Learning to Dance in the Rain

Yesterday was a milestone, another miracle, if you will, in my little family’s life…

On January 31, 2016, my third grandson, Samuel, was born at 23 weeks, weighing 1 lb. 11 oz. My daughter, Savannah, had entered the high-risk ward of the hospital two weeks prior, having complications with cramping and bleeding. The doctors wanted to keep an eye on her in case there was an emergency. And yes, an emergency C-section happened on the 31st, and our sweet Samuel entered this world. Thus began the first five months of Samuel’s life in the NICU, beginning with several months in an incubator, countless surgeries on his eyes, lungs, and heart. There were times we did not know if he would live another day. And then there was the unknowing of how healthy he would be if he did survive. There were days of hope. There were days of despair. 

Not one day went by that Savannah and Martin, Samuel’s dad, did not spend moments of each day sitting quietly next to Samuel. I was and am so humbled by their quiet strength. Family and friends rallied around by helping Luke (8 at the time) and Jacob (7 at the time) live as normal a life as possible, picking them up from school, getting them to soccer and baseball practices… On March 16, 2016, Savannah, turning 35 that day, was able to hold Samuel for the very first time. When I entered Samuel’s little room that day and laid my eyes on Savannah holding him to her chest, with tears streaming down my face, my entire being was overcome with feelings that are unexplainable. There was such joy, and yet such heartache knowing all Savannah was enduring. If I could have, I would have taken all her pain and put it on me.  

With God’s grace and the amazing skill of doctors and nurses, whom I consider to be angels on this earth, Samuel thrived and was able to go home with his mom and dad and brothers on June 6, 2016. His due date had been May 29. He was still on oxygen, remaining so for the first few months. Many precautions were taken to protect his then fragile condition. Weekly check-ups with doctors and occupational therapists seemed unending…

Yesterday, a year-and-a half after sweet Samuel was born, he once again had to undergo surgery, this time to correct his vision. Savannah and Martin took another trip to the hospital with our precious miracle. Martin sent me an adorable photo of Samuel, all prepped for surgery, gazing into his dad’s eyes. I took Luke and Jacob to a fun park to pass the afternoon playing miniature golf, riding go carts, and then on to soccer practice. While at practice I got the much-awaited phone call—his surgery had gone flawlessly!. All that was needed was much rest for Mom and Dad and Samuel! And Luke and Jacob, being the protective older brothers they are, hurried their Nana along so they could get home to hold their little brother. 

I am forever grateful to report that Samuel is leading a healthy life. Yes, there will be therapy sessions for awhile to see how he is progressing in his physical and mental skills. But he is a happy, healthy little boy with a personality, a smile, a giggle that melts all our hearts. 

We never know where life is going to lead us. We take for granted so many things. And then life can send us a curve ball at any given moment. Though so difficult at times, we must hold on deeply to our faith. I love the following quote, written by someone I will never know, but whose words I will never forget—

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass,
it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.
— Unkown

Legacy

It has now been six months since I flew to Memphis to spend the final days with Susie, my dearest, beloved friend of 60 years. Those final days will always be etched in my heart.  We simply laid on her bed holding hands, sharing memories, me all along shedding silent tears. OnJanuary 15 she took her last breath; I kissed her and helped her husband prepare her for the morticians to take her lifeless body away… Susie, my most cherished friend, was gone…Susie, the smartest, kindest, most humble person I have ever known—Susie, a person who simply loved…

I have lost many dear loved ones, both family and friends. But it was Susie’s passing that has impacted me the most, and on a number of levels. First, simply the raw pain of losing her, realizing we will not be sharing our lives into our golden years. Not a day, nor an hour, goes by that I don’t feel that pain. Then there is the inevitable question, “why Susie, why now?”  And then I ask myself now more than ever before, “how can I live the rest of my life, however long or short, in the most meaningful way?…how will I be remembered?…what will be my legacy?

My children and grandchildren are the most important part of my life.  I do my best to follow up the words“I love you” with action, spending as much quality time with them as possible, with loving them simply and unconditionally. I have made my share of mistakes in my daughter and son’s lives, mistakes that couldeasily haunt me until my dying day.  But what good does it do me or them?  Over the years I have learned to forgive myself, to live as humbly and kindly and simply as possible in my walk.  

But what about my legacy? When my body leaves this terrestrial planet, and my spirit moves on to a heavenly realm, how will my children, my grandchildren, remember me? Yes, they will have no doubt of Mom’s and Nana’s unconditional love.  But what will they remember about BA Austin? I found the answer I would like this past May. I made two trips, one to NYC to see a once-in-a lifetime art exhibition, the other to Salzburg, Vienna, and Prague on a classical music tour. With my love and passion for art and classical music, both experiences touched me on a visceral level. I don’t remember the last time I genuinely laughed so much, smiled so much, teared up with joy so much… 

Sometimes in life I think we forget who we really are, what things in life make us tick. I know I have. With these two extraordinary, magical experiences I found “me” again. I am a person who is passionate about laughter, passionate about being quirky, laughs until I cry. I am a person who is passionate about art and music, who deeply “feels” the beauty of certain classical music and art masterpieces. I am a person who breathes in beauty around me. I am a person who simply enjoys just “being”. Each are a taste of the divine. Yes, I pray this will be my legacy…