It was brought to my attention that I hadn’t blogged in quite some time, so I decided to sit down and collect my thoughts for a post. There have been many things going on in my life, and certain realizations/revelations I’d considered sharing, but I just never made it a priority to write it down. There are several things that have happened that have caused me to stop and ponder what God may be trying to show me.
I’ll start off with a milestone that took place a week ago, but in my favorite “storytelling” way:
Back to school time is always a little bittersweet for me. I’m sure most moms feel that way, but for me, there’s more than the obvious “they’re growing so fast” theme that crosses my mind every August. I started Kindergarten less than 3 months after I lost my mom, and her birthday always falls right around back to school time. Plus, every couple of years or so one of my kids enters a milestone that always makes a little more sappy than usual.
Most every August I also think about how my grandma had just lost her only daughter and was taking on the responsibility of raising two more kids. She hadn’t enrolled kids in school in about 20 years and was frantic in making sure everything was done so my sister and I could start the first day with everyone else. I vividly remember that I wore a purple dress and a lighter purple bow made of yarn in my hair on my first day of Kindergarten. I was equally excited and nervous, as are most kids, and I just kept thinking about what it might be like and if I’d make any friends. I won’t go into a lot of detail because, quite frankly, the only things I really remember about Kindergarten is painting a lot, story time, graham crackers & milk, and getting sent to time out for talking too much-that trait runs in the family, I didn’t have choice.
I sent my youngest son to Kindergarten last Monday, and it dawned on me that he’s the first of my 6 kids to create such an over-abundance of feelings that caused a huge lump in my throat. I know I’ve always been excited for my kids to start school, but I’ve never felt so emotional about it. Perhaps it’s because he didn’t go to traditional Pre-K so this was my first “sending off” milestone with him. Perhaps it’s because he’s my youngest son, my last boy to leave me and go off to the days where I’m no longer the only one he turns to for help. Perhaps it’s because he’s a little more introverted and sensitive and my heart is afraid for him, despite how much I know he’ll be fine.
I just think there are memories and events that have happened to me that have been locked in my mind, and when a similar event happens, these emotions come out of me that I’m not sure how to process. Combine that with the emotion that already comes with childhood milestones every parent goes through and bam, you get one emotional cocktail. So, I guess all I can do is what I’ve been doing since I became a mother for the first time-pray that I’ve done the best I can and know that God loves them more than I ever could, and that He’s got them in the palm of His hands.
Going back to what really began this descent into a rollercoaster of emotions, I’m going to backtrack a little, 4 weeks to be exact. I was out shopping with my mother in law when I found out that my ex-husband’s brother in law had passed away in a tragic water accident. Oddly enough, the night before I’d gotten a breaking news alert from ABC that someone had drowned where my ex-husband and kids live, and it gave me a weird feeling. I even said to my husband, “I hope that wasn’t my ex”.
I’m an empath by nature, so my heart immediately broke for this man’s parents, his sister, and my kids, as well as for my ex since they were really close. I know death is a natural part of life, but this was the first time it hit so close to home for my kids and I just felt helpless to protect them from the pain I have become so familiar with. God has an amazing way of working things out though, because coincidentally the day it happened, my 8-year old daughter was staying with me while she attended a Theater Skills Workshop. I was asked not to tell her, that he would the day she went back to her dad’s for the week…that was probably the hardest 3 days of my life as a mom. I just kept imagining how hard she was going to take it and I cried a lot that week, for her, for the family, my kids, it was a lot to process.
What amazes me about life, our spirituality, is the ability to feel someone else’s pain so immensely you’d think it happened to you. Music, as most people in my life know, is therapeutic for me and I especially love when songs relate to something in my life. If you listen to Country, or Christian music, you’ve heard of Lady A, or Hillary Scott, the lead female vocalist. She certainly has a God-given talent for sure. Her latest song, “Thy Will” got my attention not too long ago for the lyrical content and message to people about how it’s ok to question God as long as you remember that, ultimately, His will overpowers anyone else’s—and that He’s ok with us coming to Him with questions. The day after I heard about the accident I was taking my daughter to her class and on my way back the song came on. I got a little teary eyed because I just felt God reminding me that He always has a plan despite our pain. But the part that just tore my heart open was where you can clearly hear the pain in her voice, the raw emotion when she sings, “I know you see me, I know you hear me, Lord; your plans are for me, goodness You have in store”. My heart used it as an opportunity to pray and I sang instead, “I know you see them, I know you hear them, Lord; Your plans are for them, goodness You have in store”, and I sobbed pretty much the rest of the way home. Four weeks later and the song still brings me to tears, but also gives me hope knowing He’s close to the broken-hearted.
I truly believe tragedy connects us to people, even those we may not have a close relationship with. It unites people in a way I believe God uses for us to understand true compassion, humility, grace, love, etc. I’d never even met personally this man my kids loved so dearly. But knowing the pain it caused them, his parents, his sister, and even my ex-husband, just broke my heart into tiny pieces. I know what it’s like to lose a brother and I saw firsthand what losing a child did to my grandparents, and little Isabel’s parents last year. It’s a pain that cuts deep and I feel is unlike any other. It still boggles my mind that I could be so emotionally distraught over something that didn’t happen to someone in my immediate family. I am, however, so thankful for the gift of empathy because it helps me understand how God feels when we’re hurt. It makes Him more relatable to me and less like a magical being in the sky that is just here to answer prayers and satisfy our needs. It makes Him a father, a parent, a protector. And I truly believe He’s used this tragedy to open my eyes to a deeper part of Himself, and to deepen my relationship with Him. Every time I hear that song I pray for the family, my kids, his girlfriend, whom I think most people overlook in situations like this.
I’d asked if I could be present when my little girl was told about the accident, and the gratitude in my heart I feel for being able to comfort her is beyond words. I knew she was going to be so heartbroken, she loved him so much and was, as I was told, glued to his hip. Seeing the pain in her face as her daddy told her what happened is a feeling I would never wish upon anyone. As parents, it’s our job to protect our kids, and it’s a horrible, helpless feeling when you can’t. Knowing there are things my kids will face in their lives is enough to keep me awake every night. And this was my first experience in dealing with something like this, I’m still learning what my role is in it. Having split custody is hard enough without life throwing in things kids should never have to experience. My mommy heart wants to be there to hold them every day and tell them everything will work out fine, but I can’t. However, they do have a great support system with their dad and step-mom’s family, which I couldn’t be more grateful for, and it helps me to know they’re getting the love they need right now. My oldest is now a junior, and my oldest son is a freshman. With school starting I made sure to say an extra prayer that God will help them get through this year despite the emotional stress they’re going through.
I have to conclude by saying that, in my experience, death never gets easier to deal with. I’ve lost many people in my life, mostly close family members, and it hurts deep every single time. I do, however, gain a new perspective-death has a funny way of reminding us what’s truly important. I’ve learned that reaching people in the middle of their pain is often difficult because everyone grieves differently. I’m an emotional person and my passion has always been helping people, but sometimes I feel like praying is all the help I can offer. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just hard when all I want to do is wrap my arms around someone and let them cry on my shoulder. Maybe that’s the point though, to meet people where they are and let them know you’re thinking of them, and praying. Sometimes we don’t get to be the fixers, the one who mends the broken heart, the one who says the ‘right thing” at the “right time”. God has shown me that sometimes I can’t control every little thing, and that my only job is to trust Him, thy will be done.