Thursday, December 29, 2016

I still hate piñatas.




Have I ever told you how much I HATE piñatas....yes those cardboard, candy-filled things you swing blindly at, at birthday parties.... Well I hate them and still sense immediate panic if I see one even now. Something about getting bulldozed over one two many times as a party goer, by candy hungry savage fellow grade schoolers, who could care less about the unsteady kid in the mix.....

So yeah I HATE piñatas and totally deprived my offspring of such joys...

For months now I've felt...well like a piñata...

Swinging wildly, getting whacked with one thing or another or another.... Struggle...hurt...struggle...hurt...struggle.

Unexpected. Deeply personal. Private. Difficult. Embarrassing. And because of that all my usual coping strategies...writing, talking to a dear friend, hilarious passive-aggressive Instagram posts...just weren't an option.

Tears. Sorrow. Frustration. Confusion. Hurt.

So many things all at once, I simply couldn't catch my breath... I could feel my courage draining and my faith leaving, that actually scared me...prayers lost as things got so much harder, are you kidding me???

Why???

I spent  months, knowing that no one knew how much I was really hurting.

I felt powerless at the mercy of others choices, anger, and hurt.

"I didn't let all this happen at once to punish you, Robin. I needed to show you the depth of [their] struggle, so you could know best how to love and serve them."

The thought fluttered through my mind and in that moment emotions that had raged for weeks in my troubled heart settled just long enough that I could feel with clarity the purpose behind the chaos.

You needed to know the depth of the struggle, so you can know how to serve them...my answer.

I feel exhausted, but I feel more courage than I've felt in a very long time, to continue trying and that these experiences haven't been in vain.

But I still hate piñatas.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas is hard.

Christmas is a hard one for me... I feel like I run an emotional marathon all of December  trying to convince my heart it should be merry and bright. But try as I might,  joys and sorrows, past and present collide and I'm not sure what I feel, but it's not exactly merry....

Weeks ago I asked Kelli if she had any Christmas pictures from our years as young kids in California, after I couldn't find any in my stuff here....

She found three.  Dad and her; and Kelli and a Smurf (I'm guessing 1981or 82). Me and my Cabbage Patch Astronaut. (1986, maybe).... 
  


 
It's odd to me these are the only Christmas pictures of us... I'm sad that there aren't any Christmas pictures of us as a family....mom, dad, twin daughters, you know, together...I actually only know of two of those pictures in existence....us in Easter dresses at about 3 or 4 years old, sitting on my parents laps and a snapshot twenty years later at Kelli's BYU grad. 

There are happy Christmas memories.....Dad would often bring out his guitar and play Christmas carols and mom spent most of December practicing endless Christmas hymns for special school programs and church services  and Santa always brought us absolutely everything on our lists, every year.

We never spent a Christmas all together after we were nine. 
We lost mom in our twenties and my Dad in our thirties. They had so few Christmases as parents and grandparents. 

Christmas time is when most memories come flooding back of my parents and Christmas is strangely when I miss them the most.

My kids make Christmas joyous and irreverent and bright and hilarious and there are so many happy traditions we now share....but I also mourn a little at Christmas, wishing my parents could still be here and maybe that things could have been just a little different...together maybe. 






Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Mark.

For years, I've walk by the same gentleman, sitting on a bench, nearly every time I run into the dollar store in our local mall.  He always says hi and I always say a hurried hi in return...

 Tonight he was standing at the mall doors and I watched as several people hurried past him refusing to acknowledge him....
As I got closer to the door,  I heard him say to the woman in front of me, 
"Would you like my Christmas card?

"No no "the woman says as she hurried past him. 

He then looks at me...

"Would you like my Christmas card?"

"Sure, thank you!" I say as I take the white envelope from his out stretched hand....

"Can you bring me a Christmas card too? My name's Mark." 

"Yes, I'd be happy to bring you a Christmas card, its good to meet you Mark."



I hope I'm never to hurried to notice the genuine kindness of another. It is so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season. Thank you Mark for reminding me of the power of a simple, Merry Christmas, I should have known your name years ago...


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Never Needed

I've struggled to make sense of the sadness and frustration I've felt lately....Life has been chaotic and emotions never seem far from the surface. Lots of really hard, personal things all came at once and my heart has struggled to find peace....

Can't you find something to do? Superman said after my second day of talk shows and donuts wrapped up in my duvet....

FINE.

I dragged my sorry-ass down stairs and stared at my sewing closet...Annoyed. Life's so unfair. Why is it always hard. 

Fabric caught my eye, I had set it aside months before....
Remembering the story behind it...

Almost twenty years ago, while Grant and I were in university with three kids under four, I worked part time at a maternity/kids wear store to make ends meet...one evening a young couple brought a little white satin tuxedo to the til to pay for it. "How old is your baby?" the store owner asked as I rang in the purchase.  The very young father replied " He would have been 7 days today" as tears rolled down the mothers cheeks... I have never forgotten those grief stricken faces or how bothered I was that they had to pay for burial clothes for their son....

Months ago after cleaning out all the cupboards in the Relief Society room, the faces of that young couple crossed my mind and I felt strongly that I should make some burial clothing for babies to put in our cupboards. I hadn't gotten to it ...

Well I guess I could tackle those gowns I thought, suddenly humbled.....


So the last two days I've hunkered down in my sewing room, stole a pattern of Pinterest and got to work...

Baby boy 2-4 lbs....


Baby girl 2-4 lbs...


Baby girl 5-8 lbs...


After doing some research...open back with ties was the easiest option for dressing....


I plan to make a few more in different sizes...

My hope is that these gowns are NEVER NEEDED and will stay safely tucked away in our RS cupboards forever....but if needed they are now there.

PS...if anyone is ever aware of a need for burial clothing for a baby I'm more than willing to give these away to anyone or make something suitable, so please let me know.

I'm still really struggling but grateful hard days haven't been totally wasted.




Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sometimes They Leave.



I read the words slowly again and again, before dawn broke that morning. Sleep had escaped me most of the night my heart already hurting from a very difficult day as a Relief Society president. Tears came fast as the words and their meanings became clear through my tears. I felt an already heavy heart fall...

My kids were never supposed to leave the church. I took them every Sunday with bows in their hair and matching dresses and everything (well except the boy, he got a tie)...

But the words were right in front of me. Undeniable no matter how slowly I read them. 

Mom, Dad, I have something I need to tell you...I'm leaving the Church...and I don't want to talk about it.

 My heart ached for my child. And my children who have already left.

Through my tears my fingers slowly typed...

We love you, that will never change! We will always show you kindness and compassion no matter where you are in your journey and wish you nothing but hope and happiness. 
Love,
Mom


*****

If they had just said more prayers as a family or had family home evening or made their kids go to church longer or served more diligently or handled their trials differently....their kids would have stayed...active.

Surely no one thinks this way, that would be judgmental. But I know they do, because I did. Time will always be a funny teacher.

*****
With some time I am beginning to understand.

Yes my mama's heart is broken....but not for the reasons I first thought....It breaks as I think of the fear she must have gone through as she typed those words and how her heart must have ached as she waited for our response....will they still love and respect me? or will they turn away from me? That is what breaks my heart.

My love for each of my children will NEVER change, nothing could make me stop loving them. They are good and kind and loving, each of them, amazing. None of that has changed. I pray each day that I can be the mom they need and that I will always show them the love and kindness they deserve where ever they are in their journey.










Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Forty Two



It has always fascinated me how memory works and that simple, seemingly innate things seem to open the flood gates sometimes.... Forty Two, a number and a birthday.... I turned 42 while we were in Toronto, a lovely day with family, delicious food in a quiet tavern and cupcakes. A perfect birthday day. 

But that morning, memories of my mom flooded my mind... I'm the same age she was. 42 is the only birthday I remember of hers...which is so odd.

I remember Kelli and I climbing on our vinyl and wood chairs in our cluttered kitchen to tape up blue crepe paper streamers from the exposed beam between the kitchen and family room and me then taping rudimentary 4 and 2 with the remaining bits to that black beam... A hurried attempt to surprise my mom with something special ...

Mom came in the door moments later. I don't remember if she even noticed.  I do remember her putting on her threadbare pink mumu climbing on the couch and falling asleep within minutes. Same as any other day. There was nothing special about that day. So sad.

At almost 9 Kelli and I knew things were very wrong but it would take another decade until we could even start to understand the effects of her mental illness and addiction.

For years I was positive that any day I would wake up and my life would be a carbon copy of hers. And that thought terrified me. It took years to understand and accept and see  that things could and would be different for me.

I will always wonder what things could have been like for her, if she had the support and understanding and medical advances available now. My heart will always ache a little when I think about that. 

But I have found a place of peace, to set that aside knowing that some day those answers will come.

My life at 42 is very different 

Her love of musicals and the ocean and a meal out with family some of the good traits we share...but a life in turmoil I do not live. The lessons we learned from her and about her kept us from the same path. 

Memories bring gratitude and so do birthdays.






Sunday, October 9, 2016

Kramers Take on Toronto

Some time in the middle of the chaos this Summer, Grant suggested we plan a trip to Toronto to see his brother...I think I mumbled. "sure, as long as you make all the arrangements and we have enough Airmiles"....within hours tickets were booked and plans were set....I would be spending my next birthday in the big city....


Nolan, the kid with Koolaid blue hair I met 25 years is now a Daddy with the sweetest wife ever and a two year old who instantly melts your heart....

They live on a street with tightly packed houses that share front porches, with a small store on one corner and a tiny produce market on the other, it's hassle and bustle had an almost familiar charm. It took me a day or two to place it...it totally reminded me of Sesame Street.

Nolan and Maggie were five-star tour guides and hosts. We need instantly felt at home.

The boys took in a Blue Jays Game....

Grant had a freak out in the elevator of the CN Tower....(instant Karma, eh Grant?)



But oh that view!!!!


The heart melter...


Maggie  and I saw Cirque du Soleil's Luzia....So so so AMAZING!!!!



We crossed Niagra Falls off our bucket list....

It's power and beauty took my breath away....



Toronto's food was out of this world....

Street Meat at the bottom of CN Tower.


Stockyards, this burger was the best I have had ever...still my mouth waters.


Latkies from Claplansky's Deli. 



But the absolute best part of Toronto was hearing this amazing two year old call us Uncle Grant and Auntie Robin for eight whole days and see his mommy and daddy love him to the moon and back. Family is everything.


What a wonderful time we had! We love you guys!








Thursday, September 8, 2016

Weight of the World



Today we wandered into our favourite doctors office, the last five years hav made these appointments nearly routine now, well almost...

Superman has done really well lately.  These months of stability have taken a half decade to find, and we are grateful, so grateful for however long this gift is ours...

But our gratitude doesn't change our reality. The reality of a life long, unpredictable mental illness and it definitely doesn't change the fact that managing and treating that illness is sobering at best. Most will never know what it's like to sit in a psychiatrist office and have to make the decision to treat psychosis, even though the side effects are a 75 lbs weight gain, with a bunch of other too-difficul-to-spell one
Side effects thrown in for good measure...but that's less life threatening than the psychosis, so you make choice...

Grant's psychiatrist is one of the best. Kind, compassionate and honest. He makes sure we understand all that we have on our plates, no matter how intense or difficult that conversation is...

So there are moments even during stability that this illness feels like the weight of the world on our shoulders...even if it's just for a moment, I find myself blinking back tears and taking a breath or two to catch my own....

But then I remember we've come this far. And then we some how square our shoulders and lift again and simply carry on. Grateful for all those lifting with us and all the wisdom that comes from heavy loads.  :) <3

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Beyond My Own



Occasionally my Superman says something rather profound in between making me watch the new Starwars trailer for the ninth time and his 17 hours into Star Trek marathon (dang you Netflix)....

"You know Robin all you have to be is willing and Heavenly Father will fill in the pieces and make it work."

Between Relief Society, Stake Girls camp prep, mommy-ing and and and and....I have often felt like that plate spinning circus act, except I keep dropping the plates....

And I may or may not have been whining about being overwhelmed at the moment Superman's surprise wisdom stopped me mid complaint...

Oh CRAP Super's right (shhhh we don't need to let him know that, kay?!)...
But in that moment I knew I needed to think differently.

This last week as demands only increased, I decided to watch for the miracles instead of the mountains. And on a particularly rough and ridiculous day I crawled into bed exhausted but amazed that every important demand had been met and in that quiet moment I understood the line from a beloved hymn "finding strength beyond my own" in a new way.

So often in these last six months I have felt strength I knew was not mine alone...the words to speak when I had no idea what to say...the feeling to reach out when no need was obvious..

Yup super IS right...Heavenly Father only asks us to be willing and he makes the rest work out...

Gosh I love my wise Superman.....but how many more times do I have to hear the Star Trek theme song before he runs out of episodes????

Monday, July 25, 2016

Still Bipolar Sundays



A Facebook memory scrolled across my screen this morning and the emotions of that very moment flooded back....

Grant had been rushed to the emergency room from his graveyard shift with breathing/heart issues and I in a moment of desperation had pleaded with Facebook-land for prayers on his behalf.

Oh how I remember the panic and fear of that moment...

My heart somehow knew what my mind would take years to accept, as I sat beside my Superman's gurney that night... I knew my Superman's bipolar disorder had relapsed.

It's a good thing I didn't know then, the journey these last five years would be. That time and time again we would be brought to the brink of hopelessness and fear as an illness raged. That nearly every thing I knew in that moment would change, that prayers would go unanswered and people wouldn't always understand.

I remember praying over and over that night and in the days and months that followed that He would just take it all away, that my Superman would be healed and we could have our lives back....

That never came...

Now there is an acceptance that it won't. Slowly those terrifying feelings of panic and fear have been replaced with education and support. 

I jokingly said recently  "you know he is bipolar on Sundays too, right?" When somebody at church asked why he wasn't there.

Today we are so much better at accepting limits and adjusting our sails. Today, Grant is still as bipolar as ever, but  life feels normal again (normal as in my husband is bipolar, normal as in we love our psychiatrist, normal as in mental illness is what it is). Kramer-normal.

Five years, wow. What a ride. Thank heavens for faith, friends and Seroquel. 


Friday, July 1, 2016

Oh Canada, Thank you.


Alex-Canada Day -2009


It was 28 years ago this summer my mom fulfilled her crazy idea to pack up everything she owned, leave her teaching job of twenty five years, leave California  and take her not quite fourteen year old twin daughters "home" to Canada...

Miracles happened to make this even possible...Dad willing to let us move, a Grandad willing to take us in and friends in government positions who helped us with the right paperwork....

Moms idea was indeed bonkers, but once we survived the Orange County to Lethbridge, Alberta culture shock (stepping back in time a decade or so) and the drastic weather change ( frost bite is actually a thing) and mastered the Canadian drawl, coming to Canada was the best gift my mom, dad and grandad ever gave me...

Leaving the chaos of California behind, our lives slowed down and my Grandad's gift of stability and kindness allowed Kelli and I to have a wonderful time through our high school years. Bless him.

As I sit here celebrating my 20-something Canada day as a Canadian my heart is filled with gratitude for my mom's crazy idea, my adopted country and my five crazy Canucks ....

The Brood-Canada Day- 2013


I love my Canadian home and can't imagine it any other way! 

Happy Canada Day, y'all!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

She taught me.



Today I sat in a tiny kitchen visiting with a sweet lady, I haven't known for long, but it feels like we're nearly family...

With each passing sentence,  memories flood my mind. Mostly mom, but dad was there too. How easy a mind goes back to difficult things you've spent years forgetting. 

Aging is certainly not for the weak, bodies and health usually betrays us long before we are ever ready. I never planned on remembering those heart wrenching years with my parents, but there are glimpses all around me...and in an instant my heart remembers the heartache.

But in a moment I reach out to comfort my sweet new friend across a tiny cluttered table. Something years ago I could not muster for my frail mom. Memories that bring pain have also taught a quiet compassion and a tender heart.

I have so often wondered why I have gone through so much...today I felt the spirit whisper, this is why...I needed you to know how to love, your Sisters.

I came home and shed thankful tears and quietly thanked my mom for all she taught me. 


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Fitting in.




I've never quite fit in, something I'm totally okay with and kinda proud of most of the time...my family has never fit the mold either, not the one I created with a pretty awesome superhero and definitely not the one I grew up it...

Different is good, right? Different is special, right? Different is exhausting, well sometimes...

What if sometimes, just sometimes you wish you could feel normal, just for a few moments or so...

Normal so you didn't have to ever explain...
Normal so you could blend in...
Normal so you would never be asked what's wrong with you...
Normal so you never knew the pain of stigma...

I sat in a large group and never felt more isolated in my life.

My husband doesn't have a profession anymore an illness out of our control took that away, just as success seemed certain... but as others talk of their husbands jobs and salaries and working too much and climbing ladders, and wanting the next bigger, newer thing... I've got nothing...grateful I can put food on the table.

I listen as others complain about family being too involved, too helpful, parents that are imperfect, having to go to yet another family function... again I've got nothing...wishing I could have just five more minutes with my mom, just five more minutes with my dad....

I listen to others tell me that if their children left the church, the heartache would be the worst thing imaginable and I've got nothing...because I know it's not the heartache they imagine....

I listen as they tell me of some new exercise routine I should try, or hike they've been on, or marathon run, and I've got nothing...accepting that cerebral palsy makes a few things too painful and even dangerous...

I listen as misunderstandings fly about mental illness and treatment choices and that stigma just doesn't exist anymore...and I've got nothing...because keeping quiet is easier than explaining it again, and again and again...grateful that my heart accepts and understands our reality.

Okay so I'm really not talking about them being normal and me being different...what I'm really talking about is judgement and understanding. Different is amazing and awesome when it is accepted through understanding...I don't want to feel normal, I want to feel understood. Something we all want when we don't quite fit in.

  





Thursday, May 26, 2016

Boots and Goodbyes


When you first bring them home the fact that they will eventually move out seems like a millennia away...and through the blur of a thousand diaper changes, a hundred school assemblies, ten or more emergency room visits that infant is a full fledge adult ready to enter the world of buying her own toilet paper and paying for her own wi-fi...

It really does all happen in the blink of an eye.

Bailey left for Edmonton this morning, her sisters turning the event into an epic sisters road trip.

I'm not gonna lie, there were less tears than I thought...she's more than ready and heck she survived a mission...we will miss her tons but I knew when she came home, she wouldn't stay for long...

The odd thing to me is that in a household that for decades never had enough bedrooms or laundry baskets or gallons of milk, now has empty beds, a washer that rests occasionally and milk that even sours...

As I cleaned up her room and put away what she didn't take this morning, I was surprised when I found the boots that survived every step on her mission left in the back of her closet....
I hadn't looked closely at them before...soles walked smooth...stones from Newfoundland still stuck in the heals...salt and snow stained leather...heals glued back together more than once...

I hope she never forgets the lessons of all those steps she walked on her mission. 
And can't wait to see the where her steps lead from here....
Leaving home is hard especially on moms and dads.
But we are so proud to have watched them grow and become pretty awesome adults...but goodbyes will always make my heart ache some.

You'll do awesome Bailey! We just know it! ❤️

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Oh My Goodness.

I'm blow drying my hair when the same kid who argued seven hours before, stumbles into the bathroom to continue the argument...something about being too sick and now too tired to go to church...
 
I knew Superman hadn't slept so I already knew public wasn't happening for him either...

I wander into Ward Council alone, rather defeated...

As I leave the meeting I'm informed by one offspring that they're the only one who came to church, because the others were sick/sleeping/didn't want to come...

A texting battle ensues with threats of "there will be consequences" as I sit in the pew...I'm breaking my cardinal rule about not fighting about church...but I was MAD and honestly maybe a little embarrassed...I knew at least two of them had blown off assignments they had...

This is so not how I pictured having young adults/teenagers...Those years of taking them to primary should pay off by now, right?!?! 

I want to just cry...

I'm trying to listen to sacrament meeting, but what I'm really trying to do is convince myself that I'm not a failure and a fraud, as I stuff at least seven packets of Rockets (smarties) as discreetly as possible in my mouth...

A second Kramer offspring wonders into sacrament meeting ten minutes before the end...only just slightly improving my "I've totally failed" pew party.

I needed to talk to my dear friend about some RS stuff so we escaped outside to the sunshine for a few minutes... later as we walk back in the building she says..

" you know Robin, even though some of your kids struggle with Church... You've still raised really good kids"

She is so right... I see their goodness all the time. 

When two of them took me aside and said don't worry about helping Bailey move, we'll make sure she has everything she needs. Goodness.

When one takes me out to lunch or shopping and I watch them interact with the people who serve us and their is kindness and respect, as if they are meeting an old friend. Goodness.

When they ask what they can do to help their Dad when he struggles, showing a greater empathy than most their age. Goodness.

Grateful for my friend's simple sincere observation. I was suddenly more grateful for the blessings each one of my kids are...

Their journey in and through gospel is theirs. Something they must discover in their way and in their time. My love for them, just like their Heavenly Fathers is not dependant on that, and is always there regardless of where they may be in that journey.

I am so grateful for the goodness in each of my kids. We are blessed beyond measure. 


Saturday, May 21, 2016

90 Days In




Three months ago today... I was sustained as the  Relief Society President. A calling I,  and I'm sure a few others NEVER imagined coming to me, but I don't think anyone ever anticipates such a thing...

These first three months have been humbling and funny, surprising and overwhelming, tearful and prayerful...and honestly some of the hardest for my family personally.

{How grateful I am for a kind bishop's council: Robin, He knew it would get much harder, before it got any easier when He called you, He will help you.}

I have a new understanding of love and worry, of hope and forgiveness and of the incredible and often unique challenges our Heavenly Father asks each of his children to face.

I an learning there is safety and security in the handbook.

 {I keep thinking I should re-write lyrics to the Primary song "Follow the Prophet". "Follow the Handbook", sounds rather catchy, don't you think? :) }

I am learning of the infinite love our Heavenly Father and how important it is for everyone regardless of personal circumstances to feel of that love though us.

I am beyond grateful for the lessons of  my crazy childhood and the struggles of my far from perfect family... There is tremendous value in a "me -too".

I think often of the Relief Society Presidents who walked with me through my greatest challenges...and hope to emulate in some small degree the kindness and wisdom they showed me, as I walk with others.

I am so thankful for the amazing women who serve with me, who lighten my load and share my tears.

I have been helped, again and again as I plead for guidance "please help me hear the words you would hear and see the heart you would know"...
\
I am beyond humbled by the faith and trust others have given me and realize that it is very sacred ground I stand on when another lets me know of their heartache...

I'm still me, the same Robin that swears too much and yells at her kids and does everything imaginable to get out of making dinner and laughs when I shouldn't  and, and , and...but the last 90 days I have felt my heart grow...and growing is a very good thing.






Tuesday, May 10, 2016

D's Knee

Are you sure you actually hurt it???
Yeah just come get me.
Grant drew the short straw and sat in the ER with the boy for 5 hours....

The moment of impact...

Ouch...

Follow up with the doctor today and it sounds like it's even more damaged (LCL, MCL and possibly the ACL) than we thought...sigh. Time and PT will tell.

Oh Dallyn why do you insist on playing rugby?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Crappy Mother's Day...




I totally got called out, when I announced that it would be Mother's Day next week in Relief Society, Sunday....
I hadn't even noticed the deflection in my voice until a friendly sister called me on it...

"How can you dispise Mother's Day Robin, when you have all those kids??"

"Yeah I know, I've spent years in counselling and I'm still working on that..." was my hahaha response...


Mother's Day is hard...something like ripping a Bandaid off a sunburn, for me. A day when tender heartache simmers to the surface and tears are never far away...

And no it's not because I am not grateful for the blessings of becoming a mother, I know I have been blessed beyond measure in that department.

It's my mom, well not really its the part where, sometimes we had Mom and sometimes we had an angry stranger...

And mostly the part were the last near decade of mom's life it was nearly always the angry stranger...

Most will not experience the things Kelli and I did.

I no longer blame her for the hurt and agony her illness caused, but for years I did, unable and even  unwilling to separate Mom from the illness that ravaged her mind.

I no longer hate her, but at one time I did. I still hate the illness that stole my kind and brilliant mother from Kelli and I...

I have mostly set aside those tragic experiences of more than a decade ago, accepting  that my
understanding the why, is it not meant for now...

But there is a sadness and  guilt, and probably even a little envy that comes on Mother's Day...

I'm so sorry mom.
I wish things could have been different.
I miss you.










Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sunday did come.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one is probably worth a million...




A normal Sunday morning after so many that were anything but normal.

Torment. And even that word seems grossly insufficient....My Superman has been so, so ill these last three or so months. We have felt so often helpless as nothing could comfort his suffering mind and body. Bipolar disorder is the epitome of unfair. And over these last months we have been brought to the very edge of our faith, countless times...

How could a loving God, leave us to suffer, after doing all we could do?

Grant's heartache reached a boiling point and so had is anger with God, both of us almost certain relief would never come again....

An email sent begging for release, but instead the two kind and loving recipients, heard my Superman's cries for relief  and reached out to comfort and sustain,

Simple words reached a wounded soul in a moment I will always cherish. Courage given for one more step. I will be forever grateful for those friends who gently walk this road by our sides.

Sunday did come. We still have a long rocky road ahead, but even if its just one normal Sunday I will never forget the miracle of a normal Sunday morning.











Sunday, April 17, 2016

But That's Not Today

 
{Mental Illness Poster Family}



I sat waiting for Grant's prescriptions and I felt my mind disconnecting from my surroundings...The previous hour Grant's doctor confirmed a reality, our hearts knew, but our minds had refused to accept.  I wanted nothing more than to escape the florescent lights of public and let my tears flow privately...

Ten weeks ago I knew things for Superman were starting to slip but I was in no place to admit it. Day after day the sands of stability slipped grain by grain through our fingers until it was gone.

Frustration, Fear, Commotion, Agitation, times a thousand.  Then an inability to do... anything...
Sitting in the same recliner day after day, watching movie after movie. My superman was lost in the fog and frenzy of Bipolar disorder and I the caregiver, wondering what the HELL am I supposed to do now and even more, how the heck a loving God could allow such a cruel illness to torment my kind, gentle husband again and again.

Finally convinced, we sat with his Psychiatrist. With difficult and heartbreaking words we confirm yet another manic to depressive episode. This should not happen, with him already way beyond medication limits, but it did and does...What now?? One more try, but no one is hopeful it will hold the illness at bay for long....So many failures and so many options behind us.... What's next is discussed with as much compassionate honesty as possible, but it does little to lighten the load that suddenly feels heavier than ever....His doctor expresses sincere compassion to both of us and I am beyond grateful for his expertise and kindness, but I cannot deny my fear.

Scared. Overwhelmed. Heartbroken. 

Will healing or reprieve ever come??? Can he survive this if it doesn't?

I finally escape the florescent lights of public and my tears flow.

Hours later I go out to mow the lawn, cause you know life never stops, even when you will it to  and while I angrily push that damn lawn mower...
I tell God how angry I am...
How unfair this is...
How Grant doesn't deserve this.....
How tired I am of being the poster-family for mental illness...
How much I feel like a fake and even a failure...
How not-strong I am...

And at one point I looked up at the rising moon and said...

"Why do you HATE us?!?!" and I meant it...

Then in my mind I heard these words...

"But, Robin, that's not today..."

What's not today?
 
After many minutes I got it...

Yes the future looks really SCARY and UNCERTAIN...

But that's not today....you are not there today.

Today there is hope.

Grant has a long road ahead of him and my heart aches for his suffering, but no matter the future our hope will guide us.

   


 



Saturday, April 2, 2016

Unavailable.

I didn't even realize how tender my heart was until a simple word sent tears I couldn't stop...

It's been so incredibly hard these last few months as I watched my Superman slip deeper and deeper into the abyss of bipolar disorder. Fear and turmoil grip tighter as we search for stability....

For more than a month,  I've gone to Church without him...
He's supposed to be sitting on the stand next to the bishop, but he isn't there.

Sunday was the first time his absence was acknowledged from the pulpit...

We'd like to excuse Brother Kramer today, he is unavailable.

No hurt was meant by these words, an explanation meant to acknowledge and even protect...

He's not unavailable, he's ILL, seriously ILL....Tears rolled down my cheeks as I hid my face and tried to sink into pew.... I heard nothing else that meeting and simply cried, my heart unable to hold all the fear and worry and isolation of the weeks before...my heart simply ached.

If only my sweetheart's suffering were more understood.
















Sunday, March 20, 2016

Enough.

You do enough.
Three words, in the middle of a text message. But the compassion and understanding of those ten letters, made me cry...

Enough.
Superman is not well right now and  we are both scared of the uncertainty ahead of us. We feel exhausted, battered and at the mercy of an unrelenting illness....simple things are Everest to him, it is heartbreaking...

Still, Grant is ever mindful of the effects his illness has on others...he knows the anguish of judgement, disappoint, fear and shame more than most. In his struggle to function many have had to pick up the pieces, and Grant apologizes often....

"I'm sorry"

"don't worry...you do enough."

We've heard it all over the years....so when compassion and understanding are instant...tears come easily.

It's been so hard, but there is a sacred beauty, in kind words and shared tears....

We know we are loved by many.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Strength Beyond My Own


My Superman had this brilliant idea to quite his Coke Zero habit and cut chocolate bars out of his life, in the same two weeks he is also dealing with a med change and trying to teach two eager, teenagers, who think they are ready for the Indy 500, to drive...

These are also the same weeks I am trying to figure out how to be a Relief Society president who swears a lot less and loves a little more....

The Lord will bless you. That's supposed to start any day now, RIGHT?!?!

It's funny how at first glance it feels like these last two weeks have been our craziest yet and I must admit that on more than one occasion, I have asked...
"Heavenly Father...what were you thinking?"

 But, in the midst of crazy, there really are blessings...

The kindness and encouragement of others. The trust and faith and honesty of those I serve for and with is humbling....

When people let you into their darkest and deepest struggles and find the courage to ask for help. You are standing on sacred ground. I hope the blessing and responsibility of that is never lost on me. 

Oddly, I'm more confident than ever that things will work out and that our Heavenly Father helps in more ways than we will ever know....

 Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown,
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.

Finding strength beyond my own....

I have had that strength come over and over again these last two weeks, that is where the blessings are...
Trials in this life will never disappear, our journey was never meant to be easy or perfect, but I will be forever grateful for all the blessings that help along the way. :)



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Are You Sure?!



Except my tshirt would say....
"Can't DRIVE"
"Won't COOK"
"Drinks DR PEPPER"

And by the way, the TSHIRT doesn't work....

The first words out of my mouth after our bishop extended the call were....
"Are you sure?!?!?, you know I don't drive right?!?! 

He reassured me over and over that he hadn't made a mistake and that I just needed to call councillors who could do what I could not...

I wondered and wondered in the days before I was sustained...how the heck I could do what had been asked.

It's hard not to see all your own short comings and weaknesses and trials and family circumstances and not think of the hundreds of reasons sister____ or sister_____ would be a better choice. What about this? And that? ....

I struggled and prayed continually in those day for reassurance and comfort....

 " I will help you " was the answer that kept coming.

Sunday was so special and humbling and emotional...

Dallyn, my baby was ordained a priest.
I was set apart as Relief Society president.
and we remembered my Mom, who said goodbye on a Sunday 12 years before.



I still feel overwhelmed but I am grateful to serve with the amazing Sisters in the Courtenay Ward.


 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Love'im Up.


When I need advice is when I miss my Mom and Dad the most, which is funny because neither were much for giving it...But still I miss being able to share with them the joys and even some of the sorrows....

Dear friends have been my compensatory blessing in this life, and have always filled the gaps, when my heart longs for a mother's or father's love...

Such a call came a few days ago...we talked of joys and worries, pains and hope...and somewhere in the middle, she shared a story of an orphaned calf they had taken in long ago. Worried about how to care for their new charge, they inquired of the farmer what to do....
"Oh just LOVE 'im up! " they were told. "So we did..."

Love 'im up.
When you don't know what to do just love them.

Sage advice...

How often, when I've prayed for my husband, my kids, my friends and even my enemies, that has been my answer....Just love {them}. 

In the moment I needed the reminder, my friend remembered her calf and the long ago lesson of love.

Just. love'im. up.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Forgetting February

It's not going to bother this time.... It's been long enough...I'm over it....

But I only made it 12 hours into February before I was a mess and the tears were rolling. It was one of those Facebook memories, a blog post from four years ago...

After years of my Dad refusing all avenues and offers of help.....Adult protective services of Orange County had called my sister after an anonymous report had led to a visit to my Dad's house...he was living in squalor, his house infested with rodents, and he had had nothing but coffee, wine and cigarettes for months and had lost nearly 90 lbs in the 11 months since either of us had seen him...

That February we rushed all avanues of help possible to rescue my Dad, but it was really too late and he died 9 weeks later....

As I read that blog post the tragedies of other Feburarys flooded back and I was lost in the grief....

The call from the ICU in Lethbridge that Mom was on life support... "Who let me live??" was the first question she scrolled across a white board, while still intubated...She would live, but never wanted too.

The foggy February morning a year later, Mom won't make the night, you need to come now...jumping on a plane...mom would rally and we would head home, after a rather annoyed goodbye ...

Only to have the doctor call early on a Sunday morning 4 days later...she gone, she had a horrific fall...

We race back on airplanes for the second time that February, kids still in their twenties, should never have to bury a parent.

The cold Alberta wind whipped our faces, as we placed roses on her casket before they would lower it to its resting place, February was even over. 

In a month devoted to hearts and love, we have experienced much heart ache...something I wish I could simply forget, but hearts don't work that way... And my heart will always ache a little more than it should in February.





Thursday, January 28, 2016

Challenger




I had totally faked sick that morning,  just so I could stay home and watch it...
I was laying on my Mom's antique white in the upstairs bedroom of our house on Hillock View Plaza, in Yorba Linda, the live news coverage had just begun on our band new 20 inch Zenith color tv......

******

I loved all things space as a kid...Astronaut and space posters hung on the walls of my bedroom, and I begged relentlessly to go to space camp in Florida...I was positive I wanted to be an astronaut...but the closest I ever got, was getting that Astronaut Cabbage Patch kid I had begged Santa for....




So that January morning, my eleven year old self mustered a believable fever and watch the live broadcast...

The fireball followed by the "Y" cloud took minutes to register...

They're gone....they're really gone...

Tears...

The first tragedy I will remember forever...

In that moment my Astronaut dream ended.


Until we moved to Canada this poster hug on my wall....



But embossed in white lettering in the corner was a quote from Ronald Reagan....

“We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them...as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God. ”


And I have never forgotten that morning I faked a fever or those astronauts.