…and then I cried

Winston-Salem offers something very special and unique.  Arts, history, downtown, and, bulky item pick up.  I’m sure there are other places that offer this, but the thought is really crazy that once a year you can haul almost anything to your curb and have it removed by the city.

I have warned my family this year we are cleaning out, big.  I have been so excited getting ready for a serious Spring Clean.  Yes, truck after truck drives around the neighborhood, taking things almost as soon as you put it out.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?  Our garage will look amazing after purged of so many things that seem to serve no purpose other than to take up space, and our lawn will be cleaned out, too.

At the corner of our yard, for almost 10 years now, our swing set has sat.  Old, rickety, covered in mud and chalk.  Loved through 10 years of spring, summer, winter and fall days.  It has been home base for countless games, forts for all kinds of adventures, and quiet moments of swinging in the breeze.  A part of the fabric of our lives for the past ten years.  And that’s when I cried.  Watching the kids well loved, rickety, barely usable anymore, play set disassembled and taken to the street for bulky item pick up.  I didn’t see the rotten wood, I saw years of pushing them in the swings.  I saw our years being played in slow motion like a black and white movie.  The years before school began and our days were filled with naps, play time, naps, repeat.  Precious moments that somehow seem to be flying by, just like you are always told they will.  No more toddlers running through the yard, bloomers covering diapers and john johns bursting at the seems, we are on to lacrosse sticks and soccer goals now.

I know this is the end result.  I know our goal to raise good kids and watch them grow up and learn to take care of themselves along the way.  I like to think of it as being a tour guide…hear to guide them but the goal is for them to learn to fly on their own.  But it just undid me, that swing set in pieces, and now I feel like my heart is in pieces, too.

So I came inside to write, which I often do as my comfort or source of sharing my feelings.  But the tears are bouncing off my key pad and my shirt sleeves are wet from wiping my face.  And so I cry, happy tears of happy memories, really, and I know it won’t be the last time.  There is a joy in my heart, too, that bittersweet feeling we all know.

Each day is a gift.  There are moments when we take it for granted and wish the days away.  How many times have I looked at that swing set and wanted it gone?  Now that it is, and I feel like so much more has been taken away.   There are moments we want to freeze time and soak it all in.  Enjoy them all.

hope captured…

I love the surprises a normal day can bring.  Last week an old acquaintance popped in the kitchen to pick up an order, a welcome surprise that caught me off guard and made me smile the rest of the day.  A normal day, but sometimes it seems the normalness is what becomes dull and easy to find fault in.

Then comes the tragic story of a family in SC just this week, out for a day of fun on the lake, good times to be had and memories in the making.  Then tragedy strikes, husband and son are in a jet ski accident, leaving the family without a father and the a child in a coma with brain damage, fighting for his life.  A normal day changed in just seconds.

At a meeting last week I saw a presentation by a pretty amazing woman who has turned her tragedy into something beautiful.  To honor the daughter she lost as an infant, she has started a beautiful program called Capturing Hopes Photography.  Countless hours are given by photographers to the families of children with babies in the NICU.  Some are not as big as your hand, or a cell phone, and the excitement of reaching the first pound is a milestone.  At first I’m sure her grief was too much to bear, yet now she has started a program that helps others in her shoes, one baby, one picture at a time.  It is beautiful and happening right outside our doors in Winston, check out the link, but have the tissues handy.  Like her, I believe there is hope in every situation, even for the SC family now going through the worst experience of their lives.

I have spent a lot of time volunteering in my life, sometimes more than I should have.  You know that saying, “Stop me before I volunteer again?”  That has been me many a moment.  Yet, when I hear stories like the ones above, it makes me so proud of the hours I spent giving my time to Brenner Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.  I think about how lucky I am that I have not needed the facility, but how many people have and what it would feel like if I were in need.  What would it really be like to feel such despair, such worry, such heartbreak when it comes to your child?  I hope I never know.  I’ll be honest, sometimes when you are chairing an event or a committee it seems as if we are somehow a little removed from the actual cause, doesn’t it?  I am here to say that all of these events, every dollar raised, every hour a volunteer gives of their time, generates hope.  Hope for the family of a baby born weighing 3 ounces, hope for the child in a tragic accident rushed to the pediatric ICU.  Hope.  Hope Captured.

There are many ways to get involved, so reach out today if you can.  Brennerchildrens.org has details on “Cheers, A Toast to Children’s Health”, a fabulous event coming in April, all proceeds going to support Brenner Children’s Hospital and more information and ways to get involved with them.  The Friends of Ronald McDonald House always has great events and opportunities for help, simply becoming a member of Friends support the families that stay at the house.  Then there is Sport a Shirt coming in April, Character Breakfast in the Fall, Christmas Luminaries and so much more!  Find out more information or join today by visiting the links above.  Not to mention there are so many other places and organizations that need volunteers, our time, resources, talents, and sometimes just supplies.  What tugs at your heartstrings?  Babies, animals, senior citizens, the homeless, your church?  Are you helping?

Seconds is all it takes to change our lives.  Those words alone makes these normal days wonderful, doesn’t it?  Enjoy the best of food and life, each normal day at a time, with the ones you love.