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2 posts from September 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

No Greater Love and One More Day

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If there is one thing I know for sure, I know that there is no greater love on earth than the love of a mother for her child.  I'll just leave it there, because on this earth, unfortunately, there are always exceptions to that; but, as for me, and as a mother of 4 wonderful children, and grandmother to 2 beautiful children, I can honestly say, there is no greater love than my love for my children.



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The last 6 weeks have been unbearable for me.  I cannot smile.  I cannot laugh.  I cry often.  I pray constantly.  I am willing myself to feel God's presence and praying His will is also His mercy on my daughter's life.  I feel helpless and am trying hard not to feel hopeless.  There is always hope.  As long as Kimberly's heart is beating there is hope. 



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In the quiet hours of the morning, like this, when I am awake with only the tick-tock of the clock, I have time to reflect on the love I feel so deeply for my children, and how much their life and presence in my life is the most important love in this world to me.  I'd cross mountains, travel oceans, fight wars for my children.  I'd give them my kidney, my liver, my heart, my lungs, my eyes ... I'd give them every breath I take if I could.  And, because of the depth of my love for my children, and the depth of my prayer for my daughter, Kimberly right now, I felt compelled to share with you the depth of my reflection over these last several weeks.



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Life on this earth is never certain.  But one thing is certain ... God's perfect plan for us in this life on earth.  Regardless of the circumstances that brought each and every one of us to be born, and regardless of who our parents may be, God knew us before we were even conceived.  He knew us wholely and had a perfect plan - our birth - into this world.  God's love for us is perfect.  He knows the time we have here on this earth.  He knows our purpose and wants us to live our lives for His purpose through Jesus Christ so that we might have eternal life.



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So, even though I know in my life there is no greater love than that which I have for my children, in reality, I really have no greater love than that for my Lord for blessing me with their life, through me, and for entrusting them as their mother.  Though I've made many mistakes as "mother" to my children, I know deep in my heart I have done my best.  I know that my love has never faltered, not for an instant, for any of my children.  It has always been and will always be unconditional. 



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We all wish for "one more day" with our significant other.  With our children.  With our parents.  With our friends.  I pray multiple times a day for "one more day" with my daughter, Kimberly.  And Diamond Rio said it best:



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Last night I had a crazy dream
A wish was granted just for me
It could be for anything
I didn't ask for money
Or a mansion in Malibu
I simply wished, for one more day with you

One more day
One more time
One more sunset, maybe I'd be satisfied
But then again
I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still, for one more day with you

First thing I'd do, is pray for time to crawl
Then I'd unplug the telephone
And keep the TV off
I'd hold you every second
Say a million I love you's
That's what I'd do, with one more day with you

One more day
One more time
One more sunset, maybe I'd be satisfied
But then again
I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still, for one more day with you

Leave me wishing still, for one more day
Leave me wishing still, for one more day

* * * * *



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Have you ever felt hopeless, helpless?  Try to reflect on what is "your" greatest love.  What are you passionate about?  What are you good at?  What do you believe is God's purpose for you while on this earth?  I ponder these questions often, and some days I throw my hands up because I have absolutely no idea.  I just know that nothing I do in this life, whether it be painting, sewing, quilting, reading, writing, or whatever, nothing means more to me than my children's health and happiness.  Nothing means more to me than teaching them to walk with God and talk with God.  With every child, I have become a better mother (unfortunately for the first one), and have discovered, I believe, that my purpose in this life was to be their mother.



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"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. 



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I believe God gave me these gifts - gifts of painting, sewing, quilting, writing, whatever, to share.  I am grateful for these gifts, but nothing lights me up like when my children come barreling in the door from school dropping their bookbags and their shoes on the floor and make a bee-line right for me to share with me their day.  Maybe I'm just weird, but I savor my children's successes and help them cope through their failures.  I'm not always readily available for them, but I do make time and I listen to them.  They mean the world to me.  That is what love is.  That is, I believe, my purpose here.



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As for Kim, she is struggling every day to stay alive.  Fighting for her life.  Fighting for her husband and her daughter, Reagan, who just turned a tender 2 years old.  Fighting to live her life doing what she loves most - being wife and mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, granddaughter, and friend.  It is through prayer that I turned here to reflect on these difficult days and hours, because I know that although I pray for her healthy return to the living - for Kim's full and unwavoring recovery - I know deep down that my prayer may not be God's plan, and I won't deny that that terrifies me, albeit selfishly.  My prayer is for Kim to make a full and healthy recovery, to watch her daughter grow up, graduate, get married, and have children of her own.  My prayer is that Kim be blessed with loving days with her husband, Zak, and the joy that family brings.  My prayer is that she not suffer.  Oh dear God, please have mercy on my daughter!



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I can't bear to think of life without her in it.  I am trying to be strong, but this is the weakest I know I have ever been.  I feel weak in my knees and heavy hearted.  I pray for "one more day." 



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Greater than anything that I could possibly wrap my brain around, I know that this life is just the appetizer to what God has planned for us with Him in heaven. I know that my relationship with God here on earth will determine my relationship to Him in eternity.  I should spend each day for Him.



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Faith.  That's a tough one for me right now.  Yes, I have faith in God, and faith that His will is perfect.  I also know that His will is not necessarily mine, and that is what I am struggling with right now.  The Lord knows my prayer for Kimberly.  He knows my prayer for her life.  I pray He give her many days on this earth - with us.  I'm not ready to let her go.  I'm not ready to say goodbye.  I'm not ready. 



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The last conversation I had with Kim, she had just arrived at her destination.  Several states away from home, and one of the finest medical facilities in the world. Scheduled for a cardiac catheterization and a new procedure called a "Melody Valve" whereby they replace her pulmonary valve with a "melody valve" via a catheterization.  Supposed to be less invasive and less risky.  But the worst possible scenerio - our "almost" worst nightmare happened, and Kim had a massive heart attack during the procedure when a stint pinched her coronary artery.  In a surgical panic of emergency open-heart surgery, they removed the melody valve and replaced it with a bovine valve.  Of course, there was damage to her heart from the heart attack, and Kim's life hung in the balance.



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These weeks have been hell for Kim. Hell for all of us.  I flew to be by her side less than 24 hours after the crisis happened.  There was nowhere else on earth I belonged but by her side at that moment.  Her husband, Zak, there too, filled with hope and prayer and faith, holding her hand, and spending every waking moment of every day by her side.  His devotion, love, and commitment to Kim is steadfast.  Also there were Kim's father, Doug, and his wife, Sandy, taking the nightshift so that there is always someone by her side.  All of us in a constant state of prayer.



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Kim was not doing well in the first week.  The week that I was there was the worst.  It was almost unbearable to see her in this condition attached to a heart/lung machine and drainage tubes, IVs and more.  I've never seen so much equipment monitoring one person in all my life and in all Kim's previous surgeries.  Never.  It was daunting just trying to understand what the numbers meant.  Beneath the equipment, though, lies Kim, motionless, helpless, in a state of life's crisis.  I want to do something.  I want to find a miracle.  I want answers!!  I want my daughter back!!!  I want to hear her voice again, laughing and carefree saying "Don't worry Mom!  Listen, if I'm not worried, you shouldn't be worried.  This is like a mini vacation with my husband.  I'm actually looking forward to it.  Really - I'm at the best hospital and in the best care.  I'll talk to you in a few days.  I'm going to be fine, Mom.  I love you."  That was it.  Those were her words to me before she went to bed the night before her scheduled catheterization.  None of us were prepared for this.  None of us.



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So what is God's plan for Kim?  What is His plan for Reagan and Zak?  What is His plan for all of us who love Kim and can't bear to let her go? 



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In the week following the initial surgery on August 16th, Kim had another catheterization, and then they scheduled her for another open-heart surgery on Sunday, August 21st.  Actually, the plan was for thoracic surgery to remove fluid from around her heart and lungs.  It was critical.  Once inside, they removed 2 blood clots (one from her heart and one from her lung) and the fluid.  They also performed open-heart surgery again, this time replacing an entire section of her pulmonary artery with a new artery and a new pulmonary valve - a pig's valve.  The result was better than they could have expected, and Kim's heart began to beat stronger than ever.  They were able to remove her from the heart/lung machine for the first time in a week, however, as not to stun the heart, they left her chest cavity wide open for 3 days.  You don't want to see this.  I couldn't look.  I made sure the sheet was above her chest as I held her hand and prayed - for hours. 



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The day before Kim's surgery, though, with her blood pressure at a mere 42/30, I wasn't convinced that opening her up again would do anything more than kill her.  The stress was so unbearable for me that I swelled up.  Literally.  In my hotel room, alone in a strange State, every joint in my body swelled up.  The pain was nothing I had ever experienced before and the lady at the front desk took me to the emergency room.  They admitted me, and here I was 2 floors below my daughter, with a Morphine IV.  Alone and crippled.  Stress.  The doctors who did the tests discovered that I had a latent something in my blood that caused me to have a chronic rheumetoid arthritic attack to the stress.  In many ways it was a blessing, because the stress of her surgery alone was making me crazy.  Thank God for Morphine!! 



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I recovered, not fully, but enough to walk gingerly back and forth to the hospital from the hotel for 3 more days before I had to fly back home.  Kim was no longer on the ECMO heart/lung machine, but she was still heavily sedated.  She never knew I was there, but that's okay.  I was there.  I held her hand.  I caressed her forehead and her hair.  I rubbed her foot and touched her arm.  I wiped her tears. I spoke to her.  I prayed over her.  I cried.  



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The day I flew home they closed her up.  She was doing well, or so it seemed.  Slowly, they removed the tubes and the sedation.  She was in pain and unable to move.  This was going to be a long recovery.  Each day was progress.  She was not able to speak without it exhausting her.  Her lungs were very weak.  She could not feed herself and was unable to walk.  The ECMO had caused distress to her left leg and it was completely numb.  Over the course of the next weeks, she was in rehabilitation, trying to regain her strength and some feeling in her leg and foot.  She could not walk without the assistance of a walker and her husband, Zak. 



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Friday, September 16th, the hospital released her to go home for rehabilitation at home.  Kim wasn't feeling 100% of course and was apprehensive about the drive for obvious reasons.  Rather than get on the road right away, Zak gave Kim time to rest at the hotel where they were staying near the hospital.  Kim had a cough and was in pain and Zak took her back to the hospital on Saturday morning.  To everyone's dispair, Kim had a horrible infection, we think in her lungs, and her lungs were filled with fluid, so much so they could not see them on the x-ray.  Immediately, Kim was back in the ICU, sedated, and on the ECMO again, and that is where things are right now.



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I know the devastation I feel through every cell in my body over the incidents of the last, almost 6 weeks, and I am not the only one suffering here - we all are.  Zak, Reagan, Zak's parents caring for Reagan so that Zak can be by Kim's side, Kim's father, Doug and his wife Sandy, my hubby, Bob, and Kim's siblings, my children - Kathleen, Sarah, and Matthew, and Kim's nephew, my grandson, Glen.  My brothers, Mike & Billy, Kim's dear friends, and me - well - we are ALL suffering through this with Kim. 



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I don't know what God's plan is for Kimberly, but I pray it is to have mercy on her life and let her live here on earth with us till she is old and gray and a great-grandmother herself.  I hope she lives to be over 100!  I hope she shows us all just how strong the human heart and the human spirit can be. 



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Thank you for letting me share my story with you.  These days are almost unbearable.  Emotional pain is and can be as great as the worst physical pain.  As Kim's mother, I know this all too well.  The emotional grief that I feel for my precious daughter requires medication to tolerate, but without it I'd surely have a heart attack myself.  You really can die of a broken heart and mine is splitting in two.



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Please pray for Kim. Please pray that God heal her body and give her many years here on earth with her family, her daughter, and all that love her and are better for having known her.  Here is a little video of Kim ...

 



Kim enjoys showing me her outfits for church - and Reagan's too!



Prayers for my Daughter







Kimberly and Zak have been married for 4 years and have one beautiful baby girl together. Faced with a life altering event and near death of his beautiful wife, Kim, Zak has been by her side constantly through it all. He has been strong and lifted her up during her weakest moments and I know that if Kim could speak her heart right now, she would say this...the words in the song "Because you loved me" speak volumes of how my wonderful son-in-law has been Kim's voice and advocate through this whole ordeal.  When she married Zak, I didn't lose a daughter, I gained a son.

* * * * *

I love you Kim ... Mom

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

My Goodness, An Update Already!!

It's about time I get back to the blogging! Life, of course, has definitely been chaotic the last couple of months.  I'm hoping things settle down a bit, but with the holidays around the corner, that may be wishful thinking.



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I'll begin by telling you that my precious daughter, Kimberly, is recovering from her heart surgery.  She has a long road of recovery ahead of her, but we are all praying that in the long run, she will be healthier, have more energy, and feel more like herself once she is healed.  She still remains in the hospital at the moment, but will soon be home for recovery and rehabilitation.  Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers for my girl.  She misses being home with her family and being Mommy to her beautiful baby girl, my granddaughter, Reagan.



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In August, I entered my painting, "A Charlotte Summer" in the Boldbrush Competition and won "First Place" in the People's choice category with 254 votes!  Votes are made for favorite paintings via clicking on the Facebook "Like" button next to your favorite painting.  Then, when the contest ends on the last day of the month, the judge for that month judges all the paintings and determines which one should be voted "Best of Show," 2nd Place, 3rd Place, and Finalists, each of which win wonderful cash prizes.  I am humbled to have won the hearts of friends by taking 1st place in the people's choice via Facebook "Likes," but also hope that I will win the heart of the August Artist and Judge Trent Gudmundsen.  I'll know by the 20th of this month.



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I am also now represented by the Bellus Lux Lucis Fine Art Gallery in Clarence, New York!  So happy for this representation!  I sent 6 works to owner, Bonnie Lux.  The current paintings at the Gallery are Big Red, Apples, Garlic, Hope Road, October Glory, and Haystacks.  Please contact Bonnie at 716-407-3047 or contact me, if you are interested in any of these paintings.



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Big Bear is still out of work (at least when it comes to having a real job).  He has several opportunities that look promising, but I've learned not to get my hopes up.  So man opportunities have turned into dead ends in the last 3 years.  Thank you to all who have emailed me with information about jobs in his industry (Information Technology and Business Development).  We appreciate the leads.  In the meantime, Bob has built an incredible ministry at our church called the "At Work Ministry" for those in our community who are out of work and need help getting back in the job force.  The ministry helps with resume preparation, and opens up discussions on best interview practices and more.  Bob's ministry has grown so much and has received such recognition that several other churches have gotten involved in the ministry project.  I'm so proud of my bear!



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Bob has also been working like crazy doing lawn maintenance in our community.  He has been putting in irrigation systems and sidewalks, re-landscaping, seeding, fertilizing, grading, and more.  We've had our own tractor, mower, and equipment, for years so this was perfect for him and he loves the outdoor work - except when it is brutally hot like it was this weekend!  Our son, Matthew, has been Bob's best helper.  Matthew has been working the tractor and helping his dad with every job and learning a lot about lawn maintenance.  He's going to have his own summer business before you know it.  Never a complaint from Matthew, he helps his father willingly and has provided Bob the much needed help on every job site.



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The children started school.  Sarah is a High School Senior this year (hard to believe) and is taking 3 AP (college level) courses.  She will be making early application to Duke University and we hope she is accepted!  Matthew is a High School Freshman this year and fortunately has his sister to help him become familiar with the school.  Remember - he and Sarah were homeschooled until they began high school, so it has been a big adjustment for them both, but they are doing well.

 

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Glen began Middle School in 6th grade and came home last week and said "Mom, I've decided to run for Student Council."  Go figure.  My little politician. 

It is strange not having any of the children at home during the week.  This is the first time in 17 years that I have been at home alone with my Big Bear and our dogs.  It is a strange feeling not having anyone at home saying "MOM!!" for something!  I miss my kids!



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As for my creative side, I've been busy in my art studio and my sewing studio!  In my art studio I have been working on 2 paintings.  I just completed "Bessy & Company" pictured above and I will be writing a "progress" post about the painting of Bessy tomorrow.  And, I am working on a painting for my granddaughter, Reagan, for her 2nd birthday.  Something sweet and whimsical for her playroom. 



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In my sewing studio I have been making a quilt for Kimberly for when she returns home from the hospital, and I also requested friends to contribute to a prayer quilt for Kim.  One that she can wrap around her shoulders and know just how many friends & family prayed for her during her difficult time at the hospital following her initial catheterization and the open-heart surgeries that followed.  Prayer has been a powerful force this last month and we all know that it has been the oustanding care from medical professionals, faith, prayer, and God's grace, that has saved Kim's life.  With this quilt, Kim will always know how much she is loved and how many prayed for her during her difficult recovery.

Family, friends, neighbors, acquaintences - you are appreciated for your emails, thoughts, prayers, comments, concerns, thoughtfulness, gifts of hope, contributions to Kim's prayer quilt, and more. I feel as though you have walked with me through this difficult journey and have given me strength to cope.  Even through all the hardship of the last 3 years, and the grief of the last month, I feel the blessings from your presence in my life.  Thank you.

Hopefully soon I will have good news of Big Bear being gainfully employed, Kim on the road to a full recovery, and me on the road to healthier, less stressful living.  Then my funny bone will return and so will my more spirited posts.

Love,

SusansButterflySignature

 



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