Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Best Worst Year Ever

I got the title from a good friend of mine. There was a time in her life that she was going through one of the most difficult events ever, the death of her father. But, she said, there had been so many blessings that year, that she didn't want to look back at it as the worst year of her life. The good events were so abundant, so truly from God, that she told me "It was the best worst year ever."

That got me thinking. I, too, am in one of those best/worst times right now in my life. In early December, my stress level was at an all time high. My husband and I were fighting over pretty much everything. We had four days off together for Christmas shopping and frivolity, but we were both at a power struggle for first place with ideas and "how to do everything correctly." I was at the point that I wanted to go back to work to escape the most wonderful time of the year and the man in my life. My husband's stress level had also been through the roof as well, with extra long work hours and other issues he struggled with. I couldn't find a happy thought toward him, or one iota of compassion. My aging parents lay heavily on my mind at all times, and I felt the joy being sucked right out of me.

But. . . there were several blessings that crept up sneakily. I opened an email one morning from a Pittsburgh publishing company that wanted to feature my new book on their online television show. Now, I must admit, I was more than a little suspicious that this was a fraud. I chuckled about it, secretly wishing it was true. I did a little homework, a bit of research and found out it indeed was a real event! Eight other local authors and myself included, spoke about our books for the television cameras. I'm not quite sure what may come of this, but as I always say: Any publicity is good publicity. This unknown girl who struggles to make a name for herself as an author was given this incredible opportunity. It was a dream come true. But. . .

My husband took a terrible fall during a holiday family get together. It was so bad, he ended up in the hospital. Now, I must admit, the "Christmas Cheer" was flowing pretty freely during the party. So his faculties weren't quite up to par to begin with. But when he broke facial bones and scared me and his children to death, I couldn't help but become angry with liquor and the fact that he'd come from a family that liked to indulge. I was not brought up that way. It's odd for me to see people needing a drink to have a good time. So I haven't been thrilled with this type of behavior throughout our marriage. However, a few great things did come from this. No major problems for my husband. No neck or back fractures even though it was a tumble down outdoor cement steps. And the best part: A complete change of heart. My husband has not touched a drop of alcohol since it happened. This was something I'd been praying for many years.

Another sneaky blessing came in the form of another email one day. A popular cat anthology that I'd submitted a few paragraphs to, had accepted my story! Never before in my writing career have I been "chosen" for anything. I felt as giddy as a child while I danced around my house the day I found this news out.

My brother phoned me two nights ago. He said that our mother, who has dementia, had a terrible bout of diarrhea and was bleeding. He called an ambulance to take her to the emergency room. My husband and I were in the middle of watching the movie "War Room" at the time. I had been completely immersed in the story line and hoped it was only a fluke with Mom, I must confess. She'd mentioned eating a whole box of chocolate covered cherries, and we all wondered perhaps, if it was the "red" of the cherries they were seeing. I got a call later that they were admitting Mom to the hospital to run more tests. It was indeed blood that was found.

Now anyone with a parent or loved one with dementia must realize that a hospital visit can be devastating. Mom had been in the hospital last year, and it had wreaked such havoc with her mind, she truly didn't know where she was and why my father wasn't there with her every moment and sleeping with her at night. She came home depressed from that episode and way more confused than she had been. So I fretted: would this time be like that too? I went on to Facebook and typed a quick status about Mom going into the hospital. And about sixty-five people later, prayers were being offered in a major way.

Talk about the blessing this time. Not only did my family have the stamina needed to be there for Mom, but every hospital attendant, nurse and doctor treated her extremely kind. Everyone took the extra special time to explain things patiently to her again and again, and to comfort each one of us as we awaited tests. The biggest blessing came in the form of the male nurse I'd left Mom with last evening. I stayed as long as I possibly could. The male nurse whose name was Matt, had promised me she was in good hands. But Mom wasn't having a good night. Especially since she'd needed to drink prep for stomach tests in the morning. I had a very rough night, unable to sleep much, tossing and turning from worry. Would the test have to be cancelled if my mother didn't drink enough prep? Was she giving that nice male nurse a rough time?

When my father and I arrived at the hospital this morning, I walked over to Matt the nurse. He admitted that Mom had a fairly rough go of it through the night, but he'd been with her as much as possible, actually spending several hours with her. His demeanor and way that he spoke, assured me that he had been the right nurse for the job. He'd comforted her and reassured her. And when I talked with Mom a few minutes later, she couldn't stop talking about the wonderful young man who'd been with her through most of her scary night.

Mom's tests turned out wonderfully, she went through with flying colors and even had a clean bill of health. A very small issue had caused her problems, and she would be discharged in a few hours.

I sit here tonight thinking back over a full month. From early December when I thought I couldn't take another minute from the holiday stress, to today when I thought I couldn't take another minute from how tired I was. I believe with my whole heart and everything in me that it was prayer that sustained us all through these times. My husband and I have prayed out loud together for at least five years before we go to work every morning. Is our marriage perfect, nope. But have I seen some amazing changes in both our lives, some blessings that only can truly be accounted to our Heavenly Father? You bet. And the prayers of the Facebook friends during these last few days for Mom. They weren't only for her to be "okay." Those prayers sustained every member of my family, gave us the strength, humor and tenacity needed for all that we had to do. Those prayers helped put the right people in our paths, great nurses, good doctors and a positive experience for my mother. She talked with me earlier tonight about how nice everything was. She thanked me for being there and spoke highly of her care and treatment. For someone with dementia, she was acting pretty normal.

Yes, life is hard. I've made some of my own problems, and there are others that come from the natural rhythm of things. But in the midst of some of the worst times ever have come the best ones as well. For God has promised us that He will never leave us or forsake us. He upholds us with His hand. He loves us unconditionally and He is a blesser, my friends. The things I spoke about in this blog may not look to some people like miracles or really great things. But to me and my family, they are answered prayers. And the little extras, the little sneaky bonuses I've been given on top of it all, have really made this time of my life the best ever.

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