It probably started with the coffee stain. It repeatedly caught my eye as I trudged up and down the arena steps. Somehow a sticky dark substance had spilled, and run and trickled into a little pool, in the exact shape of a heart. I pondered if it was picture worthy? But I simply smiled and huffed my way past each time, the image seared in my mind. It's funny how these little tiny things, can somehow have such a big impact, if you let them. But let me back up a couple of weeks, and explain a bit more...
I heard someone say the word normal can only be found as a setting on your washing machine. Touche. Yet I was determined this Christmas to come as close to "normal" for our family as I could. But the abundance of blessings we felt from friends and family, was beyond the confines of that simple word. I'm not even sure when it began? Just one thing- which led to another thing...
For the longest time, the surprise arrival of this tree ornament was a mystery to us. But the delight of someone making a family heirloom piece we can put on our tree each year, is treasured by me. It made perfect sense when our friend Ria mentioned it to me- she is after all the vision behind the photos that continue to make my heart soar. Thank you, Ria.
And when the hockey loving sons, receive cool hats and t-shirts from Teags & Ry, how can we not feel special? Their product line continues to expand in such fun and unique ways! You'll have to just click the link to see for yourself. Thanks Alyse and Jayme!
With boxes and cards arriving continuously, the magic of the season grew daily. I treasure this handmade clock from my sweet friend Peggy in Missouri. A vintage card carefully decoupaged on this wooden piece with my favorite shade of blue in the background. It's sitting next to my computer desk so I can see it daily. We loved the goodies you sent us- so thankful Peggy!
Eileen, in California, sends us this beloved vintage hockey calendar each year. It's so authentic, it makes you want to walk right into the picture and lace up your skates. So touched Eileen- thank you!
The hockey stick and mask ornament have been on our tree for many years- but the surprise of the orange spud ornament was just perfect. Thank you, Heidi! The boys love it!
Linda's box arrived with this sleigh wrapped in plastic, and a bottle of sparkling cider that happens to be Colton's favorite. I tucked the sleigh under the tree to open for Christmas. It was filled with goodies and fun things. I miss my mom and the way she would make Christmas so special for us- and Linda helps me feel like my mom is right there with us after all. To the moon and back, Linda.
From the 10 dozen cookies we received from a cookie exchange- so yummy and fun to eat- to the gift cards for our kids- beyond touched by everyone's thoughtfulness- we truly had a meaningful and memorable Christmas.
Nolan's been living in a story that I could write about for days. But he is 16, and placing his trust and confidence in his mom. So when the young man of few words says he "feels like he needs to go to church- to feel better?" Its all the gift I really need from him. He raises his candle high and I hear his voice ring out... and I just think, "Let it shine, Nolan. Always remember to seek the glow of the light when you feel alone in the dark."
Even Santa celebrated the birth of baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. Oh my heart.
The tree and I seem to have shrunk over the years, as the "3" boys continue to grow. But those smiles simply say, we had a joyful Christmas with so many friends and family with us in spirit and some in person, as well.
With a couple of days to recover... we were soon off on a trip.
It wouldn't be Christmas if it weren't for a hockey holiday tournament in St. Louis Park. I was thrilled with feeling well enough to travel with Rick for 3 days, to watch Nolan play.
Thankfully, my hidden secret was this espresso coffee machine in the hotel. It was truly like a coffee house version of a cuppa joe and gave me the added boost of energy to engage each day.
I relished the sun and warmth not so typical for late December in Minnesota.
Despite using a handicapped sticker for parking, I was struggling for air by the time I walked inside the arena on some days. Standing at the boards to watch leaves me with cramps in my toes and legs later in the evening, so I climb the stairs to sit. Slowing if I need to, but always pushing through. Just keep going, I tell myself. Nolan and I share this feeling of straddling the line between two worlds, wondering where we fit? Is he Junior Varsity? Is he Varsity? All he can do is keep showing up, just like me.
On our last day, Nolan texts me that he'll play Varsity his last day, due to an injury by one of his teammates. Its always bittersweet.
I pull my suitcase out to the car, and can't seem to breathe deeply for a long time afterwards. So I sit on the nearest bench in the rink, conceding, I need just a little help. And our hockey community rises up to offer water, and to walk with me when I'm ready.
I climb the stairs, and as I stop to gather my last bit of resolve- there it is again. The coffee stain shaped like a heart, sitting by the very step I've stopped to rest. I've been drawn to it yet again. So onward I go.
And somehow Nolan is feeling it too. He skates fast, and gets knocked down along the board drawing a checking from behind penalty for the other team. But he bounces right up. Onward he goes too, strong and determined.
Then this... the next move he goes backhand and sinks the puck into the net!
His teammates celebrate with him, as my heart soars. We go on to win the game.
It's sealed when he comes out of the locker room with the hard hat on. The goalie, his friend Lance, awarded it to him. It's a tiny moment, with a big impact that's helped propel us forward yet again.
We're home again, about to begin "chemo nesting." I'll have labs drawn early Tuesday morning, and a visit with a nurse practitioner, then infusion on Tuesday.
But I linger here, in my new quiet computer space. What should my new word be? What has been made abundantly clear to me, at the "heart" of everything, just like that coffee stain... is one thing. So why not just lead with my heart?
As we head off into the new year of 2017, my one little word is love.