I feel like we're closing the chapter titled "Post-Ameira-everyone-is-sick-we're-all-going-to-die." Part of me wants to run and never look back, but part of me wants to mark it with a big pile stones. We've learned some pretty rough lessons that I hope will stick with us for a very, very long time. I hope that we never need the lessons again, but I hope we can tuck them in our hearts and be thankful.
The biggest lesson I learned is that God gives the grace you need as you need it. Not a minute before, not a minute after. He allowed us to step up to the task at hand and survive well. He allowed people to come alongside us to help us as we needed them when we actually needed them. There was not one moment that I felt that we had no one. I felt surrounded and supported by my famil(ies), my church, my friends... all at the exact right moments. I would start to stress about what was going to happen... but God had the details working themselves out as we went. More specifically--when I found out that Ryan had used up all the sick time he was allowed to use for his family... for the entire year... during the first week of January. And later when I was a few days out of surgery and found out that our girls were pretty sick... and then all my support pillars were starting to be sick too... first Ry, then Bree, then my mom. So much to worry about, but in His time he took care of every little detail. He allowed my body to heal faster than expected. He allowed Bree to feel better on antibiotics and my mom to have the strength to handle quite a few nighttimes with Aayla.
The second lesson I learned is that communication sure does breakdown pretty fast during stressful times if you aren't careful. I'd say that the past four months have been the hardest months on our marriage. Both of us were doing what we needed to do to come out on the other side of all this, but we weren't doing it together. There were a few weeks in there when I really, truly wondered if I was going to need to find a way to do this on my own. I'm not proud of that but I'm not going to pretend that we were saints and handled everything the way we were supposed to. Thank-yous, I-love-yous, and other verbal expressions of appreciation are important when you're hanging by a few little threads. So is the ability to say, "this sucks." Taking the time to just sit by each other without other distractions like movies or the internet probably would have been helpful too, in hindsight of course. It would have been a whole lot easier if we were the types to scream & yell and air it all out in one big smashing argument. Instead, we're the pot that is slowly simmering... sitting strategically at the carefully calculated point between warm and actually boiling. I was reminded of how hard Ryan works for our family; both at work and at home. I was reminded of how hard he works to be flexible when plans that have been plans for weeks change on a whim, to be patient with a baby who's been crying for four hours and a toddler who is whining incessantly for a band-aide to heal an imaginary injury, and to be empathetic toward me when I'm fishing for company in my misery. He works at those things because they don't come naturally to him... and I expect that they do and get angry when they don't. I forget that he is not me. I don't give him enough credit and it makes my heart break when I suddenly realize it. I forget that he is strong in the areas where I am weak and that is why we are such a great team. I know this won't be the hardest time we will face in our marriage (and I'm assuming it will be a very long marriage because if he hasn't shaken me yet, it's going to be pretty darn impossible to later on). I'm sure it won't be that far in our future when I'll look back and say, "uhhh.... and I thought that was hard??" I stopped judging couples who've opted for divorce so harshly. One more bullet point under "the more I know, the more I realize I don't" category. I'm not saying I think divorce is right, but I'm sure what we've dealt with has been roses comparatively and I'm pretty sure we both hit a point or two when we didn't like each other pretty strongly. I'd be lying if I said that the "ohhh, I think I see why" thought didn't come into my head. Please keep in mind that I'm not trying to make this sound worse than it was, I'm just being very honest about how hard this has been on us. Marriage isn't easy. You can't just cut and run when it gets hard. We're better for it. Those roots just keep getting deeper and deeper; making it easier to sway with the wind.
And so we turn the page. Good riddance. With that long look back I feel that I've adequately marked our battle. Moving on. PRAISE THE LORD. Oh, happy springtime and sunshine, fresh air and fresh food.
This weekend Ryan and I are going away. Alone. We're headed to Ohio for his cousin's wedding on Saturday afternoon. We have childcare from Friday to Sunday night. We're going to head back to his college campus and hit all the most memorable spots from our twitterpated stage. It might sound ridiculous, but I keep tearing up just thinking about it. My plans so far have consisted of plans for the girls, addresses in my planner, and a plan to grab mom's GPS. No hotel reservations. Not even packed. I cherish the moments we can just throw it all in and run together. Ryan probably doesn't appreciate them as much as I do... but if we're really going to capture those "Ryan and Nancy: the early years" moments, I'll need to lose my keys at least 4 times and find that I've brought exactly 18 shirts, no pants, and two right shoes. Aw yea. I'm dropping the girls off at Bree's at 11 tomorrow and we're leaving at noon. Psh. It can be done folks. Once upon a time... I planned, packed, showered, and left to visit him for 4 days at college in exactly 20 minutes. I plan to meet that girl again this weekend. Cedarville University, here we come.
And yes, Jenny. All those guys I had visiting me... were the same person--just different hair colors.