Taking a Chance

Taking a Chance.

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Taking a Chance

I cannot take myself back to the day that John F. Kennedy was shot.  I cannot relate as my parents descibe the events of that day, or what it felt like in the aftermath.  My generation does not know  that horror, thank God.  My generation knows of another tragedy that rocked the nation.

Today marks 12 years since the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon were attacked.  I am part of the 9-11 generation.  A generation that grew up believing that not only were we as individuals were invincible, but that our nation was untouchable.  We learned in the second it took to run a plane into a building that none of us came out of that unscathed.  We watched, partly with the unspeakable hope that this was some horrid movie clip.  It wasn’t, it was real.  Every 9-11 we revisit that day and we pray it never happens again.  Ever.

What do I tell my children of that day?  How do I explain to them, who were not born, what this day means to us who lived it?  I feel an odd sense of protection of the events that day, lest history books tell a different story.  How do I comfort them and tell them something like that will never happen again?  How do I explain the violence in light of current events surrounding Syria?  How do I promise them unconditional safety?

I don’t.  I can’t tell them that, I never will be able to do so.

What I CAN do is speak of hope.  Hope seems the one word which can motivate even the staunchest cynic.  Some would say that anger would be more motivating….I disagree.  To what end does reacting in anger help any situation?  My son went missing the other day for over five hours.  Now, I live in a small town, so I knew instinctively that nothing would probably happen to him.  See, I was lulled into a sense of complacency.  I found him hanging at a friend’s house and told him quietly to get home NOW.  He was scared to death that I was angry.  I was.  I was also terribly scared.  You see, generation 9-11 taught me that no one is totally safe.  Becoming a mother and living every moment for my children has also taught me to constantly be on guard.  They are too important not to have a mother watching and listening intently.  If I had reacted in anger, what would he have learned?  I spoke sternly and taught him the importance and the gravity of his actions.  I impressed upon him how important he is to me and so many others, yes he is even important to his big brother.

You see, I hope he learned a valuable lesson.  I also hope that he heard how important and precious he is.  I hope he came away knowing that there is nothing that would make me stop loving him.  EVER.

This brings me back to my original thoughts.  Mankind as a precious species, no matter what. EVER.  I may step on  toes here, but I will risk it.  As I think back on Sept. 11 and where I was.  BTW, i was teaching high level journalism and then 6th graders.  I saw their faces, the questions in their eyes.  How odd it was to go from students 16 years old to a roomful of 6th graders.  No parent, teacher, or clergy have to expain a tragedy such as what we endured.

Likewise, no parent, teacher, or clergy should have to tackle the issue of hate in whatever form it takes.  Was I angry at the events?  Most assuredly.  We should not have to explain to the generations behind us what hate and violence solves.  What are we teaching them?  What happened to treating mankind like the treasured gifts they are?  Do we agree with every decision made?  Absolutely not, EVER.  Do we have the right to make whole factions of mankind pay for the actions of others?  By this I mean, do we make all white causcian males pay for what has been done to the Native Americans or African Americans?   What was done was atrocious.  When do we stop the disregard for people  whose sexual orientation, religious (or non religious) affiliation, color, ability, money (or lack of it) and dictate that they are somehow less?  Explain to a young lady growing up that being a smart and capable woman means that she will be regarded as a bitch.  Tell the young man that he is to blame for all the wrong that has happened and will happen.  Approach the homeless or addict look them in the face and deem them unworthy.  Regard those suffering from mental illness, a history of abuse, rape, or other unspeakable intrusions that they did something to deserve such treatment.  Lobby to have all refugees and immigrants removed from a nation which promises a safe haven and a land of opportunity.  Tell me that I have no right to articulate these thoughts.

You may react in anger, choose to disregard this as so much blather, condemn me, or choose not to read.  You know what?  That is completely your choice.  I will still believe in the fact you are worth more than we can measure with existing technology.  Nothing can change that fact, EVER.  While the events of 9-11 rock my world every year, so do the other acts of senseless violence happening in our schools throughout the country or at marathons or celebrat ions.  I do not want a world where we have to explain why someone goes into a school intent on harm.  I pray for a world which understands that waging war is not a solution.  Weren’t we taught not to fight in the early years of school?  I could swear I heard that somewhere.  I yearn for a time when we embrace one another for who they are, that we look deep into their eyes and listen to their story.  It may just remind you of parts of your own story.

9-11 is part of my generation X’s life and legacy.  It is irreversible.  What happens today and forward is in the hands of each of us.  It is in our power to change and restore that which has been wounded.  I accept that challenge.  Do you?

Shalom,

cahl

Surreal

Surreal.

Surreal

I have been thinking about death lately.  Now, don’t give me the eye roll and think, oh great, here we go.  Stay with me on this one as I brainstorm some ideas with which I am wrestling.

In the last year some pretty special people have either passed or are in the process of passing.  I am not sure why I cannot say with certainty that they died.  It feels almost like a sware word, or like on Harry Potter, the name which shall not be spoken.  I began thinking about my life, the fact that I recently turned another year and what that means.  I also thought about the process of transition from here to the next.

Now, I have taken my grief and bereavement classes and achieved the requirements for pastoral care and counseling.  They never really prepare a person to walk through that journey with another person.  So I thought about what it must be like.  The idea is daunting to say the least.  I mean, one minute you are there….doing whatever it is we are to do.  Then the next moment, what?  Is it like instantaneous?  Is it like the blink of an eye and then a transition occurs?  I don’t know.  I would venture to guess few, if anyone, can answer that question.

I think about those moments where an accident occurs and upon reaching the scene, and knowing there is nothing that can be done, what does that instant moment look like?  I believe there is a life and a destination when we leave this place and time.  I  do not believe that we are random or out of reach from a Creator who has a Divine plan.  I believe that something awaits each of us, something magnificent and unimaginable.  It is almost too much to consider.  In the situations where a long and painful illness occurs, is that last moment steeped in understanding and an absence of pain?  How does one know that this is IT?  How do we know that the transition is approaching, medical assessment aside?  Is there a definite sign?  Is the person passing accepting, much more so than those present?  What is their knowledge of that moment?  Is it resignation or a release?

All this thinking has me contemplating life as well.  In a surreal way I have, at times, come to a real understanding that I AM HERE.  I exist.  I have height, depth, movement, thought, and capability.  Not by mere coincidence I am here in this time and this place.  No one thinks the thoughts I have, the moment I have them. As individual as an eternity of snowflakes, so am I.  That is mind-blowing.    I have touch and an awareness of all my senses, I have not been created an animal, incapable of works, emotions, dreams, and actions.   I hurt, emotionally and physically, I walk, talk, interact, sleep, eat, drink, any number of menial tasks.  Are they really as menial and insignificant as many of us believe?  I think of those who are not able to perform the simplest of action or thought.  What does the world look like?

If I am as individual and un-reproducible as I believe, what is my obligation in this time and in this place? How does one embrace a life of lived fulfillment and not existence?  How is that possible?  If it is one steeped in existence, was that a moment in history missed?  Is my definition of a life lived exceptionally limited by my small world and after life knowledge?  To expand that would require?  Am I willing to jump into that mix and explore the necessity of our impact on one another and the world around us?  Am I willing to think of the legacy I choose to leave behind me, or am I content to remain quietly moving from place to place until the inevitable happens?

I don’t know, I pray this is not morose or depressing, but an invitation to thought and contemplation.  These are not questions with easy answers, nor are they ones that I can answer for anyone else.  As I rejoice in memories of those who have died (ouch) and those who are actively dying, I think also of the meaning of the here and now and what lies beyond what we see.

shalom,

cahl

 

A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life.

A Day in the Life

It begins early, way earlier than most young boys and girls are up for the day.  If he sleeps past 7,  I am amazed and yet, I lay in bed with bated breath.  He will wake and the sounds of screams fills the livingroom.  Running up and down the hallway, I cringe, wondering how long it will be before my youngest is jerked from sleep.  It is a weekend morning, a  time when the world slows down a bit, a time to renew and refresh is embraced.  Yet, for this young boy, relaxation is not an option.  Leaping from couch to floor to chair and back again.  couple that with the tv blaring and screams at whatever program is on can be heard even for those walking by on foot.

With a sigh, one of us rises to hand over 4 different medications, one is an instant or fast acting adhd medicine which should kick in by the time he reaches school or eaten breakfast.  He cannot even look me in the face as he scrambles into the kitchen, running circles, bumping into walls and laughing like a maniac.  He grabs them from my hand and takes off at a dead run.  If I can get his attention I can talk slowly to him and give him one instruction and then another.  Where most of us can handle, go to the bathroom, wash face and brush teeth.  These remain items of a garbled mess to him.  He can handle go to the bathroom, but be completely lost as to what to do next.  After painstaking repetition, we can get dressed and headed out the door.  I try to pack his backpack a bit heavier so he can feel the weight of it and it may take his energy level down some.  I stand, ready for a hug, and I receive a full body slam in return.  I look at him, smile, smooth back his hair, and say, “you are beautifully and wonderfully made.  And. I love you.”

I watch him leave and i sigh silently.  You see, already the comments have started from his classmates.  “mom, they think I’m weird.”  I want to cry, to shelter him from their harsh comments, the anguish in his voice, the fire that disappears from his eyes as he describes students telling him to shut up.  I know he can talk for hours on one subject and appear as though he has no clue that no one is listening.  I know that is frustrating and I will be the first to admit that I care nothing about the latest WWII fighter bomber flight.  I know he talks like this at school too.  I can’t stop him.  Faster and faster he will speak and then the filler words will come spewing forth, “like, you know, and like, like, like.”  He is the smartest child I know, with a talent for music and a memory that traps knowledge and emotion like a steel trap.

He also is given to fits in front of other people and has a hard time if something does not go his way.  Unable to transition and adapt, he is left feeling ousted from the group because they move at a faster pace  than he does.  Onto the ground he will throw himself, full on temper tantrum with screamed comments that no one likes him and everyone hates him.  In his worse states, he will claim a desire to run out into the street and not care if a car comes.  It is those comments that break my heart.  Then, as quickly as he whipped himself into a frenzy, he is done and laughing.  This leaves his friends wondering what just happened and how to handle what they just saw.  Moments later, another event sets the whole cycle back into motion and we begin again.

I watch his papers come home.  The illegible handwriting, the scrawled name at the top, and I shake my head.  As a teacher, if I could not read papers, I would count them wrong, or make the student redo the work.  The trouble is, he knows exactly what he is doing.  This kid is wicked smart, but with a dwindling confidence in himself, I fear for his future in school.  I see test scores come home and I smile, knowing all along this kid has the IT factor.  If only others could embrace what I see.

Then I stop.  I must admit that I have snuck out to the garage and screamed into the darkness.  I have sobbed out frustrations, shook my fist heavenward, and blamed myself for all that has happened.  The comments from others ring in my head.  “Oh, it must be genetic on your side.  You took medication when you were pregnant, it could be that.  Really, there is nothing wrong with him except that he is a normal boy with energy.  What are you doing giving him medication, that will screw him up completely.”  All those words pound in my head and I begin to resent my son, my wonder boy, my baby.  I begin to feel angry at all the things he does because he has too much energy.  The constant noise, chewing everything in sight, the lack of attention to his hygiene.  I shake my head each time he gets up from the table, seeing the spill of food around his face, he is oblivious.  I want to save him,  I can’t.  I listen to his brother now start to call, “MOM!!! he needs his meds, he’s acting crazy again.”

I feel alone.  I feel trapped in a reality that few can understand.  I am angry at the fates that would allow my son to suffer from not 1 but 2 mental illnesses.  I want to fix him, or to love him enough I could squeeze the disease out of him.  I would not wish this on any parent.  You see, it is not something that someone  can readily see.  It is not like a broken limb, a physical deformity, or a terminal illness.  All of these would be horrendous to handle.  His is silent.  Silent, until you watch for five minutes.  Silent until you want to sink beneath the church pews and apologize to everyone for his upsetting the quiet in the congregation.  Silent until you are too scared to go out to supper or a family outing for fear of a blow up or his wandering off but himself.  What should be a relaxing moment causes me to sit on pins and needles waiting for the bottom to fall out.  And, in the moments I speak of to no one, I begin to hate that child who stole the dream of a perfect little boy away from me.  I hate the look in his eyes when he is in despair or so angry he is out of control.  I want my baby back.  The one who giggled and laughed and took pleasure in silly games.  I miss the boy who was easy to play with, who did not react to every situation and storm off, destroying whatever is in his way.  I hate the looks from family members who watch his behavior, thinking that it is something we, as parents have done.  I hate handing my son 4 medicines 2 times a day.  I hate thinking of what the future may hold for him.  I hate myself for thinking these thoughts, and I try to chase them away as soon as I can.

But, the loneliness and exhaustion are everyday feelings.  Few moments of true laughter come as I watch and anticipate.  I wake each morning wondering if it will be a good day or i will be tired by the time he leaves for school.  I drive home, wishing that I would receive a hug, not the screaming body slam that I get the minute I walk in the door.  They hurt, yet he is unaware.  I wait each night, barely breathing as I wonder what kind of night we will have, how long it will take for him to rest and if he can settle down to do his homework.  I go to sleep cursing the fates that dealt this hand.  And, I wake, destined to repeat the day before like a constant episode of “Ground Hog’s Day”  I yearn for people to understand, to reach out, to talk with, and to share the journey…to really relate without judgment.  I yearn for the dust to settle and allow my son to breathe and think clearly, for him to find true peace.

 

Shalom

cahl

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