Not my Son!

Not my Son!.

Not my Son!

I became a mom about 9 years ago when my oldest son came bounding into the world. After 14 hours of labor, he appeared, stared me straight in the face and made not a sound. He took the room by silent storm as nurses and doctors cooed over him, exclaiming that he was one of the most beautiful babies they had seen. I thought, “Uh, of course you would say that, you HAVE to say that about all kids born.” No, they told me. There is something distinct about this one, they said. Distinct? Well, he certainly made a dramatic entrance. After he was born, the medical staff present busied themselves with me and sent my son upstairs. I knew before they told me, that something was wrong. I could feel it. After he was delivered, there was no pain….there was only peace. I watched the midwife at my feet count the pulse beats and watch pan upon pan fill with red liquid. I knew that I was losing more than a typical birth, all said and done I lost about 2-2 1/2 units of blood. I remember looking at my mother, who was watching me and telling her that all would be just fine. If what I had come into this world to do was to deliver my son, I had done just that. There was an overwhelming calm as I smiled at her, and closed my eyes. It was a moment of warmth, silence, and grace. I do not recall the scurry in the room, the nurses barking at the phone on the wall to bring up an ER tech. I do not remember my mother telling the room that my eyes were closed and my hand limp. All I remember is that for a moment I knew that I had done exactly what I was to do. At that moment, all was right with the world.

How can that be? Your son is upstairs, you are unconscious, on your way to checking out. How can you be at peace with what is happening? Don’t you want to see your son grow up, to teach and mold him, to love him everyday? How can you think this is ok? Fight, fight with all that you are!

Well, at that moment I could not fight, it was not my role to do so. There were others to do that on my behalf, my role was to fight for the life of my son, deliver him, and make sure he was safe. I had done that. There are other mothers out there who are called to do much more than I for their children. It is part of the role and call of a mother.

I think of another mother on this Easter. You see Holy Week has a different feel to me now that I have my own children. There is something so tender and raw about this journey of her Son. I think of Mary, mother of Christ as she watched the progression of events, and I marvel at her. There are times I look at my own sons and giggle as I think of the tirade that Jesus must have put His mother through while He was growing. The absences, the comments, the wandering off for days on end, and the cryptic messages must have driven her to distraction. The pleas of,”mom,can I?” Imagine this boy as a teen, full of knowledge, a yearning for something different, but maybe not able to articulate what it is. Imagine this boy as he questions, struggles, listens to inner voices calling him to something too large for conception; conception larger than what His mother was called to do.

There are moments I understand this woman, this Mother of love and grace. I understand the standing back and watching, praying that the testing of limits her child is doing will keep him safe. I wonder if she listened to his comments with peace or an unsettled feeling? I listen to my oldest talk about what sees and what he hears, it takes my breath away sometimes. He has a level of understanding and perception that floors me. What many of us spend years of education trying to figure out, he explains with a simple twist of his head, a smile, and a shrug of his shoulders. It is exactly what it is, for him there is no need to complicate love, compassion, beauty, and forgiveness. He knows what it looks like, how it feels, and is unafraid to express them in his own words. The wisdom of simply expressed thought, thought that we make confused by barriers, obstacles, and conditions.

I think of this Mother as I watched my children this week. I am careful what I say, how I approach the emotion in these days. While the week begins with great joy and celebration, a parade and cheerful laughing, there are also moments of gut wrenching sadness and loss. Easter week holds the contradiction of all emotions. What must Mary be thinking as she journeys this with her Son. She knows she cannot save him, she has seen the effects of the last three years. Would that she could take this from Him. As a mother, I feel that pain, the knowledge that your child hurts, is anguished and she can do nothing to stop it.

Would that she could join Him in the garden the night before He accepts fate. I imagine she would cradle her Son, rocking him back and forth, letting Him cry out the pain. Her arms would encircle Him, willing the strength that only a mother can provide, praying it would be enough. The tear stained face of her Son must tear at her heart, I can almost hear her railing at the same Father He cries out to in this moment. “WHY!” “Not MY son.” “No, He is YOUR Son.” “I will do what needs to be done.”

Good Friday always dawns cold and dreary for me. The sun may shine, but there is a cloak of darkness which covers my emotions. I watch the clocks, silently ticking away until noon. Thanks to modern day cinema, I can hear the driven nails, see the sprawled arms, feel the weight of the crowd. If I close my eyes I can see the picture clear and the mass of people presses closer and closer to the action. I can see those whom He loves. Mary Magdalene, oh how my heart breaks for her. I see disciples, believers, and brothers already confuserequd and mourning. I see the guards, those who doubt, those who question, and those who hate. In the front, is His Mother. I can picture her Son looking down at her, a mixture of grief, loss, and peace as He does what He is called to do. Feel the agape, unconditional and reverent love this Son has for his mother. Out of the sheer madness and agony of the physical pain comes a love which can only be described as Divine. He looks at John, whom He loves and commands him to watch after His mother. He speaks to His own mother, tears glisten from His eyes as he presents John to His mother. She is not alone. He has ensured her safety, her care, and made clear the path for her love to be continued. AAAAAAhhhhh!!!!…..

The noise continues, the deafening cloud draws the bodies closer, the summit of emotion reached. So many would scream the final line. I hear a quite resignation, a peaceful resolution, the fight is finished–there is no more pain. The whisper may come as loud shouts in the soul, but the eyes close, the hand goes limp, the last breath drawn. She delivered her Son amongst the primal earth and brought Him to this moment years later. She had no ER doctor to call, no final IV jammed into an arm to save. She heard and saw and breathed the last breath right along with her baby boy, her Holy Son. She remains, stays, mourns, and misses this boy made man. Tender hands usher Him down, tending the body, swathing this example of her heart made flesh. What must she think in this moment, how must she feel? How can this Mother believe that tomorrow or the next day will heal this wound?

This woman amazes me. Her love, her unconditional love and fight for her Son drove her to the cross. Drove her to watch, to hear, to clutch at those around her…Her love required her to let Him go. Ow. That hurts. Her love required that she let Him go. She had not hold over Him in this moment, just as she had no hold over Him from birth. A wry smile might play at her lips as she sits with that knowledge days and years later. There must be a quiet peace as she knows that what is done is done. It IS finished, but the next act is about to begin, if only she can wait a day or two. If only…..

all-Consuming

all-Consuming.

all-Consuming

I awoke the other day to start reading a new book, felt the warm blanket around me, saw the dreary weather and promptly –fell back to sleep.  It was the kind of sleep where you are not really sure if you are sleeping because you can still hear what is happening around you, but eyelids are too heavy to open.  Reality meshes with REM and a psuedo understanding takes place.

As I untangled dream from reality, a phrase lodged itself into my mind.  “I am hungry.”  What?  I took a quick sip of my now cold coffee and turned that sentence over and over again.  “I am hungry.”  Is was clearly not a question, but a definite declaration.  Hungry, but for what?  Is it just a hunger for food, space, time?

I looked up the synonyms for Hunger–the list ranges from a hankering or craving, to a famished starvation, or a deep need, wish or passion.  Most closely related to food, the word hunger implies an absence of sustenance.  I clearly had eaten something that day, had consumed coffee- so my body was not in want of anything.  The statement would not let me go, it continued to gnaw at me.  I look around at all that I have:  2 loving and rambunctious boys,  health, a roof which keeps me and my family warm, a job that I do not consider a job-but a mission, 2 degrees twhehat have been earned with hard work and honor, friends that I love and that I call family, and a desire to do more and be more.  I asked a good friend today whether we can hunger for something without knowing what it is.  They replied that that is what advertising is for.  I wonder though, if we don’t know that something exists, do we yearn for that?  How do we know that we want it, or that it is missing?  Do we first have to see or experience what is missing before we know we hunger for it?  I really do not know.

I have spent most of the day mulling this over and I have come up empty handed.  I wonder if hunger looks and feels like that never-ending hole that we clamor to fill and we never do.  If that is true, then we all hunger.  I witnessed friends of mine recently posting about their vacations and time spent with their families. I read the post, dumbfounded.  How can someone want to go anywhere with their family on purpose?  That people would choose to get in a car or a plane to spend concentrated time with more members of their family for long periods of time astounds me.   I simply cannot understand how this takes place or how one plans such an event.  I do not know what it means to spend that kind of time with siblings and cousins and family.  I know I have seen parts of what it must look like, yet the fear of the unknown stops me cold.  How can I replicate something that I have not experienced and if I do, what if it fails miserably?  Rumor has it that behavior is perfectly normal.  Normal people plan trips together and spend time making memories.  Huh, who knew?  I didn’t, yet I have looked at pictures that others have shown me, most of the time I choke back a big lump and I cannot control the surge of emotion that creeps to the surface.  Usually I blame it on acid reflux and tell myself to quit being a cry baby and develop a stronger back bone.  Yet, there it is.

There are times I desire more than anything to never be content.  That sometimes sounds so trite to me, that I should be ok with what I have now.  I believe I should be ok with the status quo, but I am not.  I want more.  I want more life, more color, more passion, and more truth.  I want to look at the world as it is and not be content to leave it as it is.  I want to stop congregating around coffee tables, in nice circles, talking about people who have changed the world- or the possibility that someone else can do it.  I yearn to be part of something on fire and exciting.  I want to be on fire and exciting.    I hunger for truth, for real conversations about real issues that matter, and I desire to find solutions.

There are other areas in which I crave.  Areas where I have no experience, but desire to do it differently.  I hunger for family, connection, and a release.  I yearn for a time when the holds of guilt and the talons of the past will relinquish their hold on my outlook and set me free to pursue areas that make my soul sing.  I cannot wait for the moment when the brave part of my personalit takes front and center and motivates me to step forward in confidence to speak and write on behalf of those who cannot for themselves.  To be a voice for those who cannot speak, or have not found theirs yet is something that has been with me for as long as I remember.  Try as I might, no amount of random blogging, casual poetry fits, or singing my heart out in the car satisfies the need that I feel.  No amount of watching other people interact with their families sates my desire for a peaceful respite and comfort.  I also hate admitting that I may need or want anything…yet I know better than my own misgivings.

I could go on and on, but my thoughts have somehow jumbled onto one another and my youngest son is out of bed for the 2nd time asking me to find Deadpool in his Marvel comic characters book.  I am not exactly sure who that is, but I do know….the hunger of my son to find this description is more important than my next sentence.

Until again,

Shalom,

cahl

Oh, so Vain

Oh, so Vain.

Oh, so Vain

Recently I stepped out on a limb and gave what I could to a cause which I am pleased to support.  I teamed up with other members from across the region and shaved my head bald for St. Baldrick’s kids cancer research.  I am pleased with the results of monies brought in, but I admit that there was some reservation as I climbed into the chair of a good friend and heard the clippers hum their buzz.

I work for a non-profit in the midwest and I have learned something about community and giving back that I was not aware of previously.  I do not give back because of an altruistic idea or because I am hoping for kudos….I give back because I must.  Like breathing, the desire to do my part to make a difference or an impact is as necessary as air is to my lungs.  I give because I HAVE to.

You see, I have 2 children who are healthy and full of life.  I look at them each day and wonder who thought it was a good idea to place them in MY care!  In my mind, I feel little older than a typical college student.  In body, I feel much older.  😉  I watch these two balls of energy and intellect and I am so grateful for what they teach me each day.  They are healthy and I am so thankful, because I understand that in a matter of moments, that lulled feeling of security could be shattered by unexpected news or events.  I do not live in a state of fear, I live in a moment of truth.

I also work hard for a non-profit which focuses on community development and building on assets that exist, rather than a concentration on deficits.  I see real life outside my office window each day, I am humbled.  I gave because I know intimately people who have fought and passed on, and others still fighting.  I have no large bank account, no promises of a cure, or restored health.  I can’t even promise that tomorrow will be better than today.  I gave the only thing I have in my possession to give, I gave myself.

This decision was met with mixed reactions, and I did not make it for the reactions it has brought.  I wrestled myself with whether or not to go through with my decision.  As early as last Monday, I waffled, asking my colleague whether he felt it was an appropriate and professional.  His comment was that his family had already donated to the cause, why was I questioning?  Why indeed?

I am not a classically beautiful woman, like many of us, there are many items of my physique that I would like to change.  Some I can work on each day, some I have to look past and accept them as they are.  One of 2 assets which I have always claimed was my hair.  I have always had good hair, and even my mother would agree I was blessed.  I rarely go a day with it styled the way it was the day before, and if truth be told….I am a bit of a hair whore.  One of my good friends called me that a couple years ago, and the description fits.  Others can tell the state of my emotions by the length or color of my hair.  My dear, sweet, Uncle Walt, who passed of pancreatic cancer some 11 years ago declared my maroon hair a flop and made me promise never to dye it that color again.  My aunt Charlotte still reminds me of that and scolds me if I begin to talk of something drastic.  I loved my Uncle Walt and there are times I miss him dearly, he was good to me in many ways.

Sniffles aside at that last comment, I decided to do this not out of vanity, but I am learning something about myself in the process.  Stripped of something so basic, there is a vulnerability and a nakedness that I see when I glance in the mirror.  I asked one person if I was as pretty like this as I might be with hair.  Their reply was, no I am not as pretty.  Now I do not believe that I am any great beauty, but the comment lodged in my mind and I continue to mull it over in thought.  It has been almost a week and I have been present at speaking engagements over the weekend and had to interact with strangers and friends alike.  There was no way to hide what I had done, and no amount of funky head scarf could conceal the fact that something was different.  I have a major presentation at a local college tomorrow and there is a part of me that is scared.  “Will they judge me?  Will they refuse to listen because something is out of the ordinary?  What will they say of me?”

I have to work to put those comments aside and stand firm in the naked truth of who I am and what I do.  Shorn of dark locks does not make me anymore a woman or any less capable than I was last week.  That is some hard truth to endure.  I think of my women friends, sisters in gender who have fought valiantly and lost….they lost parts of their bodies, their ability to carry children–losing life here and transitioning to a different definition of healing.  As they fought and sometimes lost they also gave up a hallmark (by social standards) of their femininity.  There is something about hair and either its abundance or lack of it that commands attention.  Stripped of that by choice or by necessity places one in an interesting battle with self.

I am lucky to have made the choice this time.  There have been moments where I have endured procedures only to reveal to me that I had cancerous and pre cancerous polyps.  I have had more colonoscopies than I can count.  I have struggled through a head MRI and felt my sanity screaming at me as I lay in the howling machine.  Each time, I waited with bated breath to hear the death sentence.  It has not come.  In this moment, at this stage, I am whole.  The relief of that realization washes over me as softly as my hair drifted to the floor last week.  I remain lucky to have had the chance to make the choice.  Others are not so lucky and I stand in solidarity with them.

I have more I am contemplating, but I will let this suffice for now.  Blessings of Shalom, Health, and Wellness to all.

cahl.

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