A Blog Post, Post-Blog

(I take heart from this little heart on my petunias.)

After two months, most of you may have given up on my posting (after all, I DID say “So long”), so I’m not sure how many will read this. And maybe that’s just as well. I’m feeling a bit sober these days (as you can see in my response to my blogging friend ClairZ here.)  But I’ve always tried to write true and honest on my blog, so here’s the truth of my life right now, for anyone who might be interested. 

We’d appreciate your prayers. To those already praying: Thank you. (And apologies, in advance, to anyone offended by the use of the word “sh*t” in my post.  It’s a direct quote from an old friend.):

I should have known what 2010 would be like when it started off (on New Year’s Day!) with Benjamin having an emergency appendectomy.  But, being my usual optimistic self, I thought, “Hey…maybe we’re getting our bad luck out of the way early this year!”

Silly me.

I’m hoping that someday, we’ll look back at 2010 and remember the good things. How Ariel won awards for her fiction writing. How Benjamin won Most Outstanding Junior Award in his field of study. How Tom still has a job, despite cutbacks by his employer. How Ariel got engaged. How Benjamin was selected for an internship this summer out of many, many applicants.

But right now, I feel like one of the things I’ll remember most is the oil spill in the Gulf and all those awful images of animals covered in oil, the grief of the people who live there…and the grief of our entire nation. And an overwhelming feeling that some of those in power in our country have lost their moral compass.

On a more personal level, I think I may remember 2010 as The Year of the Middle-of-the-Night Phone Calls. You know, the kind that startle you awake at two in the morning. The kind that make you hesitate before you answer— to clear the fog of sleep from your mind and because you so dread the possibilities. You may remember the post I wrote in April about the middle-of-the-night call from Ariel. Well, it happened again. This time, it was Benjamin.

Long story short: There was a climbing wall. Benjamin fell from it. That’s what the voice on the hospital phone said (calling from West Virginia where Benjamin’s internship is). Fractured vertebra—the doctors seemed to think there’d be surgery involved. No, the voice said. There doesn’t seem to be paralysis. But he’s in a lot of pain.

Nine-hour drive to West Virginia. For Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man, that is. I couldn’t travel because, of all things, I’d injured my own back earlier in the week. Turned out, thank God, that Benjamin wouldn’t need surgery after all. But he’s still in pain. And he’s still in West Virginia. And I’m still in North Carolina, so all I can do is talk to him on the phone and pray and remember the days when I could make things better by rocking him or making him soup or holding his head while he threw up.

Benjamin always loved being rocked. Maybe it was his autism, maybe not…but, no matter what the source of his distress, rocking always made it better. Sometimes I think it soothed me as much as it did him. It certainly did one day last week, when I was a sorry, sorry sight, sitting in my Mama’s rocker sobbing, rocking back and forth, and talking to Mama (who’s been gone from this earth for twenty-five years).

I should mention that Ariel, too, has also been very ill, and until last week, we didn’t know what was wrong. Turns out it was mono combined with several infections. We think that after three Urgent Care visits (and some antibiotics that must be gold-plated for what they cost), she’s going to be okay. But to have both of them suffering at the same time and to feel so powerless to stop it…it’s hard. As a friend of mine used to say: “Girl, you’ve just had too much sh*t and not near enough sugar!”

I’ve talked about my Christian faith before on this blog, so it’s no secret that my faith sustains me and gives me comfort. But faith does not protect you from pain and suffering. We Christians are subject to all the same infirmities of the flesh and spirit as anyone else. Here’s what you would have seen had you been at my house one day last week:

It was a particularly bad day in a particularly bad week. I won’t go into details, but I spent most of that day on the phone talking to Benjamin or Ariel or hospital billing people or insurance people and trying to find a doctor who would even talk to me. The day ended with me pacing and crying and pacing and crying with a half-gallon of Blue Bell Butter Crunch Ice Cream (or what was left of it) in one hand and a spoon in the other. Yes indeed, it was a sad spectacle as I blubbered into the ice cream carton, ice cream dribbling down my chin. When the ice cream was gone, I cried and paced some more, until I finally collapsed in my Mama’s old rocking chair.

That rocker has so many memories for me. No, I wasn’t rocked in it as a baby. In fact, Mama got the rocker when I was a teenager, just before she was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). One of my favorite memories is seeing her in that chair watching the birds outside her bedroom window. When she sat in that chair, she looked almost normal and healthy.  We enjoyed that little pretense because we could escape for a while from the world of crutches and wheelchairs and bedpans and Hoyer lifts. That rocking chair is one of my most treasured possessions. So it’s not so surprising that I ended up sitting there last week, sobbing and telling Mama my troubles.

I wish I could tell you that Mama appeared to me bathed in heavenly light, speaking words of comfort. That’s what I really wanted, to tell the truth. Okay, what I really wanted was to have my Mama hold me and rock me and stroke my hair and tell me that it was all going to be okay.  I guess maybe a lot of us have felt that before.  The yearning for love and comfort is deep—I don’t think it ever goes away, even when we’re grown and our mamas aren’t there anymore.

But what I did feel as I rocked and wept was a settling of my spirit. A peace. And a certain knowing—that God heard me and that He was watching over my boy. When Saint Paul asked God to take away his infirmity, God said, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl, if God’s grace is sufficient, why are you such a mess?” Well, like all mortals, Christians are subject to sorrow, to pain, and to great suffering and doubts.  And, for sure, one of the greatest sorrows is to see your children suffer.  Your pain is proportional to your love.  That’s a lot of pain.  Sometimes, we do seek solace in ice cream or rocking chairs or our Mamas (even after they’ve passed away). We’re only human.  But we can rest in  the knowledge that God has a greater purpose in our suffering, even if we can’t see it. We are blessed to have the confidence that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. And, always, we have the assurance of the sweet and everlasting grace of our Lord.  It’s pure truth in a world that’s false.  It’s a certainty in uncertain times. And I rest in it.

Even in hard times.  Especially in hard times.  Even when we’ve had too much sh*t and not near enough sugar.

28 Responses to “A Blog Post, Post-Blog”

  1. betsyfromtennessee Says:

    Oh Beth—I’m so glad you are back and again are blogging… Yours was always one of my favorite blogs to visit. I guess –out of all of the blogs I follow, ones like yours where you tell deep stories about your life and your feelings is my favorite type of blogs to read.

    I’m sure that most of your followers are still with you… Your post made me cry my heart out. I hurt for you. Even though I knew what has been going on, I still know how much you hurt for your children… I hope that both of them will be much better soon.

    Your talking about the rocking chair brought back memories for me also. My sons (when they were little) loved to be rocked–and I loved to rock them and sing to them.

    I miss my Mama also—and seem to miss her these days than I did when I was working fulltime and raising my sons. She died in 1991–and I sometimes just sit and yearn to talk to her.

    Hang in there, Friend… Hopefully, the REST of 2010 will be better for you and your sweet family.


  2. southernlady64 Says:

    Hi Beth, First of all it sure is good to see you do a post on your blog. I have missed your posts so much. It sure does seem like things have been going amiss at your place and I am still praying for you and your husband and children. We all have meltdowns from time to time and like you say, we are only human. I don’t think we ever outgrow wanting to feel secure in the love of a parent. You are in my thoughts and prayers every single day. I hope that Benjamin continues to recuperate and Ariel is feeling much better each day. Love and hugs and prayers, Judy

  3. clairz Says:

    Well, Beth, you probably know by now that 100 people could read your blog post and would take away 100 different lessons from your words. Me? I’m going to drag my rocker out onto my front porch, where it needs to be so I can rock and look at the sky and the mountains. And every time I rock in that chair I will be thinking of you and your family, and sending strengthening thoughts and prayers of love. And I’m sure I’ll think of my mother, too, telling her the stories of her family and of all that has happened since she’s been gone.

    Much love to my friend, who I’ve never seen…

  4. Jayne Says:

    Hey girl. You know I’ve sent up good thoughts and prayers, even from Ireland, as my mom and I walked into the village of Blarney to find the post office. :c) Love you, love your words, and love that you can be so vulnerable and yet so strong. Glad your chickies are doing better. All is going to be well… and there will soon be lotsa suga.

  5. Martha Says:

    Oh Beth, I am so sorry to hear about all the heartache you are going through. This was a lovely post; so full of emotion and so full of pain. I wish a speedy recovery to your ‘babies’; after all, no matter what age our children become, they’re always our babies. And when they suffer, we suffer ten times more. You and your family are in my prayers. Lots of hugs to you.

  6. Sharon Says:

    A great saying! Is Benjamin’s pain still very acute? What was the prognosis re the pain? Did they say anything about physical therapy or hot/cold packs? Anything? And although I knew your mother had died quite awhile ago, I had no idea why until now. What a terrible, terrible disease. I hope Ariel is feeling better, at least. You truly have had it up to here, haven’t you? My dear friend, you are an amazement in such a good way, and I can very selfishly say that even though the motivation for blogging came from this not-so-good place, I am so glad to read your blog once again.

  7. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    To my friends who have commented: I don’t mind admitting that I’m back reading your lovely comments for the umpteenth time. You probably have no idea just how much they mean to me. Made me cry…but in a good way. 🙂 So, thank you so much for your outpouring of love and support—I am truly grateful.

    I wanted to mention, too, that Benjamin was feeling much better when I talked to him last night. His roommates had taken him to a local state park, along with a comfortable chair for him to sit in…and his guitar. He sat there and watched the birds and listened to them sing and felt the presence of God. It was a sweet balm to his spirit and good medicine for his soul. Ariel is also feeling better. She has her appetite back, which is a very good sign. I just wish they were both here to eat some of their Mama’s home cooking. I’d fatten them up right quick.

    Thanks also to all who have written. I appreciate so much your good thoughts and prayers.


  8. Bonnie Jacobs Says:

    I had just posted two sentences about MY mother when I discovered your post-blog blog post:

    I’m sorry this year has been so sh*tty for you. I believe your mother is watching over you, just as mine is watching over me. We your readers are with you still, as are our prayers and love. Believe it! We love you.

  9. Nancy Says:

    Hey Beth,
    I’m so glad to see your post and so sorry to hear of the hard times you’ve been going through. It’s so hard when the babies are hurting. I totally understand and get that part of you wishes you had your own mama there to comfort you through it all. That’s why I like reading your blogs so much- it touches a familiar heartstring and makes me feel like there are other people out there who feel as I do. Like Bonnie said, you are in my heart and my prayers. You are so loved and appreciated.

  10. Jeff Says:

    Just on the off-chance that you might have posted something, I clicked on the link to your blog and …… a post! Even though I have no children, I do know all about your statement that “our babies are always our babies”. I was on the receiving end of that, not always in a good way, either. I’m glad that Benjamin and Ariel are recovering and hope that Benjamin considers some form of stretching exercises to strengthen the muscles of his lower back to support his spine. Very important. I’m praying that this string of incidents that has plagued you and your family this year stops forthwith – enough is enough!! I’m glad that you posted – writing is therapeutic, among other things, isn’t it?

  11. clairz Says:

    Just wanted to pop back in to congratulate Ben and Ariel for those awards!

  12. Benjamin Says:

    It is one of those times you just have to keep seeking God in everything you do, though your heart aches and your earthly flesh revolts against you. Lately, I’ve been burying my face in peanut butter jars. The guys advised me on moderation! I get to points in frustration where all I want to do is eat and sleep–but we’re not meant to live on bread alone.

    As mentioned by the preacher in my church this morning, in seeking God we seek to glorify him–this doesn’t necessarily mean bright success and well being. It means we believe and hope and encourage and build up others to help them do the same. The one who believes in Christ shall never perish or be put to shame, and God will rise him up on the last day. Thank you for this eloquent expression of the same. And a wholehearted thanks also to everyone for their support!

  13. Linda Says:

    Hello from Scotland, Beth. I came over to your blog from Clair’s, enticed by your description of rocking on the porch. Not something that we do here – well, perhaps 2 days a year in a good summer! So sorry to discover that you’re having a tough year. I really sympathise, because we’re having a tough year too. Son with difficult accommodation situation in his first year at university, then getting bad tonsilitis before his first set of exams and having to resit a couple this summer. Then the middle of the night phone call in January to say that my Dad, 175 miles away, had fallen and was in high dependency in hospital. Emergency dash north, in Scotland’s worst winter for 28 years, getting stuck in snowdrifts, to find my Dad had smashed his hip replacement and had acute renal failure. Amazingly he pulled through, but there followed 6 months in hospital, with hip replacement operation cancelled twice, once because he got a hospital bug, and the second time (1 hour before theatre) because they discovered that an essential part hadn’t been ordered. University son getting mumps (despite having been immunised as a child) before second set of exams, and having a resit from that lot. I did a lot of wishing that my Mum was there. She died nearly 20 years ago. It was really tough supporting my Dad from a distance and going backwards and forwards and keeping job going here plus normal life for our teenage daughter who is still at school.

    But my Dad is now back in his own home, with a full care package in place, son has found a summer job in a difficult economic situation, and I’m not really thinking about the summer resit exams – I have discovered my worry limit!

    So I do really feel for you and send you good wishes from across the Atlantic. Oh – and people here feel really ashamed about the oil spill. It is such a tragedy and taking far too long to resolve.

  14. Clara Melvin Says:

    Oh Beth, I’m so glad I looked at your blog today. For some reason I had a feeling I would find a post. Maybe it was a premonition. I feel so sorry about things that have happened to you this year. My heart goes out to you. I know the feeling of “your babies will always be babies.” No matter how old they are, a Mother’s love never stops! I wish there was something I could say or do to make you feel better. Just know that you and your “babies” are in my prayers. I sure missed your posts when you weren’t writing. Please (if you feel up to it) keep us updated. I think I will go drag my rocking chair out to the front porch!

  15. Elora Says:

    Hi, Beth! I’m so glad you are back, and so sorry to learn of all your travail! It would seem that a distant relative of Job has decided to pay your family an unpleasant visit! I do hope that by now both Benjamin and Ariel are still making rapid progress toward recovery.

    And it’s good to have you back, dear lady! We’ve missed you. Please don’t deny us the pleasure of your blog any more! We so enjoy–and need–what you share with us!


  16. CountryDew Says:

    Dear Beth, I was delighted to see you had posted but very saddened to learn of all of your troubles. Life can be so hard sometimes! I hope that Benjamin and Ariel both feel 100 percent very soon; I have no kids but know it is tough to watch them suffer. I am sure though that the firm foundation and support you have given them up until now has served them well and kept them steadfast and strong. Keep your chin up and I do hope that life takes a different route and things brighten for you quickly. – Anita

    P.S. The day after my mother passed away I bought myself a rocking chair. It is my favorite place to sit and read.

  17. Jes Says:

    Beth–you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. You really have had a lot of s*&^ with not enough sugar, so may there be some sugar (and not of the ice cream variety) in your life soon! I can’t imagine how hard it must be as a mother to have to deal with sick and broken kids, and to be dealing with your own pain at the same time. May peace and healing come into all of your lives. ((hugs))

  18. Ariel Says:

    I think that our whole family right now can believe that truth right now, if nothing else, that God’s grace is sufficient for us, even in our pain and sickness and worry and stress. In that way, God’s really seeking after us right now! We’re a weak and pathetic bunch at the moment, but God’s still pouring out his grace on us and revealing our need for him. This is a lovely post.

    And to everyone who’s praying and thinking of us, thank you. I’m doing much better, though everyday activities are still exhausting. But as Mommy said, I’m able to eat now, and that’s by far the most important step to my recovery–I adore eating!

  19. colleen Says:

    I’m speechless but sending heartfelt wishes and prayers for healing.

  20. sweetflutterbys3 Says:

    Beth, I am so glad to see you post again! I realize now how much I missed your way with words!

    My heart just breaks hearing what you have gone through, especially with your beautiful kids. I’m glad Benjamin is on the mend, I hope Ariel continues to get better.

    You have such strong faith. I take inspiration from your words for I don’t feel as strong in my faith. You lift me up and give me hope. Thank you.

    I agree, people sometimes think being a Christian means our lives are different than others. I think being a Christian means sometimes your life is full of more troubles because of what we fight against. I do the same as you when troubles come my way, I cry my eyes out when it gets too much. Food helps. Chocolate is my go-to sorrow food. What a shocker, eh? 🙂 But sometimes it gets so deep into you that you can’t hold it together and you have to let it all out.

    I love your friend’s comment. I think I may have to steal it for my own!

    Your mama sounds like she was a gem. I don’t have that kind of mother so I enjoyed so much what you wrote about your mama. I could feel the love and it was wonderful!

    Take care of yourself most of all. God will not give you more than you can handle, and you are doing a wonderful job handling it all.

  21. ginger Says:

    Hi Beth.

    I knew you would be back. You have too many good words inside you to keep from writing for very long.

    Hang in there. And why, must I ask, can you access Blue Bell icecream, the best icecream in the country? I am from Central Texas and Blue Bell is one of our claims to fame in that part of the country. I don’t even like icecream that much, but Blue Bell is another thing.

    You are loved, dear one. May the grace continue to flow.

  22. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    I don’t know if anyone is still reading the comments, but I wanted to say “Thank You” again to all who commented. Your kind words, your positive thoughts, and your prayers have meant the world to me and my family. It’s truly amazing how people I’ve never met in person could touch me so deeply and so lift my spirits.

    Benjamin and Ariel are both better. Ariel is back at work, though she is still very tired in the evenings. Benjamin is still in considerable pain, but he completed his internship (although it was very hard for him). It was hard for us, too, so far away. But he and Tom are on their way home as I write this. And now I can hug him and help him and fatten him up with home cooking. I can’t wait.

  23. clairz Says:

    Happy weekend to all of you and thank you for giving us an update.

    My Beth Chair is working out just great, although I have to say that I was sitting in it when I summoned that storm. I don’t hold you responsible at all, lol!

    Just watch–you’ll get another round of comments from all your friends out “here” and perhaps you’ll think, “hey, I might as well be writing that blog again!” 😉

  24. Clara Melvin Says:

    Thanks for the update Beth. Glad your children are doing better. How long will Benjamin get to stay with you? I know both of you will cherish the time together.

  25. Debi Says:

    Beth, give us an update. How are they? And how are YOU? You are so full of love and kindness, I know you will get through this.

  26. Debbi Says:

    found your blog today…so glad you had chosen to leave it.
    Gentle Hugs

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