When Your First Thought Is, “Oh No, Not Again!”

Last night I woke to my youngest son’s ringtone at nearly midnight.

I missed the call but when I looked, realized it was the third time he’d tried.  

My heart skipped several beats as I dialed him back only to have it go directly to voicemail.  I tried again and a second later, he answered.

“What’s wrong??!!!”

(Because he never calls me late at night unless something is wrong!)

Julian was downstairs at the front door and needed me to let him in because he’d received some odd texts from his dad- a series of random letters and emojis scrolled across his screen.

He’d tried to call him.  No answer. 

Tried texting him back.  No message except more of the same random letters and images.  

So he drove over from his house just a few miles away, the whole time running a dozen scenarios through his head.

  • “Is dad having a stroke? Mom is asleep upstairs and won’t know.”
  • “Is someone in the house and dad’s only able to randomly swipe his thumb on the screen trying to ask for help?”
  • “Why won’t mom answer her phone?  Do they have her too?”

Five miles and ten minutes is a lifetime when all you can think of is another family member needing help- or worse.  

As I was coming downstairs to let Julian inside, my husband woke up and asked me what was wrong.  We got to the door at the same moment and let our big, burly bear of a son inside.

It took him a split second to realize that all was well and then it poured outthe fear, the panic, the intense self-control necessary not to simply break down the door and barge in, the pent up grief that lives inside each one of us since Dominic left and is always about to spill out and over when we think of another loss.  

He melted into his dad’s arms.  

This is how our hearts are wired since that morning nearly five years ago. 

When the thing you never think will happen, happens, it becomes the first thing you think of when you can’t get in touch with someone. 

Panic is always a breath away.  

family never gets over the death of a loved one

 

Here’s The Post I’ve Wanted To Write But Couldn’t Before Today

My husband was sued for discrimination by a disgruntled employee. The whole thing started heating up just after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven in 2014.  The suit was filed just before Christmas 2015.

We’ve been living with this awful thing hanging over our heads for nearly 3 years.  Thankfully, the truth prevailed and my husband was exonerated.

But it took a huge toll on both of us and on our whole family.

I sat in a courtroom a few days ago feeling nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

I was waiting for a verdict that had the potential to change the rest of my life but I could not muster a single feeling.

Because when you’ve watched your child’s body lowered beneath the ground, there’s really not much else the world can do to you.

I stared straight ahead as the jury walked in.  I didn’t dare hope that they had found in our favor.  I’ve learned that hoping for the best sometimes only hurts a heart worse in the end.  Better to expect absolutely nothing and then if you get a tiny something, it feels huge.

In agonizing slow motion, the long verdict form was read.

The first question offered a sliver of hope.

But we had to wait thirty more minutes for the hope to be confirmed.

It was oh, so slow and very frustrating as the jury was polled, mistakes in counting were made, recounts were required but finally the numbers were recorded and everything was squared away.

Now on to the individual verdict form.  Was my husband going to be held accountable for something he simply did not do?  Was there still a shred of justice in this world?  Could 12 strangers sift through three weeks of complex and often conflicting testimony and get down to the truth?

Yes!

They could and they did!

We both let out the breath we’d been holding and managed a tiny smile.

Twenty-one days in court, nearly three years with this lawsuit dangling like Damocles’ sword over our heads-over in the short minutes it took to read the verdict.

This trial has cost me more tears than I thought I had left.

Every legal pad pulled out of leather brief cases was a reminder that Dominic should be here with us, guiding us, reassuring us that he was on our side and no matter how things turned out there would be ways to make it right.

legal-yellow-pad_5

I cannot adequately express the toll this season has taken on my soul.  

But I am overjoyed that the Lord saw fit to reach down and assure the victory.  

If you see me on the street I might look a little dazed.  It’s hard to accept something good has happened when all you’ve come to expect is something bad.  So it may take me a few days to grow into an expression that reflects the beauty of the gift.

Bear with me. 

I am so, so thankful.

Thankful for every prayer raised, for every encouraging text, message, email and card.

And thankful most of all for the absolute assurance that no matter what I may face in this life, not only is God with me, but you are with me as well. 

It’s easy to be courageous when there are so many faithful friends standing behind you.  

Thank you.  ❤

when anxiety was strong

When Self-Control Is In Short Supply

Have you ever tried to squeeze into too-small jeans, managed to get them over your hips, sucked in and zipped up only to realize that all that extra “you” is now spilling out over the top of the waistband?  

toddler squeezing into jeans

Sometimes that’s how life after loss feels.  

Too much emotion, too much baggage, too much EVERYTHING that has to fit inside a very narrow set of other people’s expectations and tolerance for self-expression.

I find that I CAN squeeze my words and actions into that skinny space-for awhile.  

But then sure as anything, the real me pops out the top and there I am-exposed to the world- warts and all.  

I’ve discovered that self-control is not a limitless commodity.  

Now before my Bible believing friends remind me that it is part of the fruit of the Spirit, I want to say this:  it sure is!  And because the Spirit of Jesus lives inside me I can promise you I am more self-controlled than I would otherwise be.

BUT…

When every single word, action, thought and feeling has to be reined in every waking moment, there is not enough self-control this side of heaven to do THAT!

exhausted-over-trying-to-be-stronger-than-i-feel

So I find that some days I just need to stay away from people.  Because if I don’t, I’m going to be ugly.

And other days I can do people but I can’t control my eating.

Still other days I can do people and count calories but memories leak out of my eyes and I blubber my way through until darkness brings sleep and relief.

There is just so much inside me now. 

So much that really can’t be laid bare or it would scare everyone else half to death.  

So I keep trying to squeeze myself into the constraints that make me fit for company.  

But beware- I might pop out any minute.  ❤

 

pain behind every tear

Repost: Fault Lines: Bereaved Parents and Social Anxiety

Even at four years into this journey, I can surprise myself when, for no apparent reason, grief explodes from someplace deep within me.  

I’m keyed into triggers-sights, smells, places and people that remind me of Dominic.

But sometimes I can’t figure out what causes the tears to fall or my stomach to be tied in knots.  

It seems to happen most often when I’m in social situations.  I feel surrounded, trapped and anxiety mounts. 

I’m no geologist, but from what I understand, earthquakes are nearly always “about to happen”.  Fault lines guarantee it.  Pressure is building underneath the surface of the earth and when it reaches a level that can no longer be contained, it spews.

Can I just let you in on a secret?

Bereaved parents are full of fault lines.

Many of us are nearly ready to blow almost every single minute, yet hold it in and hold it together.  If you could put a meter to our temple and measure how close we are to a come apart, you would be amazed that it happens so rarely!

Read the rest here:  Fault Lines: Bereaved Parents and Social Anxiety

Anxiety and Child Loss

I am much, much better than I was the first two years after Dominic ran ahead to heaven.  

I’ll be honest though, sometimes all it takes is the tiniest trigger to make my heart race, my hands shake and my eyes well with tears.

It still surprises and frightens me that anxiety is so close to the surface. 

But I guess when your world has been shattered violently and utterly by what you never imagined would happen, that’s a reasonable response.  

Read here Why Anxiety is Part of Child Loss.

 

Repost: On The Edge

I wish that I could mark my heart’s healing like I can mark my body’s healing after surgery-wound closes, scar remains, function returns, and forget about it.

But I can’t.

This journey is like walking those narrow ledges on the side of a mountain-doable, but requiring careful attention lest I fall off.

So far, so good.

But I hate days when my attention is drawn back to the threat of falling instead of the journey itself.

Almost three years [now four] and here I am-

still on the edge.

On the edge of an anxiety attack.

On the edge of the cliff of deep sorrow and darkness that threatens to swallow every thing bright in my life.

Read the rest here:  On The Edge

How Can I Deal With Anxious Thoughts?

I no longer have to imagine the worst thing that could happen in the life of a mother-I know exactly how it feels. 

And if I allow my heart to ponder that too often or too long, it consumes me.

So I am learning to take those anxious thoughts captive, learning to make them live in only a small corner of my mind instead of taking it over completely.

It takes effort and discipline, but it’s possible.  

I don’t have to live the rest of my days a quivering mess…

Read the rest here:  Dealing With Anxious Thoughts