I sat at Sonic in silence waiting on my mozzarella sticks to arrive at my window. It was a cloudy, kind of cold afternoon. My foot tapped as I waited and my mind raced. I couldn’t quite place my finger on what was making me so anxious. I had an email to complete, some letters to mail, supper to finish….but none of those things should wreck havoc on a person’s nervous system, I thought to myself. Yet I could feel my pulse racing and my body quivering as I took a deep breath and inhaled the smell of the “Frasier fir” scented disc that dangled from my rear view mirror. Instantly, my mind flashed back to the “frosted pine” scented candle in the mercury glass votive that met me every morning leading up to my hospitalization with Banks. “That’s it” I said audibly right as the car-hop whizzed up to my window.
It has been almost a whole. calendar year since I thought of that candle, or since the scent of “pine” filled the air. Though one of my favorite scents in the whole world, something about that scent in the cold breeze under a cloudy sky triggered me back into a place of stress and sadness. The December of 2020 was not a fun one for me, and I “journaled” every step of the way on the blog. (You can read the whole story here). I would get up early, before everyone else in the house, and sit in the darkness and read my bible and pray. Mainly because I was afraid. I wasn’t reading it and praying because I felt like I “should”. I was focused on that place because I felt like it’s all I “had” in the sense of hope during that time. It provided me with some type of energy that I couldn’t quite replicate with anything else. And as my baby boy kicked within me, and twin boys held onto each leg, I needed all the strength I could muster to face the hard days ahead.
About this time two years ago, I was receiving the detailed diagnoses of my percreta and all of the many complications Banks was facing at the time. It’s hard to believe he ever faced a single hurdle as he giggles and pounds his little feet around the living room these days. But his first days were hard. Sometimes I wonder if he’ll ever understand just how much he’s overcome in two short years. His calm disposition and constant smile are such a contrast to the deep sadness we felt as the doctor rattled off diagnosis after diagnosis and fear after fear. I remember the hot tears streaming down my face when I opened the car door and saw Jon. I remember thinking how unfair it was that I had to face that news alone (covid) and how unfair it was that we had to face something like that in general. I cried for a hot minute and then told Jon to go to McDonald’s and get me a Dr. Pepper. I drank half of it, and then proceeded to talk to him over the whole crappy situation we found ourselves in as we drove home and decided how to tell our families.
Things continued on, as you well know, and the birth came along with life altering (and life saving) surgeries for us both. We’ve both healed extremely well. And I’m able to do everything I was before having Banks, minus the having kids part. (Which having twin 4 year olds and a 2 year old has proved that the hysterectomy was indeed a blessing. Joking. Kind of.). I’ve gone to therapy for my body and my mind and all things considered, we’ve recovered relatively quickly. By January of 2022, I was ready to get back to “normal”
However, that’s not exactly what happened. After being in “survival mode” for so long, “normal life” left me feeling whiplashed and ultimately I fell into depression in January 2022 and have battled it on and off ever since. Just past the one year anniversary of my surgery/Banks’ birth, a good friend of ours was killed by a drunk driver in a tragic accident. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to navigate. This past year we lost several family members and grandparents. I even jokingly said aloud several times “We should own stock in this funeral home!” due to the amount of funerals we attended in such a short time. Our home has been “unsettled” as we have worked on renovations. And there for a while, even marriage seemed hard. Jon and I, both under an incredible amount of stress, seemed to argue more than usual for a season. When it seemed that perhaps we were going to “plateau” for a while on this journey back “up”-my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Stage 4 Stomach Cancer. And I find myself here. Again. Trying to find a place to focus in the spinning.
I guess I thought after everything with Banks that I had reached my “quota” of bad things happening for a while. Our family had been through enough, right? We couldn’t possibly have anything else happen-at least not so soon. And yet, here we are. Everyone is handling it all well-and my mother-in-law has had several good weeks for which we are thankful. Her prognosis is hopeful, even if not totally ideal, and we are all learning to cope. But there’s this looming “fact-of-the-matter” that it’s all a little bit unfair any way you slice it.
This Sunday was the start of Advent and I am committed to studying through it with the boys. I bought a study book for them from The Daily Grace Company (Linked here if you’re looking for one!) and I got mine from She Reads Truth (linked here if you want to follow along). Both of the first day readings discussed the fall of man, the beginning of sin, and our need for a savior. The She Reads Truth study this year is titled “The Joy of Every Longing Heart”, and it seems fitting for life right now. Because oh how I long for things to be different some days. To be fair. To just be okay, even when it feels like they’re not going to be ever again. I long to experience a total sense of peace without fear of hospital monitors, heart-racing phone conversations, tearful news, friends losing babies, friends moving away, friends losing lives. How I long to not have to worry about my loved ones, or my children, or “what will we do when…”. There are so many people I know-maybe even everybody I know-that’s going through something right now or has gone through something that has just flat beat them up. Most probably won’t post about it on social media and even fewer than that will take to a space like this to write it all down, and that’s okay. But it doesn’t negate the fact that everyone is carrying something. And everyone is longing for something different. A lighter load. For things to change. For miracles to happen. For troubles to cease.
Those closest to me have looked at me lately with compassion in their eyes and uttered the words “Y’all have been through a whole, whole lot”. And we have. But so has everyone else, too. I wish I could offer something like a 10 step list on how to navigate a life that seems to stay in “falling apart” mode as mine has the past three years, but I’m just living it out day by day and perhaps that’s the answer? These days, I find myself back up in the early mornings, praying. A little bit anxious. A little bit sad. Cold air and the scent of pine filling my lungs with the assurance of heavy days ahead and a heavy load behind. Different than 2020, but very much the same. Because now at least, I know what God has done, what he can do, and I long to experience his sweet peace once again. Because that’s where the joy is. Advent – “the coming” -has never meant more.