Monday, July 28, 2008

Staggered by Life... but still Standing

It has been a while since I have posted an update and some may wonder how we are doing…

In short, it's kind of like, we were just starting to stagger back to our feet after the "punch" that was delivered back in early May, and then we get "hit" again. As they say: "When it rains... it pours." Read on for details …

Laurie and I are coping as best we can with life right now. We worshipped at Lodge Forest (our home church) for the first time since Hope's funeral yesterday. I think in general, we felt pretty good going back to worship and it was good to just go as worshippers at least once before returning in an official capacity.

As of now, Laurie plans to return to preaching on August 17. Her plan is to return to leading worship first and resume other roles in time -- i.e., she won't do hospital visits and funerals for a while longer for obvious reasons. We will have to see how it goes. Laurie's return will not signify that things are somehow "normal" for us or for the congregation. We can't pretend like all is well just because Rev. Laurie is back. That would not be healthy for anyone. We all need to continue to grieve the loss we have suffered. That's the only way to experience healing.

Moreover, Laurie's return to work will also mean new challenges for our family in terms of scheduling - i.e., have to hire a nanny for the kids. This presents a whole new set of challenges for us financially as a nanny (at least a good one!) does not come cheap. There are cheaper options but one gets what one pays for -- and do you really want to risk your children to save a few bucks? (We had a nanny before for Brady, but he is now old enough to go to the daycare center at Lodge Forest. However, now Becca will need care.)

However, despite all the challenges that are very real and must be addressed, it feels (to me anyway) that it is about time for us to return -- mid-August will at least be three months away after the funeral. Yes, we must continue to grieve and heal, but now it is time to welcome the community we serve to surround us and help us as we help them.

Unfortunately, on top of our own personal grief over losing Hope, the typical struggles of being parents of a toddler and infant, and Brady's health concerns (he has a neurologist appointment August 7 to investigate the seizures he has had) we must now contend with another "layer". My mom is at Sheppard-Pratt in Baltimore. She has had a lifelong (at least since I was about 2 years old) with mental illness. Mom has been hospitalized a couple of times in the past for her problems though it has never been as bad as this episode and honestly in the past I have been "sheltered" from knowing many details.

We certainly hope and pray my mom can get the help she needs; I think Sheppard-Pratt is the best place for her right now. We visited yesterday and I have to say it was hard. It was hard to be around the mentally ill (hard not to "stare" at times) and to be more specific, hard to see my mom in the state she is in. And yet it struck me that I needed to be there yesterday -- for my mom, yes, but for me too. My sense is that Jesus would not shy away from this kind of place and neither should I. He came to help the least, last, and lost. I can testify that mental illness causes much LOSS, both for the person afflicted and the family and friends impacted. I only begin to understand how much I personally have LOST from being the son of a mentally ill mother;  I have been wounded from my mom's long illness and have much personal healing that I need to do. And it will take time to heal ... 

Yet somehow, and I believe it to be by God's grace, I have managed to turn out okay. I have a beautiful wife and two wonderful children this side of eternity and not a day goes by that I am not thankful for that blessing.

Please continue to keep us and for my extended family—my dad in particular—in your thoughts and prayers. Dad has been mom's "caretaker" for a long time and though he keeps a tough front, I know this whole thing has worn him down too. He almost gets some "relief" now that mom is not at home every day under his care, and he doesn't have to make daily visits to see her.

On the positive side, we will celebrate Rebecca May's baptism on August 24. I have said that our family (and our church family) must grapple with a paradox of sorts. What I mean by that is that we have two events that seem like they shouldn't happen at the same time that we must try and reconcile. We will have to continue to grieve the loss of Hope Marie for a long time, but we also need to embrace and celebrate the life of her twin sister. While we never "move on" and forget Hope, we do look forward to the chance to focus on a more joyful occasion as we celebrate Rebecca's birth.

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