Tidbits about me…
Who I am: I’m the wife of a firefighter paramedic, mother of two daughters, a Vision Therapist, and a hobby Potter.
What I do: As a wife and mother, I love homemaking in the countryside, cherishing the community of family and friends, and occasionally painting with watercolors. As a Vision Therapist, I work with patients who have visual deficits such as diplopia, strabismus, amblyopia, and dyslexia. As a Potter, I explore the creative functions of clay as a structural art for daily use.
Where I live: My husband and I dwell on some pasture land by the mountains in a little 1920s farmhouse.
Why I blog: Simple pleasures, like baking and puppy play, are the supple moments on the wheel of life; many other moments are wedged and forced and molded as the wheel of life quickly spins us ’round and ’round. There have been many such pleasures and trials as one being shaped like clay, which is why I enjoy putting my own hand to the potter’s wheel; it helps me feel, physically, the process of being built and made for a purpose.
How I live: My philosophy of homemaking is to tidy as I go and mop when I get around to it; my philosophy of therapy is to walk alongside patients as they discover new skills; my other philosophies are summed up to be – live wisely, choose the narrow road, trust with humility, make the most of the moment, and laugh loudly.
More than just the tidbits about me…
Here I sit on my front porch this lovely breezy August day, my dogs playing on the lawn, birds chirping all around, the distant sound of tractors, the occasional hoof of a horse in yonder pasture, and I survey the tranquility. I wonder, “How is it that I ended up here? How long will I stay here? How do I make the most of every moment?”
I wasn’t raised a country girl. I actually grew up just outside Baltimore City. My parents raised me and my three brothers well, suburban style, in the same small church community. I had a few learning issues, so I became a mid-90s Vision Therapy patient, which was still a ground-breaking field of Developmental Optometry; the skills I gained through rigorous left-right brain training cured my double vision and opened the door wide to reading endless hours, writing to my heart’s content, and playing sports with coordination, none of which I’d been able to accomplish before. I knew I loved people, but in what capacity I wanted to work I wasn’t sure, so I completed my undergraduate studies in Psychology and Counseling, took on a Teacher’s Assistant position in a special education middle school in Baltimore City while at the same time developing a fast and flirty relationship with a guy online.
I’d only joined the dating site for a five-day free trial, for the sake of a friend who had cold feet about joining, and this redheaded firefighter guy in St. Louis wanted to stay in touch after my trial expired. Two months and 25 hours a week of phone calls later I picked him up at the airport and it was clear he could not take his eyes off me and that I needed to figure out if I was in for more than just a fun online dating fling.
After two years of trying to blend our utterly opposite backgrounds and trying to establish a healthy relationship, we committed to get married, to start a life together as one, to work hard with each other and for each other, to have a family and create a legacy. October 27th, 2012 we had no idea what we were actually signing up for; we just knew we’d be willing to make it work.
Newly wed and innocent lovers, we spent three months together and then off he went for six months of military training, returned home for a few months, left again for more training, came home in between for one week and that’s all it took….
I had grown accustomed to my independent routines, quiet hours at home, creative freedom, and had truly fallen in love with my work as a Vision Therapist. I was investing hours at the office assisting head trauma, dyslexic, and anything in between patients; I found deep satisfaction in the success of walking patients through grueling months of progress and change, watching them develop visual skills that made them capable of so much more than they had been. I’d found my niche even though I missed my husband terribly and felt out of sync in our marriage. I wasn’t ready to be a mother, so when my husband broke the news to me, “I think you’re pregnant. I’m pretty sure you need to take a test to prove it to yourself” I was in unadmitted denial. My life was hectic enough, and I was en route to pursuing a two year certification program as a therapist; my husband and I had spent months apart, and we hadn’t even been married two years; I’d just gotten my first puppy and was learning the ropes of dog training. Life needed to be predictable and settled.
The immediate pink line, all-day sickness for months, extreme fatigue, cutting back to part-time hours, growing belly, and 4th of July pink cupcake party weren’t part of my predictability, but I was willing to roll with it and change if I had to. I resigned from my position at work, which broke my heart, but deep in my spirit I knew it would be best to slow down with the birth of a newborn and adjust to family duties with my husband. I had the sense that our baby’s motto was “Look out world, I’m comin to getchya!” and, sure enough, she lived up to that in more ways than one.
The evening of Halloween I’d wanted to hand out candy and admire tricker-treater costumes, but I felt woozy and crampy before bedtime and Ian had shift the next day, so we hit the sack early. I’d let my midwife know that I wasn’t feeling well but gave her little indication of my progress because, to my knowledge, I was just experiencing the early stage of labor which could last or go away shortly; I popped in the shower to soothe and relax, washed my hair, and then stepped out with a sudden urge to push. My husband could hardly believe how quickly the situation was advancing but as a firefighter paramedic he was trained to handle the emergency type scenarios. All at once, on November 1st, I became the mother of a red-faced squawking little girl who gripped my chest with her tiny hand as if to say, “That was so fast! I’m here, Mama, and I need you!”
She was a strong, healthy, vibrant newborn with an endearing wail, vigorous suck, and tight finger latch. My husband and I were in love the moment we held her in our arms and knew this was just one part of what God had created us to do, to be parents. She was nameless for the first couple of days while my husband deliberated over the meaning of names. On her third day we finally agreed that Heidi, an old German name which means “honored, blessed,” was appropriate for her.
That evening we all contentedly fell asleep in our king size bed, I wearing nothing since my body was producing so much milk and heat, and with my baby girl swaddled in her sleeper and cradled in my left arm. I woke a couple of times to look down on her sweet sleeping face. At 3am I woke with a startle, which at first I assumed to be my internal clock rousing me to nurse; I looked down on Heidi and she looked soundly asleep as most infants do. I brought her tenderly to my face and kissed her cheek, which was too cool feeling to be normal. I gasped, flipped on the light, and screamed to my husband. As he worked to revive her, I paced the floor, crying out to God for her to stay with us but releasing to Him the little life I knew originally belonged to Him regardless of my earthly mother’s heart.
Sadly, we did all we could as did the emergency medical staff at the hospital, but she went on Home with Jesus. Here we are now, our arms empty and our hearts swollen with grief. We are bereaved parents, struggling to comprehend God’s purposes in her brief earthly days. The mark of her birth and the mark of her passing have changed us forever. We can’t help but think eternally about ourselves and God and relationships. Staring death in the face has made us stare back at life, for what it is, and take nothing for granted, even Heidi’s unexpected entrance and exit.
We conceived very quickly, unexpectedly yet again, and moved to the country for a quieter lifestyle, and I’ve since taken up the craft of pottery as a therapeutic outlet and artistic expression. As we prepare for the coming birth of our second daughter in October of 2015, we continue on this journey with Heidi’s legacy, hoping that her life’s worth as a treasured creation of God will inspire peace, love, joy, faith, and beauty in our hearts as her parents, in the hearts of her siblings, and for those who grieve their own losses and struggles.
As I said when I began writing, I survey where I have come from and where I am now, and I wonder what God’s intentions are in all of this. I will never fully understand. I am sad yet grateful. I am lonely yet fulfilled. I am humbled and I am hopeful.
Life is short, don’t we all know it? In an instant it could be over, no one has control over death. It does not come to steal our satisfaction rather it comes to transport us to our true Home, which is in the Heavenly places in the direct presence of God our Creator. The Earth is a temporary dwelling place for all, and one day according to God’s good and perfect plan all pain will desist, healing will encompass, and all will be made right. I like to think of it as the true Narnia, for those of you who appreciate the classic literature of C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia.
For now, I temporarily dwell in the countryside, among the mountains, in an old house with my husband and dogs and our second baby girl where we steward what He has given, where we love one another through Grace, where we build with the eternal Hope of a thousand tomorrows….