I decided to start this after a suggestion from Denny on the message board. It could only help, as I am often looking for an outlet to vent my frustrations and I think this will give me something to keep up with, and Lord knows I like to be productive.
I guess I will start by being a bit reflective today.....
I guess I could say that for the first 7 years of my life, I had not a single care in the world. My parents were together and happy, I had everything I could ever ask for and more, we had just move from Memphis down here to Mississippi and I was enrolled in a wonderful school with tons of friends, life was pretty great. Then one day it all went crazy.....
I don't remember much about the day my Father had his first stroke other than I was at dance class and my Aunt came to pick me up rather than my Mom. I was of course unhappy because my Mom always took me to McDonald's after dance class on Saturday morning so I could get pancakes. I remember my Aunt Debbie telling me that my Daddy was sick and Momma had to take him to the hospital, at the time I really didn't think much of it and I just assumed he had gone to the doctor. Truth was - my Father had suffered a massive stroke and was literally laying in that hospital slowly dying. I wasn't taken to see him, I was just shifted between my Aunt & Grandmother until my Nana could get down here from Memphis to stay with me. I don't remember anyone every telling me that my Daddy was so sick that he could die, and they never made any effort to take me to see him, but I suppose at only 7 years old...not knowing was better for me at the time.
Days went by and my Mom finally insisted that my Dad be moved to a bigger and more "equipped" hospital, I guess I should say. So they transferred him to Baptist East in Memphis, TN. It was there that he met with Dr. Gaines and it was there they discovered that he had tumors on both his carotid arteries in his neck and that had apparently caused his stroke. Fix? Surgery that only gave a depressing 30% chance of survival, Dr. Gaines had only performed the surgery a few times before and that was all the hope he was able to give my Dad. I'm not too clear on the exact time frame here, but I do know Daddy was up and able to walk and he was allowed to atleast leave the hospital long enough to come see me. I never will forget being called out of Mrs. Ranager's classroom (it was school spirit day because I remember I was wearing my little cheerleading outfit) and seeing my Mom standing there at the office. She told me that she & Daddy were heading back to Memphis and that Daddy had to have surgery. I remember walking out through the back door and seeing the car parked there next to the gym. I remember Daddy getting out of the car, seeing me walking up, and him just breaking out in tears. I had no idea why Daddy was crying so much, and at that point in my life I don't really think I had seen him cry before. But I remember he picked me up and hugged me and kept telling me over and over how much he loved me and he kept kissing my cheek. If I think about it long enough I can still feel how tight he held onto me that day, even now after all this time has passed. Finally he sat me back onto the ground and they got ready to leave, as I walked away from them I remember him calling to me and saying "I love you, Pooh!" (Pooh is what he has called me since I was a baby) and at the time I had no idea why he was so upset, but now I know it was because he probably thought he would never see me again.
Obviously, he made it through the surgery and was in the hospital for months afterwards. While he was in Memphis in the hospital, my Nana stayed with me because my Mom never left him. I don't remember much about my feeling about it at the time, but I know I was affected by it a great deal because my grades started dropping. I was making "C"s when I had always been a straight "A" student. I never really got in trouble because my teacher wrote a note to my Mom saying she really believed it was just my situation at home causing me to do poorly in school. Mrs. Ranager was really wonderful to me that year and tried so hard to understand my behavior on some days and she would always offer to do anything that we needed. I know I was trying at times, but overall...I was a good kid who didn't give much trouble at all.
In the years after my Dad's massive stroke and very risky surgery, I had to get used to the fact that while my Daddy could function like normal and was allowed to drive like normal, he could no longer work. He filed for disability and that really put a strain on my family financially because my Mom was already on disability due to back problems she had when I was just a toddler. So we went from a middle class family with a comfortable life to a family who was supported only by disability - it was hard for me to adjust seeing as how I pretty much got everything I wanted before. I had to get used to the fact that I could have a 30.00 doll everytime we went to Wal-Mart and that we couldn't just up and go on vacation every summer like we used to. I never once did without anything, my parents made sure of that, but they did have financial burdens and we had to adjust.
When I got up older, around 12 or 13 I went through a period of being embarrassed by certain situations. My Daddy was emotionally unstable, and I remember at a Little League Basketball game the ref made a wrong call and cost us the game. We were understandably devastated by our loss, so rather than patting me on the back and saying "You tried your best!" he goes up to the ref and has an all out cussing match right there in the gym. You must know that my Daddy has NEVER been a confrontational person so the fact that he flew off the handle at that person was really a shock. It happened infront of all my friends and classmates and I was so embarrassed and just flat out angry at him. He ended up leaving there and when we got home he was still so worked up that he ended up having a seizure and spending some time in the hospital. I once again was left to stay with my Nana and I remember not wanting to go to school that Monday because I knew everyone would be talking about me and what my Daddy had done that Saturday at the ballgame. Somehow, I lived through it but after that my Mom wouldn't allow Daddy to go to any more games at the school so he never got to see me play any more basketball or softball. Looking back, I get so angry at myself for ever caring about it in the first place...that ref deserved it anyways!!
I guess all teens go through that stage where they are just mortified of their parents and they feel like they will just simply die if they are caught out in public with them, but I guess my Daddy's health only magnified that for me. In Jr. High I tried so hard to distance myself from my life at home, I didn't want to talk about myself and I didn't want anyone to come over to my house...I just wanted to pretend it wasn't there. I became the class clown, outspoken to a fault but underneath that tough exterior I was fragile as glass.
I carried that persona of someone who was carefree all the way through high school. Very few people knew the real Amanda, the one who isn't tough all the time, the one who cries and feels every emotion that hits her very deeply, the one who always wanted to participate but wouldn't allow herself to because she had to keep the charade going. To say that I didn't have the typical high school life would be the understatement of the day. While I have always been interested in guys, it has never been something as shallow as physical attraction that draws me to them...it has always been me looking for someone I would potentially marry. That is a very mature outlook on the dating front, but very odd for a teenager to think like that. So I never allowed guys to take advantage of me, I never kissed anyone just because it felt right in the moment, I never threw around "I love you" as if it was "Hello" or "How are you today?", I never went to parties and experimented with drugs or alcohol, I just never did any of what society unfortunately considers "normal" in the teen world now days!
I have always been and continue to be the girl now who everyone goes to for advice. I am the one who has never had a real relationship because I haven't found anyone worth it, all of my friends have been with several guys and all but 1 has given theirself to these guys that they aren't even speaking to now. I find myself being there and going through the motions of friendship, but not really having fun because I never understood their actions. Sometimes I think I have actually missed out - I think of all the dates I could have gone on, all the parties I could have attended, all the curfews I could have skipped, all the mischief....and then I realize that I am thankful that I never did any of that because I am truly unique.
I feel that God has put me through all of this for a reason, I know he has. There was a reason that he allowed me to be a carefree child for only a short while before placing adult situations in my hands. There was a reason I had to feel all that pain and take emotional hit after emotional hit, and perhaps just being able to say "I've made it!" is the real strength I have been searching so hard for. I know what it feels like to hit rock bottom and have to pick yourself up and go on, I know what it feels like to be so worried that you are sick to your stomach, I know what it feels like to daydream about a life that you could never have but to deep down know you wouldn't trade a moment of the one you have had so far for anything, I know what it feels like to choke back tears and deal with the painful lump in my throat because I can't let my Daddy see it, I know what it feels like to come to the realization of such things as my Daddy not getting to walk me down the aisle, my Daddy not getting to see my children, NOT having my Daddy someday and not knowing when that day might be, but knowing it will be before most people my age.
And then I start to see some color where it once was completely black & white. I have been very blessed in my 19 years of life and not because I drive the best car in town, or live in the biggest house, or go to the most expensive school...but because I have already discovered the meaning of life before mine has even got started. And that to me is to love with everything in you because you never know when you might never have the chance to love that person again, cherish every moment you have with those you love because they might not be here again in the next, materials are just that, materials and it fades so don't trade something you want most for something you want at that moment, and finally (although it's very cliche) dance like no one is watching because in the end it all comes down between you & God and He wants us to have found happiness even if nobody else ever understood it.
I'm still not entirely sure what my purpose is here on this earth, but I know I have one and I know one day I will understand it all and be honored to have carried it out for the Lord. But while I am waiting to find out what that may be, it will be enough satisfaction to me to know that while I was here on earth I truly touched atleast one person and made a lasting impact on their life. I love helping people and I love making people laugh & smile...perhaps that is my purpose. Who knows! And while I would love more than anything to find "Mr. Right" and have a successful marriage and life together full of happiness, children, and everything else one dreams of....I know and accept that I am here for God and to serve the purpose he had in mind for me when he placed me here on this earth.
And all I can really say is that where he leads me, I will follow. If you look at life that way, I guess its all just one big adventure.