Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Childless Mother on Mother's Day

This is my third Mother's Day without my daughter Avery. She died suddenly in a car accident about 6-8 minutes after my oldest daughter, Jadrian (who was 17 years old and driving) pulled out of the parking lot after Avery's gymnastic practice let out. She was on her way to church youth group.

This is my third Mother's Day with a huge gaping hole in my heart. And my third Mother's Day being utterly disappointed, forgotten and let down. I could go on and on but really, what would it change? Let it be known that when my time finally arrives to have a sit down with Jesus, I'm going to ask him to explain why he had me experience the single most difficult emotional thing a mama could ever go through with someone who expresses zero emotion whatsoever.

That being said, I'm here to help all those other men in the world who claim to have no idea what to do on Mother's Day for the Childless Mother in their life. Maybe you messed this Mother's Day up. Maybe the last three or more. But you can decide to want to do better.

(1.) Do SOMETHING. Doing nothing hurts. It just does. Continuing to avoid the pain of the day like it doesn't exist makes the hurting worse. By a lot.

(2.) Plant a flower, bush or tree that blooms in her child's favorite color. It's beautiful to watch something continue to grow and bloom over time. It's kind sucky to have to throw dead flowers away after a too short blooming life in a vase. We're kind of tired of death, you know?

(3.) Have a her favorite photograph of her child printed on canvas. Or enlarged and framed really nicely.

(4.) Jewelry with all the kids names or initials - even the ones who passed - yes, please.

(5.) Find a picture of her child and have an artist rendering done of it. Pencil sketch, charcoal, oil paint - it doesn't matter really. It's knowing that someone spent their time and talent looking into the face of her angel. With each brush stroke her child was seen.

(6.) Find a picture that her child drew or colored and have that framed nicely.

(7.) Take the remaining kids for a professional photo and be sure to include a picture of her child who had passed. All her children made her a mama. Not just the ones still living on earth.

(8.) Do something special at her child's grave. Clean it up. Spruce it up. Leave a little mother-child figure or some flowers or a wind chime.

(9.) Give her a gift certificate for a massage. Grieving mamas tend to be a tad tight from trying to hold it all together for the remaining people in their lives.

(10.) Acknowledge. Say something. Write it in a card. Hold her hand and look in her eyes while saying it. Tell her that you know it's a hard day to walk through - but that you're there.

Mother's Day can be a hard day but doing something special to acknowledge her angel can also bring immense joy.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

I Still Need Holding Up

I still need holding up.

Not like it was in the beginning. Not all the time anymore. But I still need it.

I still know that there are times I cannot do this grieving thing alone and yet, as time goes by and lives continue and the busy gets busier, I find the circle of people standing beside me, ready to hold me up gets smaller and smaller.

And it should. That's how it needs to happen. Trust me, this isn't on them at all.

See, when tragedy first strikes it's actually those furthest out from the strike zone that are the strongest to hold things together. The closer the relationships get to the one who passed away, the weaker they are.

In my case, my daughter died. I couldn't expect my other daughter to hold me up - her sister had just died. I couldn't expect my parents to hold me up - their granddaughter just died. I couldn't expect my sister or brothers to hold me up - their niece just died. I couldn't expect my cousins to hold me up - their relation just died. Her friends were grieving, her teachers were grieving, her coaches were grieving, her teammates were grieving.

We were all a mess.

So it was this outer ring of protection -- co-workers, neighbors, people in the church, community members, old classmates from school, even strangers on the internet -- they were the strength that held it together so they could hold us when we couldn't stand.

But now that the example of how to hold strong during a storm has been given - now that the lesson has been taught, it is time for them move on.

One by one we each got stronger. That, too, has a certain cadence to it. The furthest ones out recover first. The closer the relationship to the deceased, the harder it is to heal.

It was as if every one was suddenly stricken down, paralyzed in one fell swoop... but some of us managed to sit up in a wheelchair, and some got crutches before others... and soon some dropped their crutch and steadied their walk back into the world way before the others... we were - are - all in various stages of literally picking ourselves up and walking back among the normalcy of this life. (Whatever that means.)

There are times though, when I still feel like I'm laying on a piece of cold concrete all by myself, in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, during a thunderstorm. And I can't get my legs to work. And I can't get my voice to speak (because I wouldn't know what the words should be that would make anyone understand). And all I see is everyone around me skipping happily off into the distance - making phone calls and responding to texts, laughing at tv shows or getting a haircut that has to happen today and can't possibly wait until Monday, when the deep sorrow of a Mother's Day without has passed.

Yes, I still need holding up. Or else I just need to be okay laying here for a bit until I have enough energy to do it on my own.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Rising of Bread and Souls

Several years ago I decided to bake bread. It seemed calming, productive, and something to do to help squelch the fears and anxiety building up inside me while my girls were away for the weekend on a court ordered visit. So, bread.

Friday night I sifted through recipes online and picked the one I could just tell would be perfect. I left my little house in the country to walk up and down grocery store aisles: flour, yeast, fresh butter for when it was complete. I was hopeful. Excited. And ready.

Saturday morning I began measuring ingredients into the ceramic bowl, careful to use the wooden spoon and not the metal. I shaped the dough into a ball, covered the bowl and began the wait. The magic of rising was about to begin.

All day I cleaned. I mopped floors and organized little girl t-shirts by size and color. I vacuumed the rug and scrubbed the bathroom sink. I dusted mini blinds and washed bed linens. And then I pulled out a magazine to flip through while I waited for the final moments before I could finally put the dough in the oven.

Except it wasn't ready.

It wasn't even close to being ready.

It hadn't changed at all.

I had done all that work, all that hoping, all that planning, wasted all that excitement for a ball of wet dough too pathetic to rise.

I tossed the good-for-nothing dough in the garbage can and slammed the lid shut.

I had failed.

I went upstairs, threw myself on my bed and cried. Cried over bread. Cried over my children. Cried over what my life was: a single mom barely getting by.

I couldn't even make bread.

The next morning I awoke tired and spent before the day even began. I shuffled through my morning not really doing anything at all.

And then I went to throw something away.

I pushed down on the foot pedal of the trash can and watched the lid open... inside was the most astounding sight! The dough from the night before had risen! Risen in astronomical size! The entire kitchen garbage can was filled with expanding dough! How was it that the secret to getting that dough to rise was to be thrown into the bottom of a dark pit and seemingly forgotten?!

Since then I've learned a few things. I've learned that just like bread dough we need time set aside to just be still before we can be made into the final product. I've learned that sometimes the most growth we will ever experience will come after we've been thrown into a dark pit and seemingly forgotten. And I've learned that we're never actually forgotten but rather there is a timing element that we don't always understand and the enemy uses that time of wait to whisper lies to make us feel forgotten.

God takes each one of us in His hands and puts everything we need into our hearts and minds. He measures the ingredients of trust and honesty and love and compassion and gratitude and grit and strength and self-discipline... everything we need. And then He waits and watches while we decide to rise. He watches while we try and decide the best way to rise: do we respond with love and compassion? Or do we respond with hate and deception? Do we encourage others or tear them down? Do we laugh when the day is long or do we complain and argue?

How we rise? That secret component that gets everything in us to transform into something mighty? That's a relationship with God. That's what we need to get right while we wait. Without that relationship, we're just always going to be a small ball of a person in wait.

Sometimes it might feel that we're not growing. That we're stuck in the same spot we've always been, even though we're doing all the right things. We have to be patient. We all rise at different rates.

And sometimes, yes, for some it is like this - sometimes we will find ourselves thrown into the bottom of a deep, dark pit. And we will feel lost. And forgotten. And we will feel like this is the worst possible position we could ever find ourselves in. But we will also find that we will grow in astronomical size.

One day, the lid will open, the light will pour in and everyone around us will smile in amazement.

Because we should never underestimate how tall a person can rise from a pit.

By the way, I learned how to bake bread.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

You Don't Belong in my Club

You don't belong in my club. I don't want you here. And I'll vow to do whatever I can to keep you out.

I feel so strongly about this that I will relentlessly and strategically pursue whatever avenue possible to ensure that you do not ever get welcomed into my club.

I will talk about this to every person I see - friends and strangers alike: "she cannot be a part of this!"

I will passionately plead my case to anyone who will listen: "SHE DOES NOT BELONG HERE!"

I will lose sleep and write posts and pray with a fervor none have seen before.

I will organize events with the sole purpose to keep you out.

No, you don't belong to my club. I do not want to see you here.

In my lifetime, I don't ever want to see you here.

You belong somewhere else. Away from this.

You belong to the club of Mamas of Miracles - not to the club of Mamas Without.

You belong to the club of Mamas of Children Who Have Overcome - not to the club of Mamas of Children Who Didn't.

You belong to the club of Mamas Who Get More Time on Earth - not to the club of Mamas Waiting for Heavenly Reunions.

You belong there. But not with us.

Now, before you go all feeling sorry or bad or guilty or awkward for me and the Mamas in my club - don't. Simply put, we know loss - and not a single one of us wishes it for another.

We understand things that those who have never experienced a great sorrow do not: and that is a PRIVILEGE. It is a gift and an honor that we wear with pride. Do not feel sorry for us.

Rather, it is what we have been entrusted by God in experiencing, in learning, in knowing, that makes us a force to be reckoned with.

When we say we'll pray for your baby girl, those aren't just token words. We will get down, bare knees on concrete, arms raised, praising Jesus and pleading for a miracle. Not just one time. Not just before bed. But every second of every day until God has ushered your child safely through this valley.

When we say we'll pray we do it so thoroughly no stone is left unturned. We pray for the healing of your child, of course, and friends and family, but also for anything we think you'll need protection against or help navigating: insurance claims, moody staff, car trouble, utility bills, that nosey neighbor, the cutting words of those who mean well (and those who don't).

We pray that the milk in the fridge doesn't spoil and the toilet doesn't clog because we have first hand knowledge that any small thing has the capabilities of pushing you emotionally over the edge, suddenly becoming the biggest hurdle you've ever seen trying to convince you nothing is working and all is lost. All lies. We know all about those lies...

No, you don't belong in our club. No mama ever does. Our membership already too large for the peace of this mama's heart. So we use our strength in numbers to pray you through. Pray you out. Pray your membership DECLINED.

Pray you into another club altogether.

We hear you, Mama. We hear your pain and your fear and we know you don't want to belong to our club, either. You can say that out loud - we won't take offense to that. We know this club sucks.

That's we pray. Why we share your story. Why we encourage others to pray.

That's why we advocate. For you. For your family.

That's why we encourage others to join in your fight.

We are relentless and we do not stop.

Because you don't belong in our club. We don't want you here. And we'll vow to do whatever we can to keep you out.


Kaitlyn is currently being prayed through a
traumatic brain injury sustained 22 days ago.

This post is dedicated to our dear friend, Lisa, who we've been praying for, through and out... And for her incredible daughter Kaitlyn. You've got a lot of work to do, kiddo, but there's a whole host of prayer warriors praying you through!

ATTEND:

Benefit Taco Dinner: Mon., Feb. 1st at Hernandez Restaurant

PARTICIPATE:

Kaitlyn's Crusaders: March 5th [Tennis, Zumba, Cycling]

Bowling for Kaitlyn: April 3rd

DONATE:
Kaitlyn's Healing Account [GoFundMe Page]

PRAY:
Follow #prayforKaitlyn on Facebook


Friday, January 8, 2016

Knowing

The easy part was knowing.

As hard as it was to hear the words Avery didn't make it, at least I finally knew. I had my answer. I knew how to proceed (even if I had no clue how I was going to proceed).

The dying was the easy part.

The hours before it were pure hell.

Not knowing. 

But knowing something wasn't right. But not exactly what that something was.

Pacing the floor. Looking at the clock. Wiping down the counter for the third time.

Looking out the window. Punching in the cell phone numbers.

Listening to it ring. And ring. And ring. Before hearing the voice politely ask me to please leave a message.

Going to the bathroom but not knowing what to do when I got there.

Walking down the hall.

Calling for someone. Anyone.

Saying the words I can't find the girls.

Still not knowing. Hating not knowing.

Praying.

Punching in more numbers.

Trying to sound calm when I told the police it's not like them; they wouldn't be late.

Pacing. Going to one door. Then another. Looking out the window. Typing in the phone number trying not to cry more pacing back to the door then to the window check the phone call my mom and God please help me!

The rising of fear reaching levels of epic proportions.

The scenarios in my mind growing out of control.

I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm just over reacting. The girls are fine. I know they're fine. They just lost track of time. It's okay. Don't be ridiculous they are going to be fine.

Deep breath.

Over and over.

Hearing the doorbell.

Welcoming them in.

I'm sorry. There's been an accident...



And finally knowing.