Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye, 2009

Goodbye, 2009, and good riddance. I was ready for you to be over by April.

Spring and summer were overtaken by my dad's sudden and severe health issues. It started out in the winter with just some leg pain and weakness, but within months, it became clear it was not a routine problem. The big worry initially was multiple sclerosis, which was scary enough to think it could take his life in the coming years. Then one night in April, the bomb was dropped that ALS was the greater concern. All of a sudden, we were talking about the time he had left, and it wasn't years... it was months. I sat in utter and complete shock, then totally lost it. Then I hyperventilated and had to put my head below my knees just to be able to calm down enough to catch my breath.

Tests, more tests, doctors, more doctors, waiting, more waiting. No one seemed to be able to figure it out, so we hung in the balance, thinking my dad might well be dying and no one could even tell us from what.

We got to a point of being "okay" for the moment. No imminent fear of a terminal illness, but still a healthy fear of the unknown.

Then came July. We received the shocking and horrific news that my uncle had committed suicide. He'd been separated from his wife for a while, but she and their young daughter had returned home recently. They had a fight one night -- who knows what about -- and he barricaded himself in a closet where he kept his guns. His daughter, not much older than mine, was home at the time. I have no words.

It was the first time, and what I pray will be the last, someone I knew died at their own hands and by their own choosing. I couldn't get over what he could have possibly been thinking, and how any parent could put that on their child, and willingly be absent to watch the rest of their lives. And what is more -- none of us has any reason to believe he ever accepted Christ as his Savior. This was also the first time, and what I also pray will be the last (but know it likely won't be), that someone I knew died and went into an eternal hell, separated from God forever. It's so permanent, and so devastating, that I literally cannot wrap my mind around it.

The summer wasn't over yet. Sassy's mom announced her unexpected pregnancy. And she was due in the same month as Sassy's second birthday. And she was having another girl. And if you think that didn't come with a truckload of mixed emotions for me, you're darn well mistaken.

A dear member of Sassy's biological family broke the news that she and her husband were dealing with infertility. My heart ached for her, because I know so very well what it feels like when everyone around you is carrying a precious baby, and you are not. She cried a lot, but came to a point of acceptance of it, as best as you can. How thrilled I was to receive a surprise phone call from her one Monday out of the blue... she'd had a positive pregnancy test that morning! Completely in shock and over the moon, she wanted to share her wonderful news, and I couldn't have been happier for her or more honored that she'd included us in her "important people to tell right away" list.

A few short emails followed, and the news was not good. Bleeding, trips to the emergency room, and no heartbeat. The baby stopped growing. She waited to lose her precious little one, dying inside her. The miscarriage was only days after that phone call.

Ordinary problems and simple inconveniences seem so small, comparatively speaking. Who can remember that our brake lights decided to stop working in our car, or the subsequent eighty-seven trips to the car dealer to have the problem fixed? Who even cares?

I can't lie; 2009 has been one of the most trying years of my life, and that's including the infertility years. When I felt I couldn't take any more, His arms were holding me. When I had no words to pray, He understood my tears.

Miracles happened this year. My dad, while facing the very real possibility of death at an early age, came under conviction of his years upon years of "pretending" to be a Christian. Through his illness, and by God's amazing grace, he made assurance of his salvation, and now knows that he is a child of God! This is still such a hard concept for me to fully grasp. I still find myself trying to figure it out and make sense of so many things in my childhood and early adulthood. I don't feel like it was based on a lie, but I do have some weird feelings about this realization that he wasn't saved, as we all thought he was. But, he knows for SURE now, and how could I not be thrilled about that?

My husband and I went through a difficult patch in our marriage last year, as we discovered how infertility had affected us more than either of us had understood. Many things, but none more than my dad's illness, brought us closer this year. I'm so thankful for my sweet husband. Sure, we get annoyed with each other from time to time, but I KNOW I can depend on him no matter what the years ahead will bring.

Sassy's has a new baby sister, and while it still does bring up some bittersweet feelings, all babies are miracles. I hope we are able to meet her in 2010.

In November, a miracle happened that I could never have predicted or been prepared for. We met Sassy's biological father for the first time ever. You have to understand that this is a man who had no involvement in the pregnancy (aside from conception), delivery, or adoption. None. His name was not even listed on Sassy's original birth certificate. There's been a lot of "he said, she said," but this much we know: we had no reason to believe BioDad would ever make himself known. Ever. And he willingly came to meet the daughter he'd never known, and to meet us, her parents he had no involvement in choosing. I have no idea where this will go in the future, and to be honest, we still question if it will go anywhere. But, at the VERY least, I have pictures of my daughter with BOTH of her biological parents, together. I have the memory of that day and the experience of having met him, even if it's just once. That's more than I ever thought I'd have for my little girl.

Finally, peace. A little bit of peace as this tumultuous year fades away.

And then... the phone rang at 11:30 last night. My dad was being taken by ambulance to the emergency room in extreme pain, an extension of his year-long difficulties. My mom, husband, and I spent the better portion of the night (well, morning really) in the ER with my dad, while not even morphine could touch the pain he was in to provide any relief. It was a long night. I tried to settle myself down somewhere around 4:30, and my husband didn't fall into bed for another hour beyond that. My dad was nearly admitted, but around 4:00 this morning, they decided that his pain was under control enough that they felt comfortable releasing him. He's slept most of the day, and the pain meds are keeping the intensity down for now. We think the worst is behind us... hopefully. He'll be having spinal cord surgery within a week or two, and I don't even want to think about that yet.

Whatever it's been, 2009 is done. I'm ready to go put on my pajamas, turn on my electric blanket, and snuggle up with my husband to watch the ball drop in a few minutes (and be ever so thankful I'm at home instead of out in the craziness at Times Square).

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:7-10


  1. It sounds like it's been a roller coaster ride for many people this year. I am so sorry for your losses, especially for your uncle and his litte one. How awful. I am glad that your dad is now home, and I pray that his surgery goes well. That's wonderful that you were able to meet Sassy's bio-dad and be able to take the pictures of them all together. I am sure she will treasure that when she is older. Happy New Year!

  2. Oh, what a year for your family. :( Rejoicing with you over the blessings, and praying with you/for you in the trials, friend.