When Sam was a year old, I started volunteering at the NICU where he lived for the first 2 months of his life. I wanted to "make peace" with all the feelings I was experiencing over all that we had gone through during his pregnancy, birth, and first few months of life. I didn't think that it had been so traumatizing, but as he neared his birthday I found that I was really struggling with some issues and felt that giving back to the NICU was just the way for me to heal.
Through my volunteering, I have found that my purpose there has evolved. It started off as a place to heal, then a place to help others, a place that I was anticipating seeing my son Luke at, and finally to a place where I can find comfort, understanding, and empathy.
I have made some amazing friends while volunteering. One of my greatest strengths is a mother who is a volunteer herself and started volunteering just a few months before I had Luke. She has quite the story, which I won't share too much of since it is hers and she is the one who should share it (and likes to). But the gist of her story is that she was pregnant with identical twins. Identical, except that one of her babies had a heart and the other didn't. The one brother was keeping the other alive. She had to be monitored closely to make sure that the first baby didn't go into cardiac arrest since his heart was working overtime. When things became too difficult for him they would deliver him early. In which case, her other little boy would die.
My friend has the most amazing attitude. Her strength has helped lift me. She refers to this experience in her life as her "life story."
I often wonder what I would consider my "life story." It seems like all the volunteers up there have these HUGE defining moments. A baby that lived inutero for 11 weeks with no amniotic fluid and had to endure many dangerous surgeries to become the healthy little boy he is today. Another who was born at 23 weeks and deals with severe CP. Then there is the mother who had quadruplets (and is still sane).
I guess sometimes I hate the thought that my whole life can be packaged up into one moment - one moment that makes up my "life story". Maybe that's because I don't feel like I have that one miraculous moment that truly defines me, and therefore my life story seems like pretty weak cheese. Or maybe it's because I don't want to be known for my trials. In fact, I don't think anyone wants to be remembered for their trials. I think everyone wants to be remembered for the way they were victorious in times of trial - just like my NICU friends.
It is not the size of the story that is important. It is the simple fact that it did happen. Our stories are formed, not by what happens to us in life, but by our willingness to let what happens mold and shape and refine us. Our stories are all about letting ourselves become the person we were always meant to be.
And that is what I feel I am doing - working to become that person that God sees inside. I am truly a work in progress and so is my story.
"In this life we will encounter hurts and trials we will not be able to change; we are just going to have to allow them to change us."
Sunday, April 10, 2011
I love my children. All three of them. They are my world.
Last week I enrolled my oldest, Halle, into kindergarten for this upcoming year. I am not exaggerating when I say I had a slight nervous breakdown as I was filling out paperwork. My hands were shaky, I felt sweat emerge on my forehead, and I felt I was suffocating. After all the necessary paperwork was done I literally ran to my car and sobbed. This can't possibly be happening! I can't send my baby to kindergarten!!
But she isn't a baby anymore. And she is, in fact, going to start kindergarten soon whether I like it or not.
I just can't seem to wrap my brain around the fact that my children are growing up, and WAY too quickly. Soon I'll be left with no one at home. I always dreamed that my house would be filled with the voices of little kids, but in two years my children will all be at school. My house will be very quiet. And very lonely.
I wish I had some way of shrinking my children, stopping their age progression, and carrying them around in my pocket wherever I go. If only...
Last week I got a package in the mail. It was from my sister's co-worker who lost a baby quite tragically (although can any loss be considered anything less than tragic?) In the package was a very sweet note and a tiny little angel pin. She had been given one like it after her son passed away and had received great comfort from it. So she passed one along to me in hopes that I too would draw comfort from it.
Although I'm not much of a pin wearer, this one is beautiful and, well, it reminds me of Luke so I naturally love it. One day as I was running out the door to do whatever was on me and Halle and Sam's agenda for the day, I decided to shove the pin in my pocket so that I could put it on my shirt when I found a spare moment. I never found that moment. In fact, I totally forgot that angel was even there and so it stayed most of the day in my pocket.
When I remembered the precious little pin I felt rather guilty that it had spent all this time in my dark, tiny pocket. And then the thought made me smile. Almost laugh. Maybe I can't literally carry Halle and Sam and Luke around in my pocket, but I think I found the next best thing.
Now each day I pin my little angel to the outside of my pocket to remind me that the things that are most precious to me, whether seen or not, go everywhere with me. Boyd, Halle, Sam, Luke, and my faith are ALWAYS with me. They go everywhere I go. They are a piece of me and make me who I am. They fill up my heart and that is where I always intend to keep them. They are the angels in my pocket.