I was recovering on Sunday morning from a little knee surgery and while flipping through a couple of channels of TV I came across Joel Osteen. I paused for a second then decided to watch. It had been months since I’d done so but that morning I felt led. It’s almost like I was meant to turn on the television at that particular moment…….during that sermon.
Have you ever gone to church and felt like the pastor was talking directly to you? I’ve done that plenty and in fact to the point where I felt like I wanted to squirm down in the pew and then on underneath the one in front of me! I think it must be those times when it was laid on the heart of the pastor to preach a gospel you were meant to hear…unbeknownst to him. This was such a time. Joel said something that has just stuck with me. It’s simple punctuation. He said, “don’t put a question mark where God has put a period.” Say that slowly and think about it.
As stated earlier I have spent many years with a question mark. We’ve come to know each other quite well actually. I asked time and time, why? why? why? I always felt like I deserved an answer. I was in that season of raw pain, deep grief, that season of heartache and that season of unthinkable loneliness. Each year brings a new season of acceptance and thereby, growth. We become a little more used to the new normal we were forced to make…….little by little and though it’s never ever the same each season brings a little more joy. Before your very eyes the seasons roll by and you look up from your life and 10 years has gone by. Not one day passes that we don’t think of our angels but eventually, slowly, life’s tide swoops us up and carries forward without even asking. We are living again. We are laughing again. We are enjoying others. These are the things that brought us such guilt in the past.
Then new seasons come when we must start watering the beautiful seeds around us and in our lives. If we look for them we will see that He has provided joy and abundance for us again…….still. We have to water those beautiful seeds that He’s put in our lives, tend them and nurture them, invest time in to making life beautiful and rich in love again. In doing so and making the choice to move forward in peace we also clear some room for the blessings that await us.
Your grief season is not mine, nor mine, yours. There is no deadline to it…..but please don’t forget to live, take one breath then another, each time nudging ever so slightly to a renewal of faith. I will never ever put a period on my Joey but perhaps a Comma. I will take my precious memories, his loving spirit and move forward in my life. He’s cheering me on……he loved me that much. I’ve placed my comma – this is not done. Oh no. He’s waiting for me and when I see him again we’ll pick up exactly where we left off.
Just before opening this page to go live yesterday I had been praying for direction, nerve, courage, strength, guidance and answers. I really have no idea where this blog might take me. I was acting on Faith. I did know one thing though and that is I couldn’t dare do it alone. So with all the decisions I reached out to my highest power.
There was the time when I had the faith of Job. All the days of my young life was spent in church, Vacation Bible School or just any time the doors of my little country church was open. I can recall the very day that I got saved and baptized. I can almost smell Pastor Packham’s cologne, see his slicked back hair and dark rimmed glasses as he looked down at my 10 year old self and asked “are you sure that you want Jesus to come in to your heart?” “Do you know without a doubt this is your desire?” I was just as sure as a 10 year old could possibly be. All through my childhood I had the most amazing faith. So much so that I remember turning 12 years old and reciting to myself that I had better “walk the line” because I was responsible for my own sins. I had a great love of God throughout my whole life.
However, If I am honest it somewhat changed when I lost my Joey and it had left me struggling to find that faith again. I never stopped loving the Lord but when the unimaginable happened my relationship with Him suffered a blow. I was mad, hurt, deflated, lost and was left feeling forgotten….just forgotten. Where was He? Did he turn His back on me, aren’t I His child? Why did this happen to me? Why my kid? He was my only. Hadn’t I had my fair share of anguish? Is this some sort of unforeseen punishment? I wanted to march right up the highest mountain and demand him back!
In retrospect and a little further down the road, I must ask why not me? Did I think that I was above my earthly brothers and sisters who’ve lost children? Did I think it couldn’t happen to me although I’ve always feared it? My sweet friends it rains on the just and the un-just. Ten years it’s taken me to come to the realization that my Joey was God’s child first….just like me……and I was the blessed woman who was chosen to bring him into this world and be his mama. For that I am very grateful but it sometimes takes us a while to get there. The hurt overtakes our lives for a bit. It’s ok for us to grieve for as long as we need to. Everyone grieves differently. I surely can’t promise that it will completely go away but I know that the sun will shine again. We can hold on to God’s promise that we will see them again. I know it’s not easy to hear that at first but for me holding on to the faith is what keeps me going.
The movie…..Did you ever see the 1989 movie, Steel Magnolias ? Can you recite the words to just about every line? Who do you identify with most? For me, it’s Sally Field’s character, M’lynn. Sally gives the most incredible depiction of a mother’s love in this movie. Also, of her pain. I often wonder of the success of this movie had any of the other iconic women played this role. Although they are each heros in my book, Sally was the right one for this job! The scene at the cemetery when she is shouting in anger that her Shelby is gone – this scene was the epitome of pain. It tore this mama up!
I think once you have gone through losing a child it is kind of a right of passage to don the title of a Steel Magnolia. Especially when we have been able to carry our precious memories and move forward in our life. Hence the title of this blog. Recall that right after that heart-wrenching scene M’lynn’s most faithful and cherished friends were there by her side and even at such an inopportune time, they made her laugh.
We need each other to honor our loved ones, to bond, to grieve and we do so in a way as to not let our grief end us. We put one foot in front of the other, one day at a time, one step at a time and yes, even one breath at a time and even still, move forward…..together. XOXO
January 2, 2018 – It’s here. Today is the day. Do you have your coffee yet? Go ahead and grab it….I will wait. Come and sit…here by the window where the beautiful sun is stretching it’s rays towards us. We have some real important business today my friend. Today is my Joey’s birthday.
With all of the courage I can muster I am publishing my blog with intent today………because today I celebrate and honor my son in a most public way. It feels quite odd to be so brazen about him. I see him in my mind, I smell him, I rub his head then hear him giggle, I see his gate, his mannerisms, I feel his compassion, I hear his voice when he calls me Ma………he is cheering me on this very minute but I rarely allow myself these moments. I fall apart, even now. Joey would have been 37 years old today. Hard to imagine. He was my one and my only, my world, my identity. What a mother goes through after losing a child cannot be put in to words. She is changed, different, not whole.
There is no doubt in my mind that I have suffered the most horrific pain I could have ever thought possible……and yet somehow, by God’s good Grace, I am here. I am still standing. He is not done with me. There is work to be done for me here on this earth. I know I have a lot to give and that I must do. Instead of misplaced blame and anger I choose to focus my energies on good…..and to honor my son.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY BELOVED JOEY, My Coondawg! I love you “infinity times infinity”