I always loved Magnolias.
When we got married, my husband and I hung a large painting of a white magnolia bloom above our bed. It was beautiful, but over the years our personalities and our tastes shifted with the winds. I either sold or gave it away several years later, but it remains in my memory.
There have been moments when I have given despise to those early years of our marriage. We were too young to be getting married and made nearly every mistake possible.
I hadn’t thought about the magnolia painting or the despicable mistakes in some time until today.
In my healing state, I have been forced to sit still, take it easy, embrace rest. I happened across the movie Steel Magnolias. It’s one of those you can’t just scroll over, you know?
I watched… I cried (bawled)… and then I reflected, as most of us do when we are faced with tragedy, death, or sadness.
I thought about the magnolia painting and remembered that the movie was what started my infatuation with the flower in the first place. I dreamed as a child of having a magnolia tree in my backyard and a wedding as lavish as Shelby’s (mine was a dream… but without the pink).
I reflected on those early years of our marriage, which were messy and often in shambles, but oh my goodness, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t beautiful memories made, as well.
I’m so thankful for the mess and mistakes (and my man). It all shaped us into the couple that we are today, 18 years later.
As I reflect in this moment, I’m even more thankful for that man and those memories… for our three beautiful children… for our family, friends, strangers, and tribes…. for the call that God has given us.
As I watched Julia Roberts’ character lie on a hospital bed, unable to breathe on her own, it forced me to come to terms with my own recent near-death experience. It sounds so weird to say that.
I was scheduled to have a full hysterectomy one week ago. In the weeks and months prior to the surgery, I was in so much pain from my issues, that all I could think about was getting over it. Not once did the surgery itself or the healing process cross my mind. Not once, until the night before the procedure. I’ve had two c-sections, and they’re going through the same incision… no biggie… right?!
I hadn’t shared the upcoming surgery with many, and in the middle of our children’s basketball game, it was mentioned to a nurse friend. She enlightened me a bit about what to expect, and spoke of the magnitude of this surgery. Uh, holy crap.
Nerves were typical the morning of the surgery, but still, the thought of not “coming out of it” didn’t occur to me. I’d planned to see my kiddos after school since the surgery would be long over by then. I’d told my mom not to worry about taking off of work and being there because it simply wasn’t necessary (she came anyways). If I’d only known…
Though the surgical team and anesthesiologist knew about my autoimmune disease (believed to be early stages of MS) prior to surgery, I don’t think any of us planned for how my body would react.
Once my husband and mom were able to see me, they were told that there had been trouble once the breathing tube was removed after surgery. I hadn’t wanted to breathe on my own. Once that was finally resolved, I was allowed to be moved to a room (though still not awake).
Upon transferring me from one bed to another, the pain became more than I could handle. I vaguely remember my husband being at my side, me squeezing his hand and begging for something to help with the pain. It was unbearable.
This began a song and dance of trying to manage my pain, which led to adding a pain medication, and then a sleeping aid, which was more than my body was ready for.
My breathing began to slow more and more until I was taking only six breaths per minute. Oxygen was administered, as well as several other tactics in an attempt to raise my oxygen level. At 78% for several minutes, the doctor ordered one last option prior to putting me on a ventilator and moving me to ICU. This involved reversing any and all pain medication I’d received that day, including prior to and during surgery.
While it was a last resort, it worked. Thank you, Jesus.
After being on oxygen for almost 24 hours, I awoke the next day to hear about the drama. My husband had cried at my side, unable to help. My mom and teenage daughter had come in sometime in the middle of it all, shocked and fearful of what was occuring.
I’m still struggling to wrap my mind around it, honestly.
I suppose it may be difficult since I have no recollection of the events that took place, other than the pain prior to and following the scare (seriously, not being allowed pain meds after a major surgery is not my fave… ever). Maybe my subconscious doesn’t want to accept that I was unable to breathe on my own, just days ago. Just a tad surreal.
Or maybe, much like the characters in Steel Magnolias, I don’t want to admit that I’m not made of steel. I am Woman, after all, and that’s a tough pill to swallow. Did you hear me roar?!
That scene certainly shifted my melancholy. The character left behind a beautiful son and husband, loving family and friends. I can’t imagine where mine would be today had things gone differently last week.
The thought actually shakes me to my core, now that I’ve allowed myself to think it.
Why is it that we think we have to do it all, be it all, have it all, and look perfect in the process?! What a crock!
That’s not how God wants me to live, and it’s not what He has intended for you, either.
He asked me to surrender this year. To stop and rest in Him and what He is doing.
Maybe this was all a ploy to get me there since He knows I struggle with it on my own. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but either way, I don’t want to let this pass by without thanking Him for giving me another chance.
I want to live every day thankful for what He has given me… mess, imperfection, circus-train-ride and all.
I want to live every day thankful for what and whom He has placed in my life.
I don’t want to take for granted the slow roll of healing, no matter how frustrated I may become that I’m not 100% just yet. (I know, I know… it takes time. I’m trying, I promise!)
We all know it could all be taken away in a flash. We are fragile as a flower, whether we like it or not.
I want to remember the good, the bad, the ugly, and the scary, because in and out of it all, He is there.
And for that, I am most thankful.
In the midst of all of this, I’m writing my first book. My prayer is to propose it to publishers this summer at a writer’s conference. I’m offering these T-shirts in an attempt to raise funds for my trip. I can’t wait to see women manifesting what these T’s state, as we journey together along this imperfect road of life. To order a tee, simply send payment & order via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org. THANK YOU!
I’m excited to step into a 21-Day Adventure of Living a Life of Thank You next week with my dear friend Suzie Eller. You should join us… let’s live thankful lives together (I’m imagining all of us running through fields of green, hand in hand with flowers in our hair again… such fun!).