I woke up this morning to the sound of waves crashing. What a peaceful sound. It just reconfirmed that this wasn't a dream. Well actually it was a dream come true. It was windy so we decided to keep Mary Elizabeth in. Marlee Anne was still sleeping too so we left her. Our family partners stayed with them. Mike and I got ourselves and Michala dressed and headed for the beach.
It was called Morning Watch. We were exactly sure what took place during this time, but we were together on the beach, the sun coming up, waves crashing, beautiful sand and water, and their was a guitar in sight so it was sure to be something good.
I was right! We praised God and sang and worshipped. What a very special time. Truly a wonderful way to start the day.
We took Michala back up to the house, check on the other two. Mary Elizabeth was awake and Marlee Anne was still sleeping. Our FPs (Family Partners) told us to go ahead and go to Common Grounds. We had a wonderful breakfast there. It was breakfast casserole, fruit, juice and coffee. Eric led us this morning. He asked us to go around the room and share our stories about when our child was diagnosed with cancer. Never before have we done this. We have shared our story with friends and family or people that wanted to hear about it. Not with this amount of detail. Usually it's just touches the surface.
I have been trying to think of a way to explain what this was like. Not sure this will work but let's try it. Take your fist and ball it up. I have always heard that's the size of your heart. OK pretend it's been hurt, damaged, broken or shattered into pieces. Now gather up the pieces. Put them back together the best way you know how. Some want fit. They probably seem like they don't even belong to your heart. Some may seem like they are missing. It's a mess isn't it? Remember YOU put it back together yourself. OK it's not going to stay together without something holding it. Take some tape, bandages or whatever you have handy. Remember it's a mess and you don't want anyone to see it in that shape. Cover it up. Wrap it good and tight so nothing happens to it. You don't want it to break or fall apart any more.
Now someone has heard about your broken heart. They ask how you are doing. What happened? You start to share about it. You think hey that wasn't too bad. Pretty soon you have a canned speech. One that you can use anytime anyone ask. Soon you get so good at sharing it you don't even cry. Your heart is being healed right? Well so I thought.
We listen to 3 other families before us. I am really doing good. I am actually shocked at the things I hear. Things I have felt but never admitted. I never knew there were other people out there that felt the same way. Mike shares first. WOW! I have been married to him how long? Almost 20 years. It has been 8 years since Michala was diagnosed. Some days we didn't even mention cancer or the fact that her leg was amputated. We have discussed our feelings though. On the surface? Maybe! I never knew he thought these things or had these feelings. He is my rock! None of what he said made him weak. It made him just the opposite. Stronger than I ever knew. Even though he felt these things he was the one who kept the faith. Some days at the hospital I really disliked him. He would hold his bible in his lap, he would pray and I would think HOW are you doing that. God allowed this to happen to our baby. I couldn't pray. I had to depend on others to do it for me. My prayers didn't seem to even reach the ceiling. What was going on? How could God leave me during a time like this.
Well it was my time to speak. Let me step back a minute. While Mike was talking the tears were flowing I had to get up and get a box of tissue. I should keep them with me all the time. OK so my turn. One thing I want to say is that I cannot thank the dad sitting beside Mike enough. Mike had a tough time sharing. Instead of stopping he kept going. Mike (another dad) was sitting beside him. He put his arm around Mike's shoulder and said it's alright, take your time. Something small. Maybe so but to us it was huge! One of those God things.
So it's my turn now. I honestly don't remember what I said. I do remember not sharing my nightmares of God chopping Michala's leg off with an ax. Morbid? Maybe but those were my nightmares for weeks and weeks. This is when I realized the short time we were there wasn't enough. If we had been there longer I would have shared that. I would have become that healing too. All I know is that whatever I shared wasn't easy. I did admit like many others that friends walked out, family walked out. I mean they didn't leave town but they went on with their lives. Audra said they weren't in it for the marathon. Those are words I will remember forever!!! This is not something that goes away. We are marked forever.
As I was sharing it was really painful. WHY? It had never been painful before. Wasn't this my same canned speech? I really don't know. All I know is that as I was sharing I felt that tape, that glue that I used to put my heart back together was being pulled off. These families were seeing my broken heart. They didn't gasp as if in shock or fear. Some of them cried. Some of them shook their head as if they agreed. They understood. It was OK. I could share all this with them.
After this was over I was exhausted! I knew something had happened there that day that needed to happen a long time ago. I will be forever grateful to Eric for starting the edge of that tape coming up. I will be forever grateful to the Char and Ed, Buck and Eleanor and the other families for helping to peel that tape away.
As we were walking down to our house Mike's cell phone clicked. It was Keith. Just to hear his voice made me cry. I needed to talk to Kim. I needed to tell her what just happened. I tried to tell Keith but all I did was cry. I couldn't get the words out.
We got to the house and everyone was playing and having the best time. I have it!!! It just hit me. I wanted to give ya'll a picture of house this went. OK you know how a potter takes a lump of clay. They beat it and mold it until it's soft enough to make something beautiful out of it. Well at Common Grounds God used the families and volunteers to beat the clay, to soften it. Then our FPs molded it. To walk in and see our sweet angels with the new angels added to our family was amazing.
It was time for beach olympics. We all went down together. Durwood sat with Michala and played in the sand. Judi sat with Mary Elizabeth and I under the beach umbrella. We had a very special time getting to know each other better. It's strange though because it's like we had known them forever but yet we didn't. Sally, Eric, Mike and Marlee Anne all played in the olympics. That was quite a sight. It was so much fun to see them running and hearing their laughs.
It was really windy and Mary Elizabeth had started wheezing so Judi and I took her back to the house for a breathing treatments. It was just what she needed. In just a few minutes she was smiling.
When beach Olympics was over we all went over for lunch. We had Chikfila sandwiches, nuggets, cole slaw, tea and lemonade. It was so good! Hayden fed Mary Elizabeth while Durwood fed Michala. I am telling you it's a really weird sensation to sit at a table and eat with both hands free. This was such a special time for us to get to visit with the other families and volunteers.
Spa time!!! Mike and our FPs had the girls while myself and all the other moms headed for the spa. I know they painted my nails and toenails because I saw the pink when I woke up. I know I got a massage because I was terribly relax. I slept the entire time. I did hear lots of voices. It was all those women in that room talking. I did wake up in time to hear Char's wonderful devotion she wrote especially for us. I will get my cards and share them with ya'll.
It was time to head to the house and get ready for our date. We were going on a dinner cruise. Just me and Mike. Well the other parents and some volunteers but not my girls. I wasn't nervous. Maybe a little but I mean just a little. Pam (the nurse) came over and wrote down all the girls meds. I was very confident and at peace with Pam and our FPs.
The dinner cruise was AMAZING!!! It was absolutely beautiful! I have never done anything like that before. The food was delicious. The entertainment was out of this world. We got to spend time with the other parents and some volunteers. We even danced. I know I know ya'll are shocked. But yes Mike danced with me. Only because his special friend Eleanor encouraged him. He said he wants and Eleanor in his life. I said yes I do to. She is one of the most encouraging and uplifting people I have ever met.
I have to say when it was time to leave I was anxious to get back to the girls. They had a wonderful time though. It was funny because we had told our FPs that Michala would go to sleep after her meds and would sleep about 2 hrs. unless Mary Elizabeth woke her up. Mary Elizabeth wouldn't go to sleep until Michala was awake and she would get real loud trying to wake her up. Well Michala slept 45 minutes for them. They didn't have any problems with any of the girls except for Marlee Anne not wanting to go to sleep before we got back.
After they left I told Mike to go get some sleep and I would stay up with Michala. Durwood and Eric had discovered that Michala loved the swing on our screened in back porch so off we went. She didn't cry or fuss. Well except for when I would fall asleep and stop swinging. I was so tired! Finally at 3:30 I went and woke Mike up and told him I couldn't stay awake any longer. We were concerned that the girls would wake up everyone in the house. Everyone said they couldn't hear them. I hope not!