[#unblessed] If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry

So my regular followers know by now my mom was lifeflighted over a week ago from her VERY rural home to the nearest large hospital due to a heart attack and complications from preexisting heart/lung disease. ¬†(If you didn’t, you do now ūüôā )

I’ve been here with her since Thursday morning-taking night shift at the hospital so my dad can go home to the farm, get some rest and do what needs to be done.

You’d think a body might catch a break when some giant life-altering event like this happens. ¬†But NOOOOOOO!

when i asked if life could get worse was rhetorical

In the week plus a day since Mama has been hospitalized we have had (not really, but sorta) funny one [#unblessed] moment after another.

Last Friday morning, following my dad to the hospital, he did the same sliding “stop” at a stop sign turning right onto an access road that he’s done every time he goes this way for 20 years. ¬†But this time-you guessed it!– a very enthusiastic and attentive LEO saw him and pulled his old red farm truck over.

Following behind, I’ll just be honest, more than one salty word slipped out as I anticipated the worst possible outcome in case fatigue and stress prompted Papa to tell the officer what’s what. ¬†Thankfully, it didn’t come to that and after running the plates and license the cop let him go. ¬†[#unblessed]

Sunday I came to the farm by myself for the first time and left Papa at the hospital.  He had remembered to give me a house key and I had carefully put it in my purse.

Perfect.

Got inside-no problem.

I needed to add clothes to a load in the washer and stepped out on the porch to toss them in.  Being the well-trained daughter I am, I shut the house door behind me.  Locked myself out of the house.  

No phone.  

No shoes.

No car keys.

NOTHING.

locked out of house

Everyone down this way was in church.

So I did the only thing I could do. ¬†I put on an old pair of Papa’s boat shoes (after checking for spiders) and hoofed it the two miles to my uncle’s house so he could give me the spare key. ¬†At midday. ¬†In the Florida sun. ¬†No one stopped to ask if I needed a ride. ¬†[#unblessed]

Tuesday I thought I was being very innovative in getting my critical daily medicine prescriptions filled at the local pharmacy HERE since I didn’t bring a sufficient supply from home. ¬†Called CVS and it was a breeze except for one hiccup. A single script was out of refills so I had to call my doctor and ask for an emergency 14 day supply to be sent. Nurse took the message, said she’d get it done. ¬†That was at 11:15. ¬†I head to the pharmacy about 3:00 to pick everything up. ¬†Two are ready but the one from the doctor isn’t.

Thinking that there had been a snafu-they might have called it in without thinking to my pharmacy back home-I telephone the office only to be told that the doctor was going to do it this time, but that because he wanted me to do a follow-up appointment (which I had cancelled but forgot to reschedule), he was basically doing it under duress. ¬†(Even though this is a “don’t you dare stop it suddenly” medicine and I told the nurse my mom was lifeflighted to the hospital with a heart attack).

All the fight was out of me. ¬†I “yes ma’amed” my way through that phone call and said “thank you so much”. ¬†The nurse waited until the minute before their office closed to fax the script¬†just because she could. ¬†[#unblessed]

They are trying to move the fluid off my mom’s heart and lungs with aggressive IV diuretics. ¬†She had one round Tuesday but by Wednesday morning her potassium was so low we had to bring that back up before the next round. ¬†Well, the next round started at 6:30 Wednesday night. ¬†(For those of you who don’t know about these things, IV diuretics mean trips to the bathroom about every 20-30 minutes.) ¬†Yep! ¬†All night long, me and Mama made that three foot trek from the bed to the potty-unhooking oxygen, unplugging the IV pole (it won’t hold a battery charge) and carefully moving her fragile self twice an hour until about 3:30 in the morning. ¬†Apparently cardiologists figure that if they are on 24 hour call, patients should be too. ¬†[#unblessed]

of course i sleep its exhausting keeping you up all night

Heading home Thursday morning after little sleep on Wednesday night, I see blue lights behind me. ¬†I check my speed. ¬†Within the limit.¬†¬†I’m talking on the cell but not texting. I have no idea why I’m being pulled over.

License and registration.  He tells me that the tag I have on my truck comes back to the Toyota Camry we own.

Now, you have to understand our family has many vehicles and they issued new tags this year. ¬†I didn’t pay close enough attention when taking them outside to put them on and got them mixed up. But “switching” tags is a serious offense. ¬†And then, OF COURSE, I had not put the new insurance card in the glove compartment-it was floating in my purse. ¬†(Thankfully I found it.) ¬†For about 10 minutes my heart was racing although I had already decided that if I got off with a ticket I’d pay it without blinking an eye. ¬†He did let me go but I’m convinced he thought I was a crazy woman who should have known better¬† [#unblessed]

heres another ticket for giving me imaginary id.png

Today, I tried to get my injectable RA medicine shipped to the same pharmacy since my shot is due tomorrow. ¬†Went through the whole routine of getting the shipment set up and find out the earliest they can get it here is NEXT Thursday. ¬†When I probably won’t be here at all. ¬†[#unblessed]

I’m sitting here in my parents’ home, typing and taking a break. ¬†Because my oldest son may be here tomorrow. ¬†See, the largest, strongest and potentially deadliest hurricane is headed either for his home on the east side of Florida or for us here in the western panhandle-but we are further inland. ¬†My truck is stocked with bottled water and other supplies “just in case”. ¬†We don’t know if Mama will be released before Irma gets here or not but we’ll be OK. Who would have thought? ¬†It figures.¬† [#unblessed]

Each incident adds stress to the system but none are really all that traumatic.

Because when you’ve buried a child, nothing short of death really rocks your world very much.

And I’ve learned to laugh (once the adrenaline wears off)-because if I don’t, I’ll just cry.

always find a reason to laugh

 

Is it OK if I Laugh?

Thankfully our family has always turned to laughter as a way of making it through things that would otherwise bring us to tears. ¬†So it wasn’t but a couple days past when we got the news of Dom’s leaving we managed a giggle here and there as his friends shared some funny stories with us.

But it felt strange to have laughter bubbling up in my throat even as I couldn’t stop its escaping my mouth.

It wasn’t the free-floating, airy expression of joy and merriment it used to be. ¬†Instead it was a strangled, mishapen gurgling mixture of the joy I once knew and unspeakable pain I now knew.

It didn’t float airily into the atmosphere, it thudded heavy to the floor.

And then I felt like I was betraying my son.

How could I laugh just days after finding out he would never laugh again?  How could I giggle over a silly story when my own story had drifted into tragic territory?  Was there something dreadfully wrong with me?  Was I somehow defective?

No. No. No.

And No.

There is nothing wrong with laughing-even in the darkest night of child loss.

Laughter is a gift.

When we laugh our hearts and bodies are receiving strength for the work grief requires.

Laughter  has many proven benefits:

  • decreases stress hormones
  • increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease
  • triggers the release of endorphins, the¬†body’s¬†natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • lowers blood pressure
  • works your abdominal muscles
  • improves cardiac health

Dominic had an amazing laughhe was always cutting up, teasing friends and family and finding the funny in every situation.  He loved to laugh.

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One of the favorite stories his classmates told me was when he dressed as a redneck client for a mock trial case. ¬†They were petrified that when he walked into the “courtroom” he was going to ruin their strategy and chances of winning.

But he played the part to perfection and had everyone rolling in the aisles.

I am learning to embrace laughter not only for what it does for ME but for how it links my heart to his.

This Valley is a long, dark place-I’ll take any light that breaks through.

And laughter is one of the brightest.

laughter-infographic-larger-300x298

 

 

Laughter

“A joy-filled heart is curative balm, but a broken spirit hurts all the way to the bone.” ~Proverbs 17:22 VOICE

Laughter is good for my heart.  Not just my physical blood-pumping organ, but the emotional center of my being.

And in this Valley of the Shadow of Death, laughter can be a real life-saver.

So I try to work some in each day.  I purpose to see the lighter side of challenging moments, make a point of actually watching those goofy videos passed around on Facebook, read jokes and practice responding with a smile.

It’s not betraying Dominic-although it kind of felt that way in the first few weeks-it’s honoring his sense of humor and celebrating his life.

Our family spent hours laughing around the table, in the living room and passing wry texts back and forth.

I firmly believe there will be laughter in Heaven.  I think that part of joy is great big belly laughs that will shake me from head to toe.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep practicing down here.

A Good Day

 

jm captain

 

Last Friday, my oldest son received his USAF captain’s bars. ¬†True to form, his path to this new achievement was unique and memorable. I’m so very proud of him and of his commitment to excellence.

And that meant that he was leaving San Antonio and headed to Maxwell AFB for Commissioned Officer Training. So he was able to swing by home on Sunday!

 

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Sunday afternoon, my kids presented me with this beautiful “Family of Love” necklace for Mother’s Day. ¬†It has all their names and birthstones so I can wear them close to my heart. ¬†I love it!

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James Michael brought me flowers-lots of purple, my favorite color.

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And then we were joined by Joe and Seve, two of Dominic’s good friends from Law School. Joe surprised me with this amazing handmade plate from his recent travels to Turkey. I appreciate the love and support of these fellows and their ongoing commitment to remember Dominic and honor our family.

 

We had Robbie and Jonica over for supper with their new daughter.  I got to cuddle this sweet baby and be reminded that love still lives and life goes on.

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And no DeSimone adventure would be complete without an “emergency”. ¬†While getting food ready and on the table, we discovered a minor plumbing problem that flooded the downstairs bathroom, the laundry area and into the garage (all downhill-literally and figuratively).

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So while we girls ate supper, the men worked at repairs.

Just like old times-one boy went in one direction, another went the other way and Julian manned the homefront. ¬†Thankfully, they were able to get things back in working order sooner rather than later. ¬†But not before I exhausted our supply of 24 full-sized “clean-up” towels that were washed in bleach the next day!

 

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The evening ended with lots of laughter and plenty of carbs.

And a rare opportunity for a group photo that had me surrounded by all my children within reach. (Thank you, Alison, for snapping the picture!)

We miss you, Dominic.

And we can never stand close enough to squeeze out the giant hole you’ve left.

But we are living like you lived-making the most of the moments-and loving each other.

boys