God is always working to make His children aware of a dream
that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream,

a new dream that
when realized will release a new song, sung with tears,

till God wipes them away
and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts

--Larry Crabb

Friday, July 22, 2011

A year ago is etched out in my mind as a day I will never forget. A day where the pendulum of emotion nearly did a full circle instead of a back-and-forth motion. We were in the midst of our moving fiasco. The Mayflower had descended on the driveway to our new house just a few days before and unloaded what seemed like (and maybe really was) millions of boxes everywhere. Craig was gone to work while Maddie and I had a load of errands to run.
The first stop was at the lab with a requisition for some blood tests in hand. It was already warm if not hot outside when we arrived at the clinic. After checking in we found a seat. Maddie buried her nose in her book (imagine that!) while I thumbed through a magazine. FOX news was giving a rundown of the breaking headlines on a tv not too far away. I was drawn into the story of a rescue effort in the Grand Tetons where a group of climbers had met a horrific storm along their quest for the summit. 16 climbers had been rescued via helicopter the day before with various injuries and the search continued for one last climber who, as they reported, could not be located. Something moved within me. A sickening feeling had found my gut and I felt led to pray for the missing climber and their family. I encouraged Maddie, who had become inquisitive about the story, to do the same.
This had become common practice in the last few months. I was still bearing the fresh wounds of loss. It was just 4 months prior that Christopher was born into heaven. My dad hadn't been gone even a year then. Kimmi had been gone just a little over a year. Someones child was in danger while all his parents could do is wait to see what happened next. I remembered those feelings of helplessness that I faced in the hospital while waiting to see if by some small miracle we would get to keep our son, knowing that another parent somewhere was likely experiencing a similar scenario. My mother's heart was connecting.
The lab tech interrupted my thoughts, did my labs, and sent us on our way. We barely made it to Target before my phone rang. Daryl and Chris on the caller ID. I don't usually refer to my parents by name, but programmed my phone to do so so that I didn't have to scroll all the way down to the "M's" to call Mom. After Dad died I never changed it and now probably never will. I like seeing his name and something seems a little too final about taking it off. I still have Kimmi's long-since disconnected number in my phone, too. Anyway...Mom is not very good at hiding it when something is bothering her. Her voice was shaky as she tried unsuccessfully to small-talk. Finally she got down the the reason for her call. "Your cousin Brandon is missing. He was on a climbing trip in the Tetons...." It connected instantly. Tears of concern (to say the least) worked their way to the surface. Our conversation was short and after we hung up I told Maddie about it and called Craig. On the way home we prayed for Uncle Bob, Aunt Linda, and Brandon's siblings as they faced the unknown, as well as for Brandon that he would be found safe and quickly.
As I pulled into the driveway, glad to be home, the phone rang again. It was my doctor's office. "Congratulations! You're pregnant!" And there went the fruit basket. A quick phone call was made to Craig giving him a coded message (Maddie's ears are never far away when she's with us!) about our good news. I recall feeling so bad for Madison. She is such a tenderhearted girl and was hurting over the situation surrounding Brandon, but I could not share my great news with her yet...I was only 16 days along. As I pulled the car in the garage another issue surfaced and provided a needed distraction. Our pet rabbit, Dixie, was looking a little not so healthy.
In record time I had called Craig, found a vet that treats rabbits in the area, and returned to the garage where Dixie's cage was temporarily set up. There I found very confused Maddie and a rabbit that was now seizing. Wonderful. I think that it is safe to say that I was in some level of shock then. I explained to Maddie that Dixie was probably dying. We talked about how she looked comfortable, and we wished that we could help her, but the best thing that we could do for her then was to love her, talk to her, and pet her until she was gone. Craig really wanted me to still take her to the vet, but there is a limit to what I will and will not do. Not to sound cruel, but I will not scoop up a not-in-pain appearing 8 year old rabbit with a 6 year life expectancy mid seizure and drive around the suburbs of Detroit looking for the bunny vet. Not gonna happen. Luckily she went pretty quickly, but it didn't necessarily ease the process of explaining the death process to an already upset child. We were able to get a good laugh in, though, when I called the vet's office to cancel our appointment and they offered their "deepest condolences on the loss of our special dog."
I spent quite a bit of time in the basement that afternoon. Our wireless internet was not working just yet and the only way I could get online was to hardwire in. I checked my e-mail constantly waiting for an update from the family, and continuously browsed news websites for any information that would tell me that Brandon had been found and was OK. Eventually the call came. Brandon's body was found 3,000 feet below where he had last been seen. In a split second with a clap of thunder the Lord had whispered "Come with me." Just as he did to dad and to Christopher.
My heart wrenched and my body shook with the news. Several thoughts and none at all were surging through my head at the seeming senselessness of it all. Some people get mad at God when tragedy of this magnitude strikes, especially repetitively, but I can't. God's perfect plan for this world didn't include pain, separation, I was sick of it. I get it. People die and we're separated from them, but I was just tired of hurting and seeing people that I love hurt.
That night was a somber one at our house. We buried Dixie under a tree in the back yard (our first whole-family time spent in the yard while the neighbors watched, mind you). We cried and didn't have much of an appetite for dinner, but mostly we talked, and appreciated more the time that we have together. And we prayed, thanking God for Brandon's life and the little life that had taken root under my heart. The life that we we now know as our little miracle, Lauren.
I miss Brandon. I wish that I had known him better. One of my favorite memories of him is at a family reunion once when him and his dad were singing some song about the King of the Jungle and Brandon was dancing wildly while doing the actions. I miss his high-energy enthusiasm.

Sports Illustrated published an article about the climb that Brandon was on when his accident occurred. Here's a link for anyone who may be interested: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1188183/6/index.htm

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Vacation--in simple terms.

Seven States in a week. (MI, IN, IL, IA, NE, KS, MO)
Family Family Family.
Reconnecting with friends.
Baby off schedule big time.
Sleeping in.
Good old Iowa Tenderloin.
Spoiling of a baby girl.
Ice Cream.
Sketchy cell service.
Meaningful conversations.
Lots of cuddle time with my girl.
Successful parade experience.
Over indulging on the taste of "home."
New jewelery. =)
AE Skim Chocolate Milk.
Surrounded by growing crops.
Casey's General store (and pizza).
Slip N Slide (only an observer, though!)
Baby shower.
Caffeine Free Diet Mountain Dew in 2 liters/20 oz bottles.
Pella Bologna.
Gravel Roads.
Head cold.
Hair frizzy from humidity.
Good sleep.
So much fun.