The Silver Lining

Too many people miss the silver living because they’re expecting gold.  -Maurice Setter

When I got married, my husband and I had it all planned out – we would have careers, at least three kids, and we would be the best parents we could be (supportive, encouraging, and active in our children’s lives).  The career part worked out eventually.  We were young,  moved a lot, and anyone who has been in the military knows how difficult it can be to adjust to civilian life.  We had two sons and always did everything we could to keep the boys active, healthy and happy.

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We took a trip to Fairmont Hot Springs in 2003

When the boys were diagnosed in 2001 with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, our dreams started to shatter.  Our boys never learned to ride a bicycle with two wheels, they were never able to learn how to drive, or able to participate in team sports.  I worked at a title company for a few years before I had to leave to care for the boys due to the progression of their disease.  I watched them lose the ability to walk, stand, raise their arms above their heads and I had to feed my oldest son during the last two years of his life.  We had to constantly adjust to our new “normal” as the boys needed more and more help with the things most of us take for granted.

Towards the end of Christian’s life, I had more and more difficulty finding the silver lining.  It was easier when the boys were younger – so easy to say it would never happen to us.  “A cure will arrive in time.”  “The disease will stop.”  “If I take the best care of the boys that I can, even at the cost of my own health, I can make this monster go away.”

I became miserable because I was focused on the gold that we never found.  I can look back now and see that Christian looked for that silver lining up until the last night of his life.  He asked me that night if we could take a day trip to Lewistown.  He still had hope.

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Christian’s smile will always be a gift to all of us

After losing Christian and continuing to watch Andrew deal with some of the same issues and complications Christian dealt with, you would think that the silver lining would be gone for good.  How can I see anything good come out of losing my son?  What kind of person would that make me?  There isn’t a single cell in my body that could possibly be glad my son passed away.

As hard as it is for me to admit, there is still a silver lining.  There will never be gold, but I’m okay with that.  What is the silver lining?  It is contained in the little things – the things that Christian taught me to appreciate.  Things like music, a bird on the feeder, sunshine on my face, a chance to make someone smile or laugh, the quiet moments during the day, a cup of hot coffee, being able to spend time with an old friend, or watching a good movie with my family.  I can be thankful that Christian is no longer suffering and that he didn’t have to pass away at the hospital, that he will never have to worry about another doctor appointment again, or see fear in my face as I watched him fade, that he is with the Lord, that he is at peace, and that he will only know love.

It is far too easy to focus on what we don’t have instead of what is under our very noses.  The all or nothing approach to life only leads to disappointment.  What if we were to do our very best with what we have?  Why not focus on what a person did right today instead of on what they did wrong last week?  If we expect our lives to be perfect, we will miss the miracles – the miracles that surround us each and every day.

Jump!

A few days ago, my husband had me watch a video clip of a motivational speech by Steve Harvey of the Family Feud.  Steve Harvey video   He starts by saying that every successful person has one thing in common.  They have all jumped.  They took a leap of faith.  They realized what their God given gifts were and they jumped in head first.

I truly believe that when each of us enters this world, God blesses us with certain gifts and talents.  Some of us may have one, others may have 5 or 10.  Once we identify our gifts, we need to jump.  Steve Harvey said that the only way we can soar is to jump and pull the cord.  Once we do, we have to be determined to keep going through the doubt, rejection and pain.  Eventually we will come out on the winning side.

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Think about the inventors of the past and how far they had to jump to create the light bulb, the automobile, plastic, or Apple Computers.  One of the best biographies I have ever read is on Steve Jobs.  Where would we be right now if Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn’t jump?  I wouldn’t be able to share my heart with you on my MacBook or even find a way to deliver it.  In reality, most of us are not as brilliant as Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking, but we can make a bigger impact than we think.  It wasn’t smooth sailing even for the geniuses of our time.  They jumped, overcame and soared.

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steve jobs quotes
We are all more capable of making a positive impact than we realize.  My son, Christian, wanted to make a difference.  He wrote a good part of a spy novel but stopped when his disease started to accelerate.  He wasn’t able to join the football team or play basketball but he did play his clarinet until he didn’t have the strength to sit up and cope with the pain.  He spent the last 18 months of his life tilted back in his chair but he still hardly ever complained.  His courage and grace impacted everyone he came into contact with.

What about the rest of us?  What are we capable of?  I have come to realize that I have a knack for photography and writing.  My sister overcame great obstacles to earn her G.E.D., becoming a volunteer fire fighter and EMT and is now in the best shape of her life.  How many lives would have been lost if she never jumped?  I encourage you to watch this video and to believe that God fulfills all of his promises.  He wants us to soar.  At some point, we have to ask ourselves if we are living or simply existing.

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Despite the physical limitations of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the boys earned their GED’s in 2012.
I can hardly think of a time when God did not get me through difficult times.  After we lost Christian, I felt like I was falling, skinning my knees and having my heart ripped out every single day.  It’s still not easy, I still have moments when the reality of his death practically knocks me down, but God has helped me up from day one.  Steve says that our parachute does not open right away.  It most certainly did not for me until recently and it didn’t for my sister either.  I am pretty sure that most olympic athletes skinned their knees many times.

I encourage you to jump.  Stay with it until you soar.  Believe in yourself because God does and I believe in you too.  Do it.  Jump!

 

A Journey to Share

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I have asked myself several times over the last couple of months why I have not been posting to my blog.  The excuses have been varied:  I don’t have time.  I don’t want to bring anybody down.  No one wants to hear about my grief.  There is nothing exciting going on in my life.

I read in one of my grief books that we should not waste our pain.  Our pain, the difficulties we face and how we overcome them inspire others and give them hope.

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Christian always wanted to help but wasn’t able to.  He said he would help with the dishes, mow the lawn, and do the things that most kids throw a fit over having to do if he was physically capable.  He was helpful even at a young age and in many photos I have taken of him, he has his arm around his younger brother, Andrew.  Christian wasn’t able to join the football team or do chores around the house, but he was able to love and inspire.  He taught people that just because he was in a wheelchair didn’t mean that he couldn’t go to school and work just as hard, sometimes harder, than the rest of the kids.  Everyone who met Christian became inspired by his kindness, eagerness to help and learn, and his spirit.  Somehow, either by posting in my blog, drawing or painting (Christian was passionate about art), helping other parents overcome the daily challenges of living with Duchenne MD or one day writing a book about our experiences with DMD, I will use my pain for something good.

My son

DSCN0086It has been well over a year since my last post.  So much has changed, especially of late.  On October 27, in the early hours of the morning, my oldest son, Christian, went to heaven.  My heart broke into a million pieces that day.

These past weeks have been a blur.  I have felt more pain and emotion than I ever thought possible, sometimes in the span of 5 minutes. I have also felt parts of my soul stir that I didn’t even know existed.  For the first few days, I couldn’t even think straight enough to pray or read scripture.  Thankfully I have been able to focus more and I have made sure to keep God’s Word close by.  I have relied on God more heavily than I have ever before and prayed more than ever.

They say that when we lose someone we love, we are never the same.  We have to adjust to a new normal.  I can honestly say I am not the same. I am broken, tired, confused, angry and lost.  On the other hand, I have felt love grow in my heart – love for Christian, God, my husband and my younger son, Andrew.  You see, Christian was more than a son.  He was my best friend (wow, I just cried for the first time in public).  He was also my rock, my inspiration.  He left me everything that was good about him – good and perfect.  He left me his courage, love, more love, his beautiful smile, his humor and his love of music.  I can hardly listen to a song without thinking of him.

The past year has been difficult but I am thankful for all of it – the constant caregiving, sore legs and feet from standing all day, the fear, aggravation.  It all made me a better person and taught me to enjoy the little, often overlooked things in life – a sparrow on the feeder, the full moon, a funny shaped cloud in the sky or sunlight on the wall.  Christian made me realize that I do not need material possessions to be happy and satisfied.  In Christian’s last year of his life, he only spent less than $100 on himself.  He enjoyed buying gifts for others and watching their expressions when they opened them.  Christian was in a lot of pain the last year and a half of his life and wasn’t able to go out of the house much.  As a result, he read books on his iPhone, played video games (Metroid and racing games were his favorites), listened to some good music and watched movies.  Tom Cruise was his favorite actor and he watched Live, Die, Repeat the weekend before he passed.  His love of NASCAR inspired me to love it too.  I so wanted his favorite driver, Jeff Gordon, to win the Chase but instead I bawled as he duked it out with my driver, Brad Keslowski.  What a mess.

I know that eventually, I will cross the stormy sea of grief and I will surely lean into the storm so I can keep moving ahead.  God will be with me every step of the way.  As I heal, I will be inspired by Christian.  He will always be with me until I see him again.  He is inspiring me to keep listening to music, especially vinyl, start drawing and painting and play the piano again.  He inspires me to continue taking care of myself and my husband and son.  He inspires me to help others and bless others, just as he did every single day of his life.  Not a person came away from Christian without being moved my his love, grace and smile.  I will love him for all time.  I will be posting on my blog more and I hope I will inspire you and move you.  I love you and thank you for reading and I hope a part of Christian will also be with you.

 

 

Ma Haney

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Years ago, my husband’s grandmother from Tennessee, Dona Haney, told me that I needed to write a book to tell of our everyday experience and struggles with muscular dystrophy.  I thought it sounded like a brilliant idea but something that I would need to hold off on for a while.  Well, maybe this could be the beginning!

Dona and Dave’s grandfather, Gene Haney, have driven all the way up here from Tennessee several times to visit.  They are in their 80’s and enjoy traveling.  Dave has always called them Ma and Pa.  Ma, despite her congestive heart failure and diabetes, has continued doing what she enjoys such as going to the Smokey Mountains, attending family reunions and weddings, traveling all the way to Montana and California and spending a lot of time with family.

Even though it was tiring and they had to stay in a hotel while they were here, Ma and Pa made it over for the boys GED graduation this past spring!  It was a wonderful time.

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Our neighbors, Len and JoAnn, came over to celebrate with us as they usually do for special events.  I was playing the Gene Autrey radio station on Pandora (since Len likes a little “C & W” as he calls it) and him and Pa were seeing who could guess what song was on.  It was great!

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Although Len and Pa had only spoken once before on a previous visit, they really hit it off!  People from their generation are more easy going I guess!

I wanted to share this with you because it was Ma who inspired me years ago to tell our story.  She is an inspiration to me in so many ways, Pa too.  They worked hard through life to earn everything they own, they are always willing to help others and they are a blessing.  Before they left this past spring, Pa’s advice to me was to not take life so seriously because it goes by too fast!  God bless and enjoy the rest of your Sunday all!

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Take two!

IMG_0201Hi!  I’m Lisa!  I am a mother, wife, daughter, caregiver and friend.  These roles I put myself into are good and rewarding, but the most important role is to be me.  Creating this blog is just the beginning and I look forward to sharing it with you!  To be honest, this is the second running of a blog that only lasted a couple of days.  Why?  Because I convinced myself that I do not have time for this.  What is that phrase?  Something about needing to make the time?  Truth is, I was making excuses for not taking care of myself, which is easy to do, especially in my role as a caregiver to my two awesome sons!  Will I not be a better caregiver and set a good example for others, offering inspiration, by simply diving on in and not looking back?

I have often told myself that I cannot make a difference because I am home so much.  This is simply not true.  Do we not make a difference by being all we can be, all God created us to be?  Do we not make a difference by serving with our hearts on fire and loving others?

Like everyone else, I have dreams.  Dreams of running marathons, writing books and doing something really big.  This is a good thing but I have let it make me lose sight of who I can be today, right now.  Bloom where I am planted.  The road I am on may eventually meet up with the road where these big dreams are the destination, but if not, that is okay too.

For those of you that read my short lived blog, thank you and bless you.  And for the rest, God bless you and I am excited to walk this path with you!

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