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“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
~C.S. Lewis

 This time last year was difficult. My granddaughter was in the midst of recovering from a broken arm that happened in what should be the happiest room in my home–the kitchen. It was a spiral break on her humerus and initially, we thought it might require surgical repair. Thankfully, it was soft-casted and as little bones often do, healed in record time. Even so, her suffering was a new dimension of heartache that I’ve never known before.  It haunted me for months.

Within days, my own teenage daughter began having headaches beyond “just headaches”. They were severe and they were daily and even though she has never in her life been a whiner, this dilemma was frightening. A scheduled visit to New Orleans only gets cancelled when something is seriously wrong and unfortunately, something was wrong. Each night as I’d leave for work, Breezy would quietly say, “Don’t forget to pray for me,” and I wouldn’t.  I couldn’t.  Blood work and tests were done but nothing unusual was discovered and so she settled into taking medication to ease the discomfort and once again, sleep.

Winter brought an extraordinary amount of ice and snow and along with it, many changes from life as I once knew it. Initial change can be very difficult and this change definitely was. Most of the long-term relationships in my life were brought into question and left me wondering what was real and what was false. But as my good friend (ex-husband) stated, “sometimes when one door closes, God opens another.” And it’s true. It was true for him and it was true for me.

The holidays came and went.

I made a conscious decision to focus on the positive: I had the most loyal friends and co-workers a girl could hope for; I had a husband and kids whose love and loyalty is unshakeable.  The Saints were having a great season.

With Breezy’s medication, headaches were no longer getting the best of her and the cancelled autumn visit to New Orleans was rescheduled before anyone knew the Saints would be playing in the Superbowl.   In the wee a.m. hours, as we most often do, we kidnapped a garden gnome and flew into the friendly skies for a short, sweet visit.  My dear friend who makes art for a French Quarter Boutique drove in from Florida to spend the weekend with us. And the rest is Super Bowl history. Literally. Who Dat!

With the arrival of spring at hand, we received an answer to our prayers. A random visit to the dentist revealed that Breezy needed orthodontic treatment due to severe crowding on one side of her mouth. The x-ray was a bit unusual. A visit to the orthodontist revealed that she not only needed braces, but also jaw surgery. The orthodontist recommended another doctor whose scope of treatment was broader and on the initial consultation with him, he confirmed everything.

Braces were put onto teeth that I would never have guessed needed them. A consultation with a maxillofacial surgeon was scheduled and he told us the story. After examining Breezy’s face, he asked if she’d had any facial trauma in early childhood. I told him that at age three, she fell out of bed and broke her nose. He told me that when that trauma to her face occurred, it was severe enough that one side of her upper jaw had quit growing. One side of her jaw remained the size of a three year old child while her big girl teeth grew in. The opposite side grew the best it could. The lower jaw is the correct size and everything is out of whack.

Thankfully, Breezy is well into the journey of correcting this injury. She is in the final stages of orthodontic treatment and with very little left in the way of correcting her bite, the next step is orthognathic surgery. Both upper and lower jaw will be adjusted and the outer portion of her broken nose will be addressed. The inner-workings have already been fixed. For now, she is in the care of three specialists who will complete this process as a team.

Summer came and with it, the house filled with neighborhood kids everydayAnd people worry that homeschoolers don’t socialize…I love having The Kid House.  But then one gloomy day, school started and they all went in different directions…different middle schools, high schools, colleges.  Even my granddaughter started full-day kindergarten and the world became very quiet. 

Breezy, her best friend, and I just returned from a great visit to New Orleans and got swallowed whole  in work the night we returned home. It will stay busy until January. Until then, we’ve got so much to look forward to–so much to be thankful for.

In one sense, I could call 2010 the most challenging year of my life and that wouldn’t be untrue. But the bigger truth is that 2010 is the sweetest year– complete joy born of great difficulty.

 “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.”

~Thomas Paine