Monday, August 17, 2015

One year

Today is Lettie's birthday. TODAY IS LETTIE'S BIRTHDAY. As in, she's one. And in a year that seemed filled with nothing but struggles to stay afloat, she has been the air that reminds us that we are alive. For real.

For the past 12 months I've been telling everyone who will listen how good of a baby Lettie is. At first I thought she was tricking me and would say as much. Like, she is SO good that there's no way she could keep it up. She simply set the bar too high. But a year into this and she really is that nice. All the time. She's pretty much the nicest human on the planet.

We--okay, I--threw a big party for Norah's first birthday. And while it was fun at the time, I look back now and think, Really? What possessed me to do that?  For Lettie's birthday, Norah and I made cupcakes. We got a 1 candle at Smith's and sang happy birthday to her at my parent's house after Colman's talk in church yesterday. Lettie squished up the cupcake and that was it.

Being as nice as she is, Lettie made some adorable faces and destroyed her cupcake just enough for me to get a few pictures proving that we celebrated. I know for a fact that she's not even going to be resentful about not having a real party. She's just nice like that.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Insert title here

Last year was a rough one. Being pregnant is amazingly difficult for me. I know, I'm lucky. I understand that. I have two beautiful, healthy daughters. For me, the growing them part is extremely challenging. But that's not what I want to talk about.

Three weeks after Lettie was born, we were getting ready to spend a week at Bear Lake with the Stewarts. Nic, of course, was busy getting everything ready, including the boats. While he was working on one at the shop, he did something that hurt his back. Justin gave him a pain pill, and he finished what he was doing and came home. That night we ended up at the emergency room because the pain was so severe. And that was just the beginning.

The past six months have been a blur of doctor's appointments, MRIs, steroid injections, chiropractic work, physical therapy, and prescriptions. And you know what? He's still not much better off than he was in September. It is so incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking, and I think that anyone else would have folded under the pain and the mental exhaustion that comes with it. But have you met Nic? He can keep going long after others would have given up.

As of today, we're waiting for an appointment with a surgeon. Nic had another MRI last week, and that's the next step. Six months ago, we wouldn't even consider surgery--just because it's so invasive and there's no telling how the recovery and aftermath will be. But if you asked Nic today, he'd have surgery immediately; anything to help lessen the pain. I'm telling you, the past six months have been a nightmare for him.

In the midst of all of this, there's little Lettie Kay Stewart. You guys, she has been a constant source of light and love and joy. She is human sunshine. Having her with us has changed everything. I know that's what new babies tend to do, I get it. But we needed our Lettie at this exact moment, and we didn't even know it. She fills the room with hope and makes you forget that anything could ever be sad. No matter how much Nic is hurting, her smiles can make him forget. And guys, she smiles with her WHOLE body. She smiles when you're not looking. She smiles when she hears our voices. She smiles when she wakes up. She is the force that has kept us going. 

One of the many problems of dealing with chronic pain is that there is so much waiting. We know Nic is going to have surgery, but the surgeon only does consultations on Mondays, and the next available consult isn't until March. Yes, we're on a cancellation list, but so are a ton of others who are desperate to be seen. And I'm sure that after the consultation, there will be more waiting until the surgery.

In the meantime, we're doing our best. Lettie, of course, is awesome. In addition to her regular preschool, Norah has started going to Daybreak Academy, which is where she'll go to full-time kindergarten in the fall. They teach piano and karate and Chinese and have a garden and chickens and rabbits--so perfect for my free-spirited Norah. I've started training for a half marathon and actually enjoy running for the first time in the history of ever. Feel free to smack me in the face. Besides his health problems, Nic is doing well. His work is busier and better than it has ever been. He always makes sure that his girls are taken care of and even manages to fit in some fly fishing. We really are fortunate to have so much good along with the bad.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Granny Gen

I've always felt like Granny Gen was a kindred spirit. I'm like my dad and my dad is like her and she is beautiful and complicated.

She passed away January 10th. I had plans that night to go to a movie with friends. My instinct was to cancel; Nic said I should go. As I got in the car, the radio turned on and was tuned to NPR. A Prairie Home Companion was playing. It was a simple moment where I realized that, had she been alive, she would probably be listening to the very same thing. I drove in the wet dark and listened to Garrison Keillor and a little bluegrass and felt immensely grateful for the influence of this woman in my life.

Her funeral left me again grateful. As my aunts spoke of her love of books and words, I could feel how the things that she loved had reached clear to me and steered my life in a certain direction. I realized, too, that I can blame her for my weird obsession with cats.  

Some of my favorite memories of my Granny are from the summer trips my cousin Meri and I used to take to St. George. We would drink Diet Pepsi for breakfast, swim, lay out, sit in the hot pot with Grandpa, play Garbage Rummy, and get Granny Gen to rent us any movie we wanted. The Shining? Sure. On our way south for one of these trips, my grandma had my grandpa pull over. She got out of the car, went into a house, and came out with a tiny Siamese kitten. She handed the kitten to me and Meri in the back seat, and we spent the five-hour drive with that little kitty on our laps. Best road trip ever.

I sometimes feel like life can be filled with a lot of gray, highlighted with the occasional splash of color. And while I think my Granny Gen often lived in that gray place, the bits of color she added to the world were vivid and bold and very much her own. She colored my life in a way that I am still sorting out, and I'm going to miss her very much.