Sunday, December 31, 2006

It Happened So Fast...

After a relaxing holiday at home, it was time to hit the road to visit family through New Year's day. I had devised the best plan to surprise my sister who was stopping over at my Dad and stepmom's house in Navarre, Florida on her way home from Mississippi. She had been sad that she wouldn't see me during the holidays so I began plotting. I would rent a car last Tuesday (12/26) and Daniel and I would drive down to Florida and suprise her with gifts (and ourselves) in tow! Well, that did end up happening but the surprise didn't take place in happened at 75mph on I-85 South between Auburn and Montgomery, AL when Daniel and I were involved in a bad car accident.

I had rented a Chevy malibu--a small/intermediate size car-- since I was only using it the one day and planned to turn it in the next morning. Daniel was in the back strapped into his seat watching a movie and I was listening to my iPod (my new love) and singing in pure contentment. The sun was shining, it was a cool, breezy winter day outside and I was on a top-secret mission to make my sister very happy. To say I was content would be an understatement.

Then I reached back to check Daniel's movie-- which was actually right beside me since the passenger seat was pushed all the way forward--and my left tires swerved over onto the "rumble" strips on the left shoulder. Realizing this, I corrected but the car responded much quicker than my Expedition does and I began to fishtail at 70-75 mph. The back of the car swerved left, then right, then my left side crashed into the guardrail causing us to spin around no less than 4 times before slamming head on into a concrete bridge support. The front of the car was ripped off and had apparently been thrown through the air and landed on the opposite side of the interstate outside the guardrails.

It all happened so fast and, after the first hit, the airbag exploded in my face filling the car with smoke as we spun. The only thought swirling through my head was "Daniel is with me and this is how we are going to die." When the car came to a stop facing the wrong way in the fast lane I tried to get out but had to kick the driver-side door open before running around to check on Daniel. His eyes were the size of saucers and he wasn't making a sound but, wehn I opened his door, he started screaming "am I dead, Mommy? Is this Heaven?" Those words sent me into hysterics, which made him cry harder, so I had to compose myself to keep him calm.

Onlookers stopped to help, fire engines, ambulance and police arrived and suddenly, we were in a swirl of flashing lights and people with gloves on taking personal information and asking questions about how it all happened. Strangers comforted my son as I tried to dial my husband's number and battle with Avis employees on the phone who were, let's say, less than concerned about our well-being. For a moment, everything went silent and appeared to be in slow motion. The lights, the gawking passerby, the strangers who had become angels and the car that had once held two highly contented a crumpled mass with headlights dangling freely like a monster's eyeballs in a scary cartoon. It all became a little much and I sat down in the median and wept. It was more than sadness about the wrecked car or the spoiled surprise or the madness that surrounded me. I wept at the very thought of what could have been the outcome. How did we not hit any other cars? How did we not tumble end over end as we spun out of control at such at a high speed? How did we come out of the wreck with only cuts and bruises? The enormity of the "free pass" we received hit me at that moment. In a flash, our lives could have ended but they hadn't. The sheer miracle of it was enough to take my breath away.

We did get to surprise my sister as she detoured to come to pick me up at the scene. Ripped Christmas gifts in tow, we headed down to Florida as scheduled...just a little delayed and a little more battered than we had planned.

There are many things I learned on the side of the interstate that day. I learned that there is nothing important enough to distract you when driving and that spilled juices or movies skipping will have to wait from now on...I learned that college rivalries don't matter when a person who is wearing a sweatshirt from your arch rival school is holding and comforting your son. But, most importantly, I learned that, in the blink of an eye, life can be forever changed. My son and I are blessed to be here today and I take my awareness of that fact into this new year.........

Friday, December 22, 2006

Parenting Tip #5,642

If you discover that, unbeknowst to you, your already "spirited" four-year old son has been scarfing down chocolate-covered coffee beans at a friend's Christmas party, be prepared for behavior that closely resembles a drunk man on speed.

Lawd help me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ima Gonna Pump You Up

Went to the doctor today for arm pain and hand numbness. As suspected, I have torn a muscle in my upper right arm which cannot be repaired. It should be fine and heal within 4 - 6 weeks so mostly it's just a bothersome pain right now. But, as I was researching muscle tears on Google, I came across this fella (see right). Is it just me or is that photo disturbing on many levels?

But, as for my hand pain, here's the diagnosis:

No big deal except I have to wear a splint that makes me look like a pro bowler at night. Woo hoo. Love is in the air...........

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I love Christmas.

For me, the promise of the holiday and all of the sentimentality and religious significance that this season holds is one of the reasons I look forward to December the whole year through. Hanging lighted garlands from the balconies, coming home each night down a street with houses decked in festive lights and the way the air feels as the excitement of Christmas morning draws closer. My son's ability to discuss the story of the Nativity and the sweet songs he sings about Jesus' birth lend a much-needed reminder of why we celebrate in the first place.

But, as I was reminded today, the most meaningful and exciting time of year can also be one of the most painful for those who may have fallen on hard times financially or, even more painful, lost a loved one--causing bittersweet emotions of sorrow, longing... A woman for whom our small group at church had been praying passed away today. At the young age of 45, she was already a grandmother four times over and was the glue that held her family together. Last month, her life was normal and I'm sure she was planning what to buy her grandchildren for Christmas. Today, she passed away around 3pm of complications from a cancer that spread rapidly through her body. How could she go down hill so fast...and, right here at Christmas...leaving behind a stunned network of family and friends for whom this holiday has taken a tragic turn.

I also found out that a 2 1/2 year old girl also passed away this weekend. Suffering since birth by an unkind disease that left her disabled, this angel is no longer in pain but has left behind a gaping hole of sadness in the hearts of those who knew and loved her. Likewise, I have been guilty of breaking down while decorating the tree or hearing a particular Beach Boys tune and wishing my mother were here so badly that I thought my heart would burst.

But, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the good things that God is doing in the lives around me. A close friend of mine got "the call" they had been waiting on and will be heading to Utah in February to adopt a baby boy when he's born. My heart swelled with excitement as I shared with her the joy of this special kind of "pregnancy"... and, as we wrap a special gift to present to her parents as an announcement, I smile as I think what a special Christmas memory this will be for their family. Then there's the picture of my niece as she grasped an ornament in her tiny little hands...or my son parading around the house in his Santa costume declaring that he's about to hand out the "!" (ala Polar Express)

For many, this truly is the "most wonderful time of the year..." but, let us not forget those that may be a little sad and brokenhearted as well. May God comfort them and tuck in their hearts a peace that only He can give...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

My Favorite Prayer

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God
That you are exactly
Where you are meant to be.

May you not forget
The infinite possibilities
That are born of faith.
May you use those gifts
That you have received,
And pass on the love
That has been given to you.

May you be content knowing
You are a child of God...
Let this presence settle
Into your bones,
And allow your soul
The freedom to
Praise ...

It is there for each and every one of us.
--St. Theresa's Prayer

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Like Rain...

Blessings pour down
Like rain
Drops of mercy

I am grateful.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lingual Laughs

After waking up this morning, Daniel and I headed down to gaze at the Christmas tree. The season is flying by so fast, I don't want to blink and it's time to take down our decorations. So, we went down to the living room, snuggled under a blanket and sang Christmas songs.

It was then Daniel insisted on singing a couple of the sings he'll be singing for his Christmas pagent next week (a true rite of passage for parenthood I assure you). Two that he shared go something like this:

"Oh, come wet us adorn him, oh come wet us adorn him, oh come wet us adorn him, Chri-ist, the Lord..."

and, my personal favorite...

"Feliz Mommy-Dot, Feliz Mommy-Dot, Feliz Mommy-Dot...prospero ano felizi-dot.."

Did I correct him?

Not on your life.

Monday, December 04, 2006

In a Perfect World

...there would be no children without homes. But, there are. And, there are families like us who desire to build our family through adoption. Then, why is the process so arduous?

When we arrived at Daniel's orphanage in February 2004, there were over 100 kids who needed families. Many of these children clung to our pantlegs saying "mama" and "papa." I can't explain how heartbreaking it was. There were so many children we would have loved to bring home... but the process was so expensive that it made it impossible for us to do two at one time. And, now that we are looking to adopt a second child, we are once again facing those same challenges.

Why must it be this way for families who have no other option to become parents? This time around, we are going the domestic route and are waiting for a birthmother to choose us from a group of profiles. I must admit, this is not much easier. It may cost a little less but, now that our profile has been submitted, it is simply a waiting game.

But, knowing the gift that God gave us in the form of our son Daniel, makes the wait a little easier. We waited a long time for him and he fits our family like a glove. It may be a case of nurture vs. nature, but I marvel each day at how easy it is to forget that I did not give birth to this child. He is a walking, talking combination of Keith and I. Yes, I wish the process weren't so frustratingly long...but, I do know it is well worth it in the end.

So, we wait.............

Friday, December 01, 2006

Savage Morn

The dark grey sky paints a perfect backdrop
For the razor thin branches
As they are tossed back and forth
A steady wind gust barking orders at them
"Left! right! left! right!"

Leftover leaves are pasted on my window pane
Clinging to the glass as a last bastion of hope
Before drifting downward to join the others
Blanketing the ground like a fine Oriental rug
Woven from strands of dark brown and burnt orange hues

The sun is just starting to rise
Illuminating this blustery, savage morn
As the temperature drops, Mother Nature inquires
"Isn't this what you wanted?," she asks.
"Did you not complain about a sunny/71 yesterday?," she continues.

"Yes, Mother Nature," I reply. "Indeed I did."