Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Following Directions

When I was 16 years old, I tried to ignore the sleek black antique Mustang my best friend drove to school. I looked over the roof of my other friend's brand new Mustang convertible, gleaming brightly from its parking spot. I pretended I was completely okay sauntering up to my nice Reliant K automobile with its faded blue interior and cracker box shape. I pretended I didn't mind the fact an 80-year old woman had driven this same car maybe two miles a week for the past fifteen years. But the truth is, I did mind. I thought I deserved better.

Never mind the fact that my father labored for hours in a too hot, dimly lit, loud factory for more hours a day than I worked total in a month in order to get me that car. Never mind that my daddy searched for the safest car he could get me for the money we didn't have. Never mind that there were four of us kids crammed within 5 years of each other, which meant cars every year and overtime every chance it was offered. No, I thought I deserved better. Just because I existed, I suppose. It wasn't like I had a good reason.

My dad gave me that car proudly. He showed me how to turn the lights on, the wipers. He stood back proudly and ran his hand along the side, "not a single scratch on it! Can you believe that? Not a single scratch!" I didn't know why he was telling me that. I just knew it wasn't a Mustang.

He told me to keep the gas filled and to remember to change the oil regularly. That was important. Without proper care, this car wouldn't last.

If you dug down deep inside me - and the sad truth is, you wouldn't have to go that deep at all - I didn't want this car to last. It was an old lady car.

I tossed McDonald's wrappers in the back seat. I spilled soda and didn't bother to wipe it up. The car was embarrassing. Well, it wasn't. I mean, it was a reliable car. It was in good shape. And it was mine. But why did I have to get the used, out of style, old lady car? Why couldn't I get the cool car? No one else had even heard of a Reliant before. I know I hadn't.

I backed into a guardrail in an alley parking lot. I scratched the mirror in the drive thru at the bank. I rarely put more than $5 gas in it at a time, keeping it steady right between 7-miles-to-go and dead-any-second. And those oil changes? Well, I had better things to spend my money on.

I was 16 years old and about as bull headed and idiotic as a kid can be who thinks they know everything about the world when the truth is they haven't been off the block. I spent my money from working at the local Subway sandwich shop on expensive Marithé François Girbaud blue jeans, even though I had no idea how to actually pronounce the name brand I so desperately coveted. I bought Coca-Cola rugby shirts and Guess sweatshirts to make up for the years of ill fitting hand-me-downs and stretched out pastel striped sweaters. And that car my daddy so proudly handed me the keys to? Well, I couldn't be bothered with taking care of it.

It didn't take long for that car to start acting up. Shaking when it shouldn't. A strange noise here and there. It started to smell funky in the hot sun. It was my fault, of course, but that didn't stop me from marching up to my father with a long list of complaints to air.

He just shrugged his shoulders. Told me I'd better start saving up for the much needed maintenance and repairs. Told me how there wasn't anything he could do. Or would do.

The thing is, he gave me a gift. A gift that had worked beautifully. A gift that fit my needs and fit my pocketbook. A gift that would suit my needs and keep me safe. A gift with no strings attached; no balance due, no favors owed. All he asked was that I take care of it. That's all. Simple as that. Take care of it.

He even told me how to do it. Respect it. How hard was it really to do the right thing and throw out the trash and change the oil every 3,000 miles?

But I didn't think that car was good enough for me. I thought I deserved better so I didn't give much thought to taking care of what had been given to me. And I never gave much thought to the simple fact that not taking care of a gift someone gave me was an incredibly rude and selfish thing to do.

I wonder how often God gets frustrated and angry with my selfishness? My never ending list of complaints: Why does this happen to me? Where is my miracle? I deserve better! I list my frustrations of the world around me, buttered up and seasoned as if to look like constructive advice: Think of the good that would come if you just did this... I stomp my feet and pout because it isn't fair! It shouldn't be this hard. I'm a good person and I deserve a good home. Enough money in the bank account so as not to worry. A house that's safe and not about to fall apart.

I wonder how many times God shakes His head and reminds me: "I gave you a gift and told you exactly how to take care of it. Have you? Have you done just that?"

He gave me my life. He placed my soul in this earthly body and whispered, "Love."

Because that's really all there is to figuring out the secret of this life. Love. If I love you I cannot say a hateful word toward you. If I love you I cannot purposefully go out of my way to say things that hurt and cut into a soul. If I love you I cannot spread lies about you and gossip behind your back knowing these untruths will pain you and cause others to doubt you. And if I love God, which is who brought me into being and gave me this gift of life in the first place, how can I take a breath with clear conscience knowing I am taking His gift and scratching it, spitting on it and tossing garbage all over it?

There was so much anger this holiday season. So many frustrated people waiting in lines that were too long, cursing each other over parking places. Families seething because schedules didn't work out and all that was left was bitter rage instead of understanding. We all think we deserve better, but have we changed the oil in our own cars?

I miss that old Reliant K. I really, really do. It's long gone now. I got rid of it the second I was able. Tossed aside the reliable and traded it in for a string of bad choices that looked better on the outside. My daddy knew exactly what car would suit me best; it was right as rain. But like most things in life, you don't realize how good it is until it's gone.

I believe my Father God knows exactly what I need and where I'm supposed to be, skimpy bank account, dilapidated house and all. And it is the right place for me, even if I look over and see the outside of someone else's life glinting in the sun. Yes, that includes Avery's death, too. It's hard for me some days, but it's like that faded blue interior of the Reliant: not my choice, just part of the gift I was given.

The thing that keeps me going? Love. I know that's all God calls me to do. "Just wake up this morning, Bridget, and love on that baby boy of yours. Love your friends. Love that lady with the harsh words - she's forgotten what love feels like. Just love. It's as simple as that. I'll take care of the rest."



And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
- 1 Corinthians 13:13 -

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Travelling to Haiti

It's funny; when people are alive we do a lot of relating through the things we have in common with them. We find that common ground and cling to it. It's comfortable. It's enjoyable. It's what we know.

When someone precious to us dies, we frantically try to figure out all that stuff that we didn't have in common.

Who were they really? What thoughts did they have before falling asleep at night? Why did they enjoy so much the things that we couldn't relate to?

Although, as my daughter, I knew her very well, I didn't know Avery as a classmate, or as a friend, or as another kid in gymnastics class. Who was she when she wasn't my daughter?

I had always known that Avery felt called to help others. She was drawn to the kid who sat alone, felt the need to protect the kid who was made fun of for being too nerdy, felt it her duty to extend her hand to those who had fallen. 

I just didn't understand why.

I knew that she would spend her life quietly fighting for others, unafraid to hug the less fortunate or the sick. I foresaw her heading out on mission trips, moving to a third world country to take care of orphans in order to teach them about Jesus Christ and the importance of clean water.

I just didn't understand what made her want to do this.

After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Avery felt an even more immediate  - almost desperate - need to help. Even though she was only 7, she took the country on like it was her own flesh and blood. She raised money. She raised awareness. She begged me to adopt as many orphans as I could, explaining that (even if I thought we didn't have enough compared to our US neighbors)  we could share our clean water. We could share our food. We could share our beds.

She offered to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag so kids from Haiti could sleep in her bed. And she suggested we transform the dining room into a bedroom. With four bunk beds we could change the lives of 8 girls.

One of my favorite moments was when she brought this letter to me:


She was so serious about saving the people of Haiti.

After Avery died, I spent a lot of time looking at her things. She didn't have much. True to her form, she wasn't interested in material things. She valued experiences more than items. But the few items she did have told a beautiful story.

References to God in the margins of a book. Highlighted passages in her Bible. Letters she received from her friend, Ashley, planning sleepovers. And in her spiral notebook from school, multiple pages of the same letter started and stopped and scribbled through; her way of trying to find the right words to convince her classmates that more needs to be done to help Haiti. "We cannot forget them!" she writes passionately.

If God so allows, I believe there is an 11-year old, fair-skinned angel watching over the orphans in Haiti as we speak.

Since we started AVERYday Ministries we have financially supported 4 different people headed to Haiti to make a difference. Four. In less than a year. That makes me think Avery would be pretty proud.

Last summer, we also sent a pair of her tennis shoes and some awesome t-shirts. To think there are little kids walking around in a bit of Avery warms my heart.

 
It didn't surprise me when I was contacted about an upcoming mission trip organized through Children's World Impact. Avery had gone to school with a sweet young boy named Cody and his mother was now planning to go to Haiti for this first time this January. She wanted to ask if there were another pair of shoes or some clothes I'd like to send down. What she ended up asking was if I wanted to go, too.
 
The problem was, the deadline was the next day. And it was already getting late. There was no way to know I could even get ahold of anyone. The director was understandably very busy. Also, I had no idea how I would handle the cost. I did just quit my job and all. And what skills do I have? I've never been on a mission trip before. I hadn't even heard of them until I had kids of my own.
 
I ultimately told Anna that if it was God's will to have me go to Haiti, He'd see to it that it was done. If He didn't want me to go, He'd see to that to. It was in God's hands.
 
I dialed the number for the director. He answered on the first ring.
 
After talking with him I realized who he was: although I didn't know him personally, he had been one of our main supporters for the Jamie Grace concert we held in Avery's honor.
 
Dots were connecting.
 
At the first informational meeting I saw not just one mom of Avery's classmates - but several! At the end of the meeting another woman approached me. She told me that while her daughter was much younger than Avery, they had gone to day care (at Mary Jo's) together. She told me she remembered Avery's sweetness and gentleness with her young daughter.
 
That wasn't all; several relatives (aunts & uncles) of a sweet, sweet boy in Avery's class were also scheduled to go on this trip! It was Jonny who organized a raspberry picking fundraiser; Jonny who carried his remembrance ribbon to school with him; Jonny who painted a beautiful portrait of Avery that hangs proudly on my wall. And it was Jonny who was responsible for those All Day Avery Day t-shirts to be sent to Haiti this past summer.
 
I looked around this room and saw over and over people who knew Avery. Who had talked with her, saw her in the halls at school or while dropping off kids for day care. Who had learned who she was through a young nephew. Who felt compelled to support the ministry of a little girl who just loved Jesus.
 
I saw all these people and I knew....
 
 this is Avery's trip.
 
 
I'm just so grateful to get to go along for the ride.
 
I'll be travelling to Haiti on January 6, 2014. Assisting on a medical mission trip through Children's World Impact.
 
The orphanage we'll be working with is in need of some items; I'm asking for these items in lieu of Christmas gifts. So, as much as I'd love a Starbucks gift card, it seems pretty ridiculous when I realize these kids are going without some of the essentials. [One of the things we were cautioned about was eating in public. We were asked to eat privately away. What does it look like to pull out a granola bar from your back pack when some of these kids haven't eaten in two days? Kind of makes that Starbucks habit of mine look utterly pathetic.]

Underwear and panties
[Ladies: sizes 2T to ladies 7]
[Men: sizes 2T to men’s medium]
(the boys prefer the boxer brief style)
Toothbrushes
Toothpaste
Deodorant
Bar Soap
Diapers size 3, 4 & 5
Baby Shampoo
Wipes
Laundry soap
(the scented pods are great)
Dish Soap


 ALSO:

dresses for women & girls

or any dress clothes for boys & men


 (The people of Haiti believe in dressing for church. If they don't believe they have something worthy for worship, they won't go. Remember, Haiti is WARM. Summer clothes, please. And modest dresses.)


I will be accepting donations of the above until December 31st.
 
So, when you're out doing your last minute Christmas Shopping, feel free to pick up a pack of underwear or some laundry pods. It'll be the best Christmas gift you can give!
[You can drop items off at my house, or contact me to arrange a pick up!]
 
 
If you feel led to financially support this mission trip - or future trips, you can donate online at www.childrensworldimpact.org or you can mail a check to:
 
Children's World Impact
N7176 Lakeshore Avenue
Elkhorn, WI 53121.
 
When donating, please note “Bridget McCarthy” with any form of payment. (This ensures that the donations are credited towards my portion of expenses for the project.) All donations are tax deductible.
 
***
I'm pretty sure I'll never get the chance while on earth to learn every detail of who Avery was and what made her tick, but I believe visiting the country Avery loved so much is going to give me an insight to her soul I wouldn't get otherwise. I believe this trip is God coordinated and is about to change my entire outlook on the world. 
 
And I'm positive Avery is squealing with delight  - not just because her Mama is going, but because her Mama is doing something that we didn't necessarily have in common when she was alive. I'm meeting her in her place. Not in mine. As parents, especially, we need to do that more often. Seek out your child's interests and meet them there. Don't just rely on the things you have in common to build a lasting relationship.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Things That Stick

I've always been sensitive. If there is a slight breeze, I'll feel it. If there is a whisper of an odor, I'll smell it. If there comes a chill in the air, my body feels it. And if there is a word or deed that hurts, my fragile soul will begin to crumble.

I understood at an incredibly young age the power of words. Not just the words themselves, but how they're delivered. The passive aggressive comments that are meant to attack. The back handed compliments whose only purpose it was to damage. And while, of course, when directed at me, my heart would break and I'd start to cry, it was when I heard things about my children that the pain 
I felt would just about almost crush my spirit into nothingness. 

I have been so stuck lately on a comment that was made many years ago about Avery. It hurt the first time I heard it, but the remembrance of it makes me angry. And I can't understand why. 

And so it is that I write. Because for me, I don't know what I'm going to write about or what conclusion I'll come to until I get to the end. I write what needs to come out trusting that somehow God will use the written word to help me make sense of things. And, 9 times out of 10, I feel better, more at peace, after I write. And I need to feel better about this.
 
Avery had eczema. That meant really dry skin. More than likely it had to do with undiagnosed
Celiac. Eczema is one of a ridiculous amount of symptoms of Celiac. Two years before her death we cut gluten out of her diet and she was like a totally different kid. Even her skin improved dramatically. But we didn't know that at the time. She was just a young child with really dry skin.

It was summer time and Avery was busy playing with a bunch of kids while I was at work. When they wanted to go outside sunscreen had to be applied. I was eventually told by the adult in charge that they would rub the sunscreen on all the kids except Avery. Avery had to do it herself because they didn't like the feel of her dry skin. They went on to tell me how they always kept their own children's skin nice and moist by rubbing lotion in every night and what a wonderful experience that was. 

I was stunned, but laughed it off. I'm not good at assertiveness and I'm too emotional to even start to say what I feel (lest I turn into a blubbering idiot 37 seconds in) and I don't like confrontation. Even 
I know that someone who feels compelled to go up to a mother and point out their child's skin problem has no cares about hurting feelings.

So, I did what I always do. I laughed it off. Chuckled weakly, nodded my head, yep, yep she's got dry skin. Oh, hey! I'm late, we have to get going! When what I wanted to say was are you serious? You are supposed to be some fabulous child advocate and yet you single out the children not good enough for you? 

My feelings were hurt; yet, worse was my fear that Avery had felt this different treatment. That she had possibly felt the hurt that comes from being segregated and subtly shown you're not good enough.

But Avery never let on to me that she even knew this had happened. We walked on into the sunshine, celebrated the day, continued to sing way too loud in the car, and ate way too much popcorn as a snack before bed.

And I forgot about it.

Or so I thought.

It seems now, for whatever reason, this comment has come back to haunt me. It won't let me go. And it leaves me feeling angry.

Angry because I was her mom and I failed her. I was too weak to say something. I should have stood up and clearly disallowed that type of behavior towards my child. And yet, I knew that it wouldn't have mattered. They were already treating her differently; doesn't matter the reason: too annoying, too snotty, too dirty, or too dry - that wasn't going to improve just because I called them out on it. 

Angry because my daughter deserved better. All our daughters do. And our sons. Who comes into this world asking for drug addicted parents or a mom who's a stripper, or a palsy that confines them to a wheelchair, or a skin disorder that makes their arms feel like sandpaper? Who of us entered this world controlling our circumstances? Our physical appearance? The amount of money in the checking account? And yet somehow, as an adult, we feel we have the right to treat people - young, innocent people - different because of something they have no control over. As adults, we should know better. We should be better.

Angry because I am so naive as to believe that everyone who chooses a profession that claims to be an advocate of children is actually a practicing advocate of ALL children. Not just the cute ones or the ones whose mom's drop them off wearing the NorthFace jacket, yoga pants and Uggs. 

Angry because when I look at all the children waiting in orphanages or in foster homes for a family to love them - just love them - not provide a upper middle class home with a fireplace and spring break vacations to Myrtle Beach each year - just LOVE - they aren't chosen because they're not perfect enough. They aren't cute enough. What are we telling them? If you were just a little closer to perfect you would have been chosen. Unfortunately, you're not good enough to deserve my love and acceptance.

Sometimes I see the most judgmental adults with the seemingly perfect kids. They don't know what it's like to put a baby in physical therapy with the prayers that they will someday walk. They don't know what it's like to battle a learning disability secretly fearing the limited future of their child. They don't know what it feels like to be the mom in the stands whose child sits each and every game on the bench, whose teammates forget he was even part of the team after they graduate. 

I wonder why God does that. Why does He give these judging adults - most of whom can't even see that they're callously judging others - why does He give them these seemingly perfect situations? 

And then I think: but what would it mean for the imperfect child to be brought into a home where the one person who was supposed to love them unconditionally was unable to see past their imperfections?

Maybe that's why the comment is bothering me so much. To remind me of how easy it is to treat a child differently. To remind me of how easy it is to hurt a child through segregation. 

And maybe this is haunting me to serve as a warning; to remind myself what responsibility I have to the hearts of others. To caution me not to forget how the treatment of others can be filled with dignity, or infected with disrespect. Maybe it's God's way of preparing me for what's to come. 

Matt and I coach the 5th and 6th grade girls basketball team at Avery's school. Each and every single one of those girls I swear I can see into their soul. I swear God has graciously allowed me to look into their hearts, see where their hurts lie, see what they fear. They are so amazingly beautiful and I KNOW God has a special plan for each one of them. 

I want them to know how worthy and special and amazing they are. I want them to see that there were no mistakes when God created them. They are beautiful. They are special. And they deserve unconditional love. 

I want to sit every single child down and just give them a huge list of all the positive things that make them uniquely them. Because we are not our physical selves. See, none of that matters. Society makes us believe that in order to be successful you need the right hair style and the latest fashions. Society tells us we should focus on the outer appearance and then we will be liked and valued. And that is so wrong!

But guess what?

WE are society. You and me. Our families, our friends, our co-workers. It's US who teach this way of thinking to our children.

And I have a choice to make as to what beliefs and comments I throw out in the world because, trust me, something will stick.

I want to be the person that would take that child with dry skin and a heart of gold each and every day, a thousand times over. And it would be me who would feel lucky and blessed. Me who would feel so privileged to be trusted with God's most special children. And all He would ask is that I just love them.

Such an incredibly important thing God calls us to do... simply love. Love so hard that it sticks with that child no matter where they go in life.

Maybe all this remembering of something thrown out in the past is just a way to challenge me to watch what I throw out in the present.

You know, I do feel better. And now I know better, too.

 

Ephesians 4:29ESV
 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,
 but only such as is good for building up,
 as fits the occasion,
that it may give grace to those who hear. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Dance

When Avery died, all the dreams and expectations I had for her died, too. Of all the things she wouldn't do, the fact that she wouldn't attend prom was one of the toughest for me to accept.

See, I had always wanted to be that mom who drove to the big city (in my case, Milwaukee) in search of the perfect prom dress for my baby girl. We'd shop and eat and laugh and shop some more. We'd make a big deal over getting her hair and nails done and I'd take no less than 117 photos the day/night of the infamous prom.

I'd stay up ridiculously late reading and not watching the television just waiting for my baby girl (who was growing up way too fast) to come home, fall onto the couch with a huge smile and announce that she had just experienced the best time of her life ever.

Jadrian had little interest in prom. She had even less interest in sharing that experience with her mother. And so, in a way, everything fell on Avery.

And then she was gone. Just like that.

One minute I'm picking up KFC to bring to Matt at a job site, the next my daughter is dead. What a cliché evening: everything can change in the blink of an eye.

I remember sobbing, choking out the words she'll never go to prom. Of all  the things Avery will never get to do: get a drivers license, experience a first kiss, fly in an airplane, go to Disneyworld, graduate college, have a baby - prom was the thing that just about put me under.

She would never get to go to prom.

I fell even further into myself.

She would never go to prom.

How could that ever make sense? Avery was supposed to go to prom! That was the way it was supposed to be!

And then I remembered.

And smiled.

Because of course God knew this would be my thing.

Of course God knew how important this was to my heart. He knows me better than anyone.

And of course God would have provided for me. God doesn't want to cause me pain. He wants to hold me tight. He wants to help me through. He wants to provide love and hope and grace for me. And He'd do whatever He could to make that happen.

He'd even hold a prom.


Back in 2009, four years before Avery's passing - Avery came to me and said she wanted to host a prom.

She had it all planned out. We would clean out the basement and put up lights and have the prom down there. We would have food to snack on and drinks in case people got thirsty.
 
 
Matt would be the DJ. He could borrow Avery's pink CD player and pick out songs that everyone could dance to. All the kids would dance in their pretty dresses and fancy clothes.

 
And she handed me a list of kids to invite. Girls and boys. Friends from different towns, cousins, classmates and neighbors - it didn't matter to her that they didn't know each other. See, she explained, "they would become friends after meeting at the prom."


I don't know why I said yes. It certainly wasn't like me. I've always been way too insecure with where I live: low income with ratty furniture. I always felt other parents would judge me and my financial failures.

I don't know why I said yes. Normally I'd feel so awkward allowing Avery invite boys. I'd worry about what their parents would think about a woman who was trying to force kids into situations that were well beyond their emotional ages.

And yet, I said yes. Of course I said yes. I mean, this was a super cool idea! And Avery came to me with everything planned out. What she would wear, who she would invite, where it would be held, what they would eat. How could I ever say no?

And God knew that.

He knew I wouldn't say no.

Because He knew all I wanted was to see my baby girl go to prom.


God is good always.

He was preparing my heart long before I realized He was. He has never abandoned me. Not for a single second. And, while I wish with every sliver of my shattered Mama Heart that my baby girl was back in my arms, so I could hold her, kiss her, hug her, I cannot deny that God provided what He knew was something very important to me. It may not have been exactly what I imagined, but I did get to see my baby girl go to prom.

God is so very, very good.



** Thank you to  each and every parent who allowed their child to attend Avery's Pretty Pink Prom Party. Little did you know then how incredibly important to my healing that day would be.

 
***
"Death seems to take so much. We bury not just a body but the wedding that never happened, the golden years we never knew. We bury dreams. But in heaven these dreams will come true. God has promised a "restoration of all things" (Acts 3:21 ASV). 'All things' includes all relationships."   - Max Lucado, You'll Get Through This

Monday, December 2, 2013

Breathing In

About thirty-seven seconds after finding out one is pregnant, comes the rush of realizing that somehow this human life form will need to exit your body. And that it will  hurt.

Pregnant women hear a plethora of tales from used-to-be pregnant women detailing the horrors of childbirth (whether they want to or not). Woes of failed epidurals, the horrors of the Ring of Fire - "don't worry, it's just your flesh tearing" -  thirty seven hours of torturous labor; all will be told.

And yet, no matter how many stories are heard, each delivery is as unique and individual as the person giving birth. Yours may be better, or worse, or eerily similar, but never exact.

The thing to remember is that every ache, pain, and sensation will only be felt by you.

Others can try to empathize. They can rub your lower back, remind you to breathe, spoon feed you ice chips - any myriad of ways in an attempt to ease your pain, but they can't do it for you.

Funny thing is, enduring the contractions of grief is sort of the same. Every single shooting pain belongs to the one whose loved one has been lost. Every contraction of grief. Every single shooting pain - it's all  yours. Only yours. And there is nothing you can do about it, except endure.

Unfortunately, the longer time passes, the more irregular the grieving contractions come. It's not something you can time every five minutes anymore. It just hits. Could happen while standing at the grocery store staring at the sign that declares PICK YOUR SIDES. One minute you're grabbing a bag of frozen gluten free chicken nuggets, the next minute you're gasping breath and choking on tears, all the while holiday shoppers pass unaware that your beautiful 11-year old used to ask what the sides were for dinner.

Ironically, birthing labor and grieving labor is also handled in somewhat the same manner: you have to learn to breathe through the pain.

Matt woke me up Sunday morning for church. I looked at him and said, "I can't. I'm depressed." Thanksgiving put me under. Swept me away with the grieving current and held me under until I had no more strength left.

I settled into the chair in front of the TV with my comfy clothes on and I sat. And sat. And I stayed up late and sat some more. For days I sat, unshowered, munching on popcorn and flipping through thousands of images on Houzz. And Matt was sweet to not comment on my passivity, yet he was too scared to ask what was going on in my heart. He gave Brody his bath and heated his dinner. He watched Lifetime Christmas movies with me as if he enjoyed them.

He did exactly what he could. He was gentle and calm, reminding me to breathe through the pain. "I'll take Brody with me to the store to get some light bulbs so you can get some rest," he suggested. Because he knew this contraction of grief was mine to endure.

And then this afternoon, somewhere around 2pm, a thought occurred. I could shower. My body, stiff from unmoving, stood beneath the hottest water I could handle. Layers of protective defenses washed away, circled the drain and disappeared. I could feel my heart start beating again, and with each pulse came unimaginable pain.

After days of numbness and checking out, it was all rushing back. Pain so awful I wanted to curl up on the floor of the tub and rock myself to sleep.

Avery is gone. And that hurts with an ache no words can ever describe.

And yet, today I showered and breathed through the pain.



"Don't let the sadness overwhelm you.
Don't let the fear intimidate you.
To do nothing is the wrong thing.
To do something is the right thing.
And to believe is the highest thing."
- Max Lucado, You'll Get Through This

The One in which I take my Father for his Covid Vaccine

I got a voicemail the other day from the hospital saying ‘since you’re the contact on record we just want you to know your Dad can get a Cov...