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?



There are days I dislike people and being part of the human race.  This last week is one of those moments.  Sometimes I am peeved beyond belief at the audacity which we will go to in order to tear one another apart and destroy lives.  Watching the impact of Aurora, CO and knowing the peace that was shattered enrages me.  I want to know why, I seek to understand, I yearn to eliminate such behavior from taking place again.  Yet, I know that I am one person and the inner workings of other people’s lives are so much more complex and complicated than I could ever imagine.  Still, I am one of those idealists who believes that with enough grace and compassion, the tide will change.

I am beginning to wonder if my idealism reeks of naiveté or immaturity or where the motivation lies.  The truth is, I cannot change a cotton-pickin thing.  I can only control my reactions and my emotions–the rest is up to each person to do as they deem necessary.  That leaves me in a place that feels uncomfortable, wondering if my desire to make an impact will ultimately end in vain.

The area in which I live will perform another execution in the coming weeks; the result of a crime committed over 20 years ago.  I heard the victim’s mother on the phone to reporters the other day as she exclaimed her joy at the decision to execute–the hope that the criminal “rots in hell”.  I cringe.  I inwardly recoil at such a comment, and yet, I wonder if my reaction would be any different.  Were it one of my children murdered at someone’s hands, cruelly, with no regard for their life or their family, would I be any less bent on revenge?  Would I be able to look at the person who so wronged me and embrace them as a person, deserving of love and compassion as I am?  I am not so sure that I would be able to do that.  I tell myself a pretty story of love and forgiveness, that I am willing to accept much done to me and my loved ones.  Maybe the fact is, I blow a ton of smoke and I have no concept of forgiveness and compassion than anyone else.  Maybe I know nothing.

I graduated seminary a little over 2 months ago and somehow the feeling that “I have arrived” runs in my head.  I’ve done the time, the work, the thinking and reactions….now LET ME GO do SOMETHING!  Let me go take the world on and be part of something real and full of impact and make a difference.  90% of the time, it’s my fear that limits what I think I can do, then I make excuses for not venturing forth.  The fact is, I want to be part of something that eliminates situations like Aurora, CO from happening.  I desire to be part of something that shakes people from complacency to action and leaves the social climate a better and safer place for my children and for generations to come.  I yearn to see real change, a shift toward HUMANE treatment of all people, animals, and environment, yet I feel at a loss as to how to accomplish.  I feel like I am constantly chomping at the bit, watching and listening, keeping the vast majority of my opinions to myself and waiting for permission or direction.  Ah, the impatience of me.

A friend and colleague asked me the other day if one of my job considerations was my “fight”  is it at my gut the place where I would sacrifice all that I am and all that I have to fight that fight, irregardless if I win or not.  I could safely say that that consideration is not my fight and I am more ok with that than I thought I would be.  It does beg the incessant question…What is my fight? 

Is my fight to play nice, fit a mold, and behave myself, content to watch the world devolve and revolve?  Is my fight to quietly wish and hope for something different and pray that someone else picks up the fight and does the work?  Is my fight to raise awareness or to content myself with 8-5 M-Friday work weeks, pleased to come home at night, spend time being normal and then enjoy my weekends–wash, rinse, and repeat?  That sounds like a prison sentence to me.  Forgive my bluntness on that.  I do not want normal (whatever that means)…  I do not want to exist…I want to LIVE!!! to “suck the marrow from life”  Thank you Dead Poet’s Society….( you motivate me more times than I can count)  Argh, I don’t know what I am saying.

I want more–simple as that.  I want more compassion, more passion, more REAL LIFE, and more humanity.  I want more awareness, education, change, and tolerance of ideas and situations.  I want less stupidity.  I want less anger, hatred, revenge, busyness, ignorance, and violence.  I want less complacency and blame.  I want to take responsibility for what is mine, reconcile what needs healing, and embrace transformation.  Ah….the idealist rears her ugly head yet again.  I want the idealist to win…I want to believe that fighting the good fight is right and good and pure, and will make an impact and at the end of the end of the day I want to be able to breathe a sigh of relief and know I did my best with what I had.

Well, dear ones, I have no idea what I just wrote or if it makes any sense.  No flowery commentary, no solutions, just verbal spew.  Take it for what it is or is not.  That is all she wrote–for now at least.

Shalom dear ones,


Let’s Get Physical

I have been thinking about this topic for quite some time.  I received my undergrad training as a Speech Communication and Theatre Studies and English Ed major from SDSU in Brookings, SD.  What may sound less marketable in terms of trained skills has taught me more about human beings and interaction than anything I have ever learned from concrete learning.  One of the  that has most fascinated me is that of non-verbal communication.  We say so much without ever uttering a word….it is amazing.  I continue to watch people, their interactions, the messages they send to one another when they are the most unaware.  In short, people fascinate me.

This week has been a hard week for me.  A good friend has suffered some loss and oddly enough two others that are wonderful friends of mine have also lost family members.  In the span of 3 days, 3 losses for dear friends.  I feel their pain, and although I have not lost a family member in about 10 years….the last was my favorite uncle…and i miss him.–the connection and relationship that I have with these 3 people means that I hurt for them.  I cannot understand the emotions as yet, I will someday soon, but caring for them and their families…I can only imagine their journey. 

So, what does that mean in the great NON-verbal communication conversation…well.  My week has been a jumble and yesterday I took some time to myself to just BE.  You know, the hole up in your own space and talk to no one…maybe read a book, not really think about anyone kind of time?  The kind where you are so tired, you have no idea what to do, but so tired that sleep simply won’t come?  I know you know the kind.  I took some of that time yesterday.  It was cold, felt like bleak December in the Dakotas and I hunkered down with my heavy comforter, 80’s streamed music and my dog….an extremely noisy Pug, whom I love to pieces.

How did this animal, one who cannot speak, communicate in any human terms what she is thinking, refuse to leave my side?  Now, she follows pretty closely as my shadow, but yesterday she simply would not leave me alone.   I tried many times in the middle of the afternoon to use my computer and do some writing, she would not let me.  She sat, staring at me, with her huge brown eyes…she then would use her paw to scrape “please” at my hand, and look at me again and sigh.  I talked to her…just like I would another person….I swear she understood what I was saying.  Her eyes would blink, sometimes she would snort a response, then lean against me.  Other times when I sat simply staring off into space while trying to think of the next best Words With Friends option, she would climb up on my chest and sit on my stomach…wagging her tail in my face.  If I was not paying attention, then she circled to sit on my stomach and stare straight into my face.  GOOBER!

Does she know the week has been full of stuff?  I think so.  Funny thing, that communication.  What does that mean in a human sense?

One phenomena I have studied is that of human touch and physical presence.  In infants, an inadequate amount of human touch and interaction causes a Failure to Thrive.  Babies can stop growing and can pass away from lack of human exposure.  Touch and closeness is so important…and I think we forget it.  My boys are constantly egging each other on and looking for reasons to beat on one another.  I have discovered a) that is a boy thing, and b) it is their way of engaging with one another in a physical sense that does not make them look wimpy.  Go figure.  Never a day goes by that I do not physically touch them in a positive way…whether it is a rumple of the hair, a tweak of the nose, hugs, zerberts on the cheek….whatever it is that communicates that I love them and am willing to bump into their presence often.

I wonder though, sometimes when I reach out and hug them, who needs it more?  Am I hugging them because I know they need it or is my need greater in that moment?  Do I even admit that need.  Often we don’t.  I thought of it as I sat with my dog…am I absently petting her fur because it feels good to her, ( it does) or is there an emotional need that I am satisfying ?  Do I need to hug my dog?  Yes, and she knows it.

Think of it…at the end of the day what is the mood we are in if we have not physically interacted with a person in a positive and affirming way.  I am not talking sex here, I am referring to a handshake, hug, arm about the shoulders, a playful push or something else.  How do we feel?  We often feel grouchy, irritable, angry, and more tired than we would normally and most of the time we have no clue why.  Bingo!  That is part of the reason.  We can fail to thrive as well.

Thrive though, looks different as we age than it does when we are infants.  Babies stop eating, growing, neglect to communicate, they can pass away quietly.  As we age, we isolate, draw boundaries, exact judgment, remain aloof…replace.  Half the time, I contend, we have no idea what we are doing or why we are doing it.  Many hide behind something else–a computer screen, being busy, a career, children, the past, the past, the past.  Wow, do we hide. 

Wow, do I hide.  As I write this, I am in my husband’s classroom, having subbed for him all day, prepping my mind to travel to a prayer service.  What I really want to do is sit down and bawl for all those that have lost this week and the void in their lives.  I want to reach out in the midst of that and cry that I am scared that may happen for me in the future, my parents are no spring chickens anymore.  Most people will read that and claim that I am being overdramatic…..but when you care about others their pain is your pain….we bear it together.  I listened to my sons last night pray for one of the families who have lost this week.  It broke my heart as they prayed that God would be with one member specifically when they feel bad.  How honest, how real.  How revealing.  I shared that with the person last night, they were grateful for the words…I was humbled by my sons’ lesson.

Would that I could be that honest.  Would that I could articulate how painful it is for me to watch others hurt and to know in a sense I am letting go of people and places as well.  I know that makes little sense to many who may read this… but when the time comes to let go of expectations that we place on ourselves and others….loss and grief and mourning happen.  It also coincides with graduating from Seminary in 35 days!  The loss of something familiar ( no matter how destructive or positive) brings a change…and a reaction to that change.  More to come in the days on that topic

Now, I am rambling, and many will have tuned out by now.  Summarize?  Keep in touch with people…love on them, please.  I really think 90% of the crud out there would be eliminated if we would venture out of our safe places and meet people where they are…not matter how sticky and gross it may appear.  We old peeps need those affirmations as much, if not more than the little ones. 

Mkay, I think I am done.  I better close and get myself looking halfway decent for the evening.  May this find you enveloped in safe and peaceful comfort…knowing Shalom to your soul.


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