13 August 2015

"so that we could all have birthdays..."

Friday Night Lights.  Matt Saracen.  It's a show that's been around the block for a while now, but I'm just catching on (Job hunting is good for binge watching, ya know?!).  The episode I just watched, the character named Matt Saracen is faced with having to bury his father who died in the war in Iraq.  In his eulogy at his dad's burial he speaks of his dad's service to his country.  He speaks of the birthdays his dad missed while serving overseas, and then he spoke of his realization that his dad missing his birthdays was a service done so that he and everyone else standing around the casket that day could have birthdays to celebrate.

The tears started much earlier in the episode for me, but it's this line that I remember.

I'm looking for a job.  And for the first time in my life, it's been a long and discouraging process.  It'd still be long and discouraging even if my mom were around...it seems employers have trouble translating 5 years of experience of nursing in E. Africa into experience that might be beneficial to their American healthcare setting..it seems 18 months of part-time remote admin work done while caring for your terminally ill mother requires explanation...explanation I haven't effectively done without face to face time during an interview, which I can't get because it all requires explanation (I know I know, entre cover letter re-vamping)...and my mom couldn't fix that for me.  But she could have listened. And when she had two good arms to do it with, she could have given me a hug when I was down and discouraged by it all.  She would have been my I'm-a-nurse-and-I-understand-the-system sounding board and encouraged me that with God, we never know what's going on behind the scenes.  She was good at this stuff.

As I've thought a lot about her seasons of job searching, and remembering how down she got, but how she always tried to remind herself about what was true, I also remember she was about making it possible that other people had birthdays to celebrate too.  She wasn't in the armed forces, but the ways she served her country were sacrificial too...she believed in people when they didn't believe in themselves.  She rooted for them and tried to make sure they had every resource they needed and deserved to make it to their next birthday...she told them what they didn't wanna hear if it was what they needed to know...so that they and their loved ones could share more birthdays.  I miss her somethin' fierce.  I cry because I miss her.  I cry because I'm so very thankful for the woman and mother she was.

When you lose something or someone that you love, the important things in life take on new meanings.  This season in life is not my favorite.  It's one of a larger portion of loss than I would have chosen for myself.  The loss of my mom is the biggest loss, but the loss "for now" of a life and work and home and friends and family in South Sudan is huge too.  These losses though, make the sweet gifts...the "gains" in this season, that much sweeter.

It won't surprise you that most of these gains have faces.

photo cred: Louisa Wimmer-Brown
Like these two...who are a whole year more grown up than this now...and on whose actual day of birth I was actually present and accounted for...and one of whom when I got in the car recently said, "Hi Heidi, I've been missing you." (heart melted)

photo cred: Courtney Patch
and this darling who quite readily sits in my lap, waves incessantly to me, AND gives me kisses...

this cutie patootie who requests play dates and with whom I share a general fondness for exploring our surroundings

photo cred: Facebook
and these dudes who discuss with me their favorite animal factoids and let me join in on their hide and seek games

and, well, all their parents are all right too ;)  and there are so many more...

I'm thankful that all these fabulous kids get to have birthdays and that I get to be a part of them, for a season.  I'm desperately sad that I can't share my birthdays with my mom anymore, but I'm thankful for her life spent making sure other people could share theirs.