This morning the surrounding areas were covered with snow. It was weird to hear all the reports of snow covered yards, roads, travel delays, etc., and look out our windows and see the cold, bare concrete, the yellowing grass, and the swing set out back - all without snow. On one hand, I was incredibly relieved. On the other hand, however, I was a little saddened by it. I had hoped, in some strange way, a fresh snowfall would somehow blanket the weekend we had, and provide new ground for us to begin our week on.
Friday afternoon, just as I was starting dinner, I started to feel horribly sore, achy, and generally unwell. As an experienced veteran in this feeling, I knew just what it was. This would be my 13th episode of mastitis. Within a couple of hours, I had spiked a fever, had chills, and was incredibly sore and tender all over - my chest especially. My 13th time. I had it nine times with Little Miss. Why I kept breastfeeding is beyond me. Now, after four times with Little Man, I'm ready to be done. It's too much for me to be down for the count with this, as often as it crops up. Soon enough, I'll be done breastfeeding. I'm comfortable with this because we have an ample (ample) supply stored up in a couple of freezers, and I know he'll have enough milk to sustain him until at least his first birthday. However, it's the end of an era. This realization makes me incredibly sad.
We won't be having anymore children. With what we've been through, and how we know my body works (or doesn't work) in pregnancy, it would be playing with fire to end up pregnant again. Little Man is my last baby. While it's a decision I know as the only right one to make, it's still a difficult one, and still one that invokes incredibly strong emotion. As I wind down breastfeeding for my last baby, it ends a chapter for us. I am deeply saddened and incredibly discouraged by it all.
That said, I couldn't be sad today when I saw there was no blanket of snow in town. I have a new friend I met a couple of weeks ago. She's the friend of a friend (I have a few of those...) and her daughter was life-flighted here from the other side of the state three weeks ago. Thanks to social media, I felt like I knew her, and asked if I could come visit in the hospital. Our first in-person meeting was in the PICU, but it might as well have been in one of our living rooms. We sat and visited for a couple of hours, catching up like we were long-lost friends. And maybe we are. We have a lot of similarities in our life experiences, and are certainly kindred spirits in those regards. I went there to meet her, encourage her, and pray over her daughter, but I was the one who left encouraged. When I prayed over her daughter, I had this incredible sense that Natalie knew more about God and Jesus than I ever would this side of heaven. I felt like she had an in. She knows. She already knows. It's hard to explain, but I couldn't shake it. It was incredible.
Saturday, while I was holed up at home, I got a message on Facebook from a complete stranger (to me), who happened to be a really good friend of Melissa's (Natalie's mama). She asked if I could help her orchestrate a surprise pedicure for Melissa, to get her out and about and boost her spirit a little bit. I, of course, was excited to help. I was taken completely aback, however, to learn that Melissa wasn't the only one getting pampered. This friend of hers wanted to treat me, as well. A stranger! Wanted to spoil me! I couldn't believe it. In my fresh-broken-fever-state, I did what I could to express my thanks and gratitude, and got everything lined up for today.
What's incredible to me, is how God uses people to show love. Not only was my friend being loved on immeasurably by her friend back home, but that love spilled over onto me as well. I get notes from people all the time with little snippets of encouragement. Little pushes to keep going. We have friends who have anonymously mailed us grocery store gift cards. We have friends who have ordered custom jamberry nails for me to remember Harlynn. We have friends who watch our children on last-minute calls, for no reimbursement, because they want to help us. We have friends who offer themselves up so I can stay home and rest and recover from mastitis. Again. We have strangers who lend a helping hand. We have people placed in our lives, whether for a moment or a span of time, who do nothing but love on us. All. The. Time.
And then I sit and pout because of decisions we have to make. And you know what? Even when I sit and pout, I get loved on. Just this morning, I got a message from one of my favorite people saying she thought she just needed to check in on me on this wintry day. I told her about my weekend battle with mastitis, and her reply was nothing but love and understanding. Even though I was pouting.
Earlier today as I was driving around, I was listening to Charles Stanley on the radio. He was talking about friendships, and the importance of having a friend who will tell you (in love) what you need to hear, hold you accountable, and steer you back to truth in your thinking, and living. He then posed the question, "Do you have a friend who does that for you?" I could think of a few. He followed up with, "Are you that friend for someone else?" Gulp.
I don't know what kind of a friend I am, and I'm sure I could be far better to almost everyone who is in my life. What I do know, however, is we are surrounded by people who love us immeasurably, unconditionally, and without bounds.
I may be on a roller coaster ride still in my grief. I may pout because of what my life is, or has become, or never will be. I may struggle, daily, in being the person I want to be. But I do not lack in being loved on by others.
And to all of you who are a part of that circle ~ I cannot thank you enough. Thank you for your love. Thank you for continuing to love me, love us, in our worst. In our darkest. In our best. In our brightest. Your reward is in heaven.