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Corbin turns two.

Posted on: Friday, May 2, 2014

Corbin. My sweet, sweet gift, Corbin. Two. You’re two years old today and I am in denial.

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I remember the night I found out you were coming. It was the first night of the NFL season and to your daddy, that is sacred business.

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I thought I was getting a stomach virus. I pushed through dinner and then found myself on my knees in the bathroom shortly after kick off.

While gasping for fresh, clean breaths, I calculated the days of the month. I was due for my period that day. I checked my phone to confirm- and there it was on the calendar. I grabbed a pregnancy test from under the counter and before I could lift the test up to eye level to ensure that it was working, the pink + sign was as bright as could be.

I cried a lot that night. Of course we were excited for you, but I was oh so scared, too. I have always dreamed of being a mother, but you were not planned and we did not think it was the right time for us to have children as I was half way through nursing school.

Those first few months were really hard- I was violently sick every day for the first twenty weeks. I was on multiple medications but nothing even took the edge of the nausea off.

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I joke today that during my long 14 hour clinicals at the hospital I would start an IV, walk out of the patients room, throw up in the hall trashcan, wipe my mouth and wash my hands, and into the next patients room I went.

I was strong. I pushed through with the help of your amazing daddy and some great friends that I had met in nursing school. They carried me through those last few months when I was so big and so tired. They refused to leave us behind.

And then you were here- it wasnt an easy delivery but you were healthy and the most beautiful baby I have ever seen.

You made up for that difficult pregnancy by being the most amazing baby. You have always been so easy- so genuinely happy.

You are the greatest little boy in the world – do you know that? Do you feel how much your mommy and daddy love you? Because baby, do we ever.

Your daddy is so proud of you, Corbin. You are two years old and his face lights up and beams with pride over every milestone you accomplish. Just last night I was whining/mourning/wallering on the floor exclaiming how I just “don’t understand how it has already been two years”. And your daddy, always calm, stops throwing the ball with you and looks at me and says “I cant believe it has only been two years- it’s as if he has never not been with us.”

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I try to document new things you do and new words you say in my journal- but youre changing so fast I can barely keep up.

 

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One of my favorite things you do is when we are pulling out of the driveway, no matter where we are going, you say bye to everything and everyone you know. “Bye choo choo… bye Schroeder… bye dada…. bye home… bye Cara… bye Nana and Papa… bye Kashlyn…. bye Ethan… bye Nonnie…” It is the sweetest.

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You’re so strong willed and smart. You want to do everything yourself.

And at the same time, you crawl in bed and snuggle with your mama every morning before we start the day and every night before bed.

I will cherish that time spent snuggled face to face with you for the rest of my life – the eskimo kisses, the laughs, the way you think youre whispering but really just making whisper sounds when we are under the covers.

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You have always had the most sensitive soul. From a very young age, if I were to get upset, you sensed that and carried my hurts as yours – hysterical over the Publix commerical I was a sobbing heap over.

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You are known to cry over a sad song during one of your shows- especially Sophia. Youll get me for this one day Im sure. It is so sweet and so endearing- our little boy with the largest heart.

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You have forever changed me- my heart, how I view the world, what I want out of this life – all of these things have slowly transformed since you came along.

Being your mother is the greatest role I have ever been blessed with.

Dresser Redo – Dun, dun, dun!

Posted on: Thursday, April 24, 2014

We have had this awful entertainment center in the living room for far too many years now.

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Note the old school Target build your own entertainment system - dorm room style behind the to die for baseball player.

I had full, strong, sincere intentions to do something about it…. oh, circa 2011?

It wasn’t until my girlfriend, Stephanie, transformed an old dresser into the center piece of her living room that I got my butt in gear.

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So gorgeous, right? Don’t stare too long! Mine isn’t as good.

In keeping with my goal to stay transparent around here, seeing hers did not make me move any faster.. it really just aroused some coveting on my end for a few months with a few minutes of I don’t have social media and I’m bored Craigs List browsing here and there.

And then I came across this. I thought I saw potential – Craig turned tilted his head to the side trying to see what I saw. He isn’t known for his creative vision. I sent the picture to Stephanie seeking her approval and once she said she loved, I was off to Deland to pick her up.

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I have distressed some new and old pieces of furniture so I feel like I am pretty comfortable with the process. This time around, I wanted to try my hand at the highly acclaimed Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and since there is a fun vintage market here in town that sells it I loaded Corbin up and without sampling any colors or any true direction on what look I was going for, I grabbed a can of the Old Ochre and clear wax and we were off.

The biggest appeal about Annie Sloan’s product is that there is literally no prep work. For all previous furniture redo’s I have done there is days of sanding, painting, sanding, painting, staining, sanding and then a clear coat. With this chalk paint, there is no sanding before hand. This dresser had a pretty heavy varnish on it that I was worried about but this stuff truly is a dream. A very, very expensive dream.

I initially did one coat of the chalk paint and then did see some stroke marks underneath – her tutorials all said to do two coats- but I wanted to see if I could squeeze by with just one. I did a second coat on a drawer front and after letting it dry, realized that it had a much richer look to it. Next, I did an application of the clear wax. I knew I wanted an antiqued, distressed look but instead of spending $27 on a can of dark wax, I was going to just use some stains and antiquing glazes I had in the garage… when the time came to start distressing, I got nervous about mixing products and Stephanie so graciously let me borrow her dark wax to play with.

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After the initial coat of the chalk paint.

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One coat of the Old Ochre followed by clear and dark wax- I liked it, but it didn’t look quite as good as this one did with two coats-

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After doing a coat of dark wax, buffing, and some light sanding, I buffed over a few spots with the clear wax and my finish was done.

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I had Craig remove two of the drawer fronts and then we were able to salvage the frames from the face of the drawers so that I could use to frame the holes that we are using to store our cable box and playstation.

I kept all original hardware and love the way that they came out with the gold peeking through.

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Not too shabby for a $30 Craigs List find- I just love breathing new life into old things and giving them a second chance to shine.

 

Walking through it.

Posted on: Tuesday, April 8, 2014

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There is a part of my character that I feel holds me back from life- the need to be accepted- this deep desire to please those around me. Don’t get me wrong, I know that this is an important trait to have in order to maintain healthy relationships- but for me, I can get stuck in this place where I am too scared to share what I feel because I am afraid you will think less of me.

I feel like I can not give myself authentically, especially on a blog, until I am writing just to share my raw, vulnerable feelings without reworking every thought- considering how it will shift the person on the receiving ends perception of what I am trying to portray.

I want to write the truth.

This crippling fear has held me tight in its grasp the last few months.

Does this come down to self love and acceptance?

I heard a message a few weeks ago while visiting a church in Jacksonville where the pastor hit on woman’s innate self esteem issues. He said he believes this is one of the inherited blemishes we have to walk through as a consequence of Eve’s choice in the garden. He noted how he has never met a woman who did not suffer with some level of this affliction.

He mentioned how every night before bed he made his daughter repeat Psalms 139:14 with him – he intentionally recited “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” and then again, with more passion, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

My cheeks were sopping wet when he finished.

As I write this, I am trying to think of how I can better explain this moment- this truth that wrecked my heart. This realization that for whatever reason(s) – my childhood, abandonment issues, my past choices, my personality- I suffer from this deep need to be “OK” in others eyes. And although it may have aided me in my choice to change my life for the better, today, I believe it is a hindrance.

I often tell myself that my hesitance to write is out of my cautious attempts to not hurt anyone with my words. When I started writing, that was one of the most important standards I laid out for myself- but I also think I use that “rule” as a crutch to not share.

I know that I am enough for God. And if I truly believe that, then I also have to believe that I am enough for the people I encounter in this life.

Here’s to putting it all out there- to pulling the cloak off of the trepidation that has controlled my heart for too long.

 

 

 

 

 

Home.

Posted on: Friday, January 17, 2014

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                                                             photos taken by Janey Pakpahan

 

My days are relatively calm. Each Monday morning we fall back into our familiar routines and schedules.

An air of serenity fills me as I unload the groceries every Monday afternoon- pulling out the things I need to create the meal that will be the center of my family coming back together after a day fulfilling our separate roles.

I pride myself on the fact that I can give my family a quiet, safe refuge from the world. I want home to be the place they know will always be a constant.

I am not naïve to real life happenings. I get that things happen- bad, hard, painful things. But growing up in the midst of storms, I want nothing more than to ease my children’s minds and hearts. To be a place resting place of warmth for them.

It hasn’t always been this relaxing and comforting experience for me. I can remember my first family meals. I was 19. It was a turning point in my life that remains so clear in my mind.

The first few meals I spent around a family table where there was laughing and what I consider to be special to our family, a board game going, I was the most uncomfortable I had ever felt. My skin crawled each time someone tried to engage me in the simple act of fellowship. I wanted to crawl in a hole. It was so calm. I couldn’t take it. I wanted to throw something against the wall and run around screaming to shake things up.

You don’t realize how deep in you are until these life moments happen that painstakingly point out your differences from the world.

I thought they were the crazy ones. Who cares if I didn’t want to play board games? Or eat as a family? Why cant the TV drown out voices and forced eye contact?

My family felt the my uncomfortableness ooze from me each time we gathered around the table.

I remember the day I let go. My family remembers it, too.We were playing UNO. The game had ended and before I could catch myself, I blurted out “lets play again!”. A simple request from a kid caught up in a game. No big deal. For me, it was. A moment of vulnerability.  A shift. My walls were slowing coming down.

Today, these moments are the ones I cherish most. I can think of no better way to spend my time than laughing and engaging with my family around a table.

Do you have any moments like this?

 

Stroke – Part 3.

Posted on: Wednesday, January 15, 2014

 I have struggled with writing the next part of this story. There are so many people involved- so many private and intimate moments. I only want to share my experience but it so difficult to do while protecting others along the way.  

You can read part 1 of this story here.

You can read part 2 of this story here.

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My relationship with my mom has always been turbulent at best. The day that she was wheeled back into surgery I remember going to sit in the waiting room.

I was alone. My sisters had gone to get some fresh air and pick up food.

I remember sitting down in a vacant part of the room and looking at my phone. I opened my voicemail tab and there were a few messages from my mom.

I am notorious for not listening to voicemails so the notification button is always on.

In the past when I talked to my mom I had to mentally prepare myself for our conversations. I would say more often than not I did not take her calls.

She had tried to call for the past few weeks. The last time that we had talked we had gotten into an argument. The conversation hadn’t ended well and I hadn’t taken her calls since.

I remember pressing play to one of the messages from her.

I remember hearing her voice.. and it was normal, it was sweet, she was sober.

She said “hey Shayna, this is mom. I just want to say Im sorry for everything. I want to say Im sorry for our last conversation. I know that I haven’t always been a good mom. I swear that Ill try harder and I swear that Ill do a better job. I want to be there for Corbin. I want a relationship with Corbin. Please give me the chance to rectify the past..”

The feelings swirling throughout my body were indescribable as I listened to that voicemail. I remember my whole body tightening and I remember this aching pain in my chest. I remember feeling so guilty for not having taken her call and also so grateful that I had that recording on my phone. I remember all at once these emotions pouring out of me. I was hysterically crying – uncontrollably sobbing – sitting there  listening to each message in mourning.

Mourning what potentially was the death of my mother’s life and realistically was the death of my mother as I knew her. Even if she made it out of this, it was known that she was going to have irreparable brain damage.

Its hard. It’s a hard thing for anyone to go through. When you are walking through a situation like this on bad terms with someone, or I can imagine even on the best of terms, it is a new and foreign type of pain.

That was definitely a moment of mourning and grieving for me that I had not expected to come.

Unfortunately, that was also only the beginning of the events that unfolded while she was in this life sustaining surgery.

A little while after splashing cold water on my hot, tear streaked face and gathering myself off of the bathroom floor, my little sisters came back with food for Mike.

Mike is the man I called “dad” my entire life. And like most children feel about heir dads, I idolized him.

I assume it’s hard for any child to grow up and realize that their parents have flaws. That they are not always the super heroes we had ingrained in our minds. When that realization comes coupled with addiction, deceit, and countless incarcerations, the anger and feelings of rejection are strong. Mike stopped being my dad by the time I hit high school. I was on my own at 15 and rarely saw him for the next ten years.

When you are thrown into the arms of addiction, you live in this delusion that the world – relationships and feelings of entitlement-   are sustained to how you remember it being during the best times.

Mike is notorious for showing up and playing dad while the pain of years of absence lingers in the air.

He hadn’t eaten or slept in a few days at this point. The girls were trying to get him to take a few bites of a sandwich while we waited for any updates. While he was eating, he kept falling asleep. At one point he had leaned back while asleep and smashed his head on the back of the wall. The trauma to the back of his head triggered a seizure in him. He is known to have seizures- he is known to have seizures when he is sleep deprived, he’s known to have seizures when he is messed up on narcotics, and he’s known to have seizures when he is in withdrawal.

I can remember seeing the expressions of shock on the strangers faces around the room.

I walked to the nurses station and calmly said “theres a man having a seizure in the waiting room”.

It was almost an outer body experience at this point. I felt so numb. It was so typical of one of my parents to throw a firework into a situation that you could not possibly imagine getting any worse.

He refused any help from the hospital staff. He didn’t want to miss anything with my mom.

I remember the anger beginning to build- feeling so frustrated that he couldn’t pull it together long enough for my mom to get out of surgery.

A few more hours passed before we heard anything.

The surgeon came out and said that she had made it through surgery. He said at this point they had done everything they could from a medical standpoint and it was up to her body to fight.

He said things would be touch and go. He said there were no absolutes.

We thought the worst was over. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of what would be the hardest days, weeks and months of my role as a daughter.

 

 

 

Shedding old skins for Christmas.

Posted on: Thursday, November 21, 2013

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When you grow up in a home that is dysfunctional year round, the pressures of the holidays only amplifies the tension that was already there.

As a child, I remember feeling excited about seeing Santa at the mall, picking out presents and decorating for the holidays.

I also can still feel the anxiety welling up inside my little frame as my parents stumbled their way through another Christmas Eve.

Children are so forgiving, so willing to see past their parents flaws, desperate for the experience that will let them know that they are worthy, that their home is a safe place, and that their family is not as broken as it appears.

As I grew older, I began to resent the holidays. Maybe it wasn’t the actual holidays themselves, but the way that my town seemed to burst with excitement and happiness as they counted down to the days that marked some of the worst memories of my life.

 

I moved out at fifteen. My little sister, Brooke, moved in with me two years later.

 

We celebrated the holidays together but we didn’t fake the feelings that we knew hadn’t been there for us in many years.

We didn’t listen to Christmas music. Ever.

We had a tree every year, we went to Christmas Eve services, we exchanged gifts. But we did it our way. In the stand offish way of two scarred sisters who loved each other and wanted to give each other those experiences but just didn’t know how without it hurting.

 

The first holiday season we spent with our new family was enlightening, encouraging, and very uncomfortable. They tried so hard to make us feel completely apart of. We opened gifts together, ate together, played games together- it was a true family day in every sense of the word. It felt nice and secure but I also felt myself awkwardly walking through the acts.

As the years passed, the holidays became a little less painful and more enjoyable.

We still didn’t listen to Christmas music voluntarily and it was a known joke within our family that the girls “hated” Christmas music.

 

And then I had my first Christmas season with Craig.

I had never met someone so into every aspect of the holiday season.

This was a man who sang Christmas songs in his car at the top of his lungs in November.

A man who chose to spend his lunch breaks eating next to the lit up tree in the mall.

A man who took a seasonal job at a retail store just “to be apart of the hustle and bustle of the season”.

 

And he had fallen in love with me.. a non-gift stealing Grinch.

He didn’t get it, but he never pushed- with the exception of belting out Mariah Carey Christmas songs while I cringed in the passenger seat.

 

When I became pregnant, the holidays became even more exciting for my husband.

As for me, I was walking through a lot of confusion.

I wanted desperately for my children to experience the holidays the way every child deserves; without their weirdo mom standing in the back ground having an internal battle every year.

I knew I had a choice. I could keep doing this year after year, or I could let it go.

I could try. My boys deserved an effort on my part.

 

As my brain slowly began the shift from broken child to new mom, I felt myself softening.

I started putting Christmas stations on Pandora while I cooked.

It felt disagreeable at first, but I was used to healthy feeling unnatural.

I remember Craig coming into the room with a look of shock on his face and me blushing in embarrassment and giving him a “do not say a word” look.

 

Corbin’s first Christmas didn’t go as smooth and flawless as I would have liked, but I was much more authentic and present in the holiday spirit than I had ever been before.

 

This year, I felt true excitement buying our tree and planning our decorating evening.

My heart swelled as I watched a daddy and his little boy hang ornaments on their tree while stopping to laugh at funny scenes from Elf in between.

 

After putting the baby to bed last night, we settled in on our couch with all of the lights off except for the glow from the tree.

Staring at the tree in the quiet of our little house, I felt pride building deep inside of me.

It is not always easy but I am doing it.

 

who doesnt love a little boy in a bowtie.

Posted on: Tuesday, November 12, 2013

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photos taken by Janey Pakpahan – https://www.facebook.com/JaneyPakpahanPhotography

 

 

It is important to feel like you have something to offer the world. Something that is yours. That defines you. Allows you to stand apart from the crowd.

For a long time, I didn’t have anything that was mine. No creative outlets to vessel my passions, hurts, creativity.

When I got sober in 2007, I was left with myself and lots of time.

All the time I had spent tied up in other things was now available and glaringly empty.

Pinterest wasn’t around yet with its array of amazing ideas and crafts.

Cooking was the first thing I ever felt I was good at – that I might have a knack for. Growing up, my idea of a home cooked meal was Hamburger Helper and a can of green beans.

Now, please do not get me wrong, I still believe that Hamburger Helper is deliciousssssss, but I am proud to say that is no longer the choice meal for entertaining.

This post has nothing to do with cooking- how did I get down this rabbit hole?

A few years after I found cooking, crafting started. I tend to lean more towards distressing furniture, painting things, home décor.

But I wanted more.

My mother in law sews. She is self taught and makes a lot of her clothes.

I have always been extremely impressed by this. Who makes their own clothing?!

So, when she was gifted a nicer machine than the one she had, she gifted hers to me.

As someone who could not sew a button on a shirt, sewing has been a long, painful, but exponentially rewarding skill to learn.

I started with these bowties. My mother in law and I sat down and played with patterns until we came up with the one that I liked best.

After a few failed attempts and jammed machines that left me in a heap of tears as I was positive I had “broken it for good”;  I have slowly — veryyyyy slowly — learned my way around the art of bow tie making.

Lately.

Posted on: Wednesday, November 6, 2013

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photos taken by my sweet and talented friend, https://www.facebook.com/JaneyPakpahanPhotography

October was perfect. The weather is changing – slowly but surely we are feeling a little bit of fall here in Florida.

Halloween was really fun this year and I believe extra sweet for this mama as I made Corbin’s costume. He not only kept it on like a champ, but he also really got into the festivities. Our friends from church had everyone over for a potluck and then the best trick or treating a kid could ask for – a trailer loaded up with hay that rode the kids from house to house. Corbin had such a fun time climbing in and out of the bed of the trailer and chasing the big kids up each yard.

My mama heart has been so full lately – there is nothing like living out first experiences through your child’s eyes.

 

 

Reworking an old canvas.

Posted on: Tuesday, September 24, 2013

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his first car cart ride during one of our trips to home depot.

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When I quit my job in February to stay home with Corbin full time, the todo list I created for myself was long and heavy.

I spent all down time during the spring and summer season consumed with crafts.

I find projects, sewing, writing, cooking- anything creative and hands on- to be therapeutic.

But when walking through anxiety, I also find a way to take it to the extreme- to almost squeeze the joy out of it with the pressure to get it all done. Left to my own devices, I will take on multiple projects– with a dead line, as in Corbin’s 1st birthday.

Luckily, this wasn’t one of those projects.

This one didn’t come with a set of plans or steps, it was one where I had a vision when I started but then it became something entirely different when I finished. I knew going in that I wanted to try to salvage the canvas and that I wanted to try my hand at photo transferring. My sister had done a few photo transferring projects onto wood that looked awesome.

The garland strip came into play when I realized that my large black and white Xerox copy wasn’t going to cover the entire canvas – not even close.

I let go of expectations during this craft. If it didn’t turn out, fine. If no one else “got it”, that’s ok too.

I spent a few nap times with the music cranked up and just let my hands create.

Learning to let go of expectations of ourselves is hard. I have had to shed a lot of the uncomfortable feelings that come with walking away from a career and choosing to live with a little less in order to be able to soak up every bit of my son.

I remind myself in these moments of doubt, they are only little once and for such a short period of time.. don’t waste it.

 

 

 

 

Stroke – Part 2.

Posted on: Tuesday, September 17, 2013

 

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You can read part 1 of this story here.

 

The drive to Jacksonville is kind of fuzzy in my mind.  I remember Brooke & me stopping to pick up Skye and Leslie wrapping her arms around me. She held me so tight. She was scared. She wanted to shield us from this.

I promised to protect my sisters. To leave if things got too volatile. I promised that I would keep their mental and physical well being my main priority.

I remember the elevator. I remember pushing the button that would take us to the part of the hospital where the sickest people are kept. To the part of the hospital where things are a lot quieter… the sounds of machines a lot clearer.. the halls a lot darker. To the floor where a patient’s status is subject to change in the blink of an eye.

I remember walking into her room- blinking and allowing my eyes to readjust to the darkness, hesitant for things to come into focus.

She didn’t have a ton of equipment connected to her.

She didn’t look like a stroke patient. She seemed fine, wrapped up under blankets asleep in the small hospital bed.

I remember walking over to the bed, whispering “mom?”

No response.

I remember petting her hair, stroking her face, talking a little louder in hopes that my voice would register somewhere in her brain and she would open her eyes- if only for a second.

Nothing.

I remember my sisters each trying to get her to respond to them. I can see Brooke’s pained expression, tears trickling down her cheeks as she desperately begged our mom to wake up.

CT scans showed that there was a very large clot lodged in the left side of my mom’s brain.

It was still there. But medication would be futile because of the amount of time that had lapsed since the incident. Everything behind the clot had been cut off for so long.

It was too late. An entire section of her brain was gone.

The next morning we met the team of doctors handling my mom’s case.

I watched as they tried to illicit a response from my mother’s seemingly lifeless body. I watched as they administered painful stimuli in an effort to activate any type of response from her brain- all to no avail.

It is difficult to put into words the helplessness that one feels witnessing something like this.

You feel alone, confused, scared. You want to scream at the top of your lungs, to shove these people “hurting” your mom out of the room. You want to wrap your sisters up in your arms and carry them away from this pain.

You want to take it away. But you can’t. So you just stand there and try to be as strong as possible.

Things had taken a turn for the worse as they tend to do in these situations.

Because of the size of the stroke, her brain was beginning to severely swell inside of her skull.

If we did nothing, she would die.

They brought in a neurosurgeon who explained that in order to save my mom’s life, we needed to agree to let them perform a hemi-craniectomy. A surgery where they cut away part of the skull in order to allow the brain to continue to swell outside of its cavity.

They said she would be touch and go.

They said she may not make it.

They said this was our only chance at her surviving- that it would not fix her, but the goal being that life would be sustained if her body was strong enough to fight.

I remember all eyes on me.

I remember the doctors asking if I understood.

I remember my sisters and Mike staring at me with expectancy in their eyes; waiting for me to explain.

I remember the fear and uncertainty in my voice as my novice nursing brain scrambled to make sense of it all.

I remember everyone asking me what we should do and then I remember signing the consent forms.

Once the paperwork was signed, things starting speeding up. Time was of the essence.

The last thing I remember before they took our mom to surgery was asking for a few moments alone with her.

I remember my sisters and I each taking a minute to say what we felt needed to be said in case, you know, she didn’t come back.

I remember holding my sisters hands as we prayed over her body; begging God to give us more time. Pleading with Him to heal her.

I can still see the look on the man’s face as he said he was taking her now. I can still see her small body being wheeled down the hall and into the most important procedure of her life.

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