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(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

A couple posts ago I wrote about how certain dates or seasons can stir up emotions. Well, as anyone with a memory knows, a number of things can grab us and transport us back in time—smells, tastes, sights, locations, just to name a few. And if what happened is bad enough, we can experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms when reminded of what we’d rather forget. That’s just part of the baggage we pick up along the way.

The trick is to notice we are only experiencing an emotion in the present, not really going back in time. Of course, PTSD is a recognized mental disorder, so sometimes we can’t just will away our responses, even when we understand why we feel so anxious. However, with a whole lot of work and some more time on our travels, maybe we can lose that baggage in transit—or, if nothing else, reduce the size of the luggage.

Nonetheless, it was hard to pack away that luggage enough to let our daughter go so far away to college. Despite our daughter’s improved mental health, we were concerned about the distance between her and us, as well as from the providers who knew her and had helped her get back on track. Freshman year is complicated for almost all—even for those who have no record of mental illness difficulties. Dorms are poor places for good health practices, mental or physical. Yet, we figured her breaks would allow her access to her providers and we could re-assess treatment after her first year away.

Good plan except Sherman’s work switched insurance options in July—which left off her providers from our list of those covered. So I began trying to find providers where she would attend college—or through the college counseling center. After several conversations with the director of the center, she and I decided her needs could be handled through the center.

Well, turns out the center isn’t really funded well enough to keep up with the campus needs. After she had a few bungled encounters with different people at both the counseling center and the health center, we no longer felt we could trust those providers with our daughter’s needs. Since time had passed getting to that conclusion, we needed to find providers ASAP.

Finally, we realized we could pay her former providers out of pocket for now and decide later.

Which meant she and I got to visit them in their location twice this week now that she’s home from break.

Yesterday, as we waited an additional half an hour for her scheduled appointment, she said, “I don’t know if it’s me or not, but I always feel sick when I come here.”

Me, too, baby. Just returning to that building brings on multiple emotions and responses from me.

First of all, I don’t want to be reminded of all those hard times our family experienced together in our own home and otherwise. And then, I’m also trying to forget the people within the system who were harmful to us rather than helpful. Additionally, every trip there requires all patients and their families to go through multiple frustrations: difficult highway traffic, constantly changing parking situations, security systems that delay appointment arrival once in the building, lines at the check-in desk, having to wait for providers even though a patient’s late arrival can mean a charge and re-scheduling, etc. Plus, there is always an underlying worry the illness will return and the location will become too familiar once more.

Amazing that all these feelings are stirred up by this place where a few people did bring about great healing—which is why we return despite all the reasons not to.

Thankfully, the providers we saw this week have been helpful. Coming back was the right decision for now. But I think she and I both ought to recognize there’s nothing odd about our mixed emotions when we enter that building. The few neutral emotions we have about the place cannot quite hold up against other intense feelings and responses.

We’ve just got to keep working through what got us there and doing what we can to make sure this is no Hotel California for us—we do get to “check out” even if after each visit it takes some time before we lose sight of the place–and how we were at an earlier date in that place–in our rearview mirrors.

So the best I can do is to turn the car onto the road home and get us away from there as fast as I can. It’s like that Stan Ridgway song “Drive, She Said”—only the baggage she and I carry isn’t stolen from some bank, but something we’re hoping to dump off at the first chance. Yup, I’m driving getaway straight to that pier.

(c) 2008 Christiana Lambert

We all have anniversaries of the heart—some declared and some secret. A certain kind of weather, a date on the calendar, or anything else that brings back difficult memories can give us pause and remind us how much we miss certain people or how close we came to losing others. Often memory grabs us in ways that don’t even make sense.

Why do I frequently think of losing my neighbor Jenne when I type? Is it simply because she was good at typing and I wasn’t? Maybe, but it’s really because she is just that irreplaceable—she mattered to me. The years stretch out, almost 26 later this month, and yet from time to time she appears in my thinking unbidden, especially when I’m confronted with milestones she never met.

Of course, by now, she’s one of many who are gone who can’t be replaced in my heart—some connected by blood and love, and others by love alone as she was.

However, Decembers no longer just point to saying goodbye to Jenne anymore, but now they also remind me how someone I love felt so replaceable to some that it didn’t seem to be enough to her at that time to know she was irreplaceable to so many more, including me. While I cannot forget those dark days, I also do not fail to remember how grateful I am that light did return for her.

In any reasonably functional family, none of our family members is replaceable, not a single one—no matter if others beyond our homes act as if it is so.

I cannot shield those I love from the cruelties of the outside world any more than I can from the cruelties of mental illness, but for the rest of my days, in both good times and bad, I will declare that you are all irreplaceable.

Never stop believing you matter—there is only one of each of you. Your names are written on the only heart I have, just as Jenne’s name is.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Just when you think you’re living in the here and now, sometimes you respond in a way that tells you you’re not over the past yet. At least I do.

My days are much calmer than they’ve been in years—and my nights, too. The kids are away at college and my mom’s health has been relatively stable. Sherman and I have been doing projects that have been put off since my mom fell and moved to Denver almost three years ago—and since her rapid decline into dementia became evident and required so many extra tasks—and brought on a whole lot of worry and loss.

Truth is I couldn’t really even give Mom the attention and love she deserved during much of that journey because my life was divided between concern for her and concern for helping my daughter to find a way out of depression.

For so long I lived one day at a time—and for a while there, it seemed I could only focus on more like one hour at a time.

When stuck in caregiving mode, “everyone” tells you to take care of yourself. You do what you can—I exercised and blogged as much as I could. But so much was left undone. And, as I’ve noted before, when I’m upset, I’m less efficient (thanks to those darn emotions!) than usual.

Since I’ve never really been efficient, the “to do” lists were even more overwhelming during our hard times. To retain sanity, I had to pull in and focus on caring for my loved ones and myself. The larger community of this world was going to have to wait for my time and efforts.

Even after a few months of the slower pace of the empty nest, I’m still saying “no” to many requests. I have the time on the calendar—I do—but I just feel pulled to spend time here in my home where, thanks to some of our recent work, the chaos is no longer overwhelming. It’s as if the adrenaline has not quite left my system and I have to take my pace down to a crawl to relearn that not everything requires a “fight or flight” response. I’ve had to be so flexible and reactive for so long that I find it especially hard to give up planned down time—even when people really need help. I also know that there will likely be more surprises on Mom’s final journey.

This is where the little angel and devil begin fighting over my shoulders about what I do and don’t deserve. I can’t tell if this is a moral dilemma or a health dilemma—or both. Part of me feels as if I am acting selfishly right now, but another part is not sure I am recovered enough yet from all the twists in my own journey to reach out to others very often.

As it turns out, lately, thanks to the little physical ironies of aging, I’ve found myself awake when I would prefer to be asleep. Since my usual get-to-sleep techniques don’t seem to be working, I’ve figured out I might as well spend the extra time praying. If I can’t put my hands to work doing for others, maybe I can put them together in prayer.

All my life I have been much better at giving through actions versus with contemplative offerings. My everyday actions were my prayers. I pray that, in the near future, I will have worked through the scar tissue enough to return to living more as the spontaneous, giving person I used to try to be.

In the meanwhile, just give me Jesus . . . and a little more time.

(c) 2010 Sherman Lambert

This week in Denver it seems it’s been the week to talk about suicide—which is not something our society likes to talk about until forced to do so. I’ll consider myself forced to jump on the bandwagon—or at least compelled to do so.

Last Sunday Sherman and I walked with a group from Bethany Lutheran Church in the Second Wind Run. As I mentioned before the event, the Second Wind organization seeks to prevent teenage suicides by providing mental health resources for students who may not have access to the care they need. And as much as it might have seemed that I was just enjoying a warm day exercising and connecting with people I know, trust me, the tears came later.

That the event was followed by the suicide of a young Denver Bronco, Kenny McKinley, kept those tears fresh as the topic continued to be discussed throughout the week.

One of the bravest pieces I read was not informational as much as confessional. Long-time Denver Post columnist Woody Paige shared his brush with the suicide dance—and gave just another example of a person considering taking his life when the world would say that he should have had plenty to live for.

That’s the thing, it’s just not that easy to look around and know who is harboring those feelings. We’ve got to do a better job of really hearing what people are saying—and making it OK for people to express those feelings so we can do our best to help them before it’s too late.

And when it comes to young people, it’s even trickier to figure out who is in trouble and who isn’t—even for the professionals.

First of all, what doesn’t always get presented in informational checklists about depression or suicide risk in youths is that the young don’t always look the same as more mature people do when depressed or suicidal. Life in adolescence is lived in the moment—and the swings from high to low can be immense.

A student can keep up the grades, activities, appearance, and achievement levels, in general believing that life is worth living, but one or two bad events can turn his/her life view upside down. They don’t always have the life experience to know that the good events will come again.

And their peers, who are also still growing, may range from less than helpful to outright harmful. My own kids talked about how during Suicide Prevention Week some people roamed the school halls who felt nothing of making jokes about people who felt suicidal—as if there’s something funny about someone feeling hopeless.

The other thing I truly believe is that we have to be the advocates for our loved ones, even if the professionals think we are somehow too jumpy to see the good changes. But when you live around the depression, you see a whole lot more than a professional can see in one hour once a week. You have to trust your own gut, too. You might agree that 90% of the time your loved one is OK, but you know that for 10% of the time, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen. You see what happens when the mask comes off . . . and often what you see frightens you.

I wish there were more answers for how to help people before it’s too late. The good news is that we are finally talking about this word that used to be whispered and hidden in shame. More of us are paying attention—which is good because we just can’t stand losing them—any of them.

P.S. I should add something more than talking about suicide as something we can do to help those in need. We can also direct them to call the national suicide hotline, 1-800-273-TALK, which is available 24 hours a day.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

When it rains it pours . . . although not literally around here or we wouldn’t be having so many life-changing fires.

No, this weekend I have two causes to support two days in a row. As much as I know these events will bring me too close to emotions I’d rather not disturb, I can’t say “no” to participating in either event. They both raise funds for causes that are essential to those closest to my heart.

Tomorrow I will be participating for the first time in the Memory Walk which supports the Alzheimer’s Association. This is my first time only because I was in denial the last two years, not because the disease hadn’t already begun to wreak havoc on our family. We were already suffering as we watched my mother fight and lose to a disease that has taken away two of the things she prized the most: her intelligence and her independence.

The good news is she has found a caring home where the staff members love the residents and love helping them to feel better in each moment right where they are. Since last year she has lost much of her anxiety, relaxing often into the soothing words spoken by those who help her through her days. I will be participating in the Memory Walk at Denver’s City Park with a team led by Emeritus’ Court at Denver staff. We will walk together with the names of all the residents listed on the back of our T-shirts and do our best to remember who they have been throughout their lives.

And then on Sunday I will be returning to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds as a team member of Bethany Lutheran Church to walk for the Second Wind Fund of Metro Denver. The Second Wind’s mission? “. . . (T)o decrease the incidence of teen suicide by removing financial and social barriers to treatment for at-risk youth.” For whatever reason, Colorado ranks sixth in the nation in suicides. If you have had a student in a Colorado high school during the last few years, you probably know that several schools have experienced losses. At a time when our schools have reduced budgets for counseling staff, many of those counseling departments are encountering more students in crisis. The Second Wind Fund aims to provide outside resources for those without access otherwise.

Pumptitude 2008

I will be forever grateful that our family had coverage in our time of crisis. There is no easy road to healing, but with the right professional guidance, lives can be saved. And since guidance takes money, I will be walking.

Watch me as I lace up my running shoes and pin race bibs on my shirts both Saturday and Sunday and do what’s uncomfortable (emotionally) for me in order to help people who will be in need in the future. Or if you’d like, please help support the causes yourself.

To support my walk for Alzheimer’s, click here.

To support my team’s efforts for the Second Wind Fund, click here.

Now, if you don’t mind, I better rest up! I’ve got miles to go before the sun sets on this coming weekend.

(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert

Yesterday at our church service, we began the new church year by lighting the first Advent candle. The emphasis, as always during the season of Advent, is on waiting. Watching the candle burn, I found it hard not to be reminded of how much we were waiting upon hope last December—and how it took a lot longer than just the month of December to reach the light.

And, so we give thanksgiving that somehow we all survived that bitter month and those that followed, even if scars remain, some visible and some hidden beneath the surface. The world has rotated another year and we are back, much better prepared to believe in the light.

Yet, somewhere out there, there are others who walk a path into the darkness and question where the light went. Their journey is either just beginning or, perhaps, they have gotten lost in the shadows.

Last year, when our daughter ended up in Children’s Hospital the week before Christmas, we hadn’t had time for much of a hopeful mood, let alone for decorating or shopping for Christmas. Advent was as dark as it had ever been in our home. Our family was leading a one-day-at-a-time (or hour) existence.

Children's Hospital, (c) 2009, Christiana Lambert

Once she was in the hospital, we were definitely in the proverbial “deer in the headlight” mode, just trying to figure out the hospital’s program for helping her get better, along with making twice daily trips to visit her. There wasn’t much time to contemplate the financial costs, but even though we thankfully had a maximum out-of-the-pocket expenditure, suffice it to say the healing was not going to be free.

Enter an invitation to visit the Snow Pile, Children’s annual event where families with hospitalized kids go to “shop” for those kids, as well as for siblings. Part of me thought we didn’t need such help, but that wasn’t really true. Getting healing for your child is priceless, but even middle class families with insurance are stretched when using high deductible health care plans. Besides, who has time to shop at such a time?

My daughter didn’t know about the event and my husband had to work, so I showed up early on my own to do my “shopping” before visiting hours. So far I haven’t been able to convey well enough the experience to my other family members—that “shopping” trip remains for me a glowing light in a time of deepest winter.

(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert

A volunteer escorted me through a large room piled with toys, stuffed animals, books, clothes, blankets, hats, games, etc.—but no snow! The volunteer worked from a checklist of the types of items each patient receives, as well as each sibling receives. When I told him my daughter really wanted a Slinky Dog (from Toy Story), he walked over to the mountain of toys for younger kids, searched, and found it. Before leaving, we stopped at another table for wrapping supplies. Last stop, being handed off to another volunteer who carted all the holiday goods off to my car in those little red wagons frequently used by the littlest patients at Children’s. Wow.

Then I went back to the hard tasks of visiting and meetings, but with a lighter feeling in my heart. I promised myself I wouldn’t forget. Somehow we had to help with the program in future years.

Fast forward a year (not really!) and I hadn’t really figured out how to help. When I called, I found out this year’s event is already filled with volunteers. But, what they need (frankly, what they need every week of the year, not just during the Snow Pile) is blankets for the patients.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Well, what my son needed to do was some service hours for his civics class at school. So, yesterday he did the excruciating work of standing in line at Joann Fabrics, waiting to buy polar fleece. Really, that may be the toughest part of the project, especially for any man in my family! The fabric was on deep discount, so we bought enough for eleven blankets—he’s got five done so far.

Sometimes when you’re stuck in darkness, it helps to know that someone who doesn’t even know you or your family is blanketing you with love. Charlie Brown’s friend Linus had it right—we all need something to hold onto that reminds us of hope—especially when we’re busy waiting for the light’s return.

Washington Park Sunset, (c) 2009, Christiana Lambert

From time to time I get little reminders about how much better life is in our house. Even though my mother is unhappily fighting her Alzheimer’s, it’s an unfortunate truth that many of my peers have elderly parents experiencing memory declines and/or health problems. But when you’ve spent time in that almost secret society of big time kid problems, you can feel pretty alone.

One minute you’re rolling along with typical teen family problems such as getting homework done, fitting in all the activities in already tight schedules, finding time to eat dinner together, tripping over all the school-related items that more often than not land in the common areas, and trying to get kids to wake up in the mornings. You’re working on trying to let them handle their own problems and working out the tension as boundaries fluctuate between whether something is your responsibility or theirs.

Jackson, Larkspur, 09/12/09, (c) CBL

Jackson, Larkspur, 09/12/09, (c) CBL

It’s difficult territory as they stretch their maturity and you learn to let go. Still, that’s exactly what all the other parents are experiencing and you can all commiserate—you’re definitely not alone.

But there’s a whole other world out there you might not even know about if you haven’t experienced it. Depression leads to different behaviors in different kids, but one way or another, family life is disrupted. Everyone is affected by living with one person’s depression. Yet, it’s difficult to judge who you can trust with what’s really going on in your home. How do you protect everyone’s privacy and still find support?

That’s a journey we walked for a year—a journey filled with fear, confusion, anger—and not many light-hearted moments. Into that journey, when we were feeling most vulnerable, we had to reach out for professional support, even though not all of it lightened the burdens—and some seemed to add to them.

Looking back, I still can’t say what really made the biggest difference, but I can distinguish about when life started to feel like the normal chaos of a household with teens: just after my daughter was really able to open her eyes to her grandmother’s anguish over her life difficulties. Before, she had been too embroiled in her own difficulties to reach out to her grandmother.

That was almost three months ago. I was starting to think I had lost my ability to distinguish between normal teenage difficulties and true crisis—that I would forevermore look for the worst and have to fight to keep myself from being overprotective. Thank goodness my gut seems to know that I can back off.
Believe it or not, after all that therapy, she really has developed a lot better tools for dealing with life’s disappointments. She and her brother get along better than they have in years. We laugh in our household. The fuses are a lot longer.

Ironically, as I was writing this almost five days ago, when the kids came home from cross country practice, she was still breathing rapidly over half an hour after finishing running. She had had a minor sore throat for a day and doesn’t have asthma, but she couldn’t catch her breath. My crisis-honed gut told me to get her to a doctor, even though she was opposed to any more crises.

When we got to urgent care, the power was out. Just when they were about to send us on, the power came on, they could do the nebulizer treatment and take the X-ray, get the breathing normalized and determine she was OK. We were sent out about an hour later with a prescription for an inhaler.

Christiana finishing at League, 10/16/09 (c) SAL

Christiana finishing at League, 10/16/09 (c) SAL

She went home to do homework, while I went to the pharmacy to get the medication—just in case. On my way home, for just a few minutes, I lost all those feelings of gratitude I had been waxing about before she had arrived home from school. Why couldn’t we just have normal experiences?

Then I reminded myself, it had turned out OK. She caught her breath—and so could I.

We really are breathing easier these days—all of us. Thank God!

Somewhere in Spain, November '82 (c) PSL

Somewhere in Spain, November '82 (c) PSL

I often forget how thin the line is between joy and sadness—in the end, if you are feeling, you are open to feeling both sides of an emotion. I suppose that’s why people often cry at weddings—and laugh at entirely the wrong time.

Yes, I am more prone to the second reaction. Too often I see more than one side of a situation. In the late 80s I worked in a company located in a suburban office park. Our desks (pre-cubicles!) sat in the open next to a bank of windows. One day the building manager rushed in and announced, “Don’t be alarmed, but there’s a maniac (running) loose with an Uzi.”

I couldn’t stifle my laughter.

He turned to me, frowning, and said, “Young lady, this is a serious situation.”

You can imagine that I had an even harder time not reacting to that one. I either needed to laugh—or hide under my desk. If some highly armed lunatic wanted to shoot at us through the windows, we’d be sitting ducks. What’s not to be alarmed about that situation? Not only was I worried about those of us at work, but also about the at-home families I knew in the surrounding neighborhood.

Sadly, somewhere in a quiet development on a blue-skied, sunny day, the man did harm someone before his life ended in violence. Life is full of juxtapositions between what is good and not so good.

Sunday as we drove through Kansas, somewhere around the “herd” of wind turbines whose blades turned in the air, Christiana was laughing. She was driving and joking with her father while I sat in the seat behind them. I was drinking in the pure joy of her laughter when, without warning, I remembered all those days when she did not laugh.

That’s when the tears started slipping down my cheeks. I realize it had been an intense weekend due to seeing my mother so changed, but I didn’t expect to feel sad about something that made me feel so happy for my daughter. I guess I was crying for the normal days we didn’t get to have—and for so much more that I wish neither she nor anyone else in our family had had to experience. I wanted to feel joy for what had been regained, but first I had to acknowledge what had been lost.

So I did the only thing I know how to do well when I am overwhelmed with my emotions—I asked for pencil and paper. And when I am really stumped, I find it best to fence my words into the short and simple (on the surface, only) format of the haiku.

Tears fall on pillow,
squeezed from expectations lost.
Redefine normal.

Trina jumping, 2007, Georgia Pass in Colorado

Trina jumping, 2007, Georgia Pass in Colorado

The good news is that she gets very frustrated with me now when I worry and don’t acknowledge how much she has moved on. She is seventeen and once again believes in possibility. At seventeen, every day is an exercise in redefining normal, no matter who you are and what you are experiencing.

After a long period of mourning the normal I thought we’d have, it’s finally time for me to redefine, again, what normal is. Although thirty years beyond the wonder of seventeen, I can’t argue: there really is no good reason for not embracing a new normal that—thank God—includes laughter, including my own, even if, no doubt, I will occasionally still laugh at all the wrong times.

Last month in the Agnes comic strip, Agnes claimed she could smell numbers—and they didn’t smell good! Even with a self-made filter, she declared the smell still kept her from doing math. Of course, with Agnes, you never know if she means what she says or if she’s just trying to get out of doing work in school.

Well, I don’t know about you, but claiming that numbers smell bad is as good a reason as any for not doing your taxes. Yeah, I’m pretty sure the IRS would buy that logic just as well as Agnes’ principal did!

So yesterday I finished getting my papers ready for my appointment with the accountant—after his office manager (his wife) had “gently” reminded me on Facebook, of all places, that time was running short. The papers were all in a file folder, but I still needed to do things like finish the spreadsheet on my writing year and add up all business and medical mileage—which I did do. Nothing major, right?

I like to think that numbers are objective and, as such, bring about no emotional response—but I know I am only trying to fool myself. How can I forget that preparing monthly financial statements for a family business that was bleeding red could make my heart bleed red, too? Oh no, my subjective heart kept trying to find errors that could explain away the losses, but after my objective mind reported the truth, I could only read the reported numbers—and weep.

This time, totaling the medical miles reminded me of how long the journey has been. And so, I wept.

That simple objective number told the truth I didn’t want to remember. That number smelled bad—it smelled like fear, anger, disbelief, and a whole lot of other emotions I’d rather filter out—but can’t. I will never forget the detour that set us on the road we did not want to take.

The best I can do is be glad that that part of the detour is over and that we keep moving a lot closer to merging back onto the superhighway of expectations and dreams. Yes, there are still mileage numbers to report, but they’re starting to smell more like hope and joy.

All the hard work and emotions in those numbers are leading to a sign that reads “Detour Behind.”

A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers

A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers

Yesterday I came home to find an envelope from FedEx. Cup of Comfort for New Mothers had arrived with my story in it!

“The Rope” is about my late pregnancy realization that I only had so much control over my future parenting journey. I was just starting to understand how difficult it was going to be care for two people—and yet help them to be who they were and to live in the world outside our home.

When I read this work I had written when my kids were five, I realized how little I knew then about what we would need to face in these years since. That’s the funny part about becoming a parent, you know that certain things are going to be difficult, but you don’t really KNOW what that means until you are living them.

I knew I loved sleeping in and soon would, instead, be sleep-deprived. I realized I would miss spontaneity. I could tell already that homework was not the most joyous parent/child encounter. I was sure I would miss out on a lot of exercise and there would be less time, money, and space. Nonetheless, I also knew I didn’t want to miss out on being mother.

I used to get annoyed when parents of older kids would say, “Just you wait.” As if I were stupid. I could see that things were different. I mean, to every person who would knowingly say, “Your life is really going to change . . .” when I was pregnant, I wanted to reply, “I know that—why do you think I didn’t pursue this parenting gig right after I got married?”

Yet, re-reading this story outloud to myself, I wanted to say the same things to the thirty-five-year-old me that other parents had said to me. Especially in light of what’s happened over the last several months.

In the current session in DBT, we are studying interpersonal effectiveness. There are four other families with teenaged daughters in the group. None of us knows why the other girls are in DBT or what other families have experienced. What we’re all there for is to do the hard work of moving beyond their pasts and improving all our presents and futures—finding a way back to enjoying the journey, if you will.

Wednesday night, for most of the time the parents and girls met in separate rooms. We parents were each asked to state one thing we want for our daughters and then describe how we feel when they don’t seem to make any progress in this area.

The pain in the descriptions was evident in a way it isn’t often during our meetings since we are focused on doing a lot of exercises—verbs.

I don’t imagine when we held our newborn baby girls that any of us thought for a moment that one day we would end up in a room in a hospital, working desperately to get those girls back on their journeys in a way that would allow them to be happy and productive. The journey to that room was not one any of us wanted to take.

The story I wrote ends like this:

My husband and I have since learned that there is more than one rope to hang on to and more than one river to navigate. The excursion that began with my body continues to take us both to places we had never planned to go. We can only hang on for dear life and try to enjoy the journey.

Everyone in that room has been hanging on. But, we need to remember to enjoy the journeys, too, even if we’d rather have known—instead of KNOWN—about certain phases of the journey.

Even KNOWING what I KNOW today, I still would have chosen to take this journey.

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