God Wins…but can I ?

A Mother's Journey


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The Roller Coaster Ride

Climbing the stairs to the platform is one of the most anxiety producing actions ever.

Waiting to board, I chatter nervously.

Heart racing, hands shaking and knees wobbling.

A huge part of me wants to turn and run away as far as possible.

But, she’s at my side and our turn is next.

It arrives.

We’re in the first car. Ugh.

There’s no buffer between us and the unknown in this front seat.

Stepping into the car, I take the inner spot.

The metal bars come down around our shoulders.

They are heavy and inflict pressure.

We look at one another.

As the mom, I’m trying not to show my fear.

But I am petrified.

Her eyes say that she’s scared and I say, “Just hold my hand. I’m here.”

The roller coaster starts slowly…very slowly. Teasing us.

Then we ascend. Inch by inch.

“Click…Click…Click…Click”

A sound that tells me that we are headed for quite an experience.

On a 90 degree angle, we are in the hands of gears and brakes that I hope work.

My heart beats so hard; I can hear it loudly in my ears.

I swear I can see her heart beating.

A blue sky is all we see.

Can’t envision what’s on the other side of the incline.

As we level out, I look down – totally overwhelmed.

Blog Roller coaster 1

Visual overload.

A maze of twists, turns and curves.

There’s no way to identify the route – no time to exit.

I’m not in control.

The descent is fast and furious.

Whoosh! Both of our heads hit the back of the car and our hair whips in many directions.

Whish. We descend in less than 5 seconds.

Lightening speed creates a blur.

She and I grab one another’s hands tightly.

We laugh nervously.

Whoosh again. Rounding another curve.

It’s happening so quickly that my mind can’t comprehend the full ride.

Where are we headed? When will it end?

In this moment, I am acutely aware of my feelings:

Anxious. Fearful. Curious. Protective. Impatient. Overwhelmed.

High doses of adrenaline keep me from passing out.

Trusting that this metal bar will hold us in.

Hold her in.

A dark tunnel approaches.

I think this means the ride’s almost over. Thankfully.

We enter the darkness, so black that I am comforted by closing my eyes.

Her hand still holds on to mine.

Ah – a speck of white light.

It’s tiny, but gets bigger and bigger.

Now total brightness.

Yes! We’re through. We made it.

The car slows down.

I look to my right.

She’s gone.

What?!

Panic. Fear. Shock. Disbelief.

How can she be gone?

“Somebody, stop this roller coaster now and get me off. I have to be with her.”

But the ride doesn’t stop.

It starts over.

This isn’t happening; it’s a bad dream.

There’s chatter behind me so I know that other people are still on the ride.

I have to go through again without her by my side.

This time I ride with a broken heart.

Repeating the climb, the speed, the twists, the turns,

the dark tunnel – all without her.

Alone in the front seat.

I have no idea how long the ride will last.

The bar is holding me in – protecting me.

The slow ascent repeats – “click… click…click”

Here I go.

Trusting that she is ok without me.

That someone is protecting her.

Until my ride ends.

…And this is what it was – and is like – for me to lose my daughter to cancer.

Note: Trying to put words to an experience as painful as losing my daughter is difficult. I know some people try to enter my world and relate to my experience, but of course, they can only understand to a certain level. Unless, they’ve either cared for a child through a serious illness and/or lost a child.  I often call our experience, of the last two and half years, a roller coaster ride. Dwelling on the roller coaster symbolism reinforces the accuracy of the metaphor. The moment we received the news Leah had cancer, we stepped onto this platform and our life experience changed forever. Leah will be gone two years in February and it’s hard to believe. Our second Thanksgiving and Christmas without her approaches.

I have faith and trust that she is in a better place. And I am here – continuing this ride called LIFE without her. Trusting in strong Arms that hold me tight, until I see her again. And grateful for many of you who have the courage to stay on the ride with me.

And the courage to move forward on your own rides wherever they take you.


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God Winks and Caterpillars Blink …

That simple flutter of the eye. The quick open and close of the eyelid can say so much. “wink wink” 😉

Winks tell us: “I’m just kidding.” “I’m flirting.” “I like you.” “I mean the opposite of what I just said.” “I have ulterior motives.” “I’m being sarcastic.” “I’m lying.” “I’m pulling your leg.”

Or it can be simply, “I just got something stuck in my eye.”

How we take the meaning of a wink also depends on who is winking. It makes a big difference whether or not the person winking is a friend, boss, teacher, politician, child, spouse or creepy stranger.

As a former fan of the TV Show Seinfeld, I clearly remember one hysterical episode when George accidentally gets grapefruit juice in his eye. The stinging juice make him spontaneously wink at very inopportune times at work. Very hysterical. I think his winks got him fired because it looked like he was covering something up.

Unlike George, I’ve never really pulled off the wink in social situations. Can’t do it naturally. Looks too forced.

One person in my life knew how to share a meaningful wink – my dad. He really knew how to give a sincere and affectionate wink. He’d make a distinct clicking noise with mouth at the same time. I really miss my dad’s signature wink. The simple movement of his eye communicated more than paragraphs of words. Even up to his last days with dementia, he spread joy by winking at staff and other people in the nursing home.

Oh, how I could use that comforting wink right about now.

According to the all knowing Wikipedia, the definition of wink is “an informal mode of non-verbal communication usually signaling shared hidden knowledge or intent.”

I wonder – what would a “God wink” look like?

When would He wink? Why? And How?

I had something unusual happen this month, which makes me wonder about God winks…

I am sure that I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve seen caterpillars in my life. Caterpillars outside in nature and not in a zoo or botanic garden. In the last month, I’ve seen two caterpillars that were literally right there in front of me – arriving out of nowhere.

One afternoon, I was taking a walk in my neighborhood and a bright, yellow caterpillar was literally crossing the sidewalk – right in front of me. She was zipping across the cement path and very motivated to get wherever she was going. I watched her work hard to move for quite some time. Here’s a clip:

Then today, I was at my favorite fall marketplace buying a mum. As I was standing in line, I looked down at the flower. To my surprise, I saw a fluffy and beautiful little creature trying to hitch a ride home with me. Also a very busy little lady with a head that moved quickly as she ate. So I blinked and stared. A caterpillar has a face? What?

Coincidences. I highly doubt it. But, what does it mean? Is it a sign from God? A sign of what? Caterpillars turn into butterflies, so the obvious symbolism is transformation. Death before new life. That seems too obvious. But is it?

As a grieving mother, my heart breaks, begins to heal and re-breaks multiple times EVERY DAY. Seriously. Each and every day. It feels as though pieces of my heart die and are reborn constantly. I don’t know how else to describe the reality in which I live.

Unless a person has lost a child, it is very hard to understand this experience. Losing a child is very different than any other loss. Trust me. It is. I’ve had many other losses and losing my daughter is extremely different.

And I believe that if anyone understands my loss – God does. For many reasons.

I won’t go into a long theological monologue, but I will share that I believe God is real and walked this world that He loves. I know not everyone believes that Jesus Christ is God, but I do.

Since 8 years old, I’ve been drawn to the selfless and sacrificial love that the Father, Son and Spirit offer.

In losing Leah, my faith has taken on a new dimension. Rather than get mad at God, I have a fresh appreciation for what God did by allowing His son to be cruelly tortured, mocked and murdered on our behalf. It’s a love of another kind.

It’s with deep love and meaning that God calls us to pray to Him as “Our Father.”

As my earthly father gave the perfect wink, I think God, my ultimate and forever Father, wants to top that wink. So, for this month, I take my close encounters with caterpillars as God winks. I am going to dwell on what God is saying to me through these creatures.

I’ll let you know if I see another caterpillar anytime soon.

How has God winked at you lately? I’m sure if you want Him to – He will. I hope you see His wink and that He comforts you.

My little hitchhiker:

Facebook_Caterpillar 2


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Son, I See You…too

I see you.

Your needs, desires and wants are important.

The hard reality is that your life was interrupted, abruptly, without warning

and tragically.

The minute we took your sister to the hospital

all our worlds changed. Including yours.

At a critical stage in your life.

Yet, you immediately stood tall – showing strength and love.

Like a strong tree.

Giving of your presence.

You intuitively knew that life shifted.

You stepped aside.

Never needing to coach you…

You were supportive and not demanding.

Being there for us, you gave comfort.

Just as a tree provides shade on a hot day.

Your peaceful presence was soothing.

Rather than retreating, your calmness gave the three of us

the support that we needed during 14 painful months.

You were grounded in the strong soil of your faith.

I will always remember your tenderness.

The ways you reached out.

Making efforts even after rejections when your sister needed to be alone.

No resentment or complaint on your part.

You didn’t walk away during the hardest moment of all.

Our circle of love was unbroken at our sweet girl’s last breath.

You stood firm.

And now, you support us and honor her.

You don’t complain.

You give me the freedom to grieve and honor.

Know that I see you.

You are not invisible.

I treasure you as I do your sister.

You are precious.

As it was in the beginning, it is now the three of us and not four.

Tragic and unexpected.

I grieve not only my loss, but your loss.

You will thrive and share your compassion and hope with others.

I am so proud of you and grateful that you are my son Grant.

Grateful for the man who you are and becoming.

Stay strong.

Love you always and forever.

Mom

Blog_Tree_ I see you

Note: In losing Leah, of course each of our family member’s worlds have changed. Serving a terminally ill child, our lives had to become about advocating for and caring for Leah. My son Grant, four years older than Leah, remained steadfast, understanding and faithful during Leah’s illness and now through her passing. Never complaining, A strong tower of support and faith.

I so admire who he is as a person.

When a suffering child dies, there can be a tendency to make that child “larger than life.” But my daughter was human, with strengths and flaws like us all. As we just finished the Walk for Wishes in Leah’s honor, I realize the ways that I continue to focus on my daughter – even after her passing.

Concerned that my son know I see him, I wanted to give him a word gift. I felt compelled to clearly verbalize to Grant how special he is. I don’t want to assume that he knows.

So I share an excerpt of words that I shared privately with him.  Kind of a positive “open letter.” I want everyone to know what an amazing man he is.