s desk. It’s all perfectly drafted, emotions and all. I know he’ll never see it, but it helps to think it out. I keep thinking the more I “write” it the quicker I can just let go.

But…

Maybe next year.

About a month after Michael’s surgery, I had my own surgery.  (It couldn’t wait.) I’m still wresting through that. It’s going to have to be another blog post, but it’s when we found out that the likelihood of us having anymore children is very unlikely. It’s been a little devastating, heartbreaking, and hard to swallow. Some days I don’t think about it. Some days I accept it. Some days I want to cry. Some days I don’t understand. Some days I am jealous of others.

Yet, in all of this, despite my hard heart toward this (psychotic) man, despite all the hospital stays with my family, despite a very traumatic event, despite our finality of a family of three, and despite my (unmentioned here) recent diagnoses with food allergies and intolerances (oh, how I miss you milk chocolate, and pizza!), God is good. He is gracious. And I know that even with one hell of a year almost behind me, he is always certain in the path he has set before me. I never doubt he has a plan. I may cry about it, I may not understand it, I may flinch and ask him “why?”, but my faith is in Him.

Yes, I’m eager for this year to be behind me, and anticipating a fresh new start in 2017! But, in tragedy there is good. In chaos, there is laughter. (Thank you to my husband for always showing me this.) In God, there is clarity.

There is so much to be thankful for this year. In every single circumstance my family and I were given the gift of life and health a little while longer. My dad. My mom. My grandparents. Michael.

I want to be someone who, next year or 20 years from now, looks back and admits that 2016 kinda sucked, but I came out stronger because of it.

I want 2016 to know that even though it was hard on me, my dad’s still here, my mom’s okay, my grandpa’s still here, my grandma’s still here, my husband’s still here and he’s a walking epitome of awesomeness, and I already have one truly beautiful son, and that motherly right will never be stripped from me, even if it won’t happen a second time.

I want 2016 to know that my faith is stronger. My mind is stronger. My spirit is stronger.

When I look back at life one day, I’m going to say this is the year I didn’t let life get me down. I forged on.

Every year isn’t going to be easy. There’s bound to be other tough ones in my life.

But, life is crazy that way. I accepted that a long time ago.

I’m learning, though, that it’s only the kind of crazy I allow it.

The kind of crazy where I dust myself off and keep going, despite the whirlwinds.

In the words of John Mayer…
” ‘Cause I have a feeling it all evens out, y’know? At the very end of your life you’re going to sit down at the table, you’re gonna shuffle up the good and the bad and it’s all going to make perfect sense to you when you figure out that in the accounting books it comes up completely even. And then you’re going to ask, “well, what was it all for?” and they’re gonna say, “well, you did it, didn’t you?

You can’t love too much one part of it.”

And that’s the way this wheel keeps working out.

Happy (Almost) 2017! LET’S DO THIS!

dsc_3592Thanksgiving pic of my family (minus Michael, who was working)
My healthy Granny and Poppy, mom, step dad, and handsome boy!

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