I’ve have been working on this blog entry for weeks now. November was a BIG month for my family. We had many ups, we had a few downs, and there was very little breathing space in between. Now my brain wants to do nothing but rest for the last part of the year.
By all appearances, November seems like a rather calm month. Sure, there’s Thanksgiving, but that’s near the end. Otherwise, it’s always been more of a time to relax before the Christmas season overwhelms us all. Christmas seems to rear its head sometime in early October. So really, November seems to be one of those months that cruise gently along the waves between Halloween and Christmas. Of course, I say that as someone who has not hosted Thanksgiving. I tried once. We do not speak of it… and cooking is not my forte.
This year, November brought with it expected and unexpected challenges. The expected: I signed up to do the NaNoWriMo challenge… and I did it! It’s nice when someone other than yourself proclaims (about yourself) “I’m a winner!" Outside affirmation is nice!
I was trying to accomplish NaNo goals while caught within a flurry of kid rehearsals and performances for piano and school plays, so carving out writing time was like running the mile some days. Freaking. Impossible. I had ideas that would pop into my head randomly, so sometimes in the middle of church or work or at a rehearsal I’d have to grab a pen and paper to write down a spark of “genius.” I also had the good fortune of participating in a local author event at our local library! That was definitely a highlight for my author personality!
But the unexpected came before the month had reached its mid-point. The second week in November we learned my mom would have to undergo surgery. For a year, she had been having pain in her head and neck region. The doctors had chalked it up to arthritis. However, a PET scan finally revealed a brain tumor which would need to be removed surgically. Talk about shocking, scary news. My parents have always been healthy people, so this was the first time I’ve truly had to consider... well… the possibilities of their mortality. It makes my stomach sick just to type the word!
For me, my parents were my rocks growing up. I was never afraid to be who I was around them. I could wear Spock ears or write stories for my Star Trek writing club all day, and I always felt accepted and loved. If Harry Potter had been around then, I would have run around the yard with a wand and wizard cape casting spells upon my younger brother (“stupefy!”). My parents were pillars of strength and models of love, a blanket of comfort when I needed it, and a constant positive force of encouragement in my life. To have to face the reality that, well, they are in fact mortal human beings with a limited tenure on earth… just like all mortals out there including me… well, it didn’t seem possible.
Then the day came: surgery day. It was Black Friday. (Yes, the day after Thanksgiving. We all felt a lot of gratefulness that day!). What can you do as you sit and wait for a 7-hour surgery to be completed?
This, actually, was not my first time having a loved one undergo surgery. When my daughter was born, they found a moderate to severe heart condition that could require surgery as she got older. Five months later, she was having open heart surgery. The most difficult moment in my life was handing my sleeping baby over to a nurse who would bring her to surgery. It’s one of those moments that you know will change the course of your life, and you are powerless to do anything to alter the direction. The only things you can hold onto are trust and faith. Trust in the doctors who are caring for family. Faith, be-it in God or karma or something greater than yourself, that no matter what happens you are not alone and you will get through this trial.
Faith and Trust... makes you wish for a little Pixie Dust, right? That's the saying to make one fly to a land where childhood and innocence is forever.
Actually, Disney intervening in life is scarier than you may think! A friend and I were recently talking about “The Good Dinosaur.” If you have not seen it, let me warn you know that there are some tear-jerking moments, and there are *spoilers to follow.* It seems like most Disney & Pixar movies now surround a main character who loses/has lost/is missing a parent. “TGD” was no exception. Other examples include “Toy Story,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Lion King,” “Snow White,” “Cinderella,” “Bambi,” “Tarzan,” “The Jungle Book,” “Finding Nemo,” “Frozen,” “Big Hero 6,” on and on! Why is this??? “Inside Out” seems to be an exception to the general rule of losing a family member. “Brave” is close, but the threat of losing mom is prevalent throughout the movie. Thinking about this made me even more concerned about my mom’s surgery. These moments of loss have permeated children’s entertainment! After watching “The Good Dinosaur,” I could not help but long to see for a fun, goofy, lighthearted film. Where’s “Minions” when you need it? This is not what I want to watch right now! **Spoilers over**
As I met my dad at in the waiting room on Black Friday, I think at that point both of us had cast our cares up to God. We trusted Him with our precious family member. We talked, shared donuts, watched a couple helicopter landings on the roof across from our waiting room, and just spent time in each other’s company. Soon enough, my brother and his wife (my sister from another mister!) joined us. We sat and talked.
I found the most comforting thing outside of being with family was doing the things my mom encouraged. That included continuing my writing. Envisioning myself in her position, I would not want my family sitting around worried all day for something that was out of their control. The anticipation for the end of the surgery was tremendously overwhelming. While getting some writing done was my goal for the morning, I was surprised to find that when I charged up my laptop to type, the words seemed to pour out.
It’s clear that my mind needed the release. It needed a new focus to get through a situation where I was powerless to do anything but pray (which is a big thing too, I understand, but it’s not something I can do for 7 hours). I also wrote when my daughter was undergoing heart surgery: I worked on some children’s books I had been developing.
Writing is a joy and a privilege in my life, but it’s also a comfort. It’s a way to really dive into one’s feelings and pour out your heart. When I was in college, my art form was dance. When I was upset or hurting, I found that releasing my feelings through movement was extremely beneficial. Now it’s writing, and I know it’s a gift from my parents. It’s something that I can always find strength and comfort in when they’re not around. And it’s a means to connect with them when they are far from me. It’s a way to express my feelings in an environment I control. My story outcomes will not change what happens in my life, but it will help in times when emotions swell up and threaten to drown me.
I’m happy to say that my mother’s tumor was benign. She is now home and recovering. Praise!
I hope when life throws such challenges my way, I will face them with the courage that my mother showed. Days and weeks will move on by, and these moments will collect dust as time passes by, but perhaps I will find this example of strength and courage emerge in a future writing project. I am truly inspired by the family I was born into, and I hope that my writing, and my life, will always reflect that.
I know that throughout my life, I will need to continue to work on keeping up my faith and trust. But I no longer need the pixie dust. My heart is soaring with joy already. I may love a good Disney/Pixar movie every now and then, but I've come to realize that I certainly do not want my life to BE a Disney/Pixar movie. Unless its Star Wars... that'd work. Just call me Princess Leia and get me my lightsaber. You know the Force is strong in my family, right?
“All of our lives were a story; their magic came in their retelling. Words could give life everlasting rebirth.- The Forgotten: Aten’s Last Queen
I would accept this challenge. I would use my breath to give life.”
I would accept this challenge. I would use my breath to give life.”