Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Dallas-- As the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing she was still groggy from surgery.
Her husband, David, held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news.
That afternoon of March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency Cesarean to deliver couple's new daughter, Dana Lu Blessing.
At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature.
Still, the doctor's soft words dropped like bombs.
"I don't think she's going to make it," he said, as kindly as he could.
"There's only a 10-percent chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one"
Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Dana would likely face if she survived.
She would never walk, she would never talk, she would probably be blind, and she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation, and on and on. "No! No!" was all Diana could say.
She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away
But as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana.
Because Dana's underdeveloped nervous system was essentially 'raw', the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort, so they couldn't even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love.
All they could do, as Dana struggled alone beneath the ultraviolet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.
There was never a moment when Dana suddenly grew stronger. But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there.
At last, when Dana turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time. And two months later, though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero, Dana went home from the hospital, just as her mother had predicted.
Five years later, when Dana was a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life, she showed no signs whatsoever of any mental or physical impairment. Simply, she was everything a little girl can be and more. But that happy ending is far from the end of her story.
One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving , Texas , Dana was sitting in her mother's lap in the bleachers of a local ball park where her brother Dustin's baseball team was practicing. As always, Dana was chattering nonstop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent. Hugging her arms across her chest, little Dana asked, "Do you smell that?"
Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, "Yes, it smells like rain."
Dana closed her eyes and again asked, "Do you smell that?"
Once again, her mother replied, "Yes, I think we're about to get wet. It smells like rain."
Still caught in the moment, Dana shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, "No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest."
Tears blurred Diana's eyes as Dana happily hopped down to play with the other children.
Before the rains came, her daughter's words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along .
During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Dana on His chest and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
So long, in fact, that I am having a hard time recalling 9:00 Mass.
After Mass, we went to the bakery, where we take the boys if they behave well during Mass. Then I had to go back tot he parish because one of our priests was running a teacher trainig for me from 12-5. Around 2:30, my DH shows up. My dad had called. My grandmother's health is failing. They don't expect her to make it through the week. Hse's been in a nursing home since last summer and she hasn't been doing well. She's been bedridden for quite a while. She's got almost every ailment you can think of including Cushing's disease and diabetes. She's 85.
We drove down to Philadelphia to see her and she looks terrible. We only stayed a few minutes because she was so tired. We took the boys so she would get to see them one last time. She's still pretty fiesty though. when she asked what we were going to name our unborn daughter, I told her what we're pretty siure she will be called. She said, "I don't like that name." :) She then proceeded to tell me that she thinks she should be named after me.
So we just got in from Philly and I'm ready to crash. Please start praying for good ol' Rita as she prepares to meet her Lord. Thanks so much.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
And 10 minutes later she finds this at Danielle Bean's blog, via Barb's blog.
Now the pregnant woman sheepishly turns off her computer and goes to bed remembering that he is a good man who sacrifices constantly for his family. And he's home.
Friday, June 23, 2006
It then occurred to me that perhaps a family member would be planning a shower. When I asked my DH about it, he was pretty coy. See, the thing is that this is our third child and we have everything one really needs for a baby (except pink clothes, but I digress). Both my mother and my mother-in-law gave me showers for Primo and my mom gave me a shower for Bubba. At the Bubba shower, I really felt bad. I was having another boy and I really didn't NEED anything. I guess if they thought I was trolling for presents they wouldn't have come.
Now with La Bambina on the way, I feel even more guilty about the prospect of another shower. We have what we need for the child: crib, bassinette, pack n play, stroller(s), a rocking chair, etc. If anyone from our family wanted to just give us gifts when she was born, I would be grateful, but I don't know if a shower is the right thing. I truly don't want to seem ungrateful for a prospective party, gifts, or attention, but I am thinking about telling DH to tell whomever is planning one (if they are planning one) not to do it. What do you think?
Monday, June 19, 2006
My DH and I love driving places. We've driven to Pensacola, FL twice to visit friends (see post below), Charlotte, NC numerous times, and my brother and I drove from Philly to San Diego in 5 days in 1999 (northern route).
We took the children to Cars, their first movie in the theatre, and I left wanting to hit Historic Route 66. Sadly, DH and will have to wait for about 20 years till the kids have flown the coop.
There is also the fact of the price of gas per gallon. At $3 for 28 miles, we can't afford to drive "the highway that's the best" for a long time.
And as you can tell by the ticker, I am massively pregnant and probably could not tolerate a day or 2 in the car right now. My ankles are thanking me for typing that sentence.
So what does a girl do to satisfy her wanderlust? Day trips to the Jersey Shore will have to suffice.
No, not that Jersey Shore! This one:
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Yesterday was my best friend's wedding anniversary. Nine Years. I remembered in a "I've got to call her, then life happened" kind of way.
Aimee and Rob and been great friends to me and to my husband. Aimee is Bubba's godmother. Aimee and I met in college. We were 2 of 4 Aimees (or Amys or Ameys) on our floor; we were both English majors, so we wound up taking a lot of classes together. It got so if one of our professors saw us on campus alone they'd ask: "So, where's the other one?"
Aimee met Rob through Rob's younger sister, who was also in our class. They went on a day trip to Gettysburg while Rob was in med school in upstate NY and their love grew through the US Mail. Rob entered the Navy after med school and they continued to write and call while he was in Florida. I don't think they spent more than a week in each others' physical presence in the 3 years they dated and were engaged before they got married. Maybe it was two weeks. Anyway, it was difficult for both of them.
They married about a month after Aimee graduated college. She picked up and moved to Pensacola with him. Then they were transferred to North Carolina. He decided to go reserve at the end of that tour because he was due to be shipped overseas next (Iceland anyone?).
They settled in PA, about an hour away from her parents, about half an hour from our Alma Mater. In 2004, right after Thanksgiving, Rob got called up. Thank God, he just had to go back to Pensacola because other Navy doctors were called overseas because of the war. He was gone by Christmas. It was not a great Christmas for Aimee and their Kindergartener and toddler. He came home in August of 2005 and I think that by now they are used to having each other around again. :) They expect a baby any time now.
Aimee and Rob are probably the most faith-filled married people I know. They sold us on NFP. They are a great example to those of us who are lucky to know them of what a Catholic married couple should be. Their marriage is truly a testament to God's love at work in the world.
So, raise your glass of iced tea, seltzer, water, or Kool Aid to Aimee and Rob. They're our great friends and we are blessed to know them.
Monday, June 12, 2006
So, just how long has it been since the last time a Philly Team won a National Title? well, according to the Cheesesteak of Suffering widget on my Mac, it has been 8, 421 days 14 hours and 10 minutes (give or take).
Why the drought? you may ask. Well, to explain, one must go back to a gentleman's agreement among builders in downtown Philadelphia that no one would build a building higher than the top of the hat on the statue of William Penn atop the tower of City Hall. As you can tell from the picture to the left (lovely as it is-thanks gophila.com!), this agreement was broken (in the 1980's). Since then, Philly major league franchises haven't been able to win a title. I point you to the 1993 Phillies, who lost the World Series, then had an awesome season for the first half of 1994 until the Players' Strike happened. I point you to the Philadelphia Eagles, who appeared in the Super Bowl in 2004, only to run out of steam in the second half.
There have been many attempts to appease Mr. Penn, but I think that stuff like this only makes him madder.
I watched them put this outfit in Billy Penn in 1997 using a helicopter and crazy men rigged to the building. I was working in downtown Philadelphia at the time, 1 block south of City Hall on Broad St. The Flyers went on to choke facing the Red Wings, I believe. Again, no title.
I can't even follow my teams anymore. Earlier this season, I found out about the Phillies' 11 game win streak that had them just one game behind the Mets (stinkin Mets). They were in NY playing at Shea and I tuned in to watch them start a four game losing streak (I can only get them on TV where I am if they're playing the stinking Mets or the stinking Braves-I don't know whom I hate more!). The terrible thing about watching them on TV where I am is that I can't even hear Harry Kalas say "That ball is outta here!" (Can't find a sound file on that one to save my life).
Ah well. The Phils are playing the stinkin Mets in a 3 game series starting tomorrow, so I'll get to watch them on TV, if I feel like torturing myself.
After a while, we changed directions, no longer driviing East, but South. As the highway twisted and turned, the moon wound up behind us, out of Bubba's line of sight. He became very upset. "Where did the moon go?" he cried, "Where is the moon?" We reassured him that the moon was, in fact, still in the sky, just behind us. By that time, the road had wound along so that the moon was visible out the windows on the other side of the car. Comforted by the sight of his "friend" again, he drifted off to sleep about 4 blocks from home.
I remember being a young girl, coming home late from my Grandmom's house and being conforted by the sight of the moon, too. Something I saw in the sky all the time, seeming to follow us to make sure we got home OK.
It was a reminder of how God watches over us and is always looking out for us, to make sure that we "get home" to Him OK. Sometimes, we drive in a different direction, taking our eyes off him so that He seems invisible to us, but He is always there.
The sun is probably a better direct comparison to God that the moon is, if we're going to use heavenly bodies. The moon's appearance is always changing, while the sun remains constant. Even on a cloudy day, the sun provides light and warmth. Even as our souls are clouded by sin, and we can't see God, He is waiting for us and providing for us. He is constant while we are so fickle!
The Canticle of the Sun by St. Francis of Assisi
Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.
Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Now, I work for Monsignor, but I never knew just how much he did in his 55 year priestly career. Here's a taste: elementary and high school teacher, established the permanent diaconate training program for the Archdiocese of Newark, Rector of Mt. St. Mary Seminary, Emmittsburg, MD, when it was the nation's largest seminary, Director of the Archdiocese of Newark's Respect Life Office. He has a Master's and PhD in Theology and and advanced degree in Counseling. But above all, the man who calls himself simply "Fr. McGuinness" was a parish priest. And an excellent pastor. Our parish is running in the black. Our Parish school has the lowest tuition rate in the county, maybe even the Archdiocese, and it has grown while other schools have closed. If ever a parishioner was in trouble, Msgr. was there with food, a loan, a place to sleep, a referral to a treatment program, whatever.
His Mass today was concelebrated by 30 priests from 4 different dioceses and different religious orders. Recognize this guy?
He was there, concelebrating and looking pretty good, BTW. He was one of three CFRs there today, including Fr. Andrew Apostoli. You'd never know he was so close to "celebrities," he is such a humble guy. The chairman of our parish council got up and said some very lovely things about Monsignor. Everyone then stood and applauded him. When the applause died down and Msgr. got the chance to stand up, you know what he said? "Gosh, I wish I knew that guy!"
It feels a bit like I'm writing an obituary for him. Fact is that Monsignor hasn't been wel l for the last 9 months. He was away from our parish in hospitals and in the Caldwell Dominican infirmary for 4 months this fall and winter (The Dominican Sisters of Caldwell staff our school). He's seeming better, but he's 80 years old. He's earned his rest.
He asked those of us at Mass today to do a favor for him: to pray for vocations every day with our families. Will you do the same thing, as a favor to Monsignor? Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of those whom He calls, so that more workers can enter the fields. The harvest is great; the laborers are few.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
I suppose it's cyclical, the "in Love" feelings you have for your spouse. You have them while courting, you have them when you're first married, then life happens and you start to see the brushstrokes on your Mona Lisa or the chisel marks on your David.
But there we were, on the couch, reading. I put down the newspaper, scrunched up to him, put my head on his chest, listened to his beating heart and then looked up at his face and remembered. This is the handsomest man in the world. That chin! That nose! He's so strong. He keeps me and our children so safe. Such powerful arms! Then he kissed me.
Ah, yes, he is a work of art given to me by God. He is beautiful.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
They had a brief ceremony at school this morning. When they walked in, I strated to cry. He looked so big up there! (Hormones, what hormones?)
He won the awards for being most creative. This is cleverly disguised as the "Biggest know-it-all award." My son is very smart and he reads a lot so he knows a lot. For example, an actual conversation during the week they were talking about fish:
"Mrs. Teacher, did you know that the lungfish that lives in Africa can stay alive for up to a year without water? It covers itself in sticky ooze and buries itself in the mud! Then when it rains, it comes out of the mud!"
I could go on. His teacher said that she learned something new every day from him and that sometimes she even went home to check his facts. And most of the time he was right!
So, Primo, congratulations. Mrs. Teacher, watch out 'cause Bubba's coming your way in September!
Sunday, June 04, 2006
The receptions afterwards went well, too. I have 2 part time secretaries, one of whom is beginning to make me truly insane. It's mostly because we have different personalities and she is pretty set in her ways. I also think she may have issues doing what I tell her to do since she's old enough to be my grandmother. I was going to write a big long story here, but I won't. Just pray for me and for her. She's really a good person and a very good secretary. I don't want to lose her. I have a feeling, though, that she may quit before summer is over.
My office is under construction, which is coming along slowly (I am learning to double the time estimate that the contractor gives you). But it's a much needed update which if I didn't get done now would have to be done in August when I cannot afford to be shut down for 2 weeks. That meant i had to hand write the certificates, pew markers, etc. I really busted my butt on Thursday and Friday. It's all good though. It's over.
Ah well, that's been my week. How was yours?