When You Can’t Breathe

  Steven Curtis Chapman says it best…

“I don’t even wanna breathe right now
All I wanna do is close my eyes
But I don’t wanna open them again
Until I’m standing on the other side

I don’t even wanna be right now
I don’t wanna think another thought
And I don’t wanna feel this pain I feel
And right now, pain is all I’ve got.”

It was a hard day.

I waved good-bye to my son, his wife, and my two grandchildren as they drove down the street, on their way to Northern Idaho to a new home, new jobs, a new life. Now instead of twelve minutes away, it was fifteen hours.

My two grandchildren, one five and the other – one year old. My two grandchildren, who I had watched almost since day one. Every day. All day.

I helped them learn to walk. Eat with a spoon. Drink from a cup.

I sat in that rocking chair over there, and rocked them to sleep. Sang to them hymns. Read to them about the pants with nobody inside of them. Held them when they were sick or well or when they just wanted to be held.

I sat at that table over there and played games with ‘Boo’, colored, painted, had tea parties.

And then one day, my son announced a new job opportunity and you can guess the rest and that’s why I stood outside one Sunday morning, waving good-bye to a car filled with precious ones.

And after they left, I went to the rose garden and everywhere I walked I heard Boo. I saw her chasing the blackbirds. And I could hear her excitement upon finally seeing the elusive jack rabbit we’ve been tracking for months – if she had been there.

And the next day, I worked in the garden and watered her garden – a garden filled with volunteer larkspur, bachelor buttons, poppies. She is so proud of her garden. I worked out there most all day. I worked out there until I couldn’t move. I worked out there so I didn’t have to think.

And Tuesday, yesterday, I still couldn’t move. I moved too much on Monday and paid for it on Tuesday. I had lost mobility and.. gained pain in its place. I sat on the couch and worked on my pictures and cried. My digital albums are filled with children’s smiles and I could almost hear the giggles behind those smiles.

And then there was Wednesday. At one point I felt like I had been locked in a blackened room – hopeless, lost, empty. And I wept. For something lost. And it felt as if my heart was literally breaking in two. The crack I could live with a week ago became a bottomless crevice. The strength that held me together a week ago had become jello.

And I wept.

God, how am I going to do this?, I whispered through tears I hadn’t spilled out so hard in so long.

My head told me those two little ones were not mine to hold onto. I was not even their parent. Can a Grammy love her little Grammy-grandchildren so very much?

Yes. Yes – she most definitely can.

As I sat on the bathroom floor, I cried some more and through the tears whispered, God, I lived for those kids.

They were my daily dose of laughter, love, smiles, hugs, joy. God used those two little ones to bless me over and above in so many ways I never deserved. I viewed them as my little disciples and we talked about God everywhere we went. In everything we did.

How I found the energy to do it every day, only God knows. I napped with John and napped when they went home. I fought through the pain within my body and refused to not hold my grandkids or change diapers even when I didn’t think I could stand it another minute.

My body was screaming to let go. My heart was screaming to hold on. My head was saying it was time. Time to listen to the body. The disease that strives to claim more ground with each passing day was doing its job. Time to let go.

It was the grace of God that intervened. But oh how it hurt. After all, I lived for those kids.

And then, I heard it. That still, small voice that you can hear when you’re sobbing uncontrollably because your not busy talking and making incessant, unneedful noise and chatter. The comforting, life-giving voice of God.

God, I lived for those kids, I had whispered through tears.

And before I could go on to the next thought of despair, He whispered back.

Live for me.”

The uncontrollable sobbing became controlled. The tears dried up. A tiny ray of sunshine, a tiny grain of hope took hold deep inside my heart and the crevice began to close and return to a crack. A few more tears fell. Not from grief but because of grace. The grace of God. The trustworthy grace of a merciful God.

I don’t know what living for Him looks like in the days ahead with PD – His plans, His dreams for me – but as I live for Him, I will trust Him completely. I’ve been through too much in my lifetime to do anything less.

Like I said, Steven Curtis Chapman says it best…

I don’t wanna feel this pain I feel
And right now, pain is all I’ve got.
It feels like it’s all I’ve got, but I know it’s not
No, I know You’re all I’ve got
And I will trust You, I’ll trust You
Trust You, God, I will
Even when I don’t understand, even then I will say again
You are my God, and I will trust You.

Trust You. I will trust You. 

Even when I don’t understand the physical, emotional, or mental pain, I will trust Him

Trusting Him always,
Sherri

Will You Flee or Fight?

 I can’t believe it’s May. I should, as we celebrated my two boys’ birthday this past week. 28 and 32 years old. Born the same day, April 30th. Four years apart. It leaves me amazed, for lack of a better adjective, how quickly the days and years have passed. It also makes me sort of sad, as watching my grandkids during the day leaves me realizing the same thing is happening with them.

I think as a young mother, you can’t realize how fast the time is slipping by. You’re too busy changing diapers and running bath water. Doing daly tubs of laundry and wiping up spills. You’re consumed with the next activity whether it be a softball game or assisting with homework. Through all of the busyness, you lose sight of the reality this could be one of the ‘lasts’. When once you thought you had forever, now you realize you may not have tomorrow.

I’m not sure how all that came running out – pen to paper – except to go back to the beginning and reiterate, ‘I can’t believe it’s May’. Parkinson’s Awareness month (April) is now over and I mostly flaked out on making others aware. Go ahead and throw the tomatoes. I really don’t think I could have done any better.

As my grandkids grow, I often wonder when will be the last day for opportunities to rock them because they won’t fit on my lap any longer? Will today be the last day for Clara to be excited to see me when I pick her up from school and she runs into my arms? Will today be the last day John is enamored with a hummingbird and waves bye-bye as it flies away? Will this be the last day Finn tries to roll over because tomorrow he will? Just how many ‘lasts’ will/could there be?

Sometimes life can bring us down. 

Who am I kidding? 

Sometimes life does bring us down. The important thing to remember is it’s deadly to stay down. We don’t necessarily die physically, but when you’re dealing with a chronic illness day in and day out, constant pain on top of that, loss of mobility – whatever comes with what you have – it’s not that difficut to die in our spirit. We lose the desire to be a part of the fleeting days. We want to ‘fleet’ right along with them. Life is sometimes, almost, unbearable.

That’s one reason I watch my grandkids – because life is so precious and we aren’t promised tomorrow. That can be taken two ways. First, we aren’t promised tomorrow in that we may not have the opportunity ever again to spend time with those we love. We may choke on an olive at dinner tonight and that will be it. Second, we aren’t promised tomorrow in that we may still be here physically, but instead be in a place where we can’t have our grandkids on our lap or they’ll tip our wheelchair over. You know what I mean.

I know  if I avoid choking on an olive at dinner tonight, it could leave the possibility of not beig able to do things with others later because of the road this disease may take me on. And so, I have to make a choice. In spite of the pain, the loss of normal movements, tiredness and everything else that can come with a chronic illness – do I say forget it and give in to that dying spirit or choose to endure through the pain and whatever else and keep fighting this thing?

I choose to fight.

There are some of you who may not be so sure today. That is what prompted this post. Somebody may feel like giving up, like giving in. Please don’t. If you don’t have the strength to fight emotionally, write me, leave a comment, message me on Facebook. Something. You are not in this alone. I will fight with you. I will fight for you. I’ve been there in the dark place and fighting is so much better because even in the pain, life is precious.

Journeying with you,
sherri

When Life Is Overwhelming 

 

There is a pair of yellow flip-flops on the front of a blue t-shirt. Below them it is written: “Life is good”.

Some days, life
is

good.

Other days, it can be so overwhelming.

Yet, from the good day to the days that are filled with feelings of despair and discouragement, emptiness and apathy, nothing has really changed. Nothing seems so different in our circumstances that should cause us to feel as if things have chnaged.

It’s all familiar, but the difference of only a day can bring a dark, haunting feeling that causes me to feel overwhelmed. Struggles that were present yesterday but gave no real cause for concern, today give way to distress.

There is a song entitled, “Here”, by Kate White and it speaks to my heart in so many ways.

Here,
In this place,
In this moment
I will praise You.

And here,
In this place,
I will glorify Your name.


Here,
without fear,
I will climb into Your lap.

And here,
bathed in tears,
You embrace me as I am.

My life is overwhelming me.
It’s hard to see the things You see.
Your spirit comes to comfort me.
I will praise You.

Here.

Here, in this moment, in this place, I am overwhelmed. My life is overwhelming me. It’s hard for me to see the things God sees. It’s hard for me to see the way God sees – how my disease will progress. If my friend will find a place of remission with her fast growing cancer. If my opportunities to see my grandkids will get fewer and farther between. If our income will be sufficient month to month. If we will be able to care for our parents the way they will need to be cared for when the time comes. If… when… how… where…

On days that are overwhelming, the list can seem endless.

Because I make it endless.

It’s quite easy to add to it when you’re in a state of mind that seems like everything is overwhelming you. One dark, discouraging thought after another.

But, it is here, in this moment, in this place, I will praise Him.

For here, in this place, I climb into His lap and bathed in tears, He embraces me as I am.

Whether faithless, concerned, overwhelmed, or whatever defines my feelings, my world.

His spirit comforts me. And the darkness dissipates into light. And the light washes over me in the color of warm. And the warm soothes my soul so that I know that once again, He is God. He is here, in this moment, in this place.

The very least my heart can do is to praise Him. And so I praise Him.

Here.

In this place.
Journeying with hope – sherri

There’s  A Monster In My Pocket

 

I have a little monster in my pocket

that goes wherever I go

He makes me do things I dont want to do

Like shake and walk real slow


I have this little monster

a gift, a sort of a blessing you see

I didnt ask for it, wasnt shopping around

But it snuck into my life quite anonymously.


At first I wanted to throw it as far  as I could – 

refuse the gift that was given to me

I screamed “I’m tossing it out – I’m throwing it away”
But alas, it was for me to keep.

Little Monster makes me do some crazy things

And feel a little bit crazy, it’s  ttrue

He makes me sleepy, I often move a little slower

he doesnt let me do the things that I want to do.

 

Somedays I want him off my back

Far away, never to be heard of again

But I  learned to turn Little Monster

From a monster into a new kind of friend.

 

Little Monster has allowed me to see

suffering and sorrow in a much different way

and how the pain Little Monster  can bringg

affects its recipients from day to day.

 

Little Monster stays quiet in a little pocket

deep inside of my head

some people never see him

some people have  (or so theyve said).

 

I can see him and feel him and touch him

because hes with me every day

staring back at me in the mirror

reminding me I’m stuck with him, come what may.

 

But I play this card called real life

Putting everything in it Ive got

All my resources, my time, my everything, my all

Its not much, but I call it a lot.

 

Someday I will take Little Monster from my brain pocket

Set him down, far, far away from me

Ill say enough is enough, good riddance to you

Youve taken enough of my energy.

 

I may have PD, but it doesnt have me

Thats my new motto in life for this day

Ill live however I can, given all that Ive got

And thank God He is my constant along life’s crazy  way. 

 

Copyright 2015

Sherri Woodbridge 

 

Parkinso’s Disease: Be A.W.A.R.E.

  I have to admit, I didn’t know much about PD until I started learning what was going on with me. The only other person I ever knew who had PD was an older friend of the family and I didn’t know him well. I remember watching him shuffle and hold his right hand as if he had had a stroke. He didn’t talk much and he would get extremely frustrated.

April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. A month set aside to bring awareness toward a disease that is presently – incurable. To focus on advances made against what I like to refer to as, Little Monster.
Being or becoming aware of PD for me is a little different from how others may view the purpose of this month’s ‘awareness’ topic. In a sense, there are so many causes which we become involved in and aware of that it’s easy to sometimes lose the focus and attention that is needed to make a difference in just one of them. If there is not enough attention drawn to the topic, awareness declines. That leads to no funding which leads to no research, and finally, no cure. So, all to say, we all need to be ‘aware’ and make others aware, but I’m putting a little different spin on it for the purpose of this article.

For me, PD Awareness Month takes on new meaning. I need to become aware of every aspect of this disease in order to deal effectively with it. In the process, yes, I will be making others aware of it and how it affects the human race as a whole, (with all its future possibilities) as I am learning how I can best deal with this disease.

I cannot make someone else ‘aware’ of PD unless I understand it the best that I can, myself. I need to learn as much as I can in order to depart the wisdom to others who do not know much about it. Just having the disease does not qualify a person to know exactly what it is or how it is affecting or could affect you. We need to make ourselves and those we love, ‘aware’ of it first. We need not deny the fact that we have a chronic illness, but seek out relevant information so that we know the best way to live with and manage it. 

 

Now that you have had a snippet of what aware could or does imply, here is another way to look at it:
Be…  A.W.A.R.E. …

A – be Attentive – There are others with PD around you who may be feeling worse off than you do. Look and see. Encourage them. Send a note and brighten their day. Call and chat with them. Take them for lunch. Be attentive to those around you. There’s less you can do than you once did, it may take a little longer, but you can still do something. Praise God!

W – be Wise – Knowledge is just gathered information, whereas wisdom is information coupled with experience. You have learned about PD and you are experiencing it. Make wise choices that will give you a better life from here on out. PD isn’t a death sentence but it can be a wake-up call for many. Exercise. Eat healthy. Find a support group. Impart your knowledge that you have gathered and the wisdom gleaned from life’s experiences with a newly diagnosed person. Those first beginning months can be frightening if you do not have much to go on and no one to talk to who truly understands.

A – be Alive – As mentioned above, PD is not a death sentence. Does it complicate things? You bet. I was trying to plant seeds today – an activity I used to do alone. However, my fingers, hand, arm – many days they just will not do what my brain tells them to do. They do what they want and that is pretty much nothing. They refuse to hold onto things, to grasp things. So, I asked my husband to fill the pots with soil for the seeds we were starting, as I couldn’t scoop the dirt. Did it frustrate me? Yes. I had a choice… I could ask for help and still be a part of the process or I could walk away, curl up in a chair and just wait for life to end. It is sad to say, but I know of people that think that is the only option a PD’er has left when diagnosed. I choose to be alive and not only make the most of each day, but enjoy each day as best as I can.

R – be Ready – Ready for what? A cure!!! No one wants a cure faster than a person with an illness. In order to be ready, we need to be active while we wait. Ready is a form of waiting. What are you waiting for? Get involved in raising awareness in finding a cure. It takes many people to make something happen. Thomas Edison didn’t really invent the light bulb alone – unless of course he invented every little part needed to make it happen. Not.

E – be Extraordinary – While waiting, be extraordinary! I think this is my favorite part of the acrostic. Do not be ordinary – a person who complains with every pain, growls with every pill swallowed, fears what may come, or always has to be feeling the worst to gain the most sympathy of others. Be extraordinary! Push past the pain, take the pills faithfully with thanksgiving for – at least researchers have made that much progress! Cast the fear aside – no one, not even the doctors can tell you in certainty just how the disease will progress in you, so take one day at a time and be thankful, for  even though you may be shaking, at least you are shaking! Lastly, if you are a complainer, life is too short to be spent in such a way. We all have burdens to bear. It could be worse and for some PD’ers, it really is. Be extraordinary.

Of course, we all know that ‘awareness month’ for any cause, disease, etc is to help others become aware of the specific topic being highlighted. So go ahead and enlighten others, spread the word, share the ‘awareness’, but take care of yourself in the process…

Be attentive to your physical needs

Be wise in your choices

Be alive, as you still have a lot to do and much to give

Be ready, waiting and preparing for that cure

Live in such a way that others will flock to you and ask how you can handle it so well when you lose your balance, shake, stutter and stammer. When that happens, you can smile and know you are extraordinary.

Journeying with you,

Sherri

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