Monday, June 27, 2011

A Survivor

Remember my friend Michelle and the tragic loss of her baby boy James when he was only 2 years old? Well, she recently blogged about James.... I read it and it moved me to tears. I got her permission to copy/paste her post to share with all of you. Here it is: 

I've always been a cup-half-full kind of gal. . . 
That was until James died. . . 
and then. . .
I became something I didn't ever think. . . 
A cup-half-empty kind of gal. . . 
I viewed the world in two very extreme pairs of glasses. . . 
I've lived on both sides of the fence.
I prefer the cup-half-full kind of life. 
I could be a victim. . . 
I could be a survivor. . . 
I could be an optimist
I could be a pessimist. . .
I could be happy
I could be miserable. . . 
I could live 
 I could just merely exist. . . 
5 years later. . . 
I choose to be an optimistic happy living survivor. 
One who sees that cup half full again. 

Seven years ago today, right at this moment, I held in my arms, my 7 hour old, 
***Sweet Baby James*** 
for the first time.
He was perfect-from head to toe.
His spirit was bigger than his body;
You could tell it straight away.
His eyes were permanently propped open.
No sleepy stage for this little guy;
he had too much to see in too little of time. 
He held his head up in the hospital 
and was pushing himself up with his arms when he was just days old.
He was happiest when he was standing straight up at  the ripe old age of 3 weeks.
James was colicky 
that was hard. . . really really hard
It forced us to walk around with him every night from 6:00-10:00 pm
and it had to be outside. 
At the time I thought it was so frustrating.
I see it as the tender mercy that it was-
extra time spent holding my baby 
that I would only have for 21 months and 24 days. 
I'm always amazed how much I could love him so much in such a short amount of time. 
He was curious and active.

He walked at 9 months. . .
climbed at 11 month. . . 
ran at 12 months. . 
He ran-and ran-and ran-
and then ran some more. 
He kept me on my toes. 
He squeeled. 
He laughed.
He loved. 
He was and still is the love and joy of my life. 

I competed in my first triathlon yesterday in memory of my sweet baby James.
It was Sprint distance-
(800 meter swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run)
but it was the most challenging race I've competed in. 
I trained a lot
-or so I thought-

I was pretty diligent in making it to the gym 4-6 times a week.
I ran, cycled or swam everyday.
But the majority of my training was done inside and on flat surfaces.  
It was a whole different story on the course-because the course was not flat. 

On race day-
the water was 55 degrees. 
Nerves were getting the best of me and fear set in.
It was new; it was unfamiliar territory. 
It was a path I had never trod. And I was doing it alone.  
So familiar to my grief-unfamiliar and scary, with only myself and God to get through it.
The fast swimmers took off.
I was in the back of the pack with the novice swimmers.
I swam and swam and couldn't get to the buoy. 
It seemed to be getting further away. 
Once I got to the first buoy 
the coast guard announced over the megaphone, 
"Use US as the buoy. The buoy has been dislodged and has drifted."
the coast guard boat was about 150-200 meters closer than the buoy-where I was at.
So I swam to the second bouy. . . 
and yet again. . . 
it happened. . . 
once I was to the second buoy the coast guard boat announced,
"We ARE your buoy. The buoy has drifted."
(They were about 200 meters closer to shore). 
We will just say I was in the water for a VERY Long time.
I have never been so frightened in my life to be honest
 to be out in a lake
with only my own inner strength to rely on.
There were times I really didn't want to keep on keepin on . . . 
but I had no choice. . . 
I certainly wasn't going to give up
nor was I about to sink and drown.
I made it back to shore and ran barefoot up the 300 foot dirt road to my bike. 
The first 7 miles were uphill. Literally. 
There was a beautiful 50 yard, 45 degree hill about 2 miles into the ride. 
I hadn't trained for hills...Remember?
I took a deep breath at the bottom of that hill and 
'put my shoulder to the wheel'
The last 5 miles on the bike there was a mean crosswind. 
I could do this.
I've done harder.
I've lost a son.
Certainly, I can do this. 
Because I'm a survivor.
I'm a fighter.
I'm capable. 
I'm strong-
As I rode on the bike, I sang to my baby happy birthday. 
and then I sang my song for him...
"You are my sunshine, my sweetest sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You'll never know James how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away."
Tears filled my eyes as I momentarily wallowed in self-pity that my sunshine had been taken away.
And then I realized,  as I felt the warmth of the sun beat down upon me that he wasn't taken away,
he just shines from a different sphere.
He's not physically present, but he is spiritually present. 
He is there for me-pushing me, encouraging me, loving me,
*I just can't see him*
But I certainly could feel him.
I started running the last leg of the race and my calves were like lead. 
The run was almost all trail. Something I hadn't done at all in training. 
Also all hills. 
The course was beautiful.
BUT it was hard. 
I rounded the corner and saw my kids and my parents and sister with her children.
They yelled out for me
 I smiled as I passed
And I was so grateful for family support.

*It meant the world to me to have them there. That's what family is for.*
 and I sprinted into the finish line. 

You know me and how I parallel everything to my grief....
Before James died, I thought I was 'spiritually trained'. 
But I didn't realize I had only done flat course 'spiritual training' (the easy stuff). 
and how much more challenging the actual 'course' (grief, death, trials,adversity) would be. 

We are not often not as prepared as we ought to be (and think we are) to face the long swims that leave us vulnerable to either sink or swim, the challenges, hurdles, cross winds and hills 
we face in life that are unanticipated. 
We sometimes slack in our 'spiritual' training like scripture study and family home evening and prayer. Often we slack on a grander scale in our 'hill spiritual training' the training that is harder, that stretches our limits and capacities, that we have to put forth real effort to accomplish. Things like service, unconditional love, making God and Christ our best friend through remembrance, surrendering the weaknesses that only God and ourselves know we have, forgiveness, and striving to be more Christlike everyday. 
Trials can seem scary if we haven't laid the ground work and foundation and endurance
 real, solid, spiritual training.
But if you have put in the time training-
"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear."


You can read Michelle's Blog HERE. 

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