Sunday, March 29, 2015

Death

The first person I remember dying on me was my little sister.  She died a week before my 9th birthday.  I lost my first significant person to death before I had my adult teeth.  Less than a month later I lost my Dad's dad, Granddaddy Taylor, one of the men in my life that I knew unequivocally loved me.   Significant for this little girl who's biological father wouldn't know how to adequately express love if a it hit him in the face with a 2 X 4.  I remember as a young girl reveling in the love of my three grandfathers.  I was still so uncertain of my step-dad, the dad who was there for me day in and day out but my grandfathers felt safe and they all seemed to think I was pretty cool.

Fast forward through the long interminable years of pre-teen (tween years) and another grandfather died.  This man was a giant in my life.   His personality filled the room.  He was gone not long after my 16th birthday.

That was the same year I joined a program of shadowing medical professionals in our local high school.  I shadowed a nurse on my very first day.  What did a I do that day?  I witnessed and prepped a body, with its soul now absent, for the morgue.

Death has followed me around my entire life.  I have lost more significant people than can possibly be just.  Death cares nothing for what is just.  Those I haven't lost threaten to be lost with their cancer battles and poor health habits.  Death wants me aware of its haunting presence.  The fact that it needs no invitation to come swooping into my life and wreck it beyond recognition.

Death is right.  It doesn't need our permission.  It doesn't have to warn us.  It doesn't have send us a card in the mail or let us sort out that insurance policy we never got around to.  Death doesn't promise we'll see our daughter walk down the aisle.  It doesn't guarantee that she will get to walk down the aisle.  Death does as it wants.  Tyrannical dictator that it is.

There is no dignity in death.  If we have any left it is not preserved at the end.  Death takes even that from us.

But death is not the final word.  It wants to tell us that it is the end.  That it maintains all of the power,  but one day death too, it will die.

Holy Sonnets: Death, be not proud

BY JOHN DONNE
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more Death, thou shalt die.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Arizona?




In just a bit I'm getting on a plane to fly across the country. I'll be meeting 45+ people, many of whom I feel like I already know. One of whom is a cousin who I have longed to meet because we have such kindred spirits. If I ever grow up, I want to be like her. Tattoos and dreads and yoga guru and all. 

But I would be lying if I did not say this trip hasn't filled me with anxiety.  I never (rarely) fly. I rarely (to my dismay) travel.  When I do travel it's always with my little people in tow. So why would I get on a plane, spend my limited resources, leaving my children behind, to fly across the country to meet a bunch of "internet" friends and trek 11.4 miles through the freaking desert, obstacles, and tear gas? This is clearly illogical. 

Except no it's not... Because in part I'm doing this for my children as I do it for me. I am intentionally teaching them that spending time and money on something that will be restorative to your mind, body and soul is ok. It's not a sin. I'm teaching them that valuing people and life experiences is better than valuing things. I'm teaching them that whatever you think your body is capable of physically; it's capable of so much more. I'm teaching them that becoming a parent doesn't mean you stop being a person. And maybe they'll think it's cool to tell their friends at school on Monday that their Mommy ran through fire and tear gas this weekend. 

But even if they don't. Even if this is just for me, that is ok. Because somewhere along the way I got my 'adult' card and I get to make decisions for me.  I am beyond excited to have this adventure. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

A letter to my boys

An open letter to my boys

Hi sweethearts. How are you?  I know you weren't expecting this from me right now, but I needed to tell you some things.  You know I love you more than anything, right?  I'm doing my best to raise you to be men of strong character.  Loving, kind, Grace-filled men, who know how to do all the guy things like swing axes and throw a decent right hook and operate power tools and so much more that I am inadequate to teach you. But don't worry. I have made certain that there are strong men in your lives who can teach you where I fall short.  I know you'll be gruff and grunt more than I want you to.  I know your communication skills will be lacking and there are times we will fight.  But I'm going to hold up my end of the bargain and getting you as ready for this world as I can, with some help from others along the way.  

There are some things that I am going to teach you myself and I am more than capable of doing so.  I'm going to teach how to make more than one decent meal for yourself.  I will teach you how to pray sincerely, how to serve others and sew a button back on your shirt.  You will know how to grocery shop and do your own laundry.  You'll know how to iron before you leave my house, although I'm quite sure you never will and you'll know some other things as well.

I am going to teach you how to treat women well.  All women, whether you like them or not, those older than you, and younger than you and those you may be romantically interested in and those that have their eye on you but don't spark your interest.  People say the sons of single moms don't get this lesson well, they need a man to teach them that.  But I think that's bullshit.  I'm well aware that you're familiar with that word by now.   You will know how to treat women by how I allow myself to be treated and how I allow you to treat others.

One of you had your first girlfriend recently, at 8 and 9 this isn't too serious.  But you were all excited, you were thoughtful about her. You came home and told me whether or not she had a good day.  Wanted to make sure she had a Valentine from you.  It was quite adorable to watch.  And then rather sullenly you climbed into the van after-school and told me how she "traded you" for Hayden (she's an idiot).  You had your first small taste of heartbreak.  I'm sorry to say son, it's going to get a lot worse.  Momma held you and gave you ice cream and we read books.  You'll find different coping skills when you're older but I'm glad to be a part of them now.  

What neither one of you will do when you're older is call the girl who trades you for Hayden derogatory names.  You won't spread rumors about her to your friends in a pathetic immature attempt to destroy her reputation.  You won't do those things for a few reasons: one, you both are so much better than that.  Two, you're still not quite sure what I'll do if you cross me and you know I won't tolerate such idiocy in my home.  

Plus honey, you're going to know how to gain the heart of the woman you want.  I know unfortunately there will be heartbreak for you both along the way.  I wish I could save you from it.  But it will be there and you will become better men because of it.

When you get grown there are things you will not do because I will raise you better.

You will not hesitate to tell a girl you like her because you're afraid she does not like you back.  What kind of crap is that?  Of course you'll tell her.  Who wants to live with that kind of torture?  She probably likes you back anyway because you're awesome; I said so. If you want to ask that little hottie out (who I will sincerely try not to hate) you ask her out because I have raised you to have the balls to do so.

You will not be a fence sitter!  No sir. You get down off that damn fence and you speak your mind like grown men are supposed to do.  You sure as hell won't have survived in this house if you haven't learned how to do so in the 18 years you lived here.

And if there is a girl that likes you and you don't like her, you will tell her with grace and kindness that you're not interested.  You will not just ignore her and stop talking to her; you are more mature than that.  Besides you understand how it feels to like someone without having them like you back.  Stupid Mia, trading you for Hayden.   You wanted to be told kindly and you didn't want to have to watch her flirt with your best friend in order to figure that out.  Girls (and women) are cruel sometimes boys, don't be cruel in return.  Kindness and truth do not make you less of a man.  They make you more of one.   

When you find that one and you will one day; you will buy her flowers, or chocolates or magazines or whatever makes her happy because even though you earned your money; she's worth it.  Your momma taught you that you express your affections for another person in the way that is meaningful to that person.  So you'll figure out what means something to her and you'll do it.  Because I have seen your hearts and they are good.


You will hold the damn door because I made you do it for your little sister for your whole life and you hated it.  But now you will do it anyway because you like how she looks when she walks through it. ****shudder**** The girl, not your sister.  I don't care why you do it just hold the damn door. 

You will pay for dinner, if for no other reason than because I told you to pay for dinner. This might mean you don't get the new car part you want. It might mean that you can't go golfing with your buddies this weekend.  It might mean that that extra six pack going to have to wait.  But you'll have to decide if you want the affections of a woman or do you want those things.  Pay for dinner.

Mostly though you will speak your mind and your heart without being afraid.  Being vulnerable is risky.  I know.  I hate doing it myself.  I certainly hate doing it when dating.  But speak your mind and say what's on your heart, risk the pain honey.  Keeping it inside does nothing good to you.  Being honest is always the right path.  Unless you share your heart, you will never gain the heart of someone else.

I love you sons.  You will do great.  I'm sorry that I haven't found a man worthy of joining our lives.  But that has been intentional boys, because I won't let anyone but the best around you.  Because I see the best in all of you.

Love always,

Momma