Enthusiasm

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“Mom,” Nora whispered loudly. “That lady has a baby in her tummy!”

Standing  in the middle of a full elevator, I chuckled uncomfortably and quietly agreed.  Eleanor then turned away from me and addressed the pregnant woman directly, “I have a baby too.”

The woman smiled kindly as Nora, with unwavering enthusiasm, kept going, “Yeah, my baby died.”

The woman audibly gasped, and darted her eyes towards me – I could tell she expected me to assure her that it wasn’t true… Perhaps I would counter with a casual response about a 3 year old’s active imagination, or maybe I would blame it on a mild naughty streak…

Instead, I gently smiled and affirmed of my daughter’s declaration.

The elevator grew painfully silent.

As the pregnant woman hugged her baby-belly and looked anywhere but at my small daughter, Eleanor turned back towards me, “I love our baby, mom.”

The elevator doors opened and as we walked away I took my daughters small hand in mine and  tried to encourage her enthusiasm, her bravery… her grief, “I know you do darling, you are such a good big sister!”

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Broken

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Recently, I was caught off guard in what proved to be a vulnerable interaction with a stranger. This woman probed into the shadows of my life, and her gentle demeanor duped me into trusting her.  To be honest, I tend to trust most people in this regard, for the simple fact that I long to say my son’s name out loud.

At any rate, I quickly wished I hadn’t  been so forthcoming as I watched this woman pout her lips, crumple her brow and exclaim loudly, “How sad!” Her tone dripped with patronizing interest.  I scrambled to shield my heart in the likelihood of another disingenuous  remark, but was assaulted one more time before I could escape.

“I’m sure it was just meant to be,” she declared in a sing-song voice before offering a half-smile and a piteous head shake.

I was too stunned to answer her directly and hid within the scarred caverns of my heart until she finally walked away.  If I had a  do-over, however, I think I might have said, “No, it wasn’t meant to be, but God HAS proven himself faithful.”  Or maybe I would have just ripped her a new one… ” How could you possibly be so STUPID!?!? I hope you experience tremendous loss someday, just so you can know how awful you are!!”

I don’t want to play the victim – pick apart every well-meaning person who has the courage to say something.  But I don’t often want to be an educator either, always explaining and defending grief issues.  And I really, truly don’t want to be mean.  So I feel mostly stuck… sometimes stuck?  I don’t know.

I worry about venting too much on an issue like this.  Mostly because, I don’t want to be difficult to love – I want to forgive thoughtlessness when it finds me – sift through it until I can uncover the love that’s usually hidden amongst the offerings.  And love is always worth the pain, so please don’t walk on eggshells.  Please don’t second guess yourself out of sharing your heart with me.  I know not everyone can venture to the depths with me, I know.  But please don’t let ME scare you away.

I’m not scary, I promise… just broken.

Not Fair

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“It’s not fair!” CJ wailed after a spat with her sister that didn’t end in her favor.  “It’s just not fair!”

After sending her to her room to cool down, I joined her and began smoothing her hair and wiping her tears.  I sat close to her and did my best to model deep, peaceful breathing.

“You’re right, it isn’t fair.” I whispered. “I know.”

She slowly looked up at me, her eyebrows raising subtly.

“That’s why we need Jesus so much. Things will never be fair in this world, not for you, or your sister… not for me either…”

“What’s not fair for you, mom?” She asked with gentle incredulousness.

“Well, It wasn’t fair that my baby died.”

I watched her receive my words, her head slowly nodded and her small body quietly relaxed. I suddenly realized that at a very simple level, she believed me.  I didn’t need to persuade her any further, because, in that small moment, she saw a truth that stood apart from me.

I worry daily about the toll deep grief will have on my children.  I worry about the things outside of my control, poised to ravage the heart and soul of my precious children…  So I am so very grateful for the small moments when I catch a glimpse of God working in their hearts, fortifying their minds, and providing a beautiful story for their lives.

Jealousy

Well.  Death wins again.  Stupid death.

My mother-in-law left for heaven a little over a week ago now, and today our family is taking the first steps out of our ‘grief bubble’ as the loved ones we had gathered close are now heading back to faraway homes.  As we said our goodbyes to the living it reminds us all of those who are missing, the goodbyes that are permanent, and the never-ending loneliness deep within.

Our family is heavy with sadness, but as I exhale all the anxiety, anger and exhaustion I can’t help but indulge in a little jealousy.

HEAVEN!

I have a great deal of living yet to do, and Lord willing I will have many days ahead of me to ‘live as Christ’.  But heaven… Oh, to be in heaven!  It shines so bright!  So beautiful!  And I literally ache for my reunion day!

Calling all Monster Shirts!

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I having been meaning to formally thank everyone who purchased a monster shirt:  THANK YOU!

We raised $200 for Ted E. Bear Hollow!!!  It was humbling  to drop off the check, and let your generosity speak for itself,  “My son is so loved, he is important to people all across the United States!  People are making a difference because of Graham!”

The Compassionate Friends memorial walk and brick dedication was also a special time, and again, I was humbled to stand in a sea of blue.  “My son is loved, he is important and I am not alone.”

At one point a gentleman came up to me and referencing our blue-shirted monster brigade quietly asked, “who’s the mom?”

“I am!”  I beamed.  “His name was Graham, and I’m his mom!”  I was so contented, so proud of Graham and completely engulfed in love and support.

If you haven’t already posted or sent me pictures of your monster shirts, would you mind sending me a quick pic?  I’m going to throw them into a slide show and post them to the blog (I can leave out faces if you let me know).

Can you help me?

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Our family is separated this week.  Each of us in a different place due to a multitude of circumstances beyond our control.  We are disconnected and fractured by location, emotion, fear, anger…death.  I feel disheartened and weary.

Would you help me tonight?  Am I asking too much?  I know you already pray and think of us often, care for us and lift us up… But maybe I can ask for something specific for tonight and the coming days?

Would you share a memory of Graham?  A story or a moment…  A simple one, or something more complicated… It doesn’t have to be happy, because sometimes shared pain is the most comforting.  Maybe you never met him, but his memory changed the world for you somehow.  Maybe a picture has stayed with you…

Can you help remind me of his life and value – lift him up towards me so I can catch a glimpse?

Thank you