2010. It’s over, and I think it’s okay. Good even, maybe. Trying to write our Christmas letter this year (uh…yeah. ‘Bout that? There won’t be one. Sorry) I realized that the only way to describe 2010 was ‘A Mixed Bag.’ Many things that happened were hard. VERY hard. There were blessings too, but overall, it was a mixed bag. It is definitely not a year I’d ever choose to repeat.
There are some things that are hard to forget. Last year on New Year’s Eve, we’d just come through a Christmas without Brent and I was missing him. Although not the first time he’d been gone at Christmas, it’s amazing how knowing that you can call and visit makes such a difference. Last Christmas Brent was at Marine Corps boot camp, and there were no phone calls. No cards. No conversations or laughter or hugs. Nothing. Then, on New Year’s Eve, the phone rang. The news was not good, and I spent last New Year’s Eve in tears.
When they tell you that “No news is good news” from boot camp, it’s true. We learned that day just how true it really is. Brent called to let us know that he was in the hospital. He told us that he’d had an episode of heat stroke and that they took him in with a core temperature of 107.7. He was, when he called, coherent, but clearly disappointed and discouraged. He had only a few minutes to give us the briefest of information and let us know that he’d call again when he was placed in a new training platoon. In the meantime, we were not able to write because his stay at MRP (medical rehab platoon) was to be short. Well…’short’ turned into 2 weeks. The first week was standard operating procedure for recruits after heat stroke; the second week was fighting a strep infection. Finally he was dropped into a new training platoon and finished boot camp only a couple of weeks later than we originally anticipated. It was only when we went to San Diego for his graduation did we learn just how dangerously ill Brent had been.
There’s NOTHING that can prepare you for learning that your child has had a significant health issue. At lunch on Family Day, sitting in the courtyard outside our room on base, Brent proceeded to describe what happened that day. He only remembers bits and pieces but knows that his heart stopped and the medical staff had to do CPR. What we didn’t know in March (but have seen clearly since then) is that the nearly unbearable heartache and the overwhelming relief we felt that day would be part of much of the rest of the year.
Yes, that episode was pretty indicative of what was to come. There were some AWESOME things in 2010: Brent’s graduation from boot camp. Emily’s graduation from high school. Ryan and Logan starting kindergarten. Victoria’s awesome volleyball season. Hailey finding a ‘perfect’ job. An incredibly relaxing vacation this summer. Discovery of the beauty of Pullman and the Palouse. Sun on my birthday and snow for Thanksgiving.
For every wonderful thing that happened this year though, there was a painful counter. Brent broke his wrist just prior to graduation, then suffered a knee injury in May. The knee injury was serious enough that he was medically discharged from the Marines in September. That was hard. Re-entry into civilian life was excruciatingly painful for him, and the losses just kept coming. Even now, it’s hard. My nephew, Nicholas, who has leukemia, relapsed after his first bone marrow transplant. They found out on my sister’s birthday. Nick’s had another transplant and is doing well, but it is agonizing watching them struggle through this. Hailey had some things fall through at the last minute this fall and ended up living at home for a term. Not a problem for us, but a challenge for her, as she’s ready to move on! :) Em loves her classes but is finding that homesickness can be brutal. My sweet home-body thinks that 300 miles is a LONG ways from home!
As I look back on the year, I find myself getting teary. It’s hard to watch your children hurt. Bandaids and chocolate don’t fix the kind of owies we had. I don’t know that it’s ever been harder to be a parent than it was…and yet as I look back, I can clearly see God’s faithfulness. His provision. His love and care. Some of the things that happened have changed my children forever. For the good? I don’t know. My human eyes can’t see how. Yet God is all-knowing; we see through a glass darkly (I Cor 13:12). My faith has been stretched. Challenged. Refined by fire. Grown. When things are hard and there’s absolutely nothing you can do, you hang on to the only thing you can: God. That’s where we ended 2010. It’s my very fervent hope that I have learned well, that growth has happened, and that 2011 will be less difficult than 2010. But if it’s not? Well…my faith has grown enough to say with confidence that God will never EVER let me down.
That’s the best way of all to start 2011. And it probably makes that ‘mixed bag’ of 2010 a blessing, even if some if it is still in disguise.