It Hasn’t been Easy !

white picket

“We all imagine what our life would look like – that white picket fence, happy family, everything perfect – that is Plan A. But we find along the way that things don’t work out like Plan A for most people, and we must learn to be content with Plan B.”  It is how we adjust to  Plan B that makes all the difference

Recently my sister, who is living in a very difficult Plan B, and I discussed this statement. How is that some people are rocked by life’s events  and others adjust and move on.  I guess if I knew that I would not be writing just a simple blog. I certainly don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t mourn our circumstances, or be very  sad when things turn upside down, for to me, that is healthy and so necessary. It is what we do with that in the long run that makes the difference.

Some days I think I am on Plan X !

So as we talked about our Plan A, and what actually turned out, we also talked about why we actually survived and are happy and normal.  Some don’t. But somehow, throughout twists and turns in life, I have seen that life is good. Not always what I expected, but life is good.

I guess the first thing I must look back to was the year that I turned 16. Turning 16 should be that happy wonderful sweet time of high school, friends, and carefree life.  But for me, the summer I was about to turn 16, I found out that my mother was very ill with cancer and would’t make it.  She died on September 15th that year.. just into my Grade 11 year. This shocked my world, as my father, somewhat uncommunicative and overwhelmed, didn’t really let us know how serious it was – and it was a friend of my mom’s that actually told me.

Tough years followed, but my high school years were filled with great friends, fun and an A+ average.  My sisters ( 18 and 13 ) had similar struggles, but managed to learn that although life wasn’t fair, and life was tough, we shouldn’t be bitter.  Somehow I was given the role of ” head of the household” with duties I was very ill prepared for- shopping, cooking, ironing, and watching over my younger sister. I was told I was strong and to help my Dad out. This statement has given me a lot of expectations of myself all my life.

Bad enough.. but I took to that in my ” take control” type of attitude ( that attitude can get me into trouble but worked then).  Then, without any notice at all, I was asked to ” cook dinner for a lady, Marie” who turned out to be the lady my Dad had been dating for several months… and who soon became his wife. Eight months didn’t seem to be a very long time to ” replace my mother”.. but I soon realized that Dad was very lonely and felt overwhelmed in thinking of how  to parent his teenage daughters. Unfortunately, neither was my new step mother ready to be a parent to us, nor could she look after the home as well as I thought I was doing !! Plan B continued. I had to start my life again with a new parent, and lose all my responsibilities.  ( I heard later that my ironing left a lot to be desired! ) This take charge person had to take a back seat – and eat a lot of Shake and Bake !!

The next few year seemed to follow the new Plan B.  Nurses training, Graduated, Met the man I loved ( though another story- that wasn’t always smooth), Got great jobs, thrived in  the nursing profession, married, house, moved, new house. Not a lot of concerns there. Of course like most marriages the ” happily ever after” takes a lot of work and involves a lot of misunderstandings and stubbornness.  God gave me a mother in law and father in law who accepted me and treated me with the same love as their own children. I found that mother love that I so craved since I was 16.

Then we decided it was time to add to our family.  First child, a tiny somewhat premature, breech born boy, but  despite all that, his birth  went fairly smoothly. Then due to medical problems , supposed infertility and undiagnosed incompetent cervix, we went through two years of pain.  Our infant daughter was born at 26 weeks and her 23 hrs of life were a huge struggle.  Being the strong and determined person I was I wanted another pregnancy soon but  when pregnancy #3 turned into a twin pregnancy, I became a huge high risk patient. Our twin boys were born and died the same day, tiny 23 week babies with no hope of survival.  Sometimes the future  didn’t seem like something that I even wanted to contemplate.

But the desire to continue my family was the driving force, so we turned to Plan D. Our lovely adopted daughter came into our lives the following year. So in 2 years, we had buried three children in tears, and welcomed a 4th into our home via adoption now in tears of joy !

Well a funny twist of life ( not sure I found it so funny at first ) found me pregnant 3 months after our adoption. This time the doctors recognized and were proactive about the problems. Couch – rest was my life for nearly 5 months. This taught me dependency, as there was so much I couldn’t do. So 1 year after adopting our daughter, our second son came into our lives, a big, full term baby . I was finally freed from  my couch. Never had I imagined two children 15 months apart, but that is what Plan E was, and I was able to cope just fine. With Plan A, I had never imagined one child in Grade 1, one 15 months old and a newborn.

Our family looked much different than what we had imagined, and we grieved our little ones never given a chance at life, while jumping into life as busy parents.

We were business owners at that time, and a few short years later it looked like that business would not survive. So though not in my plan – I went back to work full time while my dear husband became stay at home dad and substitute teacher. Plan F began. To get a 12 hr shift pattern I opted for a job in Intensive Care and found skills and abilities I didn’t know i had. This lead later to a career in management and much satisfaction.

Fast forward through child school years, graduations to children in College.  Life was hectic, and far from perfect but seemed very close to that picket fence dream. We were healthy and able and making good salaries and the children were doing very well.

Other life changing events allow grief to enter our lives in that time. The death of my dad in a car accident, my step mother and my  beloved mother in law passed away both in the same year, and my father in law not many years later. We felt like orphans and didn’t feel prepared ( at 50 !! ) to be the HEAD OF THE FAMILY.  How we missed their advice and phone calls and love.  We also had experienced the pain of a cancer death of our young brother in law, the completed suicide of another brother in law, and of a beloved nephew. Life didn’t seem all that fair – but our God sustained us, and held us tight.

Around the same time, my very healthy athletic husband discovered he had high blood pressure while at the blood donor clinic, and shortly thereafter discovered he had an auto immune kidney disease- one that nearly always  ends in dialysis. In 2004 the doctors and nurses started talking that ” D” word, and our plans for a healthy retirement travelling to places we dreamed was halted.  A kidney transplant in 2006 put us on Cloud 9 but unfortunately, that freedom was short lived. Certainly our picture of our life in our 60’s did not include finding dialysis units and paying some pretty atrocious fees in some countries, so that we could travel, or a life with a dialysis machine in the spare bedroom, and beeps and noises every night. Nor did we imagine that he would be going home from our  lake cabin  most mights to do his dialysis treatments.

Several times in this dialysis journey, my husband has been critically ill. This make me wonder whether any of our dreams and plans would be possible.  I had to face that I would be okay – no matter what happened. Not because I am strong, but because I have learned to lean on people when I need to and be strong when I need that too.

This is life today as we know it… We have had our share of sorrows. We have managed to survive but more than that- to thrive. Most people would never imagine what sorrows, and changes of plans that have happened since we dreamed that dream of picket fences, a perfect family , a perfect marriage and perfect life.

I thank my father and mother for the upbringing that didn’t allow us to wallow in sorrow, a loving God who has carried me far too many times, and my husband and children  who are always there when I need a shoulder or just a listening ear. I am so thankful for a husband who doesn’t gripe about his nightly trek to his dialysis machine, and I am thankful for my new definition of strong.

Somewhere in there, a verse became my stronghold, and I remembered it in times of uncertainty.  Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

No, life  isn’t all roses, but the wildflowers smell pretty good most days.


Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

About Terry Jago

Retired nurse manager interested in living my best life with natural and healthy living choices.
Aside | This entry was posted in Healthy LIving, Living life. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to It Hasn’t been Easy !

  1. Merle Hagerty says:

    So now, I have heard your story from your own lips in chronological order. I only had “bits and pieces” before. Wow! I’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath”, and there is a chapter in there about how people who have lost loved ones at a young age bounce back and are more successful (some times!) in overcoming the challenges of life. I loved it!

  2. Merle Hagerty says:

    I loved your entry, I mean. 🙂

  3. Terry – your story of strength and survival is incredible – and inspiring. I feel like an honored guest at your table, listening to all that you have been through, tears falling as I read of your losses…and filled with the light and love you spread in spite of your circumstances. Thank you for openly sharing!

  4. Merle Hagerty says:

    I trust my above comment was not insensitive; I don’t want to find myself “looking down the hole from above the ground” like in in the “empathy/sympathy” video you recently posted! For the record:I do not know anything about losing a parent at a young age. Certainly loss is NEVER a good thing, but to overcome one’s circumstances is a GREAT thing, and you have done/are doing it well. 🙂

    • jagoterry says:

      Not at all Merle.. It intrigues me.. and makes me want to read the book ( or the chapter ) _ but he writes so well.. probably the book.

      To me the purpose of this blog post was to ponder exactly why some people bounce back ( not without pain first of course !! ) and others cannot get past and cannot forgive and cannot move on. Perhaps the relatives telling me I was strong helped.. at one time I didn’t think so – I thought it put too much expectation on me and prolonged my grief.

      That is the question… we all survived a lot and will survive more.. I tend to grieve and then face life “as it is”.. it cannot be changed so deal with it..

  5. Terry, thank you for sharing your story. That was generous of you. You never know what people are going through or what they’ve survived unless they choose to share. It’s encouraging to know others who have come through adversity whole.

  6. Nathalie says:

    Incredible story…Thank you for sharing it with us…so inspiring! Happy Holidays! ~ Nathalie

  7. Delmy says:

    It takes a special person to be able to express such difficult sentiments. I agree it is no always plan A, but B, C . . . an on and on. Your life’s journey from plan to plan is an encouragement, to many who may be in similar situations, to move on with hope. Thanks for writing it.

  8. Your story touched me. What strength and courage you have. Sometimes we think that we alone go through struggles while others seem to have life so easy, but it’s when you step back and listen to someone else’ story you realize that we all go through struggles. Like you, there are days I am on Plan X, but I press through and I live to tell my tale. All the best to you and yours for the Christmas season!

  9. Yvonne Brown says:

    Very moving testimony. Thank you for sharing and God bless you and your family.

    Yvonne Brown

  10. Eng Tinkham says:

    Very Inspiration.. Theres always a plan b, and my Plan A Would be my God. Hes everything, Provider, Savior and a Friend. Thank you for sharing!

  11. ladymarielle says:

    I was very moved by your story, Being a mom myself and having had a miscarriage at 14 weeks I can sympathize with your pain (though it can compare to what you had to go through). I admire your strength and your will to not let the bad outweigh the good. A lot of people don’t know how to do that. So I applaud you.

  12. Soni F says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Terry. Moving and inspirational.

  13. Pingback: Eminent Orphans and me | Vitally Real

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