Stand Up... Start Over.
These seem to be words that I have repeated to myself at pivotal points in my life. Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
When I was a freshman in college, there was a boy I loved very much. I was SURE I was going to marry him, ride off into the sunset, have tons of little brown babies, and live happily ever after. He was an amazing young man of God with a beautiful singing voice. And it didn't hurt that he looked a lot like a young John Travolta. That year he had traveled with my family to visit me at college to celebrate my 19th and my sister's 16th birthday (we share a great day!). A few days later, on Thanksgiving Day, we got a devastating phone call from his older brother. He'd been participating in a game of football with some family and friends when he'd collapsed. They'd tried to save him... but he was gone. That day the bottom fell out of many peoples' worlds, mine included. I'd gone back to college and tried my best. I failed my first exams ever, and professors asked what was going on. There were days I couldn't stop crying. It was then that writing first became a form of therapy for me. I began to pour my heart out into journals that I still have until this day. Some days were prayers, some angry rants, some hopeless ramblings. Eventually God brought me to a place where I could stand up and start over.
After college graduation I started dating a man who was all wrong for me. C'mon, don't roll your eyes. Unless you're practically perfect, you've done it too. And then your name would be Mary Poppins. Long story short, I ditched him. Extricating myself from that relationship was messy and complicated. There was a lot of mind stuff and manipulation going on that profoundly effected who I was from that point on. Back to the journals I went, plus some therapy. And then he died too. Really??? Really. But I was determined, and God was again gracious.
Stand Up... Start Over.
Then I married Jim. We had four great years of marriage when we decided it was time to have a baby. Except getting pregnant didn't happen like it was supposed to. Finally, after nearly a year of dashed hopes, we had our positive pregnancy test. We told everyone we knew and started preparing for the next phase in our lives. I'll never forget the day I went in for a routine 18 week checkup. I'd had a pretty normal pregnancy, so I'd scheduled the appointment while Jim was at work. The doctor couldn't find the baby's heartbeat with the doppler, but didn't seem at all concerned, since babies move around so much at this stage. He sent me back for a quick ultrasound. As soon as the technician put the wand on my belly and I saw my baby just lying there, I knew that once again, life had spiraled out of control. That thrashing I'd mistaken for my baby's first movements just a few weeks earlier were most likely my child dying as blood supply was cut off by a fibroid tumor. That night we went to the hospital to be induced and the following day- July 4th- I delivered a perfect, tiny baby boy. This time neither Jim nor I could stand. This loss hit us both like a bullet square between the eyes. I spent days in bed, staring blankly at the ceiling or the television, as my body went through all the usual post-partum changes. Only there was no baby there to make it worth it. Instead we had to go to a funeral home and choose a tiny urn to put our baby's ashes in. God and I had some pretty frank talks in the days that followed. I let Him know what I thought about the fact that I would be a great mom and Jim would be a great dad. I poured our heartache out to Him. And I started to claw my way out of a very dark pit and to...
Blessedly, Marley came soon after. While I was pregnant with her, Jim's cancer came back. There is NO DOUBT in my mind that she is the reason that he was able to stand up and start over so many times when he would rather have quit. The kind of cancer he had is not the kind you survive for so long a time as he did. He kept fighting because he loved me, I know. But mostly he kept fighting because he loved his little girl, the light of his world. He was as stubborn as an ox, as strong as a bull. He too knew how to
Stand Up...Start Over.
So, here we are, Marley and me. I find myself standing at a crossroads with a precious little one holding my hand.
And now it's time once again to
STAND UP... START OVER.