Ramblings of a sick person

I’ve been pretty sick since last Sunday night — hubby too — coughing — congestion — coughing — sore throat — coughing — body-wracking coughing — headache, the works — not fun. And, it’s been hard on the dog too since we’re no fun at all like this.

But, I didn’t want to make an excuse not to write in my blog. Forgive me if the writing is disjointed and feverish, however. That I WILL blame on sickness. 😉 Mostly what I’ve been doing in this state of near death is wish to go to Heaven.

I have often felt like turning to hubby and saying, “Let’s go visit Amber,” in this miserable state. Of course, I know that isn’t going to happen yet, and that’s ok. I know there are things we have left to do. But, it sure is tempting sometimes, especially when you’re miserable.

But, then I remember how miserable Amber used to be when she was sick. She couldn’t get out of bed to throw up in the toilet. She had to cry out and spit in a plastic tub and maybe get it on herself. And, I know, if she were here now, she’d be miserable and sick. So, I don’t wish that on her — no way.

Every March she would get pretty sick. Last March was the final one I guess. We had all gotten so used to it that I don’t think we dreamed it would be the last, that one more sickness would be the final straw. I hate thinking about the losing — the saying goodbye — the “oh no!” punch in the gut that I felt last March when she failed to respond to the nurse in the ER.

I wish I could get the images out of my head of those shocking paddles being used on her, and the sight of that heartbeat going flat. I wish I could stop those memories from coming back to me every day.

Sorry, didn’t mean to get depressing. In some ways, it was so right that we were there with her. It was right and good that I feel like I escorted her into the arms of the angels, like I’d been there for every moment in her life. Part of me was devastated and the other part was thinking, “no more doctors, no more surgeries, no more pain and no more limitation for you, sweet Amber. Go and be free.”

As loving and unselfish as that is — I still have the selfish part that wants her here to hold and tuck into bed. But you see, when I feel like that, I’m only remembering the good things, not the hard things. And, there were so many hard things. She finally escaped the difficulties of this life. I had the best daughter in the world, in my mind, a girl who was still innocent at 23, still pure of heart and childlike, still vulnerable and sweet.

I suppose I should stop now before I break down crying all over my laptop. I have peace about her, and am thankful for that. I know she’s safe and happy and whole. I just long to be with her. The world doesn’t seem like it can go on without her. But, somehow it does. God’s still here with me. And, he’s with her. So, in some ways, we’re still together. I do like that.

So, here I am, coughing and typing and remembering. The best therapy for me is writing. It’s how I get the feelings from being bottled up and painful to flowing out and healing. It’s my best way of communication and I’m thankful I have it. So, if you read something I’ve written and think it’s too real or scary (like me wanting to go to Heaven now), don’t worry. I’m just expressing things so that they don’t hide in dark corners in my mind. I will be ready for Heaven when my time comes, but until then, I’ll just keep writing. Seems like I’ll be writing about Amber for the rest of my days. In some ways, that will also help her live on here and help people who never knew her to discover the wonder that God made when he made her.

Thanks for reading. God bless you. Grace and peace to all.

VisionCon

Late Sunday night, my husband and I made it back home after four days of fun at VisionCon in Springfield, Missouri. I thought I would share some of my thoughts on this convention, though I don’t think I would be able to share them all because there are so many memories of those few days.

We arrived in the evening on Thursday, Feb. 16, to a dinner with the staff and other guests at VisionCon. It was a lovely dinner with great company. The star of the show was baby Anthony, son of Vicki and Ashley Wiggs. He’s a 10-pound wonder.

Friday, we set up our table and sold our only two Hacklopedia of Beasts almost immediately. That’s when we wanted to kick ourselves for not shipping more of them. 😉

One of the nice things about our travel to the convention was sitting with Kevin Siembeda on the flight and having our tables beside one another so we could chat. He’s such a sweet guy and it was wonderful to see he had so many very dedicated, loyal fans at this convention. Even our shuttle driver to the airport was a Rifts fan.

On Friday, during opening ceremonies, the mistress of ceremonies, Mel, gave out many awards, but the most touching for everyone was when she presented VisionCon loyalist Joe Ryan with a lifetime pass to attend this convention. He’s come every year since it began, and this year, they celebrated their 20th year anniversary, so that’s saying something. Meeting Joe was probably the highlight of my convention.

Joe, I believe, has cerebral palsy, like our daughter Amber had. I’m not sure how old he is, but he has a few gray hairs, so I know he’s older than Amber was. What I love about Joe is that he spent his time inspiring and encouraging Kevin and us, as well as many of the other guests, by heaping praise on our heads and cheering us on to keep up our work. He also said, at the panel discussion about roleplaying games, that everyone should follow their dreams. He mentioned briefly his own pursuits as a slam poetry artist. In spite of his physical limitations (he must use a motorized wheelchair), he lets nothing stand in the way, gives no excuses for not trying, and lives life to the fullest.

His encouraging words to Kevin Siembeda brought me to tears on more than one occasion.

For the rest of the convention, Jolly and I had the honor of meeting a lot of very wonderful people — many fans of Knights of the Dinner Table and/or Hackmaster. It was encouraging to say the least. And, we sold quite a few items as well, coming to the show with three boxes and leaving with one. 🙂

Quite a few charities received money from various events the convention staff coordinated during those four days which helped rescue animals, breast cancer research and keeping, and/or, bringing, the arts in schools.

One thing that was really cool was seeing all of the great costumes people put together and wore to the convention. I was able to help judge the costume contest and must say that it was a real honor.

Another nice thing was when our friend, Craig Zipse, decided to make the 11-hour drive from Atlanta to be with us. He’s such a great guy and we were more than thrilled to spend time with him.

Another highlight of the convention was the VIP Barbecue that we were able to attend, where (I wish I could remember his name) one of the convention staff cooked all sorts of barbecued delicacies for us to enjoy. I will say that this convention treats its guests like royalty. It made me feel very special that I was a guest of honor here, the first time I’ve ever been a guest of honor, I might add.

That’s a quick overview of the great time we had at Vision Con and I hope and pray they have us back again sometime because not only did we have fun, but we grew to love and care about all of the people there during this time. God bless ’em and here’s wishing them many more years of successful conventions. 🙂

I Love Merlin

For a geek like me, there is probably no better television show than Merlin the series. We found it on Netflix and have been ravenously watching through two seasons and now we’re in the third.

What’s not to like about it? I hear people criticize the haircuts of Arthur and Merlin the most, and I thought they were too modern myself, until I started watching and now, who cares? The rest of it is so good, they could be bald, or have mohawks and it wouldn’t matter.

From a geek perspective, a roleplaying geek to be precise, these are the things that make it rock, or as we say in KODT, rawk: cool castles, a great dragon, great monsters, quests, sword fights, beautiful scenery, heroic scenery actually, authentic costumes, jousts, big battles, labyrinths, magic, fireballs, melee, feudal system, knights, etc.

From a dramatic perspective, it has even more: great acting, great writing, etc. The compelling thing about it are the relationships and the moral wrestling that the main characters struggle with. Uther’s edginess, the hard line he draws against magic, the unyielding rules he instates and enforces make him both honorable and hateful. Arthur is torn between his good heart and his loyalty to his father. Merlin is a real conundrum. He “has magic” but serves Uther and Arthur faithfully, in spite of the war they wage against magic and the fact that he has to hide who he is from them. Morgana is the most painful to watch, devolving from a faithful, tormented ward of the king to an evil, manipulative enemy of the king. Gwenivere is perhaps the most honest, consistent character, but she has no magic ability and is a trusted servant. And yet, she’s been arrested for suspicion of sorcery and had her father executed for the same thing.

Another very nice thing is that it is a series devoid of the blatant, gratuitous sexuality and vulgarity that many fantasy and/or historic series have thrown at us on HBO and Showtime. I mean, as much as I liked Spartacus and sort of liked Game of Thrones, the jarring soft porn included was not family friendly. Merlin is a show that you can watch with some children, depending on whether they are easily frightened by fantasy monsters or not. There is also some violence, and a bit of blood that may not be suitable for all children. It is not a series for very young children, but for certain older children, it is a good one to watch with parents.

Anyway, I am a huge fan, and so is my husband. I had to write something about it, it is that good.

Real Love for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day was the last holiday we spent with Amber, so I have been in a lot of pain lately, just missing her keenly. I haven’t wanted to look at pink hearts or hear love songs. I have turned my head as I passed the “seasonal stuff” aisle at the store. I just didn’t want to look. I don’t think my hubby and I have the heart to celebrate it this year.

So, I was sitting here thinking about it and feeling kind of bummed out and then I remembered something — maybe it was the song that I was hearing that God used, Jesus Saves, by Greg Long, but my mind turned to the topic of True Love. What was the Cross but a public display of True, Divine, Sacrificial Love?

Whenever I hear the scripture that commands us to take up our cross daily and follow Jesus I think, “well, I don’t really have a literal wooden cross lying around, and if I pick it up once and do what Jesus did it won’t be a daily occurrence. 🙂 It would be a one-time deal.

But, what I think that “taking up your cross” means is loving like Jesus loved. Jesus poured his whole heart into the love he had for mankind, knowing how badly it was going to hurt. I mean, I can’t get the picture out of my mind that he washed the disciples’ feet before going to the cross — ALL the disciples, even Judas — KNOWING what Judas was going to do not more than a few days afterwards. The cross is love. Love hurts. True love hurts. Jesus loved even though he knew people would hate, mock, and reject his sacrifice for them. They still do it, and he still loves them. We have to love like that. That’s our cross.

We know that someday, we’re going to have to say goodbye to everyone we love one way or another — broken relationships, distance, death, the unknown — all of these are possibilities in every relationship. There is not a person on the Earth that we can hang onto constantly without experiencing pain of some sort. But, we are told to love anyway. That’s our cross. That’s what Jesus did — loved even though he knew it would hurt.

I remember how much love I poured into Amber and her care. I remember how strong my feelings for her were — so strong they scared me because I knew there was a possibility I could lose her. It was terrifying. And, yet, I felt God encouraging me that this was my cross and I needed to pick it up. I gladly did, and now has come the time I dreaded — the pain of loss. And, yet, I am so glad I loved her with my whole heart and continue to do so. I regret nothing. And, I’m still called to love others recklessly, graciously, profusely, not afraid of the pain because I know, just like Jesus did, that the pain is not forever. But, as Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13, love is something that will remain and it is the greatest thing there is, the most powerful force in the universe. Love is what has defeated sin and death and evil. It is not simply a feeling that gets plastered on greeting cards. It is a choice to risk pain and hang on for dear life, for the ride that love is, for the thrilling, painful, ecstatic glory that is Love.

This year, that’s what I’m hanging onto — the kind of Love that death cannot defeat. 🙂 Happy Valentine’s Day.

What’s Up in Kenzerland?

I thought I’d write about what has been taking up our time and making it difficult to post blogs as often as I’d like. 😉 Well, that’s my excuse anyway.

Jolly and I have been working on cranking out issues of Knights of the Dinner Table. With work pushing on for the new Player’s Handbook for Hackmaster, it took awhile for our workhorse, Steve, to get January’s issue, number 183 out to press.

While he did those things, Jolly and I worked on getting KODT issue 184 out. To pitch in, I helped put together Bundle of Trouble #35. It was the first time I’ve done something like that, but it wasn’t too hard.

Getting those two KODT products out from under our belts, Jolly and I have been turning our attention to Hackmaster. Jolly’s been doing a lot of work on the cover for the PHB and the sneak peek I just got makes me tingle with glee. We’ve been scouring books from all over for artwork and design ideas and elements. If nothing else, it will be a mighty fine looking book.

Jolly and I are also readying ourselves for next week’s trip to Springfield, Missouri for Visioncon, a wonderful gaming convention that we both look forward to. I’m hoping my first time as a guest of honor goes well. It’s not something I’m used to. Jolly’s looking forward to spending some time with his friend, Kevin Siembieda, founder of Palladium Books.

I may not have much time to blog next week due to this convention appearance, but, I’ll make sure to write about my experiences when I get back. Until then, God bless you.

Amber Loving

First of all, I have to apologize for being naughty and not writing on this blog for so long. If I told you what all I’d been doing, you’d understand, I think. Anyway, maybe tomorrow I’ll talk about that.

Today, I wanted to talk about something I’ve been thinking about for awhile and wanted to write about. That subject is the way that Amber loved people.

I think she was about four or five years old when she first became aware that she was different. She had her first wheelchair, a little purple number and we were wheeling into church when a little boy came up and asked, “What’s wrong with her?”

Amber jolted at the question, her legs and arms flying out the way they always did when she was surprised. She hadn’t thought there was anything wrong. She pretty much thought she was normal because she’d never known anything else.

When we got home, I talked to her about it. I said, “Everybody has some things that they are good at, and some things that they’re not so good at. Everybody is different. … Some people can walk and run and play and some can’t. You might not be able to walk, but there are a lot of people who can, yet they don’t know how to love. That’s a lot harder to live with than not being able to walk. Can you imagine not knowing how to love and how hard that would be? And, you know, Amber, you can love better than anybody I know.”

I wasn’t just flattering her and trying to build up her self esteem. I think anybody who has known Amber for any length of time will tell you that. She had a talent for loving people with her whole heart. She had a way of making each person she loved feel like they were the most special person in the world, like they were princes and princesses, heroes and favored, honored guests in her heart. She had a way of making each person feel as if they were her favorite person. When she loved someone, she didn’t just love them, she adored them.

She made you feel like a rock star in her presence. That same little boy who had asked that question in church was just one person she touched with that love. He was a kid with Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity. He was constantly getting into trouble. At kids’ functions at church, you could hear his name being said constantly, in a reprimanding way, “Tim, stop… Tim, don’t… Tim… Come here, Tim…” One day, the little ruffian came over to us and bent down to Amber’s chair to put his arm around her shoulders. Then, he said, “You know what? Amber is my best friend.”

I marveled at that, but she had a way of softening rough edges. She had a way of not judging people either. That’s not to say she didn’t notice mistakes. Oh, she noticed everything. Her response to mistakes was always the same: laughter — raucous, mocking laughter. You should have heard her at choir practice. Nobody in the choir could read music, except for a few and the choir director. It took a lot of practice to smooth off our rough edges, and Amber delighted and noticed every wrong note or every botched rhythm. And, she’d laugh, and the entire choir would laugh too.

I sort of think that God gave Amber to me to give me sort of a glimpse of how he loves. I believe he loves in much the same way — loving each person specially, treasuring each one as if that person were the only one he loved. I feel that his love is a doting, adoring sort of love that always wants the best for us, smoothes off our rough edges and accepts us even if nobody else does. His love doesn’t nag at our every mistake and misbehavior. No, he understands because his love is perfect. And, perfect love covers a multitude of sins.

I’m quite thankful that I have experienced that love from another person, and feel sorry for people who never knew her, because it is a rare thing on this Earth. But, thank God he doesn’t make himself scarce and He offers that love to us all. I miss Amber and her adoration, but I have to keep holding on to the love that will not let me go and wait for the day when I’ll see Amber again. I can’t wait for that day.