Staying Alive
Autumn Cleaning

“To be broken is no reason at all to see things as broken.” —Mark Nepo

I probably shouldn’t get too attached to Sunday visits, because I can’t expect the Logies (whom Justine has dubbed “the Beatles”) to show up with at least part of the family every week forever!  I do know not to get attached to anything to much, especially if it involves others’ schedules. They share of their gifts so freely and humbly—and I know our family is not the only one to benefit. But most Sundays of the month, they have been driving 35 miles back and forth from Whittier. Sometimes when I’m not even there. In fact, some days we are the third on their list of homes and hospitals where they have ministered to the sick and bored with their contagious musical joy.

I love that my kids enjoy those afternoons too. The Logie kids move in and out of singing alone/together, painting, playing cards. It’s great for Maki—especially as he doesn’t like to feel put-on-the-spot for long—and even when its just us visiting, he can feel a little trapped. With the Logies, there is always some activity going on. I think Vernon enjoys that vibe most too. He can just listen to the in and out of activity around him as well as the music, which we know he loves. He doesn’t have to answer or ask questions he doesn’t come up with on his own. There is simply a lovely bubbling buzz of love around us all.

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I had brought the mat up and Vernon did well, though he felt so energized afterward, he got frustrated waiting for the CNA who would transfer him to his chair.  He crawled out of bed and nearly back into it by the time she got there. By then, he was alert enough to take out his frustration on me…it’s nice on those days not to be the only person to entertain him.  He had others  waiting outside that he could be his good self with.

Once seated, we couldn’t roll out fast enough. “I want to see my kids,” he demanded. And once we got there.:”Don’t push me in the shade. I want the sun!”

Well, there is something about a man who knows what he wants.

He asked Maki to sit near him. So he did.

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“Isn’t my son Maki so beautiful?” He asked, overcome with feeling toward him. I know Maki was moved too.

A friend saw this picture earlier and pointed out: “Like father, like son!: Even look at their hands!!!”  And she is right.

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Justine entertained herself and everyone else with her newfound interest in face painting.  I don’t have a picture of Susan here, just to save her some dignity…she was Justine’s first victim and looked like someone trying to camouflage herself in a Matisse cut-out. In other words, she looked GREAT!

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Here is Vernon drinking water…without coughing. Vernon did order a Fosters lager, specifically, but water was all I could get ahold of. I probably shouldn’t post it here, because I might be held liable, but he’s just so obsessed with water and drinking, its hard to always say no.  It’s so hard navigating the worlds of what I think is right and what the professionals say. It’s best when we agree.

This sort of thing makes me reflect on the idea of prayer, of all things. If everyone who says they are praying for him means it, and if this has been happening in large numbers for almost a year and a half, at what point does it all come together to manifest the results we want? I don’t know the answer, obviously…I don’t even know if it worth asking. But what if? 

What if when the medical fixes and suggestions stop working for him, we’ll find that underneath the surface, quietly yet perfectly, he was being healed the whole time? It’s a dream, maybe even a hidden reality, a little tricky to test it. But what if in this whole story, there is still a miracle waiting to happen. I’m speaking to my wish-like faith, which lately seems to wax and wane with the moon. It DOES come back though after the dark nights. Right now, I’m in-between and looking for reminders.

That’s why these Sunday parties have been so great. They aren’t just for Vernon, you know…though he is the guest of honor. They help ME see the miracles evolve and mature in, right in the eye of the storm.: The fact that we are in the eye of the storm, and not being tossed around, the fact that Vernon seems weird in a place like Mesa Verde, too young, surrounded by music and children and laughter, when most people who have experience severe trauma like his, have died. He is alive. There is music, dancing, artwork, children, friendships. We are STILL here 15 months later! We are smiling. We are crying. We are growing. We are learning to live outside of fear. And if that isn’t faith-building, I don’t know what is…

Apparently, having FAITH doesn’t mean getting what you ask for. But it does help with the belief that it will all work out alright in the end….and most likely the whole way through. Sometimes you have to fight for it though.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” —Hebrews 11:1

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Bear with me as I tell one more anecdote. When I went to fetch water from the cooler, I saw Anita huddled in the corner, obviously feeling blue. She was trying to cut a hole in the toe of her stuffed slippers because a blister on her foot had grown too painful to cover. She was so sad…she always reminds me that she is almost completely blind and deaf and on top of that 98, years old. She is usually so sweet and cheerful, but when she is down, you can see the black cloud hanging over her from yards away.  I sat with her a bit, listened to her talk about how much her body hurts in old age, and borrowed  some sharper scissors from the receptionist’s desk.

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As I cut away, hoping they weren’t some expensive pair her family had bought her as a gift, she told me about how despondent she was when she had first arrived at the home. She had felt sorry for herself until she discovered there was a rose garden just outside the wall. That became her place of refuge and her purpose. We all know now how she sings to the flowers. She told me that one day when she was scolded for watering them with the hose, she took it upon herself to take 14 trips with her coffee cup full of water. They gave her purpose. They kept her going…for Anita, she isn’t getting younger, she doesn’t have family around, she is in pain…but these flowers are her answered prayers.

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After telling me her story, she was ready to go outside and take in the music with her little foot snug comfortably into a customized slipper. The music was what I was really trying to get her out to all along. That…and the roses.

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Staying Alive
Autumn Cleaning