by Janet Klostermann
Many times, one can find irony in life. A couple of weeks ago, the national news media was focused on the 2 year anniversary of Super Storm Sandy and the anger of people affected by it who have not had their lives return to normal yet. This information surprised me because Super Storm Sandy was just a tiny blip on my radar at the time it happened. We were in Dallas and our 28 year old daughter Lauren was unconscious in the Baylor Cancer Hospital, a stage IV colon cancer patient with peritoneal metastasis who had aspirated on her own vomit and had pneumonia as a result. Every half an hour or so another doctor would come in and tell us how bad her situation was, how the cancer was out of control and how she only had days to live. We did hear them the first few times, but it must be how hospice doctors are trained, to keep repeating the message. Lauren did come out of her coma and we were able to bring her back to our home state of Nebraska where she lived another few weeks. We had some more time together before she left us right before Thanksgiving.
Like the people affected by Super Storm Sandy, I don’t feel our lives have returned to normal either. I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same way about Christmas again, as all our family traditions revolved around our two daughters and now we only have one. We’d bake cookies together, decorate together and I’d get the girls matching pjs for Christmas Eve. Our daughter, Jenn, is married, and of course splits her holiday time with her husband’s family, as she should. This leaves us with a big hole in our holiday. We have done a lot of new things though to get through our new life situation. We went to the movies on Christmas Day. We went out of town to Chicago for Mother’s Day. We ate at a restaurant on Thanksgiving. These little changes in celebrating the holidays did help us get through those days.
Since last spring, we’ve had our focus on preparing for the birth of our first grandchild. Our daughter Jenn and her husband Bob were expecting a little girl. We were kept busy with the gender reveal party, three showers, helping to get the nursery ready, shopping for baby. Jenn had a problem-free pregnancy and birth. Little Nora Jane was born the day before her due date and everyone was happy. I took off afternoons to help Jenn and Bob adjust well to being new parents.
Irony steps in again! A couple of Fridays ago, I got a call from my son-in-law that Jenn was home feeding Nora and started gushing blood. She is a smart girl, so she called 911. I picked up my husband and we went to the hospital. I could not allow myself to think of all the bad things this could be! I thought well, I have heard of uncontrolled bleeding leading to hysterectomy, but if that’s what we had to deal with, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Fortunately, Jenn lives 4 blocks from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (where some of the ebola patients have been successfully treated). She had an ultrasound and an exam and the doctors said it was just her uterus contracting and pushing out all the blood. Everything was fine, but it was a scary experience. And in the back of my mind, I realized the date was October 24, which was 2 years and 1 day after we received the call that Lauren had aspirated and had a 50% chance of surviving the night. I did wonder, is God feeling the need to get my attention?
Little Nora is helping to fill in the hole in our lives. Although she looks like her mom, Jenn (who has brown hair, brown eyes and similar facial expressions), she also (unlike her mother) has long arms, legs, fingers and feet. That is all thanks to her Aunt Lauren. I have no doubt she’ll grow up to be over 6 feet tall, towering over her parents. That’ll be one of Lauren’s legacies! So, to all there other caregivers out there who’ve had to go through some of the worst experiences life can offer. . .please be assured, life does go on!