Clausewitz on my birthday

So, what does Clausewitz have to do with my birthday? Everything, and nothing.

On December 31, your friendly neighborhood Grouchy Historian turned 50..yes fifty, FIVE-OH, half century...etc. Naturally being the Sultan of Snark, the Duke of Sarcasm, I was going to write a wonderful, witty post about all the wisdom I had acquired in 50 years..and probably mentioning bacon a few times.

Then Clausewitz struck....and that plan went by the wayside.

Instead, I spent my 50th birthday not regaling the Internet with my wit and wisdom, but attending my daughter's funeral Mass and burial. much for the snark.

Others have written eloquent and heartfelt postscripts on my daughter's life...most notably my +1 on her blog...and even our Deacon who gave her eulogy, so I will not try and replicate their efforts. Instead I will take a moment in-between book reviews, political commentary (otherwise known as rants filled with facts), and my take on the world around us to pause and reflect on the last 22 years that our family spent caring for our daughter, and in turn, learning from her.

Let's be clear here, it is NOT easy caring for a severely disabled child, parent, spouse, whoever. It is very hard and extremely tiring. Sometimes the best moment of the day was when our daughter was safely tucked in her bed with her stuffed doggie or Grumpy Cat (obtained by her big brother and inspired by yours truly) so that her mom and I could finally sit down and rest before going to bed and starting another day of seizures, awful diapers (who knew our little angel could, you know, make a diaper that would scare ISIS), and trying to get enough food in her to make up for the calories burned by a day of seizures so she wouldn't lose another pound or two.  

Often my wife and I would argue about who should transfer 10 or 15 pounds to her if we could...hmmm..if only things had been that simple.

And of course, there was the expense of specialized equipment, doctors out the wazooo, more hospital visits than I EVER want to do again in whatever time I have left on this Earth...and of course the daily supplies of diapers, pads, formula, baby food...yadda, yadda, yadda.  Some people are uncomfortable talking about this...I am not one of them.  I figure we probably spent more than a few vacations, a new car, or probably a new addition on our home in extra expenses.  We spent more than a few paydays figuring which doctor bill could wait another 2 weeks and which one was getting ready to go to collection.  It was never ending, and it was only be the grace of God and the help of many people that we didn't file for bankruptcy a few times.  Thanks seem inadequate, but as the person who dealt with insurance companies...thanks, thanks for the support from so many people over the years.

Another thing I should be clear on...yes, Courtney's mom and I did some extraordinary things, but we are not Saints (it kind of amuses me to have people say that..if they only  knew!).  In truth...or as the Good Book says..Truly, truly I say, there were many nights of cursing, moaning "why us?", and more than a little despair.  In fact, as unbelievable as this may seem...I was actually, more or less, thrown out of a hospital or two...or went something like this:
Charge Nurse at Hospital X:  "Mrs. Lenaburg, can you find an errand for your husband to do OUTSIDE the hospital, he's s frightening the nurses."
Mrs. Lenaburg (heavy sigh):  "Yes, maybe he should go home and rearrange the refrigerator."
Okay, so maybe I sometimes had my Stalin face on--this is the face reserved for annoying interns, snotty residents, and perky nurses who come bounding into my daughter's hospital room after a night of beeps and alarms, where my daughter is hooked up to more medical devices than the Six Million Dollar Man and have the temerity to say in a cheerful voice "Gooood morning, how is everyone this morning?"  REALLY...before coffee???  Most hospitals are lucky I didn't leave them looking like Omaha Beach after being in that beeping, annoying, weird smelling hospital room on the third day.

Nonetheless, in spite of bills, doctors, hospitals, and....yes...many, many stares from people at malls...yes, not for my good looks and charm mind you, but because we had a kid in a wheelchair who liked to hum by the Godiva Chocolate store...hmmm, wonder where she got that gene?....we did learn a lot from our daughter...her mission in the good Deacon said.

1)  Try and wake up every day with a smile.  SOMEHOW, even after a rough night of seizures, our Courtney managed to wake up smiling and happy.  NOW, this could have been because she was on a medication regimen that would make Keith Richards envious, but I think it was because she knew she had another day on Earth.

2)  Enjoy the little things in life.  Like bacon.  Wow, I did get bacon into this post.  Well done.  Anyway, Courtney loved bacon and eggs.  Really loved them, like eat the spoon love them.  She loved snuggles, story time, and spicy food.  Now, mind you Mom and Dad were not always fond of Courtney eating spicy food, if you catch my drift, but a good meal and some snuggle time is something everyone should look forward too.

3)  Try and spread a smile.  As my wife said, almost everyone smiled around our daughter.  She was an extremely good listener, and I can only assume is working off all the prayer requests everyone gave her in the last week of her time on Earth.

4)  Finally, and MOST importantly, spread a little mischief once in a makes people wonder.  And yes, our daughter was capable of more than her share...whether it was chucking her sippy-cup across the classroom at school (I think she got some stern talking-to from her teacher for that) , back-flipping her shoe three pews at church to wing someone in the head, or sticking out her leg to trip her brother PRECISELY when he was walking by her wheelchair, Courtney had her share of orneriness, as her Grandma would say.

So farewell my sweetness....maybe you didn't have much to do with Clausewitz but you certainly did teach me a lot...even when I didn't want to learn it.


czacza said…
She taught us all do many lessons, Jerry. As did your family's abiding love for her.