As I take in the meaning of the title I have chosen for this post, all I can do is sigh. I sigh because I have to decide if I really mean it, or not. You see I typically do not write anything I do not believe. Like I tell everyone (before playing a game of cards), “I am not a liar. I am a cheat, but not a liar!” Of course not being a liar makes for pretty weak cheating. But anyway, I really have to evaluate my sincerity regarding my title choice before casting it as the winner of the post. Naturally, I chose to “disguise” it in French, but even so, I have to truly mean it. And I do; “bonne vie” = good life. Let me tell you a little bit about this good life, though I forewarn you, you might question my sensibilities.
Off the top, let me tell you that circumstances have been such that I am still NOT unpacked from my trip up north with Cole. And up until an half hour ago, our Christmas tree had only one ornament hanging from its Douglas Fir needled twigs. And only that one because it arrived via a FedEx package we received today from my sister. It has a few more ornaments placed upon it now, thanks to the special request made by my mother, over the phone, just 30 minutes ago. I suppose I could forgo the writing of this post and put away the contents of my suitcase; or I could stop writing and fold the clean clothes that have been awaiting my attention since Sunday. But this week, (forgive me–this life, well at least this past year), has been such a paradoxical experience that I need to purge so my lung capacity is not swallowed up by the overwhelming yin yang-like circumstances surrounding me.
I think today is Wednesday, I honestly can’t remember…
On Monday it became apparent that the master bathroom toilet was no longer responding to our many years of “jimmy rigging”. So I announced to Brian that he was receiving a new toilet for Christmas. Then I called the plumber (our dear friend Chuck Edman/Integrity Plumbing) and spoke to him about the potentiality of the toilet falling through the raised foundation floor due to the leaking at its base. So Chuck told me he could replace it on Tuesday. He also told me the cost; which I confess made my knees buckle. Somehow, I thought the cost of a new toilet was akin to a trip to the local grocery store. Turns out the cost of materials and living have increased some in the last 10 years, and since I just made a Trader Joe’s run this afternoon, I am now assured that the cost of groceries has also increased! Where have I been hiding?! Back to my tale…out of jealousy or spite, I’m not sure which one, the other bathroom toilet decided to leak and by the evening’s descent, the kitchen sink felt it no longer needed to drain, and in fact chose to regurgitate some interesting objects it must have been saving for just the occasion.
So the next day when Chuck and his associate came to our toilet rescue, they found their affection was needed in more places than one. And while they were busy tending to our ‘mess’ Cole and I went up the road to the hospital to pick up his MRI report. As we perused the information presented from the observant eyes of the radiologist, our psyche became concerned. So I called my mother and asked her the following, “Mom, what is a venous angioma?” To which she replied, “Essentially a little tumor in a vein. Why, who has that?” Well for a kid and his mom who have lived through the brain tumor scenario, her words weren’t exactly the comfort we were hoping for, though she did assure us they are typically benign. So we returned home and I made Cole lunch before we headed out to see Dr. Li. Chuck finished his work and presented my bill. Now I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, when it comes to mathematics (my Aunt Susie can vouch for me on this), but I needn’t pass calculus to notice there were obvious figures missing in Chuck’s calculations. He smiled and said, “Merry Christmas.” And then before he left he asked about the MRI report and then asked if he could pray for Cole. As he left I was drying my eyes, for I still had to drive Cole up to Irvine. The MRI report? It will have to wait until we meet with the neurosurgeon on January 13th, but doctor Li told us that from her perspective everything is stable; though she hasn’t been following Cole long enough to truly evaluate the report-according to her.
We came home and I holed myself up in my room to get an expense report done for Brian because the deadline to turn it in was the next day. Midway through, Brian yells to me that Cole thinks he broke his hand and needs to go to emergency. I hung up on my sister who had been helping me navigate the trickery of Excel and came out of my room to find Cole pale and beading with sweat from the intensity of the pain. His hand, below his thumb, was extremely swollen so I packed him up and off we went. Brian was in the middle of a painting deadline so I insisted he stay home and finish. The ER was packed! And as we pulled up, two ambulances came zooming in the driveway. Terrified by the prospect of being there at least 5 hours, I called the hand specialist who evaluated my broken finger and asked if he would be willing to see my son. He said, “yes”, and so Cole and I raced out of the ER and up to the doctors office. His hand is not broken, though his Marine pain tolerance has suffered some, due to brain surgery. His diagnosis: he overextended the thumb and therefore has a sprain. So he is using his cane in his right hand and elevating his wrapped left hand simultaneously. As if he needed one more thing; though it isn’t broken!
More to come…
One of my best girlfriend’s, Candice, was in a car accident on Monday. And since we have a surplus of automobile options, I offered our Jeep Cherokee for her to use in the interim. In anticipation of delivery to Candice, I took the car in, this afternoon, for an oil change and wash only to learn that it needs a new serpentine belt. The oil technician who suggested the replacement said, “Your belt is in very bad condition. If it were me, I would drive directly to the mechanic otherwise you will have to replace the engine.” So I took the Jeep home, hopped into Esther’s 1962 Mercury, and because Candice and I both needed to go to Trader Joe’s picked her up and went shopping. I deposited her and her groceries at her house, and rushed home where Brian was waiting for me to meet our loan broker and sign documents.
More pile on the heap:
- Tuesday night I went shopping and didn’t leave Target until 11:00p.m.–when else would a shopping window open up for me?
- The company Brian works for filed Chapter 11. His position is secure today; but not tomorrow.
- The appraiser devaluated our home by way of comparing our property to a townhouse community.
- Monday night I burned the, labor intensive, loaf of bread I was baking for our neighborhood get together, because I was distracted by the overflowing kitchen sink and Brian’s need for ink replacement in the printer.
- I rudely brought burnt bread and dirty dishes to our neighborhood party (yes, I washed my dirty dishes in the Recupero’s sink. And for the most part, the action made it seem as if I were helping them clean up).
Amidst all this “stuff”, blessings are so evident. Here are some new and reiterated gifts:
I have driven the Jeep twice up north and the serpentine belt remained intact. Cole’s physical therapist is applying laser treatment to his hand, a healing accelerator. She is doing this without charging us or insurance. My cousin blessed us with a Trader Joe’s gift card. The sister of a friend of mine sent us a check, with no explanation. The sink and other toilet malfunctioned BEFORE the plumber came; not after. The company, Billabong, has offered Brian the opportunity to add his sparkle to their artistically challenged stores. In the mail today we received a very generous Christmas gift from my mother. Last night, when I arrived home from Target, there were two Chanukah coffee mugs mysteriously placed at our door. (When the hot beverage is added, the candles on the outside of the mug “light up”. And just this morning, when Cole’s emotional threshold had been overtaxed, the candles on the mug lit up and helped counteract the difficulty of his present circumstances). Because of the delay in our re-finance, as a result of our challenging the appraisal, we gained a better interest rate and actually receive a rebate. Our faithful friend who owns and operates our local postal annex refused his wage for notarizing our loan docs. Integrity Plumbing is that and so much more. Esther is healthy and helping pick up the slack of my household chores this week of winter break. Candymoto is here bearing our burden alongside us; and doing laundry and dishes when she can. My brother surprised me with a new “Coton Picker”, fresh off the ebay market. Last week we had a reunion with two of Brian’s cousins he hasn’t seen in over twenty years. This Christmas eve we will again host the celebration for our family who are local and not snowed in at Big Bear. Do you know what? I am blessed. Our family is together and strong. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I have blessings of love and peace showering me today…even while living in my perfect storm.
So you see, this paradoxical life is truly good. The Chinese yin yang isn’t merely reflecting the good and evil of life. No, it is more in line with the concept handed down through scripture where the Lord G-d tells us, his children, that He will never give us more than we can handle (paraphrased from 1Corinthians 10:13). The wording from scripture is more specific, it speaks of G-d’s faithfulness to make a way for us. And as you can (hopefully) gather from my lengthy presentation, his word holds true.
I realized, earlier this evening, the reason I can still be happy–given the many trials of this past year (or this past week for that matter). I am happy, even as I am overwhelmed by the weight of what has been handed me, because my happiness does not depend upon the tangible things of this world. For that, I am most grateful!
“But what does it mean to “overcome” trials? It means the trials do not overcome our faith or our position as children of God, and we come through the trials intact.” Here is a link to a better understanding: http://www.gotquestions.org/more-handle.html