24 Feb love and a few f-words
I haven’t written in a while because I haven’t been able to put into words the Feelings that have consumed me these past couple of weeks. I am on a journey I never imagined. I have met travelers along the way who have Found themselves on a similar journey. Their Faces tell a story their mouths cannot articulate. Their hearts are open and bleeding, their eyes leaking, their minds numb and struggling. I have embraced these Folks as if they were gifts to me, gently placed in my path, just waiting for a little TLC from someone who knows their pain. I am thankful for each and every one, even though their pain hurts me and their journeys Frighten me and their hearts bleed all over me. They are messy and they mess me up when I get close, but I get soooo close anyway. It is the privilege Mason gave me when he left.
I want to be careful when telling my story and Focus only on the pieces that are mine… but there are so many parts of my story that are shared. How can I tell my story without highlighting the characters that play a part? To that end, I will share bits and pieces of other stories, but will never name names without permission. I never, ever want to lose the access that people have given me to their hearts and private lives. It is such a gift when someone peels away the layers and sets aside the mask. When a stranger holds my hand and begins to pour out their pain, or a friend-of-a-friend looks at me and tells me they need me. It is scary to be loved before you have even arrived on the scene, but it really shouldn’t be… we love babies before we have even named them. We are loved as we are created, artfully designed, hand crafted by the ultimate designer of all things. We are Fearfully and wonderfully made, n’est ce pas? Why is it so difficult to accept that love once we are here?
I’m exhausted. I have to just admit that up front. I am Friggin exhausted and I have no idea how to recharge my batteries so I just nap when the opportunity arises and hope for the best. I seem to be napping a lot these days.
A Friend messaged me on Facebook, asking for some advice. Her brother attempted suicide. He’s a husband and Father, and thankfully he Failed in his attempt to end his own life. My friend, so new to me yet so precious and dear, looked to me for some guidance, “What do I do?” My mind screamed, “I DON’T KNOWWWWWW!” but my heart started pouring love. I shared what I would do if I had been given the chance. I shared what I would want if I was in her brother’s shoes. I shared what I have learned through this whole experience, what I have gleaned from reading countless posts and articles and websites… “Show love.” When someone attempts to end their own life, they don’t need to be chastised or corrected or punished in any way. They will do that to themselves, you can count on that. From us, they need love. More love. More than you can possibly comprehend. So just love them. Share your heart with them. Tell them how much they matter; tell them how much they would be missed. Listen to them, don’t interrogate. Just show love. Just. Show. Love. Sounds too simple, but it really is all we can do and the only thing that will penetrate the walls of sadness, anger, and depression that have built up around their hearts. There is no room for anything but Love, so just love them.
My friend has seen her share of challenges. She is good at loving… I’ve seen her in action. She is determined to appreciate the precious moments life offers, and is thankful for each passing day. She gets it. I feel so honored to be a part of her journey and have her as a part of mine. I admire how she cares for others, and tends to the special needs of the ones she loves. I have no doubt she will be a beacon of light and hope for her brother, and her love will help heal his hurts.
Last Monday, someone I love and respect very much called me to ask for help. I consider her my family, and she has become a sister of my heart. There is no one quite like her – she’s a handful, for sure, a Force to be reckoned with. Funny how things can change over time… She didn’t like me at all when we first met. I laugh when I think of those good ole days, when she resented me because I was a strong and dominant presence. I was Fearless back then. Life had only just begun to hurt me. I wasn’t very quick on the uptake and still believed myself to be invincible. I hadn’t Felt the pain of loss yet. I hadn’t learned to Fear consequences. I was relentless in my pursuit of Freedom and was determined to let nothing get in my way. I was a young mother, Fighting to make a life for myself and my son. I knew the sting of rejection from my son’s Father, from my church, from my Family, but it had only scratched the surface of my heart. I just powered on, determined not to be derailed. I can see who I was then and imagine how it must have been to meet me for the first time. It makes me laugh now… really laugh… because life has shown me who is really the boss and it isn’t me. I am not that girl anymore. I am not that young mother. I have learned the ache of loneliness, experienced the pain of loss, and taken a blow to the gut quite a few times by the quick hand of consequence. Yeah, I don’t blame her for not Falling in love with the younger version of me.
Firecrackers we are, this sister of my heart. Forces of nature. Fast and Furious. You see, the young ‘her’ was a lot like the young me. Fiery, passionate, and headstrong. Clash of the Titans could have been the name of our story if maturity and love hadn’t stepped in over the years. Today, we are still all of those things and more. We are also kind, patient, and Forgiving. We are generous and understanding. We are grown women, warriors, with quite a few battle scars. We have been tenderized by the poundings of life and I am thrilled to have a place in her heart. I love this Friend so much she has become my Family.
When she calls me, I roll my eyes. She knows I hate the phone. I detest it. Yet she insists on calling me instead of texting and I always try to find a way to let her know how much it gags me to be trapped on the phone. Sometimes it’s just an elongated sigh of super dramatic proportions. Then we laugh our heads off! However, there was no laughing on Monday when she called. Her niece had just attempted suicide and was hospitalized with a 72 hour hold. I asked my praying friends to say a prayer for her, this beautiful 19 year old girl who had just Failed her third suicide attempt. Thank God for Failed attempts. My heart Flipped and my head sprang into action. The sister of my heart and longtime friend asked, “What do I do?” That question comes up so often, and I honestly do not have the answer. I simply do not know. We love, that’s the only answer, the only action I can come up with. We love.
I listened to my friend pour her heart out, I heard her words and felt the anxiety and concern behind them. Her sister is one of her best friends and this woman would do anything to take away the pain that her sister was feeling. “What do I do?” Oh lovey, I just don’t know. This little girl has attempted three times?!?!? She is hurting. She has deep issues that need to be addressed. She needs to know she matters. She needs love, sooooo much love. That’s not to say she isn’t loved already… she just needs more. It is true that some of us can survive on a little bit of love, and others of us need huge truckloads of it. Some of us see the love around us and accept it as it is offered, others of us Fight it and refuse it and wrestle with it. This little precious woman-child just needs another truckload, to start, and maybe even some medication. But we start with love.
I went to the hospital Tuesday night. I watched a mama break down and sob. I watched an auntie crack jokes and try to lighten the mood. I watched a young girl’s pain leak out of her eyes, her shame linger on her quivering chin, her desperate need for acceptance hover like a thick cloud all around her. This mama would do anything for her daughter, yet time and time again the girl has pushed her away. “Ah, she’s a wrestler,” I thought. She needs truckloads of love but when it arrives she turns her back and refuses delivery. So heartbreaking to see. I may have been that girl once… tough to love. I sat with her and we talked about things so private, so sacred. I thanked God and the universe and all things good and wonderful for giving me the opportunity to have a moment with this beautiful girl. As her mama and auntie read every sign on the wall, trying to give us some privacy, she poured her heart out. She cried tears of humiliation. She expressed regret, Fear, loneliness, remorse. “What do I do” when Faced with that raw expression of the heart? Show love. It’s really that simple.
We don’t attend Funerals for a good time. We go because we love. Funerals suck. I hate them. I have attended a handful in my time, and I promise I have never liked a single one. In fact, I’d rather not go. There are a few people whose Funeral I am already planning to ditch. My own, maybe. I hate Funerals that much. Sadness so thick you could slice it and serve it as cake, if the taste weren’t so bitter.
When I received an invitation to attend the Funeral of a gorgeous, twenty six year old girl I had never met, I didn’t hesitate. I said yes immediately. I didn’t know her and I had no business being there, but her mother invited me and I couldn’t say no, no matter how much Funerals repulse me. Funny thing is, I didn’t know her mother either. Yet here she was, in her grief and despair, asking me to come say goodbye to her beautiful baby girl. Of course I would go. Of course I would meet this mama at her daughter’s Funeral, and say goodbye to a girl without ever having said hello. “What do we do?” We love. Just. Show. Love.
So I’m there, on Thursday evening, waiting to meet this mama who has read my blog from the beginning and has taken time out of her own life to encourage me along the way. She didn’t know me, but she knew my story. I have shared so many private details, she knew my heart too. She loved me before she had even met me and it was such an honor to share her pain and be invited into her life. Who knew that she would end up losing her own child too? When she arrived, she hugged me tightly and cried. Her heart poured out, through her eyes, and onto my shoulder. My heart ripped just a little more. Two mamas who had never met, saw each other for the first time in a park, near a tree dedicated to the memory of one special girl who left too soon. Dear sweet baby Jesus, who am I to deserve such a special moment? I am thankful. Exhausted, but thankful.
While there, I crossed paths with a pastor from my earlier years. A man of honor, an incredibly charismatic, kind, genuine person who humbly and gently leads. I was surprised to see him and so very happy to have a few moments to speak with him. He and his wife and three daughters hold a special place in my heart. Their kindness to my dysFunctional family over the years will never be forgotten. When I think of this pastor, I am inspired. He is Faithful to his calling, to his Family, to his church. He is the real deal, and always finds a way to make me feel supported and accepted. Then this happened: he mentioned my blog, and complimented my writing. He likened it to that of one of my Favorite authors! I awkwardly joked about her use of the F word and how I’d have to step up my game to even be in her league (there I go, refusing buckets of love). He also brought up a moment of my life that was shocking and devastating to me. He acknowledged an event so painful, and offered his support. He recognized the craziness of that experience and expressed his and his wife’s affection for me. I was so moved, so thankful. My heart started to leak out of my eyes, as it so often does these days. This pastor knows what to do at Funerals. He knows what to do when he sees people hurting. He has made it his life’s work… He pastors a church, leads a family, and is no stranger to Feelings. He gets it. He knows. Just. Show. Love.
I am overwhelmed at the events of the past week. So many highs and lows and moments of raw emotion. I feel privileged to be walking this walk, and thankful for the woman I am becoming as a result of this journey. Make no mistake, I would give it back if I could or pawn it off on someone better equipped, but that isn’t an option. Mason gave this life to me. Sometimes I imagine the moment when he closed his eyes on this earth and opened them in the presence of God. I believe in God, and as such I believe to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I often think of that millisecond of time when Mason left. I was supposed to go First. I’m the mama. It’s my job to pave the way, to protect my baby boy. He left this world so fast, I didn’t get to do my whole job. I didn’t get to go first or pave the way or protect him from the unknown. What is on the other side? Who was there to greet him? Was he afraid? Did he cry? Did he think of me? Was someone there for him? He’s my baby, for Fuck’s sake. HE IS MY BABY!!!
“What do I do?”
I think of his eyes closing here… he was killed instantly. I think of his eyes opening there. I imagine God greeting him, welcoming him, opening His arms and enfolding Mason in a ginormous hug (the kind Mason gave everyone without reservation). I imagine them talking about what to do next. My heart was shredded when I realized God didn’t intervene; He didn’t save my boy. He didn’t protect me from the most devastating event of my whole life. Mason didn’t get a second chance, or a third. It helps me to imagine he gave Mason the choice. Maybe God told Mason he could send him back. Or maybe he showed Mason what his mama would do after his death. Maybe Mason chose to stay (there, not here). I think about that a lot when I am unable to move, when my body refuses to leave the bed, when my heart leaks out of my eyes, blinding me. I think about my future without Mason. I ache for some sort of answer. I receive truckloads of love, every single day, and still need more. I see the signs, have the god moments, and still beg for more, more, more.
I still ask, “”What do I do?” and the answer always comes. Just show love, Holly.
Just. Show. Love.