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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Plow in Hope

   The days on the calendar continue to pass by.  I close my eyes at night wishing that all of my children were asleep in their beds.  It never occurred to be before what a treasure it is to have all of your family sleeping under the same roof.  I ached to have all of us together at the same time.  No need for a beach vacation, or a condo in the mountains.  All of us saying goodnight and going to bed in our own beds is a luxury I will never take for granted again.  I sleep and dream of baseball fields and running errands with my kids in the car, the door opening and closing hundreds of times a day with dirty boys running in and out leaving it open, the sound of kids outside my window jumping on the trampoline and wrestling, I dream of normalcy. I open my eyes to my new normal.  My body is tired, I know I must get up and get my two young boys dressed to drop them off with whoever will be caring for them today.  I forget who it is, so I check the calendar my church friends made for me.  I dress my cutie pies Cade who is 4 and Rhett who is eighteen months, and get a bag ready for them.  I put snacks and sunscreen in the bag and a change of clothes.  I drive them to my neighbors house that is scheduled to watch them today. I am so thankful for her.  I kiss them on the head and tell them to take care of each other.  I drive to the hospital and wonder how Travis did through the night.  I didn't receive any phone calls, so I'm hoping it was uneventful.  My mind shifts to the hospital and I wonder what the day will bring.
     I park and walk in the hospital and notice some children throwing pennies in the fountain, and making wishes.  They are throwing them in and getting them back out to throw in again.  They are making a mess of their clothes,  their mom lets them play anyway.  I'm guessing that she is soaking in their smiles and laughter and fun.  It’s refreshing to see healthy children that CAN play.  I remember when taking time to play was part of our life.
I am now at my other home, my other neighborhood, with my other set of friends.  I see one of my new friends holding her baby boy who has spinal meningitis. She has the same tired look that I do. She has been here for three months, he is nine months old. She updates me on how he is doing, and shows me his new feeding tube. He sleeps on her chest while we chat, and his rosy cheeks remind me of Rhett's.  I can’t remember the last time I held my little one while he slept. I miss my own baby.  I can smell the cafeteria food and can tell what is on the menu without looking, it is still hard for me to eat.  I have always loved to eat, food has always been a comfort and a pleasure of mine, I'm hoping someday it will be again.
I walk in Travis' room, his skin still looks so tan, even though it hasn't seen the sun for months.  I stop for a moment to take in how beautiful he is.  He is sleeping, so I sit beside him and listen to the hum of the machines. He seems so peaceful.  It's still baseball season and I wish he was at bat, and I was yelling C'mon! BASE HIT!!!
     My mind takes me back to the bleachers when another boy from an opposing team was at bat, who had never had a hit before. I assumed he would strike out again, like every other time, but his bat somehow hit the ball.  It rolled out to the pitchers mound who scooped it up and made an easy toss to the first baseman, Travis.  He missed the ball and it hit the dug out. Travis ran to get it, and fumbled the ball.  I had never seen him make too many errors on first, certainly not two in the same play.  The boy made it to first.  He was thrown out easily at second, but he returned to the dug out with a huge smile on his face. The first baseman had a little grin on his too.
     Travis had always been a star athlete, but that day on the bleachers I was given a glimpse of his heart.
He has always been such a great athlete, and gifted musician, learning has always come easy to him.  I know that has changed, he will have to work hard for his body and mind to respond now.  I don't think things will come easy to him anymore in life.  This is a new chapter, one I hadn’t planned on reading, or living.   It’s almost like someone else’s life, a book I am not familiar with.  I know that there is something that has not changed, and that is Travis’ heart. I know his heart is brave, full of love and faith.   I believe that is what will get him through this new road that he now has to take in life.   Neal A. Maxwell spoke in our churches worldwide conference this past Sunday.  He reminded each of us to "Plow in Hope" as Paul taught.  I felt like he was speaking directly to me about Travis.  Before our path in life was obvious, we could see which way to go, what to do next.  Now we don't know what tomorrow will bring, or what the next step will be, or even how to handle the different situations that arise each day.   Like the Corinthians, we will have to have hope as we plow along on our way, taking one step at a time, putting one foot in front of the other. Having faith in the Giver of all hope, and the healing power that comes from the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.  I wonder if my heart has what it takes to walk down this new road with my son.  Plowing is hard.
     Travis wakes up and when I speak to him,  he tries to turn his head towards my voice and smiles.  There is nothing better than that smile.  The nurses come in and talk to me about giving him stimulants to wake him up during the day, so he can be more alert, and do more therapy.  He is still on sedatives to help him rest, they are weaning him off those.  The doctors also spoke to me about giving him some muscle relaxers to keep his ankles from being too tense, and constantly flexed.
This all seems counter productive to me, muscle relaxers, sedatives and stimulants?  I voice my concerns, and they just look at me like perhaps I'm crazy.  I wonder if they are not used to patient's families questioning the doctors orders?  I look at them like perhaps they are crazy. Maybe we all are. 
The nurses get Travis up and dressed.  The therapists come in with a giant chair that goes from horizontal to vertical. They move him from his bed and strap him in, then begin to turn the chair upright.  They release the straps from his head, and he can only hold his head upright for about three minutes, and then it is collapses, its too much for him. He looks like a newborn bobbing his head, trying to find the strength to keep it up.  I wish again I was cheering for a base hit, but I am so happy he is beginning to be able to have more strength and control each day.  It's better than a base hit.  He likes to hold my mom's hand, and squeezes it often to let her know he understands.  They strap his head back in, and his heart rate and blood pressure starts to go up.  They are trying to figure out if being upright is causing it.  I tell him to pray and let Heavenly Father know what is bothering him, or if he is in pain.  I try to make him comfortable, and take his shoes and socks off.  I realize they were tied too tight by the nurse.  He squeezes my Mom's hand, and his blood pressure and heart rate go back to normal.
He is worn out by dinner time, and my Mom and I help the nurses get him ready for bed.  He is asleep when we leave.  We say a prayer by his bedside, and I kiss him on the forehead before I leave.  My Mom will stay with him tonight.  I am so thankful for her.  She is another angel walking this road with us.  She gives me comfort, and I know Travis loves her to be close to him.
I drive the hour drive home and go to pick up my little ones.  They come running out to greet me.  I notice they are both bright red and sunburned.  My friend who has been watching them, is Polynesian, and her children all have beautiful brown skin.  She feels terrible.  It never occurred to her how fast my blue eyed blondes would sunburn.  She didn't think to apply the sunscreen I had put in the bag.  I feel terrible, I should have put it on before I left. I should have mentioned it. We go home and get bathed and PJ's on.  By this time there are blisters all over my boys cheeks and noses. Their little faces are starting to swell.   I feel so awful about leaving them.    They fall asleep together.  I sit on my bed, and the next thing I know It's time to wake up and start over.  I look on the calendar to see who will be taking care of Cade and Rhett today.  I make a mental note to put sunscreen before we leave.  I go their beds, they are still sleeping peacefully together.  I notice the blisters are gone.  I can see a few freckles have popped out, but their skin is no longer bright red. It's not red at all.  The tiredness I woke up with slips away and is replaced with a warmth that wraps around me.  I realize that while I am away with the one, He is watching over and caring for my ninety-nine.  I know that I am not walking this path alone.  I am thankful for the Masters touch that is helping Travis get a little stronger each day, and the tender mercies He gives to each of us along the way while we try our best to plow in hope.

 My boys open their blue eyes with a smile.  I get them dressed and put on sunscreen.  I drop them off and drive away with a little more hope in my heart to face the day.


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