Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Shirt With Magic And Aloha

My blogging friend Crash is collecting fabric for a wonderful Magic Quilt project. The idea is to collect fabric that has a story attached, and make those magical swatches into a quilt. (Click here to find out what the quilts are for and why they are magic.)

This is the shirt and the story I decided to send in:

Given the circumstances, a trip to Hawaii seemed like a very selfish move. My wife was living half a continent away so she could get medical treatment, and my two young girls were finishing their last year of school in Utah before we were to sell the house and move away from our vital support network of family and friends.

Yet given the circumstances, a touch of selfishness was just what I needed. And twentieth high school reunions only come once in a lifetime. So with assurances from both heaven and earth that my loved ones would be well taken care of in my absence, I boarded a plane for Honolulu.

Near the top of my list was the task to find an Aloha shirt or two – a classy one like the kind I’d grown up with. After searching high and low, I found two.

My contribution to the Magic Quilt is one of them.

The months that followed this short, personal vacation were by far the toughest of my life. With any luck the future won’t hold any even remotely that hard.

My wife was sick, and had been for years. We didn’t know what was wrong, other than she had a list of symptoms as long as all of our arms, and the doctors couldn’t find anything in her battery of tests. Headaches, tremors, neuropathy, and brain fog joined fatigue, sensitivity to everyday chemicals, and drastic, unexplained weight loss. The best we could do was find costly, time-consuming band-aids that would slow the symptoms, but solid answers were few and far between.

My role in this adventure was to be Superman. Hold down a job, take care of two small children, help my wife find answers, and keep the family afloat. The only way I could see to do this was to sell our dream home, pay off our six-digit medical debt, and move our family to a Texas where my wife had found some promising treatments.

I wore this shirt as I packed the house, loaded the moving truck, and drove to Texas. I wore it to hundreds of appointments with dozens of different doctors. I wore it while trying desperately to provide two little girls a normal life amidst utterly insane circumstances. I wore it to writing conferences where I tried to find a little bit of normal for myself.

I wore it to the hospital where my wife lay dying of malnutrition, despite bottle after bottle of nutrients being pumped into her veins. I wore this shirt as I pleaded with heaven to spare her life – if not for me, then for our children.

And I wore it when those prayers were answered.

I wore it to the doctor who figured out why my wife couldn’t digest her food, and found the one enzyme that would work for her. I wore it to the doctor who diagnosed our whole family as having Lyme disease.

I wore it as I watched my wife gain dozens of pounds. I wore it as I helped her move home, and later join us on our first family vacation in years.

I wore it until the edges tattered and the seams ripped out and I couldn’t wear it any more.

I wore it until only the magic was left. The magic, and the Aloha.

And now I’m sending it to you, so the magic can help someone else.

God bless you.

Don Carey

Monday, August 23, 2010

Good-bye Summer - Hello, School

We survived summer vacation. Woo!

Actually, Anna had a pretty good summer. Alyssa, on the other hand, contracted a serious case of boredom. She also had the munchies like crazy, and grew over an inch since April. Woah!

The girls both had end-of-summer swim parties for church, but I was only able to make it to the primary activity. I purposefully did not wear my swimsuit so as to encourage Alyssa to have some fun on her own, which she did - kind of. Actually, she just sweet talked other adults into helping her swim around. But I guess that's okay.

In honor of Back To School, we bought Anna an early birthday present - a desk for her to do her homework on. She was almost happy-tears excited.

This morning we had a pretty easy time of things. I've been getting up at 6:15 all summer so I can get in some outside chores and do some writing before I buckle down at the day job. Since the girls are both at schools that start on the same, later schedule, that was plenty early for Anna and I to go for a short run, the girls to get ready, and me get breakfast and lunches made.

We had family scripture study and got a few pictures taken.

Then it was off to the bus stop.

Anna's bus came about 10 minutes late. Alyssa's bus was about 10 minutes after that.

They both survived the first day back, and are looking forward to a great school year!