In the military, there’s a phrase used to teach newbies to embrace what they are about to experience. It is called “the suck.” For those of you not familiar with military lingo or jargon, “the suck” is commonly referred to as” the threshold where your body breaks down and the mind takes over.” You learn, rather quickly, to accept or even appreciate what is unpleasant, but also perhaps unavoidable.
A quick example: time change/changing your clocks. My body was ready for the day around 5 a.m., but I did not get up that early. Yes, the time change can be unpleasant, but we must accept it, adjust and move forward.
Other examples, or even as you read, moments you have experienced may feel like your luck is never going to change, the suck is constantly following you like a dark rain cloud over your head. You may believe the cards are stacked against you, nothing will go your way.
And as I sit here and type, I am in agreement with the words above. The suck that has occurred in our lives lately will no doubt prepare us for greater things down the road. We’ve certainly had to confront or be faced with some unpleasantness over the last few weeks.
Although we know that death is part of life, it is never easy to process or prepare for when it actually happens. My sweet mother-in-law passed away on February 22. We were in Mississippi at a softball tournament when my father-in-law called to tell Sam that if he could, he needed to get home. Five hours into our trip home, we stopped to collect ourselves, eat, and decided that once we got in from Mississippi, Sam would repack and head four hours north. I would make the drive the next day with the kids.
Uncomfortable, yes. But, I would make that drive again, in a heartbeat to see Ginger and have the kids be with her one last time.
And that is just what we did. We made the drive north, spent some time with Gigi, and that night she passed away peacefully with her husband by her side.
A major loss, I do not know if there is ever any way to express what Ginger meant to her family, her grandchildren, and her friends. We made a return trip later that week to say our final goodbyes. Needless to say, that week, and even some of those moments are a blur.
We returned home feeling a little empty, a little run down. Processing grief is different for everyone. We needed routine, we needed some stability in what had been an uneasy time; so we had something to look forward to a trip to Florida for college softball. R&R. Vacation. Time away, yes, please.
The stomach bug would get three of us right before we were to take off on our next adventure. O went down first, then Sam, then me. More suck. More uncomfortableness.
As we prepared to take off to the sunshine state, we decided to make a stop to see my parents before we left. Traditionally, when we travel, if they are not with us, my dad takes care of the dogs. We wanted to say goodbye since we were planning on being gone a full week.
O was excited! I think he was looking forward to a hotel stay that night. We noticed he had the “zoomies” (and if you have a toddler, you know what I am writing about). He was full of energy, running, playing, and then there was a small snap. Loud enough that I jumped up and gasped. Oliver fell while trying to brace himself while jumping and something just had to be broken with that sound.
Tears swelled in my eyes, I felt sick. I think he might have been in shock because he was slow to respond at first, then came the tears. We were now detouring to the ER rather than to the south.
My mind raced, Sam remained calm and drove us to the ER. After what seemed like hours of waiting, he went to triage, X-ray, and then a pediatric room in the ER. They brought in an IV, materials for a splint, and then the words, “he will most likely require surgery and a transfer to Children’s or Cardinal Glennon.”
Tears flowing, we knew. I knew that we were not going to Florida. We would be facing major surgery for our youngest. How can you be two places at once? How do you deal with FOMO? Who rides in the ambulance?
We waited for transport and made some calls and sent some text messages. And before we knew it, an ambulance transport was waiting for O. We made it to Children’s where he had more X-rays, another splint, and we met with orthopedics. He would undergo surgery first thing.
At 1:30 a.m., a 6:00 a.m., surgery comes pretty quickly. I am not sure how Sam and I managed to sleep a little, but we did. When the nurses came into prep him and take him down, I fumbled through my purse and found one of my mother-in-law’s rosaries. Clutching it, we walked with our baby to surgery.
The surgeon was wonderful. I kept thinking how all of these medical professionals must have been like Doogie Howser because everyone seemed so young. They told us what would happen, how the anesthesia would work, and how long the procedure would be. Tears again, but I know he had a special angel with him the whole time.
During the wait for surgery, we made the decision to cancel our trip to Florida. I contacted the Airbnb host, requested a refund, and then processed what the next few hours would be like. I tried to close my eyes. I longed for rest, a break, and instead, tears came. We were in the suck. Another moment causes us to pause and really focus on something.
When you are in a moment of stress, panic, fear, or anxiety, your mind may go a million different directions. Mine does. The one comfort I had, the one “bring me back to reality” moment was that our baby was in good hands. Our oldest was in good, safe hands, and our oldest son was in good, comforting hands. Everyone was going to be okay. God is perfect and good. He loves you, and that love is incredible. Text messages, Facebook messages, phone calls, all of those reminded us we are loved. We had good hands around us, so to speak.
Anxiety is unpredictable. One minute you can be fine, then next there’s emotional and mental chaos. We’ve been through it. We are still standing. We’ve had to take a moment to rest. We had to recalibrate.
So now we focus on the future, the good. As cliche as it sounds, one day at a time. We’ve learned to adapt, we’ve learned to embrace change, even if it is scary, and we’ve learned to trust more.
Give yourself time to grieve. Give yourself time to take a load off–give yourself time to rest and reflect. I promise, that suck you might be going through, although it seems like it is lasting for years and days and weeks, it will come to an end. You will be able to fight and win battles that life throws at you.