Splurt!

In the vein of prosaic, daily things…

 

I was supposed to have a job this summer. I had submitted a large number of applications to just about everywhere within a 20 mile radius of my home. And then I started the application process at Universal. Unfortunately, nothing panned out. Even the positions that I qualified for and the employer was excited about my experience turned out to be looking for long time work, not just the summer.

Therefore, I have been short my intro payment for BJU in the fall. Although the GA position I have taken will pay my bills once I’m there, I am responsible for the first payment before I start work there.

Which had me googling “Ways to Make Money in a Hurry.” Since selling a kidney on the black market didn’t seem to be a viable option (how to find a buyer?!), I decided upon selling plasma.

At this point, I have made three successful visits and also converted my sister, who is also in need of cash. My last visit was yesterday.

Everything went relatively smoothly. I dropped O off at the Goodwill (to look around, not as a donation) and made my way to the center. I didn’t bleed super quickly this time, which was strange, but there weren’t any complications.

On my way to pick O up, I noticed my sleeve felt wet. Since I’d just been holding a cold water bottle on that arm (my donation arm), I wasn’t surprised. As I looked down, to brush the condensation off my arm, I was surprised to see a puddle of blood spreading up my sleeve. I’m driving and bleeding to death out of my arm, but no biggie, I’m cool. We good. No worries.

I haul up my sleeve with one hand, while driving with the injured arm and sure enough, the cotton wad and stretchy bandage are soaked. Trying not to cuss, I grab a handful of kleenex out of the console, clap it to my elbow with one hand and raise my arm over my head. Which means I’m steering with my knee.

By the time I get to the Goodwill, the fount of living waters has chilled out a bit. I text O that I’m not coming in, primarily because I didn’t want anyone thinking I’d just popped out of a war zone. I get my arm unwrapped, cleaned up, and another kleenex folded onto the gaping cavern on my arm. I loosely tied the ace bandage onto the kleenex wad and patiently waited for O to come out.

But not before I’d handed all our donations to the man at the Goodwill with a bloody sleeve and bandage trailing along behind me.

Someone’s Gone

Tuesday is shaping beautifully. Jess was coming over, which was cause for excitement in and of itself. When she got here, we cooked up some cheater pad thai (an excellent recipe, by the by) and settled down for the real festivities: Jurassic Park.

We have always loved the Jurassic World area of the Universal park, have the ride memorized word for word, and we both hold that John Williams’ composition is the best film score in creation. While Jess has seen the films, I’ve never had access. So when Mamaw lent me her DVD set of all three movies, I told Jess immediately. This date had been on the books for weeks.

About 20 minutes into the movie (we’d just been to the raptor enclosure), Mom got a phone call. I paused the movie so she could hear better. It was the DFL. She was surprised to get a call, because DFL is a texter by nature (one of the reasons we get along so well).

“Hey!”

“Oh? Oh!”

“At the church?”

Silence. Silence. Silence. Mom’s mouth drops open. She’s gasping. At this point, Jess and I are focused on trying to understand what could possibly be said on the other end of the line. O comes out of the kitchen, sensing the tone.

Mom hangs up, shaking her head, still gasping for air. “Mama Jean, she’s been in an accident, and we have to go. I need to call your father so we can go.”

Jess quietly excused herself. We tentatively set up a date for next week. Tonight, my family obviously needed to camp out a hospital on a prayer vigil. We needed to make sure Papa was okay. I packed up my bag with crochet materials and book and water. Mom gathered throw blankets and jackets. We are used to waiting in hospital halls. We know what makes it bearable. We know it takes a long time.

As we waiting for Dad to get home, Mom explained that a lady from our church had called DFL’s parents, and he in turn called us. Mama Jean had been hit in the Publix parking lot and had been life-flighted to Lakeland Regional. My first thought was that it couldn’t be too serious, because the car couldn’t have been going too fast. Mama is made of tough stuff. And then Mom said that the car had to be lifted off Mama Jean. And the life flight business also meant it was serious. The lady from church and her husband (close friends of Mama and Papa) were rushing Papa to the hospital to meet the helicopter. Pastor was also on his way.

Since Pastor was already there, we kept checking the church’s Facebook page for an update. We got one. Her situation was serious, but it appeared that she was going to be stabilized. We were praying she would be stabilized.

At this point, I am not worried. There is tension in my chest. But at this point, there is no cause for alarm. This isn’t happening. It is not very serious. Mama is too young, too strong, too stubborn, to be seriously hurt. It was a parking lot. We’d just be waiting to see her after surgery. We just needed to wait. Wait and pray. Everything was fine.

Finally, we get to the hospital. It’s less than an hour after we got the phone call. We park. We’re hurrying, but we are restrained. We have time. We just need to know what’s going and where to go. We curve through hallway after hallway and elevators and finally, finally, reach the emergency room desk. The receptionist calls up.

“Jean Byrum? Yes, has she been moved to surgery yet?”

“Oh.”

“So, consulation room 4 and 5? Ok, I’ll send them over.”

Good. They’re taking us to hear her options. They’ll tell us which order the procedures have to be in. That’s good. There’s the consultation room 1, 2, 3, there it is. 4. And yes, this is it, because there’s Mrs. McClaren, waiting. Her back is to us, but she’s hunkered over a cell phone, probably to keep informing church people. Only Pastor and Papa are in the room. That makes sense. They said only a few were allowed at a time.

She turns around. She’s crying, but we’re all tense. Of course she’s crying. One of her best friends was in a car accident.

“She’s gone.”

No. No. No. No. No. Every face crumples. My daddy, my sister, my mother. My mother who does not cry. They are sobbing, we are in a huddle, we are trying to make it not true because she was just here. She was alive, she was going to be stabilized, it was just a parking lot. I am not crying. Because it is not true. Mama is ok. They are confused. My parents are too quick to believe she is gone.

We go in. My big, gentle Papa. The man built like a bear. His thin, genteel, white Southern moustache. He is standing, and his face is something terrible. My daddy goes right to him. Mr. McClaren was by him as was Pastor, but all I can see is two of the biggest men in my life shaking and crying and red and devastated because Mama is gone.

Tissues are distributed by very kind, very quiet hospital staff. I hug Papa. I am crying now because Papa is crying and he wouldn’t be crying if it wasn’t true. I am crying because this means Papa is alone. I am crying because this gentle giant is a calm, sweet presence in my life and his calm has just been ripped apart. The crazy, wild, happy, pop of life that was Mama is not here any more.

They say we can go see her.

Papa goes in alone first. He comes out relatively quickly. So we go in next. O stays outside. She’d caught a glimpse through the door and decided to stay out. I’m so very glad she did.

Because my Mama Jean didn’t look like Mama. Battered. Swollen. Bruised. So. Much. Blood. I found out later that both of her hips and her pelvis had been shattered. I don’t know how bad the bone damage was in her sternum, but she had extensive internal bleeding. Her head was swollen to nearly twice it’s size. Eyes black. But what tore out my heart was that her left ear, right where I was standing, was ripped. Where an ear is supposed to be attached to the head, so smoothly, had a fissure, where the flesh had given way. My poor Mama had all those bones broken, so much blood, but even her ear wasn’t safe. And she was so very tiny. She never got to be 5′ tall. But on a hospital bed, she looked even smaller. Only her hair looked normal. Spiky. Short. Red, red, red.

That was real. There was no “holding it together.” There was no “breathing through it.” There was no “ok.” The sorrow and tears and horror and dismal certainty that poured out of that room could not be expressed forcefully enough by tears. I can feel the soft, reassuring hand on my arm from the chaplain, and I remember thinking that he was very good at not talking or being intrusive. The hospital made a good hire.

Papa signed a paper. They told him about the medical examiner taking the body. Protocol in an accident. A nurse delivering her wedding ring in a red plastic bag. It had been removed before a CAT scan earlier.

We all get together a caravan home. Phone calls. Texts coming in. Going out. Updates sent. Condolences. Requests for information. Prayer groups informed.

At Papa’s house, we find out more. Mama had been conscious. She talked to Papa at the hospital. She said she was sick to her stomach. And we know it was from the blood. They gave her a shot for the pain and she went unconscious. She’s always been such a lightweight. It comes with being a tiny human. But she also has a weak heart. Our firecracker, our unstoppable redhead, had a weak heart. And all of everything was just too much. By our calculations, she died around 3:30. She had died before we had really left home properly.

As the evening progressed, we found out that she hadn’t been planning to go to the store until Thursday. Papa had cooked her her favorite breakfast: bacon and eggs. Normally, she ate cereal. He asked her what her plan for the day was.

“I don’t know, but I’m going to do something!”

She had gathered her two recipes and some supplies. She was making a cake for the Saturday celebration at their clubhouse, and his favorite casserole to take to church Sunday. The recipe was still sitting on the box on the counter. Two mixes were beside it.

She ran up to Publix to pick up some milk and two or three other things. On her way out, an elderly gentleman (the news report said he was 84) and his wife rounded a corner and didn’t see her. The police think he got confused and hit the gas instead of the brake.

When we went to Publix to see if they had found her keys, there was no sign that life had fallen out of kilter. Nothing to indicate that we weren’t the same. That death happened here. We talked to the manager on duty at the time, because we’d been told they were holding her groceries. The manager, and the clerk who called 911, and then a few others came over, telling us, offering condolences, saying that the milk had busted, did we want them to gather what she had? They thought they knew what it was. Mom said no, that wasn’t important. And then the manager asked if we wanted her shoes.

Her little, slip-on Nike “yard shoes.” In a Publix bag. So tiny. So final. She didn’t even have her shoes.

 

Mom said it best when she picked up a few essentials for Papa last night. Milk, because they needed it. Some more water. She walked through Wal-Mart, and everyone else is just living their lives, bustling about, and no one knows that she was not just picking up milk. That we had lost someone today. We lost someone very important. And very tragically. And no one knows.

Someone’s gone. Life is not going to be the same. And yet life things have to keep happening. Waking up. Eating. Laundry. Mowing the yard. Sleeping.  Stupid, everyday, normal things that shouldn’t be allowed to exist because she is not here. And she will not be here.

And I can’t believe she’s gone.

But she is.

Someone’s gone.

Summer Break

I have been massively slacking off. I know that comes as a shock to absolutely none of you. To the very loyal few of you who actually look at this blog, I want to apologize. Life is good. I’m at home. I’m rehabbing a hedgehog. I’m cooking and eating and sleeping.

There isn’t a lot new to share, even though there is.

I’m fine, but I’m not. I’m thrilled to be home and hate to be leaving again. Same old song that never changes.

 

I just. I am trying to write because I haven’t wanted to and when I have wanted to, I haven’t written. Nothing is going on. You aren’t missing anything.

There just aren’t any words.

Happy Summer, everyone.

Achievement Unlocked

Tonight, I think I have successfully completed my education. Everything in my life has built up to this moment. Every moment of study. Every moment of practice. Every mistake.

It lead to here.

So I sit here, holding the object of my achievement in my hands. Proud. Humble. Awed. Even excited. Dumbstruck. I can barely comprehend that this small token symbolizes so much work.

In my hands?

A tied cherry stem.

I figured out how to tie a cherry stem with my tongue.

 

And it is good to be alive.

Love/Hate Relationship

Have you ever been so lonely that you deeply desired the company of a cantankerous hedgie who hates you? Even though you know your presence probably drives him wildly insane and he hisses at your for roughly half an hour.

But he’s there and although he’s obstreperous, it’s almost as if he’s reluctantly pleased you’re there.

 

I miss my Plump.

A Little Too Needy

I’m a little too needy. A bit too desirous of attention and affection. Preoccupied with being petted and attended to and cherished.

I’m looking for an obsession. A place to pour my soul. A receptacle for my devotion. An idol to flatter and indulge.

I want conversation and flattery and flirtation and company.

I want it when I’m tired. When I’m bored. When I’m stressed. When I’m lonely.

And it’s all about me.

It’s not truly caring because it’s a driving fire within myself. A craving that needs satisfaction. Even if that thirst to make someone else happy.

It’s all about me.

 

I am so tired of me.

But isn’t that selfishness too?

Dudley Love

Dudley needed more hugs, so he stopped sitting with Unicorn and is now sitting on my lap instead. Lest any of you be concerned for the sanctity of my lap, realize that Dudley is one of Unicorn’s stuffed unicorns. He’s a sweet pillow buddy is a particular favorite of mine. Dudley understands me. He is by far the most empathetic and endearing of the hoard that lives above. He also likes me more than any of her other unicorns, which is understandable, considering their first loyalty is to her.

I am writing a blog because no one will talk to me and because I have the worst writer’s block known to man. This paper is a simple paper for a simple class with an extremely basic premise and I’m just sitting here twiddling my thumbs like an idiot.

So I decided to type for a blog like an idiot instead. Because productivity has to gain some points back from what I’m losing by being an idiot…

Maybe hugging the magnificent Dudley will help me. Unicorns are generally full of blessings.

Dragon Skin

Clawing. Digging. Tearing. Punctures.

Sweet relief.

But only temporary. There is still more that must be ripped away and even that isn’t deep enough.

 

My skin itches and burns and peels and I’m left looking like a molting reptile. I moisturize and exfoliate and the tingling insanity never ceases.

It calls to mind Eustace as a dragon in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. He had to have his dragony outsides ripped off by Aslan. No one else’s tearing and trying would do.

 

I deeply desire to remove my outer layers of flesh.

But possibly more importantly, I desire to lose all the layers of my flesh. I need God to remove from me the selfish, shallow, restrictive and beastly carapace I reside within. I want him to free the person who will look like His Son. I don’t want to be a dragon.

I want to be like Him.

 

And sometimes, I forget that as I try not to itch.

Lyrics I Love: Fragments

What God Ordains is Always Right

Praise Ye Jehovah

Praise ye Jehovah, Who from the beginning
What He established in mercy maintains.
Founding, providing, protecting, abiding,
Praise to the Saviour Who constant remains.

Praise ye Jehovah, Who like as a father
Comforts our sorrows and quiets our fears.
Chast’ning, restraining, forgiving, sustaining,
From the beginning to fullness of years.

 

There is a Higher Throne

All glory, wisdom, pow’r,
Strength, thanks, and honor are
To God our King, who reigns on high
Forevermore.

 

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

 

Fulfill your role in the kingdom.

 

Let God’s promises for the future influence how you live your life now.

Many Things about Tomorrow

Since day one, I’ve been told that I am smart, talented, and beautiful. With regards to at least the first two traits, I have tried to prove that my supporters are right. I was precocious. Then I was bright. And finally, I became a hard worker.

The older I get, the more I’m taught that hard work and dedication do not always pay off. You may study for hours for a quiz to still get a D. You also might completely forget you have a test and still ace it. Apparently, I haven’t learned that lesson yet, because I still expect to reap what I sow. Therefore, if I show myself to act with integrity, try to follow God in my pursuits, pray for His will, and work myself senseless, the right results should appear.

Even here, at BJU, I’ve been…encouraged to think of myself as special. My friends and teachers expect more from me, because I tend to give more to begin with. I am a quick study, I problem solve well, and I take initiative. And, I’m even trying to learn how to take correction gracefully. Now, before any of you start to think, “Wow, she really is a cocky little thing” let me make this caveat: I never believed them. I thought that yes, hard work pays off, but I also thought that, in a way, I was just lucky. I’m just good at taking tests, I’m not actually smart. Or that everyone else would get the exact same results if they put in the exact same actions. I honestly never thought I had a very high opinion of myself.

And then this school year happened. I got grades I’ve never gotten before. I struggled academically in ways that I didn’t even know were possible. There were personal events that I couldn’t have foreseen and never would have chosen. I was working harder than ever and succeeding less than I could ever remember. This semester seemed a bit easier than last, and I was thankful for the respite.

Then God burdened me to start looking at graduate assistant positions. For those of you outside the bubble, the GA program allows a student to take a full course load of graduate studies and work full time for the college, so that you pay off your entire degree by the time you finish that degree. I was firmly convinced that after I got my undgrad diploma, I would waltz back home and pursue further schooling there. And then one day, I became not firmly convinced. In fact, I was so very unsure that I should come home that I prayed for very long portions of the day for an entire week over whether or not I should I apply for some grad positions.

So I applied. I got accepted to return as a student. I submitted five applications and waited. A month later, I had my first interview. I prayed and debated over a few other positions, talked with other departments, made some decisions. I didn’t get the job from that first interview. Instead, I was pointed to a brand new position, one that looked tailor-made for me: fitting all my qualifications, would give me room to grow, and plenty of flexibility. I would be able to help frame out what the position would look like for following GAs. I had the interview, both with the dean of the school and the head of the department. A week later, when I was asking for a deadline that I would know the answer by, I was told that I should have gotten an email, but the position had been filled.

I was devastated. I am devastated. As much as I have wanted to go home for three years, I desperately wanted to stay here. Most of my reasons are rather carnal and craven. In fact, I don’t want to go home, because I’m doubting God. Throughout this whole process I kept praying that His will, not mine, would be done. That He would show me what to do. And I thought that meant staying here, since that would be the harder thing. Instead, it looks like it’ll be going home.

I want my family. But I want them here.

My church is here. I no longer have a church back home.

My school is here. The education I’d be scraping together back home will be rough to say the least.

My chances for med school are better here. I don’t even know that PSC has any chance of sending students to med school.

My chances of getting married are pretty much only here. There is no one back home.

My best friend is getting married. My sister is leaving for four years. I do not have a job. I do not have a boyfriend. I will be leaving all the relationships I tried to cultivate for three years here.

And I feel like a failure. Because I have worked and worked and thought I was growing and apparently, I haven’t. Because I don’t believe that going home is God’s will, even though He is so clearly showing me that it is. And I don’t believe He can provide an education or a job or a spouse, even though He is the only One who will ever provide those things for me. And I do not think He is good, even though that is the only thing He has ever been to me. The lesson I should have been learning is not that if I work hard enough, good things will happen. The lesson I should have been learning is that I try, I work, but I rest in God alone, because He will do whatever He wills in spite of what I do, not because of it.

God is not my personal, spiritual vending machine. I do not punch in a formula and put in the right things and get exactly what I want from Him. I am His clay. And I try to fight Him instead of allowing myself to be molded into His image.

So I apologize, formally, here, in print to God. I’m sorry and I am so very wrong for my disbelief, for my anger, for my hurt and assumed rejection. Please forgive me for doubting that You ever had anything less than best for me. And I cry like the father in Mark, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.”

And to the rest of you here in Greenville, I’ll miss you terribly. I’m not sorry I made friendships here and I refuse to regret giving of my life and time and heart to you. It will hurt not seeing you, or hanging out with you, or sharing my feelings, thoughts, and dreams with you. But I won’t forget you. You taught me a great deal, like the importance of meal plans and how a real church feels and acts and worships together.

To my faithful few in Florida, I’m sorry I didn’t want to come back. Please believe me that it was not because I didn’t miss you, but because I feel like I no longer belong. I worry that I won’t make sense there and that I will not be needed. So thank you for wanting me back anyway.

I am very uncertain about what this next chapter holds, and what on earth I should do. So I’m going to try and live a little less by the rules of Martha, and a little more by the mantra that, “I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know He holds my hand.”