Bobby’s Heavenly 33rd Birthday – “Looking Back”

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Birthday in Heaven

Today, April 14, 2017, is Bobby’s Heavenly 33rd Birthday. Our only son. I miss him being here on earth. Heaven seems so far away. I can’t visit there. If I’d go, I’d have to stay. God’s not ready for me yet. 

My thoughts….

I – “The Hardest Day”

Bobby lost his life on May 31, 2013, trying to save others. He died a beloved hero.

Bobby loved his job as a firefighter. He knew the risks, and he went for it anyway. He always had a servants heart and he was a very hard worker. He survived 2 tours of duty in Iraq before coming home to become a firefighter. It seems unfair to have survived a war in a foreign land, and to come back home to be taken, in the end, by a deadly hotel fire. 

II – “Siblings”

Bobby was the only boy amongst our 3 girls (plus myself), and he always felt outnumbered. Well, he was! But if any one of his sisters ever really needed something, he was there for them. They might have knock down drag out fights, but when it counted most, he was there for them. 

Lauren was 10 years younger than Bobby. He thought she was SOOOO cute. He loved it when she said and did silly things. He got such a kick out of her. I would tell him not to laugh if she said a bad word, or got certain phrases wrong (ie. New York Yankers), but he could not help himself. He was only 10, and at 10 years old, I guess that was funny to him. The more I told him not to encourage her by laughing, the funnier it became to him. I get it. I too have a younger sibling. What goes around, comes around, so don’t make fun of your siblings. 🙂

Bobby had a close relationship with Liz.They were only 18 months apart. She would draw the line with him, and he knew not to cross it. He tried it – once. He never tried that again. When she “set a boundary”, she meant it, and he knew it. Their bedrooms shared a wall. At night, I would hear them knocking on the wall from one bedroom to the other. As it turned out, they were “talking in code”. They had a special code word for goodnight. So sweet. We still use that word today. 

As children, Bobby had sort of a love/hate relationship with Nicole. She was 6 years older than he. She had to babysit him a lot because I was a single mom and I couldn’t be everywhere at once. When he got upset with her, he would yell at her, “You’re not the boss of me!” He gave her a very hard time when she needed to correct him because, well, she wasn’t his mom. But when Nicole needed some money for college, he gave her all he had – $50. No one asked him to do that, he just did. It was his heart, and she was in it.

III – “Math Whiz”

Bobby knew the value of a dollar and he worked very hard at saving. He was the only one of the kids who was able to save his money. When the girls were broke (almost always), they visited the “Bank of Bobby.” He gladly gave them a lone, but only if a proper interest rate was negotiated in advance. 😉 Smart boy.

Bobby was good at math even as a little boy. As I’ve mentioned before, when he was 6 years old, and I was trying to divvy up lunch money in the morning for the 3 of them (amidst all of the chaos), he would quickly take charge of all the coins laid out on the bed, and divide them into thirds quicker than I could blink. He never had trouble with his “math facts”. Never.

IV – “Reconciliation” 

Even though Bobby struggled with different things and with us parents as many teens do, I always knew he loved me. He would slip notes under my bedroom door a lot of times to say “I’m sorry” for misbehaving, and to say that he loved me. I would tell him that I forgive him, and we’d work out what he could do differently next time. Although it was difficult at the time, I treasure those sweet notes now more than ever before. 

IV – “Goodnight Sweetheart

At bedtime, when Bobby was about 14, I would say goodnight to Bobby and send him off to bed. A few minutes later my bedroom door would crack open. There was Bobby with his head poked through the crack, smiling, and singing to me – “Goodnight  sweetheart, goodnight, wherever you arrrre!” He had a very good singing voice. I would say, “Goodnight”. A few minutes later, he was back – “Goodnight, sweetheart, goodnight, wherever you arrrrre!” Me: “Goodnight Bobby.” Just as I was falling off to sleep, he was back – “Goodnight sweetheart goodnight wherever you arrrrrre!” Me: “Goodnight Bobby! Go to bed!” Bobby: “Ok, goodnight. Love you.” Me: “Love you too Bobby.” ❤

V – “Looking Back”

I love looking back and seeing that picture in my mind of Bobby poking his head in my bedroom doorway and singing. I wish those would have been the days of “selfies”. I still remember what Bobby’s voice sounded like at 14. You know, that age where a teen boy’s voice gets crackly and deeper? That was it. It still makes me smile. It’s one of my favorite memories of him.

At the time of Bobby’s serenades, in a very rowdy household (4 teens and a blended family), all I wanted him to do was go to bed so I could get some sleep for another rowdy day. But look now, how special it is, that God left me with some of the best memories of him ever. There are more, but this is all for now.

VI – “Love You Forever”

Now I say to Bobby, “Goodnight, sweetheart, goodnight, wherever you arrrrre!” 🎶 

Happy Birthday in Heaven my sweet boy.  🚒 💙🇺🇸 Sadness over the loss of you is here to stay, but my memories of you will never go away.

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My Encounter with an Angel

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HEBREWS 13:2

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

Not all angels reside in Heaven. Some walk the earth just like YOU.

I know this because…..

As I was on my way back up from the lowest point in my life two years ago, I slowly began to notice that something “different” was happening to me. As I fought my way through some very dark days (and still do sometimes), I began to receive help from people I did not know. I mean like people on the phone with the electric company, people in Hobby Lobby, people at HEB, people on social media, friends of friends of friends….and the list goes on forever.

I would like to share the most recent encounters with you today. This just happened to me a few days ago.

My husband was headed out of town on a business trip. But due to car trouble with HIS car, he ended up taking MY car at the last minute, as so not to miss his flight. He kindly scheduled a driver to pick me up later that day to go pick up my car at the airport. This was NOT my ideal scenario by any means.

You see, since my son died tragically and so publicly 2 years ago, I have become very untrusting (and, ok, scared) of people I do not know sometimes. I get no warning usually; it just happens.

I was trying to be brave that I was about to drive an hour away with a perfect stranger in an unfamiliar vehicle. I was overcome with anxiety. “Should I bring my puppy? Should I not bring my puppy? I really hope this isn’t going to be a bad experience.” I really needed some kind of hand holding, but there was no hand to hold.

As the Lord would have it, I ‘couldn’t’ bring my puppy because I wanted to go by the hospital out by the airport to see a dear friend.

I could feel the anxiety creeping in as my heart beat faster and faster. “I can do this. I can do this. It will be ok.” I saw a nice shiny black car drive up. I took a deep breath, and I walked outside.

I want you to know that standing there beside the car stood the sweetest looking little elderly man. He was dressed so nice in a white long sleeved shirt with a tie, nice dress pants and shoes. I took one look at him and I was completely at ease.

The drive started out with the usual formalities, and directions of course. I told the driver where I needed to go, and he made it clear several times that he was not allowed to go into the parking garage. But, he said, “I’ll drop you where you can take an elevator to the garage.” I was fine with that, and we drove on toward the airport.

I pulled out my phone because I thought, “I don’t know this man. Good thing I brought my phone! I’ll just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.” I had NO plans of a conversation – at all. I was just relieved that the driver was dressed nice and seemed harmless.  🙂

I can see now that God must have been smiling and saying, “Ha! She thinks she’s going to play on her phone!”

Looking back, I don’t remember my phone AT ALL. Heck, I don’t even remember the trip! I don’t remember the sound of traffic, sounds from the car, or anything around us. All I remember was the conversation, and more importantly, the kindness and compassion of the sweet elderly driver, and how his eyes welled up with tears every now and then. I have no idea how the conversation even began; but it did.

As things go with “God moments” it’s so powerful at the time, then when I try to recall it, it’s kind of like a dream.

Suddenly, I felt my guard come down completely. One of us started a conversation. I remember telling a few funny stories about the kids, and us laughing. The driver seemed like a serious guy at first, but the next thing you know, HE was laughing. In fact, it was the kind of laugh where you lean toward the steering wheel laughing and then sit back again. I remember being surprised by such a serious looking man laughing like that.

Keep in mind that we have 4 children, but I must have only told the driver stories about Bobby from when he was little. Bobby was quite a little character. He kept me on my toes more than our girls ever did.

The driver seemed very interested and invested in the conversation and the stories. I remember being surprised by that. He would respond sometimes and sometimes remain quiet. One time, after a really good laugh out of the both of us, the driver said, “What is Bobby doing now?” My heart skipped a beat. I didn’t know what to say. The mood in the car had been so light, fun, and lively. How could I talk about death now? How could I?

I don’t stutter, but I sort of stuttered and said, “He-ee he died. The driver slumped in his seat a little. I distinctly saw pain in his face and tears well up in his eyes. He said that he was so sorry to hear that (several times). I asked him if he remembered the fire where 4 of the firefighters died, and he said that he did. He said he watched the whole thing on TV.

I told him that I too watched the whole thing on TV, but I never knew that it was my son dying in that fire as I watched. I told the driver that I found out when Bobby’s face flashed up on the TV screen with the word “deceased” next to his picture. As I spoke, I was not upset, just very calm. I remember thinking, “This is good, I’m not feeling bad, I’m ok, this is good that I’m still ok.”

I noticed that the driver was still tearing up. He was sad and pained, but, surprisingly, I was not. I was good. I told him that I had been down a very dark road where I found myself not wanting to live either, but I’m ok now. I told him calmly that I still have a meltdown or two every once in a while (which is to be expected), but I’m much better now.

I asked him where he was from. He said, “Iran.” I thought, “Oh no! I just told him how Bobby had made 2 tours of duty in Iraq!” I was hoping that it was ok that I had shared that.

I asked the driver about his job. Then, he opened up to me that he’s been driving for 30 years. He shared with me that his wife is very sick and disabled, and his insurance is very bad. He said that the insurance has them going in circles, and he can hardly afford to live on just one income. He told me (with tears in his eyes) that this was very hard on him because there is nothing he can do for her. I felt so bad for him. He was very sad. He was so sincere about his pain. I asked her name and told him that I would pray for her. He thanked me. And I did.

After all this while of talking back and forth, I guess he could not get Bobby (and what happened to him) off of his mind. He began to tell me another story of his. This one was about a young boy (the same age as his children) who was best friends with his kids. Over the years, the young boy had become a familiar face at their home. He was quite fond of the young boy.

The driver became very upset and visibly angry when he mentioned the young boy’s father. It turns out that the young man’s father had a lot of guns and knives and none of them were locked up. So my driver always warned his children to be careful when they were over there because the guns were not in a safe place.

One day, the young boy and his family moved away. My driver’s daughter kept up with the young man for years, as they were best friends. One day his daughter called and said that something terrible happened. She said the young boy ended up being shot to death by one of his friends while they were playing with the father’s guns. I told him how sorry I was to hear of this. It was very sad, and I could really feel his pain – just the shock of it all.

Then my driver got unusually animated and said how angry he was still “to this day about it”. He still had tears in his eyes. I understood. I shared with him about how I often have to practice Radical Acceptance, and about how I have dealt with those feelings of hatred and anger. I told him that now I know that holding on to hatred, bitterness, and unforgiveness is like drinking poison expecting the other person to die. At that moment, it looked as if he had had a “lightbulb moment.” I noticed that his intense anger quickly dissipated.

I told him that I seriously blamed God at first for Bobby’s death, but I don’t blame Him or anymore. I told him about my realizing that I don’t know why it happened, and I don’t need to know why anymore. I know I will see him again because I am saved and so was Bobby. While I was saying that about being saved, the Holy Spirit told me, “That’s a seed. It’s ok just to leave it there.”

My driver, once again, apologized for Bobby’s death, and he said, “You have your girls?” I thought “sheesh!” I didn’t want to have to tell him that too because it only gets worse. “The girls haven’t spoken to me since Bobby’s death” I said, “and I don’t know why. I have asked each one, and they each said that they “don’t want to discuss it.” Although it pains me greatly, I have realized that I have to leave it there until they are ready to talk about it”.

I told him that I’m in a better place with it all now. It still hurts, but there is nothing I can do but accept it – It is what it is. I told him that I pray for them every day that God would soften their hearts towards me and mine towards them.

He looked in his rear view mirror (as he had been doing from time to time) and said, “That’s good. You have very strong faith – very strong.” Then he said, “Your children will COME back – 100% – 100%”. He said it several times throughout the conversation, as if to make sure it stuck with me.

It was at that moment, that I realized I was in a car with an angel. His conviction was so strong. I thought to myself, “I’m in a car with an angel!” “No wonder there is so much honesty, compassion, encouragement, tears that don’t hurt, talk of forgiveness, peace, acceptance, and on and on.” And on top of that, it went both ways. Somehow we were both able to encourage each other!

Sometimes in my life, looking back, I can see where I had experienced a God moment, or an encounter with an angel. But this time was different. I KNEW I was IN THE MIDDLE OF A GOD MOMENT! It was very surreal.

I didn’t remember feeling the pain I usually feel in my body on a daily basis now. I felt no anxiety, no hurt, no depression, no tears, no heartache, nothing bad at all. Truly, I felt like we were the only two “people” on the freeway. Were we even ON a freeway??

Even right now, as I type, I’m having a hard time just putting it all into words; but something very special was happening, and I was just soaking up every moment of it. Blessings were happening so much and so many, I can’t even write them all down, or this story would go on forever.

When we got to the airport, I gave him my credit card to get into the garage, and and asked him if his company was paying for him to leave the parking garage. He said, “No, but I may not need it.” So I told him that I would give him money in case he did. He tried to refuse. But I insisted one last time and he took it.

He said again, “But I might not need it.” So I finally said, “Well if you do, you’ll have it, and if you don’t, just buy your wife a treat!” He looked at me like “what”? We (actually) hugged good-bye. He said, “I’ll wait till you get in your car and start it before I leave”.

It was like a dad speaking to his daughter, and I was that daughter. Then it donned on me, “I DID have someone holding my hand.” Through this man that I did not even know, God sent the Holy Spirit to hold my hand.

hold hand

I had (have) a comforter. The Holy Spirit was in that car too. He gave me comfort, and He gave my driver comfort too. In one hour’s time, I could literally see the transformation in him happen.

John 14:26 – “But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

comfort

The next time you “need some hand holding”, trust that God will send you too a Comforter as well.

But be alert always! You don’t know in what form it will come to you. Live each day with expectancy.

Rest assured – it WILL come.

If you have a need – Sow a seed

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Do you have a need in your life that you want God to meet?

Any need – big or small?

I for one am not ashamed to admit that I have so many needs in my life. I have emotional needs, physical needs, needs for healing, spiritual needs, and family relationships. Some of you may have similar needs, and some may have very different needs. But, everyone has needs of one sort or another.

Have you ever heard of this?  If you have a need, sow a seed? I used this principle in my own life today. I knew that God would reward me because I know that we can’t out give God.

2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

When we face difficulties, it’s easy to become ingrown, to where all we think about is my problem, my illness, my hurt, my bills, or my loneliness. As long as we’re only focused on ourselves, we’ll get stuck where we are.  In our time of need, we have to learn to sow a seed.

The way to get what you want is by giving away what you need. If you need happiness, don’t sit around in self-pity, go out and make somebody else happy. God will use that “seed” to bring you happiness. (Sow happiness – reap happiness)

I realize that this goes against human nature, but when God sees you getting outside of yourself, when He sees you being good to somebody even though you’re struggling, that’s the seed God will use to bring a harvest back into your own life.

When you reach out to others, the seed you sow will come back to you.

Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Every day, I have needs.  We all do (some more than others) but we all do.  God doesn’t care how big or how small, He wants to meet your every need.

Over the past week or so, I was made aware of the injustices being imposed on the Pastors in the Houston area by Mayor Annise Parker.  I wanted to help protect the Kingdom in any way that I could. Governor Mike Huckabee (a Christian), suggested that we all send the mayor a copy of the Bible. Listening to wise counsel, I did it.

Since Bobby died, I have not been able to leave the house except mostly for necessities, and that was only if Harold was not able to do it for me. I have been isolating due to the tremendous traumas that I suffered last year.

I am convinced that because of the prayers of others and prayers of my own, that God gave me the strength and courage to get out of the house today (feeling good all the while) to do something for Him.  I was so happy to do it.  It was good to feel good for a change. I wanted to sow a seed for my need.

While at the post office, as I was standing in line, I noticed that the young man in front of me had on a navy t-shirt with the number 68 on it. It stood out to me because that was Bobby’s Fire Station number.  I mustered up the courage to speak to him, and asked if he was a firefighter. He said no, that he was a police officer.

(I had promised myself since Bobby died that I would try to thank every single police officer, firefighter, and military service member that I see for the courageous work that they do.)

Then I noticed that Bobby’s name was on his sleeve. I mentioned to him that Bobby was my son. It turned out that this young man was the brother-in-law of the fiance of Anne Sullivan (the girl who died with Bobby in the fire). And the girl standing in front of this young police officer was the sister of Anne’s fiance Dan.  And this girl (Dan’s sister) is good friends with my daughter Nicole (who hasn’t spoken to me since Bobby died for I don’t know the reason to this day). And come to find out, my daughter Nicole, had sold this young police officer his (Station #68) t-shirt. AND he and I were wearing the same Station #68 bracelet!  Now what are the chances of THAT – in ALL of this humongous city of Houston?!?!

This young man began to tell me his story of that horrific day, May 31, 2013. He just happened to be with Anne’s (the deceased’s) husband driving down the freeway and saw the smoke from the fire. They knew that this could have been Anne’s station at the scene of the fire, so they headed toward the fire. As they were driving toward the fire, they got a call to go home immediately, that Anne had died in the fire.

This young police officer told me that he was witness to his brother-in-law becoming hysterical and his tremendous suffering on that day. He told me that he didn’t know what to do. He began to tell me how helpless he felt. I told him how sorry I was that he had to go through that situation and how I felt for him. I tried to reassure him that just being there for comfort was all he could have done. That really is all you can do.  I could tell that he really needed to say his story to someone. I was happy to listen, even though it was hard. I was able to share with him how I found out and he was able to hear me as well.

THEN the lady 3 people in front of me heard us talking, and said that she also knew Anne Sullivan personally. By this time I was in tears at the goodness of God, and I wasn’t even finished sewing my seed!! This lady came and gave me the biggest hug and told me she was sorry and that she would pray for me and she said, “God bless you, I’m so sorry”.

You see, God knew that this is a HUGE need that I have – for people to know my story and understand the grief that I feel on a pretty regular basis. Anne’s future sister-in-law and I were able to talk about how we still get triggered by different things, songs, something someone says, a particular place, a photo, and how our grief comes up all over again, like the very day that the accident happened. This sharing was once again another small piece to my healing – like a soothing gel that God poured over my still open wound. How great is He for that?

I can’t even count how many blessings I received just today (in one day!),  just by simply sowing a seed. I wasn’t even up to the post office counter yet, and God was blessing me more than I could even imagine – exceedingly and abundantly even more than I could ask or think.

If you have a need – sow a seed 🙂

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!

forgive themevenifnotsorry

Understanding Your Response to Trauma (Part 1 of 8)

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The following is from an article I read about stress, anxiety, and trauma.  I am sharing it with you all in the event that you, or someone close to you has suffered a trauma, or multiple traumas.  I was reading about this to help me understand my own confusing responses to the severe trauma of the last year and a half of my life.  I will divide the article up into EIGHT posts (1 per day), so that it will be easier to read.

With that said, I will begin.

What is a traumatic event?

Among the many stressful events of living, we can be faced with extraordinary circumstances that leave us feeling terrified, powerless, and/or horrified in the face of threatened or actual injury or death. Examples of traumatic events may include:

  • natural disaster
  • catastrophe caused by human error
  • catastrophe caused by failed equipment
  • physical or sexual assault; rape
  • robbery/mugging
  • serious motor vehicle accident
  • witnessed violence, injury or death
  • combat, torture or imprisonment
  • threats of harm to self or loved ones; stalkings
  • domestic violence and physical abuse
  • fire and burn survivors
  • destruction of one’s home
  • life-threatening illnesses and treatments

How do we usually respond to a traumatic event?

Sometimes immediately, and sometimes after brief or even extended delay, most of us will experience intense feelings and symptoms related to the traumatic event. Not every person experiences the same aftermath to the same trauma. However, you are likely to bounce back and forth between periods during which you relive the trauma and other periods during which you are benumbed of feeling and avoidant of any thought or reminder of the traumatic event. This is entirely normal. This normal, acute response to trauma is not called “post-traumatic stress disorder” unless it is persistent over time and does not gradually heal.  (cont….on page 2 of 8)