Life in our big family means blessing and resources are multiplied. We have full measure of both to be sure. It also means more of just everything, to include freakish illness, full days, and generally unexpected challenges. Sometimes they come in bunches, just to see if you're on your toes.
The week opened with a sunny Sunday afternoon. Our little band of girl neighbors had just decided to relocate their game from our yard to another house and had left full of giggles and big plans. Older boys were watching a movie and one daughter had just left for work when my phone rang. It was the next door neighbor saying there were reports of a suicidal man in the neighborhood and he was believed to be armed and in a vehicle taken from a relative. In fact, there was a strange car stopped in front of our homes right then and the sheriff was on his way to investigate.
My heart plunged into my throat at that moment, gesturing to my husband whose phone had also rung. Yes, he was talking to the other neighbor and yes, the children were safely at their house and yes, we were supposed to sit tight inside. The Sheriff's deputies arrived and tried to contact the driver by megaphone. We sat transfixed, probably stupid of us, as they eventually circled the car at gunpoint when there was no response, totally not believing our eyes. As it turns out another neighbor called to say a man had approached them just before the sheriff arrived asking for directions to the nearest mountain pass trail. It seems the driver fled on foot.
Later that day the owner of the car came to retrieve it and spoke to my husband about her son and mental illness and waiting for news she would have to bury her child. (thus far we have not heard any follow up btw and may never hear) It left us all with so much to think and pray about.
The next morning one of the boys was scheduled for dental work. Between scheduling glitches and his dental anxiety, we had put this off longer than I wanted. When he said his stomach was upset it seemed most likely to be nerves. I suggested some tea and toast and, since he wasn't actually nauseous, off we went. He had his work done and I realized I had left my wallet in the glove box of other car when we had gone to the park to bike the night before. We had to scratch the planned follow-on grocery trip and run home to call in the card number for our copay.
His stomach wasn't better after the appointment. This was red flag #2. We had a very full day pencilled in though. While we were assessing his symptoms and calling in my card, a younger child asked me if we were still going to piano lessons, seeing how they were starting in three minutes. In fact they were. A quick look at the calendar showed that this was not the only lesson day that was going to be a conflict in the next month. I called the teacher to apologize and we decided, between her scheduled days off and our travel schedule, we would take the rest of the summer off and start fresh in September. (margin, y'all. Know when you need more and make some, preferably before you miss a thing...)
My daughters and I put our heads together to figure out the rest of the day. One ran to the store. Another was heading home to keep an eye on the stomach issue. I was meeting my husband for another episode of how-to-handle-the-travel or should-we-invest-in-a-camper. This has been a heated debate for a couple months. Our family is spread across the country. After decades (seriously) of being separated by work travel we have been taking steps to create a life that allowed us to do the work travel together. Hence, we don't have typical 'family vacation' but rather working vacations, lots of them.
Long story shorter - too late right? He found a trailer he liked. I also found a trailer I liked. Mine was very cute. Cute, apparently, is not a word men often like mentioned in the same breath as their trailer. Then there were other considerations, like the concern about parts of it breaking off while driving down the highway. Whatever. ; ) We got the practical trailer.
(So we are clear: This is not my camper. I just had to sit in it a minute to breathe in vintage awesomeness before boldly moving forward into 21st century family practicality. Practicality is overrated I still say....)
While at the camper place son texts that his stomach was still not better. Thus far his pain had been ambiguous and we were beginning to think he may have pulled something while weight training. No fever. No vomiting. We turned and headed for home anyway and gave some motrin. That seemed to help but when I took his temp he was beginning a very low grade fever. We've been down that road before so I dialed our insurance' nurse advice line to get authorization to go off base to an ER.
Long story shorter - I know, I know. Appendix. Slam dunk. Within three hours of arrival he was operated on and recovering on the ward. Also very wide awake at midnight. We were not so wide awake by then. My husband asked if I wanted to stay or go. I crashed in place for a few hours. He came back in the morning to relieve me. Midmorning found me at home again, double checking the calendar to see how many days had actually passed since we started that peaceful Sunday began.
He is now home recovering nicely. I am busy pinning a plethora of camping/traveling organization tips for the next leg of summer. Alannah is finishing her CNA summer course as part of her nursing degree and is practicing taking our vitals. (Verdict? We are good!) And, our girls' sweet friends arrived from Washington state late last night for one last hurrah before Moira moves. We are working on packing her and setting up her new apartment and our new wheels. (hello Goodwill my old friend!)
We are doing all those things beginning later in the day as a rule. Early mornings are finding me with coffee and journal and if all goes well, youtube workouts. #fillyourtank
Weeks like this remind me there is never only good or bad fortune in our lives. It all mingles together there. It's a both/and life, very likely just like yours, with blessing and trial unfolding exactly as it has been ordained for us with one or the other in the forefront at times. The happy or sad part comes, I am coming to see, in whether or not we really, truly believe is it coming together for our good, exactly as it was supposed to. This week began with stacks of challenges but in between were little pockets of respite. Sometimes I tucked them in myself. (that margin I mentioned) I would be remiss not to also mention those, for they were every bit as real as the challenges.
There was a cup of coffee a nurse made for us in an empty waiting room in the middle of the night.
There was my favorite breakfast bar slipped into my hand as my husband and I swapped shifts at the hospital.
There was coming home to a clean, empty kitchen sink.
There was walking into the thrift shop to find matching sets of dishes and linens in just the colors we hoped to find.
There was a cherry tree in the woods we didn't know we had.
There was a lot of following a little pink bicycle down the street as the sun set.
All of that comes together to bind us up and enable us to do the hard things. We have more of those coming up this summer. As time permits I hope to check in here and there to share some of them.