I’m most in touch with my insides when I’m outside.
The rain stopped for a while today. The sun came out. And I did, too. Still in my work clothes, I knelt down beside my weed-infested front bed and began methodically pulling out the evil invaders. They multiple faster than bunnies or rats…green monsters that flourish in rain, in drought, in shade, and in sun. I understand that I’ll never defeat these alien intruders, but for some reason, pulling them out of the damp earth, a far easier process than when the ground is rock hard from drought, is a soothing process. I can feel myself relaxing. And little, formerly imperceptible sounds rise up and serenade me softly. I begin to hear the world around me, in ways I wouldn’t hear otherwise. Owls, high in the new-growth canopy, calling to one another. Whooo. Whooo. And the trees, rustling slightly with the mild breeze. The hum of our air conditioner, a steady throb in the background. Then the sudden, anxious cheeps of baby robins, alive with anticipation, as their mom comes home.
I stopped the weed pulling and stealthily walked the 10 feet over to investigate, to see the miracle happening just inside my prickly holly bush. There sat Mommy Robin, unfazed by my presence, perched on the edge of her nest and feeding her brood. They were an incredibly demanding bunch, like my own five children. They wanted what they wanted, and expected Mom to deliver. Reflected in Mommy Robin, I saw a little part of me. Rushing here and there with one guiding directive–take care of my kids.
Baby robins awaiting Mommy's return.
Mommy Robin built a beautiful nest and surely the safest location she could find–no feline would dare venture into the holly for fear of being impaled on its razor-sharp leaves. And the worms were plentiful, particularly because I’ve been planting in the front bed, disturbing the worms, teasing them to the surface with every new hole dug. Mommy Robin was doing everything she could to keep her fledglings safe, yet in a moment a storm could rob her of it all. Or a neighborhood cat. Or an overly eager fledgling could fall from the nest rather than fly from it. No matter how much preparation we mommies do, how high we build the barricades, how far we go to bring our children happiness, sometimes life delivers the unexpected, the scary, the tire-blowing pothole along the journey.
Five years ago, I thought my nest was soundly constructed, that every branch was neatly placed. I remember telling God “thank you for my five healthy children.” And then the storm came. And my nest didn’t keep away the unwanted diagnosis…the news that my first-born daughter, 12 at the time, had been living her entire life with Cystic Fibrosis. We thought it was another sinus infection. It was a storm so big that we all needed God to hold us up as everything around us came crashing down. Driving home from the hospital, I remember hearing Casting Crown’s “Praise You in this Storm” for the first time. It steadied me, and reminded me that wherever I am in life–in warm sunshine listening to the world around me or in the throes of a pitch-black crisis, God has our family in the palm of His hands.
Our eldest daughter Shelby is 17 now, a rising senior with great aspirations. She’s a varsity runner so passionate about her sport that she’ll take the street-lit neighborhood roads at 10pm to “get in her run.” Yes, a mighty storm roared into our lives, and here it remains. But we’ve learned to dance in the rain, watch the thunder and lightning in awe, to laugh because there’s so much joy in this world.
Meet me at Megan’s Walk on Sunday, May 22 at 9am @ Loudoun County High School, Leesburg
This Sunday, May 22, we’ll be at Megan’s Walk in Leesburg–one of hundreds of Great Strides walks around the country raising money to invest in a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. Fifteen-year-old Megan Stewart, for whom the walk is named, lost her life four years ago to complications related to CF. For 10 years before that, Megan was the unofficial mistress of ceremonies at her namesake walk. At her last walk, she and friends served as greeters at the beginning of the W & OD Trail, handing out maps and smiles to passing walkers. Megan had a smile that could light up a room. She had friends and tennis teammates that adored her. And parents and a brother Ben who loved her beyond comprehension. And despite everything, all the planning, the nest-building, Megan left this world far too early.
Every life is precious. Every moment is irreplaceable. I forget that sometimes. I waste time sinking in the unimportant worldly details. And that’s why pulling weeds is vital to keeping my perspective. I needed to hear the owls. And watch Mommy Robin do everything in her power to care for her babies. And to remind myself that this is the beautiful stuff. The little stuff. The moments spent with my kids, and my husband, not doing chores or rushing to the next game or concert, but rather simply loving one another. Taking care of each other. I love you, Shelby, Cullen, Bryan, Cady, Sean and hubby Mike.
This Sunday, I will watch Shelby cut the ribbon to start the walk. I’ll watch her silly self race off, refusing to walk, refusing to slow down, refusing to let CF take one minute more than it should. Come join us for the walk, Megan’s Walk. Registration begins at 9am, followed by a jazzy warm-up session, and a few miles of walking along the scenic W & OD Trail. There’s free food before and after. T-shirts for every walker who raises or donates at least $100. There’s music and a silent auction. Face painting and plenty of free eats from an amazingly generous group of community donors–including Moe’s and Deli South. But most of all, there’s hope for a future when the storm of a devastating CF diagnosis stops charging into parents’ lives. You can be part of the cure–by coming out and experiencing an emotionally moving day under the Loudoun County sun. Maybe you’ll spot a robin along the route, in mommy mode, doing everything she can to protect her babies. Just like us.
To donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and support our walk campaign, kindly visit: http://www.cff.org/Great_Strides/MarthaRombach7087
May your Friday be perfectly wonderful!
Here are ten facts about CF that I bet y’all didn’t even know…
1. Nearly 1,000 new cases of CF are diagnosed each year.
2. Everyday a baby is born with CF and everyday someone dies from CF.
3. 1 in 31 Americans is a symptomless carrier of the CF gene and doesn’t know it.
4. In 1 out of 400 American couples, both are carriers of the CF gene and usually, neither one knows it.
5. If both parents are carriers of the CF gene, there is a 25% that each child they have will have CF.
6. CF related diabetes is a third type of diabetes that no one talks about. It is similar to type 1 and 50% of those with CF will develop it. There are no medications to help.
7. Doctors advise people with CF not to spend time together and must keep their friendships to an online status.
8. The main “problem” in CF is that chloride (salt) cannot pass properly through the cell wall. This is what makes the normally thin mucus in our bodies thick and sticky, trapping bacteria and clogging the lungs and pancreas.
9. Salty ocean air has been shown to be beneficial to those with CF, helping them to breathe better.
10. The CF Foundation was created in the 1960s by concerned parents. Because of their dedication and hard work, treatments have been created to raise life expectancy from age 8 in the 1960s to age 37 today.