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I spent a day thinking on how yours’ is the only shoulder I really want to sob on over missing you so, so much.
Then you show up in my dreams and let me. Real or not, I’ll take it. ❤
My heart has been so heavy lately. My baby girl is turning 5, and while knowing your last child is really out of the “baby” phase is hard enough, her birthday holds particular significance when it comes to grief.
The day my sweet girl turned one is the last day my mom ever hugged me. It’s the last time I ever heard her speak in her own voice. It’s the last time she was ever in my house, and the last time I ever saw her out of a hospital bed not hooked to countless machines.
She had to leave S’s birthday party to go to the emergency room for breathing trouble, and she tested negative for the flu. She left the hospital with a diagnosis of bronchitis and asthma, and a handful of prescriptions. The only sense I have ever been able to make of anything that happened after was that she contracted the flu while she was in the emergency room. It’s a surprisingly easy thing to do.
S is also going to be the same age that M was when my mom died. I don’t know what it is that makes that thought so hard for me. I realize how young M was when she first had to face death and grief and the pain that comes with it. I realize how much my babies have grown and changed. S is at that age where she understands connections within families, and she is old enough to have asked me more than once where my mom is. She even asked me recently one night if she cried when my mom died. It absolutely broke my heart.
I imagine talking with my mom all the time, telling her about them — the people they are, how much she would adore them, how right she was about so many things she told me being a mother would bring with it. I am grateful for so much — truly — but her being only a memory to one of my children, and not even that much to the other hits harder than anything.
So February brings one of the two days of my life that I am most grateful for, and also brings the day that was the first time I lost my mom. She came back over after she left the ER on my baby girl’s birthday. She had missed out on most of the gift opening, and the one year old cake smashing, and wanted to see all the things her “light at the end of the tunnel” had gotten for her birthday. She was tired though, and couldn’t stay long.
So I walked my parents to the door, and my mom hugged me goodbye for the last time. Every time I look out my front door I can still see my parents driving away, and my mom rolling down her window just enough to wave goodbye to me in the silliest way with a smile on her face.
She was back in the ER just four days later, and I couldn’t make it there in time to see her before she was sedated and on a respirator. She almost died that day (and many others along the way), and it was hands down the worst day of my life. Even the day she died, over three months later, wasn’t as horrifying as that first day and the things that it brought with it. Sometimes you block painful memories out to spare yourself remembering, but I remember every detail of that day.
It’s been four years, and I’m not sure February will ever be easy for me. I hope so, and I am incredibly thankful that it starts with a day to celebrate my sweet baby girl. But this one feels heavier than I expected and is colliding with SO many other emotions. But I have been determined to never hide or ignore any of those feelings, so I will embrace whatever they bring. But I am never exactly disappointed to leave February behind me.
I don’t know what it is that infuriates me so much more about this Texas church shooting than the others. Maybe it’s that more children are dead this time. Maybe it’s the astounding irony of hearing “thoughts and prayers” coming out of my television speakers when the shooting happened in a church, and to praying people. Maybe it’s because churches are on the list of places the people we love can be riddled with bullets by the guns some of us seem to love more.
Whatever the reason, this one has created a knot in my stomach more than most mass shootings (and God knows there are plenty.)
I watched the governor of Texas say this morning that “killing was illegal too” and the gunman still committed murder. That was actually his response to what can be done about the availability of guns. The leader of the state threw his proverbial hands in the air and spewed idiocy rather than say he’d look into what could be done about the fact that in the state he leads, a convicted domestic abuser legally acquired a gun and murdered people.
And then there’s the “mental illness” claim. The other thing we blame and do nothing about. But I don’t think this is mental illness. And the fact is that mentally ill individuals are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes, not the perpetrators. Mental illness is the explanation we allow white Western men, but not brown Eastern ones. We don’t even allow those explanations to unarmed black Americans when they are shot in the back or choked to death.
Sure, some of these shooters were disconnected from reality. But what seems to be the case more often than not? White male entitlement. Most of this domestic terrorism is committed by white men who think it is acceptable to blow away the things they don’t like. The things they can’t control.
Over and over again, these men kill what they can’t control, because they think they are entitled to do so. Because our culture, and even our laws have told them they “deserve” to look out at a world that looks and acts the way they want it to.
They are wife-beaters, they are criminals, they are Neo-nazis, and they are white supremacists. Or they are regular guys no one, not even their families, suspected. But they are frequently white men who just aren’t getting their way in a world that has told them they deserve to.
But again and again, we will hear all of the political acrobatics to avoid doing anything to change the culture and even the laws that facilitate these mass murders. We will offer our thoughts and prayers, but The Bible tells us that faith without action is empty.
And we will hear about how faith will get these people through their loss. And that is true. I have been trudging through this grief thing for years now, and my faith in God has held me up during the many times I have been at my lowest.
But it is not that simple. The beginning of grief is a blur. Faith is easy in the beginning. It gets much harder when the fog lifts, and you look at the raw reality of what your loss has left you with.
These people who have lost parents and spouses and children have a much harder road ahead of them than those who don’t know what grief really feels like can understand. It is a long, ugly road. It will be going on for these people of Texas, and Orlando, and Las Vegas, and Sandy Hook, for much longer than our Facebook statuses will offer thoughts and prayers.
So until we do something meaningful, and we stop only praying, nothing will change. Until we demand change that is founded in facts and statistics (as boring as they may be) we can live in this new reality. And until we stop telling white men that they get to make their own reality look the way they have decided it should look, nothing will change, and any of us is vulnerable to their rage.
While I hope a LOT of people are praying for change and comfort for these people, I hope when they are done, they demand more from the people perpetuating the culture that is the real problem.
We needed to get our day started. Really. It was the beginning of a new homeschool week, and the morning was crawling closer and closer towards the afternoon. I looked across the room at my girls, ready to tell them it was time to head upstairs and get started.
They were totally immersed in the imaginary world they had created in our living room. They were laughing and smiling and making silly voices for their toys. It was priceless, but I still started to open my mouth to interrupt it all and get our school day going.
But then her voice and her words echoed in my mind, and I stopped myself.
“Take care of each other, because one day it will just be the two of you, and you will need one another.”
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I have a pretty set morning routine, and it always starts the same way. I get up and walk through my house, opening the curtains and blinds, letting in as much natural light as I possibly can. I love seeing the sun shine through my windows in the morning.
My favorite view, though, is once I open the blinds on the french doors leading out to our porch and backyard. But the other morning, I opened those blinds and discovered that I had managed to kill my potted flowers on the table outside. Not on purpose of course. I just forgot to water them. For like, a week. (Oops.)
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“I saw that one-year anniversary on the calendar as a milestone. I would get to that day, a whole trip around the sun without my mom, and it would be an accomplishment. I felt like the kid in the backseat asking “Are we there yet?” I was just so ready to feel differently than I did.
And then the day came. And you know what? Nothing felt any different. I’m not sure what I thought would happen– they don’t exactly give you a medal when you make it through. No pats on the back. And no tangible relief. Kind of a rip-off, right? Because that was HARD work, and a long road.” …
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