Triumphs, tragedies, and enduring hope

For those of you who were wondering when this blog would be updated again, wonder no more!

This is it. :p

I’ve been pretty busy with The Root Cellar, my etymology blog.  I’m actually up to 106 posts as of this blog entry, and that translates to roughly a blog a day since I started it!  I’m pretty proud of keeping up with that.

I’ve also been rewriting a couple of manuscripts, one of which is a story I started writing on scrap paper during lulls in my shifts at work over 10 years ago.  It may not be worth anything overall, but I still feel like it’s an intelligent story that needs telling.

My daughter continues to excel, and her teachers and therapists are absolutely amazing. We’ve also recently gotten her a tutu, and she’s having a blast pretending that she’s Katerina Kittycat from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

In addition, I’ve had the great fortune of being in a relationship with one of the most remarkable men I’ve ever met. He’s brilliant, funny, patient, gentle, kind, wise, geeky, literate, talented, and loves spending time with me and my family.  My mother, stepfather, and daughter all enjoy having him around.  He believes in me and my career, and The Root Cellar would not exist if it hadn’t been for his loving support and belief. His steadfast heart and love have steadied me in times of turmoil, and I am truly blessed to be a part of his life.

And boy, have I needed it lately.

Now that I’ve talked about the good stuff, it’s time to talk about the bad stuff and how we’re managing to deal with it as a family.

I found a lump, and things were pretty tense until an ultrasound revealed that it was just an infection. Should I develop another lump down the line, though, we have a baseline that will help us determine if it’s anything of concern.  As I age, I worry about these things.  It was utterly terrifying, but I had the love and support I needed, and that gave me the courage to face it head-on and get the testing required to find out what was really going on.

Once that crisis was dealt with, my much-beloved next-door neighbor got the news that she has lung cancer.  She’s still fighting, but the chemo has left her week, and she has more gray days than anything else. We’re close, and she’s like family, so knowing that the days we have her with us are growing fewer make it hard to bear the notion that we may be losing her a lot sooner than we would like.

And as if that wasn’t enough of a blow to cope with, my stepfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer after a bloodwork screening at his place of employment revealed that his PSA (a blood test that determines prostate function) was elevated and a biopsy is done.  His doctor says that the cancer is aggressive and that my stepfather’s prostate needs to be removed as soon as possible to ensure that the cancer doesn’t spread, but my stepfather is seeking a second opinion, just to see if the surgery is necessary, much less necessary right away.

And then Ferguson happened.  So many people have so many misconceptions about that community and about black people and impoverished communities in general.

And for the longest time, I was one of them. Fortunately, living out here and interacting within the Ferguson community since we moved here has helped a great deal. The best cure for prejudices is keeping your mind and heart open while getting to know people whose life experiences and culture and knowledge are divergent from your own.  I pray for the people of Ferguson, and I pray for the eyes of all people to be opened to what has been going on behind closed doors there. Regardless of what Mike Brown did or didn’t do before he was killed, the case was handled poorly, and the people of Ferguson are suffering because the actions of a few (most of whom were not even part of the community) reinforced old prejudices about black people and those living in poverty.

It burns me that people are so comfortable living behind their walls of prejudice and refrain from questioning authority when it appears that authority may have been abused.  If we allow injustice to continue for the most vulnerable among us, who will stand up against injustices done to us when our time comes?

And after Ferguson happened, a man who was one of my high school youth group’s leaders and whose family showed me and my family great kindness when other families in our church were shunning us and doing their best to drive us away from God with their cruelty was in a horrible accident.  The building where he was working was being remodeled, and as he took the stairs to get up to where he needed to be for his job, they collapsed under him, and when he fell to the ground, the part of the weakened staircase that gave under his weight broke loose and landed on him.  He broke a hand and his pelvis in three places, and because he had internal bleeding and has type one diabetes, they had to wait until he was stable enough for surgery to work on his hand, much less his pelvis.  He’s off the ventilator, at least, so that’s a step in a positive direction after his accident.

And because life would be positively nice without more accidents, my cousin Mara, my late Aunt Ruth’s only surviving child, fell asleep at the wheel of her car after she got off of work and ended up in a wreck that left her in the hospital in serious condition.  Her cheekbones, nose, left eye socket, jaw, hand, ribs, pelvis, and L3 of her lumbar spine were all broken in the wreck.  Fortunately, no one else was hurt.  Unfortunately, she was not wearing her seat belt.

And again, fortunately, her condition improved enough that they recently decided to discharge her from the hospital.  She’s going to be laid up in braces, casts, and splints for quite a while, but she’ll be home with the people who love her and have assistance. She’s also has to go back to the doctor in two weeks to determine if she’ll need surgery to rebuild her facial bones.  I have no idea why they feel comfortable sending her home so soon after she was in such a precarious state, but I’m sure that the hospital has her best interests in mind. Fortunately, she had no brain injuries from the wreck and remained awake through most of her hospital stay, but she was in considerable pain.  I hope that they at least have her pain under control before they sign off on those discharge papers.

However, my sister’s child Rae was admitted to the same hospital (and the same wing) with pneumonia tonight. My daughter is still recovering from a nasty bout of bronchitis, and my brother-in-law has been down with pneumonia for four days now, so it appears to be the season of accidents and respiratory infections for the people I love most in the world.

Hope still holds sway, though.  We are the Oaks family (even those who weren’t born into it). We are stubborn and strong, and we refuse to give in when tragedy gnaws at the roots of our family. We are also believers in God, and our faith has sustained us in times of poverty and despair.  I have no doubt that God will heal my family, either by restoring health or taking them to a place where pain and suffering can no longer reach them.

It will most likely be restoration of health, though.  There’s far too much for all of us to do here to be sidelined for long.  We all have our walks and missions to light the dark corners of the world however we can.  Yes, I’m aware it sounds weird and could well be attributed to sleep deprivation and stress, but I still believe it to be true.  We as a family were meant to spread light and love, and the hardships and trials we face make us stronger and help us to learn to reflect the love of God wherever there is darkness and sorrow.  We can be light and awaken people to hope, if we try.