Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes Away, Blessed Be His Name

As many of you know, Craig's mom, Linda, was diagnosed with stage 4 laryngeal cancer last October 25th. Within a week of that she had surgery for a tracheotomy and feeding tube. A week after that she was moved to a medical and rehab facility in Seattle. In January she started 7 weeks of radiation that occurred daily at Virginia Mason in Seattle. A follow up appointment with a lot of scans about a month ago showed that her body did not respond to radiation and in fact the cancer had spread to her ribs and pelvis. Her cancer was then called metastatic and considered incurable. We knew then that it was terminal and her time left was certainly limited. We were told she had 3-6 months worst case and 12-18 months best case. The news was hard to swallow and rocked our little world yet again. Craig visited as much as he could and spent Mother's Day with her. We went over with the kids on Memorial Day weekend. I noticed she was very pale and seemed worse for the wear. The morning of June 5th Craig got a call letting him know that she was having some trouble breathing and was taken to Virginia Mason. A couple hours after that the ER doctor called Craig and let him know she had pneumonia and wasn't likely to live more than a couple days. Craig was in shock at that point but called me and I then called his sister and aunt. I also called the ER and talked to a nurse so I could ask more questions and see how Linda was doing at that point. The nurse told me that pneumonia is fairly slow, the patient doesn't typically all the sudden code out. Usually it's over about 24 hours and somewhere in that time the patient takes a very sharp turn either for the worse or they start getting better. She said in the hospital pneumonia is known as the sick/old person's friend because it takes them so gently and often prevents them from having to deal with the worst time of their illness. Craig headed to Seattle that afternoon, but missed the boat and didn't get to the hospital til nearly 8pm. His aunt was there and his sister arrived just after that. Linda was asleep and having a hard time taking each breath. Craig and his sister stayed there that night and at 2:20am Linda stopped breathing. I was awake but laying in bed and just couldn't fall asleep knowing what was happening and what my husband, my best friend, was going through.I got a call and a text that Linda was gone and I felt shock, sorrow, pain, and disbelief. We knew this day was coming but Oh Lord how we prayed, wished, and hoped for more time and a second chance at life with her. Craig made it home at about 6am, slept on the couch for 2 hours and then we got started on dealing with the many details of when a person dies.

Her memorial service is this Friday at 4pm at our church. I've been working hard to make the service something that really represents Linda and especially the woman she was this past 7 months. I wish she could be at the service, if only to see how loved and special she was.

Things have been weird since she passed. Some days are really hard, others are ok. The permanence of death is a hard concept for a human brain. When I think of her I see her sitting in the room we last visited her in and her smiling and watching Eliana loudly sing I'm a Little Teapot. It's hard to reconcile that with the ashes we now have. We know without a doubt that Linda gave her heart to Jesus, her letters and journal made that abundantly clear and for that I am more grateful that I can ever put into words. That God took compassion on her and gave her grace and hope when she needed it the most is incredible. I miss her and I miss the letters I received every few days. We became friends the last 7 months and I miss that friendship. She could've died alone and miserable in an apartment, but God allowed things to happen in such a way that she spent her last 7 months with a clear mind and the wits to write her family and spend time with us. That is a gracious gift.

My heart is broken for my husband who finally, after decades, was getting the chance to know his mom sober and have a relationship with her. It's hard for him to understand why that was taken away so soon, yet we deeply believe that things happened the way that was best and her life and death are a testimony to others.

God is good. I believe that. He doesn't know how to be anything other than good. He loves us and takes us exactly as we are. All our faults and flaws pale in comparison to His greatness and mercy. The fact that someone can live a life filled with regret and poor choices and at any point come to Jesus and ask for His help is amazing. We serve a God who is personal and real and who longs to know us and have relationship with us. It's not The Big Guy Upstairs or the Magical Universe. He is real and personal like a close friend. Linda found that out in her final months and I could see her bitterness, anger, and negativity melt away as she learned to love herself and accept her life and move forward.

Linda and Craig on our wedding day nearly 7 years ago.

We have had an incredibly challenging year. I feel like I've aged a decade. But through it all God has held our family together. I love my husband more than ever and that's saying a lot consider the many dark days we've walked through together. God is our sustainer and redeemer and He will make all things good in His time.

Want to know more about a relationship with God? Go HERE.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--" Ephesians 2:8

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The new garden, flowers and veggies!

Got my so much accomplished today! Maybe it's that I had coffee this morning, which I never do? I don't know, but I'll take it :)
Started this am getting up about 7 with the girls, then got ready for church and headed out the door to sing on worship team. Went home after the 2nd service so Craig and Jake could take off for Jake's baseball game and I got the girls down for naps (Craig is a rockstar and had already fed everyone). Then I got to work planting in the new garden beds Craig built for me this weekend. We had planted in a different garden area last year but decided it needed too much renovation (posts weren't stable, chicken wire wasn't tight and keeping pests out, rabbits ate almost everything last year, etc) and it was too far from the house. Craig put a ton of hours in trying to get it to work and we finally just decided to tear it down and start over. I wanted the garden up closer to the house so I wasn't so far away from napping kids or Jake doing school and such. The old garden was way down in the yard and the new one is along the side of the house. Makes me feel much less stressed. I also moved some potted plants around as most had outgrown their homes from last year and I picked up some strawberry starts today, too.

clockwise from top: strawberries, spinach (from seed),and flat leaf parsley.

Two different chives on the left, mint in the back (yum!),and two different rosemary's in front right.

Craig added the border and fresh soil. I put a lavender plant in there and tons and tons of flowers from seed. Hopefully they grow really well!

This is the side of the house that gets full sun so that's my veggie bed. From left to right I planted:
Olympia Hybrid Smooth Leaf spinach
4 Gourmet Blend lettuce
Scarlet Nantes Coreless carrots
green beans
Early Sunglow Hybrid sweet corn
Super Sugar Snap snap peas
Muncher cucumber
Black Beauty zucchini
Vegetable Spaghetti squash

The bed is right along the house, so nice!

Got some great starts from a friend, thanks Rebekah!

The spaghetti squash is planted in 'mountains'. Never done that before, but following directions.

The view from the garden...the veggies should be happy.

The Jake-ster.