Thursday, July 31, 2008

Susie hits the big four-oh today!

I'm told the big four-oh is now the big three-oh. So that means Susie must be reaching her prime.

And I'm not trying to get this to rhyme.

Susie is amazing. She decided to pursue a friendship with me even though she thought I was weird. (I am.)

The first time I saw Susie, she was on stage, worshiping Jesus with every ounce of herself. This petite, spunky blonde chick with sea-blue eyes packed a voice twice the size of her husband, Kendall! Man she could sing!

Immediately I assumed there was no way we could ever be friends. She looked like she could've been the head cheerleader in high school, and the homecoming queen in college. People swarmed around her after the service building on my assumption that she was popular, thus out of reach to someone like me.

There were times I thought she was the quintessential diva.

Assuming is a bad thing. Most of the time our assumptions are way off. Mine were.

About four or five years ago, one of my closest friends moved out of the country. I was crushed. Susie saw me crying as our church bid farewell to my friend and made her way toward me. She told me she'd experienced friends moving on then invited me out to dinner.

Expecting to find one of the "beautiful people" out to do a good deed, I was surprised to find her a humble soul with a soft heart. Even more surprising, we had more in common with each other than we thought.

Over the years our friendship developed. A few years ago when both our worlds were dumped upside down by the Worship Team Disaster, Susie and I clung to each other like life-preservers in an angry sea.

Trials and tragedy strip away the exterior paint we coat ourselves in, baring our true structures. Both of us were radically changed by not only that one event, but two more years of devastation in our personal lives.

Today, Susie is one of my closest friends (I have several) and will be for life. What I love most about her is her spirit of spontaneity. I never know when she and her hubby will show up at my door, or she'll hop out of her convertible and drag me off to places unknown.

Susie is always up for adventure. She views them as a challenge, and puts all her energy into making things happen. She doesn't mind hurtling around Denver at mach 3 (the speed of me)!

Ministering together in Psalm 42 has drawn us even closer as all members of the group face crippling attacks from Satan as he tries real hard to keep us from singing. Her faith amazes me - someone who can stare down a hack ambulance chasing lawyer holding a lawsuit and say, "Eh, God will deal with this!" and find humor in it, inspires me as I face tough times.

God's blessed me with so many friends, it would take me forever a day and a half and then some to write about them.

But today Susie is forty. Don't know how much longer she'll be around ;)

Hafta give her a hard time, especially since I'm 2000 blasted miles away and can't plant a herd of black balloons in her yard!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Shuffling down the path

Mom received a call a few minutes ago from The Manor nursing home in Kingston, PA. Nana will be moved tomorrow morning.

From what people have told us, this is a good place. Nana will be put in an Alzheimer's Geriatric unit which has professionals who can deal with her unique needs.

Last evening was the first time since she ended up in the hospital a little over a week ago, that Nana didn't know who Mom was. She didn't know who I was either.

"It's quarter after six and we need to leave now. I don't have my stockings! They won't let me go buy a dress and I need to buy dresses. She has my hearing aid (pointing to the blank wall). You have my hearing aid, don't you?"

From there she grew more agitated and wormed and wiggled to the bed rails in attempt to escape. She had a 5.5 to 6 hour journey to "there". And she wasn't about to be late for fear of being fired.

Bending over her bed, I asked her where she was going. Her pale blue eyes stared blankly into space. "School."

My heart plunged to my knees. Sucking in the sides of my cheeks I bit down hard to hold the tears back. I stared and stared into her eyes hoping for some light of recognition. None came.

Madder than a hornet on a face-off with a can of Raid, Nana swung her legs over the edge of the bed. "I'm leaving."

We had to call the nurses to manually pull her back up into her bed so we could go home. I kissed Nana on the forehead and told her I love her.

Somehow, someway, I hope the message gets through.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Screeching Halt

Dying can stop the busiest of lives. Including mine.

Last week my mom and I had to call an ambulance to rush my Nana to the hospital. Nana turned 90 in May and has been declining for the past few years.

Around 2AM, she woke us up, yelling for her father, wandering the lower level of my parent's house and complaining of dizzyness. Over the course of the prior week, she'd flooded the lower level twice, and has been found wandering the neighborhood wearing her finest dress and heels in search of her boyfriend.

I knew things have been bad - but when I arrived here in PA a few weeks ago, I was flabbergasted.

Nana is dying.

After one week in the hospital, she's become a shell of who she once was. Today, she didn't know my mom. She asked my mom where her Jeanne was. Mom had to tell Nana that she WAS Jeanne.

IV tubes snaked from a regualtor to her badly bruised arms, and her face was flushed red. Her face seemed to collapse on itself when she lay on her back, panting in the heat of the 8th floor hospital room. (Hospitals always cater to the people who are too cold.)

All of this erupted the night before Kyle and I were to fly home to Denver. Knowing Nana would never be coming home, John and I decided I would stay for another 2.5 weeks to be with my mom during this transition.

Initially, the plan was to get Nana stabalized, then placed in a nursing home one mile from my parent's house. But after today, it looks like Nana may not ever make it out of the hospital. She's suffering so much and the only clear thought she uttered this afternoon was, "I don't think I'm coming home. My belly hurts."

A crushing sensation pressed on my chest. Tears bit at my eyes as the hard reality hit. Nothing can relieve Nana's pain but death. I didn't end up staying in PA to help Mom transition Nana to a nursing home, I came to say goodbye. Goodbye to a strong woman whose seen more than her fair share of suffering. A woman who spoiled me rotten with forbidden sweets when I was little.

I've never known life without Nana. Most of me doesn't want to.

Putting my entire life on hold is something I will never regret. Yeah, my goal of getting my novel proposals sent by the beginning of July is toast. I haven't been able to touch my "work" since I've been here. That's okay. It can wait. Doctor appointments, music rehearsals - it can all wait.

Being able to see Nana every day at the very end of her life is a gift. I hope I can hold myself together to help Mom and be there for her as she's been there for me all my life.