Tag Archives: loss

Sigh… And Cry…

As I begin to write this, I am sitting in the car with my 5 year old autistic son. It’s the 4th of July, which means fireworks and panic for this sweet boy. Three of my boys are with their dad, or who knows… the heartache of divorce… 

I’m okay sitting in the car with my little boy.

I’m coming to terms with a failed marriage (twice attempted, twice failed, with the same person).

What should matter is my children, my relationship with them and moving forward. And what should not matter is the negative flurry of slander, hate and anger behind me. 

But it does. 

It hurts. It hurts real bad. And I hate giving power to that pain by acknowledging it… But I guess healing comes with acceptance of pain and failure. 

I have seven children. Two of my boys are autistic, my 16 and 5 year old. The oldest has grown to be such a delightful young man. He is smart, humble, quiet, gentle and kind. My 5 year old is still struggling through his emotions and anxieties, and this is also a great struggle for me. It’s hard to reach him at times and even harder to calm him in the midst of his “moments.”

What’s also hard is the backlash I have received from those closest to me.  My family seems to only be able to tolerate the older children in doses, and the youngest three scarcely at all. They are quick to point out my short comings as a parent… even quicker to jump on the backs of these three for simply being children. 

And then there is my ex husband’s side of the family… although only his parents have ever come to visit – and no more than a week a year, at most – there certainly wasn’t a shortage of pure evil, hateful messages from the siblings (who have NEVER visited in 16 years and never met the younger FIVE children). Thankfully, I’ve been able to keep a mostly loving and positive communication with his parents. As for the others, I should be strong enough to dismiss their unfounded judgment and just focus on the beautiful, innocent faces in front of me. 

But it’s hard. Real hard. 

I wonder… do my parents, his parents, [some of] my siblings and his siblings, random acquaintances, etc, ever stop to remove the log from their own eyes? Do they really think that through their actions they are lifting up a woman and her children? Or worse, are they trying to bring her to her breaking point?

I may be weak. They may hurt me a lot. But they will not break me. Let me be clear on that. They can block my messages and not make eye contact in church. They may say all manner of things behind my back – deserved or undeserved. They may try to turn my own children against me with their poison. Yes, they can do all this and more, while pretending to be righteous, saying their morning and evening prayers daily…

Meanwhile, I struggle to pray, struggle to bring my children to church. I wake up daily and make my kids food adherent to a diet for those on the spectrum. I cry and work through the tantrums of the little ones. I struggled for 8 years to home educate because I felt it was best for my kids. I try to help a very moody and emotional, freshly-minted teenager navigate through his complex emotions and new life changes. All the while, trying very hard not to let myself succumb to the negativity and hatred from those I love the most, outside my children.

Sigh… And cry…

Life is always a struggle. One beautiful struggle after another. And if I can come out of one, I trust that God will carry me and mine through the next battle. 

And when I cannot pray because in that moment my faith is lost, I hope that God sees me through those moments as well. 

And when I want to hate in return those who have hurt me over and over again, I beg that God give me the patience and love not to do so. 

After all, none of us are in any place to judge another. My struggles may be unbearable for many, but for sure, there are so many families in the world who face much worse. 

We are all broken. And those of us brave enough to admit that are just trying to find our footing each day. 

At the moment, it’s sitting in the car with my sweet boy so he feels safe with me from the noise of the fireworks… tomorrow I don’t know. 


In Celebration of Life

My cursor blinks rhythmically on the screen, waiting… I sit in front of it, compelled to write something about how I am feeling after watching the most disturbing and depressing movie I have perhaps ever seen.  After watching it last night, I cried as I looked deeper into the issue of assisted suicide, or as it has been deceivingly called: Death with Dignity.

I thought about diving into the issue of suicide, whether “assisted” or not, of depression, loss, etc.  I thought of how to weave my empathy for those suffering from debilitating mental illnesses, chronic pain, terminal illnesses or life-changing accidents, into the very divided issues of death, dying and our  “right to choose.”  And while I pour over the sadness and pain these people no doubtingly feel, there are also those who never get such a “chance:” children who would choose life but never will be able; children who have never known anything but death, destruction and disability, like 5-year old Omran from Syria.

So as my cursor blinks and my heart aches with my racing mind… how does one address such an issue?  For certain, it is not one issue, but a multi-faceted topic that touches each human being on this Earth.  We have all known death.  Pain.  Loss of some form.  Known or experienced first hand mental illness.  We have all been faced with choices that have altered our lives forever.  And depending on how we have experienced these, coupled with our beliefs, we as a people have wide views on such hard topics.  Some may argue that because of these different beliefs and experiences, are we all correct in our thinking?  If you can make a fair argument for why this man should be allowed to take his life, are you right?  If I can make a fair argument in opposition, am I not also right?  We use words such as “choice,” “this is my body,” “my life.” As a fellow blogger put it: we live in the era of ME.

But I do not want to discuss choices or right and wrong.  I think my position is probably clear that I am for life.  I do not say pro-life because I am not limiting my statement to abortion.  I am for all life.  Every life is worth living. And so, in opposition to the movie (yet so appropriately titled), Me Before You, I would like to celebrate examples of lives that could have been seen as lost, but instead were turned into something extraordinary.

I first read the book about Joni Eareckson Tada before the age of 12, at the recommendation of my mother.  An incredible athlete from a young age, Mrs. Tada became a quadriplegic after breaking her neck in a diving accident.  Like the character in the film, she experienced the depression and helplessness of her new disability.  Yet with beautiful dignity, she did not choose death.  Instead, she became a famous artist using her tongue to create unbelievable artwork for the whole world to admire.

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Another example and similar story is that of Marcus C. Thomas.  He was a triathlete who also became a quadriplegic after a horrible accident.  He learned to paint using only his tongue. Like Tada, he has given the world not only inspiration and perseverance, but also true beauty through his story and artwork.

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A woman named Celestine Tate Harrington did not suffer a tragic accident, but instead, was born with a congenital joint condition that eventually left her without the use of her arms and legs.  But she lived her life happily, and was known for her cheerful, bubbly personality.  In addition to her contagious disposition, she was an accomplished street musician.  More astonishingly than that, she gave birth to a little girl and fought for custody in the most remarkable way: After seeking public assistance for her child, she instead found herself before a judge and courtroom ready to deem her unfit because of her disability.  To the complete surprise of them and the world, she dressed and undressed her baby girl in the courtroom using only her teeth!  She won custody of her daughter, and a year later, moved her and her daughter to their own home.  She supported them both by the money she earned playing music using only her mouth!  She died at the age of 42 from complications of her condition.

Another remarkable story is that of Talia Joy Castellano. She battled childhood cancer bravely for over six years until her death at the age of 13.  She used her living years to create YouTube makeup videos, showing the world both her struggle and beauty.  She was also a Covergirl model with a YouTube channel that amassed a huge, supportive following.

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There have been many other stories of children who battled and died of cancer who, instead of choosing death, used their lives to do amazing things for the world.  Trevor Sims died of cancer at the age of 11, but not before using his illness and struggle to raise money and food donations for the Baton Rouge Food Bank.

These are just a few of the countless people who have lived their lives to the fullest.  I have no doubt that they faced fear over their conditions, depression and maybe even wished they could end their suffering early.  But they saw the beauty in their lives and embraced it, in turn, leaving our world that much brighter because of their struggle.

They saw the truth: Every life is worth living.

 


Inside Out

Also Posted on my other site: Homeschooling the Minds of Tomorrow

600full-inside-out-posterThis weekend, we rented the new Pixar movie, Inside Out. And while I enjoyed the movie just as another great flick by the studio, I couldn’t help but relate it to very real emotions in everyday life.  I know that sometimes (especially in the postpartum days!) I feel like there are different emotions in my head all fighting for control.  And some days, it seems as though Joy is lost (which is what happens in the movie).  Another interesting thing I found was how the happy core memories can become sad memories, if we are missing them, such as the case with the main character,  Riley. I have found this to be true many times in my life:  Something that was happy at the time now makes me sad to remember because I miss the time or the person.

Today, I began looking on the internet to see if I was the only one who had this thought.  It turns out, there is a website called the Helpful Counselor that discusses 20+ counseling themes found within the movie.  The website’s list covers details under each category, and also offers additional resources for helping children sort through the complexity of their emotions.  With babies, toddlers, in-betweens, a pre-teen and a teen, there are emotions all over the place at my house! I highly recommend the movie and the site.

Here is the list:

  1. Loss
  2. Sacrifice
  3. Personal Growth
  4. Core Personality (and the experiences that create them)
  5. Value of All Feelings
  6. We Have Many Different Feelings
  7. Change in Interests
  8. Feeling Multiple Feelings at Once
  9. Communication Skills
  10. Coping Strategies
  11. Problem Solving
  12. Creating a New Normal
  13. Safety
  14. Loss of Control
  15. Plans Don’t Always Work Out
  16. Keeping a Positive Attitude
  17. Finding an Appropriate Way to Let Out Big Feelings
  18. Never Give Up
  19. Train of Thought
  20. Loyalty
  21. We Need the Support of Others to Achieve Our Goals.

Dealing with Loss

Such a title immediately brings to mind death. And death, for certain, is a loss, heavy and painful and hard to come back from. I’ve blogged about such a loss before.

But death is not the only form of loss. There is a loss of innocence, of which I’ve also blogged. The loss of a certain season in one’s life, or a difficult change. We all will experience some form of loss in our lifetime, and perhaps many times over. Sometimes it seems that others deal with these changes “better,” or at least continue to move forward despite their pain. I feel that too often I’m immobilized by loss. As harsh as it may sound, the death of my grandparents and uncle were something I could accept more than, say, “smaller” losses. I knew their suffering at the end of their lives had come to a close and now they were at peace. I knew they lived loving others, their families especially, and therefore, there was no lack of closure when they passed. I mourned them, for certain. I regretted things I’d said and done, and those I had not (about which I also blogged). But I was able to move on knowing and accepting these things.

But when I lose a period of my life, that perhaps I should simply be grateful I experienced in the first place, moving on is much more difficult.

Recently, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I had to put the bigger kids in school. For most people, this isn’t a big deal. Their kids always went to school. But for us and our kids’ individual needs, homeschooling always seemed to be the best fit. And while I had a difficult period of self doubt while pregnant with my beautiful sixth child, I never not wanted to homeschool them. After baby was born, I felt myself again – crazy pregnancy hormones gone. I felt we were back in our groove. Then hubby got a new job out of town, moved, and suddenly I felt shook up again. I was going to lose so many good friends and a strong network and support system. My kids were going to lose some very good friends. We were all going to lose a church we were deeply involved in and loved very much. It would happen… even though the move took more months than we originally thought (for which I was grateful). But I knew it was coming and I was broken.

And then another loss, the confidence others had in me and the assurance that my kids were succeeding, seemed to disappear over night. Was I doing that bad of a job? I don’t think so. My kids were happy, healthy, and they were learning. Maybe not what a public school assessment might have deemed necessary, but they were learning constantly. And they loved learning! They also were learning things that cannot be taught in school. But this lack of confidence around me once again made me lose faith in myself and made me question myself and what I was doing. Was I somehow doing some injustice to my children? I believe they had good intentions, but sometimes that is not enough to ease the pain.

We finally got settled into our new home after much bouncing about for several months. The older three went to school, with some significant delays for the 13 year old (he’s on the autism spectrum and so a plan had to be made for his needs, etc.).

Now there is a loss. In my heart, in my home, in my mind. I struggle to keep up with their school work and with their new found struggles. My heart aches, back and forth, with the ache of my mind: Why? What can I do to help with their struggles when I’m struggling also? How do I let go and watch them literally fail classes, or simply be allowed (in the 13 year old’s case) to go through the day skipping assignments? How do I reconcile these new feelings of inadequacy? I try to be grateful that we had the time together that we did. Yet that seems to be clouded by the doubt: should I have started this journey in the first place? I never planned to not see it through to the end! But I didn’t plan for the what if of not being able to. And if that what if was possible, should I have ever started?

How do I open up again when I feel such a disconnect from those who stopped supporting me and believing in me?

And so the loss that I cannot really explain in words, can’t gather in my thoughts, can’t seem to reconcile during the day as I focus my attention on the little three… the immobilization of helplessness. And the fear that this loss will be misunderstood for selfishness, more hormones, or simply something that’s “not that big of a deal.”

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