Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 16: Ruthie's Flowers

 So, I've been doing this 100 Happy Days challenge, which - let's be honest, I've become a pro at searching out the good. I have to. Without it, well, I'd end up in that deep pit of soul-sucking darkness with no hope of ever getting out.

Anyway, the challenge is simple. Find something that makes you happy, snap a picture, share it using the tag #100happydays. You can sift through the happy images of others or even create a photo book at the end of the challenge. Go to 100 Happy Days to find out more.

I really want to tell you about Day 16:

Ruthie's Flowers Blooming Bright ♥
#day16 #100happydays

Shortly before Avery passed away, my dear friend Ginger's sweet, sweet mother, Ruthie, passed away. It was awful and hard and heartbreaking. Ginger is quiet. She keeps things inside. She's intensely private both in her incredible strength and in her understandable anguish. Like polar opposites, Ginger grieves alone in the dark of her room; I'm wailing loudly in the middle of the street under the noonday sun.

When Avery died, it was so hard for Ginger. Her own grief so new and raw, had not even begun to heal -- and yet she felt called to help hold me up. She has been the behind-the-scenes get things done with AVERYday Ministries. Honestly, that wouldn't have happened without Ginger. She deals with my inability to make a decision or complete a task with grace and patience when a whole lot of people would have given up by now.

And she listens. She listens with a heart full of nothing but pure love.

You know how after someone dies everyone brings flowers? My whole house was filled to the rafters with blossoms and perfumes.... and then I had to sit by and watch them all slowly wither and die. That alone about broke me.

And so, on my first Mother's Day without my daughter, my sweet friends Ginger, Kim, Jocelyn and Kristy showed up with shovels and flowers and started planted: flowers of purple and orange. Avery's colors.

It was so precious and so beautiful! I didn't think it could get any better!!

But then Ginger quietly pulled out some plantings and transferred them into the earth by the front porch of my house. In a soft voice she explained, "these are Ruthie's flowers. They're from her garden."

That, alone, dear readers, is an incredible selfless act of love.

And when I saw Ruthie's flowers begin to bloom, with the deepest, richest purple I had ever seen - it was like I could picture Ruthie and Avery, standing hand in hand, looking down at the flowers, commenting how beautiful they are... how beautiful life still is.

Because it is, you know. Even through all the struggles and all the pain, life is still beautiful. If only you choose to see it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

When Your Worst Nightmare Comes True

Jadrian got in a car accident.
She's fine, physically. Well, aside from a fractured skull. Not skull. Forehead? That area above her right eyebrow where she hit the window. (You can't tell without having seen the hospital scans.)
She wasn't driving.
She was sitting. Talking. Looking off to the side. Not even conscious that she was simply trusting that they'd make it through the intersection without an issue.
Except that someone ran a red light and before she knew what was happening she felt the car she was riding in swerve, get hit and spin them around through the intersection.
And she lost it.
She panicked. Screamed. Yelled. Cussed.
And the driver boyfriend tried to tell her he was okay. His leg was stuck, hurt, but he was okay. And he tried to calm her down, but he couldn't.
A witness ran to her door, confused at her deafening screams. Manic. Absolutely manic.
She told me that they took them both in the same ambulance on stretchers. That her boyfriend reached out his hand to take hers. Telling her that he was okay, that she was okay, that they were okay, that they would be okay.
And she calmed down a bit, she said.
But then, at the hospital, they put them in separate rooms. "I saw him, Mom. He was talking and telling me he was fine and he looked fine - but I couldn't stop screaming. I thought they would come in and tell me that he didn't make it. I was waiting for them to tell me that he didn't make it."
They gave her three doses of medication to calm her down.

After "The Accident," Jadrian swore she would never drive again. That wasn't feasible, of course. She was 18 years old living in the country. To get anywhere she would need to drive. But we didn't push her - because pushing wouldn't help. She was a bundle of nerves twisted tight, trying her best to put on a strong face.

Once, we all got to the car to go some place and she freaked out because she would have had to sit in Avery's seat. We didn't realize it right away; but once we looked through the panic we saw what it was. So, no, we didn't push her.

Her fear, of course, was another accident. I'm not going to lie: it was mine, too.

I was afraid that something would happen and she'd get "trigger happy." I don't know how else to explain it other than, I was afraid something would happen to scare her into thinking the same accident was happening again and it would end badly.

I was afraid because I knew what I was doing when I would drive: I would find myself watching those utility poles. One after the other. Judging if they were too close to the side of the road, my mind flashing forward to an imagined car slamming into the pole, wondering what would have happened if they had hit that pole instead. Or that one. Or that one.

I felt like every curve was taken too fast, every ditch line was too close, every stop was too last minute. (I still feel like that.) And I wasn't even in the accident.

If my fears and anxieties were this heightened, what on earth was coursing through her veins?

We finally started to get her back..... and then this happened. A year and a half later, this happened.

Lord, please let me know what to say. You allowed this to happen again, help me say the right thing.
I prayed as I listened. I prayed as she described how out of control she felt. I prayed as she told me she doesn't understand how she could be in a second accident less than two years after the first. I prayed as she described her panic and fear of death even after learning that the only injury her precious driver received was a fracture in his leg.
Then she told me how much it hurt her to see how guilty her boyfriend felt. How, although he was not speeding, was not texting, was not goofing around, was not drinking - he still felt solely responsible simply because he had been the one driving her. It had been a beautiful evening, around 6:00 pm (yes, the same timeframe as the other accident), and he had simply been driving through an intersection. "He didn't do anything wrong," she said. "It was just an accident. It wasn't his fault! And I hate seeing him beat himself up."

There it was. At least to me: The Reason.

Sweet baby girl, don't you see it? Don't you recognize the guilt you carry and the responsibility you wrap around your soul that has no right to be there? It's not yours, let it go! Stop beating yourself up and start loving who you are. Recognize that there is more to you to label yourself with than the current labels you choose. You are good and smart and kind and precious and loveable and worthy of more goodness than you can imagine! Be who you were meant to be - not who you have sentenced yourself to be.
We talked about that. What it looks like as she watches the young man she cares so much about beat himself up and take all the blame, which just doesn't make any sense since the blame is not his to bear. About how him feeling guilty makes her feel awful and him feel worse and how it's just a vicious circle that doesn't seem to end so I asked her: Do you understand how guilt can eat a person up? Do you now see how we cannot stand to see you carry around that guilt, too?

 She's going to be okay.
Because I know that sometimes, when you're worst nightmare comes true, somehow you make it through to the other side.
I do not pretend it will be easy. There will be nightmares to overcome, flashbacks to step through, triggers to gain control over. She'll have to reign in her fears and get her anxieties in check and she's going to be okay.
But it wouldn't hurt if you helped pray her through this one, too.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14