Wednesday, November 27, 2013

For Annie

November 24, 2013
 Yesterday afternoon I sat on my bed and listened to my sister’s voice. She left a message and her voice was full of emotion and tears.  Her words dropped me to my stomach and I lay there after the message was over and I cried, those kind of tears that come with lots of aching things. I lay there for a while and then I called her back.  She told me the most amazing story I have heard in a long time. We both cried together because she knows the cost and I live it every day; we all do here at my house. She told me how Adam was leaving and how the boys wanted to go with him. She said that the twins were both trying to get in the truck. Somehow in the rush and the kids running and parents assuming everyone was out of the way Adam backed out of the driveway. Drew had hopped on the back of the truck and when Adam backed up Drew fell off and the truck rolled over him. Annie heard him scream. Adam felt the bump. Sounds and things they will never forget. Drew lay on the road. They ran and they went to their boy who lay on the ground, legs twisted. Annie said “when I heard him scream I knew he wasn’t dead.” They called 911. They waited for the sound of sirens. They prayed and Annie cried. They took him by ambulance and at the hospital they found no broken bones. There was gravel and little rocks in his ankles. There is skin torn off. They witnessed a brave little boy who told the doctors he didn’t want any shots of pain medicine. He said he would “deal” with the pain rather than have a shot. Drew took the tweezers and picked out the rocks. He is one of the bravest boys I know. Adam and Annie rejoiced there at the hospital and all of us close and far away breathed collective breathes of relieved air when we heard that his injuries are not bad at all compared to what they could be. I think angels were there. I know they were. I think that some big old guardian angels held that truck up so the weight of it would not press down on his little body. I think they held it up so we could all witness a miracle. I know that God knows how much we sometimes need to see goodness and to feel it in our little corner of the world. I think my sister knows today how big He is and I am glad. Sometimes in the craziness of life we lose sight of that.        
       After she hung up the phone I lay looking up at the ceiling remembering another little boy who also lay on the road. I remembered the horror of the sound of the words I heard.  She said they cut off his jeans and all she could think about was me and how my heart handled it. The cutting off of his jeans was her undoing. It was mine too. I cried again, alone on the bed with part of my heart still not handling it and part of my heart dancing because I was so so glad for her. I was so so glad she doesn’t know today what death is, at least not this kind. I am so very thankful today that Annie has not had to join me in this group of grieving moms who wander here trying to find a heart that can kind of handle it. I am thankful that Drew is only sore today and that he will run again and grow. I am thankful that we are not driving north today, while I would be weeping hot tears because I know what sorrow is and I would be sad that they would have to know what grief is and to live with the empty places we spend a life time trying to fill. I am thankful that I can see today where my boy is and that his little body is not on the side of the road anymore. I am thankful for Heaven and for small boys with big boots who wave to me through the gloom of this life. I think that with this season of thankfulness Annie can feel it, what being truly thankful is, because I can and she is my sister.  I think she saw a glimpse yesterday of what I live with and how much we have had to overcome.  I love her, this little sister of mine. I am getting to know her and I like who she is and she knows what mother love is, like I do. We are all thankful today for life and gifts and miracles and boys who make our hearts beat fast and scare us and how fiercely we love them.
Psalm 100:1-5  Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues to all generations.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 22, 2013 
  Today I am remembering a very beautiful boy who slipped into my life and only stayed for 63 days. June 21-August 22 and that was all. I miss him on days like this. I shut my eyes and I can see his face and feel the solid weight of him in my arms. Yeah I miss the boy. I got a hug from 1 of my boys yesterday and a phone call from my faraway boy and a memory of his brother who lives with him there in the land of endless day. I saw how precious his 10yr. old brother is who reads and laughs. I got a snuggle with the littlest boy and they all wrapped up to who I think he might have been were he here with me. I never knew missing someone for so long could feel like this. I am glad today for those golden days and for my grief road and for Heaven. Barbara Kingsolver said something pretty profound from my odd collection of quotes and my love of words. "You don't think you'll live past it and you don't really. The person you were is gone, but the half of you that's still alive wakes up one day and takes over again."

August 26, 2013 
       25 years ago at 2:30 in the morning I became mother. I was 16. I was scared. It was not a good time in my life. I was in Reno Nevada. I had gone swimming that day and gotten out because my stomach hurt. I went to the hospital later thinking maybe it was appendicitis when in reality I was in preterm labor. I had a short labor and the doctor coming was stopped by a mid-west freight train rolling through the high desert. The doctor on call came in all sleepy and Rosa flew into the crook of his arm while her water flew all over him. I had no idea. I will never forget the look on his face and he held my tiny baby up for the 1st time. She was 32 weeks. She was very sick. She was teeny tiny: down to 2 pounds 12 ounce at one point. She was a fighter. Her coming began my growing years. She is here with me today. I am forever changed. Last spring I watched her push her baby into the world and I knew the journey began for her too, this aching, lovely mess that we are. I love you Rosa. So much more than words. You have weathered much of the hard stuff with me and I love you for it and am grateful you shine like you do. God has surely covered your days, I know teen moms mess up and you were the 1st. Too much today for words.

August 27, 2013 
     They get up in the semi dark. New shoes lined up, fresh socks pulled on. The pan gets heated for the boys eggs. Cereal bowls are filled. The hair basket is emptied. Detangle spray spritzes into blond curls and long braids. Book-bags are ready with supplies, carefully selected by mom and sorted in piles. The camera snaps the 1st day photo's. I step outside with them and breath in this new day. The dew is heavy, sunlight streams over the trees. We rally in a circle on the sidewalk holding hands and I pray over them and with them and for them and this new year. They run for bikes and race me up the drive. She flashes by on her bike calling "kiss you at the top mom!" as her zebra shoes peddle by. The baby runs to me his backpack almost knocking him over and his arms go around me for the last baby hug, he kisses me and my heart does that crazy mom ache because he is my last and it went so fast and I will miss him. I feel him burrow into me, his orange t-shirt and his cool camo shorts and his new "army" haircut and I think I might bust wide open, but I don't, instead I choose laughter and I run with him arms swinging to the end of the drive. Very soon that yellow bus careens around the corner and they are gone off down the road. Leaving me. I walked fast this morning. Fast so I won't break and fast so my heart beats like it should and fast so tears don't leak. Go with God little people. Shine babies shine. I know you do. I sing this morning my breathe coming in puffs,... " Bless the Lord, O my soul, Worship His holy name! Sing like never before O my soul. I'll worship Your holy name, The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning It's time to sing Your song again Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me Let me be singing when the evening comes....Amen.

These are for you sisters of mine who are not on FB. Pieces of me and my life. Searching for goodness always. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Weathering Months

Weathering months.

   I read a blog the other day written by a women who grieves and she talked about learning to weather the month of June. I know about weathering months. I have learned the steps and plodded through them. The months when I am sort of undone and I have to stretch my hands wide open and up. I have March when the sky is gray and the trees are bare and I search for light. I have June, the 1st day of glorious summer, when life is new and the sky is beautiful blue here in Carolina. I have days when I remember and days I dread. August is my double month. I have a birthday: when he flew from my womb and it was all hot and it burned like fire and I ached for days after. He was covered in vernix and was all silver hair and big eyes. I loved him then; more than words. I also have the day his brother died: the day he flew from this life and his leaving burned like fire and I ached for days and weeks. Years later I still ache and I remember that burn. I loved him more than words and time. I have learned to weather, we all have to some extent and some of us do it with grace and some of us like myself are still walking clumsily and off kilter. It is beautiful this weathering process.
  The other Saturday morning I heard sirens far away. Often when I hear them I say “God bless them” because I know that someone is beginning a journey that I know well. I went on with my day and later I got a message saying there was a fire. I got a phone call in the afternoon that there was bad fire and it was in a mobile home and some children had died. I read once that if there is a fire in a mobile home you have 3 minutes to get out. This time 3 minutes was not enough time at all. A mother who is 8 months pregnant was sleeping and her little boys were playing. That morning she woke to something too terrible for words. Her 2 little boys are gone and she is left here. I know that feeling too. This month of July will be a month she has to weather and wade through for the rest of her life. I know that her burning ache began that morning and our whole area feels it with her. When we drove to church on Sunday we passed the house. We were silent in the van. In the middle of the fire and the burned things is a little bunk bed. The bed is metal and the mattresses are gone and the frame is bent. I can’t look at it without the breathe catching in my throat. It is worthy of a picture; those kind that speak 1000 words. I think about her often. I breathe her in prayer. At church on Sunday I thought about her and my eyelids burned with tears because she is feeling that aching burning missing her boys that I know so well. Her pregnant body is holding life. She is broken and she will push a baby from her womb and it will burn like fire and she will love that precious baby more than words and the ache of motherhood will begin again.
   I weather months. In a cupboard up high I have a bag. In the bag are a small pair of Levi’s, they have holes in the knees and they are cut apart. They used to fit my son. The paramedics cut them off his small body the day he died. I have never taken them out of the bag but every once in a while I look at them when I am feeling brave and I remember the day I began to burn like fire and this ache became mine. That young mom down the road will now weather months. Birth dates and death dates that she will dread and wait for and plod through. Someday she will laugh again. Someday when the weathering is easier her eyes will have light again. She will learn to have Hope and know how important it is to hold on too. She might hold a small shoe in her hands and feel her boys for a little while. She might touch a blanket  and hold it to her chest because she knows how great the cost is. I know her boys are whole today, safe in the Father’s house. I know she is broken and her grief road will not be the same as mine. I also know that she will take shakey steps forward and she will weather July. I pray she can one day do it with grace. God bless all people who grieve and deal with great loss. We weather these months with you. My August is not burning like fire or aching like it used to be but I do weather it; every single year and I miss my boys. I love them more than words and time.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Blueberry Days and Songs of Life

    Last week I piled the van with children and we drove through Carolina country. We drove to Pittsboro to the old man's farm. His sign hangs by the road, the words are fading from bright summer sun. There is a hand written sign by the gate saying "close gate behind you" so we do, one of mine hops out and opens it while I drive through then they close it behind the van. I love coming here, year after year and it always feels the same. The air smells earthy and like fruit. The place is loud with birds; turkeys and peacocks wearing bright blue feathers and shouting into the day. Chickens talk amongst themselves in loud clucks. I can hear children laughing through the bushes. We pick buckets full and have races and help the littler children who aren't as fast pickers. We sweat in the humid sunshine and we talk about big things and funny things and small things too. We drink water and splash it on our faces and our fingers turn purple from berry juice. I wish I could capture these moments. I wish I could keep us there in that timeless, staying the same place where the world is lost behind that crooked gate and I savor all of it. This place of safety and where life is easy and nothing pushes or pulls us to move on. Somebody sings and the Birch comes up to me determined to pick his own bucket full this year, he has his Ariat boots on and his cheeks are red and his hair is bright white from days in the pool. White on brown skin and blue eyes squinching up at me. He lets me help after the older bunch move on and we pick together his small hands full and dropping berries into the mulch. I am filled then with love for this precious boy who in August will march himself to school and leave me in a new chapter of parenting. I never dreamed it would come so fast or hurt like this. My house has been full this year and empty too, of my older ones moving and traveling and getting married and coming home and leaving again. I am not sure what to think of it all, this life going faster than I and leaving me struggling to catch my breath. I walk in the mornings and I think it has become my therapy and keeps me grounded. I think about all of this while I pick the fruit that is warm in my hands. I think that God knows this place too, where my heart is torn and things seem too big for me and I remember how in Psalms it says He numbers the stars and how He knows them by name and I am glad for that. Glad that He knows them and numbers them because then I am certain He knows me and He is there in the berry patch and He thinks much of me and my children and the neighbor children too who bring us life and fullness of days. We pick berries for us and for some of our neighbors. We are learning this year what Loving our neighbors really means so we pick with the intention of giving. When we get home we put them in bags and I do a neighborhood delivery of berries. I love doing that, stopping in and giving small gifts because I am the one who always leaves being given wonderful gifts.
   Kalani came along when we brought them to our elderly friends Paul and Miss Dot. She was being my fancy girl and cartwheeled out of the van. We brought a card because it was Miss Dots birthday and we all signed it so the words were all over the card with notes and names of my children. They live at the end of a gravel road where the rocks make a lane and the flowers bloom and the old trees creak in the wind. They are old and the house is getting forgotten, the porch is faded and falling apart and we walked up the stairs carefully. They come to the door and are so glad to see us. They invite us in and we visit for awhile. Miss Dot is forgetful and she is the sweetest southern women I have met. She thinks my children are beautiful and my boys are strong. She used to love to read. She smiles and watches us. Paul is a very gracious man and he carries the conversation. I know he was in the war. I know he has son who lives far away in WA and he prays for him. He loves my boys and he gets teary when he asks about my big Troy who is also far away. The house is full of stuff. There are piles and stacks and things shuffled around so we can sit at the table. Kalani loves it, she takes a tour and exclaims over things and looks at all the wonderful treasure. I love that about my younger children, they are free like that. She thinks it is like a museum and in away it is. A lifetime of living on display. I am humbled then because she doesn't see it like I do at all. She sees the life and love and years and treasures. I start to see it like that when she brings me a golden bell and shows me a beautiful old doll. I quit seeing the dust lining the shelves and the cobwebs hanging from the ceiling fan and papers piled high. I see it through the eyes of my 7 year old and I think Paul and Miss Dot are the lucky ones for sure. Paul asks me if I sing and I tell him that I love to, he hands me a red hymnal and he says it is his favorite book. I skim through and I see where he has written dates and notes about many songs, "1975" says one "praise the Lord for this song" in a mans handwriting. So may years of songs to love and sing and remember. I hum a little of Marching to Zion and he says "do you hear it Miss Dot? She sings beautifully!" and they both listen. I am reminded that this is life for them, these 2 little old people who were once here where I am now many years ago. Who wished to stop time and were worried about what was next and who sang songs that kept them grounded and feeling the spirit and finding freedom. I should mark music in the book like that with dates like a journal of life; only in song. They blessed me more than words while we sweat in their hot kitchen with papers and cans piled high and Kalani twirling through the hidden treasure, seeing it beautiful. We sang Happy Birthday to Miss Dot before we left and she laughed while we clapped. We left with them promising to pray and me promising brownies for Miss Dot since she never got a cake. I think this loving our neighbors as ourselves is working. It is opening my eyes and giving me music.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Of Girls and Horses....

Demaris is our prayer warrior. She at a very young age discovered the power of prayer & uses it faithfully. I am so blessed by her & this gift has taught me much, if we pray believing what answers we find! When she was about 5 years old she decided she wanted a horse so being a believer she prayed daily for a horse in the simple way children do,"please Lord help me to get a horse" everyday, week after week, year after year. I remember hoping she wouldn't be disappointed. One day while I was perusing books at our very small, very old library something wonderful happened. I was looking at the children's books & I looked up to see an old women with white hair watching us; my children & I. Soon we were introduced to Miss Kitty & an unconventional friendship started to grow, she was much older than I, she was from New York, she had only sons, she had horses & my list could go on. I still am amazed that God in Heaven orchestrates things so that "all things work together for good" so smoothly without our being aware. Out of this friendship Demaris began a journey of learning about horses in a very real way. Miss Kitty soon had Demaris coming over to her house to help with her horses & then she approached me privately about allowing Demaris to keep Smoke one of her ponies for the summer. I don't think Miss Kitty had any idea what she did for Demaris that summer! They wrote a contract saying Smoke would live at our house from Memorial Day - Labor Day, I still can see both of those white heads bending forward almost touching as they signed the contract that Demaris thought should be written. For a whole wonderful summer we learned about horses & had weekly Miss Kitty visits. I was pregnant then & as my belly grew so did Demaris grow from being a child to a girl. I saw her falling in love with an old pony & I watched her heart get captured in away it never had before. Soon summer gave way to fall & somehow Miss Kitty became part of our life, Labor Day came & Smoke still lived at our house. One day Miss Kitty asked Demaris what she would think about keeping Smoke, what if he lived with us until she outgrew this pony who for now filled her days? So another contract was written & again I saw the white heads touching as they signed that most important paper that truly answered years of prayer. The paper is put away in a green folder slowly aging. When winter came our Miss Kitty left us, out of this life her very wonderful spirit flew leaving us quite empty. As if she somehow knew to finish what she needed to do & to answer the prayers of a little girl were enough, she taught us all we know about horses & more than that about the gift of giving & simple friendship.

So seasons change & we grow. Demaris has also grown. This summer I saw her slowly changing from a young girl to somebody she is going to grow into very quickly in the next few years~ the women called Demaris. She is a beautiful girl who loves & feels things deeply. She still prays. I also see her holding onto the little girl she used to be & I ache for her. Change is hard for all of us. She has grown physically taller & looks older. She has begun middleschool & that brings a whole slew of new things. I saw her this past summer clinging to the old Demaris, the world of playing, tea parties, ponies & things in her control. Her relationships are changing, friendships are becoming ones that will last a lifetime. The muscular legs are becoming shapely & the white hair is still long & beautiful. Recently she was out with Smoke carefully brushing his mane that in winter is as white as her hair. He is growing older too. The girl & her horse. I wondered what her mind was thinking as she slowly pulled the brush over his winter coat. Later she came in & asked to talk with me alone. As my children do sometimes. We locked the bedroom door as my heart raced & my mind ran crazy with thoughts I looked over at her & she was crying. She then shared with me her fear. How she loved Smoke but she was too big to ride him anymore, How no one loves Smoke like she does. How bad she feels that she is not so into him anymore. I knew then that this was so much bigger than Smoke. This was top of the mountain she has been climbing all summer~the girl becoming a young women. I held her then as she wept & I got teary too because I know so well this road of growing & how suddenly we are out of our element & how everything seems different. Having 6 other children go through this stage of life I realized again how God is a God of wonders. He sent Miss Kitty to us for the season she was here, He gave Demaris Smoke because she prayed & she needed a pony so badly so that her faith could keep growing. I told her that Smoke knows how much she loves him & how Miss Kitty knew that someday she would get to where she is today & then she could pass the baton on to one of her siblings if she wanted to. Today Demaris says," no", she is still holding on to the pieces of her that are young & how she use to be. I told her that as long as Smoke is living he will be part of our family. I know God is working. I thank Him for that. I know Demaris can't go back because life is like that it keeps us in forward motion. I am excited to see who Demaris will be & where her paths will lead. Somehow a small horse named Smoke is part of who Demaris is. She is still young enough to hang posters on her wall saying " I Love Smoke" & that makes me smile. Again I am humbled by the children & people the Lord has blessed me with.