Thursday, January 21, 2016

The North vs. the South

It's the North versus the South again. Ixnay to the West and East. I can't speak for them. But since I was raised in the South and now live in the North I can definitely say with some degree of confidence that the experience of Snow Days are quite different and almost hilarious in its difference.

In Mississippi we were lucky if we saw at least a dusting of snow or maybe even 2 inches, depending if the snow landed in a hole in the yard. Well, at least I thought we were lucky to get that much since I was always hoping for more. There was a year where I spent a full day frolicking in the snow with my family. It was more than a dusting. It was a good 2 to 3 feet, again depending on if you were standing in a dip in the yard or not. But did I ever panic when the snow came? Of course not, but there were people who did. 

One snowflake and there was a run on the grocery store. Piggly Wiggly sold out of bread and milk. Kroger's shelves were bare. Wal-Mart fended off hordes of milk and bread buying zombies. Two snowflakes and the schools shut down. Three snowflakes and the town rolled up its sidewalks.

It was exciting to see the snow. And it was cold...or so I thought.

I moved to Iowa and our first winter was met with SNOW! And we played in it. We walked in it. We even drove in it. We even walked to a nearby store and bought some groceries. Our Hy-vee grocery store still had bread and milk. Our Wal-Mart didn't fight off the hordes. The snowflakes fell hard and fast. They slammed into our faces, into our eyes, and into our mouths. And it was cold. Colder than freezing cold. But it was amazing. Our first real snow.

Then this year (2015 to now) we were met with the subzero cold. Our front door was looking like a scene from The Day After Tomorrow. The snow was heavy. The ice came. The snow fell even more. The temperature fell further. And we walked in it. Milk and bread was still there on the shelves. The schools may have been delayed, but they didn't close. We froze a little until I learned that the gas bill was so low that I could actually turn up the heat, which is what we do up here in the North I found out. 

Blizzards are not fun. They are dangerous. Don't get me wrong, but snow is absolutely beautiful. The light that reflects across the yards sparkle like hidden diamonds. The silence at night is more hushed with the snow that layers the ground. 

And learning about the difference in how the North handles the snow compared to how the South handles the snow is quite enlightening. 

Living in both regions have given me an unique perspective on how scary Snow Days seem to us. Here in the North the only Snow Day that makes us hunker down is a subzero, as in pass the negative 30 mark, and a blinding blizzard that even snow plows can't handle. In the South it is the thought of 9 inches of snow that makes the roads impassable and the store shelves empty. (Still don't know why milk and bread are the first to go.)

It's all in the perspective. And what we know. The South doesn't receive a lot of that white stuff. But they can handle the rain! The North sees it as another day in winter paradise. 

I see it as one more season of beauty that God blessed us with.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A December Winter

I've sat here staring at my computer for many minutes, long moments of time where my mind was utterly blank. I watched the people across the apartment complex leave the apartments, hop into cars, walk dogs, and yet I am still left blank. My mind has become a dormant thing within my skull. Much like the winter, somehow my life is covered in snow, cold...buried...asleep.

Why, you ask. There are lots of explanations. From the biological standpoint: depression, loss of ambition, still recovering from shock. From a spiritual standpoint: waiting, silent in prayer, being still. 

It is quiet moments in these kind of days that I find myself truly confronting what I've been avoiding for a month. My December held some happiness, but it gave me a great sadness beyond what I can explain.

I know the loss of a child. In 1998 my daughter was stillborn. At 26 weeks of gestation, she died within me: complications of hyperemesis and the medication used to control it. That grief was clouded by the pain medication I was on; yet on December 2nd I experienced this pain again, this time full force.

For 3 years my husband and I have been trying to conceive. Not even the admonitions of some family members deterred us. We wanted another child. 

That night I had severe abdominal pains. I thought: complications from my old gall bladder surgery. The pains were horrendous, beyond any pain I had ever physically felt. My husband rushed from work and then rushed me to the ER. After what felt like hours and hours of waiting and of the harshest pain roiling through me, I was heading back to radiology for a CT scan. Before the scan, my test results were checked. Congratulations! I was pregnant.

I felt such joy, but in the back of my mind was an ominous thought: something was wrong though. Ten minutes later, after a transvaginal ultrasound we received the news: I had miscarried and it was an ectopic pregnancy. 

Our spirits were crushed. To know that we were to have a baby and then to learn it was not to be was more than devastating. Everything flew by in a strange blur of memory. I was crying because I didn't want to abort. The doctor assured me the baby had not survived and this wasn't an abortion. Surgery was scheduled. Because of my pain, rupture was suspected of the Fallopian tube. 

How many tears passed? I don't know. I was crying. I was praying. I was wanting to be held by my husband. Instead, I was on the surgery bed to have my ruptured tube removed.

When I awoke, it still seemed unreal. My husband was there. Soon I was released to go home. The doctors and nurses were so sympathetic and caring, but still I thought of nothing. The world no longer seemed real.

Days and weeks followed. I healed physically. I broke down one morning in my husband's arms. But yet, I am still empty.

The loss of a child, no matter how far along in a pregnancy, is soul ripping. Coupled with the longing of a child, the joy being ripped away from horrible news, and then seeing where ever you look children in the arms of parents make you numb with grief.

Tears are dry. The heart clenches painfully over a hurt that I still cannot understand fully. The joy for what I once did: write, paint, and read no longer have any appeal. The pretending that everything is okay has sapped my strength.

All I can do is stand still and wait for the Lord. And sometimes that is all we can do. He knows our grief, our pain, our hurts. He knows our hearts, even if we don't or can't put into words. Every silent plea, every unspoken prayer, every mangled thought He hears. And He comforts. Part of life is to experience the pain of loss which in turn draws us closer to Him. 

Even though I still face days where I can't think or do, where I stare outside at the snow and watch people, I know that the day will come where my heart will be healed. 

We all have our winters to bear.