Saturday, April 6, 2013

A great week exploring Colorado and Utah

I took the girls and we spent Spring Break at my friend Emmy's house in Denver. Back when I worked before getting sick, I never had the time to stop and smell the roses. I always hopped on a plane to wherever I was going and got back on it when I was done and got back to work. For the first time ever, I'm enjoying the drive and stopping along the way and exploring. And I've decided that this country is mindboggling amazingly beautiful. Every time I see something spectacular, I see evidence of God again and again and again.

So after the girls got out of school on Friday, we started driving to Denver. We stopped overnight in Grand Junction and the next day continued. I saw a sign for Aspen. I'd never been to Aspen so we made a detour. Very beautiful. And ritzy. And stylish. More private planes than I've ever seen in one airport. Clothes I can't even think about buying.

We got to Denver that evening and went to dinner with Emmy and her son Spencer.

Over the next few days, we visited downtown Denver and went to Estes Park's Stanley Hotel where Steven King got the inspiration for The Shining. It was stunningly beautiful. I decided that I love Colorado!

Anyhow, my friend Emmy and I have known each other since our freshman year in college and we have been through a lot together over the years. We even moved out to Washington, DC together. (The photo above is right after we had graduated and moved to DC. Here we are at the Vietnam Wall.) She's a great person and a great friend and I trust her completely.

Emmy, caregivers, and guardians
And so I got to thinking... What would happen if I relapse and get really sick again and my mother can't be my caregiver? What if I pass away and my parents are unable to raise my children? Who would I or they turn to? My first reaction is that they would, of course, is my BFF Julie (who I also met in college). But then I realized that Emmy is a great option, too. She is very responsible and structured. She has a big huge heart. If I got sick, I know I could count on her.

Sadly, if I pass, Bob cannot take the children. I asked him if he would a few times in 2012. He said that after the divorce was final, he'd make that decision. Nice, huh? Seriously, it was his further attempts to control me by dangling the threat of me giving in to him in the divorce in "hopes" I could talk him into taking the kids. And Bob absolutely using his children to try and get his way. He did it with his two older daughters and he's doing it with the younger ones now. A zebra never changes its stripes and Bob is no exception. Whatever, can't control me anymore!

But, seriously, the reality is that Bob isn't able to raise children. Oh he can have "fun" with them, but parenting is something he could care less about. He used to blame it on the fact that his parents didn't parent him-- they cared far more about working (his mom) and the Phantom Regiment Drum Corp (both his parents) than their children. And he was too busy working hard while Terri raised the kids, was lazy at work, refused to earn more money, and screwed countless men (his words). So Terri, his ex, raised the kids when they were married. When they split, Kalie stayed with Terri. Nicole initially lived with Bob because Bob didn't parent at all and it was a great place for a teen struggling with smoking pot daily, partying and never showing up for school or working. Living with Terri, well, none of that would be tolerated. Living with Bob, not only was it tolerated, but he gave Nicole spending money, too. So if these younger children are sent to Bob, he'll keep drinking more (he cannot handle any stress, and everything except drinking and fishing and watching movies is stressful), neglect their homework, take them fishing instead of to the pediatrician, and if they don't do their own laundry Lord knows Bob won't and they'll just go dirty.

So, while I've been incredibly unlucky in many ways, I am so blessed in many others. While I was married to a pathetic mean and volatile alcoholic who could not be counted on "in sickness" (not even when I was pregnant twice and suffered two miscarriages within six months), I at least have family and incredible friends who are there for me no matter what. And it is reciprocated in every way.

Back to my trip
So as we were driving back to our home near Salt Lake City, we saw the sign for Moab and The Arches National Park. It looked beautiful from the highway and Morgan suggested we stop there for the night instead of rushing home. Initially I wanted to say no and then I thought, why not? I've never been and neither have they. So I called some hotels and I got the last hotel in town (lucky us!), I switched my weekly doctor appointment for my labs and chemo injection, and we spent the evening exploring one of the most beautiful and picturesque towns I've ever been. Unique and breathtaking. Photos and words will never do it justice.

The next day, we went to The Arches and all I can say is that I was in tears at times, that's how beautiful it was. Spectacular. Only God could make something like that (using natural elements, like water and wind). And, oh my gosh, I am so happy we had the flexibility to just see it. To stop and smell the roses. To live in the present. That is what I'm learning to do. Find joy and peace at all of this. And to breathe. And to enjoy the children.

So was getting sick lucky? No. But is there an upside? Yes. A blessing in disguise? I choose to think of it that way.

PS: I cannot wait to go back to Moab! We found heaven on that trip.