The Ripple Effect


I want to preface this post by saying that I am a dweller. Sometimes I harp on things for too long when what I need to do is move on. My father is also a dweller, but thank goodness, Mom and Findley are not. To give you an example, the night before my wedding, my father, my sister and I sat in my room for hours, crying hysterically and lamenting that life was about to change. A shadow appeared in the doorway about 2 a.m. It was Mom. We tried to get our emotions under control, to shove the crumpled kleenex under the bed, but we knew we were busted.

"I just have one question," Mom said as she rubbed her tired eyes. "Do you want to marry Findley?"

"Yes," I cried uncontrollably.

"That's all I wanted to know. I'm going back to bed now. I love y'all."

She left the three of us to our sob fest and went back to bed. The appropriate move, I might add.

I like to drag out my good-byes. When it's time to leave, Mom puts her bag in the car, gives me a hug and hits the road. What she does in five minutes, Dad or I could make last a good hour or two.

I want to acknowledge to my readers that I know I dwell on the hard stuff too much sometimes. I make the same point about what we go through over and over. But I want this blog to be honest and I have discovered that when I try to write something I don't feel, the words just don't flow. So, if you don't like to attend the occasional sob fest, you should skip this post!


The last week has been very hard for Virginia. She hasn't been sleeping well and that causes everything else to trend in the wrong direction. When she is tired, we spend our days dancing on eggshells, trying everything we can think of to keep her from breaking.

In case you have missed this, Virginia loves movies. I know why- they are entertaining for her and she can maintain some level of independence while watching them. She watches about three movies a day- the first in her bed starting about 4 a.m. when she wakes up, the second around lunch time, and the third starting about 4 p.m. to keep her from self-destructing as the afternoon wears on. I used to feel guilty about this, but I have come to realize watching movies is something Virginia loves and that I am not a bad mother for letting her enjoy them.

Now the confession. On a hard day, it is almost impossible to get her away from her movies. If it is pretty outside, she will always go on a walk, but anything else is asking too much of her. I know lots of children who don't do well without a good night's sleep, but I just want you to understand what I am talking about here. She routinely sleeps from about 9 pm- 3 am, waking several times in between. What I am describing here is not simply 'tired,' but rather the kind of complete and total exhaustion that causes your body to begin to shut down.

We are tethered to our house, to the den, to the vast collection of Disney dvds. And even the 42 inch can't always cause the screaming to cease.

Yesterday I found some ceiling stars in the clearance bin at Hobby Lobby and thought Virginia and Wills would love to put them on their ceilings. I carried Virginia upstairs and we started to put them on Wills' ceiling. She yelled and yelled. So we went back downstairs to her room, thinking that maybe she wanted to do her own ceiling first. The yelling got worse.

So into the den we went. I popped in The Princess Diaries. Finally quiet. Smiles. Even some laughter.

It isn't that she doesn't like putting stars on her ceiling, but when she is so tired, I have to be respectful in what I ask of her. I can't forget how her body must feel at the end of the day.

By the time I pureed her dinner, she was too tired to even eat. Findley came home and gave her a warm shower, hoping that would soothe her. It didn't. She was so miserable by the time I put her pajamas on, I could hardly hold her.

She cried in bed for about an hour before she was finally able to fall asleep.

The effects of this on Wills and Eliza are many. They have to listen to the screaming and be ignored while Findley and I handle something too dark for them to wrap their little minds around. And when Virginia is screaming, I am not a good mother to them. I am sad and angry. I don't want to play hide-n-seek or patiently sing ten songs at bedtime.

Yesterday was also date night. Do you think we had a romantic evening? We were so deflated from what we had just been through, I don't even think we could taste the food. As much as I try to seek the middle ground and find joy in the good things (like dinner at Mud Town with my favorite person), there are many times when I can't.

I hate that I can escape (at least physically) while Virginia is always stuck in the horror of what happened to her. She never gets a break from what she goes through and she won't until she gets to heaven.

On some days, like yesterday, Findley and I still can't believe how this happened to her and we struggle to wrap our minds around just how much she suffers. It seems impossible that all of our lives (but chiefly hers) have been impacted so much.

For the most part, it is no longer the shock, anger, or sorrow over what happened to Virginia with which I have trouble dealing. It is trying to survive today that sucks the life out of me. It is hard to move on from something that is ongoing.

Every morning we have to get up and start all over again. It's not like the stomach bug or the terrible twos. Yes, some days are better than others, but nothing is simple around here. Nothing.

For us, there is no turning the kids loose to play in the backyard or stopping to eat at Wendy's on the way home from church. Unfortunately, it is way more complicated than that.

Every single aspect of our lives has been impacted by what happened to precious Virginia. Nothing escaped unscathed. During the hard moments, I can only pray that the hope in my heart will never die. Pray that the effect of this on Wills and Eliza will be compassionate hearts, not cold souls. Pray that the ramification for our marriage will be strength, not brokenness. Pray that as a result of the suffering, our family will celebrate happy moments together, not run from them. And pray that Virginia's spirit will not be crushed under the weight of what she endures.

(I tried to warn you this would be a hard one. I am sure in a few days I will regret my vulnerability.)