Thursday, September 18, 2008

Snakes and other shenanigans

The newest member of our family

My hero

Apparently, snake-handling has now been added to my rapidly expanding repertoire as a mom. So, I was performing the glamorous and much sought-after task of unloading the dishwasher, keenly concentrating on matching the appropriate sippy cup lid to its proper cup. Feeling the satisfying exhilaration of completing this task, I then move on to picking up random toys that end up on the kitchen floor---today it was a toy snake. The tiny thought crossed my mind that we haven't played with many toy snakes lately as they were usually more Joseph's cup of tea than Holly's, but I reach to pick it up anyway. This is where the excitement begins. It doesn't FEEL like a toy snake. In fact, it doesn't really look like the fluorescent green toy snake we own. I quickly toss it back on the ground, hoping I'm being paranoid, then watch it slither over to my cabinet to try to hide, as I proceed to scream, hyperventilate, scream, fly into the next room to hide in a corner, scream.

This is my typical reaction when faced with any outdoor creature in my house---whether it be a roach, spider, bee, etc., so Allen strolls into the kitchen to save the day and see what has gotten me so worked up. (Thank you, Lord, that Allen was home!) When he sees that it is an actual SNAKE, he skips the screaming and shaking and puts a bowl over it to keep it from snuggling into one of our beds or something (while I cheer him on from the corner and caution him wildly to keep it away from me). So, after a few minutes of getting it trapped between a glass bowl and a cookie sheet, my hero takes it outside to go play with its friends.

My heart is still recovering from beating so fast. I'm not sure what kind of snake it was, but it was very small. It was either a juvenile black rat snake or a baby rattle snake. Please someone tell me this was not a rattlesnake. We looked up pictures on the Internet and it did look frighteningly similar to a rattlesnake.

I really think I handled this whole situation so well that some of you may want me to come over and help you with unwanted pests (please note the sarcasm). I'm just so glad Allen was here. Holly may have been permanently scarred for life if she had to watch me try to kill the snake (which was the only thing I could think to do).

In less exciting news, Holly is doing well. Many of you have kindly asked how she is doing, and we can honestly say she has adjusted to our new life surprisingly well. I know she misses her playmate, but she seems to really understand that Joseph lives with Jesus now and that he is up in heaven, playing and laughing with no more boo-boos. She definitely wants us to play with her more, whereas before she would either play with Joseph or entertain herself for a long time without us. We've been getting together with some of her little friends, which she loves, and Winnie Kate is visiting this weekend which is the best news her little ears could ever hear.

We, on the other hand, are missing Joseph a lot and feeling his absence more strongly as time goes on. In my head I know that he is happy, whole, fully alive and with Jesus, but my heart just wants to see his little belly, his joyful eyes, hear his hearty laugh, and of course hold his little hand. Today is 4 weeks since he died, but to me it feels like it just happened. It is still so fresh to me, the wound is still raw, and I don't feel like I've "moved on" at all. But, I'm okay with that and we are trying to let ourselves grieve and heal in our own time. I have heard that there is no timeline for grief and we are definitely experiencing that. It is also unpredictable. I can be doing fine, focusing on something else, then I see a picture of him and I just can't help but cry uncontrollably. I really don't like that--being out of control of my emotions, but I suppose there is no way around it.

We don't need anything, just continued prayers for strength and endurance and wisdom. Thank you so much for everyone who has sent us gift cards, letters, notes, and meals. We have been getting the most delicious meals each week, and it is so nice to not have to worry about it. Also, thank you to everyone who has donated to St. Jude or Rally Across America. I love getting those cards in the mail, telling us someone else has given in Joseph's honor. What a blessing!
I have recently come across the blog of a lady in Oregon dealing with end-stage renal failure (Kelli). Her link is on the right on our blog. My heart goes out to her so much, as she is going through this hard trial without much help or support. We could not have gotten through these last 10 months without the unbelievable help and support of our family and friends. After reading her story, if you would like to help her by sending her family a giftcard or money, please email me, and I will give you her contact information. Thanks!


Randi said...

We had a catepillar on our ceiling last night and it was pretty much the grossest thing ever to me. Chris removed it , but I was paranoid throughout the night that I would go to take a drink of water and find a little furry friend in my glass!
Praying for you all; I miss Joseph. Whenever my kids show off their bellies (my husband will say "Where is your belly?" and they whip up their shirts and pat it for all to see. They have such cute little bellies) or when we are cuddling on the couch and watching Mary Poppins, I think of your little Joseph.
Loving all of you,
Randi Booth
p.s. I went on Kelli's site and what a nice family she has. She is prayed for every day by the Booth family! Thank you for letting us know about her.

Anonymous said...

Still checking in to read the blog. Think of you all and pray for you often.

Catherine Morris

Orlagh said...

I am with you Gill... I HATE outdoor creatures. The other day my roommate and I were watching TV and something came flying at me. I was like hmm what was that?? I got up and started looking around, my roommate of course didn't see anything and thought I was acting crazy. So when I couldn't find anything, still convinced I had seen something I moved to the chair to watch TV. A few minutes later out comes the largest flying roach I have ever seen!! My roommate now sees it and we are both screaming... she takes off running into her room and slams the door! She screams out, sorry but I just can't deal with it, Orlagh please kill it!! I reach for the only thing I can see which is a ladle and chase the flying sucker (I had no idea roaches could fly) around until I smack it as it is crawling up the wall. At this time my roommate peaks her head out of her room to see the ladle breaking in half. She starts laughing and said umm you broke the ladle! I looked at her and said yes but now the roach is dead! We now have more traps than normal around our apartment. I still can't believe you picked up the snake!! ahhhhh

Love you and think about you often, you are always on my mind and in my heart!


Anonymous said...

Looks like a rattlesnake to me! Maybe even a cobra!! Or an anaconda. (sp) All snakes look deadly to me.
I continue to hold you, Allen, and Holly up to our Father in heaven asking Him to cover you with His mighty wings and that you would know that He is walking next to you, holding your hand. I pray that you would feel held by him.
I was thinking the other night when I went to bed, how Joseph would ask us to hold his hand when he went to bed. I loved going to sleep holding that sweet hand. It was not only comforting to him, it was comforting to me as well.
Just as Joe P. was so brave, you and Allen are being so brave by sharing your deepest longings and hurts with all of us on the blog.
You are in my prayers constantly. "Be still and know that I am God."
Love you with all my heart, Mimi

Anonymous said...

Oh my!! I would have had the same reaction! Bugs I can handle, but snakes and mice, that's a different story!

My family and I continue to pray for you all every night and I think about you all daily. Healing and grieving is different for everyone, when you need to let it out, it's okay!! We know God is wrapping His arms around you, Allen and Holly giving you all a sense of peace through this storm. Love to you all!
Carey Heid

Lynn T said...

Gill and Allen,
O.K. seeing a snake in your house is bad enough but to actually pick one up..aah can't even imagine. Gill, I am so glad Allen was home. I can just picture Allen calmly putting the bowl over the snake with you cheering him on. Way to go Allen! I LOVE the photo of Gill and Holly peeking through the railings. I am praying for you all daily as you feel Joseph's absence more strongly. Love you, Lynn

Anonymous said...

That's so funny you had a snake in your house. I'm going to have to show this post to Adeline. She thought it was the COOLEST thing ever the night that big snake was in your front yard and we were over. Jason jumped back and she was trying to chase it down. She would have gladly kept your new friend! :)

Let's get together next week. Green Hills?

Jody (atlanta) said...

Thanks for the post. You handled it extremely well Gillian. I would have FREAKED out big time. Way to go Hero Allen!!!!

I appreciate seeing pictures of you all and hearing that Holly is doing well. She has already changed so much in last month.

I am continue to pray for you all and love hearing from you. I miss you and am always thinking of Joseph and your whole family. As others have said in previous posts Courage truly does = Honesty, and I thank you and Allen for being so upfront and sharing your true feelings throughout this journey. It is true priviledge to call your friends. Praying always.

I love you so much. Jody

suzanne morris said...

Ahhhhh...a snake IN your house! How did that happen? True confessions - we had a rat in our house and we don't even live in an urban ghetto. I continue to think of and pray for you all multiple times throughout the day and check the blog often to see that delightful picture of Joe P. I hope that mingled with your indescribable longing will be some sweet smiles of remembrance. We love and miss your whole family!

Brea said...

Oh, what a day! I had a snake in my house a while back but it was only a garden snake. Not that that made it any less frightening, mind you, but yours looks like it was a creature of a more serious sort!

It just makes my heart ache to think of how much you all are missing Joseph and feeling his absence. We are lifting you up in prayer often.

Praying for Cros said...

hi Gillian,
thank you for your heart & sharing it with us. I have prayed for you many mornings while en route to someplace. Know that you are loved by many & prayed for often...but who would have thought from protection of a snake?! we just finished Crosby's 3 months scans...hugs to your whole family. Meredith
ps. love the pic of you & sweet!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to 'check in' with us. I can't believe it has been 4 weeks....we are among the many that think of you and pray for you often.

Sarah-Jane said...

love you Gill. thinking of you today. I can't believe it has been 4 weeks either.
I practically ran into my kitchen and squealed reading this.I thought having squirrels living in my fireplace was scary:)
that is an unbelievable pic of you and Holly..I love it.
heard she had fun at Mom's. When I talked to Mom today she was hysterical, I means hysterically laughing b/c Anna and Holly had her reading glasses on. She was taking pics.
I love all of you and miss you. I miss Joe P so much.
have a blast with Winnie Kate!!

Anonymous said...

Continuing to pray for you and your precious family.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gillian,
Always checking in on you and your sweet family. Glad to see your smile with cute Holly, a safe distance from that little critter. Centipedes are definitely a problem for me. One even appeared in a dream and I had a creepy feeling when I woke up. Interpret that!?
I have to tell you, a few days after my Mom died I went to Hills Grocery store and was doing fine until I saw a lady that knew my Mom but did not know she had died. All I could do in the checkout lane is sob uncontrollably, you know, the kind when you can't get your breathe when you try to talk. Not a pretty sight. She waited outside in the parking lot (a little rattled I might add). What seemed so odd was I was just as surprised about the outburst as she was. I guess that's one of the oddities of grief. I know you are the mend. Thanks for sharing with us.

Abbie said...

Gillian--you said something in this post about Joseph's belly. It reminded me of Sam's comment at Joseph's funeral...about how Joseph would walk into a room belly first. :-) That was such a beautiful, loving, and memorable thing for Sam to say--I will never forget it!

So glad that the snake is out of your kitchen! I would have flipped out as well.
Praying for you!
With love,

Kit said...

Gillian, I don't know you but I think we have some friends in common here in Boston...Christian and Emily Barr and Bradley and Meda Barnes, perhaps?
Anyway, I want you to know that I'm praying for you. I can't imagine your pain. For some reason, you come to mind and I pray for you. Thanks for updating the website and letting us know how you are.
Christ's love and comfort to you.

Anonymous said...

Just re-read...still can't believe you picked that serpent up... I forgot to tell you that I LOVE the picture of you and Holly on the steps. It's so good!
Love, Mimi

Anissa Mayhew said...

Seriously? A snake is a snake and they all scare the crud out of me!

My faithful prayers are with you as you grieve and love and remember. I hope that you find joy in the memories you share of Joseph, I hope that the knowledge that you'll be with him in Heaven, cancer free and whole is comfort for your aching arms and heart.

Much love,

Kate Etue said...

I wish I could have been there to witness this. Kind of. We miss Joseph and talk about him a good bit. We're praying for you. Kate

Carolyn said...

Hilarious! Glad no one was hurt. Thanks for having mercy on the snake. :)

Love you and thinking of you always.


Jean Joiner said...

What an adorable photo of you and Holly. So great to see your smiling faces, even if it was only for a moment. Thanks for being so real with us about how your doing and not trying to pretend that everything is fine now. We are continuing to pray.

Also, I would run out of the house and down the street screaming if i saw a snake. We had a small lizard in our house once and I called Allen crying and begging him to come home from work. The lizard eventually exited through the garage.

Christy said...

Coriander Gray thought your snake story was fabulous! He asked me to read it to him twice, and determined in the end that you are, in fact, very brave. He would have chosen to hide behind the closest pancreas.

Love the photo of you and your Holly girl, and I'm so glad she's adjusting as well as she possibly could. Still praying for you all as you long for your sweet boy.

Pomeroy Kinsey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Dear Allen and Gil,

By chance, have you ever read Nicholas Wolterstorff's Lament for a Son? Wolterstorff was/is a philosopher and theologian at Yale Divinity School (I think it was there anyway). He's from the CRC background - Christian Reformed Church (again, I think). He has four children, and one of his sons died in a mountain climbing accident when the son was in his early 20s. He wrote Lament in response - it's a lot like CS Lewis's book on grief, in that it's a compilation of small essays written over several years' time. Actually, it's a lot like your blog.

I've read the book several times, and wanted to send it to you if you haven't read it. I wanted to because, I always want to say to Christians who have experienced death that none of this is supposed to happen. The head/heart differences you describe are, I think, the right response. God didn't make us to lose our babies to cancer. Paul calls death "the last great enemy of Christ." It's purely demonic. There's nothing good about it. How it comports with God's sovereignty is difficult and mysterious, but I nonetheless get the sense that God hates death more than anyone, and that when your baby died, no one wept harder than him.

Anyway, it might be you'd enjoy the book, but I also figured you've got a million such books (if you're like me, and you read things to help you move through life, whatever the season and the situation). If so, I wanted to send it to you.

Always, you three are in our prayers. I hope you never stop blogging, either.


scott cunningham

Anonymous said...

btw, that was obviously a cobra. ;)

scott c.

Anonymous said...

Of course you still cry! He was yours for four years and a day. I only read a blog about him for a few months and I cried a bucket. You get to cry as much as you laughed, as much as you loved. After that it will get better.

This website has shown me there is a lot of goodness in this world.

Sarah-Jane said...

thinking about you guys early this morning. missing all of you.

Ben said...

I majored in zoology and used to be into snakes and herpetology. And I'd say you're right on with your guess that it's a baby rat snake...

Chipper said...

Hi All. I'm going with a gray rat snake. There great to have around, but understandably not in the house. They do get pretty big though. I pulled a skin out from under our house the other day that I would have estimated at 4 feet. Anyway. All juvinial poisonous snakes around here have a yellow tale until they get older.

Chloe said...

one night last year, i awoke to the sound of my alarm going off. (as I was living with my friend at the time, and we were both girls, we alarmed the downstairs of the house at night) -- it is linked to the phone, so i ran down to turn it off and answer the call from the alarm company. i turned on the lights and checked the house - please note i am in my barefeet not having had time to think about footwear - all the entrances and exits. No I told the calm lady on the phone, there is no sign of a break in of any sort, No, I don't think ...AAAHGGH ... a Mouse on the curtain rail. What I thought was a curtain rail. All I could think of was to get OFF the telephone and out of the room which i was still standing in in MY BARE FEET. I later learned that it was NOT a mouse, but a BABY RAT. A big baby rat. Well done gillian, that is the perfect reaction to seeing a slimey rodent/rat/creature that should NOT be in your kitchen. I think you handled it with great courage and honour. X

Chloe said...

you can see even retelling that story brought back the fear and panic. I meant to say "what I thought was a mouse", not "what I thought was a curtain rail" - it was a curtain rail. The lovely baby rat had crawled up the curtain, in front of the alarm sensor and across the top of the curtain rail. EEEEEK

Amelia said...

I would have been out of the house, running down the street while simultaneously screaming, and leaping. So glad it didn't bite you!