Saturday, April 19, 2008
So, while I was still reeling from a tragic event on my side of the family, we were hit with the unexpected death of a loved one from my husband's side this past week. My husband's brother passed away last Saturday night in a tragic fashion that has broken all of our hearts.
This morning I've been thinking about another year when everything seemed to go wrong. It was 1983 and I had been recently diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic and I had to learn interesting things like how to give insulin shots and to how keep my blood sugar level under good control. I had married a wonderful man in 1982 (Kennon Crane) and in 1983 we were expecting our first child. It proved to be a difficult pregnancy, compliments of the diabetes.
We discovered shortly before that son was to be born, that he was a high breech baby. My doctor and his nurses spent an entire afternoon trying to get son # 1 to turn in place. Good times. When they realized this wasn't going to work, there just wasn't enough room for the baby to turn, a c-section was scheduled for the next day.
Our son was born healthy and strong---there had just been one little glitch the day of the c-section, they had been unable to numb things up for me as the surgery took place. At the time, there was no explanation for this---now we suspect the lupus was a major factor. My body still doesn't react normally to some medications. Good times the sequel. ;) My mother later said that when they wheeled me from the recovery room, I looked grey and she wondered if I would survive.
I did survive, and I was excited to be a new mommy. Only one little thing seemed to stand in the way of me going home with my new son a couple of days later: I had developed a series of blood clots in the major vein that led from my left leg to my heart. My doctor's face turned white as my leg turned black while I sat on my hospital bed, waiting for last minute instructions before heading home. When my doctor told me to not move, I had assumed that a spider was on my shoulder. Instead, he kept pointing to my leg which by then was a nice shade of dark purple\black.
The doctor and two nurses who made a sudden appearance from the nurses' station very gently laid me back down on the hospital bed with instructions to not move. It turned out that one of the clots was the size of a golf ball---something that would cause my death if it hit my heart. I was informed that the nurses would be doing everything for me---I was not to move until the clots were anchored in place. Pouting, I didn't take what they said seriously. My baby son was going home without me---my husband and my mother would be taking care of him. I had to stay in the hospital bed for 10 more days and I was not amused. So if the phone rang, I reached across the bed to answer it. If I dropped the TV remote on the floor, I leaned down to pick it up. Then a woman who had also formed blood clots in a similar fashion, died outside of my hospital room as they tried to transfer her for the x-ray adventure I had already endured. That's when I began getting scared. I wondered if I was going to survive, if I would live to raise my young son. It was a scary time and the only Ones who knew what was in my heart were my Father in heaven, and His Son, Jesus Christ.
I received a special priesthood blessing that night, one that promised I would live through this adventure. Other things were mentioned that led me to believe that this was an inspired blessing---those two young elders didn't know me---I didn't know them. And yet during that blessing, I was given reassurance about items they knew nothing about. Deciding I was going to survive, I relaxed a bit and did things like make posters that the nurses hung up in the window of my hospital room. They shared messages like "HELP!!! I'M BEING HELD PRISONER!! PLEASE SEND HOT FUDGE SUNDAES!" My doctor was not amused by my sense of humor---each day he stormed inside the room to take down my posters. People were inquiring at the front desk of the hospital. ;) The nurses put up new ones each day---they had joined my rebellion.
I did eventually get released from the hospital. I came home on crutches which helped immensely with the care of my baby. ;) About the time I could walk without the crutches, an event took place in my family that effectively shredded my heart. My father chose to end his life. He had been suffering from a rare liver disease and he wasn't in his right mind when this happened. We recently learned that another health condition may have also played a factor in what took place. I know now that he is okay and I'm excited to see him again someday. But for a long time I felt betrayed. Hadn't I been promised in a priesthood blessing that I didn't need to worry about my dad? That Heavenly Father understood what was going on with him and all would be well? All wasn't well. My father was dead and my heart was broken. I wondered if I would survive. I experienced emotions I was unprepared for as anger, guilt, and heartache battled for attention.
Something interesting came out of all of that. I began writing. I wrote through the pained anger, shredding everything after it was written. I didn't know it at the time, but I was actually tackling my own form of therapy. A relative who went into psychology told me that this is something they encourage people to do when they face a traumatic event in life.
Eventually that writing led to a career as an LDS author. My first book was published in 1994 by Covenant Communications. Following my mother's brave example, I had made lemonade from the lemons that had been handed to me. This is not an easy thing, and sometimes the end result is rather bitter, but I can testify that during painful events, we are not alone. We know that part of why we're here is to be tested, stretched, and to grow. I have found in my life that true growth only comes with a high price. While I would never want to experience items of that nature ever again, I am grateful for the education I gained as a result.
I've been thumbing through my poetry, searching for a poem that will adequately sum up this pain-filled process. To all who read through today's blog, know that we will survive the days ahead. There will be tears, laughter, and intensive pain as we heal, but the end result will be growth, strength, and testimonies that we are never alone during the darkest times of our lives.
Bittersweet the day,
Twilight is the hour
Tremendous joy and sorrow blend
Sunlight & piercing shower.
The ache within reveals pain
Yet smiles surface strong
Hope seems within life’s grasp
Despair makes the day too long.
With silent grieving loss
Reaching toward the Sun
Invokes a heavy cost.
Someday the clouds will fade
The storm will cease to rage
And only joy will dwell
On life’s unwritten page.
Until then a Beacon
Lights the darkened day
Heralding hope when all seems lost
Faith will pave the way.
Cheri J. Crane