Monthly Archives: January 2009

Mixed-up post

Today has been a day of contrasts. I wasted a lot of time. I got a lot done.

I spent the early part of the day vegging on my blog, watching those stats creep up. I had a lot of visitors today, I wonder whether people were intrigued by the photos and all your comments and decided to read other posts. I dunno.  

I had a weepy morning – just remembering Jenna, and remembering our time in South Africa. It was such a special time. South Africa is a wonderful place, it gets into your blood, and today I am slightly homesick.

Jenna’s multi-colored suitcase is still in her closet – I have only opened it once or twice since we arrived back in America. I have this urge to go and open that suitcase and lift out the contents one by one and hug them to me.  Her little ballet outfit lies in the very bottom of the suitcase, and I have not laid eyes upon it since packing it away on the other side of the Atlantic. It is such a quintessential Jenna-item, I wonder how I will feel when I have stripped away the layers above it and find that little treasure last of all.

Perhaps tomorrow I will sit on the floor in front of Jenna’s closet and just remember. I have kept every receipt from our shopping trips in SA, I have stuffed all her coloring books and markers and other little reminders of our trip in a big bag next to her suitcase. All the birthday cards that many of you sent Jenna in July is in that bag too. Sweet memories.

I am weepy because the 17th is fast approaching.  There is something scary about crossing the threshold to ‘more than a year ago’. Anticipating her heaven day is difficult. I know from experience that it is good to have people around me and after some deliberation, I have decided to go to school as normal. Still, I have warned my students and my colleagues that I might be weepy that day. They understand. I would like to celebrate Jenna in some way or another at school, and if any of you have any suggestions I would love to hear them.  

I dreamed of her last night. Of course, by the time I woke up half the dream was gone, and all that remains is the image of me watching her play with buttons that floated down like snowflakes. Dreams are funny, aren’t they? A week or so ago I was cleaning up downstairs and found some stray buttons that I placed in my button tin. I thought of my mom, who always kept a big tin of buttons for her grandchildren to play with. Jenna played with them too, if I am not mistaken. I remember wistfully thinking that I’d never see the muffiny playing with my button tin again. Anyhow, somehow the buttons made their way into my dream of Jenna but they were of the snowflake variety. LOL!

So much for vegging this morning. This afternoon I grabbed my history textbooks and planned out the rest of the year. We are going to have to step up the pace a notch because I hadn’t realised that we would be missing many days in May for SAT tests, a missions week and other unplanned events. I sat on the sofa until my hiney got sore and my brain too fuzzy to continue, but I feel better about the rest of the year. We might even be able to finish the curriculum, something they weren’t able to do last year.

Sooo…it’s been a mixed day, on many levels. I feel good, and I feel sad. We had an encouraging visit with our pastor last night. Nothing like a pat on the back from your father in the Lord. Things are changing. God is working. Life is good.

A mixed-up goodnight to you all!

UPDATE: Please pray for little Camden Roell if the Lord lays him upon your heart. He was born a little more than a week ago with his intestines in his lung cavity. Camden will be having surgery tomorrow (Friday) at 12 noon ET. This is major surgery to move his liver, intestines, stomach etc. out of his lung cavity into their proper places, and it is expected to  last about 6 hours. It is a very risky surgery, but it can’t be avoided if Camden is to live.

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Today a year ago…

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reminiscing…

I think I am going to go to be early-ish tonight. I am plumb exhausted after a very busy weekend and not much sleep. For some reason I have been waking up in the early hours and thinking. On top of that I still haven’t recovered from going to bed at about 3am on Friday night and getting up at 7 am the next morning. I need my sleep, I tell ya!

Friday night was a very special church service. It ended late since almost the whole church got up at our pastor’s invitation to share about what we feel God is doing among us. We all agree as a church body that change is in the air and our pastor will be taking some time off to be alone with God and seek direction about where we are to go next. It is exciting!  Our church is such a special and unique place and we truly are like a family. I am so blessed.

I got to school a bit late today because the youngest has an infection in his belly button and was dragging this morning. He had been seen by the doctor over the weekend and I thought he’d be fine at school today but I was hardly there for a few minutes when I realised I had made a mistake. The boy was in pain and was tired and just wanted his mommy. He perked up noticeably when his teacher sent him to me so that I could take him home, which confirmed my belief that at least some of his ‘dragginess’ was a bit embellished. Still, we came home and I am glad we did. I was quite worried about him.

I decided to take him to a nearby emergency room (since I STILL don’t have a pediatrician for my kids) for a second opinion. Taking him there though, brought back a flood of memories.

Exactly a year and four days ago, little miss Jenna was running around nakey in my bedroom shortly after a bath. I was on the other side of the room, taking out clothes for her to wear, when she tripped and hit her mouth on our bed frame. HARD. I panicked as I saw the blood on her mouth and her four front teeth, bent all the way back in her mouth.

I remember dressing her in a red shirt so the blood wouldn’t show too badly, and being very flustered (so NOT like me) as I told the oldest to get his brothers ready so we could go to the ER. He had to remind me that he was old enough to stay home with his brothers (he was babysitting for us often by then) and we needn’t all go. I really wasn’t thinking straight.

I met up with hubby on the way, and as he drove I sat in the back of the car, next to Jenna’s car seat and read If You Give a Pig a Pancake. I was worried because she seemed so ‘out of it’. She kept wanting to go to sleep, which I attributed to shock, and it was hard work keeping her awake.

I can’t remember ever having better treatment at a medical facility. The staff were superb and so gentle with Jenna. Though they normally close at 7, they stayed open until around 10 pm, treating  her. The muffiny talked only when she had to, and only in mono-syllables. Her large eyes expressed her pain, yet every now and then, a comment from a kind nurse would make them soften into a smile. The doctor waited for advice from a maxillio-facial surgeon before proceeding. For a while they thought we might have to pull her teeth out, but they decided to attempt straightening them. Jenna was given a drug which would place her (in the doctor’s words) in a ‘twilight zone’, she seemed semi-awake but was not aware of them working on her. The doctor said it felt like snapping lego’s in place. (Ewww).

We waited around for a good while for Jenna to emerge from her drug induced ‘zone’. It was scary seeing her like that. The whole time we were there I lay on the bed next to her, first watching tv with her and talking her through everything, and later trying to talk her back from the half-asleep zone she was in, to our world. When Jenna seemed fairly awake and with us again, we left, with many thanks and the doctor’s cell phone number. He was going to sleep with it next to his bed that night, in case we wanted to reach him, something his nurse said was a very unusual thing for him to do.

Months later, when Jenna had gone to heaven and I was desperate to remember every little detail I could about her I called the medical facility to ask for her weight at the time she was treated. “Oh,” the lady replied, “we remember Jenna fondly. How is she?”  They had no way of knowing that she had gone to Jesus and were totally shocked. We received a sweet card from them in the mail a week later.

So today I visited the place again. I had dropped off some thank you flowers at the front desk a few months ago, but today I was taken back and shown into a room with my son. As he lay down on the bed and the nurse handed me a remote, pointing out the tv mounted in the corner, memories came flooding back. I was glad the nurse had left at that point, because I was tearing up. I remember laying on the bed with my muffiny while her daddy sat beside us and channel-surfing with those same remotes while we waited for the doctors to see her.

We happened to see the same doctor who had treated Jenna, and he remembered me. Once again I was grateful for his careful examination and excellent bedside manner as he looked my son over. As we left I had a glimse of the room where we had lain with Jenna and I held the tears in long enough to reach the car. Then I explained to the boy that I was missing his sister, and allowed myself to just cry.

The days after Jenna hit her mouth were trying. She was grumpy. She refused to talk. She didn’t want to be alone. She didn’t want anything near her mouth. I was worried she’d get dehydrated because she wasn’t even taking in fluids. Out of sheer desperation, I used empty spray candy containers my boys had collected to spray electrolyte solution into her mouth. Since the spray candy thingies spray miniscule amounts of liquid at a time, it was a full time job just making sure Jenna was getting enough fluids. On the third day she started drinking Pediasure. Out of a cup! The next day, she started eating Rice-a-roni. It was all she’d eat.

Our flight to South Africa was booked for 6 days after the accident. By then the muffiny was eating, albeit in a very picky fashion, and she was still as grumpy as all-get-out. Hubby said she was starting to act like a prima donna. She was not a happy camper on the flight and I remember I was not either, I must have slept all of an hour on the 16 hour flight.

But I run ahead of myself and this post is getting long. I don’t know why I am even writing this and how it could possibly be an interesting read. But tonight I am reminiscing – big time.

I happened to make Rice-a-Roni tonight because it was quick and would go nicely with my chicken stir-fry. The smell again reminded me of those post-mouth-injury days with Jenna where the world stopped and all I did was tend to her.

I’m posting a picture I took two days after her fall. I’ll make it small so you don’t have to see the detail if you don’t want to. It should come up larger if you click on it. Her lip is quite swollen and lacerated (she needed stitches in her lip too) and it is definitely not a happy picture of the muffiny. The picture is dear to me though because those eyes express a million words.

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In the pictures that I have of Jenna after her fall it is obvious that her teeth aren’t quite straight. They were perfectly aligned before my bed changed it. My bed still wears the scars – there are little Jenna teeth marks in the wood which I stroke lovingly every now and then. Just another little reminder that she was here.

My youngest son is doing fine, by the way. The antibiotics are kicking in and he had a much better end to the day to make up for its’ bad start.

And just because I don’t want to end this off with such a sad picture of Jenna, here is a happy one – with her crooked teeth:

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renewal

Have I told you lately that I have a sweet hubby?

The man saw an email I had written to a friend where I mentioned that he seems to be struggling to come to terms with Jenna’s death lately. I expressed the fear that perhaps he was secretly, at the back of his mind, blaming me for what happened. After all, I was there. I knew my husband is too sweet to EVER express anything like that to me, but my fear was that that was what he was thinking.

And so, I got this email in my inbox this afternoon. From the sweet man himself:

My precious Sumi

Just thinking about your comment to Heather in your last email to her, and instead of coming to you and just telling you, I am writing this so that you have it “on record” 🙂

Simply put, I don’t blame you, period. Settle that in your heart.

If anything, I blame life (that part that denies the foreseeable and brings about the unforeseeable), and yes, lately I have felt angry, cheated, but this is not the overarching attitude of my heart concerning Jenna’s death. I have to admit that lately I have found myself in a dry and dark place in my walk with Jesus, and could not find His grace that normally so balms and constantly washes my heart and soul when dealing with Jenna’s passing, and therefore was focused on what life did, rather than on what He is doing.

This last weekend however He has been dealing with me in His gentle, merciful, gracious, yet so powerfully two edged sword “piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit” way, as He usually does. I was sitting down stairs in the wee hours of Sunday morning before going to bed, crying many tears. Mostly of sheer frustration at myself , but also of a quiet, strengthening, and reviving hope in Jesus, and His promise that He “…has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love…”
and that He himself would make it happen because “…he which begun a good work in you will perform(perfect) it…”, which is all “…according to the riches of his grace ; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence…” blessing us “…with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places…” so that all is fulfilled “..according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself..”.

Think about this, He considered it all, carefully thought it through, counted the cost, and made a decision of His will that He Himself would make available to us ALL that would be required (all the blessings, treasures, riches of heaven and His grace) to indeed bring us before Him holy and without blame.

And then today, after you called me about accessing your old emails from when Jenna died, I started reading them myself, and all the peace, all the grace, all the wonderful sense of His comfort, love, and purpose came back like a flood.

All I can say Sumi, is lets go together through the next month, the 1 year anniversary, with a strong determination to tightly cling to Jesus, and rekindle into a burning passion our sense of His purpose in all this, not looking too sadly at what life “did to us’, but looking carefully at, and submitting to, and firmly taking hold of all Jesus is doing. Lets come out of this with the wind of the Holy Spirit in our faces as we run with all our might toward His calling, and possess the land He has promised us.

I love you Sumi, I love you soooo very much, and I bless you, as my adorable wife, and the wonderfully awesome mother of our children.

It is an indisputable fact that Jenna had the best mom, ever. And I know she still brags about you up there in heaven 🙂

Love you
R.

Chocolate

I am sitting here eating a bar of Cadbury’s milk chocolate. I was a really good girl and gave the boys a whopping two squares each but the rest is mine. MINE, I tell ya! I’m not sharing with hubby, he has a whole bar of his own and he hasn’t even offered ANYONE any.

I think the Cadbury’s is going to find its way to my thighs and derriere very efficiently, thankyouverymuch. My jeans are fitting snugly. Last night as we visited with friends at a late night restaurant (you know, the not-so-good ones that you only go to because nothing else is open after church), I squirmed in my chair with discomfort even after I had surreptitiously loosened the top button of my jeans. And this is BEFORE we started eating, y’all. I couldn’t wait to get home and exchange those jeans for a pair of sweats.

The beautiful winter weather we had last week (before this cold front hit us HARD) stirred something in me. I had a crazy, wild urge to join my 6th grade class whilst they lapped the parking lot during PE. Only my sense of dignity and decorum lack of good running shoes held me back. I was also a teeny tiny bit afraid that I would prove to be as unfit as I really am and steam and blow and puff and embarrass myself in front of all my students. I LOVE running though and I think I might just take a pair of running shoes with me to class one of these days. Do you think the PE teacher will think I am nuts?

OK…back to the chocolate. I’m not sharing, because I am pampering myself this evening. It was exactly 11 months today that Jenna left us, and I have been a bit low and cranky (quite a lot) today. It was the first day that it fell on a Saturday, and it was hard. When time passes slowly on a special day, like it did today, I tend to re-live my last precious moments with her and miss her that much more.

And so I am eating chocolate. And I am totally curious. Are you a Hersheys chocolate gal, or an anything-but-Hersheys gal, or an I-don’t-care-just-give-me-chocolate gal?

I don’t like Hersheys. It must be my South African taste buds, but it is too sweet and strong for me. I think I still have some Hersheys kisses floating around the house from before Christmas (Gasp!). Ask my mom – NOTHING sweet ever lasts that long when Sumi is around!

And how do you eat your chocolate, pray tell? I eat mine s-l-o-w-l-y, making it melt in my mouth.

I had actually wanted to write something else tonight. (I will bore you all with it tomorrow, heehee) But the chocolate stole my brain and my post. I’m down to my last square. I might not eat it. I am all chocolated-up.

Which begs one last question:

Can you walk away from a piece of chocolate?

Pages in a book…

The middle boy was reminiscing this afternoon about a trip that he took with my dad whilst we were visiting South Africa last year. They had gone to a nearby game reserve. The boy told me today, in the same enthusiastic terms that he used on that day almost a year ago, how intimidating a lion’s stare can be when it is a yard away from your car. How he never thought a lion was THAT big. How cute and cuddly lion cubs are.

I listened with half an ear. I was trying to remember things. I had opted to stay home that day, because…why? I can’t remember why anymore. I think we went shopping instead? What did we go shopping for? I was trying to remember because those were Jenna days. Our last few days with her. Or were they? Did this happen after Jenna left us and before her daddy and two other brothers joined us in South Africa?

I don’t think so. If my brain serves correctly, they went to the game reserve on a Thursday morning.  Jenna, my mom and I did go shopping. I think.

As the anniversary of that trip and all that transpired approaches, I find myself wanting to coax my all-too-forgetful brain into recalling every detail, every word, every sight of my little miss muffin’s last days with us.  It frustrates me that I can recall a cute conversation with Jenna when this picture was taken three short days before she left us..but I can’t remember a word of what was said!  
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I remember where she was standing when she pinched her little cheeks like that. I know where everyone else in the house was at that time. I remember that she told me the sweetest thing. I remember that I just wanted to eat her up and keep her that small and cute forever, but since I couldn’t, I would do the next best thing and take her picture. BUT WHAT DID SHE SAY? It eludes me, and I hate that.

If she were still with us it wouldn’t be an issue because there’d be more sweet toddler moments to come. But that was it. My last precious days with her and memory fails me.

Of course, there are some things I will NEVER forget. I woke up next to Jenna’s sweet sleeping face and stared at her in wonderment enough mornings, to be able to trace the perfect line of her eyebrows and the symmetry of that little rose-bud mouth in my mind’s eye any time. I will never forget what a sweet little Jenna kiss on my cheek felt like. I will never forget her sweet voice as she told her brothers that they were her ‘best brothers’, or her bossy voice as she tried to organize them. Who can forget seeing Jenna rush up to her best friend Joseph for an exuberant greeting at every church service? How can I forget that sweet, nurturing tilt of her head as she snuggled a soft toy under her chin?

I will never ever forget her

Still, it is not without frustration, that I remember that there are moments, snippets of conversation, that my brain has seemingly lost forever.

I was thinking about this when my eye caught part of Psalm 139 on my fridge door:

Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance; and in thy book they were all written,
Even the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was none of them.

It has always comforted us to know that God had numbered Jenna’s days before she was born and that she had lived her intended life-span here on earth. It was a short life, but a full one, and she still lives!

Today though, it occurred to me that if all Jenna’s days were written in a book that perhaps those cute moments are not lost to me forever. Maybe God would give me a chance to read that book one day, so I could catch up on all the lost-to-memory conversations. I have a feeling that being with Jesus in heaven will be so amazing and God’s restoration will be so complete that I won’t even care about it then, but still it is a nice thought.

It is not always such a nice thought to think that some of my days are written in a book too. Oi vey! Could you erase that one about a week or two ago when I was being so utterly selfish that my long-suffering hubby had to call me on it? Please God?

Thanks!

Whew! I am pooped. I’m off to bed soon, but I just wanted to say thank you for praying for me. The class went off well. Of course, in restrospect I can pin-point things I could have done better (said like a true perfectionist, LOL), but my class was attentive, and my boss told me in passing that she enjoyed it. She will give me more detailed feedback next week.

OK…after staring at the computer screen for the last five minutes to think of something…anything…else to say, I am throwing in the towel. My bed wins.  G’night, friends.

HUGS, all! You are the best!