Friday, May 31, 2013

welcome, Noah Daniel!

Dear Noah,

A first-time hello and welcome to the world from your Baba! Happy birth-day!

Though my cell phone was right beside me last night, it was on 'vibrate' so we missed the messages that your mama's water had broken and daddy was whisking her off to the birthing center.

Good we still have a house phone; your daddy got through just after 1:00 a.m. "On our way!" He sounded excited but also totally calm. After all, it was his third time around: he's a pro!

And then at 3:01 a.m. the message came that you'd arrived at 2:31 a.m! That is to say, for being a few days overdue, you were good and ready to join your family. You weighed a healthy 8 pounds 11 ounces and are 21.5" long. Yay for mom!

All that's behind us now. You came home in a few hours and spent most of the day, as best we can tell, sleeping. Late this morning, we got to see you with Mommy, Daddy, Ari and Ashlyn via Skype. We're so thankful for this amazing technology which is the next best thing to being there with you. Not the same as a snuggle, but better than when your dad was born!

I think your name is amazing. Noah of the Bible listened to and obeyed God, (though people thought he was crazy building that big boat), and was rewarded. I pray you, too, will be a Noah of obedience to your heavenly father. 

I can't wait to visit you, Noah, as soon as I can. Until then, I know you're in good and loving hands. I pray and trust you have a wondrous life ahead of you!

Much, much love, my dear grandson,
your Baba

Noah with his big sisters, Ari and Ash


Monday, May 27, 2013

sweet little doll

Well, no, the idea isn't to post just once a week. Life has been indescribably full, in new ways. Unexpected ways. But here I am again.

Hope you're having a great Memorial Day weekend. Our big treat has been to have son Mark, his wife Jill and their 15-month-old Lily here. They've been in and out for Jill's brother's graduation, but we've had some nice time together. What a precious little girl!

Lily's mastered walking since last I saw her. She's a pro, speeding around our house, stopping, turning, starting. She loves Ellie ("grr, grr"), especially her tail. The cup drawer was a favorite, which I've kept all these years for visiting toddlers.

Lily likes to take her time getting to know people, but once she warms to you, she's a loving charmer. Oh, we'll miss her sweet disposition and winsome smile when they leave.

We're on pins and needles waiting for daughter-in-love Jenny to go into labor down in Charlotte with their son, our first grandson. Our lives are filling up with grandchildren. Somehow, I don't think I'll ever have too many!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

the boys' department

Jenny at 39 weeks

I said I'd blog next on other aspects of the surgery journey, but my brain can't put it into words right now. Maybe because I've been immersed in it for five weeks ... and just need to go somewhere else mentally. So, where better than grandchildren?

In ten days our first grandson is due to join the family, to Dan and Jenny. We're super excited! You'd think, having had three boys in a row, I'd lean naturally to boy stuff. But whenever I breeze through baby departments, I gravitate to the girls' clothing! No thanks to all the neon colors this year! 

The other great news is that Mark and Jill are expecting their first son, our SECOND grandson,
in early September! What fun for these boy cousins to be just a few months apart, and for Baba and Popsy to have a couple of grandsons. I have a hunch that my "boy sense" will come rushing back. Trucks and cars, "rough boys," dirty hands and pockets full of stones and acorns.

Maybe then I'll finally remember to stop in the boys' department.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

an amazing month

Eating lunch yesterday after our appointment
with the surgeon. Notice the
new soft collar!

I've been caretaking, adjusting, resting, gardening, driving, arising early, finding a new normal with Bill and overall rejoicing the last ten days. And, I've found it very tough to get back to blogging.

One month ago today, Bill underwent his spinal fusion surgery. Little did we know the hard work that lay ahead. That night, he could barely move. We fed him for three days. His pain was off the charts. I was scared and wondered what we'd gotten ourselves into.

But today, four weeks later, Bill's been home a week and a half. He uses a cane for stability and can prepare his breakfast, feed the dog, and get around the house fairly well. He can shower and dress himself with some help.

I would tie Bill's shoes every day for the rest of my life if he could just take walks with me! And it's happening ... most days we take two walks around our block, which is HUGE. Pre-surgery, a short walk was more than he could handle. His stamina is slowly increasing. His arm strength probably won't fully return for many months. But thanks to therapy at our local hospital and at home, Bill will get there.

Next, I'll share some of the emotional and relational aspects of this journey. I'm so thankful for the countless friends and family who've helped, prayed, and asked about Bill!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

precisely unfilled

“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us,
and one should not even attempt to do so.
One must simply hold out and endure it.
At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort.
For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled, one remains connected to the other person through it.
It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness.
God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve - even in pain - the authentic relationship.
Furthermore, the more beautiful and full the remembrances,
the more difficult the separation.
But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy.
One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Ten days ago, a young husband in our church lost his vibrant wife Kala. Her unexpected death left three young girls without their mother.

As I sat through Kala's service on Saturday, I was inspired by her deep and abiding faith in God. Kala was, in the words of one close friend, "mildly inappropriate" in her zeal for living and loving, for her family, and for pointing others to God.  

Yesterday I came across this Bonhoeffer quote on another blog. It struck me as deeply profound  in light of Kala's recent death, and in the death of my own mother, who slipped away 34 years ago today.  

I think Bonhoeffer is saying we should not struggle and shake our fist at God at the loss of someone we love. God certainly comforts. But to ask God to fill our empty longing is to diminish the beauty and authenticity of our relationship. God leaves us intentionally and "precisely unfilled" to preserve the memories, love, and joy. In time, this emptiness becomes a deep, unshakable and precious gift.

God is, after all, a god of relationships. It's what He wants most of all with us. And so God redeems and transforms the pain of loss into a gift. The gift of a hidden, preserved relationship.

Make no mistake: losing my mother was devastating. The pain of it reared its ugly head as I brought my babies home from the hospital, rocked them, and raised them with only stories of their grandmother. For years I couldn't stand to pass the Mother's Day cards at the store in early May.

Like everyone, I wouldn't be the person I am without my mother's influence. But I'm also a different person by having lost her so young. I am stronger in spirit, with a more compassionate heart, at least I like to think so. And best of all, I've learned to rely on God, not my mother, not anyone really. Her spirit, her kindness, her crazy ways live on because God allowed me to be "precisely unfilled" for a very long time.

For that I am grateful and now experience a silent joy.