December 18, 2016

The day is frigid, but the sun is shining bright. I woke up late and we are rushing to get to church. I had gotten the call earlier this week that they would like to see me at the office. We are members of our church. We tithe and have been baptised. I love my church and have been going since shortly after my stroke which was In October of 2011. We started church in February the following year.

In 2016 I needed so much help after my hip decompression. I could barely walk before, but  crutches and a new pain after the surgery were especially debilitating. Plus I am still easily exhausted because, cancer. You can’t pick up things you drop and for me, with balance issues as it is, the danger is worse. After my stroke I was diagnosed with Wallenberg syndrome. I have depth perception issues . So when stepping onto a curb or down, reaching down, I can’t see properly. Things look farther away. It’s strange that it’s only when I bend. Or if something is grey like a curb. I guess that’s why some curbs are yellow. Hey, hey! Learned something. It also makes doing anything related to a screen really hard. My eyes just won’t focus. They slide around and I get so frustrated.

I’m in the bathroom and after slapping on a thin coat of foundation and some powder, and a little mascara, I chug down the first of my daily medicines. Glancing down I am glad to see a stray lipstick and decide to make good use of that too. With that, I head to the door and find my husband sitting on the edge of the couch and my son still in his room. 

 “Hey! Shoes on?” I’m staring at them so I know the answer.

My son traipses out, head down. In shorts.

 “What in earth are you wearing? It’s freezing and you’re not even dressed? J, did you not check on him?” I look from my husband to my son and get shrugs from both.

 ” S, go get pants, put on shoes and get ready. This is freaking ridiculous that I have to walk you guys through step by step on how to get out the door! ” Looks like I have time to put on eyeliner.

We finally get out the door and as we’re leaving I shout to our Amazon ALEXA to play relaxing music for the dogs. I know, I know. How white am i??

The drive to church is silent except for the exasperated sigh my son bubbles out.

 “Don’t start. I swear S. It is not that long and you will survive. You know how much this means to me. They have helped a lot.” My words hammer out.

My husband gives me a look. 

I breathe out slowly. “S, I’m sorry I yelled. Let’s just enjoy this and After we’ll have a nice day. It’s vacation too so don’t forget that!” I smile at my son in the mirror . He looks back at me with a jutteded chin.
We arrive at the church and find a spot to park. Getting out of the car and feeling icy blast of winter air but me, I feel exhilarated. It almost feels like home. I look to the front of the church and am surprised to see that directly beside it is a ramp with an inntertube and snow! 

 “Look S! You want to do that? “I’m excited for him. Now this is fun. I take note of the burn barrel. There’s also a real riding Tiny train made out of a lawn mower , and fifty gallon oil drums cut in half. They are painted a variety of colors. I admire the creativity and craftsmanship. There is also a petting zoo with goats and sheep and ponies. S is not going to be interested in the animals, but he does love a thrill.

Finally I see a smile on his face. 

” Sure, that sounds good. ” He doesn’t want to sound to excited so make sure to not seem to happy either. 

 “Ok guys, hurry up.” I is hustling to get inside.

We make our way inside and head straight for coffee. That done, we go to the office. I find Stephanie. 

 “I think you have a Christmas card for me?” I feel awkward but I’m kind of excited too. Maybe there is a Subaway gift card too. 

Stephanie is smiling broadly. “Oh, no this is better than that! !”

 She hands me an envelope and I can tell there is a check inside.

 “Oh…wow. Thank you so much!” I’m stammering and shocked. My face feels warm. “This is amazing! I just. Wow!”

J is saying his thanks too. A lot better than I am. Thank goodness. I start to go in for a hug and at the last second pull away. Not everyone is a hugger. Her smile is warm, her eyes alight and genuine. Church outreach is a calling and not done for the salary. 

The music is starting and that’s our cue to find our seats. With a final wave we pick a seat right in the middle of the church. 

The sermon is wonderful. They always are. Afterwards we make our way out to the snow ramp. Children are climbing the steps to the top and sliding down joyously. Their faces are beaming and laughter rings out. The smell of the cedar burning is pungent. S takes his turn down and returns to us bouncing up and down.

 ” Did you see me?! ”

J and I smile at each other. We can, for a minute, just breathe. We enjoy seeing this boy. The one not relentlessly worrying about school. We enjoy us, away from household chores. We enjoy, that thanks to the generosity of others, Christmas will be amazing.

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