The first week of February I traveled to California for work. I was so ready to get out of the tundra that was known as Louisville for a week. It was a good week, though busy, and I always enjoy refreshment away, even if it involves a work trip. Just breaking the routine is good for me. On my way home, I was delayed out of San Francisco, due to the weather there. (Go fig) It caused me to miss my connecting flight out of Chicago home and I ended up in the Chicago O'Hare Hilton for the night, thanks to United. I decided to enjoy the loaner toothbrush, watch the opening ceremonies and relax. I had a ton of homework to finish when I returned and a difficult week at work ahead so I took this as a moment of time to rest. Looking back, that was a smart move.
I got home Saturday afternoon and after not eating since the night before, I was thankful for my sweet friend, Christie, and her Mom for picking me up and providing coupons so I could eat cheap at Logan's. I could have eaten six cows since the last "real" meal I had was breakfast on Friday morning.
I came home after eating and turned on the engine. I unpacked, started laundry and made a big dent on the homework front. I still had miles to go, but it wasn't as horrible as it was at the beginning of the day. I was able to go to church on Sunday morning with the day ahead to finish.
That morning I received news my Stepmom was critically ill. She fell ill pretty quickly and had went to the hospital on Saturday. She made it through the night, which was a good sign, so I headed up to the hospital to see her. Before I made it there, I got the news she wasn't going to make it and they were keeping her awake to see everyone before she drifted off to sleep where she was most likely pass. This all seemed surreal. Merely 9 months before I lost my Dad and although my Stepmom and I weren't really close, I was so grateful that she was in my Dad's life or he wouldn't have lived so long after my Mom passed. And the realization of her passing meant I was losing yet another part of my Dad. As we spent the day and night in her hospital room, I prayed, I texted, I contacted my professor to plea for an extension, and I longed to talk to my Mom and Dad so badly. It was one of those times when only grace from God sustains you. I was physically and emotionally worn down. As was my Stepmom's niece and her family who have cared for her most since Dad passed. After drifting on to sleep around 3:30pm, she passed peacefully a little after midnight.
I left the hospital around 8:30pm and wrote 10 pages of paper in an hour and a half. I can testify that was totally God and not of my own strength. I was drained with my mind in a 1000 different places and yet, I was able to finish my homework by deadline. Only God.
Aside from all I have shared thus far, there was another looming issue in the background. I was set to terminate an employee that Tuesday for poor performance. I knew this was coming before I landed back home, and knew it had to continue no matter what was happening in my personal life. The head of our local office volunteered to handle it if I wasn't able to be in the office due to my Stepmom's passing, but I knew I had to strap on my big girl pants and do this, even though it was tough. By far, doing this type of thing is one of the hardest things I do as a manager. Especially when it's someone who is a great person and tries hard, yet, just isn't a fit for the role. I kept my composure and did it. I shed my own tears later. Only God.
Wednesday evening was visitation for my Stepmom and Thursday was the funeral. Again, it was a surreal time as she laid in the same room my Dad was in at the funeral home 9 months before. After all the funerals I've dealt with in my lifetime, I think I should be a funeral planner to help those who have no idea what questions to ask and what to do. It can be daunting in a very emotional time. Thankfully for my Stepmom, I just followed the lead of her family. God gave me the strength to get through those two days. Again, only God.
After a week of sadness and loss, on Friday, Valentine's Day, my sweet friend, Amy, gave birth to Levi Henry....Henry after my Dad. Little Levi came into this world at a time when I needed to see some life. But he had his own little challenges and ended up in the NICU with a low body temperature and low blood sugar. On Sunday, I went up to see him and although I couldn't hold him, I could see him and talk to him and his Mommy. He's home now and improving daily, but a scary start is never easy in the moment. Levi is named after a very strong man that was my Dad, so I know he'll be a tough guy. Only God.
When that week came to a close I thought surely I'd lived six. But the grace of God was what sustained me and kept me going. It was like nourishment to my soul and the only way to explain how I made it through that week. Only grace. Only God.
Why do I always seem like I'm in good spirits? Because I serve a big God who pours out more grace than I deserve.