Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good Friends

Last November I turned 30. In appreciation to my dear friends I rented a beach house on the coast and took all my friends for a few days of fun. We ate great food, scrapbooked til late at night, and had a fun girls weekend playing on the beach. I wrote them this letter and read it aloud to them during one night of our trip. Other than those friends that night, I have never shared it with anyone. Too honest I suppose. Or too deep. Either way, I think enough time has passed that I feel I can share without too much embarrassment. Pride is a difficult thing. Not easy to handle, not easy to face. In re-reading my own letter to my friends I can see progress and pain in so many areas of my life since that time. Still so much room for improvement. So much room for growth.

I wrote it as if I were talking, not as if I were going to publish it, as that was never the plan. You will have to excuse the grammar and punction flaws. Here it goes:

November 2008
Why I invited you all to celebrate my 30th birthday: Yes, you all are skinnier than me but you are all older than me too….so we should be even right?

First of all, you each possess certain qualities that help a person, who is afraid to bear their soul for fear of judgment, get through life. At some point in time I took a huge leap of faith and confided in you that life wasn’t as great as it appeared on the outside. The days I told each of you were some of the most freeing days of my life. After Carter’s less than perfectly planned birth and the huge medical bills that followed, doubled with the sudden screeching halt of income from the housing market decline, the death of a close friend, the mortgage payment’s doubling and me going from being a stay at home mom of 6 years to now supporting my family with an extremely stressful new job, an intense training program as a 911 dispatcher (only then to face layoff due to budget problems)… I realized that at some point in time, I couldn’t keep it all inside anymore.

However, good came out of this experience that has taught me more than I could ever have hoped for. What I realized was that even though I lost my home, my car, my security of a steady income, my ability to be a stay-at-home-mom, and all that we had worked so hard to attain… I still had my children, and one little miracle baby that God chose to heal from a tragic medical problem. I still had my Husband and I still had my God. I had my parents, grandparents, sisters and friends. I still had Hope. I believe that without each of you, I couldn’t have the perspective I have today….what I’ve become during these last few years I hope is for the better. I’ve learned to be satisfied with much less. I’ve learned to pray, even for the very small things, I’ve learned to trust that life isn’t always going to go the way we hope for it to and that just about the time you get used to the new normal, it changes again. I hate change. I’ve come to understand that about myself. I hate not being in control of my life, and everything that I lost I couldn’t control. I think that I handled the time of Carter’s illness better than the loss of all my possessions. I wonder why I trusted God with my son more than I did with my stuff? It seems as though I had more faith during our time in the NICU then when I walked away from our home for the last time. I hope someday I can understand my “less than logic” on that. The learning process is certainly not over. There were days when I scream to the sky why? Why everything we own? Why not just the car? Is this lesson in humility over yet? Do I have any pride left in me to rid? What was God thinking? God why won’t you just call me on the phone and tell me, please?

For the first time during all this I heard God’s voice. After 3 years, really heard it. A few weeks ago I was laying in bed, trying to sleep, very frustrated about a situation and praying and asking God the 20 questions I usually do, most beginning in “why can’t you?”(no wonder I can’t hear him) I was laying very still and suddenly I heard Him say two words, and two words only.

"Allow me".

I almost fell out of bed.

What? Allow me.

Is that all your going to say?

Whoa..I think that’s all you need to say. Point taken. I think I’m tired now.

For days…those words replayed over and over and over again in my head.

Allow me.

Have I been so wrapped up in every painful event over the last few years that I couldn't even allow Him to help me bear my burdens? Allow him to handle the tough stuff? Allow him to show me the why when I asked? Allow him to take control? I still don’t think I have allowed him. Instead, I cry out for Mercy. I plead with God that this is all I can handle. Please don’t give me one more hard thing. Not right now… or my next home will have padded walls. Why can’t I just roll over and submit? I think I’m still afraid of losing more and that somehow if I allow him, I will lose more. I never promised any of you I was logical! This is clearly a journey I have not finished.
My job has changed me also. I have evolved from a naive person to a very thankful, but eyes wide open person. Ironically during my time of own personal crisis, I helped people with their bad days. I’ve talked to elderly people when their spouses have just died, parents whose child just might be Satan himself, people who have witnessed tragic car crashes or found someone who has just committed suicide. People who have nothing left, not even their minds, because they have made such poor choices they have ruined themselves. I’ve talked to people who think they hate me even though they don’t know me. Broken hearts because of terrible home life, and people who could care less about anything but themselves. These stories change a person. These stories live in my dreams and cause me to be mindful of just how much worse life could be and thankful for the life I have. Mindful of what life would be like without God. This job has made me question my faith and my God more than I ever have before. To look hard into why I believe what I do. Again, a journey I have not finished.

I wrote something about each person I invited even if they couldn’t attend this weekend.
Here it goes…

Katie…Just because were sisters doesn’t make us friends, were friends because we choose to be. Your selflessness is inspiring to me. I love how you love my boys and what a help you have been in raising them. There’s obviously a reason why Jordan’s first word was “Katie”. Every good kid deserves a great mom and I’m glad Titus picked you. (Don’t worry, I’ll teach him his first word!) Your level headedness, patience and discipline are admirable traits I only wish I possessed half of.

Michele…You make me laugh. So. Hard. But more than that you saw me on my cranky days, my happy days, my tired days, my sick days, my bad mom days, my messy house days, my filthy house days, my clean house days (let’s hope that’s the one you remember) my “I’m pregnant” day, and my decorate for Christmas days. ….and you didn’t put your house up for sale even after all those days. You are the best neighbor I have ever had and loved living next door to you. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the friendships we made while living on Trinity and being friends with everyone on the block. Well, except maybe for the pink house! other neighbor. We met when our world’s were crashing down around us. Except that you could smile and I could not. Our hearts can only handle so much some times and even though it’s hard for you to smile now, the day will come again. He promises it will. I wish I could say what the outcome will be but just know this…God is God, and we are not, and He is the same today and yesterday no matter the circumstances. Hold on to those hopes.

Cara…While you are my friend I have know the longest, It’s been a while since we have spent time together. Yet every time we do we fit right in. Watching Jordan and Owen grow up is only reflective of how long we have been friends. It’s exciting to watch Owen grow to be such a great kid, with opportunities most kids don’t have. Thanks for always keeping in touch by email, Christmas cards and mutual sporting activities, and for always sending a kind note and a Birthday e-card!

Monica… better known and as Moniqua…and another mother of three boys. Thank you for being such a great second mom to my kids, if only you could have breastfed them, darn. You have done more hours of babysitting than any friend should and always with a smile on your face. I appreciate you for the time you spent at the NICU and the time you spent at Applebee’s listening to the worst thoughts I’ve ever shared with a friend. I cherish the good times, when we laugh so hard, you snort and the tears flow uncontrollably. I wish I could say I love the late night scrapbooking with you...but dear friend 8pm is not late.

Vicki…You have to be the most gracious person I have ever met. You love deeper than anyone I know. You wear your heart on your sleeve (and that’s not a bad thing) and you appreciate friendship wholeheartedly. Your visit in the NICU proved how strong one can be during such an uncertain time. What a difficult day that was for you, even years later, to visit Carter and yet you and Wayne still came. To have a friend who knew right where I was because you had lived it before meant the world to me. You brought groceries when I was locked up in the house with a very sick newborn, mastitis with a fever of 104 and a flooding backyard irrigation canal threatening to flood my house all while my husband was out of town and I couldn’t lift sandbags because of a c-section. My favorite memory of you was our last scrapbook trip 4 years ago when you tried to hang yourself with the seat belt.

Kristin…where do I begin? The bible study group with LeaAnn and Jen, eggs and toast and a friendship was formed. The day Jeff cut Emma’s hair and you called and cried…and I told you to take a picture because it wouldn’t last forever and one day you would laugh. The day Jordan buzzed his hair to the scalp with clippers and I called you crying. .and you laughed and told me to take a picture because it wouldn’t last forever. The day Michael shaved your hair because of chemo treatments and you were bald and you called crying, and I told you to take a picture and email it to me, because it wouldn’t last forever and praise God it didn’t. One of the strongest, most determined friends I have. You have been dealt more than your fair share of physical pain and illness and you still smile, that huge smile. Your faith in God and unwillingness to be bitter about the hand you’ve been dealt is notable and praiseworthy. I look forward to picking out a room to share with you at the nursing home when we are old.

Amy….I was 7 months going on 11 months pregnant. Running through the airport…. barefoot…a plane with no breaks or steering….a twin bed to share between the two of us….full of ants, and my baby in utero kicking you in the back. The worst rain storm of our lifetime put to eighties music. Dinner plates bigger than my belly and cheep internet cafe’s linking us back to life as we knew it. Who better than to spend it with than you. Thanks for enduring the journey to Costa Rica even though hit-on by more than 1 tico every hour! Thank you…for allowing me to be a part of your life, the good and the bad and the great. Who can forget your 30th birthday, your bridal shower or the rain on your wedding day. Or the “who’s Paul?” question. And most importantly, for making me, in almost every conversation…tell you something good that happened for that day. Congratulations on your expectant child…let’s not try to reverse the twin bed scenario, k?

Rue….My newest friend, you are one not afraid of ugly words and an ugly heart. Thank you so much for the always encouraging words and the prompting to seek counseling during the ugliest time of my life. I feel like I should reassure you that I’m not entirely mental! You met me at a vulnerable time and caused me to think in a perspective I never have before. It helped me crawl out of a hole and make life go on…even if it’s not the same as it once was or what I want it be. I appreciate your insight, your willingness to ask the hard questions and sympathize with a situation you didn’t have to. For reaching out and caring more about me as a person rather than just a client with a sore neck. I hope I can someday return the favor. Although, I probably shouldn’t touch your neck! And a big congratulations to you too on your soon to arrive baby. You will be a great mother!

Naomi…..I’m thinking it was the infamous Main/Imel camping trip that sealed our fate as “friends that can survive anything”. We look back and laugh, only because it really couldn’t have been any worse, or so we thought. We have both been hit with real life disasters since that time and oh, how I wish we could laugh at them the way we laughed then. In spite of this, you have been an immense joy of a friend… your humor, candid words and gracious heart. Your wiliness to add my three kids to your four and call it “a fun weekend” so Howard and I could get some much needed time away. Always remembering our birthday’s and anniversary, always checking on us after a hospital stay…the beautiful letter to Carter for his scrapbook and last years Christmas thoughtfulness. My nickname for you…"Tell it like it is Naomi"…because I can always depend on rough cut honesty and no-hold’s barred opinions. Hang in there my friend. We can only look up!

Michelle…another mother of 3 boys…our Road trip to Disneyland. Another pregnant trip for me. All our boys and two of us on the teacups. Those were the days we became friends. What I never saw coming was the loads of time you put into our family when Carter was born. You organized meals for a whole month! Your family visited us in the hospital and you called nearly everyday to check on us. You printed off every email update and later I was able to scrapbook the whole event because of it. You give so much of yourself to others in such a practical way. I appreciate all the hand me down clothes for my boys, they really do help. Thank you for everything you have given our family. You have a great laugh and a great heart!

Lastly Jennifer…how can I forget my birthday buddy. Of course you were not invited. Seems like your celebration is far better than ours will ever be down here. I still miss you. Just when I think it gets better another birthday comes around and I think about sending you a birthday card and I’m sure Jeff doesn’t want one in the mail like last year. So instead I’ll pay tribute to you here among friends and selfishly wish you could have been here to, but how nice it is not to have to visit you in the hospital every November. And how nice it will be when we can visit again, on a November day in Heaven. I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to curl up next to you in bed during your final days on earth and cry and visit and laugh... and talk about Heaven and how you were almost there, knowing full well it was just around the corner for you. I hugged you and you told me you would watch for me there. On the day you died I brought a meal to your family, and Hope met me in the driveway with tears in her eyes and said, "My mom couldn't come to my swim lesson today because she was too busy dying." And I picked her up and held her little body and wished life didn't have to be that hard.

Thanks for reading.


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