on the road again

{originally posted 6/1/09}

Yesterday, at my parent's cabin, Asher woke up at 5:00 a.m. I didn't want to wake up the rest of the house with screeches and screams, so I put Asher in the van and we went for a drive, not really knowing where we were going.

We saw the sun rise, some sheep, some cows, and long stretches of road. It was a beautiful start to the day, even if I wasn't at all happy to roll out of bed before the sun.

We drove to town and picked up a coffee and some diapers. Then with nothing else left to do, we sat in a parking lot. Asher watched Wall-E while I read a book and sipped my mocha. We did that for quite a while, lazy and content, until Asher said, "Mama...beep beep." And I asked, "Does that mean you'd like to start driving again?" He looked right at me and gave me his crooked grin, nodding so obviously that his chin would meet his chest as his little noggin went back and then down, very dramatically. I laughed, and then we were both a little more ready for our own private little adventure than we had been earlier.

Asher sat quietly, taking in the scenery and munching a graham cracker while I sat in awe of the beauty around us, and wondered how the songs shuffling through the IPod could be so perfect for our little journey. And then there was a shift in me and I wept. It was the strangest thing.

I was crying and laughing a little at the same time. Maybe it was the way the light was cutting through the tall pines. Maybe it was the words of the songs. Maybe it was just plain exhaustion. There was something changing in me, I know that for sure.

I thought about how I haven't really spent much time
in quiet with Asher, not just the two of us. There's been nothing quiet about his life, nothing quiet about him. And here we were, driving along, and I was struck by the beauty of it, all of it. All of him. The beauty of the time with him on that drive, and of every moment I've ever had with him.

For the first time, I simply let myself see how hard our road has been. I finally sat with it, I looked at it and saw how very long this road has been. I saw the truth of it all and felt the relief of recognizing your own pain, and I cried all over it.

The day before we left, I sat with some lovely ladies who asked a lot of questions about Asher's condition. I haven't done that in quite some time, most people I'm around already know. So as I talked and watched the concern and curiosity around the room, I realized that I've always pushed away the idea that Asher's hydrocephalus was any kind of big deal at all. After all, there are much worse things, right? Why complain? Why dwell? Why make it more of a thing than it is?

But you know what?
It has been really hard. Really hard. No, not as hard as a terminal illness or the loss of a child. No, but hard.

When other moms compare their everyday struggles with what's gone on with Asher, and they excuse their own pain by saying, "Oh I'm sorry...this is nothing like what you've gone through," I like to say, "Well, maybe it's not the same, but that doesn't make it easy."

I haven't been giving myself that same grace. It is one thing to be strong, to have a very true sense of peace that carries you on, and quite another to deny yourself the human need to weep, to validate your own struggle, to take a deep breath and let out a, "This is just plain hard."

During Asher's months (and months) of colic, and then his diagnosis and surgery, it's as if I put him in a car and just drove, just kept going, fixing, doing...being Mom. And yesterday, I put him in the van while I grumbled, not wanting to be up so early, not wanting to drive aimlessly. But because of the beauty that was handed to me on that unexpected journey, in the perfect songs swirling around us as the sun lit up the day, something lifted. Something hard turned to something good. So I laughed while I cried because I could see that without the early morning human alarm and the
grumbly walk to the car, I would have missed it.

It wasn't until we took a break from the road, took a breath and rested, that we could look at each other and decide to keep going, feeling a renewed hope in the adventures ahead. In much the same way, I have a new perspective because of the road we've been on. One that has helped me to see things in a way I would have never been able to see them without the bumps and sharp curves.

It has been hard.

"Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces, calling out the best of who we are." - from Add to the Beauty by Sara Groves

Today: We're headed to the Big City for an MRI this morning. (just kidding-see below) I'll keep you posted when I can. I have a feeling our little Ash Man is going to be just fine.

Update. Again. - The MRI is canceled! I just got off the phone with the nurse practitioner, and because Asher has cleared out (got the poo out of the way of his shunt tubing) and because he says he DOES NOT have a headache today, we're going to simply watch him over the weekend and take it from there. He's acting completely fine and says things like "I not have mine headache." I'm just so glad.


24 clicked right here to comment:

Elizabeth @claritychaos said...

aahh. crying. this is beautiful, heather. As are you and that boy of yours.

keep us posted. prayers for the ash-man.

Em said...

what a beautiful post, you and Ashman are in our prayers :)

TKW said...


Kerri said...

I needed this today. Thank you.

da mainiac mama said...

It is a-ok to say it is hard. It is. And you know that is is ok will only help you be the best momma you can be.

I'm glad his headache is gone. May you all have a restful weekend.

MollyinMinn said...

Thank you for reposting this. So well said.

And so glad to hear that, perhaps, things are balancing back out. Here's to a peaceful weekend.

nineteen said...


Casey Freeland said...

There is some strange synchronicity going on here, cause you did it again. I wrote a post last night, chickened out and wrote something else. But the original, though not containing the same sweetness and love that is here in this beautiful piece, talked about the same thing, holding my own grief in, saying it isn't that bad, etc. for far too long. And then crying suddenly like a child. Maybe I will post it after all. See what you did?

Wonderful post.


Kristin said...

I really needed to read this today. More then you will ever know. Thank you so much for your strength.

Kimberly said...

Sweet relief. I'm so glad.

deb said...

realized I've been flooding my blog loves with hugs from my daughter.
nineteen is me .

Allison @ Alli 'n Son said...

That's great news about the headaches. I hope they stay away.

Aging Mommy said...

What a beautiful post Heather, I was trying not to cry the entire way through it and succeeded, but only just. As Alita says it is perfectly OK to say it is hard, that things have been hard for Asher and for you all as a family.

I was thinking of you today heading for the MRI scan and am so glad to know you are not going, that Asher is all cleared out and the headaches are gone.

Wishing you a happy weekend with your family.

Annette Lyon said...

Not discounting trials is something that's been on my mind a lot of late.

What beautiful moment you had--validation and peace and so much more, all at once.

Elaine A. said...

Awesome Heather. Just awesome. Have a wonderful weekend...

Sarah said...

Great news.
I totally get it and want you to also remember that you're not alone in the stress and sadness about having a child with a medical condition. My son has type 1 diabetes and just yesterday we were so close to needing to take him to the hospital. I was so thankful when he got better on his own. Amazing how we just want things to be fine, not perfect, but just fine. I know that it's hard.
I am so happy that Asher is feeling better. Enjoy your trip and all your future moments of quiet together:)

Angie said...

Soooo happy to hear he doesn't have a headache! I will pray that they don't return.

Beautiful post. So beautiful.

Missy said...

So glad the headache is gone!! Will pray that Asher does well over the weekend.

Admitting something is hard... well, it's hard. Somehow, sometimes, it's easier to close ourselves off from all we're really feeling. I love that you got to walk through (or drive through, as it turns out) your emotions and have such a sweet time with Asher.

Kazzy said...

We are given weaknesses so that we can become strong. I believe this.

Anonymous said...


rebecca @ altared spaces said...

When my husband was in school and my step-father was trying to die I had to move my family into my mom's house so she didn't burn it down. I'd nurse my baby in between his little-body breathing treatments, visit the hospital and shuttle my mother back and forth.

Mom wasn't very well. Baby wasn't well, and step-father was dying. Good thing my four year old was wearing pigtails because putting ribbons in her hair cheered me immeasurably.

Instead of sleep I was handed bagfulls of these moments you describe here. I have no idea why. I as so beyond lucky. Sunrises and rainshowers with rainbows. Good smells from gorgeous bars of soap. Life just kept dishing out exquisite beauty to me. Abundance.

I want this for you. I will send you the angels who stood with me in my refiner's fire. They were good friends and showed me beauty when I cried.

I don't understand it. It's a complete mystery. Something you've reminded me to say thank you for all these years later when life is calm and easy.

You are loved.

Lee Vandeman said...

Rebecca's comment above is as beautiful as this post of yours.

I remember when I read this the FIRST time. I really do. It's one of the posts when I knew I would dig you when we met in person. And it was true. Except yes, I was scared when you said, "How did you get my number?" :-)

Sooooo glad the Asher dude is clearing out and the headache is gone....!!

Hope you're weekend is a happy one..


kirsten said...

Like Lee, I remember this post so vividly. It was then that the EO became a place for me. :) Heart-achingly beautiful, quiet, and full of joy in your little man. I had a similar first year with my 3rd, and still wish I'd had more moments to know how beautiful it all was.

Oh, and Rebecca's comment?? I have gone back to read twice because it is .... just. so. lovely.

julie said...

I've been out of town, and just now came to catch up. Thanks for this post. I think it's good to know that we can let our guard down and admit that life gets hard. I have a hard time giving myself the grace I would show others.

This struck me, as my little girl (now 6) also has hydrocephalus and we've had several runs of headaches, X-rays, CT scans, etc. I'm so glad that Asher's headaches are better. Praying that will continue for you.

Like you, I have found my perspective has changed because of the things we've been through. I wouldn't really like to travel that road again, but I wouldn't change it, either. It's changed me.

Sorry to ramble. Thanks for your beautiful writing.

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