Nope, It Wasn’t A Bad Dream

I fell asleep rather late last night. The events and movies in my head played over and over as I tried to will myself to sleep. When I did finally nod off, I slept pretty hard. However, at some point early this morning, I became just awake enough for my brain to remind me that yesterday was real.

Stupid brain!

So, today is here. I guess the thing to do is just try to do things as normally as possible. My mom is a lot like me in that she hates being the center of attention. Obviously, her situation puts her smack dab in the middle of Attentionville. So without making her uncomfortable, I’ll stop by today and visit her for a little bit and try to keep things light. She’s remarkably strong for the tiny thing she is. I think you know I’m not talking about physical strength. She continues to be more concerned with how her situation messes with me than what she’s going through.

Thank you again for your prayers. As you can tell, I’ll be living and re-living things right here.

OK Saturday, here I come.

Prayer For Mom

Father in Heaven,

I’m so grateful for the blessings you have given me. I’m so unworthy of the riches you’ve blessed me with. Honestly, no one is truly deserving of your gifts.

Tonight, your child, my mom, lies in a hospital room alone. Alone with her thoughts. Separated from the men she loved so selflessly and unconditionally. Though she is isolated from those she loves here, I know you are with her, so she isn’t truly alone. I thank you for the peace you’ve given her. Clearly, of the three of us, she is the strongest. My dad and I are staring off into the distance, while seeing nothing. We have been blessed with such an amazing woman.

Tonight, we are alone.

When I picture this tiny, frail woman lying in her hospital bed tonight, I can’t fight the tears any longer. She has never abandoned me. Yet I feel so helpless and so far away right now. I pray that even now, as I write this, you would fill her heart with the love we have for her.

Please watch over her tonight. Please minimize her suffering. I know only you love her more than we do. I know that your heavenly hosts are busy preparing her place at your feet as I write this. I know there is nowhere she’d rather be right now. Give her peace that when you call her home, she will not be abandoning us. She’s just so deserving of being with you so much more than anyone I know.

Know that my broken heart is crying out only because I have no idea what my life is like without my biggest fan. She has cheered me on when I played sports, when I sang for you, when I faced circumstances I never thought I could get through. She always believed in me.

Be with my mom tonight. Comfort her. Overwhelm her with your love tonight.

Finally, please be with my dad. He is a strong man, but she has been his strength. As his voice broke when he looked into my eyes to tell me the news, I saw a man who adores my mother and will be empty without her. Tonight, he sleeps alone. Without his better half. I pray that you would comfort him, and in this, he would experience your strength and faithfulness as never before.

Thank you for my mom. Through her life, I have seen you.

Amen.

Sleep well tonight Mom.

The Big C

It’s official. The mass on my mom’s lung is cancer. After talking to the surgeon, he seems convinced that the cancer is in other places as well, but they’ve only found it in one place so far. The fluid around my mom’s heart is either from the cancer or the Scleroderma. They don’t know which, as of yet.

Today, they did (yet another) echocardiogram. This time, to see if more fluid has built up since she had it drained last Sunday. If it’s back, as they suspect it is, they would like to do a more advanced and permanent procedure to enable the fluid to drain without the need for more invasive procedures. It turns out that the way she was last weekend was enough to kill her. We’re very blessed that she survived.

They will also analyze the fluid to determine what is causing it. She is too frail to endure a surgery to remove the cancer. So basically, she’s going to have to live with it until, well, she can’t anymore.

The day was filled with conscious effort in taking mental notes of small details. The way my dad would sit on the bed next to her and just talk to her as he gently touched her skin. The way she looked back at him so adoringly.

After all these years. After all the difficulties. Despite the toll Scleroderma has taken on my mom’s body and physical appearance, they’re very much in love.

There were moments I was blessed to witness. The strength for today that God has given us to hear the news we were given. Despite the presence of a “mass” on her lung, we were surprised to hear that it was cancerous.

That is, Dad and I.

Mom said she wasn’t surprised. She feels the Lord has been preparing her for this for “some time.”

The phone rang a few times from concerned family members who hadn’t yet heard the news. Her first words were always inquiries in how they were doing. That is so typical of my mom. She’s lying in a bed, slowly being killed by more than one disease, and she’s genuinely concerned with the welfare of everyone else.

Well, that’s about it for now. I’m processing the news and mental movies and snapshots from today. I’ll think about tomorrow when I wake up in the morning.

First Birthday Greeting of 2009!

My birthday is just under five weeks from now, and I received my first birthday greeting of the year in the mail Thursday. No, it wasn’t from someone I know who simply jumped the gun. I don’t know quite how to describe it, so I’ll just share the content with you here:

Dear COREY MATELLI

Hello…and Pack your Bags! IN CELEBRATION OF YOUR BIRTHDAY, you were verified as of 01/27/09 and as a result of this offer your name and Ticketing Number have been Identified and Issued! You will receive at your request Two Roundtrip Airfares to Anywhere in the Continental U.S.! Call within 48 hours and also receive a 7 Day Car Rental! We are excited for you!

WE’VE BEEN GOING CRAZY TRYING TO CONTACT YOU!

You must respond within 72 hours!

OK, a few things worth pointing out after reading this. Where to begin? First, ya gotta love how my name is so obviously pasted in. Different font, all caps, bold letters. Then, the use of randomly capitalized words. You also have to appreciate the fact that they think “round trip” is one word. Am I the only to also appreciate the missing punctuation? (don’t answer that.) Isn’t it wonderful how excited they are for me? They don’t even know me, and they’re that invested in my happiness! Heck, they’ve even been, “going crazy” trying to reach me! (I’m so elusive!)

It’s kind of a shame, but oddly fitting that this is my first birthday greeting of the year. It’s actually really funny to me. But then, I’m just embracing the fact that it’s not from AARP.

Overwhelming Kindness

I’m writing this at about 10 PM Wednesday night. I just got home moments ago from the Man Cave. It has been a long day, as my Wednesdays routinely are, as of late. It’s a little weird to leave the porch light on when you leave the house in broad daylight at 8:30 AM knowing you’re going to need it when you get home some 12-13 hours later.

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you know my mom’s health is poor. Wednesday was a very strange day. My boss, Gary, is out of town at a speaking engagement in Boston. It was up to me to put all the pieces together for the Man Cave. It is something I put great time, effort and joy into. I really do love it. It’s exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. The church office blocks Facebook, but not Twitter or my blog. I was able to update my Twitter, which updates my Facebook status, and I was able to post brief blog updates about my mom’s condition. What I wasn’t able to do, was view all of the support which has been flowing in from people I know from all over the country, from various stops on my journey through life. I got home and found many, many comments from friends far and wide who are praying for my mom and supporting me emotionally. I received notes from people I absolutely didn’t expect, and many from those who I know are there for me.

It was overwhelming…in a good way.

It means so much to my family when I can genuinely say that there are so many people, most of whom they don’t even know, who are praying for my mom. My parents have touched so many lives with their love and generosity for so many years, it comes as quite a blessing that people they’ve never met are lifting them up to the Lord. It’s truly inspiring to me.

I know people who scoff at Facebook and other social networking tools and sites. I understand that. But I have to tell you, being able to update people I love in real time after just a few keystrokes on my computer is awesome. And to return home after a day of rollercoaster emotions and distractions to find such an outpouring…well, don’t tell me God can’t use modern technology to bless His people.

Thursday is a new day. I have no idea what it holds. I have no idea if joy or sorrow awaits as I write this on Wednesday night. But no matter what awaits, it’s comforting to know two things. My God is in the center of it all and is there for me when I rejoice and when I mourn, and there are people like you who care enough to read these words and offer your friendship to me, and quite likely, a dear woman you’ve never met.

My heart is full, and I thank God, and I thank you, with all my heart.

Another Update

OK, so the latest news is that the mass isn’t on her heart (good news). There is still a growth, but it’s actually on her lungs. They’re still doing a biopsy, which may happen at any time. They noticed the growth about a month ago, and it has grown since then, so this is of concern to the doctors.

Mom is in good spirits and sleeping right now, but she’s got a tough afternoon ahead of her.

Rest well, Mom.

New Update on Mom

I just talked to my dad, and the doctors are now saying that they have found a mass on Mom’s heart. They will do a biopsy today, as well as drain fluid from her lungs. I’m sure we won’t hear anything about the biopsy until next week, so we just kind of wait from here, I guess.

Thanks for your continued prayer support, and for your friendship.

Latest Update on Mom

As of Tuesday, my mom was spending yet another night in the hospital. She is still struggling with the low blood pressure, but now she’s added an elevated heart rate. I guess I always assumed that those two wouldn’t exactly go together, but leave it to my mom. She has always been an over achiever.

I’m not exactly sure where I am with all of this. I’m either handling it extremely well, or I’m in some sort of detached sense of suspended reality. As I’ve said many times, my two worst days are still ahead of me since I’m blessed that each of my parents are still alive. But it’s inevitable that their days are coming. Despite my denial about myself getting older, it’s clear that we’re all aging. It’s so natural to see things like cars and computers become worn out after time and extensive use, but it’s hard to see human lives and bodies deteriorate. Especially when those lives have been the single human constant in your life since even before you took your first breath.

My mom has always had the gift of hospitality. It is so foreign to her to have people wait on her. As she is almost completely dependent upon my dad, I have to remind her that this doesn’t mean she is a burden to him. I remind her that if the tables were turned, and it was he who needed the constant care, she would do everything he does for her without complaint. She knows this, but even as she has reached the dusk of her life, she is so sensitive to the lives she’s affecting.

Death will come to us all. It’s a sad, but inescapable truth. My mom is spiritually and mentally ready to be with Jesus for eternity, but she’s concerned about leaving her husband, her rock, behind and alone. I guess I’ve just never been this close to “til death do us part” before.

Anyway, I hope this isn’t the beginning of the end for her, but I guess I need to face reality and accept that whether it is or isn’t, we’re one day closer to that day. When it comes, she won’t be suffering anymore. It’s just that the lives she touched throughout her life will have lost one of the great allies they’ll ever have. But she’s still here, and every day is another reason to celebrate what God has given us all these years.

The best is yet to come!

What To Eat the Day After a Fast


Each Monday, we have our weekly staff meetings at church. After the meeting, we all break to get our lunches, and return to dine together. This week’s lunch was a bit unusual.

This week’s lunch was the day after we completed a 21 day fast.

I went to lunch with 2 pastors and our administrator. Here were four grown men over the age of 40, unable to zero in on where to go for lunch because everything sounded good! One even suggested McDonald’s. You know you’ve been deprived of food when you’re thinking McDonald’s when you have a million choices available to you.

Tony informed us he had only one stipulation. This is another sign of the goofiness which ensues in the wake of a lengthy fast. He said the only place he couldn’t go was In-N-Out. The reason:

Their family was going there for dinner.

Back to our journey and uncharacteristic indecision. Here I am in the back seat of an SUV with three other guys who are all leaders. These guys deal with many big decisions and are responsible for many people. But here we were, frozen by indecision. Over lunch. We started down one of the main streets in Rocklin and hoped something would leap to our minds as we passed numerous strip malls.

Finally, someone mentioned Burger Hut. YES! Four grown men in unison, excited over a lunch consisting of burgers and fries. Tony, however, had a brief moment of hesitation since he was going to get a hamburger with his family at dinner. So he did the honorable and sensible thing.

He got a chicken sandwich.

We parked the car and ran across the parking lot like little boys running toward the ice cream truck as it turned onto our block. As we entered, the words on the menu board above the cashiers were enough to make our mouths water.

To say the least, lunch was especially good. And I have to say, there was a bit more energy in the room when we returned to see what culinary deliciousness the others brought back. It was like the first day of school after Christmas to hear about what the other kids got from Santa.

It’s been a long three weeks. While I joke about the aftermath of our fast, it was a very special time personally, for our staff, and for our church.

The fast is now over.

That crying you hear is the owners of Jamba Juice.

Update on My Mom

No, Crossing Paths hasn’t gotten a corporate sponsor (yet). This picture represents a 20 ounce bottle of soda. This is how much fluid they drained from around my mom’s heart Sunday afternoon. This buildup of fluid was a direct result of her illness, Scleroderma. My mom has the progressive systemic variety, meaning it also affects her internal organs.

 

My mom has been an avid prayer warrior since becoming a Christian in 1982. I am certain that I am a direct product and a favor from God to my mom’s fervent prayer throughout my adult life. I used to joke that my mom had the spiritual equivalent to the Bat phone, made famous on the television show Batman. That’s the special red phone, under glass, which directly connected Commissioner Gordon to Batman, and vice versa. I was convinced my mom had a similar pipeline to God.

Heck, who am I kidding? She still does! To this day, when she calls me in the morning to tell me the Lord woke her up to pray for me, there’s no sense telling her everything is fine. There hasn’t been a circumstance yet in which things were fine when I’ve gotten that kind of call from her. Anyway, I’ll never forget when the disease affected her body to the point that she could no longer kneel to pray. This was a special posture for her. She told me that being unable to kneel to pray made her feel like a bird with its wings clipped, and could no longer soar. But, the glass-is-half-full person that she is, she completed the thought by reminding herself, “but I can still sing.” (and she still prays, only it’s while flat on her back, now.)

You may remember my recent post about my mom’s singing. Read it (again?) to really see the depth of this comment.

At any rate, she is still in the hospital, but scheduled to be released Monday afternoon, if all goes well. We’re hoping the fluid does not return, but if it does, there is another procedure they can do to permanently solve the problem. It’s more involved, so they took the less invasive route this time to see if it does the trick. We’re praying it does.

Thank you to those who have been praying for her. My dad and I appreciate you so much, and we ask that you continue to lift her up. She’s a special woman, and if you’ve had the privilege to meet her, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, well…you’ll have the chance to meet her in Heaven.

She’ll be the one with the red phone, singing the most beautiful song you’ve ever heard.

UPDATE as of 4:48 PM: Mom hasn’t yet been released from the hospital. Her blood pressure is very low, so the doctors are wanting to monitor her a bit longer. Her spirits are good, she’s not dizzy or anything, but things still aren’t right.