Friday, November 27, 2015

This day never gets easier.

Every year I say it. Every year I think I am prepared. And every year this day hits me right in the stomach taking my breath and any manner of sanity and emotional stability along with it.

I was six months old when my Daddy was drafted into the Vietnam War. Apparently, I halted all developmental milestones the day he left. I sat and only sat until the day we were reunited (right after my first birthday) when I walked to him. Apparently, I COULD walk. I had just seen nothing worth walking to.

Following his funeral, my mother looked me in the eye and said, "You cannot just sit this time." She knew my inclination -- even at 25 -- would be to climb in bed and never move again.

It has been 22 years since I had a hug from the man that showed me the world, the one who taught me how to laugh and ride my bike, how to pray, and how to love others. The one who showed me the importance of coffee and a good joke. The one who thought I was practically perfect in every way.

It is no small thing to lose your biggest cheerleader. Even all these years later, there are more days than not that I wish I could climb on the couch beside him, ask him  a myriad of questions about life, faith and family...and then have him tell me he loves me and is proud of me. No amount of time seems to dull the ache of losing the one who called me his angel.

I still feel the need to wallow this time of year. But Terry Mason taught me many other lessons as well...and one of those would involve a spanking if he knew I was wallowing around in pity rather than celebrating all the gifts I have been given.

Thank you, Daddy, for setting the parenting bar so high. Thank you for modeling Godly parenthood every day of my life. Thank you for still being a goal I strive for.

 And Daddy, thank you for loving me.

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

World Prematurity Awareness Day (for another hour at least!)

Storms are spinning all around us. I am glued to the TV watching the radar and ready to wake everyone up and get them to a hallway, a bathtub or something! And as I sit here vigilant, I realize that I can not let the day pass without recognizing that today is the official awareness day for premature births.

Nineteen years ago next week, we received what might possibly go down in my life history as the most amazing news ever: Wade and I were expecting not one little bitty baby, but THREE!

Immediately, the doctor cautioned us that our little ones due on July 7 might make an early appearance. I did some quick math and realized those few weeks early meant these babies might make their appearance on my Daddy's May 27 birthday. I was elated. Anything else was beyond my paradigm. Beyond my imagination.

Unfortunately just a few months later, and the words viable, micro-premie, and neonatal intensive care unit would begin to be bantered all around me as my body was in full labor at 19 weeks.

As we prayed and begged and pleaded with God to keep our babies from too early a birth, people tried to prepare us for what to expect. We were fortunate to be at The University of Chicago with one of the world's leading Neonatal care teams.

Claire with her NICU nurse in 1997 and below in 2014.

In 1997, 28 weeks was a magic number at the U of C. They had a very high success rate at keeping those teeny tiniest of babies alive. I will forever praise God for taking this reluctant southern girl to Chicago for just such a time as this. Because my body hit that magic 28 week mark and decided it could take no more. I was hemorrhaging and scaring everyone around me. The babies and I would not reach 29 weeks pregnant.

Huge medical strides have been made in the last 19 years for these bitty babies. But oh my friends, there is still much to do. 

In honor of my super heroes, can you help bring attention to premature births? Can you help educate your community and spread the word for support of organizations like the March of Dimes who help educate, research and help families just like our's.

Just click share. Or post their picture. Or tell their story. The littlest babies are not indispensable. I for one know three that daily make the world a better place!

Carol - The Blessings Counter

Thursday, November 12, 2015

She did what with my Tupperware??

My daughter's college friend threw away my Tupperware cake carrier. Threw it away. She kept the cheap plastic storage container that held the bazillion cucumber sandwiches I made for the Alumni Tea. But the cake carrier that held the cupcakes, the cake carrier that was a wedding gift almost 25 years ago, the one I used for everything, EVERYTHING, she tossed. She tossed it. She lost it for weeks and when she found it, she thought it was moldy and so rather than try to wash it, she threw it away.

I want to cry.

I want to call her and shake my finger at her thoughtlessness.

I want to ask her what she was thinking!

I want to go through the garbage and see if I can find it.

I really liked that container. 

And yet, about thirty minutes after getting this news -- after seriously fighting tears that a wedding gift had been so casually thrown away -- it began to dawn on me that this very probably isn't about the cake carrier at all. Oh no, I fear it is uncovering a wealth of emotions tonight.

See, I gently filled that carrier with my creations. I gingerly transported them to Mississippi College and put them in the careful hands of my daughter for her event. I trusted her and her social tribe with the containers. I trusted they would be returned to me no worse for the wear after serving their purpose, fulfilling their duties.

Mercy, that is just like how I loaded my amazing children into my van and transported them and their belongings one to one college, one to another. I placed all three of them in the caring hands of faculty and administrators and I am trusting that they will be returned to me better and stronger than when I dropped them off.

But here is the rub: I couldn't monitor the care given to my container. After handing it off, I had to trust its care to others -- most of whom are completely unknown to me. I had no control of where it went, what it was used for and apparently, if it would be saved or discarded as no-good-rubbish. No one knew how special it was. No one knew that it had been a gift.

After I drove away from Millsaps, and after I left Mississippi College, and every day when I leave Benjamin at Belhaven, I have no control over where they go, whom they go with, and whether or not the people treat them with the love and care they deserve. My heart is screaming, "These are my precious tiny babies! They have overcome so much in their 18 years. Please be gentle. Please be kind. Please treat them well." But it is rather frowned upon for me to march around their respective campuses chanting such.

So I sit hear storming heaven's gate with prayers for their safety, for their schoolwork, for their relationships. I cherish every weekend they can come home and I hug them and love them and remind them that they are now, and will always be a perfect gift from God to me. 

And I would make them cupcakes. But sadly, I have no where to store them.

Carol - The Blessings Counter