Living in the Moment

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As a mother, rarely does my mind think outside of each day. My mind does not wonder into the years ahead, trying to think or plan what life will be like. Cayman’s diagnosis does not really make the predictability of the future all too easy. There are so many things that are so uncertain yet.

My heart went through many areas of grief after receiving her diagnosis. One of those areas was the loss in the ability to dream.

One dear friend of mine, made a fun-loving joke after the news of Cayman’s diagnosis when I was 5 months pregnant, “this is just the beginning of your child making you worry. Just wait until she gets her drivers license.”

We laughed.

Then my heart sank.

I could not even dream of that anymore as well as so many other things. It was a deprivation that angered me. Thinking of the upcoming years only brought me worry and anxiety over the many unknowns. I longed to dream and imagine my little girl climbing on the monkey bars at the park, playing sports in school, having sleep over’s. But instead, thoughts of her future only left unanswered questions…

Will Cayman ever walk?

What if she's in a wheel chair? Will we have to move to a house that can accommodate one? Will we be able to afford that?

Will Cayman ever learn to talk and have conversations someday? Will she have friends?

How many more surgeries, planned or unplanned, will Cayman go through yet? The older she gets, the harder it becomes to hand her over to the O.R. team. How will I handle it if she reaches her hands out to me? What if she cries for me? How do I comfort her while they carry her away?

Will I someday experience the dark day of losing her on this side of Heaven?

And on and on my mind would go (if I let it).

All those questions, thoughts, and fears so quickly give way to worry which is a rotten spot to experience because that kind of worry robs the joy in the present moments.

That was the very spot I found myself in back when Cayman was just four months old. She was in the hospital for her third shunt revision. We had taken her to the E.R. every single month since we brought her home from the NICU. Her shunts kept failing.

Mike asked the doctor the question, “Is this going to keep continuing for Cayman, her shunt failing all the time?”

The doctor responded tenderly and with honesty, “We hope not. Generally children will outgrow it but I cannot tell you when that will occur for Cayman. We just have to wait and see.”

Ah, wait and see. Those are some very familiar and yucky terms to all families that have been in medical situations. And it sucks!!

After the doctor had left, Mike turned to me, laying a hand upon my mine, he asked, “how ya handling it?”

I shook my head in almost disbelief that this was still our reality, still wishing that we would wake up one day and find it all different. With tear filled eyes, staring through the large picture window in front of us, I said, “If this is how it’s going to be, I wish there was a fast forward button on this journey, and I could move us into three years from now. Then hopefully we’d be past all these constant surgeries and we’d know more of how things are going to turn out for Cayman.”

Mike replied, “Yeah, I know what you mean.” He paused for a moment, quietly thinking and then continued, “But I suppose if we could move ourselves into the future, we would only want to keep moving more and more into the future, always wondering and never settling on the present moment and we would miss out on the parts of what is fun about Cayman’s age right now. We need to live in the moment.”

Those words penetrated deep into my heart. He was right.

But living in the moment is easy during special times in your life: Weddings, birthdays, vacations, etc. However, on days when there is so many heavy, weighted decisions, faced with scary uncertainties, living in the moment takes a lot of work and sometimes seems utterly impossible. But I knew that if I never learned how to live in the moment, worry, fear, and other distractions would rob my happiness in this life God had chosen for me.

Over those next months it was a process learning how to keep that worry in its rightful place.

It was a journey in which I spent much of it on my knees…

a pen pressed in my hand…

page after page of scribbled thoughts and feelings journaled…

Until slowly, my reflections began to change.

Instead of focusing on what caused me pain, I began to focus on what was bringing me joy. And when I finally let go of requiring that the future be a certain way…Poof!...Suddenly I became content with what I had now. It was a divine shift in my paradigm.

I found myself living in the moment, totally immersed in the everyday experiences, soaking them in with every cell of my body. Feeling happiness like I did not even know was possible after the news of Cayman’s diagnosis.

I began to see the gift in living only in each day and not getting caught up in the worry over the years ahead. Turns out, it is a treasured place. It's a place where keeping the bliss in each day is easy. To realize that the present, right now, is great. That has been tremendously freeing. It has led me to a gratitude and surge of energy and strength in my days.

My camera, this blog, my personal journal; are all modalities I use to capture and write everyday about the moments that surround me. Every week I review my writings and pictures. In doing this, my mind concentrates on what I am doing and thinking each day. In keeping this up, living in the moment has become a habit that adds happiness, enthusiasm, and vitality to my days.

Am I still deprived to dream of the future?

Yeah, maybe.

But it's in those things where there is sacrifice, greater gain is accomplished.

I may not be able to dream. I may not be able to plan what our future will be like raising Cayman, but my gain is a greater joy in each day because my mind now knows how to rest on the now moments and bask in their full, rich value.

And when my mind is still tempted to get lost in it that wayward journey of worry, I am reminded that God knew exactly what it would mean when He made Cayman just like she is. He knew all that it would entail. He chose us for this life and I choose to trust His plans.


Recognize each moment for what it is; Special
For each moment happens only once
No moment, good or bad, will be exactly like the one before it or the one after it
So breathe deep every breath
Examine closely with fully open eyes
Feel each and every experience with every cell of your body
For then and only then will you truly be living
And isn’t living what this life is all about?

21 Showin' Comment Love:

Anonymous said...

Kris, I'm lost for words! Your words and attitude just amazes me!! I don't know how long it took you to get to this place, my heart and mind still thinks to the future....the future of all the things we will be missing, like Miranda walking, or getting her drivers license, or getting married or even when my day will come to as an end and I can hold her again...its a daily battle for me, looking into the future IMPATIENTLY wondering when I will again see that. Your words spoke so dearly to me, reminding me, until that day to live for today and take in the memories Ashalyn is giving us and being content in that. Its so hard because there is still a little of the anger and the unanswered questions. Times like this I wish I was more like you, seeing all you see in the life you have and holding onto that. Thank you yet again for speaking to me and reminding me to be content with today, with the life I have here!! Cayman has already come so far and reached so many more milestones. She has given more smiles than some people ever will in their lifetime....she truly is a blessing to MANY!!!! I love you Kris!!!

Sue said...

What a great way for me to start my day....reading this....and understanding so much of what you say....'waiting sucks'....we have spent almost 5 years now 'waiting and wondering'...and still no end in sight. Worry is a constant. thoughts of the future, a constant, where is this road leading, a constant, will her life ever be 'normal'....always in my mind. Our different, yet so similar in so many ways. So hard to 'wait and wonder', easy to wonder 'why'...someday we will have our answers, until then, the support we feel from others gets us through each day....and knowing 'Who' someday will reveal these answers.

Beth said...

I love your blog and your perspective on things!!! Cayman is an amazing little girl and she has you and Mike (and all her family) to thank for that!!! Keep on keeping on and keep blogging too - I'd miss you!!!

Cayman's Daddy said...

You are such a Beautiful Person! I'm so lucky to get to share my life with you!

Stephanie said...

Wise beyond your years! You are lucky Mike. And I know Kristen is lucky to have you as well. Two beautiful people raising another beautiful person.

Lisa said...

I think that this post needs to be published in a magazine. In fact, I remember reading about a 'silver lining' contest a few months back. They had asked for people to submit essays on a difficult time in their life and how they were able to get through it by looking on the bright side. The winning entry would be published in Redbook magazine. This would have won....for sure! Beautifully written and so very very wise.
What a blessing you are to so many parents who have the opportunity to read your blog on a daily basis. Thank you!

Grandma S said...

What beautiful words! It's like you are speaking just to me. I still sometimes struggle with "Why Cayman?" as well as the parent in me wondering "Why You and Mike?". However, when I think of Cayman (which is often), I smile or laugh right out loud. She has brought such joy to all of our lives. We couldn't love her more.

She continues to amaze us with all of the milestones she reaches. I think she will do everything--at her own pace. She definitely is strong willed. I saw that Sunday when I was feeding her, and she kept spitting out the chicken but ate every bite of the pudding.

One thing is for sure--she certainly knows she is loved. You can see that in the way she looks at you and Mike.

My love to the three of you.

Tsquared417 said...

Beautifully said...from someone who knows exactly what that feels like and strives every day to live in the moment!! You are such a special person...

Amy J. said...

Your blog is so refreshing. Your words so honest and heartfelt.

I love that photo of Cayman and Madison where Madison is helping her touch the sweet.

Carrie said...

What a beautiful post! It has always amazed me how much you and Mike have trusted the Lord through everything, and the happiness I see in your life is perfect truth that if we trust our Heavenly Father and his plans for us, we can find joy, no matter how difficult and rotten things get. Cayman is so blessed to have you both as parents, and it sounds like her sweet little personality is a huge blessing to you guys.

Ashley said...

Cayman is such a lucky and blessed little girl. You and your husband have done a tremendous job with Cayman. She has so much spark in her eyes and can light up the whole room through a picture on a blog. I truly believe you will see God's reward he has for you through Cayman. Living in the moment is what I think God has intended on us to do. Not wishing for something more or wanting something different for ourselves; but appreciating and loving what we have right here and now.Look at how many people Cayman's life has touched. It is quite obvious God is using your family to touch others. And you are doing a beautiful job!! I just love reading your blog, your such a great inspiration!!

Tyler said...

Kristen, your words speak so true and hit so close to home. I try my hardest to stay positive and not think to much about the future. It can be hard at times. All we can do is take each day at a time and surround us by the people we love.

You are a true inspiration.

Diane, Tyler's mom

Hannon! said...

Wow! You are able to express yourself so beautifully and honest. We wondered constantly when Audrey was younger what our future has in store as well. I spent many hours praying for something else and then one day (poof like you said) it happened. I realized that my miracle was Audrey, my greatest accomplishment is making her a happy child. Shawn and I were just discussing last night when she was born. The very first time I held her, I was terrified I wasn't going to be able to love her like she needed me to. That feeling quickly floated away when I heard her making her little noises and when she was content in my arms.
You have a great gift with capturing Cayman in the most beautiful way through words, photographs and your love. She is so very blessed to have two parents like you and Mike - but I know that you feel your the blessed ones. God is amazing and He provides us with the unknowns because He knows we will find our answers when we just have a little faith.
We discovered Audrey wasn't the "average" baby less than 6 weeks before she was born, and even still we didn't have a definitive answer. It was a wait and see - we know that all too well, with her feet, with her disorder and I'm happy to anticipate all the things we will discover in our little journey.

Your post put a smile on my face and I thank you for always writing the most honest of feelings. You're an incredible mother and you inspire me to see my life more joyously.

Kristen said...


Healing and embracing new mindsets always is a process. I think it took me til Cayman was nearly a year old before I started to feel truly content. Each person processes differently and in their own time according to their own situation. Your wounded heart is still fresh. Just keep embracing each day, just like you have, and someday you will see more clearly just how far God is bringing you. I love you girl!!

Katie said...

I love you girl. YOU are awesome!

I totally agree with your words. Feel those feelings. Love each moment.Ask, learn, grow.

Perspective can be changed. We just need to "clean our glasses." Thank God for the towels He gives us to clean them with!

Gabriella said...

Honest and real, indeed! There is nothing I can add that hasn't been well said here in other comments. I am comforted to know that I am not alone in the worry/fear/anxiety department as some others have expressed. This idea of living in the moment is also my biggest struggle, but I'm learning that it is really what most people struggle with anyway. I just think we learned it quicker and also have learned to appreciate every single moment sooner than most. Shhh... it's our little secret!

May you continue to be blessed. And may you continue to post. You really do make us smile with Cayman's pics. I just loved her morning hair photo. I go back to look at it from time to time b/c it's such a simple moment, but means so, so much.

Anonymous said...

From Casey

Kristen: I've thought about each and every question you wrote in your post and even more. With the good news after birth, I stopped and thought everything is going to be alright but now I'm back to think about what the future really holds. I know its going to consume me if I keep worrying every second about it but its hard not to.

Katie said...

This post is SO good that I keep reading it over and over and over AND over.

I am sure I will comment again when the Lord puts something else on my heart after reading it...again!

Cayman's Daddy said...

This needs to be awareded blog post of the year.

Sarah said...

Fantastic post Kristen. Love the photo of Cayman!

I always worry about the future, always have done and can not see myself changing sadly.

Sherri said...

Love, love, love this post! What a blessing you are to me. :) Isn't it truly remarkable how God can just change your perspective on things!?! I have struggled with worry my entire life, somewhere after "the diagnosis" I just decided to trust God completely for Miles' life. After all, He does love him more than I do. Once I did that, I have really not struggled with worrying about the future. Amazing! Because of this, I have also felt God's hand of protection over me. He is keeping me safe by not allowing me to ponder about the future of my little guy (make sense?).
This post is outstanding!!!