Fear of What You Know Is Impossible to Ignore (Lightning DOES Strike Twice!)

I was reminded today how close fear sits to the door of my heart and to the door of the hearts of many bereaved parents.

Once again a mom shared an experience of not being able to get in touch with a surviving child and how that quickly spiraled downward to a frenzy of fear.

To some it may seem like an overreaction. But to those of us for whom the one thing you think won’t happen, HAS happened, it made perfect sense.

Read the rest here: If It Happened Once, It Could Happen Again

So Close And Yet So Far

I’m not usually a person who sits frozen when something unexpected or even something awful happens.

But the events in Uvalde, Texas have paralyzed me.

So many parents, grandparents and siblings thrust into the horror of loss and sorrow in a mere forty-five minutes! How does a heart process that when it knows exactly the long, awful road those families are just beginning to tread?

This isn’t about me, though, it’s about them.

It’s about the dozens and hundreds of people whose lives are touched by the tragic deaths of children and teachers who woke up that morning thinking the school year was winding to a close and looking forward to a summer of freedom.

Instead those families have been circled by chains of grief and will spend the next months and YEARS trying to figure out how to live when their worldview and hearts have been shattered.

I can identify with that.

Dominic was killed weeks shy of his twenty-fourth birthday and an even shorter time shy of finishing his second year of law school.

It was supposed to be downhill from there.

It was three days short of the end of the school year for those precious souls trapped by an evil young man in a classroom with no where to go but Heaven depending on where he pointed his weapon.

How does a parent process that?

How does a mama or daddy keep from lamenting how very close his or her child was to escaping this awful end? How does anyone not count the days and hours and moments that might have meant the difference between life and death?

For those whose hearts have been spared-I am so, so thankful.

For those of us who KNOW- I am so, so sorry.

You have probably also been paralyzed and horrified. You know the long, torturous path stretching before these parents. You know that there are no shortcuts, no detours, no magic to make it less painful.

Your breath has come in gasps interwoven with prayers for grace and strength.

You’ve avoided blaring newscasts and only checked intermittently for updates.

You may have cried, like me, in the shower or in a corner because the idea of another parent joining this “club” always makes you sad.

It’s especially difficult knowing that the end of the school year was so. very. close. The opportunity to do that kind of damage was nearly out of his reach.

And yet.

Here we are.

Again.

Patience Appreciated!

I wrote this a few years ago in response to post after post across social media of (mostly!) moms lamenting the fact their son or daughter would soon be moving away or off to college. 

I get it!  

When you are used to having your kid around it’s tough when he or she leaves the nest.  

But there is a vast difference in having to work a little harder to stay in contact or arrange visits and never being able to speak to your child again. 

It’s an adjustment to compare calendars to find a day your family can celebrate together but it’s heartbreaking to know that one chair will always be empty at every family gathering.  

Read the rest here:  Please Be Patient With Me

I Want To Live Unafraid

I had never been afraid of speaking in public.

I had never been afraid of strangers.

I had never been afraid of heights.

UNTIL.

Until I had children and then I was afraid of nearly EVERYTHING for them.

I didn’t want any harm to befall these tiny humans carrying my heart outside my body.  I wanted to protect them, to cushion them, to wrap them in a bubble so that nothing bad ever happened to them.

As they grew, I learned to let go- a little at a time.  I learned you can’t prevent the scrapes and bruises and heartaches and disappointments of life.  And I learned that a little “harm” made them stronger.

I forgot most of my fears and was again unafraid.

UNTIL Dominic was killed.

Read the rest here: Unafraid

Mother’s Day 2022: From The Child Not Here on Mother’s Day

I post this around Mother’s Day every year since my daughter, Fiona, wrote it in the voice of her brother who is in Heaven.

It helps my heart sort the mixed emotions that this day stirs up.

I’m not ONLY a bereaved mother. I’m a mother and grandmother of earthbound children too.

I’m grateful for all of them. So very, very grateful.

My daughter, Fiona, wrote this several years ago, in the voice of her brother who ran ahead to heaven.    

I am so thankful for her and so sorry that she has gained this wisdom at great cost.

Some of the bravest, most loving women I know are those who have suffered one of life’s greatest losses. I hope you know how truly beautiful you are. 

Dear Mom,

Read the rest here: From The Child Not Here on Mother’s Day.

Holidays Can Be Hard-What To Do About Mother’s Day

This will be the ninth Mother’s Day since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.

Every year has been different because families continue to grow and change and the world turns and life marches on.

Every year presents unique challenges and particular paths that must be navigated anew. It’s always an emotional roller coaster.

The Captain, March 2019

Three years ago our family welcomed a first grandchild. His frightening entrance into the world made his life all the more precious and Mother’s Day gave us a chance to celebrate him, his mama and the fact that his story has a happy ending.

The Captain, April 2020.

In March we welcomed his brother-also a bit early but not nearly as perilous! Once again we give thanks that things have turned out well.

Coming home!! Big brother is so excited.

This year I’ll be a motherless child when the sun rises tomorrow. For the third time in my life, I won’t be able to see or telephone my own mother. Another light and life lost from sight.

Dominic and Mama in Heaven together.

Julian, Dominic, Mama, James Michael & Fiona

Every year my living children work hard to celebrate me even when they are unable to make it home.

I always feel loved.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fiona-and-brandon-wedding-boys-and-fiona.jpg

So what’s a mama to do when her heart is torn between the very great and beautiful blessings of her living children and grandchildren and the very great and devastating sorrow of missing her child in Heaven?

Since discovering there is an International Bereaved Mother’s Day my heart has taken advantage of having a day to think about and honor Dominic and then another day to think about and honor my living children.

I also rise early enough on Mother’s Day to have time alone with my thoughts and feelings.

I walk my heart through the upcoming hours and “pre-grieve” moments where I’ll be looking for Dom among the faces at the table or around the room. I remember the gift of his life and place it in context of the gift of each of my children.

I thank God for my family.

Thanksgiving years ago, when we were all younger and all here on earth. One of my favorites. 

And then I get up, get dressed and open my heart to the love I have in front of me.

I never, ever want my living children to think that their brother’s ABSENCE is more important or more precious to me than their PRESENCE.

My mama’s heart has room for all of them as it always has.

And as it always will.

Mother’s Day 2022: A Letter to My Living Children

I shared this for the first time five years ago.

Before my mother’s illness and death, before the frighteningly early arrival of our little Captain and the less-frightening and less early arrival of his brother, LT, before an overseas deployment, a destructive hurricane, Covid19, and too many other stressful events to list.

I have watched my kids meet every challenge-sometimes with grace, sometimes with grit, sometimes with both.

They are different people than they would have been if Dominic still walked beside us. They know things their peers can’t even guess.

We all lost so much when we lost Dom. But we still have each other.

And that’s a treasure.

I never thought it possible to love you more than I already did.

But I do.

Your brother’s untimely departure has opened my heart in a whole new way to the glory that is your presence.  It has made me drink you in like water in the desert.

Read the rest here:  A Letter To My Living Children*

Please, Please, Please! Ask Me, Not My Kids How I’m Doing.

It may seem like the easiest way to get an inside scoop on how I’m REALLY doing-but don’t do it.

Please don’t ask my kids how I’m doing.

Respect the fact that they have their own grief burden.  Respect family privacy and understand you are putting them in an impossible position.

Read the rest here: Please Don’t Ask My Kids How I Am Doing

Lenten Reflections: Welcoming Those Whom Jesus Loves

If I read the Gospels and really put myself in the story, I would have to admit that I may well have wanted to “protect” Jesus from some of those that sought His help and His blessing.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of deciding who might be worthy of God’s time and attention.

The disciples decided Jesus was too busy and too important for children to be brought near. Our gentle Shepherd not only welcomed the little ones but told his followers that they must all become as children.

How often do I undervalue someone else’s Christ encounter because it isn’t expressed in eloquent or even coherent words?

How often do I minimize the power of grace and mercy to change a heart or a life because the changes I expect or want to see aren’t the ones I can observe and fit neatly into categories?

Religious profiling is a thing, y’all.

We tend to interpret others’ experiences in light of our own and the traditions with which we are familiar and comfortable. When someone comes to us with a tale of an authentic spiritual encounter that falls outside those boundaries, it’s easy to dismiss it.

Imagine Moses walking back home after meeting God in the burning bush and trying to explain THAT to those he lived with!

It’s not my place to authenticate or validate how the Lord chooses to work in another person’s life and heart.

As long as what they share is consistent with Scripture I should welcome them as Jesus does.

Whom do we spiritually underestimate? The elderly? The young? The poor? The wealthy? The beautiful? The disabled? What group or class of people would we have turned away from Jesus?….Today ask God to shine His light upon any form of religious profiling in which you are dismissing those Jesus would welcome.

Alicia Britt Chole

This video and song are particularly dear to my heart. William Wilberforce fought for the abolition of slavery in Britain for most of his adult life.

He was considered lots of things-crazy among them-but stayed the course in spite of illness, discouragement and seeming failure because he was convinced God had called him to the task.

Many well-meaning Christians questioned whether or not he had really heard from the Lord.

Hindsight makes it clear they were wrong.

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

What Does “Safe” Really Mean?

I remember as a  young mother of four working hard to keep my kids safe. 

dominic and siblings little children at nannys

Next to fed and dry (two still in diapers!) that was each day’s goal:  No one got hurt.  

It never occurred to me THEN to add:  No one got killed. 

Read the rest here: What is Safe?

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