God Wins…but can I ?

A Mother's Journey


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Thanking my first responders

The ground rumbles and the foundation of the earth cracks. Shaking, a large building is about to crash and become a pile of rubble. A couple of people run into the collapsing building. “Stop!” we yell,“Don’t go in. You’ll get killed.” They don’t listen.

They run toward men, women and children trapped in a difficult circumstance.

They are courageous and daring.

Fearless and selfless.

They are the first responders.

We honor them – the first responders to fires, earthquakes, floods, bombings, shooting and other traumatic community emergencies.

And yet, what would we say about a fireman/police officer who calls the front desk receptionist to ask her if he can come in and rescue her from a collapsing house or a blazing fire? We’d say that’s insane and ridiculous, right?

Right.

Unthinkable.

So why do we often wait for an invitation, or an “all clear,” before helping people who are in the first moments of a personal crisis?

Yes, there’s another type of first responder.

This activator is the person who gets the phone call, email or text message that says:

“hurt in car accident,” “served divorce papers,” “lost job”, “diagnosed stage 4 cancer,” “father died,” “child in hospital,” “betrayed by friend,” …

and within minutes, this relational first responder is on the move. Following the compassionate voice inside, he/she acts – in addition to thinking and feeling.

Running towards me with care and resources, my first responders during our family tragedies have contributed to salvaging our foundation.

Memories I treasure:

-Within the first days of sharing Leah’s cancer diagnosis, we received from one family an envelope in our mailbox that included multiple restaurant gift cards.

-One co-worker sent a beautiful note and a check for a clearly sacrificial amount of money the first month Leah was diagnosed.

-While Leah was having her second surgery, a group of friends spontaneously showed up at the hospital to surround us and pray for us.

-Within 20 minutes of Leah’s death, a dear friend and pastor was standing next to us as we cried over the lifeless body of our daughter.

-A respected leader sent a huge bouquet of flowers the day after my mother died.

Each of these actions has something in common. Each person didn’t telephone and wait for me to return the call. They didn’t ask, “What do you need?” or  “Let me know what I can do for you.”

He acted.

She acted.

And quickly – in the moment the care was needed.

I imagine his/her feelings of potential awkwardness surpassed the fear of rejection.

The primary concern was to care for me/us – to enter the collapsing circumstance of our lives and hold us up as our world crashed around us.

Their outreached hands and fingerprints have touched my heart forever.

I have learned from these first responders.

1- As a giver: It’s of critical importance to show care and concern quickly when people are in the first stage of an emergency or crisis. Don’t overthink kindness. Just do it.

2 – As a receiver: It’s ok – and good – to accept help. Pride is useless. Especially in a crisis.

I tell you that I will never, EVER forget the many first responders in my life. The examples I share here are only a few of the acts of kindness extended toward me and my family.

These brave people reflect the best of humanity. They reflect the hands and feet of God. Thank you.

When has a first responder run toward you? What did his/her action mean to you?

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Opening the door to her room

The door has been shut.

For two years.

Two whole years.

I’m not totally sure the reason why.

It felt as though we needed to keep it this way. Rather, I needed to keep it this way.

So her room has become a time capsule.

Everything as it was before she left us.

Unwillingly.

But she left us.

At times, looking at the closed door creates waves of guilt because I want to give some of her treasures to family and friends, while the items are still meaningful to them.

Just couldn’t do it and go through her things.

Until last week.

I opened the door.

With hesitant expectation.

Expecting the room to look dusty and old, like a scene from a scary movie.

It didn’t.

As I opened the curtains and flooded the room with light, I didn’t see dust or heaviness.

It’s brimming with color – the room of a teenage girl who loved life and friends.

Mirrors, school papers, notes, jewelry, make-up, collectible keychains, Justin Bieber CDs, posters, pictures, Eiffel Tower/Paris stuff, her “chemo” wigs…

I gently touched her things with a special tenderness and almost reverence.

And then I picked it up – her Build-A-Bear “puppy dog” that we made together.

The memory flooded fast – Leah and I watching the woman stuff our animals full of foam which gave them life.

Leah whispering to me that she didn’t want to “kiss the heart” before the creator gently placed it in the puppy’s chest – too embarrassing of an action for a teenage girl.

But she gave in and kissed it anyway.

We laughed.

I held that puppy tight.

Pressing hard and trying to feel the heart inside that she kissed.

And I wept…long and hard.

I wept for my daughter.

I cried over memories that I’ve stuffed, just as that puppy is stuffed.

Grateful to God for that day at Build-A-Bear.

Grateful for friends who gave me a fun gift card.

Little did they know what memory that gift made.

I haven’t had a good, “ugly” cry such as this one in a long time.

And I cry now.

I cry for her absence.

Leah’s beautiful blue eyes, long brown hair, laugh, sillyness, kindness, her faith.

I cry that I need to go through her things when she should soon be going through them as she prepares for college.

Hurting. Angry. Sad.

And grateful.

Sitting in her room opened many emotions.

Mostly the emotion that I am still madly in love with my only daughter.

I always will be.

Missing her terribly.

Learning to be more grace-giving and understanding toward other parents, spouses and siblings who’ve had major losses. There are no “right ways” or “wrong ways” to grieve. No rules.

After a couple hours, I needed to stop making decisions about what to keep, give away and throw away.

Glad that I bravely opened the door; my time in her room was painful and sweet.

I will go back and work at my own pace.

Wondering what memories will flood my soul next time?

I’m ready.

I had to be ready.

And I am.

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