Baby Steps

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In my “new normal”, as I try to put my life back together, it is very very difficult.  Often times people tell me, “baby steps”.  I get it, well at least I thought I did.

This past week, I was surprised to find out just how long I have really been practicing “baby steps”.  In my mind, this has been going on for a year and and 7 months.  In actuality it has only been maybe 5 or 6 months.  I am understanding now that I was in complete shock for an entire year.

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Now things make more sense. But that does not mean it has gotten easier.  In a way it seems more difficult.  I worked so hard for that whole first year in shock?  Really? That’s a shock in and of itself!  Does this mean that all of my hard work was for nothing? On a good day, I know the answer to that question. It’s not for nothing.

All I know is that I am tired. I still hurt. And there are days when it seems like nothing has changed. I know that I have made changes (and I can probably name them if I had to) but, I don’t want to “name” them. I want to “feeeel” them. I want to feeeel that sense of accomplishment. I want to “see” it come to fruition, all around me, just all around me.

I’m still in so much pain a lot of the time, I feel like I have not grown at all. I mean, I really work hard at it – really really hard.  I have not been sitting on my hands all of this time.  I have been working through the trauma at least 4 days a week for 2 1/2 hours a day, and then some.

How much processing of traumatic events has to happen before one can resume a somewhat normal life?  I don’t know the answer to that question.  More importantly, I don’t even know if there is an answer. Everyone processes things differently, and at their own pace, based on their own life experiences.

I want the pain to stop. I want the sleepless nights to stop. I want the anxiety and depression to stop. I want the sadness to stop. I want the grief and crying to stop. I am just TIRED. And it’s not the kind of tired that can be taken care of with a simple nap. This is different. I can nap, and when I wake up, it’s still there.

What I do know though, is that, many people all around the world have gone through much worse in their lives than myself. I have a roof over my head. I have a husband who loves me dearly. I have friends that love me. I have a nice home. I have a business just waiting for me to get back to it. I have a car to drive. I have clothes on my back. I have nice food to eat. Gratitude.

That’s where I’m at. It always comes back to gratitude doesn’t it. Gratitude, loving yourself, help from God, guidance from the Holy Ghost, your circle of supportive friends, trusting the process, and Radical Acceptance. Repeat. This is the process.

Thankfully, I have had joyful “moments” in the midst of my sorrow.  I am SO grateful for those moments like you don’t even know. Now if I can just string enough of those joyful moments together, that would make me so very happy. It will come. It will come because it has to come. I will not quit. I will go forward.

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Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Give God a shout!!!

Gratitude – A visitation – and a bear

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I Had a Dream Last Night

Does anyone remember the storybooks about the Berenstein Bears?  I used to read them to my children when they were little.  The kids loved them.  Bobby loved them . And of course, Bobby was one of the little ones in my lap as I read the storybooks to him and his sisters.

[As some of you know, last year I lost my only son, Bobby, in a fire.  He was a 29 year old Firefighter here in Houston].

berenstein bears

So, this past week has been an almost intolerable week of grief over the loss of my Bobby.  The pain was so intense, it was as if it had just happened all over again. Something apparently triggered it, and it went on for 3 or 4 days.  I badly needed for it to lift.

Early this morning in my dreams something very rare and wonderful happened. I got a gift that only God can give.

In my dream, I was the Mama bear in the Berenstein Bear family, my husband was the Daddy bear, and Bobby was the little Brother bear.

The three of us were just quietly walking along, Dad in front, and Bobby (little boy bear) and I behind.  I (Mama Bear) was driving a little peddle car, when something happened that had never happened to me before – even in real life, that made me spring up out of bed!

The little boy bear (whom I recognized to be Bobby) was there, walking behind his dad, and alongside me; with his little bear hand on my back, guiding me ever so gently and lovingly as I steered my little peddle car.

I could literally see and feel Bobby’s real life presence, with his hand placed firmly in the middle of my back, I felt his gentle guiding of me, and I could feeeeel his most tender love and care for me in that sweet moment just before I awoke.

Bobby visited me.  It was real.  And I am grateful.

God is good.

A Mother’s Heartbreak

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May 31st, 2014. A year and a half later, I still grieve.

I’m ok with the fact that Bobby died. I have been used to not having him around since he was 16 years old. I know where he is now. I know that he’s not on the earth, and he’s not coming back. I have peace about that. I am comforted by the fact that I know I will see him again someday. I see him in my dreams sometimes. He is hugging me when I see him.

However, our 3 girls are the ones I just don’t understand at all. They have somehow banded together in some sort of serious dysfunction against their father and me since their brother died. I don’t like it. I don’t understand it. It feels mean. It feels unfair. It just feels wrong. We have done nothing to deserve being abandoned by them. We have given to them and have sown so much into their lives.

Even though I know that their actions are completely dysfunctional and toxic, I still hurt over it. I hurt deeply – to the core of my being. When I see pictures of them on FB looking so happy together, I don’t understand. I weep. They are my children. They are alive, yet they have somehow made themselves dead to me. But I still love them. I can’t shut that off. That love is supposed to be there – it just is.

I feel like I’m in some sort of unending limbo. I can’t seem to disconnect, especially when something triggers me all over again (like the pictures). I have young grandchildren that I don’t want to lose touch with. They love me so much, and I love them so much. They are little. They don’t know what is going on. I don’t believe that they know the real reason why they don’t see their MiMi and Poppi.

Today, after accidentally seeing the picture of my daughters on FB, the three of them together (obviously having a good time at a gala of some sort), it instantaneously feels like the pain of their abandonment right after Bobby’s death all over again, while I was in deep mourning. It is as fresh now as the day it happened.

I am not depressed, yet I feel depressed when I get triggered again. I don’t like this. I want the day to come when I am not phased by their actions anymore. I feel like I am missing out on their lives more and more with each passing day. These are days that we will never get back. Never. It is time lost. Don’t they know this? Unrecoverable – precious – time.

Having said that, I know in my head, that (at this time) it is not good for me to be around them and the toxicity that they carry, along with false beliefs about me, and about our history together. I am better off alone than with our adult children constantly shaming me, blaming me, talking about me behind my back, and criticizing me at every turn. It’s abusive. I don’t deserve abuse. No one does.

It is true…..that they ‘know not what they do’.  This I know in my head to be true, but my heart feels like it’s in a million pieces over it. This, for me, is the true meaning of heartbreak. A mother’s heartbreak. For the children to remove their love from me is just so unbearably painful. It’s the biggest void I can ever even imagine. Even bigger than death itself. I try not to focus on the pain. But it’s there. It’s just there.

I moved on. And that’s about it. I moved on. I still struggle. It feels like something is holding me back from moving forward. How do I move forward without them?  They are pieces of me. It’s not normal.

There are days when I want to move away – like geographically, really far away. I do wonder if it would help. I seriously think about it. Today, I’m even thinking about it.

There are days when I wish they would move away. There are days when I want to shake some sense into them. There are days when I never want to speak to them again. There are days I want them to hug me again, and love me like they did when they were little. There are days when I want to hug them. Days and days and days. Some days I want to somehow block them out like they don’t exist. I want to block the pain out. I just want to shut everything out.

I don’t write for pity. I write to help myself. I write in the hope of helping someone else to know that they are not alone.

Not every day is like this, and that is good. But today is like this. I know that I will be ok. We will all be ok. I know that the pain will end, for me, for all of us who may be in this situation. I (we) have to remember – “Just don’t quit.”

I know that the night is the darkest just before the dawn. The Bible says that “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning!”

I await the morning. And when it comes……you’ll be the first to know.

Don’t give up!

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My day with a cop – a speeding ticket – and a gift from God

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So today, I was cruising down the empty tollway when I saw those dreaded flashing lights behind me in my rear view mirror.  In the old days, when that happened to me, I could feel my heart drop into my stomach.  I would get completely freaked out, but because I was a single mom with 4 children and no money.  So, back then, a traffic ticket was like one of my worst nightmares.  That meant that we were going to have to make do with less – again, and it was all my fault.

But today, I saw the lights in my rear view mirror and I just pulled over.  No sinking feeling.  This time, I wasn’t upset, crying, and freaking out.  So at least that was good.  This time, I felt bad in a different kind of way. This time I wasn’t afraid about the money; I wasn’t afraid of getting yelled at by a husband.  I was just disappointed in myself. I didn’t need to be going so fast.  There was no emergency. In fact, I didn’t even know my car could go that fast (92 mph in a 65) (without me at least noticing it). I tell you, I was stunned when the officer told me that he clocked me at 92!!  But I believed him – no question.

I got my license and proof of insurance out and ready to hand to the officer.  He came up to my window, and of course he asked the usual question, “Ma’m, do you know why I pulled you over?” I said, “No, was it speeding?” He said, “Yes ma’m.  I clocked you at 92. The speed limit right here is 65.” I said, “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe it! I’m so stunned right now!” I said, “Where were you?? I didn’t even see you!” He politely told me. Then I said, “You know what?  I’m actually glad you stopped me. I am. I seriously needed to know that I was driving so fast. I’m in shock that I didn’t realize my speed.”

Then all of a sudden he said, “You know what?  I’m going to change the speed to 82.  That way you can take defensive driving if you choose to do so.”  I just put my hands together and said, “THANK YOU SO MUCH!! Thank You God!” I could hear my brain thinking, “YOU ARE THANKING A COP FOR GIVING YOU A TICKET???  HAVE YOU COMPLETELY LOST YOUR MIND???”  I was so grateful though because I fully deserved that ticket. And I told him that I completely understood.

By this point, I felt like we were old friends.  And, as I would say to a friend, I said, “You know, I haven’t been thinking clearly for a while.” Then I teared up. (I was trying not to but was just overcome by my emotions.) I went on to say, “I lost my son in that hotel fire last year. He was one of the 4 firefighters who died. I’m actually on my way to therapy right now.  I still go 4 times a week to try and heal from the loss.”  Then I felt “the ugly cry” coming on. As much as I tried to hold back the tears, there was no stopping them at this point.

He looked at me and said, “Your son was a firefighter?”  I said, “Yeeeesss, he was one of the fallen four.”  He looked me right in the face and said, “I’m dismissing the ticket. Thank you so much for your son’s service, really, thank you so much.  I’m so sorry for your loss ok?  I’m sorry, really sorry for your loss.”  He shook my hand and said, “You have a good day ok m’am? I’m so sorry for your loss.”  I said, “Thank you so much, you have a good day toooooo.”

I can’t even put into words how good it felt to hear ‘those words; and that is why I cried. He drove off and I sat in my car on the side of the road, and just bawled for what seemed like forever. The tears didn’t seem to want to stop no matter how hard I tried to stop them.  They just kept coming.

I realized that the tears weren’t even about the speeding ticket.  The tears came because, when Bobby died, I didn’t get the usual condolences that a mother normally would get at a funeral and memorial.  They mostly all went to my 3 daughters (my oldest in particular). It was like Bobby didn’t even have a mom, (and at least the higher ranking people involved knew who I was). There was not even a mention of his mom.

It’s still a mystery to me why this happened. I don’t know why all of this occurred, and I’m no longer trying to figure out why. I have learned that it just ‘is what it is’. (I’m not saying this for pity, and certainly not to put down the Fire Department – not at all.)  I SO love and appreciate every single member of the Fire Department, whether I know them or not. And I especially appreciate the ones who did reach out to me, who were extremely kind to me, and who are still kind to me to this day.)

I’m saying all of this to show you in a minute just how good God is to us.

[Side note:  Anytime you see a fireman, you should stop them and thank them for putting their lives on the line every single day for us, as well as police officers, and members of the military.]

Just last night, (after having another grief meltdown at home for what seemed to be for no particular reason at the time), I told my husband how sad I felt about us having 3 surviving adult children, who (to this day) have never even said to me, “Mom, I’m sorry that you lost Bobby.”  And I was telling him that I was sad also that I never got condolences from the many of the officials at the Fire Department.  I feel like those condolences are such a large part of a persons healing after losing a loved one; I really do.  So just last night, guess I was still having a need to hear comforting condolences from someone in a position such as this officer today.

All of that to say this.  I know that God doesn’t send bad things to us, or punish us, or put sickness on us, or or anything like that.  And He certainly isn’t the blame for a speeding ticket.

What I DO know, is that sometimes God will allow situations like today to happen for a reason.  And the reason is usually to teach us something that we could not have learned any other way, or maybe so that we could be a blessing to someone else down the road with what we have learned, or to give us a gift.

Today I got a “God gift” in the form of a sincere and heartfelt condolence, that I was so desperately needing to hear.

Thank you Jesus for loving me so much.  I am in awe of Your goodness to me.

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Our Family Tree….as we still do grieve

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Sometimes grief has a very ruthless way, of tearing loving families apart,

I never the least bit suspected, that this is how our grief would start.

After our only son, Bobby, died, and the funeral was all said and done,

My 3 adult children kept to themselves, like they were the only ones.

Like the only ones who suffered a loss, that was truly too much to bear,

We as their parents were left in the cold, like none of them even cared.

They’re still so angry and bitter, and it’s somehow directed at me,

I cannot figure out to save my life, what happened to our family tree.

I know we’re not the only ones, who lost Bobby’s precious face,

But why separate themselves from us so willingly?  It’s just such an awful waste.

I know that as humans, we all do grieve, in each our own individual way,

After we lost Bobby in a huge tragic fire, I just wanted to die that day.

Firefighter Robert Garner - Station #68

Firefighter Robert Garner – Station #68, Houston, TX

Then to lose all the girls directly after that, my life was in complete disarray,

How they can all 3 rewrite history, and then refuse us the time of day?

When our children are not at their very best, they sometimes read things into what we say,

I just don’t want to grieve alone, with my children and their love at bay.

It’s hard to know their thought process, when we gave them all we could,

Seeing them be so unkind right now, perhaps giving them so much wasn’t good.

I don’t need them to kiss our feet, or be with us all intertwined,

When they were little they were so sweet, but now our love is not returned in kind.

They have each other to grieve with, and they have each other to hold,

To leave us stranded, out by ourselves, just feels so unloving and cold.

I’ve always told them, always, that I’ll love them no matter what,

It’s sad to see the haste they had, in slamming their doors tightly shut.

Maybe sometime soon in fact, or out in the future one day,

They will let Jesus soften their heart, and they’ll come home in their own way.

Until that awesome day does come, we’ll be right here awaiting,

They’ll always be our little loved ones, hopefully, next time  appreciating.

Appreciating us as their parents, at the very least for giving them birth,

Appreciating us even as a human beings, who do have their own self worth.

God loves us as the parents we are, He loves all of us the same,

We could not control that Bobby died, how are we now the ones to blame?

Children honor your parents so that all will go well with you,

There is no reasoning with them – adult to adult – so what is a parent to do?

“Her children shall rise up and call her blessed”, Proverbs thirty one – twenty eight,

Having planted that seed when they were very young, it seems to have carried no weight.

Train them up in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart…,

We didn’t raise them to be bitter people. What is this unrest in their heart?

They seem to have no concept, of all the time that’s passing by,

The months and years could all be wasted, by the hateful devil’s lies.

I hope that one day they feel in their hearts, Jesus’ total love,

Jesus Christ Hugging Girl 2

To treat their parents with any less, must surely sadden God above.

We’re the only parents they’ll ever have, I hope they don’t wait too late,

By then our lives might be no more, then with us they won’t be able to participate.

We are definitely parents, who’ve made mistakes, for sure along the way,

Is it reasonable for them, to imagine, that a life of silence we should pay?

There is no one who is perfect, Lord knows they’ve made mistakes of their own,

To harbor such ill will toward their parents, seems to come from a planet unknown.

For it has been over a year and a half now, and as parents, we’ve changed a lot,

But because they choose no contact with us, they truly know us not.

This last year has been so sorrowful, and an unbearable revelation to me,

Who knew all of these angry sentiments were brewing, beneath our family tree?

As parents, we gave them all we had, even when we ourselves had none,

We always tried so hard with them, so our family would stay together as one.

Why do they hold resentments deep inside, instead of letting them out?

As long as they stay so out of touch, they may never completely sprout.

How can anyone begin to think, that one has knowledge of it all,

Then behave like a devastating tornado, in such a violent squall?

I hope one day they’ll have some peace, even if we are not here to see,

For them to have love and fulfillment on earth, is still very important to me.

We love them so with all of our hearts, this all came as such a shock,

To have such little respect for their parents, just hurts around the clock.

We never saw this coming our way, not even in a million years,

We just have to some how let it go, and let God catch all of our tears.

I know that God is with us, and He is with them each day too,

I hope the day comes very soon, when they can show love like they used to do.

These, are of course, rhetorical questions, that I don’t expect an answer to,

God will reveal all in due time, as I’ve learned, He will always do.

Our hearts go out to others, who may be suffering from this too,

All I know for sure for sure, is that God will always see us through.

Sometimes we just have to turn each day, our sorrows into laughter,

The joy of the Lord will keep us going, both here and in the hereafter.

 

“Lord please heal our family tree, it means so very much to me”

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Just Let it Roll

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I can seclude myself from others, in a nice little comfy hole,

Or I can leap and trust God to catch me, open up, and let it roll.

Lying just beneath the surface, let all the truth be told,

Tears are easier to let go of, than they are to staunchly hold.

When God made me just rest assured – He did not break the mold,

There are many of us still grieving, yet another departed soul.

We all deal solemnly with our grief, and in so many different ways,

Some of it slowly goes away, and some of it lingers and stays.

“Don’t let it out! Don’t let out!” I hear the devil say,

“Once it starts I promise you, it just won’t go away!”

“Shut up devil! Get out of my life! You’re nothing but a liar!”

 Listen to you – you evil thing? The one who was cast into the fire?”

Little by little as life goes by, I slowly keep letting off steam,

Like a pressure pot that steadily simmers, until it’s ready to come clean.

Do not worry, the Bible says, the deep grief, is NOT here to stay,

I do believe that this is so, no matter what other people may say.

People only know what they’ve been told, or what is true for “them”,

Let not their careless unmindful words, leave me hanging on a limb.

I just put one foot in front of the other, and go forth day after day,

Soon the weight will begin to shift, and will go the other way.

Days turn into weeks, turn into months, turn into years,

Every step of the way I know, that God is catching all of my tears.

He catches them in His hands, He doesn’t miss a single one,

He records them in the book He keeps, as His day is never done.

Can you even imagine a God so big, and who truly cares so much?

If He only had some skin on Him, so I could feel His loving touch.

But “Where is Got at times like these,  I surely need his help!

After all, I’m only human, I can’t do this by myself”!

I rest assured He’s by my side, and that He’ll never ever leave,

He’s standing by as close to me, as the very breath that I breathe.

Let It Roll!

The Little Things

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IMG_1251-Edit-2Have you ever wondered if God cares about the little things? After all, He’s God. God does BIG things right? He’s God! He flung the stars into the universe! He made the sun, the moon, all of the planets. He created man. He created each and every animal one by one. God is God – He does big things! We can probably all understand this right?

But what about the little things? Why would our BIG God care that you failed a test, or you had a bad day, or you just couldn’t get a handle on your emotions one day. It may seem a bit odd that He (The Creator of the Universe) would take the time out of His busy day to concern Himself with the “little things”.

There is good news my friend. The Bible says in Luke 12:7,

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Think about this: God doesn’t sleep! He is up 24/7 working on things that may concern you.

Let’s not judge whether God cares or whether or not his concern is based on the size of your worry. That is not EVEN an issue. God does most certainly care about the “little things” in our lives, because He cares about us, and because we love Him.

Compared to God and His glory, our whole lives are made up of those “little things.” Psalm 139:17–18 says,

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them, Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I am awake, I am still with you.”

Wow!

I love this Scripture too. Psalm 138:8,

“The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.”

Here is a recent example of these “little things” in my own life, that just happened to me yesterday.

Yesterday would have been my only son’s 30th Birthday. This was (sadly for me) his first Birthday in Heaven. My son Robert was a Firefighter, Station #68 in Houston, TX. He died a tragic death in a hotel fire on Highway 59 along with 3 of his Firefighter brothers.  Saddest day (and year) of my life.

Most days, still, I feel like I don’t know which end is up. I think I have to control things. I wait for the other shoe to drop. I never know when I may have a random meltdown, etc. Heck, I might even cry over a broken nail, depending on what else may be going on at the time. I tend to forget that I do not have to concern myself with these things because God is behind the scenes working them all out.

So, yesterday, on Bobby’s Birthday, the tears and sadness overwhelmed me. I only spoke about it to my husband, no one else. I felt like an open wound that just had salt poured all into it. It hurt – a lot! I couldn’t make it stop hurting. I cried, I wrote poetry, I watched TV, I played on my iPad, I pet the dogs, I soaked in the tub, etc. I did everything I could think of just to distract myself from the fact that I was facing Bobby’s first birthday, with the realization sinking in, that for sure I would never again see or hear from Bobby ever again on this earth. I truly was in a deep dark pit. By this point in the day it was almost time for bed.

About that time, my sister Suzy, pings my husband telling him to go look in the mailbox because she had sent something to me. Now, keep in mind, he usually checks that mailbox regularly. But this time, it had been a while. So he checked the mailbox, and sure enough there was a “Get Well” Card from Suzy. Never mind the fact that the recent major surgery that I’d had was already a week an a half ago, it just made my day! I SO needed some love. It was sort of like finally getting a band-aid for that big boo boo, you know?

Well, also in the mail was a package from an old high school friend, Betty M. (whom I have not seen since high school – only speaking through FB). When he handed me the package, I then recalled that my friend, Betty, had asked me for my address a while back. I had forgotten all about it. BUT God didn’t forget. And remember, there are no coincidences with God.

I opened the package and this is what I saw. Two of the cutest little Firefighter’s sitting in the palm of God’s hands.

Sent to me by my High School friend, Betty Mallet :)

Sent to me by my High School friend, Betty Mallet 🙂

Also inside was a very sweet and touching note to me. Betty spoke of how she was cleaning her mother’s house one day before putting it up for sale. While going through the things she’d packed away, she opened up these two little boxes. She found the little Firefighters inside, and it made her think of me (she had heard about Bobby’s story). In the note, she said that she thought that I might have a special place for them! Oh Man!

Do you see the Hand of God all over this??? God used a friend from high school (whom I have not seen or spoken to in over 40 years except for Facebook), to be the hands and feet of Jesus to me here on this earth. Not only that….who knows how long that precious package had been sitting the mailbox? And then, look how God used my sister (who knew nothing of Bobby’s birthday yet) to prompt my husband to go the mailbox that night – at that moment. Who knows how long her card had been in there also?

Through all of the anxiety, all day long, I had not even cried out to God! BUT GOD, was paying attention to every single little thing about me to make sure that these “little things” happened in just the right way, to affect just the right outcome, at just the right time! ONLY GOD can pull this stuff off!  He’s seldom early, but He’s never late!

The Bible says in Romans 2:11, what He’ll do for one he’ll do for another. God cares about my “little things” and He cares about YOUR “little things” too.

We are ALL God’s favorite.

Just wanted you to know. XOXO