Life happens sometimes to fast and to often. We get going at a speed often thinking we are comfortable and able to handle all that is coming at us, putting things in their proper places or on their proper shelves and I don’t mean physical things I am talking all the mental.
Recently my family went through one of the hardest things I think I have ever went through. I was faced with holding my family together during a time when I didn’t even want to hold myself together much less anyone else. It’s something I have always know about myself, the ability to find strength and push through even the hardest of situations. It is how I was able to lay my mom to rest for the most part by myself, at the age of 25, and it is how I was able this time to rise up and care for myself, my home, and children after my husband attempted suicide on August 11th 2016.
I have known about this demon my husband battles since the moment I fell in love with him 15 years ago and it is something I chose for better or worse when I said I do 13 years ago this November. Mental illness is no stranger to me, it is something that has plagued people I love for as long as I can remember, many of them trying to combat and fight it only to find themselves slaves to another demon altogether, addiction. There is a pride that comes with seeing how hard my husband has fought all these years; because this disease has tried to take his life on more than one occasion. Yet on this night, one action, one thought, everything changed with just one decision.
We don’t have much support or guidance in way of parents, a lot of his pain comes by way of saying goodbye to his mother and father just 3 years apart beginning in 2008. When you lose the two people that are responsible for putting your fleshly body here on this earth it can do something to a man’s heart and way of thinking. Well in complete honesty we don’t have much support at all. You truly find out who your real friends are when your husband is in a lock down unit for 6 days in the hospital. When you are left with handling everything from taxiing the children, to school supply shopping, not to mention the practices and school functions. The beautiful thing about it all is that you also find out you had friends in the most unlikely places and sometimes that is how God loves on us. He uses these heartbreaking times to build a new friendship or build a bridge between a strained relationship. However, with every good side there is a bad side and you also see who isn’t your true friend.
I know that most people in general just don’t know what to do when someone is in crisis so the go to statement is “please let me know if you need anything.” I learned sadly from experience that when you are in crisis you more often than not don’t know what you need so you can’t tell people how to help you so you just go about doing the next thing. In the 7 days after my mom died and in the 6 months after her death I would have loved to have been able to tell people what I needed, but I did not know so how could I tell anyone. In the 6 days after my husband tried to kill himself I would have loved to tell someone what to do to help me with my 4 kids, but I was in autopilot. I was just doing the next thing. What I am recognizing now is that people know how to rally around him because it is easier to identify how to help and support him. I am the strong one keeping it all together and holding it down. I didn’t know and don’t know how to really ask for help or what to even ask for so no one really helps or even just stops by to be my friend, but they know how to help him. There has even been a few situations where I have suffered some negative consequences for his actions. I feel like I have been failed by those that should have showed up the most. My wall is up, I am shutting down and that is why I am able to survive.
The truth is this, I don’t ask for help because I am a fighter and survivor. I have fought my way through life since that fateful day in May 1982 when I was ran over and began to fight for my life. I fought through my parents drug addiction, through a bad childhood riddled with poverty and abuse, I have fought and survived my own physical aliments and obstacles and endless surgery’s only to come out the other side an amputee and will continue to fight every day the rest of my life for things that most people with take for granted. I am a survivor and a fighter and us survivors don’t know how to ask for help or what to even ask for, we just do the next thing.
It is only now that Brian is home and that we are in the rebuilding phase working on putting our family back together and healing from this life altering experience that I start to fray. It is only now that I start to look at doing a few things for myself and work on some serious healing in our marriage that I look to the heavens and I fall to my knees and I ask my heavenly father is it now? Is the time now?
Because when you have four children and a husband with a fragile heart and soul. When you have no mom to call upon and no soft spot to fall, when you know that you are the survivor and always the fighter and everyone looks to you for strength, it’s up to you to know the right time to look to your savior and ask……
May I fall apart now, Sir?
I have felt this grief before, I have felt this deep longing this deep deep ache that seeps down all the way to the pit of my soul. So deep that I can’t catch my breath. I literally can not take a breath in that moment. I felt it the moment my mom took her last breath. I walked out into her front yard and with my friend in front of my and my husband behind me, I exhaled. I released the pain that was anchoring me in that moment. In that moment I wanted nothing more than to have my mama back but I knew nothing on earth would change the fact that mere moments before I had laid next to her, held her in my arms as she walked in the arms of Jesus.
The next time I felt that grief was the moment I woke up from my 8th surgery. The surgery that I knew before I laid on that gurney would be the one that would take my foot. The nurses said my body was racked with sobs before I was even fully conscious. Just like the night in my mama’s front yard, there was that pain that had become so familiar, that ache that had made its home deep in my soul. I wanted more than anything to have my foot back but I knew nothing on earth would change that mere moments before I was a whole person and in that moment I laid in that bed less. No longer 2 feet but 1.
In that moment it was just one second at a time, that second. 4 days later I would have a revision to form my stump so I would lose even more of my leg, but it didn’t matter because nothing would hurt more than the moment I woke up from that 8th surgery and couldn’t take that breath. It’s been almost 10 years since my mom died and I still get those moments of deep grief where just for a moment, that one moment I want more than anything to have my mom back. I can’t catch my breath but I tell myself “just one second, this second.”
The last few days I have been having those moments. No matter what I do, no matter how bad I want it, I will never be able to grow a new leg. There is no hope for a cure when you are an amputee. On days like today when all I wanted to do was get up and walk around the church with my husband. I wanted to stand in front of the church back drop and take a picture. I don’t want to live another day in this chair. I look down at my one foot of painted toes and just want so badly, Father God please I just want my foot back. Yet I know that will never happen. And there it is, I can’t breathe, but just one second, this second is all I have to do.
If only people could understand that having and wearing a prosthetic isn’t that easy. If only it was as simple as some think and make it out to be, it’s an ok second choice if I could get into one that I can actually wear. Having one and not being able to use it is like a constant reminder that just out of my reach is freedom that I can’t have. But just breathe, one second, this second.
These collection of seconds are what get me through each day. The days when I just want to pull the blankets over my head and cry. Days like today, but I try to remind myself that everyone has something they struggle with and although it may be different for them it is just as serious to them as my amputation is to me. So I pray that their seconds help them get through their days a little easier. They being whoever is in my life dealing with something.
I miss things, I miss going on water slides, and wearing jeans. I miss doing things without having to worry about handicap accessibility. I miss walking beside my husband instead of always having him behind me pushing me. I miss just feeling “normal.” I pray that my collection of seconds become less about that deep pain that takes my breath and becomes more about living life and capturing memories. I am tired of sitting on the sidelines, of letting that breath seizing, time stopping, soul pounding grief hold me back, I want to fully step in2 my destiny.
How can I be invisible in a world of billions of people. How can I hurt so bad that tears become a permanent path down my face. I become afraid to share the depths of my pain because of what others might think and I don’t want to lose what is important in my life and the few things that I look forward to, the only few things that keep me breathing every day. Others look at me and say how strong I am and how they couldn’t get through the things I have with a smile on their face but they don’t know that the smile is just to hide the pain and keep the tears from spilling onto my cheeks once again.
Everyday is like groundhog day. How many times do I think to myself there has to be more to life than this. My kids go through each day with the same routine asking the same questions and I give the same answers, praying with every breath that their life will contain more for them then what I have managed for myself. It’s not that I have a horrible life, and it’s not that I am ungrateful for the blessings that God has given me. You have to understand the history of my life and that it never seems to end. What is “it” you might ask? Well “It” is all the crap that keeps getting dumped on me. It never ends and it can’t ever be little stuff, no it is bad stuff and it just piles up and piles up and over time I have just broken. And at this time, right now in my life you find me completely BROKEN!!!
The question becomes can you meet me where I am right here on my knees completely broken. Not knowing which way is up. Trying to work through, heal, forgive, and ask for forgiveness of 34 years of pain, anger and destruction. I have to figure this out because if I don’t the outcome is detrimental. I know that losing my leg plays a big part in this because the day that happened it changed who I was, it changed my purpose. Everything that I was, did and took care of shifted. I was not longer able to do things that I had done my whole life. I had to depend on someone and that was brand new to me. I just don’t know who I am anymore.
I know that everyone has something and I also know that some people even have things that are worse than mine but the only thing I know what to do is deal with my own life. I don’t know how to heal. I know I am burnt out on life. I know I look in the mirror and I am disgusted with what looks back at me. My kids and husband are getting the worst of me instead of the best of me. Instead of normal life issues being dealt with and handled they are just piled on top everything else. Our life feels like it is in constant crisis.
I pray whoever reads this if they relate they just know they are not alone. I pray you know that one breath, one second, this second is all you have to do. I know that things pass and that most of the time things have a way of working themselves out. I encourage you to reach out to a friend, your pastor, a friend from church, school or even me. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SUFFER ALONE. I know that God loves me and that all I need is faith of a Mustard seed. I know that if I will just hold on the sun will rise again. I pray that every day I get better at living without a leg and that when I look in the mirror I see someone worth loving and saving but I know that is a work in progress. I know I have a choice and I have to choose life. I have 4 children depending on me to choose to overcome. I know that right now I may not be something they are very proud of but when all is said and done I pray they are able to look back and say that they are proud. I hope with all that I am down to the bottom of my soul that they when they are adults raising their own children that they look at me and say “mom thank you for all that you sacrificed for me.” I hope my daughters look at me and see an overcomer, a woman who worked her way from the bottom and never ever gave up. I want to work everyday to step in2 my Lyfe, so that they can learn to step into theirs.
If you have never had children then the agony I am about to describe when you see your child go through physical pain won’t make sense. There is a fear that hits your brain, hits your soul when one of your children comes against something, that they much less you has no control over. Most mothers from the moment we find out we are pregnant change our whole lives to protect and give our children the best and healthiest life possible. With 4 children I knew that my chances of having all of my kids healthy was probably slim to none especially considering the fact that one by one I went into premature labor with each one. They all were born early and up until our 3rd child they were healthy. Brayden was born 5 weeks premature and he was in the NICU for 7 days and has had asthma and allergy issues ever since, but our first-born she was healthy from day one. With the exception of a few ear infections as a baby she has always been happy and healthy so when she started having some discoloration and temperature issues in her extremities we didn’t immediately jump to any conclusions or freak out right away.
Time stands still when you hear words like disease, cancer, no cure, manage the symptoms. The day of her doctor’s appointment we heard words that made time stand still. We heard ” Briana you have Raynauds Disease, there is no cure, but there are things you can do to manage the symptoms. Everyone is different so we aren’t exactly what sure what symptoms you will even have.” My daughter and I got through that exact moment by telling each other that it could be worse, it could have been cancer. She could be loosing a limb like I did, she could be dying. There were so many worse things the doctor could have come in and said, but in my head I was screaming all those things don’t matter this is my baby. I was devastated.
See this child at her mere 14 years at age had already been through so much. She had to experience the death of 3 of her grandparents, 1 of which was my mom whom she was extremely close to. Then at 10 she began the task of caring for her 3 younger siblings because I had decided to have reconstructive surgery on my foot that ended up being 7 surgeries 20+ skin grafts, 2 external fixators. And in the end after 2 years of all that I ended up having to have that foot amputated. Our youngest daughter who was 7 months old when I had my first surgery called Briana mama first and for good reason, Briana had been taking care of her the way a mama would. She has been my right hand man as they say. I couldn’t have gotten through all of these obstacles without her help and she has done all of that while maintaining fantastic grades, and extracurricular activities. I could not wrap my mind around the fact that on top of all the things she had willingly took on to be a help and blessing to others and now she was facing this disease .
We are in the beginning stages of this disease and already it is proving to be an ugly opponent. As a parent it is beyond frustrating when you see your child cry out in pain and there is nothing you can physically do to relieve the pain. Briana is a tough girl and usually can deal with any pain but she has met her match with this disease. There are days, days much like today where the only thing I can do is hit my knees and cry out to God on her behalf. I beg him for mercy and relief for her. I beg him to please deliver her from this disease. I beg him to please ease her fear and uncertainty and to help me be the best mom for her I can be.
When your child is hurting you feel it to. Its like you’re connected. There are times when we may be able to do something to help ease whatever they may be feeling and those times are great gifts. However, there are more times when there isn’t anything we can do and it feels like pure torture. As I watch my daughter, she moves around and I offer to rub her feet because they are cramping so bad she can’t walk, my heart is breaking. I would give my other leg if only she didn’t have to go through this. I know I can’t take this from her or go through it for her so I just pray that God will use it in her life and she will be stronger, wiser and a warrior for his kingdom. We will continue on this journey and learn more about Raynauds. My Daughter will become a voice for this disease and she will conquer it. I will turn my frustration, fear, and anxiety for my child into drive to maker her life the best I can. In the meantime as she begins to step in 2 her lyfe I will just sit back watch and admire and be inspired by the incredible young lady God has created in spite of the obstacles before her .