heart to heart

February 11, 2013

Nothing like a tragic event to get you thinking about life. I’ve been journaling, praying, talking to family & friends, and yet I still have so many thoughts and emotions swirling around inside me. I feel a real need to share what’s on my heart – to know that I’m not alone? To hear some encouragement? I don’t know. But bear with me because I’m just going to type and I don’t know where I’ll end up.

My uncle died a little over a week ago. It was two days before my birthday, on Superbowl Sunday. I still love birthdays. I know I’m getting older but so far I have enjoyed every phase of my life so I still love an excuse to totally treat myself. Every year I try to celebrate all week long on my birthday week and this year was no different. But this birthday week started out with a text from my mom saying my uncle was in the ER, possibly dying. He had advanced liver disease and had been staying with my parents here in Houston (and then in a nursing home after he fell, suffering a bleed to the brain) to get treatment for the last four months. Although I knew he was in bad shape, on Sunday I thought he was stable and I still held out hope that he would get a transplant and recover. The sudden downturn caught me off guard and I broke down crying for the first time.

We decided to go to church anyway. There was nothing we could do to help, we would just be in the way, and I figured church was a good place to be. As we stood singing praise songs my mom would periodically text with updates, each one more dire than the last. I had my eyes closed and had found my voice. We sang Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other. Our God is healer, awesome redeemer, our God. Right then David hugged me close and showed me the text that said, “He’s gone.” I had been singing the song hoping for a miracle, but immediately its entire meaning changed. I knew our family would need a new kind of healing and strength. You see, my uncle is my dad’s twin and best friend for all their sixty years. Not only were we all very close but the only thing comparable to the loss of a twin is the loss of a spouse. My dad will never be the same. I broke down crying for the second time.

Later that day we picked my aunt up from the airport. Yup – she didn’t even get a chance to see him before he died. She was still at home in South Carolina because she had to work, and this had all happened in a matter of hours. She had been on the phone with my mom all morning and my mom had held the phone up to my uncle’s ear so she could say goodbye even as the medical team performed their heroic measures that just weren’t enough. We took her to the hospital where my parents still were, and we got to have one last moment with my uncle. Lots more crying.

You know, when I started this post I didn’t intend to write all that out. But there it is, and I’m leaving it. This is already getting long but I still have more to say, so I’m just going to keep going. It seems like after that nothing really matters but life keeps happening and with it come daily struggles. Work was hard last week. Obviously I was already sad and grieving but I also had a skills checkoff, was in charge for two days (which is so stressful to me & always makes me late coming home) and then Saturday was my weekend on call and I ended up being there for four hours by myself.

Being a working mom is tough anyway, and lately I’ve been missing Meredith more and more. We see her for only about two hours each day, and then weekends I try to spend with her completely but that’s also when I have to do household upkeep, church & small group, errands, and squeeze in some alone time/creative endeavors. The last is the first thing to go when there’s no time, but I’m not at my best when I don’t have time alone to recharge or work on fun things that make me excited. The two hours that we do have with her in the evening we try to make count with family dinners and walks and focused time together, but with a toddler you can’t always predict how those things will go. My dream is to work part-time, but right now money is very tight. Although we are working hard to pay off some debt and build up savings, it’s going to be a long time before I’ll be able to cut back on my hours.

And then there’s my strong desire to have another baby. It’s something almost physical. I feel the pain of it every time I read another pregnancy announcement. Of course I’m worried that I won’t be able to conceive again, but now I’m also wondering – is it responsible for us to have another child? However would we afford it? I’m not talking about baby “stuff” but the $12,000 we paid to daycare last year (ouch). And then I think about how little time we already spend with Meredith and how I would hate to have that taken away from her. And yet I want to give her a sibling not just for me but for her. My brothers and I were best friends growing up and I’d still feel lost at times without them. After my uncle died it was them I turned to right away just for the shared history and experience.

Most of the time I do a very good job of focusing on the positive aspects of every situation. It may be a defense mechanism, but I think it’s a pretty good one. In my head right now I’m trying to convince myself that these struggles are small, that we are so blessed, that I shouldn’t be complaining at all. But these feelings of grief and sadness and guilt and longing are also real. And maybe they just need to be acknowledged.

Posted in: personal, me, motherhood, personal, thoughts

Comments on heart to heart

  1. 1

    From Becky:

    Dan and I send our deepest sympathies to you and your family. What a precious family you are! Lots to consider, Kathleen, and sacrifices will be made any way you go. I realized early on that I didn’t have Nate so someone else could raise him. Our day care expenses were steep, he was at Creme de la Creme, and I can’t imagine what that would cost now! You have acquired terrific experience in a high demand job. That’s a LOT!
    Love and prayers.

  2. 2

    From kapachino:

    Thanks Becky. Daycare expenses are steep and it pains me every day not to be with her myself. Sadly though, if I quit my job now (which I would gladly do) we couldn’t pay our bills. All we can do is work hard to make a change.

  3. 3

    From lauren w:

    love you kathleen!!!!

  4. 4

    From Tabaitha:

    Much love to your family and praying for peace and strength.

  5. 5

    From Stacie:

    So sorry for your loss….sending prayers for comfort and peace for you and your family :)

  6. 6

    From Melanie:

    So sorry about the loss of your uncle. No easy answers to your struggles–only between you and your husband and the Lord can you have peace about determining what should be priority and what to sacrifice. :)

  7. 7

    From kapachino:

    Thanks Melanie. You’re right that there are no easy answers, but I want to be clear that raising my daughter is my highest priority. I would gladly give up my job and any small luxuries it affords us if that would allow me to be with her. Unfortunately if I did that we would not be able to pay our bills no matter what amount of sacrificing we do. We have even considered selling our house but even that isn’t practical. All we can do is work hard to make a change.

  8. 8

    From Melanie:

    I hope my comment didn’t come across as judgemental–that wasn’t my intent at all. :) Just from your blog, it’s apparent that you adore your daughter and cherish your time with her! Being a mom is tough no matter the circumstances, and even though I stay home, I still wonder if I am doing enough, being enough, spending enough time with and giving my children enough opportunities. Trust God that you are doing the best you can in your current season. (sounds cliche, but it’s true!)

  9. 9

    From Denise:

    Please know you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. 10

    From Cait:

    Sending huge hugs and lots of prayers to you and your family. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your uncle.

  11. 11

    From alisa beth:

    Just wanting you to know how sorry I am for your family’s great loss. Praying for you.

  12. 12

    From Mindy:

    These are hard times. I don’t think it’s coincidence you were singing that song when you received the text… God is right beside you, embracing you, and always will be. You’re not alone, and right now things probably just feel overwhelming; I know that’s how all of last year was for me when I lost my mom. But as for little Meredith and your husband–hug them as much as you can, love on them as much as you can, and do the best you can with work. God understands, He knows your struggles, and He will give you peace as you work through everything. It’s not complaining; it’s adjusting to a huge change. I really admire you for doing what you need to do work-wise, spending time with your daughter (you made her a tiny little friendship bracelet! That’s awesome!), and taking time for yourself, too. Sorry for the long comment, but I felt the need to encourage you because grief is horrible. But it’s not forever, and it’s not without our gracious King.

  13. 13

    From kapachino:

    Thank you SO much, Mindy – I read your comment voraciously, eating up every word. I know you understand, and I can’t imagine going through what you did last year, so to hear these uplifting words from you means so incredibly much. I really appreciate you taking the time to encourage me.

  14. 14

    From Mindy:

    Isn’t this the joy of living life with other believers? Hope tossed back and forth? But we have to share it, like you did. So thanks for sharing your life. I’ll be praying for you!

  15. 15

    From Megan:

    This post breaks my heart for you, Kathleen, but I am so glad that you wrote it and shared your heart with us. It takes tremendous courage to open one’s self to the world like this, and I hope you are encouraged to know that these are the kinds of stories that remind us all of the joys and sorrows of our shared humanity.

    You are the best of friends and an excellent wife, mother, daughter, sister, and nurse. Every life you touch is a life blessed by your presence. Be gracious with yourself. Don’t allow the voices of others (or the voices within) to cause you guilt or shame. Being a working mother is tremendously difficult, but you are doing a tremendously wonderful job at balancing these vocations that God has called you into.

    Grief is messy and painful and confusing. There is no “right way” to do it, and we are often thrust into it without our consent. Be gracious with yourself and let yourself grieve. God does not require that you focus on the positives in all situations. There are some situations in which there are very few–if any–positives to be found. Remember that Jesus wept at the loss of a loved one. God grieves with you in your pain.

    Peace be with you, my friend. I love you very, very much.

  16. 16

    From San:

    I am so sorry about the loss of your dear uncle and being a twin myself, I can somewhat imagine what it must be like for your dad to lose his best friend…. it’s such a tough thing to go through. The older we get, the more we’re confronted with the painful happenings in life. I don’t like that about getting older.
    I understand all the thoughts and feelings you have about this loss, your work situation, the desire for a second child and the fear that you won’t be able to make it work…. I don’t have any concrete answers for you (I wish!), but I’d trust that things will work out the way they’re supposed to be. Much love to you and your family.

  17. 17

    From Stephany:

    This is a beautiful post, Kathleen. Thank you for opening up and sharing with us. I can’t imagine the kind of grief your family is feeling. Praying for peace. <3

    As for the working mom thing, I can't exactly relate but I do want you to know that you are doing the best job you can. While I don't know you personally, what I see from your posts and tweets and photos, you are the best mom Meredith could ask for. I know it has to be hard to be a working mom (and feel judged by your decision, which is awful!) but every family is different and every family has their own sacrifices to make. I will add you to my prayer list, though, in the hopes that something crazy amazing will happen that will allow you to cut down on your hours at work. You never know what God has up His sleeve! :)

  18. 18

    From Nora:

    I’m glad you put this all out there; sometimes you just need to write it out. Sending big hugs and thinking of you all as you move forward. xo

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