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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Deployment and Disability: How they come to terms one month in

     Today marks one month since I said goodbye to Chris.  We're guessing it will be about eight more months before we see each other again. 

Goodbye photos.  Can you see the sad eyes and the fake, plastered smiles?

 How I'm feeling:

     There is this blanket of loneliness that is always there.  Sometimes the blanket drifts high into the sky, like a lost balloon.  It's there, and if you look up, you can see it, but it doesn't disturb your day or really affect how you experience the world.  Other times, the blanket feels so very heavy and exhausting.  The blanket is overbearing in its presence, and it's hard to even get yourself to do things because it's so stifling. 

     In those stifling moments for me, I try to slip off to an empty room without Holden noticing, and just quietly sob for a minute or two.  Then, I wipe my eyes, and return to my adorable boy with a plastered smile on my face.  Sometimes these moments are on our walks around the neighborhood.  If it's an especially beautiful night, I'll start thinking about how much Chris would enjoy it, and what we'd all be chatting about as we strolled.  And I'll cry and try to keep my voice from shaking as I talk to Holden about the birds or trees we're seeing.  Sometimes, these moments are just after Holden has asked, "Daddy come playground?" or some similar invitation for his favorite guy to come join in the fun.  I'm really good at calmly answering him, "No, Daddy can't come today... but he'll be home someday..."  Surprisingly, I keep it together for those questions every time.  Then later, I let myself be sad for my little boy.

Not for long, though.

I never let myself be really sad for more than a few minutes. 

My mantra after that is, "Buck up!  You've got a job to do!"

Super cheesy, I know. 

For me, it's that reminder that despite the huge void in my life that only my husband can fill, I absolutely cannot dissolve into a mess of ineffective goo. 

It's not an option.  

Let that sentence sink in for a minute.  

I think within our cushy, American culture, we give ourselves permission to complain and break down far too often.  We love to compare "life is hard" tales on facebook.  A rough day consists of marker on the walls and snotty noses... and I'm guilty of it too, my friends.  I am guilty.  

What if we didn't allow ourselves that option of whining, or even worse, sinking into despair?  What if we simply called upon God and let him take over our thoughts, and remind us of how good He is, and how blessed we are?

When I am tempted to retreat to the whiner's refuge, I think about my little boy instead.

My darling child needs me to be both Mommy and Daddy for him right now.  

No, I can't do both jobs perfectly, but I absolutely have to get up each morning and try.  I have to.

I also think about my husband:
Being goofy with Daddy

He is sharing a room with five other guys.  
I share a room with no one, and have 6 extra rooms in the house that are also mine.

He can't go anywhere, except for brief port calls. 
I can pretty much go wherever I want, whenever I want.  (Granted, my little buddy will be along, but still!)  I can travel home to see my family.  I  can go to any store I please.  I can just....go.

He has very little time to call his own.  
I have naptime and bedtime every day, and preschool starting soon (woohoo!)  I am positive that I have far more free time than he does.

He has no ability to see any of the people he loves most in this world.  
I get to spend every day with our little boy.  I get to spend time with friends and family. 

Essentially, I have freedom, and he doesn't.  

              I am thankful.  I am blessed.

Beyond all of this, I think the reason that deployment hasn't hit me as hard as it may for others, is that there is a struggle I deal with on a daily basis that is so much more difficult than Chris being gone.

My little boy can't walk. 

Nothing for me, has compared to the sorrow of watching my little boy sit in the grass, playing by himself, while other children run circles around him. 

Nothing compares to the night it finally clicks as to why my son is obsessed with shoes, and crawls around constantly with them on his hands.

He is pretending he can walk.

He is pretending that he is just like everybody else.

On that night, I hide away in the bathroom, and I weep for hours--stifling the sobs with my hands and heaving in despair.  I can't even bring myself to tell my person, because the pain is too deep, and I'm afraid I'll break apart and never be put back together if I even mention it.  That night happened while Chris was still at home. 

No trial that I ever face in this life will come close to that sorrow for him.  

Yet, even still, God reminds me again and again of how blessed we are, and how blessed Holden is.

 He is smart.  Guys, he is seriously so smart.  He has an adorable sense of humor, and he will talk your ear off once he gets to know you.  He is creative -- always coming up with a new way to play a game, or a new way to get himself around in this world.  He is joyful.  I have seen so many things roll off of this child's shoulders without him even giving it a thought.  (Yes, we're still working on joyful sharing, but this is kind of the first time he's ever had anything to share...)  He is kind and compassionate.  When he sees someone cry, whether in real life or a TV cartoon, he makes a sad face and says, "it's ok."  He loves to give messy yogurt-face kisses and belt out, "You are so meeeeeeeeeee!"  He is determined.  When he falls off his scooter or hurts himself playing, he is right back up 90% of the time, saying "try again" through tears.  

Honestly, I could go on and on.

The message here is:  I know parents who would give anything for a child who could talk to them. 

I know parents who would give anything for a child who could live.

We are blessed, and Holden is blessed.

 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.
12 Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.
 ~ Psalm 84

We are far from having a blameless walk, yet still, we are blessed. 
Let me make one thing clear, in talking about Holden's disability:  the sorrow I feel is not for me.  

I don't feel sadness in Chris and I not having a "typical child".  We chose Holden.  Out of all the children in the world, we wanted him.  We wanted him more than we wanted a biological child, and we still do.  He was our first choice.  Period.  We think he is exquisite and perfect.  We grieve because we are parents who want to give their child everything.  We grieve because it's hard watching your child suffer -- knowing he will struggle with this his whole life. 

Even in this grief, I gain perspective from this post: The Most Frightening Prayer I Could Pray for My Children, and I am convinced that God will use this struggle in Holden's life, and Holden's eternal future is far more important than anything else.  Still, I wish it didn't have to be so.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
~ James 1 

(Just read all of James 1.  I like it.  I hope you will too :)

Praying for this mindset.  Praying it for Holden.

So, deployment for me, is not so hard.  

I think the greater lesson here, is that all of us, wherever we are and whatever the struggle, can allow ourselves to gain some perspective.  

There is always a blessing, and a reason for gratitude, and a God who loves us and desires good for us.