Monday, November 22, 2010

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Time to take a breather and pay homage to the people, places, and things that made my top 10 for 2010. I learned at a very young age that saying thank you isn't just customary and polite - its required if you want to get anywhere in this world. So, here's my thankful thoughts for the year...

1) Rick and Connor...of course. I'm a lucky girl to have a husband I still love, and even like, after 19 years of marriage! And, we are both blessed beyond words to share our lives with Connor, the 7-year-old whirlwind that makes us reassess every thought and action hundreds of times a day! Thank you boys...always.

2) Mobile Technology...yes, my name is Maureen and I'm a BlackBerry addict. Wow, has this little device changed my life! Clients never know if I'm responding to a business question from my office or the beach...fantastic. Yes, I could go even further down the slippery slope of mobile computing with other devices, but I'm a little fearful that I'd stop participating in real life conversations and simply resort to texts and emails even when the person I want to connect to is in the same room! Moderation, people!

3) My Little Sisters...We became a packaged deal at a very young age, our six older siblings referred to us as "The Three Little Girls." We hated that. But, we love each other. And, they don't call us that anymore...much. We can still share clothes and shoes, but most often we are sharing a laugh, advice, and lots of love.

4) CoffeeMate French Vanilla Sugar Free Creamer...finally! Love this stuff and now I can ramp down on the insulin intake to cover it. Thank you Nestle!

5) Symlin...since we're talking about that insulin intake, I need to give a 2010 nod to my new Symlin injectable pen. Thank you for making better use of my insulin intake. It triggers me to notice that I'm actually full (surprisingly much ealier than I would have imagined - guess that's why those 15 pounds have crept onto my hips over the past few years!) and encouraging more effective digestion of the food I take in. Bravo to all the smarty pants biomedical engineers who worked on this drug. You are helping to make me a healthier person...thanks!

6) NetFlix and Roku...ahhhh, the wonder twins! Thank you for combining forces and bringing so many Scooby Doo movies into my home on command and without charging me for each one. We love movies around here and that can be an expensive obsession. But, the power of technology puts countless movies and tv shows at our fingertips for no additional cost...and Connor can operate it by himself. Joy!

7) general, I have a huge group of incredible cousins, and I love when we reconnect. But, specifically, I'm so grateful for the trio of cousins that belong to my sisters and I. We were each blessed with one child and the three of them have shared many moments in the past seven years (give or take a few months). I'm so grateful that Connor has Ryleigh and Reagan to share his life with - even though they often fight like siblings! That's part of the package!

8) Memaw...she promised my mom that she'd be there for us even after Marcia and her son divorced, and she's more than lived up to that. Carol Nauta is an incredible example of the kind of person I aspire to be. She loves my son like her own grandchildren and makes him feel special just for being Connor. And, she offers a shoulder to cry on or an embrace of love whenever it is needed by me or my sisters. The joy on Connor's face when she surprises him at a football, soccer, or little league game is infectious and reminds me of how much we need her. Thank you, Carol. I'm grateful every day that we got to keep you in the divorce!

9) My 2001 Ford Taurus SEL...what can I say, my old Bessie may be dinged up but she's still got life in her veins! Rick and I bought out my dad's lease on this car when we were waiting to adopt Connor. At the time there was a possibility that we'd find ourselves the parents of twins and my adorable Audi A4 just wasn't going to cut it for double stroller duty! My dad serviced his cars religiously and detailed them incessantly. It was barely broken-in when I took possession. At the time I thought I'd drive it for a couple of years...and here I am! She's given us some concern over the past year, but still doesn't show any signs of needing to retire. And, its funny, but I really love her now and can't imagine myself driving anything else (well, okay, that's a lie - I've got rag top dreams, but we don't talk about stuff like that in front of Bessie, she's sensitive!).

10) Lake Michigan beaches...especially Pentwater, but really, I'm thankful for all of the shoreline! What a gorgeous treat we have here in West Michigan! These beaches are perfect for dreamers, toddlers, crazy teens, and cooler toting moms...and everyone in between. If you haven't had the joy of spending an afternoon or evening on one of these beaches, please let me know. I'm happy to show you around!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Mystery of Knotted Memories

So often our memories intertwine in a jumbled pile of emotion, smell, taste, visuals, and often music. Its rare for me to think about one singular moment and hold it with clarity, keeping it from becoming tainted by another memory or shooting off on a wild tangent that bounces my thoughts about like a pinball responding to an itchy trigger finger on the lever.

That's why the end of October and beginning of November are always a bit schizophrenic for me. The smell of wet leaves and rotting pumpkins mixed with burning wax always triggers a flashback to the phone call I took seven years ago while tricksters and treaters were haunting my street. My brother, Steve, called to share that his wife Kris was hovering near death. Waiting for a donor liver that met her needs. Today I can't put all of the pieces together perfectly, but I still can smell that crazy jack-o-lantern.

Kris needed a miracle. Steve needed to talk. We had to process the fact that someone who hadn't celebrated 40 years of life would be facing something so immense without a warning. It still hurts to remember his anguished voice, begging for a solution that seemed unreal and that I couldn't provide.

Coupled with that memory is a moment of such euphoria and joy that is seems irreverant to think about it while also remembering Kris' failing health.

Rick and I had just learned that we were going to become parents. We'd received a photo that morning via Fed Ex (only really, really important stuff comes to your home via Fed Ex, that's how we knew it was a big deal!) of a little boy, just over one month old, who still weighed only 5 pounds. He was going to be our son. How could bad things be happening when our most fervent prayer was finally answered?

I remember crying on the phone with my brother that night. Tears of joy, tears of frustration, tears that reminded us both how powerfully we cared for each other and those for whom we cried.

My moment of triumph and ultimate happiness always will be edged with the reality that when you love deeply, you risk loosing greatly.

Those memories are intimately connected to someone I've never met. I don't know that person's story -- someone whose family faced their own loss with incredible bravery. My sister-in-law's life was saved by a liver donor.

These memories are a great example of the emotional journey known as the circle of life, in my case its just all twisted up like a crazy sewing knot. If I could pull apart the threads of each memory and save them as unique thoughts, would I?

Would I treasure the joy of raising my son more if my memory of learning that he was waiting for us weren't tempered with the anguish I recall hearing in my brother's voice on the phone that night? Would I be any more grateful for the blessing of Kris' life if I could smile over it and close out the pain her donor family must continue to experience each year on the anniversary that we celebrate?

Nope. I like things messy. I'll take the jumble any day. The more knots the me more places to grab on and swing.

PS -- Spare a moment today and give a thought to becoming a registered organ and tissue donor. Details here: