My Sons’ Death was a Springboard: Part Three

1. The human condition,

2. The power of relationship,

3. The gift of a day

My sons’ death gave me deeper understanding of these three things. Today I share with you #3… Open my eyes, to see people as you see them…. continued:

This day, each day, is a gift. And, I never fully appreciated this until the day my tears fell upon the still chest of my dead son; I yearned for just one more day… one more day to hug him, say I love you, and give him opportunity to know how much he was loved by us and by God.

I am more aware now of the gift of a day and regret my actions when I forget it. We are all called to make the most of our time, as it is said: “live like there’s no tomorrow!” That does not mean do everything you can to please your self with pleasures – the meaning of “living like there’s no tomorrow,” I think, is to cherish each minute of each day and purpose to speak truth and love into each human you are privileged to cross paths with. Your word of encouragement could save a life… sharing your supper could speak value into another’s heart… you being there no matter what, could assure another that life is still worth living; this is the gift of a day – one more chance. 

This is why I go on about my sons’ accidental death to overdose. I go on and on and share and repeat my stories like a toddler who sits on the lap of a mother and says, read it again! So that I remember, so that others are reminded and remember, and so that we all may not forget the understanding of the human condition, the power of relationships, and the gift of a day.

Yes, I have been spring-boarded into deeper understanding; my heart aches for my son who has gone to heaven, but I am grateful for the heart lessons I am learning and for beginning to truly see people, as God sees people – in need of love and compassion and help… in need of a Savior.

Look up and walk forward. One day we will each give account for what we have done on this earth – are you ready for that?

My Sons’ Death was a Springboard: Part Two

PART TWO:  As, I said…my sons’ death was a springboard into the deeper understanding of three important things:

  1. The human condition,
  2. The power of relationship,
  3. The gift of a day

Today I share with you #2… Open my eyes, to see people as you see them….

Because of my son, Caleb, I am privy to see a lot of people in the realm of recovery, people affected by the pain of a loved one struggling with addiction, and those who mourn the loss of loved ones to overdose, and the more people I listen to and talk with, the more backstories I hear. When it all boils down … when I look past the backstories full of weeping pain and wounds and hurts… I see vulnerable children of God, whom He created in His image. I see people who need love and care and who have need to be wanted and feel like they have a reason to keep going… just like me… just like all of us; these are basic human needs.

This involves commitment to relationship. Relationships take time and effort and sacrifice, but we all need them and even more so because of our human condition. Relationship can be as simple as a good word spoken to encourage another, or as generous as an invitation to supper, or as deep as being there for someone when you are needed no matter the time of day or night. Croix, Evan, Mike, and others are family to us because we see them and they see us; each of us has needs that we mutually fulfill. I see these friends in recovery doing this for other friends too. Because of my sons’ past involvement in the recovery community, I feel drawn to be in relationship whenever I can, with whoever is put in my path, because in this way, I am the hands and feet of God. The power of relationship begins to heal brokenness; seeing the human condition, it seems clear to me, that I need to do something about it.

I choose to deepen my relationship with Jesus, the One with the nail holes in his hands… and I do what I do because of Him.

What will you do?

 

 

 

 

My Sons’ Death was a Springboard: Part One

My sons’ death was a springboard into the deeper understanding of three important things:

  1. The human condition
  2. The power of relationship
  3. The gift of a day

Today, I share #1 with you…

Open my eyes, to see people as you see them. This was a daily prayer of mine… little did I know that my sons’ death would precipitate God answering that prayer for me.  Until my son died of a drug overdose in May of 2018, I believe I was living in somewhat of a naïve, idealistic bubble in quasi-pursuit of living the American dream: the, have-jobs-got-house-got-car-got church-got-kids-and-the-proverbial-golden-dog mode where only the really bad stuff happens to those “other people.” My circle of influence and camaraderie was with like-minded folk. After my sons death, I was catapulted into another circle, the wider circle of people who suffer, struggle, and who have been broken by circumstances of life and I could never have been able to see them, unless I was first broken myself. You know the childish sassy-come-back of, “it takes one to know one”… well that’s true, I’d say, it takes being broken to be able to truly see the broken, with your heart.

Broken, is the human condition. Broken, is what God sees and it’s the entire reason why Jesus was born in the manger and nailed to a cross.  The beginning to seeing how God sees, means seeing the brokenness of the human condition.

Truth is, we are all broken in some way – so be gentle with each other and take the time to really see people underneath their brokenness.

Ephesians 4:2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Whole of Merry Christmas in Just 4 Words

“Merry Christmas”… what does that mean anyway?

‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa-la-la-la-la-la, etc….

Happy Holidays. 

Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward men.

… And all the other typical quoted quotes pervade the songs, the cards, and the movies.

But, I can tell you the whole Christmas deal in just 4 words.

Born.

Died.

Rose.

Coming Back.

That’s the whole of Merry Christmas from beginning to end, and the why.

First, Christmas is a celebration of the baby-Jesus being born in the manger; the scene is sung about, depicted on cards, and given subtle due credit in seasonal movies.  But, why celebrate this particular birth?

Second, what happens to that oh-so-sweet-baby-lying-in-that manger? He dies; His was no peaceful passing.  He dies after being stripped, beaten til bloody, spit upon, and nailed alive, to a cross, for all to see.

Third: When death takes his last breath away, this baby-from-the-manger-grown-up is buried just like all the other dead of the day – in a tomb. Yet, when three ladies go, to pay their respects, the tomb was found empty – this grown man walked about as alive as ever and then rose up into the sky and entered heaven; this grown-man simultaneously was God, is God – this is how He could ascend. He sits there even now, with his Father, and gives full rest and peace to my son, Caleb, who has been in His presence since May 27, 2018.

Lastly, just wait.

Wait, because one day, this same Jesus will come back to get all of us who believe on Him and love Him. Everyone will see this, no eye left closed, and this will be the end.

This is the whole of Merry Christmas.  It is the full story of why we celebrate.  Jesus, and all He embodies in promise and love for us, is our peace on earth and our happy in the holidays; ‘Tis the season to be Jolly…. merry measure clothes us when we size it all up against these 4 words that tell it all.

Born.

Died.

Rose.

Coming Back.

So dear friends and readers – I extend to you all with my words and my art – Merry Christmas to you all. May you understand the whole story and find no excuse not to be Jolly!

See you in the New Year!

 

 

 

Holidays: Not a Time of Cheer for Everyone

Expecting one, who has lost their legs in an accident, to get up and walk like they use to, is ridiculous. They cannot do it – even with all the best wishing in the world – because life for them has been altered forever.

The same is true for every.single.person. who has suffered a tragedy, no matter what it was, or when it was; time makes no difference. Loss from disease or accident, expected or sudden – it does not matter – it’s all the same terrible.

For me, my tragedy is the sudden, unexpected death of my son to an overdose, eighteen months ago. I am altered for life – not just for a time, or a season; Life for me will never be the same. I walk around with a weight that bears down and a hole that has blown through my heart.

The trouble with holidays is that the expectation for everyone to be of good cheer, be happy, and enjoy the season is rampant.

And for some, it is very hard to embrace the holidays where “family all together” carving turkey at the proverbial Norman Rockwell table is thrown in our faces by ads, movies, and the general chatter of the holiday season.

While I am blessed to have a large, living family still gathered around, my momma’s heart weighs heavy… there is still one empty chair, one forever missing in the “family” photo, and one less child eating the traditional Christmas cookies – specifically, the butterscotch ones.

WHAT. TO. DO……?

That’s a question with a two-fold answer.

What to do if you are the friend, or family member, of someone who is not full of cheer and suffers with a broken heart this holiday season: 

  1. Be patient and do not judge when they do not want to attend a christmas tea, or the cookie swap, or even put up a tree.
  2. Extend the offer of conversation, a listening ear, and willingness to just be there alongside; try to understand; allow their feelings to just be.
  3. Do a practical help if possible – doing life is hard under normal day-to-day circumstances when a heart is broken – even more difficult during the holiday season, getting out of bed, some days, might be the total accomplishment for the day.

What to do if you are the one suffering from a tragedy, the same or different, as me:

  1. Have faith, God knows your pain and heartbreak; Trust He will provide all you need.
  2. There’s no way around the holidays – we just have to go through them;  even if you have nothing but tears – let yourself feel what you feel – be true to yourself, but be kind to those around you – it’s no ones fault.
  3. Don’t turn away from well intentioned acts of love; allow God to work in you, as well as in the well intentioned.

 God has not forgotten me, nor has he forgotten you;

“God is close to the brokenhearted.” Psalm 34:18a

So yeh – Holidays: not a time of cheer for everyone – but I tell you the truth, there is something even better than good cheer, it is knowing that you are loved by God with an everlasting love, no matter what…and in that, there is  HOPE – there for the taking, for everyone.

Be authentic in this season of holidays, Jesus loves, you just as you are.

Are you suffering with grief of one sort or another?

Are you local to the Pioneer Valley?

If so, I invite you to “SONGS for the NIGHT”

(click above, on Songs for the Night, for details)

 

My calendar is marked, is yours?

WHY GOD?

This is my question; WHY GOD?

I have whispered it, wailed it, and wondered it over and over and over again.

On my knees, with tears that fall gently and slowly, and in my tears that run non-stop, down my face and into my lap as I spew trembling, devastated words.

Why my son?

Why this way?

Why weren’t my efforts enough?

Why didn’t you answer my prayers?

Why. Why . Why God?

Each WHY I cry seems to define the hole that has been blown through my heart a little more each time; a haunting, emptiness is created and its name is void. In this void I wait; like a pleading child that wishes things are not as they are, and I wait for my Father’s answers.

Audible answers do not come.

God is sovereign.
He doesn’t have to answer me at all; who am I to question God? But, because I am His child, He is patient with all my hard questions and loves me still.

The grief period has gone and I stumble like one groping in the dark, looking for the light switch; I am in mourning.

Hope is my mantra; I stand on the Rock and recall all I know in my heart; I mourn with hope.

Over time, as I still whisper, wail, and wonder, I consider these answers:

Why my son? Why in this way? I answer, why not my son, because God uses each of us for His purpose, even if we do not understand the reasons; maybe our son, because God knew I am his mother and I would be willing to tell our terrible story so that others may be spared this trauma and maybe another son or daughter might not die?

Why weren’t my efforts enough? I answer, because I am not God. I answer, maybe it actually has nothing to do with my efforts at all… enough is a way of beating myself up and I should not go there. I know I did all I could because I am his mother and I loved him more than anyone else. Except God. God loved him more and that brings me to my last cry.

Why didn’t God answer my prayers? I answer, He did… just not the way I asked Him to; God loved Caleb so much, that he spared him anymore suffering on this earth; God freed him of his daily pain and struggles and He saved him right into heaven. What more peace can I have, than to know my son rests in the arms of Jesus?

Yes. I will mourn til the day I leave this earth and that is when I will have the audible answers.

For now, I leave you with two things:

  1.  A telling of our story
  2. A song that is fitting

IF you share a similar story, I encourage you to have Hope and run to God, even with all your WHY GOD questions; May you know the bigness of God’s love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Grief; Get over it and Move on…”

Grief; get over it and move on…” This statement, sometimes accompanied by the coy-inpatient look, even without speaking the exact words, is both feared and despised by those of us who have lost a son or a daughter to a substance, overdose death.
You don’t know, until you know.  So don’t presume to know when someone should get over their grief and move on.
The fact that this mom is even out of bed and moving at all, is an accomplishment on some days…
…because GRIEF, never goes away.
This is my battle with grief; this is about my son.

I am in the egg that sizzles in the pan with a pop and a splat;
I am among the crumbs left strewn across the counter with drips of hot butter trailing off the counter.
When the moon is heavily misted, on a cool night, I am there in the exhaled puff of your breath,
And in the rise of tiny goosebumps.

I roll in your mind like the ocean tide that breaks on the pebbled beach,
tossed over and over and over.
As the farm supply truck passes by,
And the bearded friends walk past, I am there too.

I am in the lulls and quiet places; Always in the holding bear hugs.
In the chuckles and giggles…
In the cannonball jumps…
In the flipping of the anticipated burgers, and the crackles of the bonfire, I am present.

Body, mind, and heart remember me.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Another day,
each day,
today;
I am always as close as the warm, sweet, milk breath of an infant sleeping on a momma’s bare breast.

As the shades of night are pulled,
And when the dawn awakens with the song of the mockingbird,
I settle in upon e v e r y t h i n g.
In the trash piled by the backdoor,
In the gritty grind of the stones underfoot,
and in each clomping step up the bare wood stairs.

The measure of love is immeasurable,
unable to be weighed and counted because I am always pressing.
Grief matches the love.
I am in it all.
Especially when the refrigerator door is left open.

So, you see…
There’s no getting over my grief because memories are everywhere.

Move on? I do.

Every day I get out of bed and do life as it unrolls before me and I live; I live with the grief undergirding my experience of everything in my path, it has become part of my DNA. My way of living is forever changed and I may walk slower than before, I may forget the to-do’s and ignore the insignificant, I may choose a different path than everyone is expecting. Fact.

No. Grief never goes away. Even when I smile, or laugh, and look as if all is well, know…that at any moment, a lump is in my throat, a tear is trickling, or a good cry is on it’s way.

If you know someone like me, be patient, be understanding, and be ever so tender. Treat others the way you would want to be treated if the tables were turned. Just do me a favor, do not tell your grieving family member or friend to, “Get over it and move on…