Saturday, June 11, 2011

Roller Coasters

I grew up only about a half hour away from several theme parks (Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, etc.) and remember as a young girl feeling the anticipation and adrenaline rush as I would stand in line for a roller coaster.   There is something about the smell of churros and funnel cakes, sounds of distant screams, and atmosphere of excitement that makes me giddy inside.  In fact, if you asked me when I was a young woman what some of the qualities I'd look for in a future mate, you'd better believe that a "love of roller coasters" would have to be on the list.  I always knew that I wanted to have an even number of kids so that everyone would have a buddy to sit by on a roller coaster.  Strange, I know. 

People who know Jeff and I really well know of our absolute obsession with roller coaster's.  There is not a roller coaster out there that we wouldn't love to try.  While living in PA, we spent 2 summer's taking many trips to Six Flags Great Adventure both as a couple and as a family.  I recall dragging several of my friends on rides with me despite their kicking and screaming with hesitation.  I couldn't be happier when I started to see the same love of roller coaster's start to grow in my oldest son, Ethan.  In fact, last summer at 6 years of age, he rode this:

So, why all this talk about roller coaster's?  Honestly, they've been on my mind a lot lately.  I've had many conversations over the last 3 weeks about our recent news regarding Chase's heart condition.  Many people have expressed how grateful I must feel that I found out about his heart before it was too late.  It's all true.  I am so grateful.  It would have been the most devastating thing to find out something was wrong without even having an opportunity to intervene.

What I couldn't figure out was...why am I still so sad?  He's still here with me.  I get to hold him, kiss him, play with  him.  What is my deal?  While talking to one of my best friends, she said something to me that made so much sense.  It helped me pin down why I was feeling so sad even though Chase is still here..and doing well.  

I'm not mourning the loss of Chase.  I'm mourning the loss of the life I thought we'd have.

Chase will never be able to ride a roller coaster.  Because of his heart condition, he will never be able to be an active little boy.  He will never be able to play basketball, soccer, football.  I know, I know.....there's always golf, music, art, etc.  While that's all true, it still sucks.  All of the things that I love to do involve being very active.  I've always dreamed of water ski trips, snow skiing vacations, hiking, swimming.  How do you tell a boy that he can't be involved in things that they innately want so badly to be a part of?  In the not too distant future, Chase will probably ask, "Mom, can I play on a soccer team like Ethan?"  How is explaining to a little boy that they can't play sports part of living a "normal" life?  It's going to break my heart watching him sit on the sidelines as he watches is 3 older siblings fulfill some of their dreams.

Please know that I realize that sports aren't for everyone.  It's hard for me to imagine that because sports was my life growing up.  I realize that my dreams aren't my kids dreams.  I have never been that parent that expects my kids to do what "I" hope for them to do.  The irony in all of this for me is that of all 4 of my kids, I can already tell that Chase has the least amount of fear.  He watches his older siblings ride their bikes, swim, run...and I can barely contain him in my arms.  He's not walking yet but I can tell he just wants to take off.  He has no idea yet that he will only know a life with medications and limitations...not sports.

I have no doubt that Chase will rise above.  In fact, he may not even care about sports.  There really is so much more that life has to offer.  I am selfishly putting words to the sadness I feel in my heart for Chase.  I just want him to be happy.  I don't want him to ever have to be held back from anything he desires in life.

Today, I just feel like complaining.  The day to day things have become so much harder.  Watching Chase sleep and not wanting to leave his side to even take a shower, having to explain his condition when he looks perfectly healthy, endless doctors appointments, waking him up in the middle of the night to give him his medicine, the constant worry that I'll not hear my alarm and miss a dose, visits to the ER every time he even gets a cold, wondering about the future and if there will even be one, spontaneous bouts of tears.  It's just all so overwhelming.  

This is where the roller coaster comes into play...again.  MY EMOTIONS.   They are all over the chart.  One day, all I feel is gratitude.  In fact, most days...all I feel is gratitude.  I am willing to give up or sacrifice anything for my kids.  If I never get on another roller coaster ride again in my life so that I can be there for be it.  Doesn't mean that it's still not hard.  I am trying to learn to walk forward with faith and with a grateful heart, always and in all things.  I know without a doubt that my Heavenly Father has a plan for my family.. that it is His plan.  Not mine.  His plan will always be better than my own.  Every single time. 

I am grateful...but I am also mourning.  I'll get over myself tomorrow.  I just wanted to vent.  Thank for being patient with me.

I can do hard things...  (after I hug my kiddos and go take a much needed nap!)


  1. It's hard to form words right now, but I do want to tell you what an amazing person you are! Janelle I want to take this trial from you and fix it! I don't want to see anybody go through something like this. I truly hope the best for your family. I have so much love and appreciation for you and Jeff and the way you are going about this. What an example you are to your family. To me!
    You are so heavy on my mind right now, and I'm praying for that sweet boy!
    Love you Janelle!!!!!!

  2. You never cease to amaze me. I will always look up to you and try to be a better mom because of you. You are such a great example of a wonderful mother. Your kiddos are so blessed to have both you and Jeff. I loved your family pictures. They were perfect! Love you Janell!

  3. Janell, Drew just found this. I deal with this a lot in adults, but not children. I know the risks. Our prayers are with you.

  4. In Texas, we are also praying for Chase and your whole family. Remember that roller coasters are better with friends and you already have lots of those in Texas. May God bless you always.
    The Smiths

  5. You don't know me. My name is Monica and I live in Houston. I have 4 boys and my oldest has a chronic health condition. I got to your blog via another blog. I felt like I needed to reach out to you. We are LDS as well and often go downtown for medical specialists with our oldest son. I would love to offer my help and support as you ride this rollercoaster. I am willing to help any way I can... suggesting places to eat or things to do in Houston or having a friend that can bring you goodies in the hospital at times when you are admitted. Nothing is better than treats when you are stuck in the hospital. My email is