Sunday Bloody Sunday

Today I covered last minute for someone as a teacher to my 5-year-old's Sunday School class. The lesson was about forgiveness in the most basic form. It outlined that we should be like Jesus and follow his example by forgiving people. Even the ones that aren't sorry - essentially the ones that don't deserve it- because that's the way Jesus rolled and let's be like him. The lesson suggested I offer personal examples. I couldn't think of one at the moment, so I made something up.

"One day, boys and girls.........a friend of mine said something that made me feel angry," I leaned in and talked in what I like to refer to as my Snow White whisper. I only use it when I am teaching kids at church and my kids probably think I have multiple personality disorder as they watch me.

"Who was it?! A boy or a girl?" one kid shouted. He was not okay with vague. This threw me off, but I kept going with my nice voice.

"It was.......just a friend." I replied.

"Oh! I know who it was!" My son shouted. "It was DAD!" my son exclaimed to the class like he was winning the showcase showdown with his answer; his toothless grin proud as can be.

The class laughed. I laughed right along with them because let's be honest, this son of mine lives in the same house I do and I can't LIE to a room full of children. AT CHURCH.

"Well, it wasn't your dad I had in mind, but sometimes married people do say things that upset one another. And! What do we do when that happens?!" yeah you just wait for it and see how I turn that whole thing around and bring it all back to the J-Man.

"We forgive! Just like Jesus did!" I was pleased with my ability to smoothly carry on the lesson just as their collective attention span was about maxed out. Next we did interactive role playing. It was important to remind myself how simple the lesson needed to be.

One example I read was of two kids playing catch and another kid pushed the ball away. The mean kid wanted to play the next day and I had to ask the class what they should do in a situation like that. Naturally, forgiving the kid and not being revengy makes sense, but to suggest they keep playing with said child seemed wrong. I sort of felt like I needed more information in this sample. Is it a kid that's not great at communicating and has trouble using his words? Or is it a kid who has behavior issues because his mom does drugs and has no guidance at home? Because these lend to two very different types of teaching moments.

Oh, Bobby tends to punch my kid in the face every time he comes over, but we're working on teaching forgiveness. So, we see it as a learning opportunity to be like Christ. We keep letting him in and telling our son to forgive him and keep playing with him.

And by punch I totally mean being a jerkface. It can be interchangeable.

I just wanted to add a caveat to the lesson (can I?) that some friends are not actually good friends to have. While it's important to forgive, it's okay if some people are avoided. There are times personalities clash at every age. I don't think Jesus expects you to be a doormat. I think he's cool with the idea of you being kind and forgiving to all, but being wise with who you spend your free time with is also important.

It felt wierd to give a blanket statement about 'forgive and keep playing with the kid that's not being so nice to you', but by that point they were climbing under their chairs. I'm pretty sure the meat of the lesson had already been said enough times that part was less significant. I stuck with the manual and will keep those thoughts in my back pocket when the topic comes up with my own family.

Overthinking things may very well be reason #65 as to why I would not be a great Primary teacher.


no harsher than the bark

This weekend will reach temperatures in the 120 degree range,
so it only seems fitting to be listening to Arctic Monkeys to cool off.

The song 505 is one of my fave by them.
 Quite the gently soaring voice the boy has.


rat was the new banjo

Today is Mike's birthday! Sylvia wanted to get him violent decorations with pictures of weapons on them because he loooooooooooooooves movies with violence. I planned to get him a pet he pleaded with me to get for our kids on more than one occasion, but I swore I would never allow in my home: a rat.

I psyched myself up for it all week long. He will take care of it, not me. I never have to hold it. If it's ever missing from its cage, we will have a written agreement that I will move into a hotel until he finds it. They are intelligent pets! It will be able to learn it's own name! Mike will be so excited. It's only $20. He really wants one. The tails aren't that gross. I will get used to it. No one can ever make me hold it. I think he liked the black one best.  

Tuesday I felt brave and noble with my plans. Thursday I quivered when I remembered the gray subway rat in NY that ran around like a large, angry cat with rabies chasing the terrified commuters on the platform. Those were filthy rats, ours will be clean and cute. Saturday I talked it over with a friend, "It would be kind after all he has been through this year". Sunday another friend laughed as she told me, "No! He will be traveling again soon and then YOU will have to take care of it!" This pet idea was not one that I was taking lightly.


This morning as a family we got into the car to run errands. I stuffed a bandana into my purse and waited until we were done with the first store. "The kids and I have a plan for you, cover your eyes with this" as I handed the bandana that magically appeared from my purse. He put it on, which honestly amazed me. Once I parked the car in the Pets Mart parking lot, he advised me that he would not walk through a parking lot or into any store with a blindfold on. I wasn't sure what I expected, he had already worn it longer than I imagined. After taking it off, he agreed to close his eyes until I told him to open them. We stood as a family in the parking lot and I held his hand and exclaimed, "Open your eyes. We are taking you to get a pet rat!"

He turned on his heel, said "no you're not" and got back into the car. The kids and I remained beside our car in the blazing heat, confused, with no other plan. Mike had already shut his door and buckled his seatbelt. I burned with fury at the disappointment of what I thought was a foolproof plan for an awesome birthday gift. It was going to be the new banjo; something he really wanted that I didn't, but to prove my love I would get it for him anyway. Then he could play a song to his pet rat with the dumb banjo I got him for Christmas and I could write an Ensign article about love and everything would turn out perfect. A perfect birthday in a year that has totally sucked for him.

The rest of us got back into the car with him; we drove home.

Turns out all he wanted for his birthday was a nap. Three of them, to be exact.

He, apparently, only liked the idea of having a rat. Their tails freak him out.



Things were truly well for several weeks before fecal matter hit the fan. While we always suspected Mike would need radiation for the remaining tumor nodules in his brain, we had hoped major surgery would not be needed. In May we sat together reading an old Star magazine as we waited in a small office for the neurosurgeon. That's one doctor I hope none of you ever need. We were discussing the many complications that must arise when the conjoined twins featured in the mag courted. They happen to share one pair of sex organs, but separate heads and each control their own leg and arm. What happens if one head wants to marry someone, but they essentially share the same body with the other head? What if the other head didn't like the guy? And how does the single one go about finding herself a man if her body is somewhat married/ occupied? How would you have privacy from the other? There would be no tie to hang on the door, it would have to be noise cancelling headphones and a blindfold for the non-participating head. The mechanics of typical adulthood must be achieved, but how? Mike didn't believe this situation existed, let alone press about one being engaged. He googled their names and Gawker.com was several steps ahead of me in pondering the technical details of such a life. "What does it look like when one performs fellacio?" flashed across his phone as a result of the innocent search. We read it at the same time and an immediate surge of invasion of privacy coupled with visual hilarity consumed us. He practically threw his phone across the room in embarrassment while we tried to regain control of our composure.

Just then the doctor entered the room. Mike retrieved his phone from the floor and shifted his attention quickly to his doctor. It was immediately declared a craniotomy would be needed. The MRI results showed the tumors were growing and that he would also need radiation for whatever would be left afterwards. Mike's vision was tested and showed signs of deteriorating since the last surgery due to the location of one (or more) of the tumors. We would be looking at scheduling as quickly as the doctor could coordinate. That date became June 4th; only 2 weeks away from the moment we were bantering on about celebrity gossip.

We left deflated, long forgetting about those complications we imagined of the love life for conjoined twins. My husband was going to be getting his face cut open, peeled down, his skull sawed through and his brain resected. I can't speak for him, but it's probably safe to say we both felt shock waves of numbness speed through our veins like freezing liquid steel. We had a lot to digest, a bone saw would be used on Mike's head and that's a big pill to swallow. As for the conjoined twins research, well, make no mistake we will get back that another day.


June 4th

It never occurred to me to measure or determine the worst day of my life until about 9pm on June 4th. I sat next to my husband as he woke up after having a craniotomy. Seeing him writhe in pain while the blood oozed from the 29 staples that held his face to his scalp did something to my insides I had never felt before. The ache of not being able to fix it was beyond words.  The nurses were wonderful at quickly administering what he needed each time he puked up blood and moaned, "oh my head' in a sort of whisper you hear in a horror movie when the final character is killed off with a gruesomely slow death. I felt like I was watching him die of pain. It was like chunky layers of ash filled my insides and my mind cried angry exclamation marks in a marvelously useless manner. I had never before felt so infinitely helpless, sad and hurt as I watched someone I love so deeply suffer. "This is so horrible, mom..." I texted my mother while I curled up on a chair in a dark corner of the hospital room once he dozed off in a medical haze of sleep. She felt the pain of me not being able to help him through the tiny letters I sent to her phone. Her sweet reply was like a digital hug; it warmed me the way only a mother could.

Through the night I sat next to his bed in a chair and adjusted his ice bag each time he moved his head. When I knew he was comfy, I closed my eyes, pulled up my blanket, and prayed his brain and vision would pleasepleaseplease be okay. A number of things can go wrong during and after surgery- we knew the list well and understood the tumors needed to come out regardless. Not removing them could cause hydrocephalus (water on the brain).

While he was in recovery the doctors had informed us one tumor was stuck like Velcro to his optic nerve. They hoped his vision would not be damaged as a result of their efforts. That tumor was cut away, but some remained attached and will need radiation once he heals 3 months post-op. Another tumor remains that was tucked away in optic nerves, but a third tumor came out easily. These were the nodules left after his former surgery which removed the 4 cm tumor mass. None are cancerous.

We learned Mike's face anatomy is different than most and to take away the parts of his skull they planned to remove to access his tumors, they had to cut away some facial (chewing) muscle. It may not work the same once he heals. He is eating fine, but we are eager to see his swelling go down around his eye to watch for any impact to facial symmetry and movement. Also, his sinus went over into his eyebrow area more than most peoples' and some special repair was needed there as well.

Right now as I type this he is next to me in bed with the staples removed and a faint scar line where his skin was cut open. This is the first day since surgery where I sense more of the 'old' Mike peeking through those dark clouds of healing. He is becoming more himself, albeit some swelling is still present and his vision isn't where we would prefer. I feel like the past two weeks we lived slowly hour by hour, but my memory looks back on it like we took a ride on Eurostar; much is blurry.

The outpouring of kindness has made each day sweeter and humbled us greatly. While I prefer to be on the other side of helping, I admit our family has been supported well beyond my dreams with prayers, verbal support, meals, treats, visitors, watching of our kids, fasting, and kind thoughts. The team of doctors has proven this to be the best possible location to live while Mike endures treatment, which to me is a miracle considering this tumor deal has been brewing in his brain for years (most likely began when we lived in NY). People travel from all over the world to get access to the kind of neurosurgery treatment he is getting. While brain tumors are not an ideal situation to say the least, it's incredible to take a moment to appreciate the little miracles we have been granted along this ongoing journey. Thank you for reading and being part of it.