Carpe What Huh?

The recent death of Robin Williams shakes many of us to the core, but to the core of what?  What is at the core that rips us of a blanket of security that shields us like a blanket.  I look at the quotes which have been posted, I posted right along with them.  It was not until I was in the safety of my car this morning, did I pause a moment to mourn.

What?  Why could I possibly have to mourn in the death of a star with whom you have never met, yet was soooo impacted by his story relived on the movie screen.  When we laughingly toss  Carpe Diem around believing somehow we have our crap together. How am I supposed to seize the day when I dread going to school?

What, you?  You have so much going for you>>>>   Ah, you don’t remember or encountered me during some of those hellish years.  I remember I used to walk around the block that our elementary was located.  I remember so many trips around there, singing and talking to myself.  I spun the pourings of my heart, of how I knew that I would never be accepted and that I was somehow “weird”.  I knew from a young age that I would never go to prom, (I wasn’t) or to be asked on a real date (it never happened).  I knew in my heart what I thought was real, was in fact real.

I hated everything about myself.  I used to look in the mirror and tell off the reflection that stared back at me.  I hated her.  I wanted her vanquished, I wanted her dead.  Yup, I said that.  I wanted her dead.

That is so hard to write, some believing that at almost 40 I have it together..I don’t–none of us do.

Honestly if you had told me to Carpe Diem in high school and much of college I would remarked some deprecating slam and “beat them to punch”  I knew they hated me, why not beat them to the punch and throw out the comments as bitingly as possible.  If I could turn it so the response was mine, they could not touch me.  Sure.  I beat em to the punch.  You know what happened?  No one, I mean NO ONE wanted to hang with me.  High school classmates would never invite me to their homes ( that changed a bit my senior year..they were wonderful peeps to me)  Collegiate theatre majors dubbed me weird and cautioned anyone who might be a friend that I was not someone to be accepted.  This did nothing but make me hate that girl in the mirror even more.  Trying like hell to see at least 1 production in which I was cast…it never happened.  I still feel the pangs of hurt and rejection in both those scenarios

I remember my junior year especially, it was a  fairly good year.  I faked most people out and those I didn’t I severed those relationships with a biting  remark that left them shaking their head.  I lost many a friend, I still mourn those people.  Senior year spawned hell in every sense of the word.

I did not qualify for Nationals like I had the year before–gotta do it one more time–  In January I lost the one person I had looked up to and idolized from day 1.  They washed their hands of me, refused to acknowledge my existence.  They were friends with my friends ( the same ones I had severed ties) .  They were so damn talented it sickened me…I knew I would never reach that pinnacle of greatest.  But, damn I tried hard.  With every fail, with every second place finish I hated the girl in the mirror that much more.  I scored up a stash of blades, I wanted to be gone…I stashed them and there are still scars that dot my right and left arm.  I am ambidextrous you see.  I could go both ways.  I had bottles of sleeping pills–I worked at a grocery store, no one thought anything of the purchases I made.  Hell, no one thought much about me anyone..I knew it and it hurt like crazy….still does once in awhile.  I remember the night I had not qualified, almost but not quite.  The general smirk of the one who had seen my victory the previous year now watched me lose.  That one stings badly.  That night I also received a letter from the state college to which I had applied.  It was a letter negating my acceptance into their college.  The work that had to be done just to get me there….Finally a scholarship in theatre was awarded so that I could attend…See, if a dept. offered an incoming freshman a scholarship there was little else the Adminstration  could do to negate it.  In hindsight, I think I got it for the sake of another freshman coming in, talented and pretty–so pretty.  I never ever fit the bill, no matter how I tried.

That night I went outside, sat with my big Labrador (who i had spilled most of my life) and held the massive bottle of aspirin in my hand and the sleeping pills in another.  In a fit of anger, I downed a good share of both of them….then fear hit.  An all consuming fear spread over me…..I still do not know what caused me to throw them up–you see I was a talented Binge and Purger, I knew all about taking care of unwanted food—you throw it up.  There were members of my family who watched me do this…it was not to first time…I lost a lot in those years, years I will never get back as hard as I try.

You see, to declare to a person, Carpe Diem…well, that hurts in a place so deep and dark they can’t explain.  How can I seize the day when I so hated and loathed the person I saw staring back at me?  How can I be  joyous when I hated going to school where there are relationships were cut to the quick so that no one would even talk to me…You see, I did it first before any of them had a chance…I held that manipulation like a banner—ha ha ha ha,  I hurt me first before you even had a chance to…ha hahahahah.  The thing is, I wanted them to hurt as much as I did.  Silly me, it hurts worse than I can imagine.  Sometimes the dark rears its ugly head and I wrestle with depression, loneliness, hurt and self hate.  I often see that girl staring back at me.  I see her amid all the good and wonderful people in my, in those who were watching from afar…(they know who they are), amid a successful career and the beginning of some great connections and respect.  I look at her and wonder…what the hell are they thinking…me?  I dunno.  The dreams that I hold are so jam packed with concepts of redemption and reconciliation are as near and dear to me as breathing…..the writing, the speaking, the moments to speak for those who can’t.

Carpe Pencil?  Seize the pencil?  Write the words, speak….ah, if only I were not so terrified of the person I see in the mirror.  There parts of me that grieve–losses in family, friends, opportunities–(prom–you who giggle probably had a date and the stories from them) I don’t and I knew it all the way back to 3rd grade.  Could I rewind the clock?  Many times I say yes ( and tell the one in the mirror to go to hell, I scream it and pray it transcends to the whole of me), then again I think of all the students I taught, the people I speak with, and those who allow me to journey with them—showing me a glimpse of their reality.  Not sure where I stand ( no pun at all Captain)…that is an ever present fight.

Today instead of Carpe Diem, I challenge us all to say Carpe Rogare!  Seize the Question–How are you,and wait, wait, wait for the answer.  You may be surprised at what you hear.

 

Shalom my friends

Advertisements

Let’s Talk Turkey

Millions of people will wake today either smelling or anticipating the smells of turkey and all the trimmings.  The anxious clanking of silverware will give way to laughter and discussion.  Plans for the inevitable practice of consumerism will take place as hefty papers are splayed across diningroom tables, nationwide.  Online quibbles and arguments of who wins the most brownie points for closing their doors on Thanksgiving will cause online traffic jams.  Others will lobby to begin the shopping as soon pumpkin pie has digested.  All of this will take place, somewhat unaware of life going on in other places and homes.

‘Tis the season, and today will mark the airwaves playing nothing but Christmas carols, the invasion of gaily colored red and green decorations will tantalize.   Giving, giving, giving….’tis the season.

Recently I listened as store after store came together to donate full meals for families.  What a wonderful gesture and thought.  What a wonderful moment for those who can receive it with gladness.  I wonder, however, about that donation.

A full meal, or even a frozen turkey, would be a welcome gift to some…I repeat, some people.  The intention under which these items are gifted are done so in the most well-meaning attitudes.  What about those who cannot or do not look at such a gift as a wonderful opportunity to gather, cook, eat, and enjoy.

Let’s look at the simplest of gestures.  The turkey, the trimmings, the anticipated tastes almost make most people’s mouths water.  Ah, most people?  I wonder if a reframe is needed here.  Who are those most people we are assuming accept this? Take the well-intentioned  meal; turkey.  Does one have the ability or the means to cook such a bird?  Do they know how to make such a meal, are the necessary utensils, pans, ovens, or stove tops there to aid them?   Do they have a home or a family to share such a feast?  Have we stopped to consider whether these basic items are in place before we collectively extend gracious gifts?

Have we stopped to consider the populations who comprise more and more of our neighborhoods?  Is turkey and all the dressings part of their tradition?  Do they like turkey?  What traditions does the family bring with them as they share stories at table?  What are those stories and what can we learn from them?

Now some will counter here and say, but they have stood in lines to receive these donations, who are we to question what is happening?  They purposely stood in those lines, they took what we had to offer.   That is wonderful!!!!  Are we looking at some of the blanket assumptions we may operate out of as holidays approach quicker each year.  Are we extending these gifts out of a true desire to care for our brothers and sisters who may need a helping hand?  Or, are we extending these items to help us feel as though we have done something for which we can be proud?  Do I clean out my closets and hand someone else the clothes I am planning to get rid of anyway because my heart yearns to do so?   Do I do this because I truly want to come along another, grab them by the hand, listen to their story, and journey with them?  Is it easier for me to give an object or write a check, rather than climb in the muck of real life with another?  Is it easier to stay disengaged and protect my emotions and possessions?

It hurts to think of that.  It bothers me to reflect on how many times I have “given” someone something, not because I wanted to help, but because it would make me feel good and like I had done the “right thing”?  I don’t want to admit that I feel better giving away my cast-off clothes to someone I assume wants them…Did they ask for my clothes?  Did we have a jolly time cleaning out my  closets, giggling about inane fashions better left to history?   Do I really know them well enough to understand who they are, what they like, and do they have any ownership of what they have received?  Ownership, that is a new and somewhat uncomfortable concept.

Does that mean that people want to have a say in what they receive or how it is given?  That does not necessarily sit well.  I want to give, I want people to receive.  The problem there is that the focus is on what I want.  I have it to give, what else would you have me do?  I cannot answer that. there is no easy solution.  As lines for aid and assistance grow longer and longer, as commercials cry for an end to hunger and poverty, what is the solution?

Maybe, rather than looking at a solution to the whole problem, we need to reframe that too.  Why is it occurring?  Why are the lines down the sidewalk, across the road, and the donations dispersed in less than an hour?  Is this helping?  Is there a time when Helping Hurts?   Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert challenged and continue to challenge my thought process in their book:  When Helping Hurts, how to alleviate poverty without hurting others and yourself”  Does that concept require a new way of looking at how I help others?  Is my aid doing more to keep people set in a particular situation because I need them to be there?  Do I need them to be there?  Do I really, unconsciously want and need them to be there for me to help?  Is that the healthiest way to approach my brothers and sisters?  Do I even know that I could hold such a philosophy?  If so, that does require that I do some serious thinking about my motives.

At the end of the day, that is quite a drumstick to tackle.  It is huge and somewhat messy to pick up and eat.  Do I even like the drumstick? Can I content myself with a safe portion of comfortable mashed potatoes and dressing?  Am I content with eating a portion of the feast which is before me, or will I consume that which I know is a known quantity?  Can I approach the questions at hand as an opportunity to expand the items on my plate?  Or, do I sigh with a happy smile believing what I see before me is the best and hassle free way of loving the people who cross my path?

I close in grateful contemplation of the freedom to wrestle with such issues and for those who hold me to these tough questions.  I ask not one question of others that I do not ask myself, and there is no comfortable answer.  My obligation is to love my neighbor as myself….in the best way that honors both of us.

blessings to you and yours,

cahl

4:34

My son  found a journal I had started some years ago.  It dates back to the time I had my first son, I think though, that it may just apply with any child, anywhere.

    Jolted,  awake, the silence ripped open.  I squint, trying to read the numbers on the clock.  They glare red, 4:34 am.  Inwardly, i groan, pull back the covers that held me in dreams just moments ago.  What started as slight whimpering increases in intensity as time ticks.

I pause, straining my ears to hear if whimper give way to sleep.  No sound, I sigh and relax.  Too late, I waited too long, cries split the stillness, amplified by the hour and its lateness.

Void of glasses or contacts, I stumble toward his room. making a quick pit stop.  I take fifteen quick seconds to myself and will him to wait only a moment to two more.

     Retrieving the bottle left in the warmer from the last go around, I am thankful for 2 items:  the light from the overhead stove and organization.  Without them, cries would soon develop into screams.

I wander into his room and make my way to the crib.  A nightlight given to him by his grandmother shine softly to guide me while a CD his father made plays in the background.  “O Come all Ye Faithful” does not sound so out-of-place at this hour.  I smile faintly.

Wrapped in yellow he flails his arms, waiting for security once again.  He whimpers, then quiets as he sees I am near.  Scooping him in my arms, we travel to the livingroom floor where wet becomes dry and I try to snuggle him once more.

It’s a makeshift cocoon and I figure if he feels safe, he won’t mind so much how the blanket looks as it swaddles him.  Settled in our chair, I cuddle him close, he squirms, anticipating the bottle he is sure is coming,

He sighs as I place it within his reach and I feel his whole body relax.  Eyes grow droopy and his breathing softens, he is at peace.  Sated from this feeding we burp and I rock slowly.  I remind myself to take a mental picture, moments like this are too few.  Head propped on my shoulder, he dozes, I rest my cheek against his and I listen.

The house comes alive at times like these. The ticking of the clock, a lone car drives by, the family dog resettling for a nap all reveal themselves.  Against his cheek I feel the smooth of baby skin, cool to the touch.  A slight movement of my shoulder and I discover he is smiling.   Knowing and seeing this causes my face to erupt in a wide grin, and I am gifted to receive another in return.

     Through the stillness, through the quiet, love transcends communication and my heart bursts.  Without words or eye contact, I know love and it is real.  I feel it in my son’s smile.  Tears well behind my eyes as I offer a silent prayer of thanks, praises, and requests for this little wonder entrusted to my care.  Again, I feel his smile and my heart soars.

     He inspires me, this little miracle.  With a look, a cry, a squeal, or a smile, he turns my world on its end.  Sitting here in the dark, I cease to wonder the time.  I find no longer care about the trivial details.

     In a sigh and a smile, my son captures my heart and claims it for his own. Sniffling back tears, I pat his back, and together; we Rock.

Shalom,

cahl

No Fiddler on My Roof

Whether I like it or not, the holiday season will be upon us in no time.  I have gone into the local Wal Mart (ewwwww) and seen the Christmas decorations up already.  I visited a local plant nursery and part of their morning task was to create some holiday ornaments.  The cashiers and I talked about how in retail after Labor Day they have to run full speed into Halloween then to Christmas.  Talk about a whirlwind of a time crunch.

Watching and listening has me thinking lately.  I decided today that I would visit one of the few traditions I carried from my childhood.  My mother would wake on Sunday morning and put in the fixins for a beef roast meal.  This was our Sunday noon meal and I must say, all of us loved it.  Usually mom would take the potatoes from the pan with the roast and mash them!!!!! I watched as my brothers would mix corn in the mashed potatoes and inwardly cringe as I recoil in shock that someone would dare to MIX their food.    I have a strong aversion to mixing food, or to even have food touching one another on a plate.  Can’t do it.  I have good friends who have watched me take fruit off my plate, separate it, then eat it alphabetically.  OK, maybe a bit OCD.

This meal was a moment where everyone gathered–one of the few.  Whether there was much talking was of little interest.  It was usually my older brother talking to my father or my brothers and I egging each on to misbehave.  The food, the smell, the warmth, the promise of leftovers  always brought a smile to my face.  AAAAAhhhh, leftovers.  Let it be said now that there are certain foods which are better the 2nd or 3rd day. Lasagna, scalloped potatoes, goulash, roast beef,–I could go on, but I think you have the idea.  I knew that meant at least a meal or two would be a break from my usual fare of peanut butter sandwiches.  You have no idea.

I was working on such meal today, reliving how it must have been to put it together.  I added a few more touches:  squash, crescent rolls, and choc cookies–anything to bribe the boys.  I was thinking about the details in such a meal, then remembered that I was never shown that.  I observed and am thankful that I have a good memory for such.  I found my youngest standing next to me, clad in only a fuzzy blanket as he had just taken a mid-morning bath. (I don’t know why)  I was peeling and cutting potatoes and he requested to help me.  I instantly tensed as I tried to remember ever doing that when I was young.  I searched my database and could not recall.  I told him he could help me, but he had to get dressed.  No nekid boys in my kitchen, no matter how cute they are.

He came skipping back and I thought this odd.  All I am doing is peeling potatoes and making them ready to roast.  He wanted to peel, uh not so much.  I struck a deal and let him cut them in half under my supervision.  He jabbered the whole time.  I was confounded.  A meaningless task, and he approached it with such good humor.  I shared with him about how his grandpa would have to peel potatoes in the army and that was probably why he might not like real mashed ones.  (again, I dunno)  Hmmm, sharing history.

That may seem so common for many.  It is uncommon for me.  I will soon hear of great traditions, baking, baking,, and more baking.  Making large meals as a unit, games played, memories shared.  i understand some of that from watching my husband’s family.  They talk of vacations, decades of holiday traditions, memories etched in photos.  Hm. That is all well and good for many many many families.  For mine, there was a different level of focus.

To say that the difference in focus is better or worse is not for me to say.  I cannot recall any specific memories except a pinochle game or 2, and times when we would congregate at a certain aunt’s house for a holiday.  Before long, most of those times had faded and no new traditions were born.  I thought nothing of a need to want this.  I did not know to want it.  Now, I struggle with the fact that I just might want something like that.

My family and I have long ceased any get togethers.  We all have our own families, and most often in-laws receive our attention.  I think of Christmas, and I can tell you day for hour what will happen.  Eve will be at one in-law, morning is family time, my family may stop by if the weather is good and they are able.  It will just be my parents and the kids will be overjoyed to see them.  After an hour or so, weather permitting, they will take their leave and the afternoon will be spent at the other grandma’s house.  There all my husband’s sisters and their children will be present.  I have been around 14 years and it is still foreign to me.  I know the drill, the expectations, still it feels like I am under water, treading, trying to navigate the bottom with a slight view of murky water.

I see the goodies my in-law’s families have made, the handmade and cute little ornaments and decorations.  I have none of that to bring.  I don’t know how.  People speak of trips taken and making special efforts to keep certain traditions alive, I have no reference for that.  I think I want to establish, but I am not sure how to do so.   I am not a crafty girl….in the least.  I have boys, not so keen on cooking and baking and artsy creative stuff.  If they do want to help, what does that look like?  How do you let them help and not make a mess or how do they not drive you nuts in the process with wanting to take over and “help”?  We know they are really not helping, right?

Many will wonder, huh?  No baking, making things together, no special traditions that HAD to be kept, a favorite place that was the ONE place that brought everyone back together?  You HAVE to be joking.

I am not.  There was occassional games, but don’t ask me to play Pictionary.  There were times at the lake where we played all the time, but nothing that had to be followed.  I have memories of a moment or 2, nothing more.  I look at pictures of my husband’s family and the scads that I take of my children as they grow.  One of my children asked me where pictures of me would be.  I told them honestly that was not a priority in my family.  Hard work and doing work well and doing the best you could was valued, which is not all bad.  However, there are no pictures, no record of what we did or how we did it.  I asked my mother the other day what my song was that she used to get me to go to sleep….there was none.  I never thought that would bother me.  It does now, weird, at 39 that bothers me BIG TIME.  What book was read at night?  None.  What favorite stuffed animal or dress or what have you, that I HAD to have?  Dont’ know.  What made me laugh, giggle?  Who knows.

That may not seem like much to wonder about at my age, but as I watched my son today wanting to help cut potatoes, I was aghast at what and how to pass traditions on to them.  How do I pass on recipes, lefse cooking, krumkake, games, stories, AAAAHHHHH?  I know that legacy lies in the stories and traditions we leave behind.  Makes me wonder, if there is little of that in the family I grew up in, what does that say about our legacy?  hm.  Interesting thought.    I just stumbled on that.  Legacy and tradition, it seems that’s where its at…..

What legacy of tradition to leave?

shalom

cahl

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

the Gift which keeps on Giving.

I will never forget the day he came into my life. I admit that when I discovered I was pregnant with another baby only 3 years after my first, I was more than a bit scared. I already loved one child with a love that knew no bounds, how would I ever find that much more for another one? How in the world can I do this twice? The questions swirled in my head…how,when, how, HOW!? I know now that every mom struggles with that from time to time, thank goodness– we need not be alone. I also know that with a child, love is a little like jello…there’s always room for more. The same applies for my sons–both of them.

So, in honor of my youngest…..I offer His Gifts which Keep on Giving:
(in no particular order)

1) I was able to nurse him for 10 months straight. What a bonding experience to provide something to my child and care for him in this way. There are times I hold him and remember a many a quiet night in a chair….precious, sleepless nights.

2) He did things in his own way, in his own time. People worried when he was quiet for the for year or so….when he started speaking, there was no stopping him–there still isn’t.

3) He possesses a calm peace about him which instantly puts others at ease–including his mother.

4) Ever since entering school, he has taken up his own posse’…he attracts the nice and kind children. I am so glad

5) His tender heart is on display when he interacts with animals and babies. What a sensitive little man.

6) He can and DOES imitate me with near perfect ability.

7) He creatively invents games on a moment’s notice…just give him a lazy susan and a candle.

8) His butt-chin. Nuf said.

9) Have you heard him laugh…once you do, you’ll want him to do it often. He is the only person who inspires me to Belly laugh with gusto simply because I hear him laughing. What a great soul gift.

10) Less vocal than other boys his age, he is a deep thinker, who chooses his comments carefully.

11) His jokes of his own creation are some of the most interesting things I’ve heard.

12) Crystal clear blue eyes that pierece right to the heart of a person….willing you to look deeper and talk with him–they make you smile instantly.

13) If I need frosting eaten, I can count on him–forget the cake, cookie, or brownie itself–just give him the frosting.

14) Doritoes and Hot dogs….sigh

15) Gold fish and star burst-bleh.

16) Somewhat reserved, when he feels comfortable the hugs abound from him

17) Fiercely independent, if he asks for your help, that is a huge compliment. Letting you help him means you have “arrived”

18) His dance remake of “Gangum Style” and “Donkey” from Shrek are priceless!

19) Careful about nature and creation, his love of art, color, beauty, and music he shares with his mother…YES!!!!

20) He knows what love is, knows how to show it, receive it, and give it. He is one of the 2 best moments in my life, I would not be near the mom I am without him. Both of my boys inspire me to do more, be more, and give more because I want more for their future.

There are many other highlights I could name, but some are just for a mom to know. In honor of this, his bday, I give thanks for him and know he will always remain my, Honeybear.

shalom,
cahl

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…..

Why Wouldn’t I?

He comes in each day–sometimes 2 or 3 times, depending on the circumstances and the green in his pocket.  His clothes grow more rag-tag by the week and there is always a scruff of beard playing at his natural features.

Today he appears in a heavier coat, with a fur lined hood, heavy clod boots, and a new adornment….his glasses.

Most would overlook these particulars–would choose to forget how often he comes in to see us.  Most would rather not waste their time on the unclean clothes, the unshaven face, the eyes eclipsed by so much–life.  He compels me to look, to see, to hear, and to love.

I know him by name, but most would simply roll their eyes knowing the real reason he comes in is for the mutiple cans of large malt beer.  You know the kind, the big 24 oz can which ranks right up there with HAMMS?  On a good visit I will ring up 2-3 cans, realizing that by the end of my shift he will be back for refills of at least 3 more.  I know his beverage by sight, can predict if he will return and i always sigh.

I know his hands.  They shake, they convulse, they are roughened by the burns of many a lighter, scarred by the life he has led.  Often they cannot hold onto the change given back to him, so I cup my hand beneath his so as to catch the coins as they fall.  He laughs cautiously, waiting to see if I will berate him.  I make sure the change is tucked away before counting back the bills so he knows what is coming to him.  I keep my hand beneath his, ready to help if needed.

I know his need.  The bag.  I make certain that the cans are always in a white, plastic, bag with handles.  Some, he comments, don’t bother with a bag.  “Gets tough to carry all that in my pockets with no bag.”  Some place it in a paper bag, “Makes me wonder if they want it to rip on purpose.  Thems cans are cold, then the bag gets wet, then it rips.”  Makes one wonder, indeed.

Into the bag goes the malt, sometimes a pack or 2 of smokes.  My eyes always glance at the tips of his fingers, they are calloused and burned from many a match or lighter.  I often wonder, who is around him to help light his smoke when his hand shakes so?  Who helps crack open the can, and how often does he curse the bane of this existence, then feeling the relief as the cold suds reach the back of his throat.

Today, I have seen him 3 times, the count is at 9 24oz malts.  I sigh, I choke back my own judgment, I grit my teeth and smile.  I look him in the eyes as he speaks to me.

“You aint like some of the others.  Some of them make me stand a long time waiting to take my money, they tell me I am not enough of a paying customer.  Then they throw the bag at me, if I get one at all.  You aint that way.”  I smile.

“Why would I be that way?  That is not how I play.”

Why wouldn’t I?  You see, as I make sure he has his plastic bag secure in my hand, I pray that I do not see him in here again…at least for this type of purchase.  I am angry at the way he has expected to be treated, anticipating that people think him less of a person, believing he deserves to be a second class citizen.  I hear his voice when he tells me he is, “gonna go home to my lazy boy and wait to die.”  NOOOOOOOO.  No. no.

Why wouldn’t I care for him the way I hope others would care for me.  I think of him each night that I work.  Each day that it is sub-zero and I know he is ambling in for the 2nd or 3rd time.  I shake my head and then I remember what an example he is to me.

Example?

My clothes are not tattered, I do not smell like day old beer, and my hands do no shake, but my insides burn from scars unhealed.  What I may see as an obvious struggle is no better nor any worse than the struggle and voices I battle each day…the inner turmoils we all encounter.  I thank him for being an example that in this moment, his battle is only a bit more visible.  It could be only a moment from now when all my skeletons are exposed for the world to see, but for now they are hidden behind a perky smile, snarky comments, and a quick wit.  Today, they remain hidden…..

In ReVUE.

What can I say…I did not watch the ball drop at midnight, I imbibed no alcohol, I did not situate myself amidst major crowds, I am…boring.

I played Words with FRIENDS, beat my mother for the 6th straight game, wrestled with both my boys, and cuddled my pug till  fell asleep at 10 pm.  I was at work at a gas station bright and early, listening to large groups of men complain about their lives, wives, town, and occupation.  FUN  Then another group comes in, spending their whopping 75 cents while discussing their upcoming colonoscopies and the prep they must endure to undergo such procedures.  I wanted to scream at them that I have done at least 6 of them in my life in the last 10 years, but I opted to keep quiet this time and simply observe.

I watched this morning as the Facebook posts reiterated the plans people have for the upcoming year.  I have made no plans, no definite ones anyway.  I have things I would like to see happen, but I find if I make the plans, they have a tendency not to come true and then I am left feeling guilty about my lack of initiative.  I have hope for the first time, I think the first time I can remember.

It has been a whirlwind of a 2012.  I can honestly say that I have learned more this year than in years past.  So, what did I learn?

Well, graduating from Seminary does not mean that one has an instant pass around the Monopoly board.  There are many hoops to jump, some man-made, some that require time and contemplation.  At the end of 4 years, I have read more, analyzed my psyche’, written more papers, and questioned myself more than I have in any other year.   What I thought I would be doing, where I thought I would be going, I am not.  Fortunately, the ride is taking me some amazing places, so I ought not complain.  Although the planner in me would like a bit more control…

Family is not what I thought it was either.  I am not sure what my definition is, but suffice it to say that what I thought and the reality are 2 different animals.  I have people to whom I am related that I have not had contact with in decades.  There are immediate family members with whom I have not talked with or interacted since 1993.  I find that sad, but am coming to a different conclusion.  I also have other family members that I can go months without speaking to them, I hear about what they are doing, but there is no conversation.  I find that sad too.  However, I think I may be growing up a bit.  The other day I said aloud that I was done trying to put myself on someone else’s radar.  It hit me that the only one who suffers when I try to do that is me.  If I am not on the radar to begin with, their life is unaffected and unruffled in relation to my existence one way or another.  If I try to place myself in a position where I may be noticed, whether with affirmative or negative responses, the only one who gets hurt is me.  They still remain unaffected and I am left holding the empty bag of my expectations.  That was a rather painful realization to come to this week.  That means there will be a response…I will withhold my connections with those people and wait for their cue.  Am I a horrible person?  No.  We just do not see life in the same manner and I am sick to death of trying to make myself fit every stinking mold out there so that someone else feels comfortable with me.  To quote Popeye “I am what I am.”

Family looks different…there are people who have traveled hours to see me preach, they did not have to do that.  I have people at the station where I sub who have asked me to officiate their weddings.  I have 2 scheduled for 2013 already.  Preacher ME!  I have brothers and sisters who have no blood relation to me, but who chose to have more to do with me than my family.   That is by their choice, not my force.  They have shown me time and again what community looks like.  WE are willing to climb in the muck with one another and get dirty…and love each other through it.

My boys are the 2 most precious and best things I have ever done.  Sometimes I struggle with how I am doing as a mom, priorily learned methods of parenting sneak into my head, but I work like a dog to make sure they are loved.  Not a day goes by that I do not tell them at least a million times that they are loved.  I hope it is enough to cover them when I fail to live up to all they think I am.  It is amazing to see how they are coming into their own and becoming the people they are meant to be.  It is also humbling to see some of my personality visited on them…that mother’s curse is certainly alive and well in these two.

Health is something that has plagued me the last 38 years and it looks like I may have a handle on it…FINALLY!  From my past biological parents, I had suffered a lot of internal damage which causes much inflammation and scarring.  To make a long story short, there was not a day that I did not double over with stomach pains, cramping, and a host of other issues.  I have had every colonoscopy in the book, eaten radioactive eggs, done more barium drinks than I can count, and had most of my insides that are not major organs removed.  All that is left are those that HAVE to be there and my appendix.  I entered into a drug study as a guinea pig and it looks like the drug is actual drug and not placebo.  You have no clue the relief I feel not having a stomach ache every single day.  I told a good friend the other day that I was ready to give up, I was ready to give in and let it overtake me.  I will write more about that later.  From the physical sense, I felt trapped in a body that would not let me do what I wanted, did not give me the energy that I needed, and I wanted nothing more than to crawl into my blankets and lose myself.  I still have a ways to go to heal all the damage that has been done, and a good share will never be healed, but I feel better than I have in years and actually look forward to next year at this time.

Understanding people alludes me, but I am learning.  I am more apt to listen and watch than I am to respond.  I am choosing more carefully what I respond to and in what manner.  As a candidate for Ordained Ministry in the United Methodist Church, I hold to the concept of Social Justice with all that I am.  I am watching closely what I see and discerning what I hear and what my response should be.  There will be times of action, of contemplation, of learning, and of surrender.  I hope that I am wise enough to know the difference and to heed the counsel of those I trust.  More times than not, my impassioned heart and mouth can get the better of me, I need to temper that with quiet confidence and allow that to lead.  As I age, I am less tolerant of intolerance and find those who intend to hurt simply because they can not worth my time or energy.  I am coming into a more working knowledge of what ADVOCATE means.

2012 has taken me for a ride…catapulted me to depths of understanding and confusion that I did not think possible.  There has been loss, joy, frustration, forgiveness, understanding, and resignation.  I am more hopeful for this year…I am gonna try and just BE for a while and see how that goes.

SHALOM

cahl

 

 

Another Mother;’s Response

I have read the ” I am Adam’s _________Mother” article and I am shaken to the core.  It hits me in a place that I cannot fully describe to many people, it makes me hurt, because on some levels she is describing my oldest son.  Some will read this and comment that my son is not capable of such behavior, he would never talk to anyone in those voices or threaten another human being.  If you believe that, I invite you to journey with us for a day or two, or talk to our closest neighbors, who he plays with on almost a daily basis.

while I have read the account, I relate, but I also caution us to take what is happening with a grain of salt.  To pin this type of madness on a presumed mental illness is dangerous and uneducated–the truth is, it is hearsay.  We don’t know the motive, the life he was living, nor the depth of his personal pain.  We are too quick to jump at what may seem  as easy conclusions because the reality of the situation is too heavy for us to bear.  We should not have to bear such horrendous acts, we should not grieve at the senseless killing of children, but more importantly, we should be crying out for the senseless killing of anyone–not just children.

Where is our outrage when gangs are killing in the streets, or hours from where I live the suicide and addiction rates are some of the highest in the nation, with a poverty rate the lowest in the US?  Where is our outrage when first and second grade students “quit school” and sit more time in the principal’s office instead of the classroom because most of the male figures in their lives are already in prison and they are just waiting their turn?  Where is our outrage when we use words as swords to lash out at each other, demeaning how we live, and love? Where, oh where, is our compassion?

Where is our compassion when we allow people to slander one another in the name of anything because it elevates their own position or opinion?  Where is the understanding that we are each as different and unique as each snow flake that falls each winter.  I am from the midwest people, and them’s a lot of snow flakes from many many winters.  I am as different from you as you are from me and we are as unique as every one of those snowflakes ever made.  That baffles my mind to even imagine!  I celebrate that difference…hell, I rejoice in it!

My oldest son has a double diagnosis, a double mental illness…and I hope and pray through every day with him.  He is not a madman waiting in the wings, he is a little boy with an abundant zest for life, too much intelligence, and a spiritual understanding that astounds me.  He can also lose it, big time.  He has a diagnosis, but more than that, he has a name and a life that I want to be full of hope and promise and light and love.  He has a name and an identity and a sparkling personality which he uses to drive me up the wall quicker than any human being…and I love him for it.  He worries me, causes me to fret and stew, to tear my hair out, to walk around with my heart outside my body—and so does his brother–and I love them for who they are.  His intelligence will not dictate his actions, his moral character and spiritual grounding ( or lack thereof) will spell out his future.  As a parent, I have to pour everything I can into both of them and believe that I, and others that I have trusted to care for them, have instilled the right and proper and strengthening ideals into them.  I have to watch them walk out into the big world everyday and relinquish them into someone else’s control….whether that someone is a school, a job, a loved one, or someone aiming to harm them.  I have to trust that I have done my job as a parent and that means trusting myself to let them go….and to admit that in the end, they are not really mine.  OUCH!!!! That hurts, doesn’t it.  My boys are not really mine.  They are on loan to me and I am the blessed one charged to their care for this time and this place and in this moment.  There will come a time when I am asked to allow them to continue in their journeys, and like every parent, I pray it is never within my lifetime that I am asked to give them up to something bigger than me.  They are gifts for this time and this moment, I struggle to remember that, because I want to believe that they are solely mine.

The reality?  Yes, I have seen my son wig out…I have seen him beg me to get a gun and kill him, I have been the butt of his threats and his violent anger…and I have held him, cradled him, and sang him to rest time and again.  I would do that for anyone.  I would do that for anyone because I know that anyone of us could lose it at any moment.  That is right…Any one of us could lose it at any time!  Think back to stories we hear of babies being shaken and we are shocked when it happens….horrible, yes!  Put yourself in the position of that person who has had that child screaming for hours on end, already tired, worn out, and nothing they do helps alleviate the screaming…..Understandable how a person can be pushed to their limits?????

When we put it in perspective it is not hard to imagine a person pushed to the edge…we are one thread away from it.  THANKFuLLY, there is compassion, common sense, and love that covers us most of the time.  Let’s walk carefully the lines of blame we draw, lest we wrongly paint a whole faction of people who struggle with learning disabilities, mental illness, or any other politically correct label we want to use as violent and deviant.  The fact is, we are all violent and deviant in our own ways…..ever flipped someone off who cut in front of you?  I have.  Ever swore under your breath when you see the cop lights flashing behind you?  I have–out loud.  Ever said something so awful to someone you love in the heat of hurt, anger, betrayal, and injustice?  I have and I have had people do that to me.  Ever wanted to hit someone so hard that they did not know what was coming at them?  I have and hated myself for it later.

Have you ever had someone apologize for a wrong they had done to you?  Has grace come knocking and shown you mercy and forgiveness even when you knew you did nothing to deserve it?  How about love?  Has someone poured their life into yours, knocking down your barriers and your walls to see the ragged soul you carry and loved you in spite of your messy self? I hope so.  I hope you have been loved with a fierceness that takes your breath away and that you can extend that to others.  i hope you know what it means to be pursued in a way that makes you feel wanted and needed and important because you are you and no one else.  I hope you know what it feels like to pursue someone else in that fashion…I hope that you know yourself as a beautiful and necessary human being deserving to be seen, heard, and loved every day of your life and for eternity.

What happened Friday is beyond tragic and has dominated much of my thinking the last couple of days, but it has also served as motivation.  I am beginning to uncover my own areas of outrage at things happening all around me and I see an obligation to stand in the midst of it and be light.  I feel a call to cast light into the darkness, reveal the truth, and walk doggedly into it with wisdom and compassion.  I hope I am smart enough not to go alone….I pray I am not walking alone.

My son has a couple of mental illnesses….but more than anything, he is my son, the first-born to 2 parents who love him, sacrifice for him daily, and would walk through fire to protect him.  He is part of my body, my soul, and my heart walking around out there for the world to see.  He is one of 2 of the best things I have ever done….when you see him, love him for me–protect him and keep him safe when I cannot.  I am counting on you to be the light just as you can count on me.  Can we count on each other?

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: