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Archive for October, 2013

When the hope is gone…

On Sunday I went to Toronto with my beloved and another friend. There, in the waiting room for the PICU unit at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, I baptised a then 23 day old baby. With shaking voice and trembling hands I made the sign of the cross wearing a pair of blue gloves and yellow droplet protection smock, and a purple face mask. I made the sign of the cross, three times with minimal water as he’s not supposed to get certain parts of his head wet. I made the sign of the cross on his forehead with blessed oil and exhaled.

Okay God. Heal him. Now.

Sunday night he was stable. That is good news. Monday he needed to have one machine exchanged for a new one and there were some complications from that. Then he was stable again.

A litre and 3 ml of fluid was removed from his tiny, bloated body. Again, he was stable.

Tuesday he had a dialysis machine attached to him. An 8 lb baby with more technology can I can spell.

Wednesday was a good day, until something went wrong in the afternoon. Two more tubes inserted along each side of his chest.

Open your eyes little man. The world is waiting for you. He would open his eyes, and wiggle his legs. He would grip my finger in his tiny hand and not let go. Or was it me who didn’t want to let go?

He responded to voice, to touch, to sounds. He would rest, he would wake. He was aware of his surroundings.

I had to leave last night and while it was difficult to say goodbye, I had to return to the reality of my crazy little world, and prepare for Sunday service, the All Souls service on Saturday and of course, for the community Remembrance Day service. Busy.

His mother sent me note a few minutes ago. She has a week in which to make a decision. Does she decide to remove the equipment and let him go (if he shows no improvement) or does she continue to let machines do his breathing, etc.?

A decision no parent should ever make.

What happened to hope? What happened to God’s healing touch? What has happened to all the prayers that have been sent and prayed on his behalf?

I know God is with this beautiful baby boy. And I am beginning to think, for the first time, that he may not survive this ordeal. We may have to let him go and return to the one who created him.

I’m not ready.

I’m waiting for a miracle.

GOD. ARE YOU LISTENING? IF YOU WERE PLANNING TO ACT – NOW WOULD BE A GREAT TIME!

And so, for now, we wait. We love. We fear. We hope.

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Nearly three weeks ago a friend of mine had a baby boy. The day of his birth was an amazing and awesome thing. Her labour lasted a long time and she was exhausted by the time he made his wide-eyed appearance into the world. Not long after his arrival he began showing signs of infection…especially through an elevated temperature.

At the time there wasn’t enough pieces to put together to solve the puzzle, and so he was sent home, with instructions for his mother, in case things started to change.

And they did.

He has been in hospital since he was 3 days old. He was transferred from Children’s Hospital in the city near where I live, to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. His heart is strong, as is his spirit, but his flesh is so very weak. His mother was told that he will likely not survive his ordeal. The life support machines that monitor his breathing and support his tiny body will be effective for only three weeks. After that, the machines will be discontinued and he will pass away. There is a 10% chance that he will survive the machine being removed.

So we pray.

I was talking with his mother today and I asked her, gently, about baptism. She thinks it would be a good idea, so I am going to go there on Sunday afternoon with my husband and baptise this baby (who will then be 23 days old) and continue to pray for a miracle.

Today I was visiting with the father of a parishioner who is 77 years old, palliative and who likely has 48 hours or less to live. While he is, by no means, an old man – he has lived a life. Grown up, gone to school, got married, raised a family. He buried his eldest daughter three years ago, and only two months after his daughter died, so did his wife.

Tomorrow I will go and visit a man who was diagnosed with ALS a few months ago. Last weekend he was transferred to a rehabilitative facility, but to the palliative unit. The disease is getting the best of him and he’s not got long to live. He was, only two years ago, actively teaching line dancing, participating in parades and marches and generally giving everyone guff. And now he has lost the ability to wipe his own nose or tie his own shoe. Slowly, he is turning to stone.

At times like this I want to be angry with God. And I do rage against the One who Created me. I rage that it is not fair. I rage that I feel helpless. I rage that I wish I could do more. And then I realise I am only human.

My husband is driving me to Toronto and will be present as I baptise this beautiful 23 day old baby. I will stay with him and his mother until Wednesday and then I will come back home to prepare for our All Souls Service for the 2nd of November.

In life we have death. We are told not to fear death because in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection we will find eternal life.

I believe this, with every fibre of my being.

But how can I help make sense of something that doesn’t make sense to me?

I KNOW I should give this up to God and let God decide. And yet I can’t do that. I am not finished asking for a miracle. I am not finished expecting a miracle. And if the baby dies, it will not be because I didn’t pray hard enough. It will not be because I didn’t have enough faith. It will not be “God’s will” that he dies. It will be because the infection got ahead of him faster than the doctors could diagnose and treat him.

Sometimes its simply not fair…and that is simply life.

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Recently I read a card that said “to a pessimist, taking a step back is a bad thing, to an optimist, it’s the cha-cha”. I’ve been back and forth over the past couple of weeks and I think it’s catching up with me.

The past few days I’ve felt, physically, quite rough. I’m tired, but can’t sleep. I’m either overeating or not eating. I have no energy. I don’t want to get up in the morning. In fact, I slept most of Monday away, which was likely what my body needed.

The problem I have with taking time to do nothing is that nothing else gets done. And that bothers me. There are dishes in the sink. There are people who need to be and have been promised a visit. There’s demands from the parish that need addressing. Meetings to honour. And yet I don’t feel the energy or desire to honour myself.

While I was on holiday I made myself a brooch of felt flowers to wear with my bright yellow winter coat. I love the coat. I got it on discount for $12 last April and have been waiting to wear it. My old winter coat, heavy, brown and nearing threadbare has been tossed out and I’ve pulled out my yellow coat. I have an adorable kelly green hat that had four leaves attached to it. To the leaves I attached three small felt flowers in yellow, orange and brown. My fall scarf is orange with threads of gold, green, orange and brown in it. I’ve got a pair of brown velvet gloves that have seen better days, but until I find a replacement for them, they will do for my winter ensemble.

I’m excited about my winter ensemble, especially the cost of putting it all together, which was $18 for felt squares, buttons, some threat and a new pair of scissors.

Fact is, my get up and go has got up and gone. And I don’t know if this is related to the concussion I gave myself a couple of weeks ago, if it’s the changes in the season (which is what I’m blaming) or if it’s something else.

I feel dizzy. I feel exhausted. I can’t focus properly. Yesterday I sat at a clergy day and while I enjoyed most of what the presenters had to say, the room was IMHO too small, there was not enough air circulation and it was incredibly loud. I feel whiny just typing the description of the room, but the reality is, I felt like I should have left an hour or two before the day was actually over.

Right now I can’t see the joy in my life. I know it’s there. I’m watching the dogs snoring gently on the furniture (and only slightly annoyed because they took over where I was going to sit – twice) and I feel a tug of love for them and yes, even some jealously that they get to sleep the day away while I have to go to work.

I’m worried that this is the beginning of a massive backslide for me, where I start cancelling things, and checking out in life, in order to cocoon and hide from the world.

Most likely today is simply a bad day. And once I force myself to get washed and dressed, to go next door and get some work done, I will start to feel better. Once I force myself to get to the grocery store and pick up the healthy foods on the grocery list, I will once again get excited about meal planning. Once I force myself to take my vitamins on schedule, I will feel better.

But for now I really just want to go back to bed.

I sent this out, not for sympathy or soothing. But rather, if you are feeling in that place of “blah”, where you feel like you’re taking more steps backward than forward, consider that it’s not backsliding, but rather you’re in a period of cha-cha.

Let the music begin…

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The past few days have been surreal. I’ve spent more time in hospital then I have anywhere else. A friend of mine had a baby boy last Friday evening. He’s beautiful. He’s perfect. He’s the love of my life. He had a rough day and spiked a fever, showed some signs of dehydration, so he and his Mum got to stay an extra night in hospital. Both were discharged yesterday after what felt like an eternity. They slept well last night and he’s feeding on a fairly regular schedule. So it seems he’s settling into life with his Mama and she is settling into life with him.

Usually I try to plan meals ahead. Not always successful. Monday I went to the hospital in the early afternoon expecting to spend an hour or two there. Was there until nearly 9:00 pm. Supper was take out, subs, and I was mindful of what I was eating as I was eating it. Last night was turkey sandwiches as I was again, at hospital for most of the afternoon, taking Baby and Mama home at 5:30 pm. Battling traffic across the city, detouring around accidents, etc., I got home about 6:30, just ahead of my Beloved. Sandwiches it was.

I’m completely off the wagon as far as breakfast goes…I can’t seem to get motivated enough to make breakfast for myself. I will make my Beloved’s lunch, but then not eat anything when it’s my lunch time. I’m not sure what is going on there.

I’m feeling good, my water intake is good, vitamins are back on track…now I need to get my eating patterns and choices back on track. I say this as I stare at my now empty coffee cup, attempting to conjure up the Coffee Fairy to bring me some.

I need to get to the grocery store and pick up some basics. I’m going to buy the ingredients to make pasta sauce and then make a double batch tonight and freeze some. I am going to plan ahead for my trip up north this weekend, so I have access to the types of food I want, and don’t end up eating processed garbage.

The strange thing is, since I have been deliberate in my healthier food choices, my cravings for garbage food have diminished. They are still there, but I’m finding healthier ways to address them. I can drive past a fast-food place and not have my mouth water, or start imagining what I am going to have there, as a reward, when I have been “good” for a while. The truth is, I don’t want to eat there. I want to eat at home. Healthy food. Home-made, from scratch food. Food that satisfies, the nourishes, that is healthy.

I’m not yet at the place where I crave carrot and celery sticks, but I have a feeling that may come…not tomorrow, but some day. And that is pretty awesome.

I wasn’t able to take the morning walk for nearly a week. And boy did I miss it. Last night, I dragged my beloved with me to walk the two dogs, and it was awesome. We got out this morning and did it again, and it was awesome. I am seeing a shift in myself, my attitude and my routine.

I want to be out and active. I want to move my body. I want to use my exercise equipment. I want to take walks. I want to eat healthy. It’s not becoming a chore (as much). It’s becoming a way of life.

Maybe not earth shattering for some, but is sure is for me.

Total weight loss since I came back from vacation in August – 15 lbs. Right now, it’s not so much about losing weight as it is about being healthier. And I am very much feeling healthier. Yay me.

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This past few days has been a collection of euphoria; from new beginnings to new life. On Friday two of my friends had babies…one E., was born to two loving parents who had planned for him for many years. The other baby H, was born to a single Mum who has wanted him since she knew he was coming. These two boys will grow up in different homes, in different circumstances, but one thing will be constant…love.

Yesterday I married M & J who have both been married before. They each have three children, very close in ages and eventually all 8 of them will be living under the same roof. M wanted so have his house renovated so that J and her children could move in. Through a series of misadventures, the renovation is not moving as quickly as planned and so, even though they are married, they will maintain separate residences for a couple of more months…hopefully being together in time for Christmas.

Today at our Church we celebrated Harvest Home, where there is a great deal of loving and giving happening. The readings today were all challenging us to step outside the comfortable, the “status quo” if you will. So, instead of my usual celebratory homily for Harvest Home, I “afflicted the comfortable” with my message.

If we believe that all we have comes from God, then it only makes sense we would give 10% of that away…after all, it means we get to keep 90% and that’s a good deal no matter how you slice it.

There was some uncomfortable silence in my homily, which was intentional. There were a number of people who would not make eye contact with me during the homily and again during communion. But there were others in the congregation who gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up for shaking up the status quo and for reminding us that we are not meant to be comfortable; we are meant to change the world.

I leave in less than a week for 10 days of vacation. It won’t be enough time to completely relax, but it will be enough time to walk in one of my favourite parts of creation; regardless of the weather.

As I prepare the homily for next Sunday in Tobermory and work on the story for St. Margaret’s (a first-person narrative of Mary Magdalene) and am reminded of the beauty and wonder of all that is Creation.

I defy anyone to see the changing leaves by the beauty of sunset and tell me there is no God.

So as I sent this post out into the ether I encourage you to ponder the same question as my congregation…if you do consider that all we have has come from God, then what will you do with the 90% you get to keep and what will you do with the 10% that you must give away?

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