where it hurts

when my children were little
I could ask them
“where does it hurt?”
and they would point or nod
or tell me
and I would doctor it up,
cleaning it,
putting on the ever-magical
bandaid

and kiss it all better

which would usually end in giggles and
all would be fixed

but now, as they grow,
when they come to me with
pain in their eyes
and hearts on their sleeves,
sadness weighing them down,
and I ask where it hurts
it breaks my heart when they shrug

unable to pinpoint the source

of the aching pain
that has them curled up in a ball
forlorn, in tears,
and lost

no amount of bandaids or kisses
can fix some of the hurts
of goodbyes or harsh words
or not knowing

and so I sit and clench my fists,
angry that there is so much broken in our world
and that little ones, young and old
have to feel all the things
that are hard

I hope for comfort and peace
when all I can do is tell them to breathe
and rest
and hang in there

and gently rub their backs

because there’s no bandaid big enough
to cover
where it hurts now

Bandaids_closeup

By DedeBandaid (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

that part was true

of all the things I’ve promised and felt in my heart I needed to do

when I said I would love you always

and do everything in my power to keep you safe and

fill your world with laughter and joy

 

no matter what I couldn’t stop from happening

no matter the darkness I couldn’t keep out of our world

no matter the stories I couldn’t keep from touching yours

 

when I said I would love you forever

no matter what story you brought home

that part was true

 

 

#19love

Nineteen years ago at 3:32 a.m. a new life came into this world.  She is amazing and beautiful and funny and generous, and she makes this Mama thankful and honored that I am the one who gets to call her mine.  She’s smart as a whip and tough as nails and as fragile as a China cup, and she makes me mad as fire and proud as a peacock.  (You know, the male ones that are way too pretty who strut around like they are really, really proud.)  I am in awe of the person she’s becoming and delighted by all the good things and people who have come into my life….all because of her.  

Happy birthday, baby girl, keep smiling and having fun and being YOU.  You are the best you there will ever be, and I give thanks for you every single day.  From the first day I knew you were going to join this crazy world to this one right here and now.  I love you.  Always.  

 

for my baby girl

 

when I first learned

you were in there

under my heart

growing and changing

faster than I could ever

imagine

I was amazed there was room

for you

my heart was so full

 

I imagined I could feel your

movements

though of course that was silly

so soon

 

those first precious days

after I knew you were there

I would touch where I thought

you were

in wonder and awe

and I whispered

“hang in there, baby,

it’s going to be okay

I love you”

 

those words

the same words

I’ve had reason to say

far too many times

over the years since

while rubbing your back

and drying your tears

 

hang in there, baby,

it’s going to be okay

I love you

 

as I watch you now

growing and changing faster

than I could ever imagine

I still carry you in my heart

you ARE my heart

 

and I will always give thanks for

the gift of You

 

My boo, oh so many years ago.  Happy Everyday, baby girl!

My boo, oh so many years ago. Happy Everyday, baby girl!

 

#whyteal…..the one where we need to get LOUD

I first met her twenty-eight years ago last month.  We were all just getting to know each other, and I remember thinking how lovely and graceful and grace-filled this dear lady was.

She was my roommate’s mother.  I met her at the beginning of our freshman year.  She was beautiful inside and out.

And she fought a battle no one should have to fight.

Ovarian cancer.

Last night my dear friend shared this information on her Facebook page.  This month is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

pic of ovarian cancer info

After I posted this on my own page, another friend shared that her Mama had also battled this giant.  She too fought a valiant fight, only it wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t detected early enough in either case.

My friend, in describing her mother’s experience, called ovarian cancer, “the silent cancer.”

Really?

How many women, do you think, go in for their annual physicals right on schedule, put their feet in the stirrups, do what we do, get the call a few days later that all is clear, and think “Well, everything’s all right then”?

(It’s okay.  Stick around, fellas.  You need to know this too.  Whether it’s your Mama, your sister, your best friend, your girlfriend, your wife, your daughter–you need to know too.)

Note to self.  Pap smears test for cervical cancer.  Not ovarian.  Not uterine.  Cervical–that’s it.  It is my understanding that there’s not really a test to detect ovarian cancer.  According to the American Cancer Society, “The 2 tests used most often to screen for ovarian cancer are transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and the CA-125 blood test,” but no medical professionals recommend routine use of these tests for screening.  They are not definitive enough apparently.

Really?

Do we have people working on this?  Please tell me yes.

As I thought about this today, I remembered a book I read years ago.  “Cancer Schmancer” by Fran Drescher.  I loved her in “The Nanny” and thought she was a comic genius–her timing and facial expressions and that accent.  Love her.  I read the book because of her, not because it was about her battle with uterine cancer.  But it struck such a chord in me that it is still in my library.  Without pulling it down to quote her, I can tell you the one thing that has stuck with me all these years–

Take care of you.

Be a good advocate.

You know your body.  Don’t take “no” for an answer.  Or “it will be okay.”  Or “you’re just…..”

You know when something’s off.  Push until someone hears you.

She so believes in empowering women to educate themselves and be good advocates for their health that she started the Cancer Schmancer Movement, whose mission is to “…..shift the nation’s focus from just searching for a cure to prevention and early detection of cancer in order to save lives.”  You can read her story here.  It took two years and eight doctors before she was finally diagnosed.  She is thankful to be a survivor and wants there to be more.

Shortly after our Princess was born almost ten years ago, I could tell something was wrong.  I wasn’t sure what, but I just knew.  I went to the doctor where we were stationed at the time.  I remember going in, worried, anxious, hoping he could tell me something–anything–that would let me know it was going to be okay.

Which he did. Tell me something, that is.  This doctor and his wife had six children.  (It was a small community–you knew things.)  I had just given birth to my second child a few months earlier.  He listened, looked at my chart, and turned to me and said, “Oh now, you’re just new Mama tired.  It will pass.  You’ll see.”

Patronize me, will you?

I pity his wife, I’ll just tell you that right now.

This was not new Mama tired, and my body kept telling me that.  I pushed through and we moved and shortly after we got settled, I scheduled another appointment.  Again, I told my story. A new doctor.  A young one.  I don’t know how many children he had, if any, but he didn’t say I was new mama tired.  (Smart man, I’d had enough by this time.)  After running different tests-he was more persistent, thank goodness–he discovered I had a thyroid issue.  He prescribed some medication, and I was on my way to feeling better.  That part was almost immediate–I had been heard and I wasn’t crazy.  There was something wrong.  It had just taken several months and me being “pushy” to find that out.

Something beautiful happened when my friend shared the information above last night.  I shared it on my Facebook page in memory of her sweet Mom, not knowing if anyone would even read it.  It was late, and you just never know who reads what.  Today some of my friends–none of whom know each other–commented, encouraging each other to take care of themselves…..to seek information and push until they get it.  Friends reached out with loving sympathy and with gratitude for facts and stories shared.

That right there.  That’s what we need more of in this world.  Sisters looking after sisters (because we all are, you know–color and class and nationality and religion and state of our kitchen sinks all aside–we are all sisters).  Sisters empowering each other.  Holding each other accountable to take care of ourselves.  To celebrate with when the numbers come back really good, and to hold hands or offer a shoulder or listen and make soup or milkshakes or cry with when the numbers are not.

Tonight I’m thankful for brave women who gave it their all in the face of giants like ovarian cancer.  I’m thankful for their daughters, who carry their stories and encourage others by educating and listening.  I give thanks for women like Fran Drescher who pave the way for us to have the courage to speak and not worry about being called “pushy” or “bothersome” or whatever.  Speak out.  Be loud.  Take care of you.  If you even think something is off or wrong, get thee to a medical professional.  Now.  Keep going until you find one you trust.  Who listens and hears you.  And stand tight and strong with your sisters.

Most of all, tonight I am thankful for all of my sisters.  Who are always there when they are needed most.

Y’all take care of yourselves.  You men too.  And take care of each other.

Love to all.

 

 

 

Haiku Week, Part 7

Those moments when you can’t comfort your children, the ones you care for and love, when you can’t make it better?

Those are the worst.  Those hurts that a Band-Aid can’t fix.  Those times when anxiety has them worrying and having trouble thinking anything other than “worst case scenario” thoughts–they hurt my heart.  As Mama I want to fix it.  But I can’t always, can I?

In the past couple of weeks both of my girls have lived out situations that brought these words to mind…..

 

for my gift from God, because I can’t stop the hurting

you are always loved

whose little hand fit in mine

I will wipe those tears

#####

when the world is scary

keep breathing, sweet one

one breath after another

it will be okay

Hoping you all have someone to love and to take your hand and comfort you.  Love to all.

 

Encourage a Mama, Hug a Child

It’s here again. The flipping of the calendar pages and it rolls around again.

When I was little, Mother’s Day was about making homemade cards, writing poems that rhymed, and making some kind of special food for my Mama.  I probably crocheted her a bookmark or something small a year or two in there somewhere.  It was a day about my Mama, making her feel special.   I don’t know if I remembered to say thank you every year but I sure tried to make it “HER” day.

Later after I married, it expanded.  It was about my Mama and my mother-in-law.  Dividing our time between the two.  Hoping they feel loved and treasured.  And appreciated.  Even after my first child was born, our day was already so full, it just seemed the obvious choice to keep it about them.  I was fine with that actually.  Having no expectations prevents disappointments. (And if you will recall, I’m a script writer from way back–but if I don’t write one, it’s all good.)    I enjoyed making it all about these women who had built the foundations for my family.

Fast forward eighteen years.  As I prepared to face my second Mother’s Day without my Mama, I pretty much decided the best coping mechanism was denial and avoidance.  The mantra–“it’s just another day, it’s just another day”–was working for me.  It is easier to handle feeling nothing than to feel the pain.

And then this happened.

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A card.  From my oldest’s grandmother.

When I read the sweet note that thanked me for the gift of her granddaughter, two things happened.

I cried.  Bless her.

And then…..I felt ashamed.

I’ve been so busy feeling sad for me, or rather, avoiding feeling sad for me or anything for anyone else, that I failed to realize that this is a hard day for her.

The first Mother’s Day without her child.

Something no mother should ever have to experience.

Something in me broke in that moment and the floodgates opened.  And I wept.

I can’t celebrate tomorrow with my Mama sitting across from me over a Stevi B’s veggie with pizza spice–giving her all my mushrooms–or with fried fish plates.  I can’t hear her laughter as she reads the two or three cards I give her–I never could pick just one.  I won’t see her wrinkle her nose and look at me and tell me how beautiful I am–all her ways of telling me she loves me dearly.  And I won’t hear her say my name–this woman who gave me the name and gave me life–and who pronounces it like no other.  I just won’t.

But I’m one of the lucky ones.  Because all of those things have happened.  Often.

With the big day approaching, women whom I love and respect, women who are caring and are not as self-absorbed as I, shared posts that, along with my sweet card, served as an impetus for me getting off my pity pot.

On Thursday, my friend Renea Winchester, who blogs here, shared this:

For many, Mother’s Day is a sorrowful time. Women recall the pain of babies who were never born, or were taken from them too soon. Daughters reflect on strained and broken relationships with their mother, and wish with everything in their soul that the relationship could be better. Some, who had a deep friendship with their mother, miss those times with a pain the heart can never overcome. Darling girls whose mothers are in the fight for their lives also hurt with the uncertainty that today could be the last day. I’ve seen many posts from friends who have lost their mother this week. My heart goes out to them. So for those who have their mothers with them on this earth, let us not only reach out to her, but to our sisters today, tomorrow, and every day. Let us purpose to be a woman who uplifts and encourages another sister. Could you do that today, and every day?
Oh my heart.  What a beautiful soul she is.  And yes, we should strive to do just what she says.  Uplift and encourage another.
Then on Friday, my sweet friend, Karen Spears Zacharias, who blogs here and here wrote:
And yet again I am reminded of how many kids come from homes absent loving mothers. This is a hard, hard week for those who have spent their childhood being the parent their moms failed to be. We have created a culture where too many children never know the tenderness of a loving mother. They have no idea what it means to be nurtured. Don’t just take time to thank your mom this weekend. Take time to hug a child who needs it.
*tears*
Between these two beautiful, strong women who create beauty and inspire movement with their words, I was awakened.  There are sisters who are hurting over this day.  There are children whose hearts are aching.  What better way to overcome my own pain than to do something to help ease the pain of another?  Be the feather?  Yes.
And then this was on my screen yesterday…..in preparation for their graduation today, the class of 2014 at my alma mater, Wesleyan College, shared their message about the education of women and standing strong for sisters everywhere:
Photo courtesy of the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association

Photo courtesy of the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association

I don’t remember a time I’ve been more proud to belong to this place.
Again, tears.  There are mothers who are weeping daily over the loss of their daughters, over not knowing, their fears and anxieties and their imaginations taking over.  My heart breaks for them.
As I picked up my card again last night, giving thanks for the one who took the time to think of it and to send it, filled with heartfelt and loving words that washed away so much hurt and pain, I contemplated how to make this day easier for her.  Or more bearable.  Sending flowers just seemed so trivial, considering all she’s going through.  I mean, what do you give someone who has already started dispersing her things?
Your time.  Your ear.  Your shoulder.  Your laughter.  Your stories.
It came to me, whispered on the air, like a dandelion star floating across the sunlit yard.  All of these things.  More precious than gold.
So I called.  I said thank you.  And I love you too.  And we laughed.  And talked.  And shared in the sadness and reveled in the joy of the good memories.  And it was good.
I don’t know exactly what tomorrow will bring.  I have a to do list that would be nice to get through, but it’s not set in stone.  I plan to take down a candle and put it on the counter and light it tomorrow for all of those Mamas in Nigeria and all over this world who weep over their children.  And for those children who don’t know what it’s like to have a Mama hug them tight, call them beautiful, and wrinkle her nose at them.  It hurts to think about all of this pain–it would be much easier to ignore it…..and my own.
But numbness can be painful too after a while.
Tomorrow I hope to have an opportunity to hug a child, encourage a Mama–but then, in the words of my friend Miss N, “Why’s it gotta be just one day?”  I hope tomorrow is the start of something good.  For all of us.  Time to find someone in need of refuge and be the feather.
Love to all.

A Christmas Story I’d Like to Read

The book of Luke in the Good Book starts with first one pretty miraculous story and then another.

Elizabeth and Zachariah are pretty old, and one day the angel Gabriel comes to Zachariah, a priest, in the temple and tells him that Elizabeth is going to have a baby boy.  Zachariah thinks about this, his age and everything, and pretty much says, “You’ve got to be kidding me.  Do you know how old we are?”  Gabriel isn’t playing around, and he tells Zachariah that yes, it’s true, and just for not believing him, Zachariah will not be able to speak until after the baby’s birth.

Well then.

Meanwhile, Zachariah finishes his assignment, goes home, Elizabeth becomes pregnant, and Zachariah can’t speak.  In another town, Elizabeth’s cousin Mary is also visited by Gabriel.  Apparently he’s a pretty intimidating angel, as he tells Mary not to be afraid just as he did Zachariah.  He tells her about her pregnancy, how she’s been chosen by God to give birth to the Son of God.  She is also struck by disbelief, but I guess Gabriel’s getting used to it, because he kindly answers her questions and then tells her that Elizabeth is six months pregnant. “Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”  (Luke 1:38)

Mary doesn’t let grass grow under her feet.  She takes off and heads straight to Zachariah’s house.  When she arrives she is greeted by Elizabeth, whose baby in her womb leaps at the presence of Mary and her unborn child.  Elizabeth somehow knows that Mary is the mother of her Lord and expresses her joy over Mary’s presence.  Mary responds from her heart filled with joy and gratitude over being chosen by God.  And then…..

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What?  I’m sorry.  I’m flipping through the Good Book, thinking to myself, “Somebody has taken a page of ten from this book.  What happened?  Three months?  Are you serious?  Nothing?”

Nope, nothing.  Not a word.

Now this.  This is the story I want to read.  Really, really.  Two women, each expecting her own miracle, hanging out together in a home where the man of the house cannot speak. (No offense meant, guys.)  Can’t you see them? They are the original awesome cousins and sister friends.  Giddy with laughter while kneading bread on the smooth wooden surface.  Quiet moments lost in their own thoughts as they sit in companionable silence while knitting or sewing or shelling peas.  Cleaning the house together–“many hands make for light work.”  Comparing pregnancy notes.  Sympathizing over the aches and pains.  Celebrating the little flutters and kicks.  Whispering in hushed yet excited tones over how the world is about to change.  Over the news that they know.  And what they imagine it will be like. Patting Zachariah on the shoulder good-naturedly as he sighs and tries to enter the conversation with his hands, trying to get his thoughts across.  Sitting together at the table sipping the soup and savoring the moments that would pass all too soon.

Three months.  Two women. Each sharing her own form of the miracle of new life.

This.  This is the Christmas story I want someone to write.  Yes, I’m okay with a fictionalized version.  I just know it would make for a great book–one that would cover all the gamut of emotions–joy, laughter, fear, worry, happiness, exhaustion, peacefulness, exhilaration, and anticipation.  The strength of women, cousins, sisters, sharing a journey–one that would take the world and all of us to places we’ve never been. These two women who shared three months’ time together, intimately and comfortably, are about to give birth to boys who are going to change the lives of everyone forever.

That’s a tale of epic proportions, and yet, it is beautiful in its simplicity.  The sharing of tasks, thoughts, time, and prayers.  And affection.  Love for one another, love for their unborn sons, and love for the God they seek to serve.

Yeah, that book would be placed at the top of my “to be read” stack.  And I don’t think Mt. Washmore on my couch, waiting to be folded, or hungry mouths or lessons needing to be done could distract me from it.  That’s a true story for the season.

(Anybody get wind of a version that I wasn’t aware of, please send me a link.  You will make my day.  🙂  )

 

 

(Update on my daughter’s friend, Miss K, who is in critical condition in the hospital.  She is still on the ventilator but it’s not set as high I believe, which is good.  They think she has improved enough to take her off the full-time dialysis machine to the 4-hour one.  She responded to her mother asking her if she was hot or if she wanted the air on.  And she shook her head yes, that she was ready to get out of the bed.  The doctors want to continue to keep her heavily sedated so her body won’t stress over anything.  They want her body to focus on healing from the sepsis and the pneumonia.  Her mother wrote: “For her Wesleyan sisters, have fun with your families and enjoy your holidays, she should be better and ready for you guys when you return…..that’s my own little prayer…”   As it is ours, sweet Mama.  Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers for Miss K and her family.   Their Christmas will be very different this year, and it makes me cry that she thought of her daughter’s friends and wished them well.  Life is so precious and fragile, isn’t it?  Love to all.)