Thursday, November 20, 2014


She's 77.  She's completely bedridden.  She has been campaigning for over a year to have all her teeth removed because she's on pureed food due to an overactive gag reflex.
She calls me 17 times a day.  Some days only 7.  I have recently put some boundaries in place, because we talk every single morning for at least half an hour, so we are working on an agreement where anything that happens after 9 am can be something we talk about the next day, unless there's an emergency.  But we define emergency differently.  I'm working on that.  Yesterday I thought maybe I could say "Are you on fire?  That would be an emergency."  But that's not what this post is about.

This post is about how we found a gentle geriatric dentist with a heart of pure gold, who looked in her mouth and said "Removing all these teeth is not a bad idea.  I could do fillings, but I'd be patching a sinking ship."
So today she went and had all her teeth removed.  They used local freezing, so she was awake and chatty the whole time, and the dentist didn't mind.  I spent the rest of the day at the nursing home with her.

She's a bit like a child now - super lucid and surprisingly bright, still, but there are some things that throw her.  She's lost a lot of her pain tolerance.  The freezing coming out was excruciating for her - not, I don't think, because it was so painful but because her reaction to new sensations is WAIT WEIRD I DON'T LIKE THIS MAKE IT STOP.  So I spent a lot of time holding her hand and singing to her and begging her to try to stop talking and go to sleep.

"Bad, bad" she'd say.  "Pain, pain."  And then, "I can't close my mouth."  It took me a really long time to figure out what she saying because every time she said the word "close" she ....closed her mouth.  I explained to her 18 times that she could, she just couldn't touch her teeth together because they were gone.  She called for her mother.  (I told her she had her mother's grand-daughter.)

And then she made me cry, because we both dozed off, and she woke up in pain, squeezing my hand so tightly my fingers went white, and said "Father God, use this pain for my good and Your glory.  Use this pain for my good and Your glory."  A mantra, over and over again, and once again, I saw it, that strong strong spine this feisty little lady has.

I'm proud to be her daughter.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sometimes it's just wrong to go to bed without saying something

It's been a wearying week.  I think a lot of it is my entire system falling apart in relief that Brad's surgery went well and that he is home and even working a little ...


Today was not a good day.  There's been a bit of mental illness ramp-up on my part, and while this is no longer new to me, and I do have coping skills, it's still exhausting.  And I picked B up from school after studying myself into a stupour over "Chapter Three:  The Brain" and Brad was a little bit down and I just couldn't stand the thought of leaving my house again tonight, but it was our turn to do the pickup half of the hockey driving, and I was just really really really done, you know?

So I asked God for courage.

And then B texted me "M's Dad is bringing us home."  Are you sure? I asked, and he was sure, and just to be safe, I looked up M's Dad's cell number and guess what?  I didn't have to do any hockey driving tonight, which freed up some time to make a nice dinner for my recovering husband. 

And then just for icing on the cake, one of the OTHER parents in the hockey car pool called and offered to do my driving for me tonight.

And the phone rang and it was Brad's buddy and they had a good talk, and there is the promise of a visit soon. (He doesn't live in the same city as we do).

And the doorbell rang and there was a cookie bouquet from Brad's employer.

And a few minutes later the doorbell rang again, and then was an ex-co-worker of Brad's and he came in and sat down and the three of us had a really nice visit, and when he left he handed Brad a card, and did I mention I've been praying desperately that I manage to get all our bills paid this month?  and inside the card was a most generous gift, enough to take the edge off, and that's when I started to cry and cry and cry because:

Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail.

A succession of small things, but one after the other, all evening long.  I'm still tired, and the mental illness issue is still there, but over there, in the corner, gleaming a tiny, mighty light?  That's hope.  Thank you to all of you who were the hands and feet of Jesus for us tonight.

Monday, September 01, 2014


In the light of Brad's recurrence of cancer, and his remarkable open-ness about it, I have been getting private messages.  "How are you?"  "You must be so ..." "I can't imagine how ..."

So I thought I'd talk about myself a bit, for those kind enough to have asked, even though it is Brad who is sick.  (although you'd never know it.  One evening last week he cycled 22 km for the fun of it.  Not on purpose - he just kept going until it was dark, and then thought maybe he should turn around and come home.)

Last Sunday in church, the pastor talked about manna, the bread that covered the ground six out of seven mornings for the forty years the children of Israel wandered in the desert. (check out Numbers 11:7-9)  There was a catch though - if the Israelites gathered more manna than they needed for just that day, it would grow moldy and maggoty and have to be thrown out.   (Except for the day before the Sabbath - that day they could collect twice as much).

Enough for just that day.

I've decided that if there's a chance I'm going to be a single mother in my mid-50s, it might be beneficial to gather up the transcripts from my scattered attempts at post-secondary education, take them to a university and see what it would take to get a degree.  There's jobs out there I could do that I can't even apply for because I don't have a Bachelor's degree, jobs where they don't even really care what kind of degree you have, just that you have one.

So spending the last week and a half talking to various universities and settling on two University courses for the fall (one by correspondence.  I don't always have to knit!) - that's enough for today, wheras trying to figure out what job I'll get when I'm done, thereby proving to myself ahead of time that this is a good idea?  That's bread I don't need to gather yet.

Staying in bed fifteen minutes longer in the morning to stroke my sleeping husband's back because he is still there with me, allowing sorrow to move through me?  Manna.  Looking forward to the gut-slicing wrench of losing him on this earth?  More than I need for today.

Please pray that for all of us.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review(s)

One fiction, one non-fiction.

I don't read a lot of non-fiction.  I have to be deeply, passionately interested in the subject before I will be able to force myself to read non-fiction, and even more interested than that to read it sequentially, from one end to the other.  (I don't read in order much.  I hate suspense.  If, in Chapter One I have fallen in love with Twinkle, and then the author starts hinting that Twinkle will come to a Terrible End, I have to find out what happens before I can continue finding out what happens.  I tried to stop reading like this when I started writing, because I was aware of just how much agony and angst went into what order to put things in, and how to build a story but - I just can't.  I'm sorry, all my writer friends.  Comfort yourself with the fact that I dearly love Twinkle, who you created out of pixels and wine in the wee small hours.)

1.  The Sum Of My Parts, by Olga Trujillo

This was not an easy read, especially the first six chapters.  It is the author's own first person account of recovering repressed memories of physical and sexual abuse, and her journey to wholeness.  She spends the first six chapters talking about the abuse, and how she, as a very young child, dissociated in order to deal with trauma.

The rest of the book talks about diagnosis and recovery, delving into her being diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder and what that looked like for her during the process of healing.

The book is accessible and relatable without subsiding into sensationalism, and a valuable resource for anyone seeking to understand more about the effects, both immediate and long-term, of severe, sustained trauma on very young children, or anyone seeking to understand more about Dissociative Identity Disorder and how that might manifest itself in a healing adult.

2.  Set This House In Order, by Matt Ruff

One of the things that is true about Dissociative Identity Disorder is that there are as many ways of doing it as there are brains that are doing it.  This engaging, well-written novel is written from two points of view, both people who have D.I.D. - one who has been diagnosed and is well on the way to establishing a workable system, and one who has no idea what her issues are.  I appreciated both the diversity and the lack of sensationalism- again, an accessible read, with characters I cared about, and although it is fiction, another good resource for anyone seeking to understand more about D.I.D.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Because Heather asked

Over at my sister-in-law's blog, she weighed in on the suicide topic that is so prevalent on the Internet these days.  You can read her post here:

I wanted to answer her question.  "Tell us how to love you." Actually, I didn't want to answer her question because all I know is what has helped me, and I'm just one person, and I'd hate for anyone to think that there was something wrong with them if what works, or worked, or might work again in the future for me didn't work for them.

Here's the thing.  I have a mental illness.  I've probably had it most of my life, if I understand the way this particular illness works, but I've only known about it for a year and a half or so.  It's been quite the ride, learning how to live with who I now know myself to be. 

Mental illness is isolating.

The particular brand of mental illness that I live with is even more isolating. 

There have been many days when I am convinced the world would be a much better place without me in it.

I have learned to sit with the feeling.  There have been days where I sit in one spot for literally hours because I know beyond the shadow of a doubt, if I move from where I am, I will hurt myself.  But here's the thing:  EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS CHANGING.  I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that if  I sit with the despair long enough, it will lift.

1.   I need to be reminded of that, on the worst days. Everything is always changing.  A really bad day doesn't mean the good days are all gone.  A really bad week doesn't mean the good days are all over with for the rest of my life.  It's just a bad week.  And it doesn't negate the good that came before, and will come after.  (The flip side of this is that I need to remember that a good day doesn't mean the bad days are all gone, either.  There's going to be a combination of both good and bad for the rest of my life.)

2.  I have a list of people to call when things are bad.  I signed a contract with my psychologist agreeing to ask for help if I need it, and to call the people on my list until I get a live voice, or the crisis passes.
One of the nicest things anyone has done for me, in recent memory, is to put herself on my list of people to call.  It's one thing to have a list - it's quite another to have the courage to use it, especially when I'm already sure everyone I've ever met is tired of my issues.  Having someone on the list who has volunteered to be there is such a blessing.

3. Force me interact with you, especially if you think or suspect things are hard, or if God is nagging you to call me.  Don't ask me what I need - I probably don't know.   Just hang out in my space., all matter of fact and stuff.  Having you sitting on my couch staring at me just might derail the train of thought that is currently winning the battle in my brain.

So those are my answers.  They won't work for everyone, but one of the things that I am learning is that I am far less unique (and therefore alone) than I think am, and there just might be something here that benefits someone else.

And now, because today is a good day, I'm going to go read in bed until I fall asleep.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sometimes you just have to say thank you

I had a different post percolating in my head, one that was going to be a bit difficult to write, and might be saved in "Drafts" for a really long time while I prayed about whether or not to publish but then ...

I cashed out at the end of my shift and everything balanced, and someone smiled at me, a deeply genuine smile, and then I walked out into the cool night air, the breeze a caress on my skin, and I realized I hadn't been triggered all day and I came home and Brad's greeting was so upbeat and the dog was delighted to see me and the thistles I sprayed with Round Up seem to be dying like they're supposed to ...

And I thought maybe I should just sit down and say Thank you, God, for this life, this here and now life, full of all these small goodnesses.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Current favourite song

From her CD "Travelers", Carolyn Arends

It Has To Be You

I don't know quite who I am anymore
I don't know if that's normal or not
I don't know if I know You at all anymore
At least not in the way that I thought
But I know there are canyons in Utah
Red as fire, high as the sky
And they make me cry
'Cause I don't know one living soul
Who could carve out of stone such a view
So I know -- it has to be You
It has to be You

There are days all of my faith slips away
There are days that I don't even care
There are days I find myself desperately praying
And still cannot feel that You're there
But the sun, it comes up every morning
Blazing glory, consuming the night
And it's quite a sight
'Cause I can't find one human mind
Who could make the sun shine ever new
So I know -- it has to be You
It has to be You

Well if I've built my hopes on mirrors and smoke
If it's all been a dream from the start
Why then can't I deny the yearning inside
More real than the beat of my heart

There's a voice I cannot hear with my ears
There's a voice I can hear all the same
There's a voice that speaks
In my dreams and my fears
It is endlessly calling my name
And on warm summer breezes it whispers
Rivers carry its soft lullaby
And it makes me cry
'Cause I don't know one other love
That would go to such lengths to break through
So I know -- it has to be You
It has to be You