The Other Side of My Cardboard

God has really worked on me today…this morning I woke up so unable to celebrate the Easter holiday, apathetic and still buried in sorrow from the loss of my children…

My heart is broken. That hasn’t changed. But, I have so many reasons to celebrate Easter. I know that Jesus is my Savior. I love God, but God loves me a lot more.

If I can add to this cardboard testimony….

cardboardlost

cardboardfound

Happy Easter To My Children

ImageLast year was the first post-divorce Easter. It used to be my favorite holiday because one of my children has a birthday right before it and one has one right after. It was much harder last year than today, although I still can’t bring myself to celebrate the rising of my Lord and Savior.  I’ve had two years now to adapt to parental alienation and to life – as if there is one – without my four children.

He may have won custody, and he may keep us from contacting each other, but he can never replace me with a new girlfriend or new family traditions.  I know that now. I guess that’s what I didn’t know last year, and since I can’t be with my children today or hear their voices, I decided to honor them by remembering our family traditions.

  • Waking up to squeals of delight as children found their Easter baskets at sunrise.
  • Homemade French toast and syrup for breakfast.
  • Dying boiled eggs and hiding them for the kids to find.
  • Making deviled eggs and tuna salad sandwiches from the “found” eggs.
  • Visiting family or calling them on the phone.
  • Blowing bubbles outside in the sunshine
  • Looking for new four-leaf clovers, and finding caterpillars and budding flowers
  • Watching old Bible story movies.

To Amanda, Kaitlyn, Austin, and Katerina:

Mommy loves you all. You keep on growing. Develop your own opinions. They have merit. You will always be my babies. Nothing your father can do will ever change my love for you. Enjoy today. We will see each other and speak to each other on the first Saturday of the month, like every month, when we will have Easter on April 6th, and celebrate two of your birthdays.

Signs of Equality

8545_10151845914042468_2116655436_nI love the equal signs that have flooded Facebook today!  The message is warm, and ultimately respectful. I so want to see Congress grow a pair…and take action to allow equality in every aspect of life, and marriage is only part of that picture.  How sad it is, that we must rely on a government that was built on freedom from oppression, and developed with fierce diversity….to dictate to us… who we can marry, who we can legally kiss, hold, live a life with, parent with, cherish the golden years with, and die beside.

If you need a social comparison of how bizarre it is…to judge people by who they love…to understand it..

I wasn’t prejudiced in the 70’s growing up, when integrated schools were “new” and “being tried out experimentally in various school systems” in Alabama. I was raised to be open minded, to form bonds with people based on their personality, not by their skin color, not by what they wore, not by what they believed in, not by what political party they supported, or who they married…by my grandparents, who were all born in the 1910’s-1920’s – who must have been raised to be equally respectful of others by their parents and grandparents (born in the 1880’s-1910’s), despite societies norms which purposely divided people according to race in the time of my grandparents and parents, and according to sex in the times of my great-grandparents.

In this day and age, it’s almost ridiculous to think that white women were not treated equally, not given an equal chance as a white men to have an education, or to vote, or to work, or to make an equal wage. It’s almost absurd to think that people were once separated in schools, or assigned to different classrooms, simply because their skin colors were not the same. I remember not being able to share a classroom with my neighborhood playmates in the first years of elementary. It’s painful, but it was real. I saw it.  Alabama was one of the last to integrate. It blows my mind personally, to think that if you had the unfortunate experience of being born a natural descendant…if you were of the 3rd or 4th, or 10th generation of a person who was kidnapped and sold off the docks of Africa in the 1700-1800’s, and you were born and raised in the USA, and you worked here, and raised your family… and you were even able to fight for the country in war and die with pride doing so, you were still not allowed to cast a vote in my country until the 1960’s.  You couldn’t even use the same bathroom or drink from the same water fountain.  That sounds so painful to read in black and white. The “you can’t be gay” rule is no less ridiculous, absurd…painful.

Please let today be a new beginning for equality in marriage across the USA. Many of my friends and some of my family have been waiting on this moment.

Some of them for a very long time.

Reflections of Vietnam

Image

Vietnam War Memorial, Washington,D.C.  Visual credits http://www.crazywebsite.com

When the rebellion attacked our battalion, the issue wasn’t communism. They were simply people, who wanted to be left alone.  Blood oozed from my friend, and he died as the rain fell. That’s what I remember.

**************

That’s in response to this weekend ‘s 36 word Trifecta challenge. When I was 21 years old, I was able to visit the wall. It had been a lifelong need, to go see it. I don’t know why. I was born in 1970, and my father never fought in that war, so why would it affect me so deeply?  But it has.  The day I went to the wall,  and I touched it, I felt such loss. There were voices crying out “wronged” and souls searching for peace. When I gathered my self and was able to walk away, which took a while… I saw a vendor selling T-shirts, and the painting on it depicted exactly how I felt, so I got one. It was a copy of this same painting shown above. That was in 1991, and I still have it.

And on the 36th day, she rested.

And on the 29th day, she rested.

On February 15th of this year, the love of my life got very sick. It was some sort of stomach flu. It was going around at the time, hitting people pretty hard. Some people we knew had already had it for weeks and were still fighting it. I got it too, but my immune system is pretty strong, so I only had it for a day. Adam’s was really bad. He came out of it on March 16th. He should’ve gone to the hospital on many occasions, but he kept refusing because he has no health insurance. That being said, I had my work cut out for me. I guess it was a good thing that I was unemployed at the time, because there were some days, especially between the end of February and the first week of March, where he needed round the clock care and monitoring. He lost a lot of weight through the ordeal, and was extremely dehydrated. One of the strangest symptoms of this particular flu strain is the inability to lift your head or stay even awake, depending on how severe your case is.

I’m listing the symptoms below to warn people about it. This is nothing to play around with. If you get these symptoms, or your loved one does, go to a doctor immediately if you have the means. I really wish I had just knocked Adam out cold,and called 911 instead of respecting his wishes, because his body was already weak from having just years of living hard, and any time you have an illness for a long time, your organs are damaged. SO, be on the look out for:

MILD

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • heavy head feeling
  • nasal congestion/runny nose
  • lack of appetite
  • lack of thirst (even when dehydrated)
  • no desire to move

SEVERE

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • dark colored urine
  • inability to control body temperature
  • loss of weight/body fat
  • inability to get up
  • excessive sleepiness/drowsiness
  • sleeping all the time

I honestly believe the only thing that saved his life was prayers for his healing. Within a day or two of the prayer chain, he came out of this on his own. He started eating and keeping it down, and probably more important, drinking water by the gallon! Within a week he regained most of his strength. We were looking back on things earlier in the week, and talking about all that’s happened in the last 6 weeks. I kind of half-jokingly said, “You do know that you basically slept for like 1/3 of the winter, right?” He wrapped his arm around me and we walked, slowly because at the time he was still a little shaky and weak. He kept saying “Thank you” over and over. For every day when I would force him to drink water and take bites of food, even on the days and nights when he was throwing it back up and had no desire to eat or drink anything. For being patient with him as he slept when he wasn’t vomiting. For just being there when he would open his eyes. That was one thing he did when he came out of it, was just look at me for the longest time! I finally asked him after he wouldn’t stop looking at me for like ten whole minutes “What is up with you?” 😀 He said, “I haven’t seen you in a while.”

The picture I took tonight and shared with you is very special to me, because its proof that he is OK.

I actually took a nap today. I started my new job this morning, came home and rested. When I woke up, he was making dinner.

The man is making dinner 🙂 The crisis is over and he is OK!!!

Safety

It’s something we want to always feel. It means so much to so many people.

Today’s been such an emotional day. A lifelong friend who was incarcerated two decades ago, walked out, free, and was finally reunited with his family, as of about 9 am this morning. His son, now an adult, snapped a picture of his father this morning and shared it with me. I love their entire family as if they were my own…it’s been such a blessing to have had them in my life the last 27 years.

In my friend’s eyes, I saw such pain and such relief, an almost disbelief…raw, numbness. It made me think of how a person must feel when they lose their legs. When the moment comes, immediately after the crisis is behind them, when they feel so scared because they know the ground beneath their feet will never feel quite the same. When the realization hits them, they think they can never be able to do the things the neighbor down the street with two legs – with a lifetime of never questioned certainty – can do.

I want to tell my friend, you can make it, and it’s OK to feel like you can’t move during the days ahead when you don’t know how. Half of your life has gone by and the view hasn’t changed out your window. Your legs and feet knew every step of the shadows. It must have felt like an eternity. Minutes feeling like hours, and hours feeling like days, which turned into decades, and for that eternity, your family’s love for you never changed. You have such a support system. Your family, your good friends, have never stopped praying for your safety, for your health, and your freedom. We who knew you before the dark days, wept for you then. The tears of joy are here now, across the miles!

I want to encourage you to write, to sing….to cry…to scream. Cry and scream! It will feel so good. You’ll find your feet, feel the ground in a new way, and your body will move, and your mind will free itself from the last two decades.

You’re safe now. You hear me? God’s got His arms around you. He always has. Keep your eyes forward. Don’t look back, and live everyday knowing you’re treasured.

One Soul’s Evolution

When

The

Words

finally break through the walls of fear, and turn on the powers of Love

that a lifetime in guilt, lies, and shame have hidden from you, then the

silence

becomes

music.

You’re

free

to let

Faith

Hope

and

Love

infect

your

soul.

This was written for the Trifecta Week Sixty-Nine writing challenge.

(rules below)

INFECT
1: to contaminate with a disease-producing substance or agent (as bacteria)
2a : to communicate a pathogen or a disease to
b : of a pathogenic organism : to invade (an individual or organ) usually by penetration
c : of a computer virus : to become transmitted and copied to (as a computer)
3a : contaminate, corrupt <the inflated writing that infects such stories>  
b : to work upon or seize upon so as to induce sympathy, belief, or support <trying to infect their salespeople with their enthusiasm>

Please remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • If you know your post does not meet the requirements of the challenge, please leave your link in the comments section, not in the linkz.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone.  Please join us.
This week’s challenge is community-judged.
  • For the 12 hours following the close of the challenge, voting will be enabled on links.
  • In order to vote, return to this post where stars will appear next to each link.  To vote, simply click the star that corresponds with your favorite post.
  • You can vote for your top three favorite posts.
  • Voting is open to everyone. Encourage your friends to vote for you, if you wish, but please don’t tell them to vote on a number.  The numbering of the posts changes regularly, as authors have the ability to delete their own links at any time.
  • You have 12 hours to vote.  It’s not much time, so be diligent! We’ll send out reminders on Twitter and Facebook.

This week’s word is infect.

Her Final Gift

gransmafunny

Grandma, circa 1945

On a humid Alabama day in July of 2010, my 87 year old grandmother had a severe stroke.  She had been suffering for the last few months with lung cancer, having never smoked a day in her life. I remember thinking that her lung cancer was unfair, especially since she was already a 40 year survivor of breast cancer. I also remember praying that her end would be merciful. Her father had “stroked out” in the same manner she did, only he lived 2 years afterwards, and his long wait for freedom was agonizing. As it turned out, God was gracious enough to take my grandmother in 17 days.

 She didn’t know it, but during that time, she gave the family by her side a priceless treasure.  There was a unique family reunion in what was by then, her death room. My aunt and I took shifts, watching over her as she transitioned with one foot in this world and the other already in the next.  She would occasionally come to, and want to see or speak to certain members of the family. She had important things to say to all of us. The most special moments to me were when she called on family members who were already with her on the other side.

granspa

Me and Grandpa right before his sudden death

 The majority of my deceased family had passed on some 30 years before, before I was a teenager. It had been a long time since I had been in their company.  Some had passed on when I was an adult, but I didn’t get to know them the way she did. None of them got to know my own children, so it made the reunions that much more special.

Most of these ascended conversations would take place for a few minutes right before sunrise. I remember the air would somehow change right as the sun would crest outside the window, and on more than one occasion her talks wouldn’t be finished, and she would call out to that person, as if suddenly they were gone. I would smile through silent tears and say, “It’s OK, Grandma. He’ll be back.” She spoke to her husband, her brother, friends, in-laws, a nephew…the one person she didn’t seem to get to speak to for some reason, that she asked for repeatedly, was her own mother.

ggma

My great-grandparents

My father told me that as soon she gave her last breath, the front screen door opened and shut. My aunt tells me she had a look of peace. She was surrounded by love, in her own home. I can’t think of a more peaceful way to go…

I like to think that when her spirit walked out the front door, that her mother, who she so longed to be with,  was walking her out and taking her to meet Jesus, who she loved her whole life.

Considering the Right Time

Image credits go to www.dnainfo.org

Image credits go to http://www.dnainfo.org

He was a lifetime smoker. He had never considered what came after. For more than 30 years he dragged, puffed, spent hundreds of dollars a year on new packs, flicked lighters on the hem of his jeans, and came to savor the smell of lighter fluid, and a freshly packed cigarette. He knew that it was time for a lifestyle change when breathing became more than an involuntary pituitary response. It pained him so, especially at the start of a new day. He wanted to quit so bad. For the first time, as he pondered the warning from his doctor, as he researched and recognized the signs of emphysema, as he considered the social stigma of being seen dragging around an oxygen tank, he wanted to quit. He wanted to live a hundred years.

Messages in The Clouds

godmessage

I took this photo as Adam was driving down Highway 441 in Sevierville. The mountains on the horizon are the Smokey’s.  The sun was creeping down the sky, peeking out from behind a cloud that looked like an eagle with its wings outstretched, and so I grabbed my camera as fast as I could, to capture and keep it forever. I wrote the “message from God” on the photograph because that’s what I was feeling as I snapped that picture and gazed into the clouds.  It was an almost verbal  response that I felt in my heart, to an ominous feeling in my gut. We were about to get rain… a lot of it.

Just a few hours later, the rain started pouring down.  That was when the Little Pigeon River flooded and just about washed us away. It rose 4 feet in less than an hour.  I wrote about it in my other blog. It’s in the January archives of It’s Not What You Know, titled Roll, Back Water….  

It took me a month to emotionally recover from that ordeal.  Adam and I both had our share of nightmares of rain and being washed downstream, dreams of the cold water waist high, losing everything. In reality – by what I can only say was a true miracle – we lost nothing but our clothes and a few personal items.  Our very good friends and the Red Cross helped us dig our way out. The river was level with the lip of our front door, but didn’t come in the house.

I’ll never question why – because I know in my heart, that the whole situation was Being Taken Care Of, before the crisis, and after.