Category: Christian Life

Good Mourning Son- Month Two & the Rope I stole From Francis Chan

Good Mourning Son- Month two, and a few

 

Good Mourning Son,

I miss you so very much Ethan; It has been all too consuming this void in our lives. Life without you.

We are in a season of new. Saying goodbye to the old and hello to change, hello to something we do not want to greet. You, Sweetheart, have been gone now two months and two days. Months, I hate to say that word. It tells me, even though I know, you are not coming back. This life here on earth no longer holds your soul.

You see, maybe, somewhere inside my heart, I held hope you would still walk in the door. The nightmare of losing you would be over, and I would wake up. Month two reminds me that will never be true.

So much has gone on since you left us since you parted ways with life on Earth.  I pray and feel in my heart you are welcomed into your eternal home in. I have been studying this place you now call forever. So much more than I can ever even imagine.

 Most of what has gone on here means nothing in Heaven.

Here on earth, we put great focus on things of today. I think it’s because most often we are confused about what the end may bring. We think of today forgetting our lives past this place. I do, put so much pressure on myself, worrying daily about today when it’s forever that matters.

One hurdle we had to cross was getting your brothers and sisters through the last weeks of school. I am so proud of them Ethan. It was hard. What you did to them. Ripping away their ordinary and forcing them to live their days with you gone. Sometimes, they craved the simplest of times and other days overcome with how ridiculous average sounds.

Your death, you took your life, which sets us all apart. It puts us in a place where people look and wonder.  That is hard, for us all.

What you wrote kiddo in your goodbye letter, well they took that to heart. The thing is dear boy; it is much responsibility. When you take your life and leave behind traits, you want others to be. You left behind a ghost of what they need to be. Pressure to live up forever to what you wanted and felt you could not be.

They are already amazing on their own. Growing strong and in God’s time without added pressure here on earth.

Graduation was the best, and the worst. We were able to watch your sister walk the stage and feel a part of everything she has worked her last ten years here as part of our family. She felt she belonged with her peers, her smile melted my heart. That was the best, you gone, the worst.

Your dad and I too walked the stage.

Ethan, I cannot tell you how long that walk was. The silent of the crowd, so thankful it was not them down below walking up to accept their child’s diploma. I have never had so many eyes on me at one time. Those were the hardest steps of my life, walking in slow motion to take that simple earthly paper that you should have touched. It was not ours to take; you earned it my boy. Ethan, I wish you could have finished those last weeks of school, walked that stage and felt the pride in yourself.

The pride we always felt for you, my beautiful boy.

I have had to take a break from facebook at times, reading the posts about other graduates is hard. It is a bittersweet feeling. I want those things for you, and if I am honest, for me too. So many kids are off to their college orientations. Yours was that first week in June. Dad was going to take you. It hurts, all of our dreams for you gone. The pain in that place in my heart that still to this day two months and two days later can not be explained. It hurt to know you are not going away to school. I have not even called to cancel your spot. Somehow, I cannot. The emails come reminding me often of what needs to be done, and yet, I just can’t make that call.

What does a mother say to her son’s new school? “My son took his life a few weeks ago. He forgot Gods plan for us all and didn’t put his faith in him, go ahead and take his name off your list WMU. My boy will not be there. He is gone from this life too soon.”

I guess that is what we need to say, Goodbye WMU, a parent’s dream for their child means nothing when they choose to take their life.

 

I adore your lady friend’s son, that is what you used to say. “Mom, Can I go out with a lady friend tonight?”  We have had the true joy to see that you made some wise choices, that you were a good kid. These girls that are your friends, well sweet love they are true beauties, not just on the outside but full of amazing grace and heart. When we search for something in our day to bring joy and thanks, many times it has been the smile and hope that these young women give. A few have reached out and lifted your brothers and sisters up.

We are thankful for their support. The gifts they send, and the fact they stay in touch.

The other thing….in your death, we see the good of so many students. Not just your lady friends but some you just passed in the halls, some from years before, some who you just touched because they relate to your hurts. It is through these kids, almost adults that we see seeds of hope. The good in them, Ethan, We know these are the kind of kids who can make a difference here on earth. It is these kids that are now my friends on Facebook that I add to my prayers each night.

Praying for them to let God guide their way and bless them on the road to adulthood.

A gifted dancer raising more money than most to make miracles happen,  the neighbor’s times three, one that stood tall giving a message to all on graduation day, the girl who once contemplated taking her life, now stands strong gifting life to others through her story. The junior who steps up to her senior year of leadership. A love of Christ that will lift her up along the way. These kids, you once knew and a few that you hardly did, they remind me of all that is good. They took the time to reach out. They and so many more I did not mention took your death and now have a chance to use it to make a difference in their lives. Life has meaning if you choose to go on.

If you decide to work past the issues of today and create purpose. Serving others is key…they find this secret most do not.

There have been times my sweet EE that I have wanted to close the door to my Father in Heaven.  A few passing thoughts of anger have caught up with me in month two. The emotions are not to be described. No words explain what grief brings. I have had moments where I am numb. Hardened to protect the soft that once was my normal. You know, my boy, how my heart has always been. A bit like yours I think. Full of feeling with deep thoughts beating inside. Processing you being gone became too much, there are days I just shut off the world to protect that place. That hurting spot of love and regrets.

 

When I do that, shut off my feelings and turn away that is a bit like you, isn’t it? I may have forgotten in those moments of hurt that this life on Earth is short. God is to choose when it is time to go. God has a plan for our days. So, taking one’s life is not ok for a son. A mother shutting off her feelings and letting numb takeover is not the way to go either, I now see.

 

Remember Easter Sunday? You were gone to work, and I was feeling bummed that you had not prioritized a day I love so much. The Day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, all he has done for us. I sat in the living room giving a bit of a lesson to our crew. I told them about a rope. I had Zach grab one from the basement in fact. I took a sharpie and marked off in solid black a section of that rope about an inch long. The long rope I had laying in my lap was showing a few feet or so, the rest coiled up with no end in sight. A few days before I had listed to a Francis Chan sermon on u-tube.http://The Rope Sermon by Francis Chan

I had written myself a sticky note and put it on my desk it said: “The Rope I stole from Francis Chan.” I had a blog post in mind.

The message is pretty clear, This Life here on earth is short in comparison to Eternity. That is what God has planned for us Eternity. A forever place. A place far beyond the joys and physical things of this earth.

God does not promise a world free of pain and danger, but he does promise us help when we face fears, hurts, and pains. The life we live today is just a short inch or so marked off on a Rope of eternity. God will rescue those who live in the shelter of the most high. I find rest in the shadow of the Almighty here on earth so that in my eternal life I can see the glory that should be. I will place in him sweet boy of mine, the hurt of my heart and the fear for your siblings as they grow through this pain of not having you here on earth.

 I will not turn away from the one who wants to comfort me if I let him.

 

Ethan, sweet love, my first born son. I miss you so much. The tears remain. The heart hurt beats away inside my soul.  Month two and two days, it is the place where we go about our day, normal, yet never normal again. We carry our loss with us where ever we go inside our pockets of grief and sorrow, hidden now more and more to not scare away those we know.

Month two and a few days is the place where I remind myself to live for more than today. To remind our family and friends, your brothers and sisters that God’s plan for us is great. That, this earthly life, if lived well, if served with grace, if we see what others may not then we get a long rope, endless in fact.  That each choice we make is not for today but a far greater gift.

 

Month two and two days of mourning you in Heaven brings the memory of the Rope I stole from Francis Chan, Earthly life is small in the length of Eternity. I will live it with thanks, gratitude and serve my Father in Heaven letting HIM guide my life on earth. I rejoice that one day I will get eternity. All my heart aches of today are a mere sharpied out spot on a forever rope with God. I wish you could tell us love how wonderful it would be if we could all live this life knowing how much more we get in eternity.

I wish you would send down a ray of sun with angel love, warming the hearts of all who need to be reminded there is so much more if we just believe and have trust in God each day.

 

Loving you more than ever, more today than even yesterday. My sweet angel boy, pictured in my mind, surfing the clouds of Heaven with a smile wide. Your curls blow in the winds of love and your hugs welcome children who enter the beautiful gates of Heaven. Your image on Earth is more than enough but the picture of you in Heaven makes the hair on my arms stand straight and the hurt in my heart lighten.

 

 

Failure or Faith – Just a few months ago

 

Before

Failure or Faith, The months before and the months after my first-born son takes his life.

It is no surprise now that I like to write. Before, April 17th I wrote for myself or to share our blended family life on this blog. Long before the blog, I journal.  I find it interesting now, looking back, the entries I have saved in my folders on my laptop over time.

I wrote as if, I was telling someone a story that was meant to be shared.

I thought all of this time. It was for me. Writing, that is. A healing release of the unknown. The entry I wrote below is on the eve of January 20th, 2017. It was written after an unnerving day, a day of no control. I stayed up late that night writing, letting loose the words I needed to get out.  I had cried to a friend a short few before I wrote. Scared. Hurting for my boy. Little did I know that the fears that bubbled and oozed over in my mind, and even said out loud were the beginning of the end.

 

Crumbling to my knees. January 20th,  2017.

 

Sometimes there are not the right words to write the fear you hold up tight. The anguish you cry out or the churning, turning way your insides burn when you cannot fix the child you love so much.

This child of your own, the one you once held tight. The angel face and runny nose. The tiny hands and fat little toes. The little mouth that smiled when he saw you as he woke. The honest heart. The inquisitive mind. Always questioning why.

Then one day he sank away, why is he so hard to find I say to myself.

I’m alone at the house, doing the most mundane of things. Sweeping up the breakfast crumbs from the floor. The morning sun of just after nine streaming through the front window. My phone rattles on the counter and I think for a moment to let it go, but instead remember then that my boy sometimes calls. The last time he wanted to stop by on his way home from a class at another school for a quick handoff of a breakfast made special by mom before his next class begins. I always oblige this little task, my boy will be gone all too soon. He is deciding between Western and MSU. I will take this little gift of mom things I get to do. Treasuring the tasks, wanting it to last more for me than for him.

I get to the rattling pink case on my kitchen counter just in time. He calls from his car. Mom, he cried, “Come Quick.” I cannot do this alone. I hear the tears in the roughness of his voice. I sense danger in his plea.   Alarm set in as my heart skips beats, my clammy hand’s tremor as I hold my fingers together tight and pretend to have all my wits. I drive the short mile or so to the school.

My focus on the road ahead and the prayer running out loud as I ask God to let him be safe.

I stand outside of his car on this cold dark windy day. Parked in that senior lot. Signifying he is almost done with this stage, only a few short months before he drives away from the safety of his life as a kid. I think maybe as I pull up, is it too late? He finds no safety in his day. Standing there I can see, his world has come apart. I open the door and get in. Moving his backpack to the backseat, I kick papers and a taco bell bag to the side to make room for my feet as I climb in his car.

His eyes plead with me for relief.  He rages and cries and tells me not to look if he disappears one day. That maybe this life is not for him. Too hard to live with the anxiety within.

What does this mean? Do you want to die, sweetheart? I ask with a lump so large in my throat it takes a moment to choke the words out. “No,” he says, “ I want to run away, I want to go away to school and escape this anxiety, the chaos in my head.” He screams “I just wish this would stop!”

I can see he is in a place so dark.

I wanted to swoop him up….Hold him so very close. Lay his weary head on my shoulder, pick him up and rock back and forth. So I try. I reach out, and he leans in, putting his head on my lap and weeping in fear of who he is.

Fear paralyzes me; I can’t think. There is nothing more I want in that moment than to have every answer for him and a way to heal his hurts in an instant, I am left stroking his hair and praying over my boy.   I tell him softly that no matter where he goes, high school, college, adult life, he needs tools to help him fight this anxiety within. Then, I have to admit to him, I can not do it alone. That I just can’t fix him by myself. That this beast within is stronger than my mom fight. We need help. More than we have been getting. More than I know. I am helpless it feels to fix him up. I want a band-aid for his heart.

A magic pill to take away the anxiety that wells over him, waves of distress pulling the air from him, in shuttering cries, his head still on my lap.

He pulls away then, something came to him, a thought perhaps. The days gone of him cuddling on my lap, now the few minutes of rest he had in my arms replaced with hardness and defeat.  He gets out of his car. He stands too high, taller than me. I cannot pick him up and settle him in tight and safe like I once did. I guide him in my car, and we drove away. He let me. Take him away; this is new and unexpected. Normally now in the stage, his response is “leave me alone.”

We stop at home and I run inside leaving him dazed and starring out the window. I can see him from my bedroom as I call his therapists office.

They say they can not help him and send us on our way. I’m lost. Where to next?

We drove for a while, my emotions hidden behind a curtain of faith.  Praying “Lord, Give me Strength to help my son.” I take him to the place where they claim to fix children up. The big school just south of us. There, I know there is help. They have a hospital just for babies like mine with hearts that hurt and minds that are vulnerable to the world’s games.

They trick us both with an invitation in. Sitting now for awhile while we process the problem within. My baby is eighteen so I can’t even listen as he shares his hurts. He is a man they say and deserves to be treated like one.

What I found out is he is just not sick enough. If he wants help but won’t take his life, he is healthy enough to figure it out.

I feel sick…my knees are weak. There is no help here. They tell us to leave.

I sit in the office with the white jacket doctor. He asked me over and over “What do you want me to do for him”? I wanted to scream in his face, to shout so he could hear what he apparently won’t, “save my baby”. I cry hot tears of anger and fear instead, squeaking out “Give me something to show him the way. Don’t send us from here to be on our own.” My mom’s heart is ready to explode.  The white coat doctor man, with all of his experience, sits and stares back at me.  He is antagonizing me with his blank face. “There is nothing we can do today,” he states.

“Wait,” I say. “Have you not any fix him up tools for my mom bag?” “No book on teen anxiety?” I ask.  “No,” the white jacket replies, “he can have an appointment in a crisis clinic three weeks away.”

Three weeks, What if he runs away, I think. What if he does not finish school, I wonder. I bite my nail in nervous contemplation of my child’s future. I cannot comprehend the look on white jacket doctor. He must not have kids, I sense. I mull over the hand with no wedding ring. His face comes into focus beyond my eyes fighting the tears burning my face. He is young. This white jacket doctor  trained to act this way….he lacks the heart part of experience with mothers like me. He does not know enough life with parents fighting for their child’s sanity. He is less than half of my age.

The white doctor man opens the door, says “have a nice afternoon” and walks way.

 

History and paperwork tell the mama in me that the man who is a boy, my boy. Is fighting a battle since an age well before three. Early on we took him from place to place. They gave us a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder; we healed him then with prayer and a nutritionist. With routine and safe surroundings. Occupational therapy and purging from him from the poisons within. Gone was the mercury, aluminum, and wheat. Dairy and Red food dye a thing we never wanted to see. In time, the environment controlled, the special school let him go and finally he seemed free.

Life went on normal for years. We started to forget the stress of before, those days of anxiety in a child so small.  I  protected his world from all of the bad things.

Providing for him a pretend reality.

The teen years come much too fast. With it comes social distress. He could not find his fit.   I know this. I hate that this is how he feels. That he wants to fit in. That the friends he worked so hard to make sent him away. We did this.We worried he needed a new group, he was stumbling, and we saw it, so we gave him an ultimatum. Find a new fit we said. One with no pot, no smoking, no crazy stuff.  We thought it was behavioral back then. We thought it was friends that influenced him. It was deeper inside; it was him. We did not see then that it was back…the anxiety that scared him in the night as a wee little one was back and controlling his mind.

The shock of life as a teen, too much to bear for my sweet boy, too much for his fragile mind.

He began to find ways to calm and soothe.  It was not through the natural ways we taught him in the past. Smoking things to calm himself down, we fought to regain some control. At first his dad and I not on the same page and then after some time we realized things had to change.  It is confusing this teenage thing. Is he behaving poorly because he needs more of us? Is it pain from our divorce? How much independence do we give him?

Debating on how to best handle him our ongoing conversation. His dad and me. His dad and his fiancé, Mike and I. The four of us separate but together in our quest for what is best.   Lock him down or let him learn life’s lessons the hard way? Skipping school and sleeping in he managed to keep good grades. Smart and funny the teachers love him, I think kids struggle with his deep, intense issues and up and down personality.

 

I crumble to my Knees in despair.

I have to take my boy home today. Away from this university hospital that claims to be the best. White Coat doctor just left me to cry alone. Ethan in the waiting room, He knows. He says all the right things to leave.  I cannot change a thing. I cannot be the one person he needs to fix him, to help my boy today. He struggles more than most I know. Something deeper is broke. We are starting to see it. This Sensory thing, It does not go away when they grow up. Some learn to deal, some heal, but others deal with the day to day. My son, an adult they say, is still “Out of Sync” after all of this time. There is a darkness stirring in him.  Up and down, hot and cold, dark and light. Lord, help him. Help us fight this scary thing.

 

No Doctor can fix him today. My mother’s heart cannot find a cure. We will press on and fight the battle and continue for that is what I am called to do. There has never been a place I love more than mother and wife. This moment is no exception. I do not care what they say.White coat Doctor can shut that door and walk away. We will find another white coat doctor to help us…I am not giving up on my boy, not today, not any day.

I know what Jesus said.

“In the world, you will have tribulation” (John 16:33)

There is no perfection in this life on Earth.

I give Thanks for my son, my child whom I cannot control. I find joy in the fact that God has a plan far greater than I know.

 

So we press on.

 

I am Praying with a reverent heart that he too, will remember my Father and find solace in his Love as I do.  Praying and leading my children my life goal.

I want to be like the Apostle  Paul, leading with joy. I do not want this anxiety to take over and diminish the good in my son. I can’t let the fear paralyze me, unable to move forward to help him.

I will not let Satin in. He cannot have my son. He cannot capture his mind. God made him mine.

“Restore to me the joy of my salvation” (Psalm 51:12)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and future. Jeremiah 29:11

 

So, we persevere on my son and I. Knowing the testing of my faith produces endurance. Affliction torments my sons’ heart and mind. I will not give up on you, my beautiful boy.I will find strength in each battle I fight by your side.

 

I find joy, like Paul in the life that we have even in the anger of moments, even in my deepest fear, even in the unknown.  Moving forward with my boy one day at a time. Ceaseless in Prayer for healing of his mind.

 

Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for Good Works, which God Prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

Today, Present time.

My writing brought me once again crumbling to my knees. A reminder of what is not. A  sickening kick in the heart of what will not be. All I did not.  I have sat on this particular entry for weeks now. Praying over it. Inside, anger, turmoil, and grief.  As I read what I wrote just months ago, anger overcame me, for a time I have questioned God.

“Why have you forsaken me,” his own son said to him nine hours on the cross.

 

I have wondered the same. Why have you forsaken me? My son? I am not perfect, as  Christ is. I am a sinner. Full of sin from the bottom of my baby toe to the last hair on my head. I was born this way. Every day I live here on Earth is a daily choice for me to live life more like Jesus. Most days I am filled with the ugliness of sin. Not murder or hate…but other ways. My mouth for one is never as pure as it should. I do not serve daily without asking for things in return. The list goes on and on. A bottomless vessel of sin, I am. Earthly, human and nothing perfect.

It would be the easiest for me to read this entry written a few months before my boy took his life and assume God was punishing me for my mistakes in life.

It would be easy for me to glance at these words and in one quick second believe God had forsaken my son. Closed his ears to the cry of my boy and the prayers of my heart. That is what many would do. They would say “God, What good are you? You left us. You looked away”. It is what I wanted to do. Turn my heart the other way.

The lines about Joy- a joke.

Workmanship?, “Lord you created my son with mental illness and took him too soon”!

 

A bitter laugh has escaped my mouth in the weeks since my son’s death. Anger at myself for my imperfections, Anger at God for taking my son.

In the angriest of moments, there have been times I  think God is not with me, that he failed my son. In the deep wound that gushes heartache. The daily struggle to understand reality. He, my boy, is gone. The failure tearing slowly each day in the cloth of sanity. Thread, unraveling into solitude and confusion. His Blue eyes stare back at me from every picture in the house. The gold cords of academic success dangling in my face, taunting me of what my boy wanted to be.  The green graduation gown of yesterday haunting me with all that he can not have.

The rip of pain as I recognize how inadequate I am as a mother. A child, blond and tiny, dancing tip toe in the store brings reminders of the children he will never have. The grandchildren that are not to be. A wife my boy will never have.

I feel defeat. I feel alone. Bitterness wraps me up. Numbness overcomes me.

I open the very book that brings things back together, written long ago and filled with the same wisdom now as then. My house is quiet with the kids at school. Pandora playing quietly, each song creates a cadence to the sound of my read. The verses become lyrical, the music I need to stop the bleed of my wounds.

I realize God did not take my son from me. Ethan chose that on his own. In one impulsive moment when his mind was weak, he took his life. God knew maybe, that in the end, he would. That is something, on this earth I will never know. The question can not be answered with a yes or no.  I do know God uses Evil and impulsive mistakes to bring ultimate good. That is where I focus. Each word, each study, each musical song of God’s word stitches up the tear of my heart. The unraveling of my soul strengthened by the thread of light The Holy Spirit whispers in my ear.

I am here, he says once again. Reminding me of his love for my son.

God is not gone, he is right here with me.  I believe he covers my boy with his mercy, love, and grace. In his home, my son rests for eternity. My prayers to God still go on. He takes the brokenness of our loss and teaches me that there is more than –nothing-  in the depth of my sorrow I could easily believe.

 

I do not understand the plan. My son had to fight a battle that he lost.  He felt taking his life was a solution to his distress, the truth is we could have fought to find help and he could live on. I am sure of what I am called to do in Christ. Love my Lord first, love and serve my neighbor, give thanks,  find joy in what will come.

I know with all I have, that God will use my boy’s life for the good of someone else. That my son is not hurting any longer. That there is a plan far greater than I know.

 

I have Faith in my Savior and all he did.

John 16:32-33

Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all of this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But, take heart, because I have overcome the world.

 

Good Mourning Son – One Month Day.

Good Mourning son,
How is Heaven?
I paint myself an imaginary picture each morning of you sweet boy. I start with the colors of the rainbow embedded in the sky. Color like we are unable to even dream here in our earthly life. I imagine your smile gleaming and bringing joy to those with you, a gift only Jesus could give. I find myself closing my eyes and welcoming thoughts of your heavenly hands, spirit filled and doing good. I picture you my angel in Heaven with no pain, hurt or depression.

Your mind healed and at Peace with the Glory God gives.

I picture these things to heal my heart. To find some kind of hope in our day that there is good beyond what we see and feel in the moment. If I don’t, choose Heaven to see, there is only death and the sorrow, anger and guilt you left behind for us to process.
I know you are not surprised up there in Heaven. Your insight is far greater now than you ever could have glimpsed here with us. You are not surprised at my anger within. The anger I have for you this very day. Ethan, how could you leave us this way? How could you waste a life so precious to those around you? I want to scream “you spoiled little boy”! Didn’t you think about Nolan? The other kids? Do you know that Abbie is so stressed out she hardly sleeps? That she hates school she once loved and calls me to pick her up in tears almost every day? Nolan, I fear will never be the same. His beautiful blue eyes have lost their sparkle. He rages and cries with in trying to be strong but is silently broken. Each night we battle horror as we replay your death in our sleep, we wake to the same picture. Finding you dead. We are too late. Not enough air or love in us to bring you back. It’s in our heads over and over again. Audrey and Zach I’m afraid feel abandoned. No adopted child should ever feel that way again.

I am so mad at you beautiful boy. Your poor choice went too far and while you find Peace in Heaven we find Hell in the moment.

Each day we wake to your absence. The ones who loved you, the ones who care for us, and even those who have never met us, those saddened by our loss, your goneness. They reach out, giving of themselves. Trying in any way they can to fill us. Even strangers mourn your death and the way you choose to die. They do that because what our life has become is completely incomprehensible to any person that has a heart.

I started this letter early today. Then, our new normal began. I drive the kids to school and head home to write thank you notes. No work for me.I can’t seem to find the strength to focus even for a few hours without tears and drifting off wandering down memory lane. It’s now late in the day. The time when things cool off and  birds chirp and sing. The lawnmower runs next door. People head towards the lake for an evening walk. It seems so normal to all but us.

I just returned to finish my letter son….but Nolan called me away just as I sat down. Yesterday the police returned your computer and phone. I can’t seem to figure out your passcode to your phone.. but your computer was much easier. I looked last night. Scouring all of your history. You sure do love Starwars. It made me smile to see your search for names of your favorite movie. I adore that you still at eighteen loved that series as much as when you were three. I found out that you are pretty simple. Homework and Starwars. That was it for two months back except that day….

That day you searched death. You searched your method and went to a task. Complete.

I’m struggling to write….the tears keep getting in my way. When Nolan got home from fishing he asked if he could take a look at your computer. I agreed. He needs this…He needs to connect to you in some way. You have hurt him so deeply. He found what he was searching for. He knew…he knew you so well he found the note almost immediately. Hours I searched and never saw it. There it is…short and sweet.

You felt like you were failing us…..you told us you were living to the lowest of your potential and not to make the same mistake. You said you were sorry. You put Nolan in charge to be the big brother you could not be…you told Abbie she is beautiful, to be empowered in who she is and not to hide away. You told Mimi you loved her. You thanked me for being your loving mom….your dad, oh Ethan you will crush him. You said you wanted to be like him and never could…

But don’t you see angel in Heaven, Don’t you see you are more than we ever could have been. You, Ethan, had so much. In one day, depression took you away. If fogged over the smart mind you had and clouded it with something we could not control.  In you, we saw an intelligent, hardworking, handsome, funny and caring son. We saw success each time we saw you. You never failed us son. You, first born boy created who we are. Parents who loved you to the ends of earth.

Ethan…I wish I did not have to love you all the way to Heaven.

I am so sorry my angel of a boy, I have failed you along the way. I want a do over in life. I want to go back and fill you up with the words you need to hear to save your life. I want to breathe into you, the love I have, every part of you good and bad. No one is perfect, everyone needs growth I wish you could have seen that is normal not a failure.

You know me…forgiveness is one of my strongest traits. Easier to give then to take. Ethan, please forgive me son. Forgive my lack of seeing how deeply depressed you were. Forgive me for not giving you more and fighting to see what it was that would have sustained your life.

You never finished the letter…..the keystrokes left a random maze of the alphabet as you drifted off. You said “I am slowly dying” and then you did.

I can’t take it Ethan…It hurts so much.

Your pain was so great you took your life. I forgive you angel boy. I am not mad anymore today. I am broken. I am lost without your smile. It was one month ago today. One month without you Ethan. One month to the day and we find your words ………

Ethan, I love you son. I love you all the way to Heaven.  I don’t know how angel of mine but we can’t let this happen to others. I can’t bear to think of another son feeling the way you did that day….My heart screams inside of me to find some comfort…..some light at the end of the tunnel. I promise in time, we will find a way to make a difference for someone.

 

For now …through the stream of hot tears that I can’t escape, through the tightness that grips my heart each day, through the pain of seeing your siblings filter another dinner without you at your seat. I picture you in a beautiful place. I picture the sound of angels singing and the light of Jesus shining through the flowers and trees, I hope you are eating the fruit so sweet that you taste the sugary delight of God’s love in every bite. Ethan Christopher Johnson, your name now permanently tattooed on me, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you Ethan Christopher Johnson for all of eternity.

Ethan Christopher Johnson, your name now permanently tattooed on me, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you Ethan Christopher Johnson for all of eternity.

 

 

Love means saying goodbye to Pride

 

You would think that Love is easy, life and experience have shown me something different.

I know I am not perfect, flawed and in need of growing. So I search….to gain more in who I am, to give more to those around me. Searching, for me, is in God’s word. It (God’s word)  is my school of mom and wife growth.

When I started to study love, I knew there was greater opportunity for challenges in our blended family life. I wanted to make sure that this marriage worked. That our family worked. That we were not a statistic of second marriage failure as I had become a first marriage failure already. I never wanted my kids or self to go through that pain again.

None of this study was done overnight, In fact, it took some mistakes and ongoing challenges to even realize that LOVE needed to be explored in my life.

Love Is the Greatest

 If I could speak all the languages of earth and angels but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I did not love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proudor rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance

If you have read any previous blended family posts, you will see that I have a passion for encouraging those in a blended family, those in remarriages. God put it on my heart long ago to write about what a biblical second marriage might look like.

Ethan taking his life confuses that a bit. At the moment he, our other children and our grief process are the priority of our minds and hearts. The lessons connect though.

The lessons on love remain the same whether in death or life, stepfamilies or grief. God’s love is the same.

Today I write about pride, In his letter to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul reminds us Love is not proud. Proud or Pride meaning showing excessive self-esteem, defined by the dictionary, Strong’s Concordance uses the word Haughtiness to define huperephania the Greek word for pride. ” I am not better than you” is what I think Paul could be saying. So in blended family life what does the loss of a child look like? How can pride come into play?

Loss of a child, young or old takes you to a place no one wants to go.

Standing in my ex-husband’s yard watching the medical examiner drive away with my beautiful boy left me feeling lost, empty, searing with grief. It was all too much to process in the cold, windy day. The tears of my children stained the road where they used to ride their bikes. The cries of their dad as he wept and fell to the ground tore at my heart; I felt his pain. We are living our worst nightmare. The death of our child. The grief too great.

There we stood all together, my husband, my children, their father and his fiancé along with her littles. We stood in the late April wind as the sun set trying to figure out how to take a step forward, how to even walk toward the house.

I am thankful that day that our pastor came quickly, he arrived before everyone else.

He and a favorite neighbor were the ones who knew what to do. They soothed and calmed us and held us as the police asked a million questions. They made sure Nolan was safe at the moment when the police separated us. They held me up when I thought I would pass out from shock, crying so hard I could not think.

Before my husband, the rest of the kids and their dad arrived; the police offered me alone time with my Ethan. I lay over him weeping and praying, begging God to give him back. When I knew it was too late for life, I prayed for God to keep him close in Heaven. I asked for hope because in the minute I was swallowed up in a loss so profound I could not see out of it.

 Our pastor sat down next to me, and with wisdom and clarity he prayed over my Ethan and asked for something different than I had. He prayed for Unity.

 

Later, in the blur of the night as we stood together in the house. This place I   raised my kids in for years. This is the home my children share time. Half here with their dad where he stayed after our divorce and half in our home in town. This home though, different than mine had a lifetime of memories with their brother. Not just for them but me also. This address, this street, this house had more at the moment than our home of five years for my family.

This is the home where I stayed all day as a young mother, the home I lived in when Ethan learned to read. This is the place where I rocked him to sleep. The bedroom here where is crib once stood. The place where I prayed with him.

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray to God my soul to take.
If I should live for other days,
I pray the Lord to guide my ways.

 I prayed this prayer along with the Lord ’s Prayer lying in bed with his tiny little hands folded just as my mother had once said them with me.

 
This is the home where all barriers came down, and a family was united in our grief.

Love in the Bible is not proud.

There was not I am better than you in the moments of loss. There was no “my way is right, and yours is not”. I let go of any notion of doing things my way, the organized, controlled way of my past. Anything I thought I might have wanted was buried in sorrow and chaos.

 

Ami, my kid’s one-day stepmom opened her heart to love me like a friend at that moment. She treated me with respect and care. She took over in all areas I had no energy to spare. My husband took on new roles as well, caring for the kids and taking on burdens at work and home all the while he was focused on me and his mom. During this process, she was in the midst of cancer surgery.

Way too much going on for any one family to bear.

 

The funeral planned by the four of us. A team united in preparing a time for family and friends to say their goodbyes. My ex-husband opened his home each day, to all of our friends and relatives. Never once did we not feel welcome. I wandered aimlessly around the home I had once called my own. Touching, feeling each of my son’s things that sat in this home of my before.

Memories flooded in and out, laughter and toddler play, reminders flashed at me in pictures on the shelf. The kids, their four parents, and family united in our sorrow. We sat and looked at pictures many long hours, we ate together, nourished by the food friends sent to help us out.

 

When one was weak the other would take over, most of those hours it was Ami who did the most. Humility is part of the process of grief. You have to let others in; grief cannot be done alone.

In my ex-husband’s future wife, I found support and comfort.

Pride, I admit maybe something I have offered up before. I believe there have been times when I thought my way was right. Divorce does ugly things to your head. Satan uses that to his advantage. The kid’s dad too, let go of any issues that may have attacked our past. Prayers for unity. God shut out our pride when our pastor prayed over my son.

With that simple prayer, he let us Love our child together all the way to Heaven.

 

After the funeral that spring Saturday just 12 days ago we lunched and visited with family. Our extended families joined again after years of not seeing each other. When the day was done, and the cars were thinning out it was time for us to go.   I hugged Ami’ and said, “I love you”. I went on to her future husband and did the same. I said those words from my heart. I love them as the parents of my children, I love them because of the good that they shared. I love because they are my neighbor, the ones God calls us to love and care for.

When you love as God calls us too, he opens our hearts, our souls, we are able to let go of the negatives that get in the way, and focus on what counts. God lets us see things Paul teaches to that messy church in Corinth.

He reminds us that life can be forgiven, that if we do not have LOVE in our hearts…then we have nothing at all.

I do not need to hang out at the house anymore. Seventeen days in we are back on schedule as far as the kids go.  Ami is a gift to my children and their dad. My husband too is sent by God. The four of us will not hang out on Friday nights; there is no reason for us to chat unless it entails the children or we are dealing with our loss of Ethan. There are sure to be times we will have differences in opinion, to that I am not naive. We stand strong for our children. That is our priority.

We are grateful for the love we received, the open arms and opportunity for unity. At the Harris House we push out pride and simply do our best to love like Jesus AND give thanks for the blessings we have.