Thursday, January 20, 2011

Choosing Life

I remember hearing about a woman tragically burned in a plane crash. While in a medically induced coma, she says that she can recall being given the choice to return to her now deformed body and live a very emotionally and physically painful life, or she could choose to die and return to her heavenly home. As she thought about the painful life that she would live, all while being surrounded by her children and loving husband, she said she didn't have to think twice. She chose life.

I think we are all given that choice. Maybe not in as dramatic a way as she did, but nevertheless, we get the choice. Each morning that we get out of bed we can choose to make something of our day, or bide our time until we get to crawl under the covers yet again and go to sleep.

I admit that there have been some days since your passing that I have chosen the latter. Actually, I didn't even choose to go to bed and put the covers over my face. Sleep only brought horrific nightmares. Dreams of Sam stopping breathing during his sleep. Dreams of Halle being hit by a car. I'd run into their rooms in the middle of the night to make sure it was just a dream. Thank heavens it was.

One night I dreamed that I was picking out impossibly little white outfits to bury my child in. Dad and I were looking at tiny coffins. I woke from that dream sweaty and sobbing, because that one wasn't just a dream.

No, curling up in bed wasn't an option for me. Sitting on the couch until 2 or 3 in the morning watching TV until my eyes finally glazed over and I fell into a dreamless sleep was more my style. Even during the day I rarely got off my spot on the couch. I remember giving the kids chocolate chips for breakfast one morning. I had no energy to make anything else. Even the thought of pouring milk onto a bowl of cereal seemed impossible to me. So chocolate chips it was.

I've been accused of being a bit of a drama queen before. I prefer the term "passionate" or "spirited". I'm a problem solver. When things don't go my way I obsess over the problem until I figure out how to fix it. But this is one thing I can't fix.

I cannot bring you back. I couldn't keep you alive. Whatever it was that took you Home, I had no control over it. I will most likely never have more children - I cannot fix my physical broken body. And I cannot heal my own broken heart. There are times when I have felt absolutely helpless. Hopeless - almost.

Somewhere along this journey I realize that I have chosen life. At first it was deciding to make my children a real meal. Something with actual substance. Then it evolved into taking a shower and deciding to clean up the floor to remind myself what color the carpet was. Now the life I choose is to put into action all of the things I've been taught since I was old enough to have actual cognition.

I grew up in a very religious family. My parents didn't just expect us to attend church on Sunday; they expected us to live the gospel every single day. I had been taught about Christ since I was barely able to walk. I remember listening to Sunday School teachers talk of His birth, His life, His death and His resurrection. I believed them. I believed them all. But now I am being asked to believe that it all applies to me. These are not just beautiful fairy tales. These are not gifts given to everyone else. These words are true. And they are meant for me.

I know that Christ lives. I know He came to this earth to teach and care for all mankind. I know He performed miracles in God's name. I know He bore each of our burdens, that He knows our pains and heartaches. I know that He died. And most glorious of all, I KNOW that he was resurrected three days later.

I once was preoccupied with organizing my house, with countless craft projects, or what was on mine and the kids to-do list for the day. Now I'm just concerned with living.

I have made a goal to make the kids laugh each and every day. Not just polite little giggles. I'm talking about deep belly laughs. I love it when I'm in the middle of tickling Halle and she screams "STOP! I'm gonna pee my pants!" When I hear that I know I have reached my goal for the day.

I want to show my husband I love him. Oh, I tell him several times a day, but I want him to REALLY know. I want to cook his favorite meal or go for long drives where we talk about nothing and everything all at the same time. I want to see him smile and know that it was me who put that smile on his face. I want him to know that life would not be complete without him.

I want to remember everything about Halle and Sam's childhood. It is going way too fast already and I don't want to forget a thing. So I have set a goal to document the kids' day in some form each night. Maybe I will scrapbook a few pictures, write down something silly they said that day, or record something wonderful we did together.

To record memories, however, you have to be making them. I don't want to be so focused on writing everything down that I forget to create something to write. I love those moments when I choose to drop everything and play on the floor with Halle and Sam. Yesterday the house was a complete disaster area. But the kids and I were too involved in playing "Beauty and the Beast" to even notice. Halle was "pink Belle" (because she was dressed in pink) and Sam was "yellow Belle" (yes, pathetically Sam is going through a princess phase) while I was the Beast. Sam insisted I growl instead of talk. Halle wrapped an ace bandage around the wound I received fighting off wolves for her. And Sam and I danced in circles around the family room until I was so dizzy I thought I'd be sick.

The life I've chosen isn't all that glamorous. I will probably never see the 7 Wonders of the world. I'll never climb Mt. Everest. And I'll never be famous or wealthy. But I feel love and I am loved in return. I love this life.

Not everyday is easy. Sometimes we can barely hang on to normal heart rhythm. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to keep breathing through all the hard times. But never give up. Always choose life. For this life has so much to offer if we will just hang on to what matters most - the ones who love us, both on earth and in heaven.

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