Layer(ed) Cake

I  looked back on the last blog that I wrote about my son and chocolate cake.  Something struck me mid week and today while doing my own work I stumbled upon a couple stark realizations.

I was penning a new blog where I opened with the admission that I was a thief.  It was matter-of-fact and final.  It was wrong and judgmental and I directed  it precisely at me.  I was unapologetic and fully willing to take the blame and I’ve done that for the last 41 years.

There was something in that last blog that did not sit right with me.  It was the image of me as kid,  sitting at a classroom desk waiting for birthday treats that did not come my way because of allergies.  I wrote out of what I knew to be truth at the time.  It was truth until I peeled back some layers of the cake and revealed a crumbly center.

You see, at that time I wrote that my parents had forgotten to send to the school treats that I could eat.  I trumped up every excuse in my mind, or truths that I  told myself over  41 years, so much so that any other reality was inconceivable.  I never thought to question it, it was my reality.  Then I  discovered there was nothing accidental or forgetful in their actions.  Nothing.

I have 2 children, and my job as a parent is to make smooth the road to adult independence.  It is my job to advocate, support, cheerlead, mourn, celebrate, and “be” in it with and for them.  It is my obligation to do all I can to arm them with the tools they need to be successful citizens, husbands, and God willing, fathers.  Forgetfulness happens and can be forgiven.  Intentional neglect does not.

It nearly guts me to type those words, believe me, it broke me to utter them today.  Even though I was in a trusted and safe place, the amount of pain I encountered is something I will have to muck around in for awhile.  Even in the midst of that safe space I fought like hell the tears that ekked out, revealing my vulnerability.

Intentional neglect.  That is quite an accusation and one I do not entertain lightly.  But, if I examine the facts, it is the only conclusion.  In this day and age, peanut and gluten allergies are as commonplace as uttering the phrase Common Core. (not getting into that debate)  There are whole tables dedicated to the “non” peanut eater and special menu considerations exist for those with gluten allergies.  It is a given that if one child is affected, the whole class is made aware; every effort is made to ensure that all children feel like they belong and no one is left out.

I did not have that luxury and now I am beginning to feel the full impact of that alienation.  While we did not have the internet or smart phones when I was young, the invention of the telephone DID exist…even if we had to use a rotary dial to make the call.  Parent-teacher communication was available.  There was still snail mail, teacher conferences still happened, a stop in to the school was always welcome.  The fact remains that those measures were not utilized.  That intentional inaction led to my feeling even more ostracized and alone, lonely and afraid in a time when perceptions of school were just beginning to take shape.  I learned at an early age that I did not fit, that there was something “wrong” with me, that I was not like the others.

Edward Kleban, lyricist for “A Chorus Line” provided some words that resonate with me

“Diff’rent” is nice, but it sure isn’t pretty.
“Pretty” is what it’s about.
I never met anyone who was “diff’rent”
Who couldn’t figure that out.
So beautiful, I’d never live to see.

Without knowing it, I adopted this philosophy and claimed it as truth.  It’s wrong and it kills me to type that.

Why?  Because what the hell do you do when you put A and B together (and I don’t do math) and discover the truth you thought you knew and what you had constructed your whole outlook on is incorrect?  Worse yet,  that truth is destructive and unhealthy?  What do you do when you realize that people who were charged with your care intentionally neglected to follow through?  What do you do when you peel back a layer and find that there is no excuse for their actions?

They could have picked up the phone to check in every once in awhile.  They could have brought items in during teacher conferences.  They had a whole host of options.  They chose not to.

My mother told me once that because I was such a difficult child, that I was reluctant to embrace her as my adopted mother, and show her love, she quit.   She quit trying.  I never forgot those words and they ring a different tune now.  They quit–they intentionally quit.

Even now I am rolling that around my head and beginning to question 41 years of beliefs I have and finding myself at ground zero.  I don’t know what to do, and I usually have an intellectual analysis, or at the very least, a smart ass comment to diffuse the situation.  I have none.  When I wrote the words, “I was a thief”, I was writing out of a truth that I believed wholeheartedly and called myself.  I was a thief because I used to take sweets from locations in the house, hide them, eat them, and try to smuggle out the evidence.  Sometimes I got away with it, often I did not.  Each time I was caught I was punished for stealing and sneaking around and taking things that did not belong to me.

You know what?  Oreo cookies rocked then, and they rock now.  I know that because I took them, ate them, and liked them.  Maybe instead of stealing, I was surviving.  Maybe instead of looking at the situation and swallowing that I was a bad kid who stole and lied, I was someone who was resourceful and just sassy enough to buck a system I could not control.  Maybe.

That’s a hefty piece of cake.  But, I think it’s important to pick apart all the layers and see what they’re made of.  I think I owe it to myself.  Because what I’m finding that while the cake is chocolate, and appears to be chocolate throughout, there are pockets and whole layers that are bitter like baker’s chocolate.  I know it’s bitter because in one of my sweets’ forays, I took what I thought to be chocolate from the refrigerator and well, let’s just say, baker’s chocolate should be left for its intended purpose…..for baking.

I’ve thought about this understanding all day today and tried to put it in perspective as I parent my children.  I watched my son inhale a  slice of cake for breakfast and I grabbed a piece too.  I smiled at him as he took his first bite and I smile now remembering how his eyes rolled back into his head.  You know what?  Chocolate cake is flippin awesome—it tastes amazing.  It tastes even more amazing when you know someone made it for you, out of love.  Scratch that. Chocolate cake is FREAKIN awesome (insert the intended expletive if you choose)  You know what else?  I am a flippin good mom……I got to share in this moment with my son and I will never forget it.  My son may, but what I hope he remembers is how he felt when he expressed his needs or desires and they were met.

I thought about my mother in those terms today and for a split second I felt sad; sad for both my parents.  I could try to justify this whole blog by saying I was willful, difficult, unruly, and that I did not get those moments with my parents.  Today, a new layer revealed that THEY did not get those moments with ME.  They chose not to.  They quit, intentionally.

God, I wish I could explain the pain that admitting that brings.  I wish I could walk someone through what it feels like to sit and watch 41 years  begin to tumble as jenga block by block is removed.  I wish I could describe the fear of what happens as each block displacement sets the structure to swaying, wondering if the next removal causes it to topple.  I wish I could articulate the confusion I am encountering as I twist and turn this Rubik’s cube, trying to make sense of a reality and truth that is without explanation.  Worse yet, that that truth is wrong.  I wish I could say that this is easy and there is an instant resolution to the 24 minute “Full House” episode where everyone hugs. wipes away tears, promises, and forgives.

It’s not Lifetime movie night.  It’s not easy, it is the hardest work I’ve done because it requires vulnerable honesty, brutal admissions, and concentrated courage.  And, I’m not sure that I’ve got it.  I’m not sure I’m up for the challenge.

All I know is that today, my fork ran into a layer that I did not expect.  Does it cause me to gag, retch, spit out the piece, throw out the rest of the cake; rendering it worthless?  I don’t know.   Do I look deeper into the piece to find out how much of the cake is affected and do I go back to the recipe to determine what happened?  Do I take the information I discover and apply it to my next recipe?  Do I have the guts to enter into the  original story and create a new reality?  Do I have the balls to allow others to join me in baking a new cake?

Tonight, I iust don’t know.  Ask me tomorrow, I may have a different answer.

shalom,

cahl

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

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

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

Not my Son!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

all-Consuming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until again,

Shalom,

cahl

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…..

I was READY….to quit.

As a little girl I was allergic to EVERYTHING!!!  I mean everything made me sick.  Sugar, milk, citrus, and most spices sent my stomach into fits of pain and bloat.  While all of my classmates celebrated birthdays with great cakes laden with tons of multi colored frosting, I looked longingly at huge slices of cake and tall glasses of ice-cold milk.  Both items would have sent me over the edge and seen me visiting the bathroom each hour.

I snuck it when I was a kid, even retreating to the basement to drink a shot of pure syrup out of the bottle.  I got in major trouble when I was a kid and my parent’s found out, it is a little funnier now that I am older and can picture my sons doing something similar.  I think that most of the time I was not sneaking goods out of some evil plot to undermine my parents, I think I wanted to know what it was like to eat and taste like everyone else.  I got so sick of diet candy, many of which contained some dye or sweetener that I could not stomach either.  The sight of diet pop==TAB cola made me want to yak a good yak.  I had uncles (my uncle walt) especially, who would throw me a treat at special holidays once in a while–usually my mother saw what it was…hours later as I was sick in the toilet.  To say that I was stubborn and unwilling to listen was an understatement.

All through school I watched what I ate, what time I ate, and how much.  I got so sick of peanut butter sandwiches that I cannot stand the sight of them to this day.  Remember they would be only peanut butter no jelly.  My fruit and veggie intake also had to be monitored because too much citrus or too much ruffage caused even more problem. Dry cereal took the place of dry toast, and hot dogs and hamburgers were eaten with no ketchup.  I grew used to this, and sometimes my parents would make something special.  I craved rice with raisins and cinnamon.  Today, I would rather have a meal of “real” food than a bunch of junk,  to eat a donut in the morning is almost unheard of in my world.

After years and years of battling I got pretty good at predicting what I could and could not do.  As I aged and stress levels increased I noticed some other issues arise.  With the more stress, the more intense the pain I carried.  The more worried I became, the more intense and sick I felt.  My stomach became a barometer for what was happening in the environments around me, and for many many years it has been hell.

Tension and stress gave way to acid creeping up my stomach into my throat and I choked back chunks daily.  This got worse and worse until doctors discovered that I could lean over and cause acid and reflux to rear its ugly head.  My first colonoscopy was at 25 when I ended up in the Spencer, IA hospital for a couple of days.   Procedure after procedure I endured…radioactive eggs, barium drinks, more radioactive eggs, CT scans, more endoscopes and colonoscopies than any person should endure.  I endured.

In the last 3 years I have seen almost 20 polyps some of which have been cancerous, many pre-cancerous.  I have awakened at night in pain, refrained from eating because I was in pain, and undergone a laparoscopic nissen and the removal of my gall bladder.  Whatever organ which is not necessary has been removed, except my appendix.   Up until the last month, I believed my life was sentenced to this roller coaster called my stomach.

You see, not so long ago I sat with my adopted file and it spelled out in great detail much of my early life, including how my biological parents interacted with me.  The file described a pre-mature baby who had really bad gastro problems from birth.   The implication was that there was not adequate pre natal care and improper feeding taking place.  There was also mentions of bottles of beer being fed to me as well as bottles of straight formula given to me as a newborn.  This caused so much internal damage that we believe it will take a lifetime to recover-if ever.

Knowing this information, coupled with my track record had me so depressed and downtrodden.  I felt like I would always battle to feel level.  I was ready to quit.  I dreaded every doctor appointment, had seen too many ER visits, and found most pain medicine made me sicker.  I hated get togethers where good food was on display, I ate but within 20 minutes I would be sicker than a dog and regretting that I had eaten.  I lived this way, day in day out for 38 years.

Until now.  I found  a gastroenterologist who told me that he would not stop until he had come to the bottom of the pain (no pun intended).  No one had ever treated me like that before, no one had promised to care for me until the pain was gone.  Every other doctor looked at the symptoms and treated them, making me endure procedure and haphazard guess, none of it alleviated the pain.  I cried at night, dreaded every meal.  Now that I am in a drug test where it appears I have received a drug which has cut down on the pain and other unpleasant side effects, I can think of more than where the closest bathroom is.  I can see beyond the last meal I ate to thinking about how to feel even better.

I did not care, really, until a couple of weeks ago, what my future held.  It felt like each day was more of the same and the colors were always grey and dreary.  Never did I feel like running down the hill, grabbing after the sunshine and laughing.  Today, I feel a bit differently.  I am just under halfway through the drug trial and my pain has decreased from a solid 8 to a 1 or 2 and the number of bathroom visits down from 8-9 to 1 maybe 2.  This is monumental in my world.  This is freeing in my world.

The effects of all the damage may not be gone, I will have to watch the inflammation and scar tissue for the rest of my life.  There will never be a time when I won’t have to have endoscopes and colonoscopies, I will have to watch them carefully–constantly aware.  Today, though I received my next dosages of medicine.  I am more hopeful than I have ever been.  In fact, I made a decent batch of banana bread and am looking forward to eating it.  I want to eat it.  I am thinking about a work-out regime not for 2013, but for me personally.  I want to feel better, I want to feel more physically strong, and if the insides are healing, I want the outside to match.  I want to experience what WHOLE body and soul healing looks and feels like.  For the first time I am willing to consider what tomorrow looks like…I have never lived like that.  I never wanted to think that there would be a tomorrow.  I was ready to quit…to embrace the rest of my life in a dark tunnel where everyday looked exactly like yesterday.

I don’t want to live victim to a past, a present, someone else’s reality, or a pre-conception of things being one way because they have always been that way.  Damage may have been done, but I do not have to exist victimized as a result of other’s actions or inactions.  I can live–I can live healed.  I am not sure what that looks like, but in the days and weeks to come I intend to explore that idea…I invite anyone and everyone to come along on the journey…if you have ideas or comments….please let me know.  Let’s do this together…let’s live this journey together.

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?

Musings

It is quiet in my house tonight.  I have spent the last 2 days away from my baby boys (yes they are still my babies even though they are 5, 8–they will always be my babies)  The last time I saw them was about 10:50 yesterday morning as I made sure they had been properly picked up by their grandparents so that I could assist my husband with judging and chaperoning kids on a debate overnighter.  I knew they were safe and were in good care, but before I set forth for Brookings, I had to make sure everyone was where they were supposed to be.  I was able to walk them down the hall, hug them, kiss the top of their heads, and tell them good-bye and that I love them.  They smiled and told me they loved me and happily climbed in my parent’s pick up for the next adventure.  They were safe.

Moments later, I got in a school van, turned on the radio expecting to crank up the tunes and blow into the parking lot to help load a group of kiddos.  MPR and its broadcast from Connecticut stopped me in my tracks as they described the horror unfolding there.  Questions loomed in the air, doubt as to how someone could do such a thing….certainly there must be a mistake.  People just don’t do something like that…we must be hearing things.  No one walks into an elementary school and opens fire—no one.  Someone did.

It is quiet in my house tonight, but I know where my children are and I will speak to them (at least 1 of them will talk on the phone)before they rest tonight.   My mother told me not to worry about whether to pick them up tonight, but to get some rest.  I will rest tonight knowing that they are safe.  It is awful quiet without their chatter, their noise in the hall, their feet pounding the floor, and their instant mood changes which means we have to duke it out in the middle of the livingroom….I am not telling anyone to pick up their coats, put their boots by the register, and to stop pestering the dog.  No one is climbing in my lap, asking me questions while I try to go to the bathroom, or eating off of my plate…it is quiet here tonight.

It is quiet other places tonight, too.  Places where it should not be quiet.  Homes where there are children or parents missing….they should not be quiet.  Homes of aunts and uncles, and grandparents, fellow teachers and aides, administrators, coaches, cooks, librarians, secretaries, brothers, and sisters are quieter tonight than ever.

Sometimes maybe we have been too quiet….I say that gently, wondering if times have come to start talking real truth in our circles.  I wonder if the time has come to crawl underneath what appears to be ailing our society and ask the deeper questions…Why, why do these things keep happening?  Is it for want of more regulation, stricter laws and more awareness?  Will more education do the trick?  Will looking to government controls moderate our behavior?

Maybe it comes down to regulating ourselves.  I said last night that if we could move toward a world where the human race was not hunting one another like animals, maybe we would be a bit better off than we are now.  If we could start to look at one another through different lenses maybe we would begin to see one another as human beings, capable of greatness and wonder, and yes, heart wrenching sadness.  We are all capable of lifting one another to highest of highs with our encouragement, love, kindness, and support.  We also have the ability to destroy one another.  We have the ability to do so much.

I said to my students yesterday, the scary moment was the realization that at any one point, any one of us is capable of something as heinous as yesterday’s shooting.  That is the dark truth no one wants to admit.  We are all capable of losing it and blowing a micro-chip, so to speak.  It may not look the same as it did yesterday, but the propensity exists.  Thankfully, most of us filter and keep ourselves in check, most of the time.

What would it look like to begin allowing tough questions to find answers?  what would it look like to embrace one another as truly brothers and sisters, rather than the individual enemy we want to categorize each other?  What would it look like to take seriously the ideas our parents and teachers instilled in us from birth….to be kind, tell the truth, treat others the way you want to be treated, and look both ways before crossing the street.  We had buddy systems in place to help each other  what happened as we grew older?  Do we not need our buddies to help us anymore?

It is quiet in my house tonight and I miss my babies in a place I cannot describe.  I want to hear their voices, to hold them tight, to cradle them as they fall asleep.  I don’t want to explain the last couple days to them…but I will.  I will use it as a teaching moment to speak of grace and love and compassion and bravery.  I will tell them that I do not understand and there are parts of this story that I struggle to get my head around to understand.  I will tell them that I am trying to find room in my heart for forgiveness, but I find it lacking….I find my role conflicted as to how to love all persons in this situation.  I will be honest in telling them I do not know how to solve the problem or why innocent children paid a price.  I don’t know.

In this moment, no one wins.  Not the victims, the families, schools, friends, and dare I say, the perpetrator.  No one in his family wins tonight either….there is death and loss and mountains of grief and questions which will never be resolved.  That is the hardest realization….there can be no winners—-only a moment to learn from and pray we can move from this a better human race.  We can either learn from this moment, invite the conversations, and seek answers; or we can put our blinders back on, admit that yesterday was horrible, and continue in our same paths as we did.  We can choose to let this impact us to action and motivate us to real and deeper exploration; or we can lull ourselves back into complacency.  The choice is ours, it always has been, always will be.

I choose to take that mantle of community seriously….I seek to understand how I can make an impact that leaves lasting and positive change–even when it’s quiet out there tonight.

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