Just so you know, I am rocking on my blue chair that Chris bought me for Christmas during our first years of marriage.  It was our first furniture that we owned, that wasn’t a hand-me-down.  Just so you know, I am wearing my cupcake pajama pants that Amy gave me for my last birthday and am bundled in a red sweatshirt.  I have a fever, and am  a little surprised at myself for even attempting to write.  But then again since this is my outlet this was the first thing I thought to attempt tonight.  Just so you know, our family was supposed to be here tonight, to spend Thanksgiving with us.  It would’ve been the first time we’ve had my side of the family visit since last spring.  I have spent my day crying about this, and am prepared to have a pity party later, maybe tomorrow if you’re interested in coming.  But I’m not going to write about how sad, mad, absolutely positively down in the dumps disappointed I am about it.  Instead, I am going to take you back a week and a half to when this all started and how some brave people from far away, gave me up close comfort.  But again, I am not feeling all that great, and I may ramble a bit… just so you know.  

Last Week: At about 3 a.m. Daniel’s fever hiked up.   He’d went to bed early with a low grade one and woke me up shivering with the chills only a temperature can give.  My mind began to race as I gave him Motrin and laid down in my bed with him.  As his teeth shattered and his little body burned my fingertips, I began to pray.  It had been a long few days.  Jonah was battling fevers and a sore throat, Micah’s nose a constant faucet and his mouth a teething machine.  I was tired.  I wanted to cry.  And Chris was out of town.  Alone, my mind started to race to the place I have went my entire life whenever things reach a breaking point.  It’s one of the darkest places a person can go.  It rises slowly like bath water threatening to drown you.  You can’t breathe, you start to panic.  It’s a little nightmare called anxiety. 

 Anxiety kept me up many a nights as a little girl.  I would become so frightened someone was going to hurt my family that I would crawl in with my sister Erin.  She always seemed to fall asleep the moment her head hit the pillow, while I would lie awake counting the wood panel on my walls listening for the intruder I just knew was going to break in that night.  As I got older I learned ways to ignore the anxiety, with my own little coping methods.  Rubbing my feet together, falling asleep praying the Rosary, anything to hold it at bay.  Then in college someone tried to break into my apartment when I was home.  I won’t go into it now, but it threw me back to all those fears. If I didn’t keep watch, then they’ll get in.  So, I went home that summer and slept on the base of my youngest sisters beds.  I didn’t want anyone to hurt them either.  Chris married me knowing this.  He would check the doors every night for me if I asked, and all the closets too.  He prayed with me, and made sure I knew I was safe.  And then he decided what he wanted to be when he grew up…And that’s a whole new ball game.  As was having kids.  I had all these new things to be anxious about, but I also knew I had to get a hold of it.  I talked to people, I took medicine for a while, but mostly I learned ways to avoid having an anxiety attack.  I take the focus off me, and say a prayer for someone else.  Someone more deserving.

So the day Jonah’s fever spiked I started to pray.   I wasn’t feeling so brave, so I prayed for people that were brave.  They’re the bravest people I know actually.  So I think you should know them too.

Sunday November 11:  Veterans Day, I know that we celebrated it on Monday, but Sunday was the actual day.  I prayed for all our servicemen and women.  I prayed for my childhood friends Joseph and Tim, both in different sects of the military.  One who will soon leave the desert, the other who left when hit with the shrapnel of a bomb.  They are both amazing, special men who’ve protected our country over there.  I pray for all the other people in my life who are veterans, my father in law, cousins, friends who have fought for our freedom.  I prayed for my other Amy’s Kevin, far away, as she keeps it together in Colorado.  And I pray for my brother in law Chris, who spent a year in the desert and could get a mobilization order again anytime.    As I struggled that Chris would be gone for four days, I realized Melissa has gone months before with out seeing her Chris.  As I pray for them, I thank God for the families as well, and not in just an Old Navy shirt sort of way.  In a true tangible, patriotic way, an everyday appreciation for those who are really giving so we can freely take.

 Monday:  I prayed for Amy, who celebrated 6 years of sobriety.  We celebrated it with cupcakes, and Cranberry Sierra Mist after a grueling ab workout.  Amy and I have been friends since we were 16 and she makes everything seem special.  I know she sometimes overcompensates so other people can be happy.   Her own worst critic, she is one of the most beautiful people I know.  I make a point to never forget this day, and how important it is.  She is brave.  She is kind.  And I am grateful to be her friend.

Tuesday: Chris left, and that was when Daniel’s fever spiked.  I missed Chris so much that my eyes watered.  I started to hear my heartbeat pounding in my ears, and frantically began to pray.  I’m past the phase where I think Chris helps old women across the street, and saves stray cats from trees.  I know what he does is dangerous.  But this is what else I know.  My husband does push-ups everyday before he hits the streets, and prays that God reveals the people he needs to be in contact with that day.  I know he is good at his job, and I know he is safe.  And he promises he will come home every night to me, and I believe that with every fiber of my being.  With love I pray for my sons Hero and all his amazing co-workers, wishing with all my heart at that moment his hand was holding mine.

Wednesday: Today was the day that John Paul officially became a Mainard.  Our best friends Ryan and Jocelyn had prayed for a child, and after years of trying, were picked by a teenager that just knew they were the right people.  For the past year they have loved and cherished their son, and on this day they had the legal ceremony that officially put their names on his birth certificate.  I prayed from Eugene for all the people I know who have suffered through the pain of infertility.  And I cried for my brave friends who fought through it for their son, who was molded by God just for them.

Thursday:   I prayed a lot for Jonahs godfather Dom that day.  The previous week he had spent 72 hours straight fighting the fires in Southern California.   He knew his pregnant wife and two kids had been evacuated from their home, and still had to keep doing his job.  Whenever I think of Dom I think of when I met him, barefoot with a smile that spread to his eyes.  His faith is steady, his passion unmatched.  Chris and I never thought twice about choosing him for our Jonah, we knew he’d take this role seriously.  He will always pray for our son, and he is the kind of man I hope Jonah to be when he grows up.  

Friday:  Jonah went to school and to Emily’s.  Daniel was still coughing, but Micah was now in full swing of what the Doctor’s call para-influenza.  When he had trouble breathing, I rushed him in.  As I watched him get a steroid shot, and struggled with the nurse to give him a breathing treatment I lifted up all the brave people who deal with illness everyday.  My Dad with his heart disease. My Uncles and my other Dad with cancer. My brother in law Robert who has defeated it. My grandfather with parkinson’s.   All my friends and family who have fought and lost someone to any terminal disease.  I prayed for strength because by Friday I was even too tired for anxiety.  I wept openly with the pediatrician and I prayed that I would have the strength to get through that day.  That for one day I could be braver, stronger, a woman of faith.

Chris came home and Micah started to improve.  I slept on Daniels toddler bed next to his crib just in case he started wheezing.     He woke the next day, our healthy Micah again.  We had survived this flu.  I survived a few nights with out Chris.  And I knew I hadn’t done it alone. 

Saturday:  I said “Thanks” a lot.  I was grateful for God’s Grace. I thanked God for all the other brave people in my life: my parents, my siblings, and anyone who has taken a chance even if that meant they were counting wood panels and waiting for the grace to come.  Because on this day for me, it did. 

 Just so you know, a week and a half later I am in full force with the para-influenza my kids had.  Things have been hard.  Tears have been shed. Just so you know, this blog has taken me five days to write.  My pajamas have changed but I am still sitting in my blue rocking chair.  But as much as I want to mope I keep thinking about the people who fight through it all, living their lives until they overflow and affect ours.  I say the joy of the Lord is strength, because I need to be reminded.  I have to try to defeat anxiety, they overcome it just by being.  I have to try to be brave, but they just are.  And that leaves me in awe…just so you know.