Joscelyn's Journey

A Beautiful Child's Journey Through Hemimegalencephaly


on September 13, 2012

One of the “normal” activities that I missed the most when Joss and I were in the hospital was visiting my local farmer’s market. When I have the opportunity to go, I always stop at the homemade cheese booth.

Some of these artisan cheeses for sale are salty. Others are nutty. Some are creamy and some are crumbly. Some are made with wine or ale and others are seasoned with herbs. All of them look delicious!

 I wonder why here in America, we often limit ourselves to eating maybe 3 or 4 of the most common cheeses: Cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, provolone. We rarely break out of our “comfort zone”.

 In fact, in most areas of our lives, humans rarely break out of their comfort zone unless forced to.

 A few days ago, while searching for a particular book on the shelf, I ran across my old copy of Spencer Johnson’s best-selling parable, “Who Moved My Cheese?”

 “WMMC?” was all the rage in the early 2000’s and while many found it a little, well…cheesy, I think the psychology behind it is pretty sound.

 The subject of the book is change; specifically, the inevitability of change and how the way we react to change shapes our lives.

When I first read it seven years ago, I was just coming out of a divorce. (I won’t say “painful divorce” because I find that phrase redundant. All divorces are painful.) I had picked up “WMMC?” in an effort to help quell some of the immense fear I was feeling at the prospect of starting my life all over again after fifteen years of marriage.

 The premise of the book is simple. The “Mice” in the story look and act a lot like people. “Cheese” is a metaphor for what people desire in life (a good job, loving relationships, health, peace of mind). The “Maze” is where they look for what they want (their job, the family or community they live in.)

 If you haven’t read the book (which only takes about an hour), it begins with the mice awakening one day to find that someone has moved their cheese.  How the different mice react to this change and what happens to them as a result of their reactions is the rest of the story.

 I believe that with ANY change, there is a sense of loss. It doesn’t matter if you initiate the change or if the change is forced upon you, something must end in order for something new to begin and the something-that-has -ended demands to be mourned.

 After their cheese is moved, we see some of the mice in the story move through all five of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ & David Kessler’s Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. We also see others get “stuck” at one stage or another.

I am well acquainted with the kind of emotional pain that comes from resisting change; from wanting so desperately for my life to return to “the way it was”. The more I fight the changes that are forced upon me and think, “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be!”, the more depressed and angry I become.

 As a woman of faith, I’ve never had to ask, “Who Moved My Cheese?”  I’ve sometimes questioned why it had to be moved but never who moved it. I’ve often questioned whether I would ever find happiness again after such an event.

Sometimes, the changes in your life are small and you find your new cheese (new happiness) pretty easily. You change jobs but still work for the same company. You move from one house to another but just into a bigger house in the same town.

Then there are larger, much more radical life changes.

 In the last seven years, I’ve survived a divorce, suffered a miscarriage, lost my 14 yr old son Nicholas and given birth to a beautiful baby girl with a congenital brain deformity that required the effective removal of half of her brain to treat.

Finding new cheese after those kinds of changes is much more difficult.

Recently, I posted a poem called, “Welcome to Holland”. In it, the author equates parenting a special needs child with the experience of buying a plane ticket to Italy and ending up in Holland instead.

(Coincidentally, Holland is the largest exporter of cheese in the world and produces over 30 million pounds of cheese per week!)

Emily Perl Kingsley’s metaphoric “Holland” has plenty of “new cheese” for me to discover, too.

There is a wonderful community of other hemi-families that I get to meet and form relationships with, an extended support network of family and friends (Which grows everyday!) who continually amaze us with their generosity & love and a special joy that comes with every new skill we have the privilege of witnessing our little girl develop as the right half of her brain continues to take over the duties and responsibilities of the missing left hemisphere.

Here’s she is working on standing in therapy this week:

 Before I can discover and enjoy any of this “new cheese” however, I have to first come to terms with the fact that my old cheese is GONE. No matter how much I may have wanted my life to stay the same or to turn out differently, no amount of crying, bargaining, tantrum-throwing or wishful thinking is going to make that happen. This is my life now.

Nick isn’t coming back.

I’m not going to “Italy”. I’ve landed in Holland and here in Holland is where I’ll stay.

So, the choice, as I see it, is simple.

I can sit in the empty room where my “cheese” used to be, rocking back and forth amidst the molding crumbs, hugging my knees and cursing God (aka “The Cheese-Mover”) or I can gather my strength and step out in faith, believing that there is new cheese waiting for me somewhere else.

I’m encouraged in my search by the words of  A.J. Cronin:

 “Life is no straight and easy corridor along which we travel free and unhampered, but a maze of passages, through which we must seek our way, lost and confused, now and again checked in a blind alley.  But always, if we have faith, a door will open for us, not perhaps one that we ourselves would ever have thought of, but one that will ultimately prove good for us.”

 Here’s to open doors and the enjoyment of new cheese.



12 responses to “Cheese

  1. Wendy says:

    I love you and don’t even “know” you xoxox Thanks for your words of encouragement!

  2. lisa meltom says:

    I hunger for new inspiration every day ..i search relentlessly for something to make sense of the turns my life has taken in the last year…but today it was there with the click of a mouse thanks to Jennifer Dempsey who i am blessed to have had the good fortune to know. thanks for sharing your talents…. your gifts. makes me thiink of the saying ” Love wasn’t put in your heart to stay Love isn t love till you give it away” ….and you do Jennifer …You do!

  3. Nancy Tucker says:

    As always, your words are wonderful and encouraging.
    I can only imagine the blessings that await you both on earth and in Heaven. Your faith inspires so many. I didn’t get to watch the video. (Facebook) But I know your precious baby Joss is amazing.
    SO happy that you are both healing. God bless your whole family! Love =o)

  4. Mariellen Barr in PA says:

    Recently I’ve been pondering the differences between resignation and surrender. I think you illustrate them here beautifully. It seems easier to resign to the suffering in our lives. But I think you are right; the choice is no choice at all. And with Christ anything is possible-so we step out and live.
    Thanks for your post. Blessings to you and your baby girl!

  5. Nancy Tucker says:

    Thought of this post today when I purchased
    some chipotle gouda. It is very gooda. Sorry,
    That was awful. =o).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: