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Déjà Vu

 

IMG_1304The alarm will sound around 4:15 a.m. so Gracen and I can get out the door by 4:55.

It’s just a hospital I’ll tell myself as we pull into the parking lot Thursday morning.

It’s not an emergency—just a planned procedure normally performed in an Oral Surgeon’s office—but better safe than sorry when your child’s health is already compromised.

Nothing serious—just wisdom teeth—I’ll tell myself as I exit the car and unload the wheelchair from the trunk.

Deep breath in.

Exhale.

Game face on.

One foot in front of the other.

One foot in front of the other.

5:15 a.m.

Carpeted floors. Upholstered chairs. Pre-procedure registration.

Bump as the wheelchair handles vibrate beneath my hands when the carpet ends and the sterile tile takes over. Another bump before the wheelchair glides smoothly over the floor as we pass oversized electronic powered doors.

Scrubs.

The smell of disinfectant.

The quiet buzz of nurses while keyboards click.

The blood pressure cuff.

Thermometer.

Pulse and oxygenation recorded.

When did you eat and drink last?

Take your medications?

The gown placed on the rolling bed and the snick as the curtain is drawn.

Gracen and I left alone in a small cordoned off space.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

One step at a time.

Game face.

I’ll bend and lock the chair’s wheels in place so it won’t roll away from us then lift Gracen’s right foot off the foot pedal flipping the pedal up as I place her foot on the floor prior to up turning the pedal out and away from the wheelchair (tripping hazard). Then repeat the procedure with her left foot.

She’ll lean forward as I reach beneath her arms grasping her around the back and pulling her to her feet. Gracen’s arms will wrap around me clutching at my back as I help her disrobe before reseating her, readjusting the foot pedals and align the wheelchair perpendicular to the bed before moving the foot pedals out of the way again. I’ll place my right foot between her two feet before lifting her to her feet again and pivoting to perform a quarter turn to set her on the waiting bed. Hopefully, it will not be necessary to actually lift her up onto the bed. That’s just harder. She’s a tiny thing but it’s all dead weight. I’ll place my hand behind her neck and turn her head toward the pillow as I simultaneously lift her feet up swinging her body around and laying her onto the bed. Then I’ll figure out how to maneuver her body all the way up and onto the pillow at the top of the bed before unlocking the chair’s wheels once again, flipping the foot pedals back in place and then finding an out of the way place for it to sit in the small space.

I’ll hand Gracen her cell phone, pack her discarded clothes into the plastic bag provided before placing her clothing and my purse on the wheelchair’s seat. It might as well be made useful while it sits vigil with me in the surgery waiting room.

Gracen and I will wait as the nurse and Anesthesiologist prepare us for what comes next. Eventually, they will release the locks on the bed’s wheels and push Gracen away from me and behind the door leading to the operating theater. My eyes will follow her until the door closes and she can no longer be seen—no longer be reached.

Swallow hard.

Deep breath in.

Exhale.

Rise and push the wheelchair filled only with Gracen’s clothing before me into the waiting room. Find a place to park the chair out of the way of normal foot traffic. Drop into an upholstered seat.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Don’t think about what’s happening now.

Don’t think about what might happen.

Don’t pray. You’re not strong enough to shoulder any more deferred hope.

What benefit are my prayers if Gracen’s predetermined number of days have been reached?

Reach my trembling hand into my purse and withdraw my sanity protection device—a simple e-reader.

Distraction, distraction, distraction.

Praise God for fiction!

All I need is a sure fire way to engage my mind with anything beyond what might go wrong. To fill my mind with letters and words mashed together telling a story with a happy ending.

All I need is a distraction from the triggers inherent in my immediate environment reeling me back in time . . .

IMG_5553to the stretcher, I lay upon,

the rumble of the wheels bumping over the pavement,

the whoosh of the automatic doors sliding open,

voices talking above and around me,

the charge nurse’s greeting

and the echo of my desperate voice asking. . .  “Where is my daughter? Is she still alive?”

It’s only a hospital.

It’s not an emergency.

Gracen’s life is not at risk.

At least I think it’s not. . .

 
4 Comments

Posted by on August 11, 2016 in Adversity, Faith

 

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Risky Business

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A few months ago, my husband and I met with our insurance agent.  We reviewed all our current policies including our life insurance and, in light of the collision that killed two of our children, updated our beneficiaries.

We also purchased additional life insurance and during the course of the “insurability interview” (at least that’s what I call it) we were asked if we participate in any “risky” activities.  Imagine my raised eyebrows! “Such as . . . “, I responded. “Oh, you know, car racing, extreme skiing”, or something like that was the response. “Uh, no” was the answer of course.

Our insurance agent unknowingly planted a seed that day.  A few weeks later I looked over at David as we sat at a red light and reminded him of that conversation then told him, “Ever since Matt mentioned car racing I’ve had this desire to get behind the wheel and drive really fast.”  David just laughed at me and I laughed too.  Wouldn’t it be ironic to have your insurance agent inadvertently encourage his customer to participate in behavior he was, in effect, insuring against?

You’d think, being involved in a double-fatality car accident would put a bit of a damper on the desire to drive really fast, but you’d be wrong.  For one thing, I really didn’t see the accident happening.  I was reading and completely unaware of what would befall us until happened.  Now, an actual wreck, that would probably toss me into a full-blown PTSD attack, not the driving itself.

hawk1Every time I buckle up and point my car down Highway 102 toward JBU, I anticipate flying down the twisting, turning two lane stretch between Centerton and Gentry with the radio cranked up – loud!

I virtually itch with the desire to push my foot to the floorboard of my souped-up Toyota Camary (sarcasm alert) and fly down that twisting, turning highway.

But shoot, I’ve always been a practical kind of girl.  In fact I think I was born with a forty year-old brain, and practicality constrains every latent, adrenaline-fueled, fantasy that flashes through my mid-life crisis driven soul, leaving me regretting the fact that I missed out on my opportunity to experience and enjoy a misspent youth! Oh to rewind the clock! What different choices might I have made if I had known this day was coming?

I wish I had the opportunity to participate in martial arts, to spend copious amounts of time on the gun range, to be trained to race cars, drive defensively, to zip line and hang glide and even jump from a parachute packed plane – No Adult Diapers Required!

I’d choose to embrace adrenaline and eschew safety. I’d choose to live wide open, if I could do it all again.  And I’d also choose David and Cole, Bethany, Gracen and Katie all over again – heartbreak be dammed!  For there is not one thing I’d choose to undo about my family in order to avoid the assault of death and disease in my life, because all the adventure and excitement risky business promises in no way compares to the riches of human relationships.  I may regret missed adventures but the only regret of any consequence I have in regards to my family is a lack of health and a lack of time – neither of which I ever had any personal control over.

54e17e2b4343e-image1So, as much as I might itch to fly down highway 102, leaning into the curves and blasting down the straightaways, it’s highly unlikely that I will ever actually cut loose and do it.  (Well, not the way I’d really like to anyway).  I still have important relationships here to enjoy – and no amount of adventure and adrenaline is worth the price some other unsuspecting family might have to pay should I selfishly choose to ignore the risk to other drivers on the road one day and open that throttle up and fly.

Nope – that kind of excitement and adventure is what fiction is all about.  So I’ll just have to charge up the ereader or raid the Redbox and live vicariously through the characters within and hope that, as Randy Alcorn seems to believe, the new Heaven is a redeemed earth, and I’ll have all of eternity to bring glory to my Savior by fully enjoying His unblemished creation.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 13, 2016 in Faith, Good Fun

 

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