Saturday, January 29, 2011

New kind of Normal

Several Years back, my church, Englewood Baptist held a women's banquet and the speaker for the evening was a woman named Carol Kent, author of many books including A New Kind of Normal and When I Lay My Isaac Down. She told her story of how her son was arrested, charged and convicted of 1st degree murder and is serving a life sentence in a florida state prison. In Florida, a "life sentence" is just that: the rest of your natural life on this earth, meaning he will never be paroled. All of their appeals have been exhausted and denied. She spoke about when the floor falls out beneath you, you never go back to normal. You're world is forever changed, and no longer the same. She told us that this time is horrible, but that eventually you start picking up a piece here and piece there. You start to create and adjust to the "new" normal, if there is one after a catastrophic event, whether that be a death of a spouse, unexpected divorce, illness, etc. Each "tragedy" would look different for each person. She was such a good speaker, and I bought her book that night and she even signed it. I read the book and thought it was so sad and couldn't imagine the thought of going through something so horrible.

Now, I know that my situation with Jordan is not a tragedy by any means. Nothing catastrophic has happened. Yes, he's been awfully sick. But he is a strong kid, and is thriving, despite his many health issues. But I do have to admit, I've found myself in a new kind of normal. I now monitor his vitals 2x a day and record them. I administer his multiple medications throughout the day and record them as well. I find myself spending hours at the doctor throughout the week. I am one first name basis with the staff at our pedi's office. I'm learning more and more medical jargon daily. Heck, I'm practically a nurse now.

I suppose it could be much worse. I could be getting into a new normal of watching my child go through chemo, like too many of my friends are. Or I could be suffering at the loss of a child. But the thing I've learned through all of this so far is that just because my expierence is not "as bad" as this person or that person, it doesn't make my pain any less. The ache in the heart of a mama of a child with chronic illness is just as real. The sadness of seeing your child in pain is universal, no matter what is causing that pain. The helplessness and the complete loss of total control is identical.

But like Carol said, over time, we'll begin to see a piece on the ground, grab it, pick it up and place it back up in our lives. We'll continue to create our new normal each day. The good news is that our new normal may eventually turn out to be way better than the old normal. We get to appreciate the little things in life. We celebrate small victories in our kids' lives, like "no fevers", finding a completely soaked diaper after a day of no wet ones, and eating a whole container of yogurt. We see the things we used to get upset over as petty. And if nothing else we will have new friends and deeper friendships forged in the bottom of the pit, where we didn't evev know that there were pieces to pick up, or that a new normal even existed.


Ken said...

Excellent perspective. We have to remind ourselves over and over again of what's going on and how we should view things. Thanks for refocusing me.

Anonymous said...

The "New Normal" is a phrase that first emerged at the same time as the publication of the book "What To Do When The Police Leave: A Guide To The First Days of Traumatic Loss" (WBJ Press)in the homicide victims community. Good it is now part of the lexicon and people can stop asking victims to "get back to normal". And profound and also ironic that the mother of a convicted murderer also had to find her "new normal", just as likely the victims families of who her son killed had to work to try to find. Some never succeed. Best idea yet: nobody should ever kill another person.

Tamara Thomas said...

I know personally the "new kind of normal" you speak of. I lost my only child in May of 2008. I have been learning to live without her for almost three years now.
I have adopted my second daughter as an attempt to have a new future (NOT as a replacement, there's no such thing!). She is helping me find joy in awakening each day, as well as making the new "normal" a better place than it was.
Grief and pain should never be "compared." That is a fruitless pursuit. Hold on to your loved ones and cherish each moment. We are only here but briefly, all of us.
God bless...