Punctuation, Anniversaries, and End of Life

I am a bit of a grammar nerd. It hasn’t manifested itself yet into a love of sentence diagramming, and I doubt that it ever will, but I do place great value on proper punctuation and magnificent word choice that can make plain and simple text come alive. These little bits of dots, commas, apostrophes, and lines should not be taken lightly, for their application can totally change the premise of a sentence.

Take for instance this classic example of comma usage: “Let’s eat Momma” or “Let’s eat, Momma” have two entirely different meanings. The first is asking for mom to be ON the dinner plate AS the feast, while the latter is requesting her to join you IN dinner by taking a plate and eating the feast as well. One small little swish of a pen or press of a keyboard button makes an adaptation to the sentence that can alter everything.

A little over a week ago, there was an event at church, and I couldn’t remember if lunch was provided for the kiddos in childcare or not. I texted a friend that was in charge and asked “Do I need to pack a lunch for my boys?” Brooke kindly replied “No, food is provided.” In the midst of busy morning, I gave the text a hasty read and quickly began packing lunches, cause after all, “No food is provided.” Turns out I, the English nerd, didn’t take proper notice of the comma she typed. No, accompanied by a comma, means I didn’t need to pack a lunch, cause one would be provided. When my kiddos showed up with their thermals, it all sorta clicked with me on my critical misread.

Punctuation matters, you see.

Commas aren’t the only critical elements. There are colons, semi-colons, even just a simple period. None seem overly important, but when you try to read a piece of writing where none exist, you realize that them being there is essential. If you don’t have any personal experience with such, just trust me on this one, for I have graded enough essays that have missed the mark in these concepts. It’s simply maddening.

I often teach the rules of punctuation in my classroom, yes even the collegiate one, especially the elements that are most easily confused and misused. The period, called a full-stop by the British, is where you stop reading and complete a sentence. Most can handle this one. Frequently avoided or misused due to lack of knowing how to have the right application is the semi-colon. This little gem works to combine two sentences together. When a sentence could have ended, it doesn’t; details continue on thanks to the punctuation combining with more details. Typically this element is applied in order to create a stronger, more effective sentence.


A year ago today, my life could have very well ended
. I blacked out. I wrecked. I was life flighted to the ER. A year ago today, the baby that was in my womb could have very well ceased to exist any more. Instead, today, I look at a beautiful 6 month old child, healthy and happy, even if a bit drooly from some teething. One year ago, on August 19th, my life could have been a period, ending with no continuation. Grammatically speaking, I could have been a “full stop.” Fortunately, God did not see it fit to call me home, and I was allowed a semi-colon; a possibility for things to end existed but ultimately I was given a continuation. I even have a scar on the middle of my chest, formed by shards of glass and the seatbelt, that oddly enough resemble a semi-colon when I look down at it: a small dot on top with a swoosh underneath.

I have more life to live.

This day has been on the horizon for me, a day I emotionally welcomed yet dreaded, a year anniversary of one of the most life-changing, miraculous, and yet scariest days of my life. At one point I had plans to try and fly in a helicopter, since my first experience in one was a vague memory of floating between consciousness and unconsciousness, restrained by a neck brace and an IV. With life’s craziness though, that idea seemed less of a potential. Sometimes I envisioned being alone on this day, reflective and worshipful; I had big plans to cry.

Yet, a bit unexpectedly, Mom’s sickness and cancer battle suddenly was expedited towards its close. That day definitely trumps the impact of this one. She didn’t get a semi-colon, she got a period, a full-stop. My mom died, sooner than a year after her diagnosis. Just like that, her sentence was over. Period.

Or, maybe not.

There is this one element of punctuation called an ellipsis. Often the ellipsis is used in informal writing to show that the thought has been left a little unfinished, not fully ended or complete. The sentence doesn’t continue on like it would if graced with a semi-colon. The sentence doesn’t end like it would if bestowed a period. It instead trails off, in a series of dots to represent the ongoing nature of the idea.

Mom, being a believer in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, had hope of an afterlife, a better place to call home. Her passing isn’t as simple as a full-stop period, nor is it a physical continuation here on earth like a semi-colon might provide. Now, rather, she operates with an elliptic life, one that has trailed off from here on earth only to continue more in heaven, free from suffering and pain. My momma knew of the Everlasting Life that can only be found in God and a life lived in Him.

Although I mourn that there is not time with her here, I rejoice that I will have time with her there….

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Graduation/Pinning Ceremony!

As most all of you know, Thomas has been in an intense graduate degree program with a first year emphasis outside of his general scope of knowledge from his bachelor and master’s degree. The second year of school focused on his primary interest but was rigorous and time consuming. Most of these type of programs recommend and highly suggest that you do not work but rather just attend school, study, write papers, perform clinical rotations, and matters of the like, all school oriented. Thomas, however, not just worked but was crazy enough to begin his very own business at the same time of enrollment. He maintained a thriving, successful practice, while at the same time succeeding in his coursework. This, my friends, would make him exemplary enough by most all standards. Many people I have heard of and know have ceased such programs of study based off much less criteria. It’s just that hard, folks.

Our little family at Thomas's BIG day!

Our little family at Thomas’s BIG day!

 

 

And, of course, our family did not stop there. We managed to have a series of trials during his first year, and absolutely unprecedented difficulties and circumstances during his second year of school. Between my hospitalization, which occurred the first week of his second year, causing him to miss the first “block” of graduate classes for his Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program. My first week home with a wired jaw was his week to take the NCLEX nursing exam. That was also the same week we found out my mom had cancer, thus beginning her series of hospitalizations, chemo and radiation appointments, as well as doctor visits, many of which Thomas attend as way of support and knowledge base. Oh…..and we added a daughter to our family as well! Again, many have given up and quit programs of this intensity over much, much less, so his endurance and success proves him to be a caliber above most others. He also managed to complete the course criteria at one of the most prestigious colleges in our state, and the country for that matter, Vanderbilt University.

So, when last Friday marked the end of his academic pursuit of this degree, I cried when he got home, as I hugged his neck. When Sunday came, the time for his pinning ceremony, an event to honor and acknowledge nursing students with a special pin that is reflective of their school and study, I was a bit emotional for the capstone moment it represented.

 

 

Thomas got fancied up and looked quite handsome and really stood out from the rest of the 250 students (especially as one of the 13 males in the program).

The GRADUATE!

The GRADUATE (pre-pinning)

 

The GRADUATE (post-pinning)

The GRADUATE (post-pinning)

Family joined us at the event for the big day and then even more joined us after for a spaghetti celebration at a local restaurant. It was a good time together, enjoying Thomas.

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Family— our support network the past 2 years!

Thomas's proud parents, who were very supportive to us during this journey!

Thomas’s proud parents, who were very supportive to us during this journey!

Thomas and my mom, who likely should have stayed at home but knew that she didn't want to miss his moment for anything so she came anyway (and forced him to take a selfie with her to prove she survived the event)

Thomas and my mom, who likely should have stayed at home but knew that she didn’t want to miss his moment for anything so she came anyway (and forced him to take a selfie with her to prove she survived the event)

Now, with just one more test to go (a licensure exam), Thomas is ready to take his private practice as a Mental Health Therapist to the next level. He will also be teaching some clinical courses for a local university at a psychiatric hospital/unit. Additionally, he is entertaining offers from various other companies for some part time work, looking to find the best fit for him and our family in the process.

It is such a huge sigh of relief to have him through this program. The intensity for him and our family has been much, but we’re glad to see him walk this path to fulfillment. I know, full well, that his dedication, wisdom, and knowledge will not go without favor and promise for him and our family in the years to come. Babe, I am so proud of you, I shall now call you by all your initials, my sweet RN, MA, MSN, LPC-MHSP, PMHNP, BC  (how’s that for a signature??!!)

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Being pinned by the Dean of Nursing as VU.