Giraffe in a laundry basket

 I've never really seen a giraffe in a laundry basket but just imagine, its long, lanky legs all folded up with knobby knees poking through the holes in the side of the basket.  It's too big, the basket is too small, it overflows and spills out in an awkward way.

Physically, this is how I have felt.  Perhaps it's from living in a hospital room for nearly two weeks and sleeping in a chair for that long.  Last night, I was about to go crazy and had to move, do something physical.  It was threatening rain but I thought a quick walk and some fresh air would help me clear my mind.  When I announced my plans, Sam wanted to go and Shelbie didn't want to be left behind so she came too, in her wheelchair that Sam so graciously pushed the whole way.

It felt so good to move and stretch and feel like I had room to breathe.

It's been a hard weekend, one I wasn't expecting.  Spencer called me while I was on my way to the Women's Conference.  He started in the usual way, "Hey mom, so how's it going for you this weekend?"
"Alright. How about you?" I asked in return.
"Well, so, I was just Shelbie still alive?"

He went on to explain that the previous night, he woke up in a panic with the thought that Shelbie had died.  He was so disoriented, he couldn't figure out if it was a dream or real.  He tried to stay awake, waiting for a call from me to tell him she had died.  He drifted off here and there but he was sure I was about to call to tell him.  By the time he had to get ready for work that morning, he was getting anxious that I still hadn't called to tell him  his sister had died.  He went to work and every few minutes, kept checking his phone.  Later in the afternoon, I posted a picture to Instagram of our Easter egg dyeing project and he thought, surely mom isn't dyeing Easter eggs when Shelbie has died.  His dad had posted something as well but still, he couldn't figure out what was real and what was a bad dream.  He said he had been scared all day.  He was finally off work and decided to call.  After telling me about his hard day, he said, "Mom, if Shelbie dies, you will call me right?"

Man, that was like a sucker punch!  I haven't even started to process this with the boys yet.  It isn't that it didn't occur to me, but I can't even figure out how to start that conversation.

Later that night, a friend came over at 11pm.  She use to live here and was a great friend and influence on Shelbie during some rough teen years.  They became very close but then she moved away.  They've been gone 6 or 7 years but just moved back.   We just picked up where we left off so many years ago.

As we sat talking, she asked a series of questions, So, what is you need?  How can I help you? How do you want people to act?  I want to do something, I want to be helpful but I have no clue. How are you going to deal with this?  What happens now?"

I really appreciated her questions.  I appreciated that she wasn't afraid to ask the hard questions.  I appreciated that she wanted to hear my answers.  The answers reflected a giraffe in a laundry basket.

I don't know what I need.  I don't know what we need.  I don't know what Shelbie is feeling.  I don't what the boys are feeling.  I don't know how to help Shelbie in her suffering and I don't know how to help the boys in theirs.  I don't even know how to help myself.   We are all suffering in different ways. It all just feels so big.  I told her about Spencer's experience that day and then it was as if the news of this week hit me all at once.

This is bigger than me.  Bigger than I ever thought I would have to manage.   I don't know where to put it all.  I don't know how to act when I go out in public and our situation is known to more people.  I've been trying to act happy and cheerful but that seems odd in relation to what is happening and then Shelbie translates my happiness into 'I must not care that she is dying.'  I don't want to mope around in life either because that gets annoying.  I don't want to feel too much but I need to feel a little.  Basically, it's a giant size mess- a giraffe in a laundry basket. I have nowhere to put it all.

The only thing that really came out of the 4 hour conversation is that we are lost and confused.  Although, it did allow for Shelbie to start processing things.  She said things I hadn't even stopped to consider.  We made space for her to get angry, to feel sad and we witnessed her fear and tried to hold that for her.  Sam was sitting quietly and I'm sure his fall apart moment is coming soon.

Sunday was rough. Spencer ended up in the Urgent Care and he is really sick with Strep and bronchitis. It came on so quickly and he's been running a high fever with red hot joints that ache.

By evening, I was in a stupor.  I have never felt so exhausted and drained so I went to bed at 10.  Not even 30 minutes later, Shelbie came in crying and nearly hysterical because she has a huge knot under her incision and her leg is literally various shades of purple and grey, mixed with bright red hives.  I don't know what to do for her anymore.  All I can suggest are the basics, ibuprofen, ice, benedryl.  She wanted me to fix it.  I can't fix this. In that moment, I couldn't even come up with anything comforting to say.   She ended up leaving my room very upset and very anxious.  I laid there hating myself for not being able to bring her comfort.

We have some things to figure out.  Things I had no idea would be issues to address.

Today, I worked and Shelbie actually had a photo shoot.  When I got home, she wasn't doing much better but at least she wasn't angry with me anymore.  We were able to talk things out and we both think the swelling is more lymphatic fluid.  It can be pretty painful from what I've read.  We will try a few things today but if we don't find some answers, she will have to go back to surgery.



  1. Wow, Kathy. You express everything so well. I'm glad your friend moved back. May the Lord bless you all.


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