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Monday, February 20, 2012

How I Broke my Toe Playing Pinkilicious

Otherwise titled, "Seriously? You don't have a better story than that?"

It all started happily enough. The girls were out of school for President's Day today and wanted to play Lily Baker's Pinkilicious board game. The game has cards that you pull and you have to do what the card says to get your points.

Ann Catherine pulled a card that told her to pretend she's driving a car, and we all had to follow her lead.

Rather quickly, her sedan turned into a Corvette and off she went. LB and I followed along.

Oh, you know where this is heading, don't you?

Off she went into the kitchen. LB was hot on her heels and I was bringing up the rear. As I turned the corner into the kitchen, I slipped in my socks and the only thing I remember is one leg flying up in the air and then landing, rather unceremoniously, sprawled out on the kitchen floor. There was nothing graceful about it. I banged my knee on the hardwood floor and one of my toes on my left foot hurt like all-get-out.

This is where it gets good.

At first, the girls were oblivious. Then I guess they heard me groaning because, to her credit, Ann Catherine poked her head back into the kitchen to make sure I was breathing. Once she realized I was still alive, off she went. Lily Baker, however, never looked back. I could have been a twisted, mangled, mess and she wouldn't have known it. She was on a mission to win the Pinkilicious game. Sorry, mom.

Think we're a little competitive in this family?

I finally got up and limped back to the game. We began to play, then I couldn't hold it in any longer.

"Girls," I said. "Thanks for the help back there. When you are hurt, who drops everything to pick you up and make sure you're okay? That would be me. Instead, you guys were leaping over me like I was roadkill!"

Guilting them into asking me how I was began to backfire. Instead, they started giggling.

"At least Ann Catherine checked to make sure I was alive," I continued. "Lily Baker, you just left me in a heap on the floor with tire tracks across my back."

That's when Lily Baker got up, mock sympathy oozing through her from head to toe, and said, "Oh, mommy, I'm so sorry. Let me see your knee," and she inspected it as if she was on staff at Johns Hopkins.

Ann Catherine, at this point, was in full-blown laughter.

LB gave me a hug and a quick smooch on the lips and mumbled something like, "Can we start playing the game again?"

That, my friends, is gratitude.

I'm wondering if I should have the following conversation with girls: "Hey girls, you know how I showed you to use 911 if there's an emergency? Well, if mommy ever becomes unconscious during Wii 'Just Dance' or a fierce game of Princess Yahtzee, could someone please pause the game for about five seconds and make sure I'm still breathing? I get that you all want to win, but seriously, is that too much to ask??"

It only got worse once Chris got home. You see, sympathy is hard to come by in this household. Chris doesn't feel bad for anyone. He once played a hockey game he doesn't remember. He went back in after taking a puck off the face that knocked him out and left him with a concussion. (on a personal note: kids, I am not condoning this. Your dad clearly has scrambled eggs.) At the end of said game, he had titanium plates put in behind his eye where he was gashed during the game. Then, he played the next night. It's why baseball players who go on the DL because of hangnails make him crazy.

He loves me with all his heart, but believe me, I get no sympathy from him.

So he gets home, and I tell him I think I broke my toe.

"So, how'd you do it?" he asked. I just looked down.

He starts smiling. "How'd you do it?" he kept asking.

Oh, he knew it was going to be a good one. Finally, I confessed.

He laughed the entire time I told the story. Then he looked down at my purple, swollen toe and said, "Yep, looks like you jammed it pretty good," and walked away.

Then as he got to the bedroom, he threw out, "Maybe you should just stick to Wii dancing."

My poor, aching toe. And battered pride.

Tonight as we were tucking the girls in and doing our nightly "I'm thankful for" ritual, Chris said, "I'm thankful no one was seriously injured today while playing the Pinkilicious game."

And the girls started cackling.

Seriously, the outpouring of love is overwhelming in this household. Living here is not for the faint of heart.

I had a migraine yesterday that put me in bed all afternoon and evening. Today, I wiped out during a children's board game and knocked my toe out of whack.

Can I get a do-over? I'm thinking it's not going to be my week.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wait for the Rainbow

I have a picture that hangs on my mirror in my bathroom.

It's a picture Ann Catherine drew when she was younger. It's a picture of me (you know, the awesome stick figure kind, without hair :) with a halo over my head. I put it there as a reminder of how my daughter sees me, even though it's so far from who I really am. It's a reminder that she is watching everything I do - and learning from it.

Sobering thought for moms, huh?

I added another picture the other night. But before I tell you about it, I must explain what happened that night.

Ann Catherine had one of her grief attacks. I have no better way to describe it. Out of the blue, she'll start thinking about Melissa and she'll just begin to uncontrollably cry. And this goes on for a while.

Have you ever watched as your child truly grieved someone?

It is absolutely heartbreaking.

I went into her room as she and Lily Baker lay in bed. I held her and she sobbed and sobbed. She kept telling me how much she missed Melissa and "I just wished that I could have seen her before she died." I bet she repeated that sentence eight or nine times.

I held her in my arms and told her that I missed her, too. I kept telling her that we would be with Melissa again one day. And each time I said it, she replied, "I just want to see her now!"

I began to cry, too. Tears rolled down my face as I tried to reassure her.

Ann Catherine grieves just as I do. When it finally hits her, she can't hold it back any longer. I grieve the same way. Once I give in to crying, I will cry hard for a good five to ten minutes. So, I didn't rush her. I just held her and let her cry on my shoulder.

The song "Our God" popped into my head. As she sobbed, I rocked her and began to sing, "Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other. Our God is healer, awesome in power, our God. Our God."

Then Lily Baker, who loves this song, joined in. And the two of us sang the chorus over and over and over as Ann Catherine cried.

It was one of the most gut-wrenching and beautiful moments I have ever shared with my daughters.

And then, when I couldn't sing through the tears any longer, I stopped. And Lily Baker just kept going. And she sang that as I rocked Ann Catherine back and forth in my arms.

About twenty minutes later, she stopped crying and I put them both to bed. Then I came into the den, collapsed into the sofa and began to bawl. Chris came over and put his arms around me as I cried.

"I just don't know what to say to her sometimes," I told him. "I know we will see Melissa again one day, but I know that doesn't soothe Ann Catherine's pain right now."

And that's the problem.

We, as parents, are "fixers." We can't stand to see our children sad. So, we try to fix the problem.

This is one problem I cannot fix. I can't bring Melissa back. I can promise Ann Catherine that we will see her again, but that doesn't take away her pain right now.

Please pray for our family as we navigate this journey. Please pray that God will give us the answers we need to these tough questions.

I want to be real with my children concerning Melissa's death. I want them to see me cry. I want them to see me grieve. I want them to know that I miss her too, with all of my heart.

At the same time, I want them to see my faith. When they are older, I want them to look back on their years with me and I want them to say, "I know that my mom loved Melissa and missed her with all of her heart. But, I also know that she trusted God's plan for our lives and she knew that He was in control. She wasn't bitter or angry. She believed that God could bring something beautiful out of so much pain."

So back to my picture. As you all know, we call Lily Baker our rainbow. She is the promise that God sent to our family after that horrible, tragic storm of losing Melissa. The rainbow is a powerful symbol to our family of God's love for us. It is a powerful symbol that life could go on after the storm.

This week at preschool, Lily Baker drew the most beautiful picture of a rainbow. I asked her if I could keep it. I taped it to my bathroom mirror, just above Ann Catherine's picture.

When Lily Baker walked in my room the next morning, she said, "You put my rainbow on your mirror!" She was beaming with pride.

When she walked out, I thought about what we experienced with Ann Catherine the night before. I realized that the rainbow goes so far beyond Lily Baker's birth.

She is the rainbow we celebrate on earth. But one day, we will see the ultimate rainbow.

When the four of us are reunited with Melissa, that will be the final part of God's promise to us. That yes, it may be hard for now, but the rainbow will appear one day. It will shine over our family - our family of five - as we are finally together the way God meant for us to be. When I hold Melissa in my arms, all of the crying, all of the hurt, all of the sadness, all of the grief, will be gone - forever. Not just in my heart, but in Chris' heart, Ann Catherine's heart and Lily Baker's heart.

That rainbow is going to be so spectacular.

Thank you, God, for the rainbow.