Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One Tough Cookie

Maggie has a little buddy at church who is her exact same age, same height, same build, and same hair color and length. Even my friend Julie (this little buddy's mom) and I have occasionally had to look twice when we see them from the back to see which one is ours!

Anyway, this morning Julie and I were talking about our precious little strong-spirited ones and marveling at how similar they are, both in appearance and personalities. We discovered that they are both super tough– they can get hurt pretty badly and not even let out so much as a whimper. I told Julie that sometimes I'm concerned that Maggie is going to get significantly hurt, like break a bone or something, and I might not even know.

Well, fast forward three hours from that conversation with Julie. Maggie started looking a little sick and droopy in her eyes, and she had mentioned to me once or twice somewhat nonchalantly in the past couple days that her ear was hurting. After my conversation with Julie this morning, I got to thinking that her ears might be worse than she was letting on, and maybe I should go ahead and get her into the pediatrician.

The doctor looked at her first ear and said, "Wow- this one is really infected. Is this the ear she was complaining about?" I told her no– it was the other one. She looked at the second ear, and it was even worse. The doctor said that on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most infected an ear could be, Maggie's was an 8.5. Woh– she wasn't running a fever or even acting sick at all until late morning today. But she's got a severe double ear infection.

This sweet little Maggie is one tough cookie. I really am going to have to watch her closely since she has a pain tolerance that she CLEARLY did not inherit from her mother!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Conversations with Maximus

Max: How do birds die?
Me: Well, lots of different ways. Some just get old and die. Some might get hit by a car.
Max: Remember at the park we went to with Addison and Preston and we saw that dead bird? Why do you think that bird died?
Me: I'm not sure. Maybe he was just an old bird and it was his time to die. It's a little like G.G. Huckaby. Remember? She had lived a long time and her body just stopped working right.
Max: But Grandmama's not going to die.
Me: What are you thinking about?
Max: Grandmama Vicki. She's not going to die because she's not old yet.
Me: You know, Max. Sometimes when grown-ups have cancer, the tiny parts of their body called cells don't work right. If the cancer is serious enough, even grown-ups who are not old can die. The kind of cancer that Grandmama has is the very serious kind. The good news is that God has the power to heal her body if He wants to. But He might also decide that it's almost time for her to go to Heaven with him. And that's okay, too, because she loves Jesus so much.
Max: (silent and thinking)
Me: You don't have to worry about it today, though, Max. Today Grandmama is feeling good and we can go spend some time with her.
Max: She is feeling all the way good? She's not sick anymore?
Me: No, her cells are still sick. But she feels good today. And we can enjoy every good day with Grandmama.
Max: When we were in Idaho, I was sick three times. But Daddy gave me Gatorade and it made me all better. And then when I was at the park with Anna and Jakin, I threw up.
Me: Everybody gets sick sometimes. But you don't have to worry about getting sick like Grandmama. All of your cells are working just right.
Max: Yes!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Conversations with Maximus

As I'm hugging Max, just after spanking him for throwing a fit:

Me: Maximus, I do not like spanking you. It makes me so sad when you make choices that mean you have to get a spanking. I always hope that you can make good choices so that I won't have to spank you.
Max: (tears streaming down his face) But.. Mommy... It's really hard to go the whole day without making bad choices!
Me: I know, buddy. None of us can go a single day without making bad choices.
Max: Why?
Me: Because we are all sinners. That's why we need Jesus so much.
Max: But why did Jesus die for us while we were his enemies?
Me: Because He loved us so much that He wanted to make a way to forgive us of our sins so that we could be in His family.
Max: But Mommy, your only bad choices are arguing with Daddy.
Me: Oh, I have a lot more sins than that. Like when I'm lazy and don't do the work I should do. Or when I don't treat others with real kindness.
Max: Woh. That IS a bad choice.
Me: I know. Big time.

And then he smiles at me and scampers away to play, eyes red and swollen, but hopefully with the seeds of the Gospel planted in his tender heart.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

I Packed My Black Dress

Some dates are easy to remember. A potent occurrence or event or emotion has seared the date into your memory. April 1st is one of those dates for me.

One year ago today, Lucas and I had just returned home from a long road trip from Idaho to California. We had spent a glorious week with both Lucas' California family and my family (minus Tyler and Meagan), fulfilling one of my mom's dreams to take her grandkids to Disneyland. As Lucas and the kids and I drove back to Idaho, my mom's health took a serious decline. She was in horrific pain as my dad worked hard to get her through the flights and car rides back to Arkansas to her oncologist. When they finally got to the hospital, the news was not good. Mom's cancer was rapidly progressing, and the doctors predicted that she might have as little as 2 weeks to live.

Lucas and I scrambled to find a plane ticket so I could get back to my mom. The best one we could find was the next morning, April 2nd, flying out of Portland. We left before dawn to drive 7 hours in the wrong direction so Maggie and I could catch a plane to Arkansas. Max and Lucas would fly in to join us the following weekend for Easter.

I remember standing in my closet in Idaho, unpacking my bag from California just to repack it for this heart-wrenching flight to Arkansas. I stared at my hanging clothes, numb and trying to decided what and how much to pack. I pulled a black dress off the hanger and let the material slink through my hands. Based on everything I had heard from the doctors that day, I was going to need that dress. It made me angry, and so very sad.

I know my loving and gracious and eternal Daddy was holding me in His strong arms that day. I wonder if, in the midst of His compassion, He still smiled a bit, knowing the best was yet to come. He knew He had a gift for me that I couldn't fathom in that moment: another beautiful year with my mom. A new job for Lucas and a move to a home 1.7 miles from my parents' front door. Grandmama's tea parties for Maggie. The forever gift of learning to read from Grandmama to Max. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Two Easters.

One year later, this week has been hard on me. I returned home from India to face the reality that Mom's health is again in a precarious position (at least from a human standpoint). She's in the hospital getting blood transfusions. She's not able to tolerate a full dose of chemo that, even at its best, only offers a few months of life to the 5-15% of patients with whom it is effective.

However, I know that the same loving, gracious and eternal Daddy is present with us today just as He was one year ago. He is no less powerful now than He was then. The ordained days for the beautiful life of Vicki Dees has not fluctuated. And I believe, in the mind's eye of my limited human thinking, He is still smiling just a bit, knowing that the best is yet to come.