Friday, October 11, 2019

Sometimes Life is Hard

"Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it." ~ Tori Amos

I've struggled with writing this. Not because I'm a super private person. And not because I couldn't find the words. (Let's be honest here. I'm NEVER short on words.)

I've struggled because the topic isn't my struggle alone. It belongs to my husband, my children, my family, and my inner circle. And it's big. It's messy. It's scary. And it's so sad.

My precious husband is really, really sick. Because all the explanation would be enough for a book, I'll just say this: his body is not playing nice and his GI tract is worn out. We don't know where this battle will end, and our deepest prayers are that he will rise from his sick bed and find good health again.

We've been battling illness since mid-July, and it's just hard. Kerry has viewed life from a hospital bed for 7 weeks and counting. He's lost weight. He's been on a ventilator at one point. He's had every orifice of his body poked and prodded, not to mention his dignity has been stripped away because he can't do things for himself. 

The number of hours I have spent at the hospital may very well equal the number of hours I've spent at my office. I can't lie. It's been brutal. He's fighting for his life, and I'm fighting for OUR life. Our wedding anniversary was very lonely while he lay in a bed on a ventilator. Taking our baby to college was excruciating because Kerry didn't get to go along. Living in our big house alone was too much to take, so my precious niece moved in with me. This has been the biggest battle I've ever fought. It's sucked.

I've been asking myself what God is doing here. What am I supposed to learn while we battle illness? What is the right way to handle all of this? What does our future look like? How do I support my children as they grieve for their daddy who is too weak to have a long conversation with them? How do I support my family with our income reduced? How will I pay the bills from all of this? What will the end of this chapter in our lives look like? Why does this have to hurt so much?

So many questions run through my head, and answers seem to elude me. I wake at night worrying. I sit in the quiet of the hospital room worrying. I eat lunch worrying. There isn't a moment of the day that I don't worry. And, worse than the worry, I have found that I'm not nearly as good at receiving help as I am at giving it. I'm also a full-on wench when I think someone isn't caring for my person the way I want him cared for. Don't test me. He is my priority, and I am fighting like a mad woman for him while he can't fight for himself.

When this all started, I closed ranks. I put on my big girl panties, dug in my heels, and decided that Kerry and I could handle anything life threw at us. I didn't see any reason to raise the alarm. If anyone asked questions, I'd stress out and shut down. I just wanted my husband to feel better. I didn't WANT to talk about his bowel movements or his belly or anything else. I just wanted it go away. I could feel myself pushing back. The anxiety was terrible. And yet I couldn't stop myself.

Y'all, the thought of taking one breath on this earth without Kerry there to breathe one too is more than I can bear. I went to dark places in my heart and mind. I had to stop and remember to live hour by hour, day by day, and pray harder than I've ever prayed. 

As days turned into weeks, I have slowly begun to realize that I can't fight this battle alone. Shutting everyone out when help is offered isn't the right way to do this. And, recently, a coworker said it best: I have to surrender. He meant surrender my will to God, and I agreed. But this week, I realized that it's even bigger than that. I have to surrender my pride. And I have to surrender my anxiety and fear. 

Lately I've been opening up more. I'm more receptive to offers of help. The care packages that arrive from my out-of-town friends have been incredible blessings. My lawn staying mowed - and meals showing up on my porch - were more needed than I realized. The help fixing my air conditioner and heater, family coming to stay with me (and Kerry at the hospital), friends coming in town to spend time with me, and people helping keep Kerry's business intact overwhelm me. Did I mention the friends who have sat for hours with me and helped me make really hard decisions? And the friends in the medical world who are standing with me to help with all of that?

When I have a panic attack, I have someone to call. When I need to cry, I have someone to hug. And I have so many offers of support. My friend Wendi is right... when things get hard, cream rises to the top - and it's not always from those you thought would bring it. (I can ALSO tell you that it is easier to be the cream! I love to help, fix, and do.... but I'm the worst receiver ever.) We sure have a lot of cream in our bowl!

So, alllll of this to say that we are in a battle that is not won. Kerry is slowly rebuilding his body. I am slowly finding a new normal while trying to be more open to help and open to talking about the struggle. Life is hard. I'm super sad and super scared. 

And I am SO THANKFUL to have a support system to help me through this. I have the greatest kids ever, and the strength they show every day as we stand in the battle and surrender to God's will makes me think maybe we did something right with them.

I know this blog post doesn't really have an ending. It leaves more questions than answers. But that's just where I am right now. 

I have more questions than answers.

The ending is uncertain. 

But I do know that I am surrendering. The plan is out of my hands. I can't even fight the fight for Kerry. I have to surrender while he does all the hard work to get well. And I have to realize that surrendering doesn't mean stop fighting. It also doesn't mean I can't be brave and courageous. It just means stop pushing back. Stop trying to do it alone. 

Thank you. Thank you for all the help. Thank you to those for making me accept the help. And thank you for standing in the gap.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Those Summer Nights....

"I love how summer just wraps its arms around you like a warm blanket." ~ Kelle Elmore

June has been so much fun! I'm not sure I've ever eaten as many snow cones in one month. Our Ice Hole adventure gives us time to stop and enjoy the summer evenings (even when they are sweltering), plus we get to recap our day and talk about all our summer plans.

I won't lie. Sometimes I'm tired and just want to plop my rear on the sofa. But I haven't regretted going on a snow cone run yet! It's fun - even when it feels like a job. And our followers make it even more fun.

The last group of stands were definitely varied in quality and style. Here's our take:

MeMe's Arctic Sno in the Drug Emporium Parking Lot (45th & Western)

This was the first stop of this set of stands, and it was possibly the windiest day to go! We blew into the parking lot ready for some sweet deliciousness, and found a friendly staff member who took our orders. The prices were higher than we'd seen elsewhere ($2 for a small that is the same size as kiddie at most other places) but the flavor selection was good. 

They have 50 flavors and keep a really clean trailer. They had plenty seating, but the chairs are kind of short for the tables. It felt like we waited a long time to get our orders, but the wind could have played into our patience.

As I've said before, I've never met a snow cone I didn't like, and the flavors were good. Sadie joined us, and I think she was surprised at how seriously we take this adventure!

We tried the following flavors:

Salty Dog (pickle/margarita)
Bubblegum with cream
Yellow cake batter with cream

Some of our comments:

"Nice seating area."
"Flavor is good."
"Customer service was friendly."

When we were leaving, a gentleman that sat at the table next to us said, "Write nice things about us". It seemed odd to us that the owner or owner's spouse didn't stop and say hi if he knew we were there. Was he trying to listen to our conversation? (I'm sure that was disappointing. We talk about pretty mundane things.) 

The Pop Stop on Western (close to American Vengeance Tattoo)

So, in all fairness, this little place is a year-round store that sells snacks and soft drinks. It advertises that is sells snow cones year round, so we decided to try it. Because it's not the main purpose of the place, we suspected it would be a different quality. We weren't wrong. These remind us of the older style, childhood snow cones. They have 175 flavors, a lot of seating, and a great location. But if you're looking for that super smooth ice, this won't fit the bill. Prices weren't high, but the quality wasn't either. I bet it's a great place to grab a drink though!

We tried the following flavors:

Banana split
Irish cream

Some of our comments:

"They need real spoons."
"Flavors don't match the names."
"Nice seating area."
"They don't seem very prepared for snow cone business."

I think if I got a hankering for a snow cone in November or December, I might stop by, but maybe not. 

Uni-Cones at Shoot the Moon Fireworks on Coulter (This one is mobile.)

So, as a special request, we ventured out to Shoot the Moon Fireworks to try a Uni-Cone! We were NOT disappointed. They have our favorite kind of ice, and their flavors were delicious. It was even MORE fun because we had some friends join us AND it was Kerry's birthday

We tried the following flavors:

Watermelon with skittles
Red cherry with a snow cap
Dreamsicle with ice cream
Red Velvet
Georgia Peach

Some comments:

"This ice is great."
"I love the flavor."
"Sizes and prices are good."
"Since they are mobile, it might be hard to find them each time."

The presentation was awesome. The service was quite speedy for the complexity of the orders, and the flavor was amazing! I'd follow this trailer around to get their deliciousness!

P.S. SnoCone at 34th and Western

We happened upon this little neighborhood stand when we were realized the next one on our spreadsheet wasn't open. It's an older stand, that has a lot of great flavor choices. With 140 different flavors, you'll probably find something you like. They serve shaved ice, and would be an awesome place to sit and enjoy a good snow cone if they had seating.

Their customer service was good, and the stand was clean. If I lived in the Paramount area, I'd run by there every day for a quick treat!

We tried the following flavors:

Orange splash
Candy apple
Caramel apple
Butter pecan
OSU with cream

Some of our comments:

"I wish they had seating."
"They need to update their menu into one big one."
"I'd eat this again!"
"The flavors are good."

We all agreed that we'd try it again, but seating is a must for us! We like to hang out and enjoy our snow cones.

Stay tuned for our next set of stands! We'll be back on the road tomorrow. (And go follow our Facebook page: Don't Be an Ice Hole!)