Breaking My Silence

I'm a writer.  Through my words I have learned to give voice to those who can't speak.  I have struggled to give voice to the silent scream of pain that is shattering my heart and soul still.  

Grief is not a stranger but an old friend, a compatriot, a bosom fellow, the proverbial thorn in your flesh you can never quite get out.  

This is my journal.  I write my thoughts here.  But I can't really speak of this grief, not here.  I hope, at least for now, you'll follow my words as I write my father's Swan Song


The First of Many Birthdays to Come

There is a first time for everything.  I dreaded this day as none I have ever dreaded before.  The last time I dreaded a day, I happened to have a calculus exam.  I was so anxious that I ended up in the emergency room.  Being in the hospital made me so anxious that my anxiety over the exam was cured and I left before ever seeing a doctor.  I never said I wasn't weird.

Today is my birthday.  This is the day I have dreaded for the last three months.  Today, the day of my birth came and went the same way as every other day of my life.  Only today, I am an orphan, without parents.  The word still startles me because I'm an adult.  If you're going to be an orphan, it's better to be an adult.  Yet, does anyone ever get used to being an orphan?  It immediately makes you first generation.  There is no one living in my immediate family.  Both my grandparents and parents are now dead.  I've gone from being part of a three generation family to just two.

If this wasn't difficult enough, there has been so many other things, small and big that are the fallout when the older generation is wiped out.  It was very different when my mom died.  My dad was still here.  Now he's gone.  In a recent conversation with a friend, I went back to that moment when I first learned of my dad's death from my niece.  I realized, as the words poured out of my mouth, that I was fighting, like a fish swimming upstream, against the current, to get away from that memory.  I have maintained my smile.  Those who knew him and miss him, need it.  In private, with tears poured before the throne of grace, I have grieved; I am still grieving.

My dad was my first love, my hero, a perfect example of my heavenly father.  He was a man of his word.  I could stake my life on his word.  When someone dies, it is their final act.  If they die the way my dad did, so much remains unfinished.  My mother finished her business before she died.  My dad never got the chance.  Yet, looking over these last three months and the pain I have endured, I see clearer his inheritance to me; he left me with the strength of his unshakable faith.

There were moments when I couldn't think straight or see clear the road ahead because of my pain.  It was all I could do to keep my smile painted on as I moved through the day.  I have been often complimented for my strength and fortitude.  I'm not strong.  Neither am I weak.  I am not brave, but sometimes, I have been very foolish.  Yet, though it all, when you saw me being strong and courageous, it was God who was carrying me on his shoulders so I could keep my head above the tide of grief that has been threatening to overwhelm me these last two years.

It has been an adjustment, this orphan life that I live.  This year was harder than the two that has gone before.  I couldn't see beyond my pain to the father who had generously poured his love into my life.  Today I was given a gift beyond price.  With my eyes wide open, I saw before me the tale of my life.  Suddenly the voice of my most avid critic became a silent din, a barely imperceptible hum and I caught a glimpse of God's plan.

I chose long ago to walk the road less travel.  It has been fraught with thorns and brambles galore.  Yet, through it all, God has always shown me just where to step.  I have cried out my pain, my anger, my hurt, and every emotion under heavens.  But through it all, I chose to grab a hold of God and keep holding on, specially when my grip was slipping.  God kept his word, he worked all things for the good of those who trust him.  I see his hand leading me out through even this.  I'm not quite there yet, but I'm more hopeful now that I was before.

This is the first birthday of the rest of my life.  So I would like to end this day by thanking my well wishers, those who have loved me continuously over the years and have kept me covered in prayer.  I am grateful for your affection.  But mostly, I am filled with a sense of gratitude for the one who died for me so that I could live.  Faith is not something you keep on the shelf and look at and admire; only when it is tested, under immense pressure does the transformation begin.

As I finish writing this, I must admit that my heart is lighter than it has ever been.  I feel the buds of hope blooming, very much like a sleeping tree to the first heat of sprint.  I have been walking through this valley longer that I would have liked.  But His presence is beside me, leading through still waters.  My soul is slowly being restored.  May this birthday be the beginning of many such still to come.  I'm choosing to be optimistic.  It's a brand new birthday, new life, and a new beginning.  


I write because nothing else makes sense

From you I learned that the pen is mightier than the sword.  Maybe that’s why I’ve poured so much of myself into wielding that particular instrument with precision.  Now I can’t recall, only that somewhere along the way, I fell in love with words and the things they could do. 

When she died, I used my words to cut into my soul, let the pain bleed into words.  The scars eventually healed and faded.  It’s not very recognizable now.  I was stunned when you left.  You were supposed to come back.  Little girls who put their fathers on pedestals are disappointed when the first realize their hero is becoming tarnished with age.  Yet, we love you like when you were young and undefeatable.  You are our hero, our superman, our prince charming, the one who keeps our world spinning on its axis. 

When we grow up we learn that you were just the great wizard behind the curtain and all we ever had to do was will ourselves into our own happily ever after.  First we had to find the courage to walk down the yellow brick road that would lead to your citadel. 

I thought I could do this, talk about you.  It seems when I use my words, the cuts I make are deeper and the pain doesn’t pour, it gushes out.  I do not know how to do this, live in a world where you don’t laugh or where I can’t call your name, the one I called you my whole life.  My tongue has fallen silent.  My memory replays the last time I saw your face, laughing from the other side of the world.  I don’t understand how you could simply fall silent, close your eyes, and draw your last breath. 

I don’t understand the sound that filters through the phone, breaking through the fog of sleep after a week of troubled sleepless nights.  I don’t understand the tears I hear or the familiar voice, or the words that she utters.  The words don’t feel real.  How can you be dead?  Dead as a doornail; deader than Marley’s ghost.  They show me a body.  It’s a live video.  In this day and age of instant information, gigabytes that travel faster than the speed of light, how is that dead body lying there on the slab yours?

Why are you gone?  No one answers me.  I hate this.  I hate how much of my life revolved around you.  Should I have loved you less?  Knowing you’d one day leave me is far different now that you’re actually gone.  I close my eyes and I see you, sitting there the morning after I gave birth to your first grandson, while I tried to sleep.  His father had to take him to NICU.  My mother went home to get some rest.  I managed to get some sleep that morning only because every time I opened my eyes, you were sitting right there beside me in the dark. 

I see you again beside my hospital bed, holding your last grandson, the one who misses you every day, the one who prays for you every day even though you are dead.  He is the most like you I think. When he laughs it is pure joy.  They make the pain ease until the next time your memories start haunting me.  Maybe it’s better to hide behind this wall of silence because at least I can smile from back here and pretend I’m not broken beyond repair.


Life after death

I'm not sure how to talk about my father's death.  Maybe a man who's the father of a daughter will understand what it means to be daddy's little girl.  Do you ever stop being her even if you both age?  I'm not sure.  Sometimes I wonder what went through his mind in that moment when his heart finally called it quits.  Was he elated that his time had finally arrived and he would now be with the woman he loved with his entire heart and soul?  Or did he think of us, his children, or me?  I'm inclined to think he might have been elated and I can't hold that against him.  He was never quite the same after she died.  When he came back from burying her thousands of miles away in his childhood home, near the house he had built for her, something of him had been left behind, buried in the dirt along with her remains.  He was never exactly the father I knew.  He stopped being him the moment she died.  But I wonder if he even knew or understood that?  His faith sustained him but I don't think his heart was ever in it.

Now he's gone.  I move through his house, his office, his life trying to move forward.  My feet moves my body but my mind just wonders, lost among the remnants of his life.  I've had my heart broken before, but never by my father.  I'm pretty sure that this time its permanent.  I have my good days and my bad.  Today was a neutral day, neither good nor bad.  I spent the weekend playing with dirt.  His dirt.  The dirt in his garden.  I had my husband dig up those damn rose bushes I had wanted my father to remove but he never did.  Well they are now gone.  He put the one rosebush that I liked in a barrel planter which we stuck in the middle of what used to be my father's vegetable garden.  His neighbor commented on how he used to take advantage of the good weather to get an early start on his garden.  I hate the fact that his garden is ready and waiting for him but he's never coming back to work on it.  Or the fact that his seeds are waiting in the medicine cabinet in the downstairs bathroom, labeled by the year they were harvested, waiting for him to plant them.  I hate how this whole thing paralyzes me.

Death.  How odd that my children and I talk about it like anything else?  I can't melodramatically tell my son that I am dying of thirst because he points out to me that he hasn't had a drink all day and he's not dead.  My four year old plays with his Flash action figure and we finally notice because he declares in a loud voice to the entire room that the Flash is dying from cancer.  He prays for his "Dadu" but he's dead and then he prays for his Grammy Egg and Grand Ian because they are alive.  I had to tell my oldest son off today because he was hungry but refused to eat.  I told him I will not tolerate the eating habit he picked up from his grandmother because I will be damned if he's going to starve himself to death.  Maybe I was exaggerating a bit but he understood me only too well.  This is where we are.  I have no idea where we will go from here or how.

This is the last place I ever imagined being.  


How I'm Really Doing...

Don’t ask me if I’m ok because the answer is obvious, I’m not.  I might be smiling but on the inside I’m numb, shell shocked, barely comprehending that your mouth is moving and you’re speaking to me.  Don’t tell me it’s going to be all right.  It will, eventually but that doesn’t mean its ok now.

Sometimes, I just cry.  I don’t need a reason.  Maybe you could stop staring uncomfortably at everything except me.  I’m human.  I’m in pain.  Just because you pretend not to see it doesn’t mean it has gone away.

I’m not okay.  I will never be okay.  Accepting God’s plan and purpose for your life doesn’t mean you’ll ever be okay.  It just means the walk of faith is uncomfortable.  Don’t pity me.  I’ve been blessed enough for many life times.  Save it for those who truly need it. 

I am weary.  My tears have worn me to the bone.  Who will carry my burdens and let me rest my head?  Will you?  Will he, she, or it?  Will they?  So why do you waste your breath, precious oxygen to ask me if I’m ok when the answer is obvious as the nose on your face.  I will never be okay again.  


The WTF Factor of Grief

My mother died on August 16, 2014.  I remember driving with my cousin back towards her house on Thursday, August 12, 2014.  She told me that even though it makes zero sense right now, one day I will be able to look back on all this and realize that God had a plan in all this.  I’m still waiting for this realization.  My mother herself said that maybe it was better this way.  I’m still protesting this view point as I have protested nearly all the things she’s ever said to me.  This is after all the same woman who told me that if I swallowed a seed a tree would grow out of my head.  Or maybe that was my own overactive imagination.  I just remember being terrified by the image of an apple tree growing out of my head after I accidentally swallowed a seed.  To this day, I’m not a big fan of apples.

Lately I’ve felt the stirring of those old emotions.  I’ve come across an old Patty Loveless song on Amazon Prime music called “How Can IHelp You to Say Goodbye.”  That didn’t help because every time I listen to the song, I remember the last time I held my mother’s hand, the way it felt in mine.  It was tiny and fragile.  My hands felt like meat mallets in comparison.  She was weak and a little senseless from the morphine.  She didn’t want it.  But I never learned how to back down from a fight and even then, I fought with her.  She needed it.  My sister-in-law was waiting to give it to her.  She’s a nurse, so she was better able to administer the medication anyway.
I remember my mother’s weak slurred voice.  She was irritated.  She complained that I was being irritating.  I fired back that I was going to continue to be irritating until she let my sister-in-law give her the medicine.  What I never said that I would give anything for her not to have to take that morphine.  I would have loved to have begged her to stay.  I would have bargained with God if I could.  Losing someone suddenly is hard but watching someone die is worse. 

I think I stayed long after she left.  I waited until my dad had to give her the next dose.  I remember watching the clock and her, worrying if she was comfortable as she rested on the hospital bed in the middle of her living room.  I remember counting the minutes until her next dose.  I saw when her sleep got worse.  I remember helping my dad as we changed her clothes.  In that moment, I remember thinking that she would hate this.  When she finally settled down to sleep, I picked up her hand and held it.  It was limp in mine. 

I told her leave.  Just go.  Stop fighting and go.  I remembered to tell her I loved her.  I think maybe she heard me because I felt her squeeze my hand.  I would hate to think it was my over active imagination.  I left her house after midnight but walked back through her front doors again around six in the morning.  I don’t know how my dad stood it when he found her dead body just lying there.  I couldn’t look at it.  It had no connection to my mother. 

I still don’t understand this plan of yours God.  It still doesn’t make sense to me.  I can’t stop crying.  The pain inside my chest is still there, like a tumor in my heart that’s resisting treatment.  I feel like I’m barely alive, just moving, going through the motions.  Everyone seems to be moving forward with their lives.  Why can’t I?  Why am I stuck in this place?  Why can’t I move?  God, why doesn’t your plan make any sense to me?


To the Christian Voter

A few days ago I was eviscerated by an individual whom I once held in high regard. 

Backstory:  My spouse has a very strong sense of moral justice.  He’s someone who believes one should simply do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.  Sometimes, I get tired of being his sound board and thus suggested he go write a blog.  He’s very active in social media and a question I posed to him in private soon found its way to social media.  That’s not the important part, just the back story.

It was a question about POTUS and why he seems to generate unrelenting hatred in many.  I quite admire him as a speaker and I believe he’s a man who (despite all the oppositions and mistakes) did the best job he could.  He’s not perfect.  No one is.  As my seven year informed me only God never makes mistakes.

This simple query of mine generated an unnecessary flurry filled with fire and brimstone where POTUS was attacked for his “blatant disregard for God’s law.”  That is not what I asked of my spouse and that is certainly not the conversation he had intended to start. 

Recently there has been a lot of horrific events that have been reported by the media.  There have been presidential candidates in the midst of this hailstorm of hatred who have done very little to help this situation.  There is a divide in this nation that is supposed to be indivisible.  The last time we were divided it ended in a lot of bloodshed but maybe that’s an over simplification of a momentous point in this country’s history. 

Needless to say, I am concerned because this is my home.  I am concerned because human lives are at stake.  I have heard from supporters and haters of both party and those who refuse to stop feeling the Bern.  Throw into this mixture the conservative Christians and whoever else that wants to join the fray. 

Disclaimer:  This is not a political or religious rhetoric.  I’m not offering you my faith for justification because I only need Christ’s justification. 

I take my right to vote seriously.  I exercise it to the best of my understanding because as a citizen of this nation I have a responsibility to cast my vote for the individual who will best serve the public.  I am not a registered voter for a specific party because I don’t wish to find myself where many Republicans are, standing behind a candidate that is far removed from the Republican agenda. 

The Democratic candidate’s stands on many things are vastly different from mine.  I am pro-life but I will not condemn someone who is pro-choice.  LGBT issue is a can of worm I do not wish to open but as a lifestyle it is not one I choose for religious reasons.  Yet, who am I to stand in the way of an LGBT couple or family from having the same quality of life as their heterosexual counterparts?

The politicians are not here to serve the Christian agenda.  They have a simple job, to serve the republic, the citizens of their country from all walks of life.  It is the churches job to spread the message of the gospel of Christ, to feed the hungry, and love all who require it.  That was what Christ commanded us, to love God and then love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  We want the best for ourselves so why can’t we want the same for our neighbors across this great nation of ours?

As a Christian, we need to humble ourselves and cry out before God to heal this nation and then do our part to select leaders in public office who can best fulfill their civic duty.  The job any public servant is to ensure that the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is equally preserved for all humankind irrespective of the color, race, gender, faith, or nationality.  I am a public servant.  I fully believe this creed.

We need to stop being prideful and be the salt that God has called us to be and flavor the lives that we encounter.  Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of God.  That is the kind of example we should be following if we want to really change this world and make it a better place for our children.

It is time to humbly and prayerfully cast your vote for the person who will do their best to fulfill the obligations of the highest office in the land and serve the nation instead of their self-interest.  You don't need to agree with them, you just need to care about your country and the people who are your neighbors.  Your vote counts.