Butterfly Effect

I set off on a solo kayak excursion Friday afternoon, on a quest for some pretty rocks at the tip of Government Island. However, the water from the big lake was aggressive and volatile.  Billowing swells and white caps warned me not to go any further with my lack of experience. I paddled back along the edge of Government’s shore back to kinder waters.

A sandy section of beach beckoned me in for a rest. Once on shore I breathed in the beautiful sunlit pine, and gazed in awe at a cluster of wild daisies set against the backdrop of crystal blue water.

I stood there attempting to capture it in photos, hopeful that maybe just one shot would do it justice. As I glanced down at my feet in the sand, a fleck of orange caught my eye. Clinging to a pine sapling, dangerously close to the lapping waves was a beautiful monarch butterfly. I moved slowly closer and discovered that his upper right wing was badly torn and tangled under his lower wing, rendering him flightless. To have once soared the crisp blue skies, there he sat awaiting certain death.

I carefully removed him from the tiny branch, as he flapped his broken wings in vain. I placed him in a sturdy pine tree on higher ground. It was all I could do… (?) Or was it? A quick consult with Google revealed a complicated, but feasible solution. There was hope! I poured out the rest of my coffee, gave my trusty Yeti a quick rinse in the lake and dried it out with my bathing suit coverup. It served as the perfect transport carrier for the butterfly as I paddled full force against the wind back to the cottage. I made it back in about 20 minutes. The beautiful monarch “chilled out” in the fridge for 10 minutes while I ran off to the store to acquire toothpicks, super glue and baby powder. The cooler temperature and the darkness lowers their metabolism and puts them in a restive state. I was nervous and skeptical. This was my first surgery without any training whatsoever. All I had to go by were the detailed instructions typed out on livemonarch.com. But I had to at least TRY!! Gavin & Greta offered their assistance in the laundry room that we had converted into the Butterfly OR. Towel and surgical tools set out on the ironing board, we were ready for the patient.

Greta held the procedural restraints in place (tweezers) while Gavin was in charge of the surgical lamp (my phone flashlight). Ever so extremely carefully I positioned the veins of the wing parts together and adhered them with dabs of super glue on toothpicks. I held them in place at length, careful not to involve any other of the wings with the glue. The 5 second dry time as promised on the glue packaging was much to be desired. 🙄 After the glue had finally set at the crucial points, I set about repairing the small hole that remained in the middle of the wing. Livemonarch.com suggested using a small bit of sturdy paper. I cut out a small spot of very lightweight cardboard and glued it beneath the wing, successfully patching the hole. After it had all dried, I did as instructed and coated the fracture lines with a light dusting of baby powder using a Q-tip. At long last we were ready to bring the patient back outside.<
mg src="https://iwillcarryyou.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/img_7649.png"&gt;<

e offered him a napkin soaked in sugar water while he flexed his patched up wing in the  sunlight. I had resigned myself to having done the very best I could. I wasn’t hanging too much hope that this poor butterfly would successfully fly away, but he DID!!! A quick flutter of his wings, and he lifted up into the air and settled up into a nearby cedar.

wpvideo 1sCabJjp ]<

e sat there for a couple of hours perhaps wondering what the heck had just happened, wondering how he was suddenly able to fly again. And then of course the moment I wasn’t looking, he flew off into the sky for good. I’m so thankful that I found him and that information was available to fix him. #butterflyeffect #thelittlethings

North

I’m sitting here wrapped up in a warm fuzzy blanket all by myself with a fancy Sam Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA that someone left in the fridge, listening to Boston and looking out at the freezing cold channeled waters of Lake Huron.

It was a beautiful warm day, but it is starting to get chilly again as the sun gets lower in the sky. I’ve been up here in the Les Cheneaux Islands of the Upper Peninsula, Michigan since Monday evening after an 8 and a half hour drive. I have come up here to start writing my book that perhaps, maybe, might get published someday. The rest of my family has taken this opportunity to go visit William’s family down in Texas. This is the longest and the furthest I’ve been away from my husband and children since I’ve been married. While I certainly love and appreciate my introvert’s heavenly solitude when I can get it, it’s been quiet and even just a little bit lonely at times. This place is usually so bustling with activity and laughter when I’m here. It was strange at first to adjust to the quietness! I’m excited to see my hubzbind and my kids next week and I hope they’re all having fun without me! It turns out that ten days is a long time!

I’ve had very productive days of writing and being active. It’s so easy to go for 5 mile walks when there is just endless beauty to look at. The mostly flat terrain and cooler climate is also a huge bonus! It has been bittersweet to reminisce about the walks we had gone on with Nora along much of the same route. A lump welled up in my throat as I approached the intersection I had been at with Nora when an elderly couple approached the stop sign in their car.

They smiled so big and craned to look into the stroller at the sweet sleeping baby. There was no pity in their eyes at the sight of the portable oxygen tank dangling from her stroller. In that moment I was just simply a mom on a walk with her baby. That scene did not contain any extra 18th chromosome, no anxiety, no prognises, and no grim statistics. For just in that moment, everything was perfect. I remember tearing up, and stopping to kiss Nora as the sound of their tires crackled along the gravel in the distance, taking that moment with them.

I’ve gone on walks, I’ve gone on bike rides on my sweet Oma’s old bike, and I’ve taken the kayak out a couple of times, Norns Doll always with me.

Yes, I’m that weird lady seen around with the doll peeking out of the back of her drawstring pack pack. I don’t even care.

On Wednesday, my birthday, I kayaked from Island 8 over to Government Island. There are no houses on Government, just a collection of trails and more serene beauty. Once I was on the island I had it in my mind that I wanted to cut across to the other side instead of going the way that I was used to.  I started off on what appeared to be a trail, but it gradually faded. Fortunately I had worn my creek boots. The next thing I knew, I was sloshing through mossy marshes, climbing over fallen trees, literally squeezing in between pine trees, trying to untangle my hair from their branches, wiping spider webs off my face and getting scratched to hell and back. “This is not fun anymore,” I commented to the curious little chickadee in the tree.

Imagine this ALL around, except even worse. I didn’t get pictures of the bad parts!

I started to get a little bit nervous and eventually got my phone out. I had been tracking my hike predicament on Map My Run and I was none too happy to see the big red trail making a horseshoe shape. I was basically heading in a circle, and not the straight line I had imagined. It felt like I was turning around to go back the way I came when I set myself back in the direction I was supposed to be heading. I hadn’t realized how easy it was to get disoriented in that type of environment, but yeah! Isn’t this just like life, I thought to myself, specifically our time with Nora. We received her diagnosis and from that point on, we lost the trail. We thought we were heading in one direction, only to get thrown completely off. There were moments of panic as we tried to regain our bearings. There were times of struggle, terrible discomfort and fatigue as we unknowingly walked in circles. We tripped and we fell several times along the way, but we would get back up, dust ourselves off and continue on. We greatly appreciated the clearings when they popped up, but just as soon as we grew comfortable with the lack of obstacles – there we were again trying to snap branches out of the way, sustaining more scratches and bruises. We got to spend so much time in the lush and beautiful meadow — much longer than anyone ever would have guessed. But then we were thrust back into the tangle of forest again. It was interesting that even in the scary, painful parts — if we would just stand still for a second and stop fighting our way, there was still beauty. There were beautiful carpets of moss, sprouts of wildflowers never before seen by anyone else, tiny pine saplings bursting forth from the lush soil, and the skittish little birds that warbled up in the high branches. We missed all of that when we were so focused on getting to the other side.

Eventually I could hear the sound of the water and saw the sparkle of sunlight dancing off of it through the trees. A few more hurdles, leaps and scratches, I was finally there. Hot, sweaty, bedraggled, with twigs in my crazy hair and covered in cobwebs, but I was there!!


I stood there for a moment and looked out at the expanse of the Great Lake, Huron. It was beautiful and the breeze felt so good, waves lapping at the shore.

AAAAAhhhh!!!! I rested for a moment before continuing on along the southern shore of the island. I was familiar with the rest of the way, but took careful steps over the rocky terrain so as not to twist my ankle. No Service popped up at the top of my phone — not that there was anyone close by to come and rescue me, but I could have at least updated my Facebook status about it and my friends could have felt sorry for me! (LOL) The rest of my hike was uneventful. I stopped to absorb the beauty from to time along the way back to my kayak.


There is this really cool tree that has this crazy curved branch that just begs to be sat on. I couldn’t resist and set the timer on my camera. Hurry!! 10 seconds to jump up there in big clumsy boots… and GO!

I literally went out on a limb for my birthday!

It’s funny to look at that tree. If someone were to draw a picture of it, you would look at the drawing and think, “Well that’s not right. Tree branches don’t look like that.” But here is proof that they can and do!

Since it was my birthday, I accepted the invitation to have dinner with my Uncle Roger and Aunt Mary Ann, and Pat and Terry L. later that evening. They were also up here at their beautiful places for a visit. I had joked that I was just going to be by myself on my birthday blowing out a candle on my sad sandwich that I would then eat aaaalllll alone. LOL. That seriously would not have bothered me, but it was actually very nice to be in their company. We had delicious homemade pizza and salad, and then (“eenen“) they sang Nora’s favorite song to me with a fabulous chocolate cake! It was the perfect ending for my birthday — a day that can’t help but be tinged with sorrow, as it is also the anniversary of Nora’s funeral. However, I got some incredible happy birthday wishes from heaven throughout the day, and a gorgeous sunset on the drive home.

Zoom in closely to see the 3 birds! I followed their path of flight and discovered the rainbow that had been placed in the sky behind me!

Thursday I finally got into the groove of writing. I had been writing lots, but nothing flowed. I found that my words streamed so much more smoothly from my pen than they did from the keyboard. I had even tried writing on my Grandmother’s old manual typewriter that I had brought up here.

After about 7 lines and yanks of the return carriage, I had to give up. Oh. My. Goodness, how spoiled we are with our neat, smooth-stroke, ergonomically designed computer keyboards and ability to backstroke, edit and revise on our word processing programs that will even correct our grammar and spelling without so much as a second thought!!!! My pitiful, weak finger muscles could NOT HANG, especially my poor scrawny little pinkies who were expected to exert about 10 lbs of force with each shift stroke. And we don’t have to growl at any ink ribbons that keep dislodging every time we hit the shift key. We are seriously, seriously so spoiled with this!!! So yeah, that did not work so well, but my pen and notebook have been great and are easy to travel / kayak with. The typewriter will just be here as nostalgic ambiance.

Today I kayaked over to my Uncle Greg and Aunt Paula’s house over on the mainland. They weren’t there, but I figured they wouldn’t mind if I parked my kayak there for a bit.

From there I walked down to Fox Lane where the cottage that once belonged to my Great-Grandma Bohmer sits. I had planned on just peeking by for a quick visit to reminisce. But there was no one there, and the urge to sit down at the familiar old picnic table was too much to resist! I hope no one minds! I opened up the digital albums I had archived on Google Drive and scanned through all of the old photos that were taken in that very place.

Many of them dated all the way back to 1951 which is when Grandma Bohmer purchased the cottage. I was astounded by how much was still the same — a treasured time capsule of not only my own childhood, but also of my Mom’s and her brother’s childhoods. There were pictures of us as babies through different eras on that very porch where I currently sat all these years later in 2017.

And then I came along, hungry for hotdogs! ~

I gasped with wide-eyed wonder to discover the picture of Uncle Joe & Aunt Nora, my Grandma Bohmer’s older sister sitting in the very spot that I had sat as a little girl and was now sitting today at that very moment.

I took some current day pictures for comparison and then sat there with my pen and my notebook and wrote for 3 hours. Writing came so easy. I imagined that all of these old souls were still sitting around this table, sharing this beautiful moment in time with me as if though they’d never left at all, infinitely connected by our strands of DNA across all time and dimensions.

I mean, even the chairs on the left are positioned the same exact way!! I did not pose them!

June 3

Over these past couple of weeks I took on the daunting task of organizing Nora’s closet. After she had died we placed everything organized as best as we could in the closet of the room that was supposed to have been her bedroom, but never was. Putting her things away was in no way an attempt to get her out of our minds. It was all just too painful to look at. It was as if a deep gouge had been scratched into a record, interrupting the beautiful song that had been playing. Terrible static ensued and then those last few notes kept playing over and over and over and over again. All of Nora’s things sat dutifully in place ready to be of service, waiting for the song to continue just as it always had. And now it was abruptly over. My way of turning off the record player was to put most of everything away. The heavy pall of silence that fell over our home was of no solace either. It was a stark reminder of all that was lost.

I was taking on the task of the closet not to get rid of anything, but to make some semblance of it. I had gone in there so many times trying to find something and accomplished nothing other than making an even bigger mess of her things and of my emotions. I had prepared myself for much of what was behind those sliding white doors – her toys, her books, some of her clothes, burp rags, blankets, wash clothes, hooded little towels, her Bumbo and her beloved nest. I took it all out of the closet piece by piece. Then there were the things I had forgotten about or didn’t expect to see. These were the things that just completely annihilated me. A dried pack of wipies with one wipe standing at attention, ready for duty (“doody”), and then the boogie sucker with her boogies still in it. No one ever imagines that they’d be standing there weeping bitterly over dried snot, but there I was — my lungs constricting in lengthy jagged bursts, tears streaming down my red cheeks. The spot of blood on an IV bandaid. HER blood. The pink teddy bear that played a recording of her fetal heartbeat. These are all just THINGS, I reminded myself. Myself snapped back, “All JUST things?? All of these stupid, insignificant things?? How is it that they are all still here and she is not? How is it that the f#$%ing batteries in her toys and her birthday cards are still alive and singing, while the most important ‘thing’ is dead? These THINGS are ALL that we have left tangible.” I continued to weep. I took breaks from time to time, to go outside and gaze up at the sky, or to pound my fists into the carpet in a rage of tears. I appreciated the day of thunderstorms. It was comforting to have the weather match my own tumultuous climate. I organized it all, put it in labeled bins and boxes. The padded and ribboned box from the hospital that contained the rose that I had brought from home. Although now dried up, it had looked so pretty behind her ear for that moment in time…


And then the last pair of pajamas she ever wore with the emergent cut down the middle. There had been no time to even remove her pajamas that horrible day in May. The box of mementos from her birth – the tag from her bassinet “NORA”, our hospital bracelets. I marveled at how tiny her little wrist once was as I slipped her bracelet over my thumb.

I smiled as I thought about the fat rotund little wrists that she had when she left us. She has come such a long way. I even saved her first teeny tiny nail clippings, taped to a piece of dark paper. I saved those, but I couldn’t save HER.
After I had neatly labeled everything and put it all back into the closet, I went through the boxes and boxes of cards, notes and letters that we had collected since January of 2012. I saved and treasure each and every one of them. I sorted them out in categories: pregnancy, birth congratulations, holidays and birthdays, and then the cards of condolences. I sat in tearful awe over all of the lives Nora had touched before she was even born and continues to do so now 3 years after her death. If I could stack them all up, I would have about 2 feet of cards. I cried tears of gratitude over the drawings from kids and read through each and every card and letter. Nora had captured the hearts of so many people, young and old. It didn’t matter whether you had met her here in person or if you only knew her through pictures. You cheered us on, encouraged us, prayed for us, and then in the end you helped carry this debilitating burden of grief. Nora wasn’t just MY Lady Baby. She belonged to all of us, bringing with her a message of faith, hope and unconditional love, pointing us all toward heaven. She was everybody’s sweetheart.

I think about and remember my sweet Lady Baby every single moment of every single day, but today is especially painful as I remember how we had to say goodbye to her during the fresh early morning hours of this day. I give so much thanks for the precious gift that we all were given. Sweet Nora, what a privilege to know and love you.

On Monday I leave for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I’ll be there for 10 days all by myself (!!!! #introvertdreamcometrue) with my laptop, my pens, notebooks, sketch pads, my paints, my Grandmother’s typewriter and a great big story to write. The book. I’m going to try to be “off the grid” as much as possible with maybe some updates on Instagram (@aleisaak). Thank you all for being a part of this epic journey along with us. Thank you for all of your texts, phone calls, messages, posts and comments throughout the day today. You made my heart smile.

Moon Bath

The thrust of warm water hisses through the pipes. My chilled skin welcomes the initial sting as its warmth surrounds me. I lean back on the bath pillow, clasping my broken heart, pretending for just a moment that you’re still here. I Imagine that someone is about to bring me your fat naked little body. That at any moment you’ll be immersed with me, an excited smile on your face. Weightless, warm, cherished and loved, I’d stroke water through your fuzzy hair, kiss your cheeks, squeeze your naked baby bum and sing to you how much I love you. The water continues to splash out from the faucet, coalescing with my tears. Only your faded mermaid sticker smiles back at me. Your bath towel and the precious imprint of where your sweet head used to lie. No kicky, squealing baby to place on it, covered in 1,070 days’ worth of dust. The moon and Jupiter peek in through a gap in the curtain — reflecting the sun’s light over great expanse to this little spot in the world where I used to hold you and love you. The bath is lonely and sad without you, but just like the sun, no time and no distance can diminish the intensity of my love for you.

In Thanksgiving

Just over three months ago I was contacted by a family friend asking if I would be interested in doing a painting for her. The painting was to be based off of a photograph of a woman standing on mountainous terrain with her arms outstretched and her face radiantly lifted up to the heavens. The woman in the photograph was Jaime’s sister, who sadly had taken her last breath just the day before Jaime had written to me. Tammy had lost her 18 month battle with pancreatic cancer at just 54-years-old. I never had the privilege of meeting Tammy here on this earth, but from what I’ve heard and read about her, she is nothing short of extraordinary!


It had been quite a long time since I had done any large scale portrayals of real people, however I immediately agreed to do this for Jaime. If my God-given talent could bring some fraction of peace to her shattered heart — then yes, of course I will do this!

I shopped that weekend for just the right sized canvas and splurged on some durable “real artist” paints and some new fancy brushes. (The little artists in my family don’t always rinse Muthr’s brushes out properly.) And then I set to work.

The large blank canvas sat before me in my quiet, empty house.

“Lord, I thank you for this talent. I pray that you guide each brush stroke, that each dab of paint will bring honor and glory to You and to this beautiful life you created, Tammy — who was on loan to us for only a short time. I pray that the paint on this canvas will bring peace and comfort to Jaime and to the rest of Tammy’s family. Amen.”

I took a deep breath as I dipped brand new bristles into the fresh dollops of paint on my pallet. Large sweeping strokes of blues, grays, and whites, cirrus whispers of pinks and yellows, the sky, an ever changing moment in time.


The rest of the painting would come to life over the course of the next 3 months, usually on quiet uninterrupted afternoons (except for the occasional cat visit) while the kids were in school. I smiled as I contemplated the original photograph. Tammy’s face simply radiated with joy as she looked up to that sky on that day. She was in beautiful Hawaii for the gender reveal of her grand baby due in a few months time, I was later told. There was such hope and promise on that breathtaking horizon. Tammy’s terminal illness hadn’t been diagnosed, yet it had already established itself, silently and cruelly stealing her away from all that she loved and all that loved her… or so it seems from this side of heaven. There were some afternoons that I cried bitterly, especially while painting Tammy. How unfair and fragile this delicate balance of life and death is — and has always been. It’s not until someone we love deeply is torn away from us that we fully comprehend this.

The last two days I spent working on the final touches of this painting were such a gift. Summer would never have to bid its farewell, if I had anything to say about it. The gift of 76 blessed degrees in late November, little butterflies and sweat bees still lingering about… It would have been a tragic lapse of judgement not to drag everything outside onto the back deck. My makeshift outdoor studio overlooked Autumn’s majestic trees dressed in splendid finery of reds, yellows and blazing oranges. Wisps of feathery clouds coiled and whorled above me against the backdrop of God’s cerulean blue hue canvas. I turned on some nostalgic 70s music, and vowed to soak in the last of these perfect weather days, as was forewarned by the forecast. It certainly wasn’t Hawaii, but my rendition of Tammy, with her arms outstretched seemed to revel in the treasured warmth out on the back deck right along with me.


The blustering cold had snuck in during the night shortly after the final strokes of my signature had dried. The painting was finished. I tearfully hoped and prayed that it would bring comfort to Jaime.

And It did. I eagerly brought it to her the next day, just in time for the difficult, bittersweet holidays that loomed off in the short distance. As I presented the painting to Jaime this past Monday, we held each other in a tearful embrace. I had absolutely no idea, but this day, Jaime explained, just so happened to be the anniversary of her mother’s death. There could not have been better timing.


As we endure the empty space in our hearts and around the tables this Thanksgiving and Christmas, let us be reminded of all that is still good, and all that was once “perfect”, and all that WILL BE perfect once again, in the very true sense of the word. Love and blessings to each of you this Thanksgiving.

20131202-092750.jpg
“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (‭Psalm‬ ‭106:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Baby Gavin Reimer

From my desk I took a deep breath and prayed, “Lord, God, let this be a worthy and accurate portrayal of this precious baby boy’s life, and all of the love that surrounded him before and after he was born — the 6 hours he shared his breaths and heartbeats with his beloved family. I pray that there are no complications with the software, hardware or anything else. Please inspire me internally and externally and enable me to make the very most of this limited time. In your name I pray.”

Bitter tears streamed down my face as I organized, spliced, synced and labeled each precious moment captured in photographs. His mama had given me the artistic liberty to tell their story — their story that had just unfolded on that same awful road that had once scarred, bruised and blistered my own feet. How very privileged, yet nervous I was to have been entrusted with such a monumental task. With God’s help, I pressed on.

And at a reasonable hour of the night, it was complete, ready for her to see — without one glitch. I apprehensively sent her the link and watched the video again as I awaited her response. A fresh batch of tears spilled out onto my desk. How lucky he was to have been so intensely and intentionally loved, held close and cherished literally the span of his entire life. How many can lay claim to this? Each slide personalized the reckless, yet confident love his parents and brothers held for him. A love that threatened to mortally wound their hearts – yet they held fast to it anyway. This baby boy was worthy of THAT kind of love. I prayed that this love was accurately represented in this composition of photographs taken by his family and by photographers who themselves were no stranger to grief. 

She soon texted back that she was beyond pleased with what I had created and expressed such fervent gratitude. Tears of relief mingled with the tears of sorrow, “Thank you, God!!!”

With Kirsten’s permission, and with such love in my heart, I present to you The Treasured Moments and Precious Life of Gavin Mark Reimer ~

In Wait

The merciless ticking of the clock coupled with the fear of the unknown threatened to erode the very core of my being. Methodical and intentional breaths helped keep my head above the crashing waves. It all seems a thousand years ago, and yet only yesterday from where I sit in the corner of this hospital. From outside the window, the silhouette of the towers, concourses and office buildings slowly become visible against the backdrop of the early morning sky. A patterned glow of windows interrupt the darkness, and I contemplate over each one. 


Is that the room where I cradled my newborn birth daughter for the first time? Which was the room where I drew my own first breaths? The rooms where my siblings were born – when I proudly wore my “IM A BIG SISTER” sticker. Which is the window that my Oma looked out of from her hospital bed after she fell and broke her leg? Or the stark room where I spent the night with my sister after her first son was born, waiting for adoption papers, both of us still kids ourselves. This morning one of these rooms holds a mother and a father and a precious baby boy, not yet born. As the sun rises higher in the sky and up over the buildings, I pray for their peace, for visible, tangible evidence of God’s presence — not because of lack of faith, but because we NEED him that close. Inside his mother’s womb, a little baby boy is cradled in pure, unconditional love. He is safe in his cocoon, blissfully unaware of his extra 18th chromosome, and all of the fears and worry that accompany his condition. His only basic primal need is to be loved. He is LOVED.

Father God, I pray Your peace and serenity upon this family. Dispatch your legions of warrior angels to thwart off the attacks of the enemy who looms nearby studying and searching for a way in. There is no room for the enemy in any part of this hospital, Lord. Guard the hearts and minds of this family from any fear and unrest. Help them to keep their focus solely on you. Lord, I pray that your glory will shine forth through the life of this little boy who is so very, very loved. I pray that the decisions involving his care will be made clear and concise, that all of the right people will be in place at the right time. Upon his birth, I pray for this little boy’s strength and stability, that there will be no emergencies that would prevent him from spending time in his parents’ loving embrace. We thank you, Father for the beautiful life of this baby boy. He is fearfully and wonderfully made, perfect in Your loving eyes. We have no idea what is going to unfold today, but You do, Lord. You are in control of each and every little detail, mapping out each of our days. We surrender to Your will, our trust is in You. 

When peace like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

Amen.