Thursday, May 23, 2013

What happens today~

So recently I stumbled upon THIS story.  A life of a boy named Zach that I never would have heard of, had it not shown up on my computer one day~ had he not been sick~ had he not chosen to share his story.

I remember when my father-in-law passed away after a horrible year-long battle with cancer.  We found out just a month after we lost Andrew and at that time we were also told that we had only about a year left with him.


I still feel that way when I look back on it.  A man that was so full of life~ Someone whose voice and laughter I can still hear in my mind.  A man that most of my children never met, and Jonasen has no memory of.

In that year, Jeff and I had many talks about life and death and God.  We cried more that year than we smiled~ despite being first time parents.  We often talked about it~ how one was taken so suddenly, without warning, while the other we waited on... Wondering when?  Perhaps the only gift from cancer is that it forces you to say what you need to say today because you know tomorrow may not be here.  We were able to say EVERYTHING we needed to say.  Everything we needed Jeff's dad to say to our son.  We were able to tell him what he meant to us, what we learned from him, how much we loved him!

Do you ever wonder what it would be like if we all lived that way?  If those thoughts we have about others throughout the day (I'm talking the nice thoughts) didn't just stay in our heads, but we let them out?  Instead of thinking, "Wow, I sure am blessed to have ____ in my life!"  We actually SAID it?  That's what "knowing" does and watching Zach's story reminded me that I have gotten out of practice with that.  Out of thanking others for what they did for me today, yesterday, last year.  Because what happens Today certainly shapes my Tomorrows.

This last week, I read a post on facebook from a friend who was asking for birthday cards for her friend's son who has been sick in the hospital for over a year with cancer.  It was one of those moments where at first I thought, I should do that, but my goodness... my plate is so full, how can I even GET to the post office this week let alone find time to pen a card?!

And then I took a moment and paused~

I remembered all those pictures I colored for my father-in-law that year.  How when I went and visited him in the hospital one day, I looked around and saw them on the walls... flowers and rainbows and hearts.  What a difference they made on those sterile brick walls.  And then I thought about the tomorrows and how sometimes today is more important.

I talked to my first graders and we took a break from the year-end assessment mess and we all got out our crayons and wrote John Birthday and Get-Well wishes.  The letters made me cry because I imagined how that might feel... to get an envelope full of pictures and notes from strangers who thought of you... TODAY.  And how that could affect your TOMORROW.

Of course with all these thoughts of Zach, my father-in-law, John~ all swimming in my head, I got to thinking of that first boy that made me Pause.  Made me think about Today.  Because you may not have Tomorrow.  I was thinking about that when I got a note from a very old friend who Today wrote me to tell me how Andrew and I have made an "everlasting impact" on her.


I'm glad she told me that Today.  Because sometimes what you do Today, can get you through Tomorrow.

Wishing you peace Today that will last you through your Tomorrows!


PS. To see what my students did for John, click HERE.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

On becoming a mother.

They are always there.
Part of my story.
Mother's Day is not just the joy of having four beautiful children around me.
It's the pain of having two of them not.

It is hard for me not to think of those who hurt on Mother's Day~
Be it from
 Missing their own mother~
Missing the one who made them a mother~
Missing that chance of becoming a mother~

I think there are many more hurting, or with those mixed feelings, than those who are completely full.
That is my story.

At a recent meeting that topic of your friend saying "I'm expecting" came up.
And what is the right way to tell someone.
I've been on both sides... How to tell someone & How I prefer someone to tell me.

No matter how happy you may be for someone becoming a mother, 
there is so often that sting that comes with it.

I remember days after I lost E.
A college friend had told me that he and his girlfriend were expecting. 
The knife.
And can you believe it?  Twins?
The twist.
I congratulated him and held my stomach 
(and my tears).

A week later I got a phone call.
It was my own mother and there was a lot of commotion in the background.
I couldn't quite hear.
And then it came out, "You're going to be an Auntie!"
(And dare I admit it.)
That knife was back.
And I was so ashamed.
I congratulated my brother and held my stomach 
(and my tears).

Because in those moments (when the pieces of my broken heart were still so sharp) it became about me.
I didn't want it to be.
But my broken heart went there and made it that way.  
That's how I felt.
The thing about feelings is that they aren't right or wrong... they simply are.

Both of these announcements came over the phone.
And THAT was the greatest blessing for me.
Because those moments of "me"
Those moments of breaking
Holding my stomach
Hiding my tears
were alone.

And when I saw the expectant parents next, I could hug them and say how happy I was for them...
And I was.

I just needed time.
We all need time.

Our experiences shape us, make us who we are, grow us.
Those broken sharp edges of our heart will become more rounded
But they will always be~ broken.

I wanted to share this story because perhaps you know someone.
Someone like me who had recently lost a child (or perhaps EVER lost a child) and you're wrestling with how to tell them.  This is what I would have said in those days, weeks, months and perhaps even years following my losses.

I want you to know that it will hurt me a little.
But not telling me will hurt me a lot.

I want you to know that in that moment you tell me I may be a little sad for me.
But I am also so happy for you.

I want to thank you for telling me over the phone
Where I won't have my face give me away.

Though it may take a moment for the reality of 
"It's not me" to settle in...
It will.

Because you are my friend.
I am and will be so happy for you, on becoming a mother.
There is nothing quite like it.
It's all I've ever wanted.
And hopefully, one day soon, 
I'll be joining you.

Thought of you all on Mother's Day.
Those of you full of joy.
Those of you full of sadness.
Those of you with the rounded edges.
And those of you still dreaming
of becoming a mother.