...so the last we chatted, I was heading up to my shower. I've mentioned before that is where I do my best thinking. And yesterday morning was no different. What had happened in those phone conversations with our relative? (btw, it was not my MIL) I don't have a direct link to her thought process, but my hunch is she has some unresolved issues that are causing her to harbor some anger. My blogpost was not the source of that anger, but it caused those unresolved issues to flare, so it became the final straw before eruption.
And isn't that what happens in marriage? He drops his clothes on the floor for the umpteenth time, she over draws the checking account again, he says he'll be home for dinner at 6:00 and shows up at 6:30, she forgets to fill the ice cube trays, he doesn't fill the gas tank and then the dog runs in with mud on his paws and they both erupt. He screams, she screams, then they say some ugly things they don't really mean. Don't worry, John and I would never do this, we don't even have a dog:)
Many, many years ago when I worked for children's services, I had been assigned to a project that was trying to help parent(s) that had been brought to the attention of the system learn appropriate parenting skills. The goal was to prevent their child(ren) from being taken and placed in foster care. What I learned while facilitating this has been beneficial in everything I do. First and foremost, never act when your adrenaline is pumping. You know the feeling. Count to ten, although I usually need to count to 50. Walk out of the room. Take a breath of fresh air. If you can, sleep on it for twenty four hours. That's what I would recommend to our relative. It works great for marriages, too.
Let me go back now to my mother-in-law. You probably wondered how I could describe our rocky start without a follow up. When we were in the moment, it wasn't the best of times. But what the controversy did, was require that John and I spend a great deal of time communicating. Really delve into our relationship. What we stood for, what was important to us, where we were going. By the time we walked down the isle, we were solid. We had no unresolved issues and therefore no latent anger.
What I love most about this photo from our August 2, 1986 wedding day, is our hands. Look closely at how tight we are holding on. Our knuckles are white we have such a tight grip. And it was a good thing, for our life was heading in a direction we had never discussed and certainly never planned. Today, twenty three years later, I can look back on those painful early days and wonder was it By Chance or By Design we were being challenged and fighting over wedding plans and family issues. I truly believe it better prepared us for what was to come.
Fast forward to the week of August 9, 1989. Something changed. John and I started out on a parallel path with Sarah. I was by myself when I found out about her having Down syndrome. I had my meltdown moment while I was driving by myself. He had his defining moments with her while he was home alone. And this is really how we managed for the first eight months or so. If you have been following our story you have probably pieced together that for the first six months of her life, we thought she was healthy. When in fact she had a significant VSD that went undetected. When it was finally discovered, she was whisked off to surgery immediately. She had many, many complications and stayed in the ICU for almost two months.
About one and half months into the ordeal, the phone rang in the middle of the night. The clock read 3:27 a.m. We knew it was not good news before I answered. They told us they needed to reintubate as Sarah was destating and a culture had confirmed another life-threatening infection. Much of Sarah's time in the hospital has become a blur, but that particular evening is still crystal clear in our minds. For that one phone call changed our marriage, forever.
John and I both silently laid staring up at the ceiling. Tears rolled down our checks onto our pillows. Time seemed to be standing still, yet flashing before our eyes. And then I said, "Honey, can I ask you something?" Still staring at the ceiling I softly said, " Do you ever wish Sarah would die so she doesn't have to suffer anymore?" He grabbed my body and pulled me into a tight embrace and together we cried like we had never cried before. He too had been thinking the same thing for days but did not want to mention it for fear of loosing me, fear of loosing Sarah.
I went on to tell him that on my way home from the Cleveland Clinic one evening, I had stopped at the cemetery to look at the new mausoleum. For some reason, I did not want my baby girl to be buried underground. He divulged that he had done the same thing. Alone. That night we promised each other that we had to start communicating again. We had to go back to being a team, not running on parallel lines, but together as one. We had to share our feelings, good or bad, happy or sad.