Don’t Lose It Forever

20 Dec

This morning I stopped and spoke powerful words of realization out loud to myself.

“He is going to stay.  He won’t leave.  It’s going to be ok.”

And, when I spoke those words, they became my new truth, but also a painful knowing.  A sudden realization that I had been treating my whole life as one prepared for loss.  In fact, I expect family and friends to leave and sometimes treat them as such.  It is painful to suddenly know that you have been making a terrible mistake.

In assuming a state of loss, I’d been living in a state of mourning…and was about to lose it forever.

I really believe that if you can’t operate in a state of peace, stability, and joy that you will always be at war within yourself which brings a lack of balance and great misery.

When I was almost 3, my father was murdered.  He was murdered because he owed people money for drugs he couldn’t afford to abuse in the first place.  While he was trying to get his act together at the end, he was still on his way to jail for writing bad checks and lived in fear because unhappy drug lords had a price on his head for ratting them out to the police.  There are many times that I have been convinced of my father’s good intentions but bent towards temporary highs and poor influences led him down paths of debt, drugs, and disillusionment.

Others around him had tried to help him help himself.  He had been to rehab at least one time and I believe multiple times.  But, working late hours on the railroad in a drug infested county continued to lead him down paths of unrighteousness.

My mom chose to stay with him because she always believed in him and loved him deeply.  I was going to be 4 in January, my sister had just turned 2 and my mom was 3 months pregnant with my youngest sister when it all happened.  Mom needed the car but my dad has left it across town.  He called up some people he knew to drive him to his car.  But, he never made it.  They took him to a deserted stretch of land, shot him multiple times and coldly dumped his body in a deep snowy ditch, ensuring that he would have no chance of survival.  He just owed too much money and had sold them out so the price on his head was death.

As a little girl, I must have dearly loved my daddy because I have deep pain over his loss.  The only slight memory I have of him is riding in the front seat of the car with him and laughing at something funny he said.  I don’t remember his voice.  I just remember this smile on his face and I remember being happy with him.  The next memory I have is of standing at the patio doors staring out willing him to come home.  I was looking for him.  I remember feeling deep pain and not knowing where my daddy was.  It bothered me.  He was supposed to be home.  But, he never came.

My sister did, 6 months later…I remember that.  Her middle name, “Joy”, was appropriately given considering she was a bright spot of joy after all the loss and pain.

Quite a few years later, I found a bunny in the woods.  He was a black and white floppy eared bunny…he didn’t belong alone out there, but he was scared and alone.  Every day I tried to win him over.  I left food and water out for him.  I waited for hours on end silently, patiently, slowly edging in to give him a pet on the head and hold him in my arms, and eventually it worked.  He allowed me to love him, and love him I did!  We had a great time, my bunny and I…I found a little cat collar and hopped him around the yard and that was such great fun!  I wanted everyone to see my special pet!  He was a big deal to me because I had worked so hard to get him to trust and love me.  He would snuggle into me and eat carrots out of my hands and I loved him so.  But, our Pekingese dog ran out the front door one day while I was hopping the bunny around and my sweet bunny got so scared.  He started running frantically to get away from the dog and Gidget too great pleasure in the chase.  She chased the bunny all through the woods while I ran screaming and crying after them both begging and willing them to stop.  But, I was too late…the bunny’s leash got caught on a branch and screamed the most horrible cry as it’s back broke in half.  Gidget became very solemn and slowly walked back to the house as if she knew this chase hadn’t been meant to end this way.  I tenderly picked up my bunny and held him close to me…crying all the way home I told him it would be ok, that he would be ok, that I would save him.  But, I couldn’t save him.  He died in a box filled with warm towels to try and keep him comfortable in his last moments.

That night was one of the hardest nights I ever had.  I sat at my window all night looking up into the dark sky and bawled my eyes out begging and pleading with God to please bring my bunny back.  I was willing to do anything, ANYTHING, He wanted…  As I was praying, though, the deep realization of the pain of my father’s loss also hit me…it hit me to the core, because even though I knew my bunny was gone, I still felt a need to pray for his return, yet, the more I prayed the more I knew deep down that he would never return, just like my father.  The pain was cruelly intense, yet, necessary, but, without my knowing, I think a sense of hardness developed in my heart as a way to sort through the hardship and deal with the pain.

As a 15yr old girl quite a few years later, I met this great guy.  He was funny, charming, and smart and totally in to me.  We dated for 4yrs and then got married…a few months later I found out I was pregnant.  Life wasn’t as fun or charming as I thought it would be with him.  In fact, it was dirty, lonely, and empty.  He changed into someone I didn’t recognize.  He wasn’t loving anymore…he was stressed and angry and despondent.  Meds didn’t help but night long runs playing video games seemed to soothe the monsters inside his mind.  When my baby boy was 9mo old, I finally fled the home after many months of repeated emotional abuses that were turning more violent in nature with food flying and forks being stabbed into walls and into his legs by his own hands.   It was frightening at best.  So, malnourished, a 20yr old mama and her little boy showed up shaken, lost, confused, and alone back into the safe arms of the only constant she had ever known…with her mama.

I waited for him to say he was sorry, to make it right, to fight for his wife and child to come home…but, I waited in vain.  He never championed for my heart and I grew colder, stronger, and smarter.

A few months later, I left the safety of my parents home and took my future into my own hands.  I worked multiple jobs and cared for this little infant child of mine the best I knew how.  I gave him the only room in my tiny $300 a month apartment while I slept on the floor in the living room.  Eventually I bought a papason chair for $100 with the softest cushion available.  That is where I slept every night for a long time, curled up in a ball, holding myself tight.

Eventually I bought someone’s couch and chair that had lived on their porch for years…I paid $35 for both.  The couch became my bed.  Over time, friends pitched in and helped me get the things I needed.  A friend gave me a kitchen table, another friend gave me a computer and a TV, I found a TV stand on the side of the road.  Slowly, things started to take shape and my empty one bedroom apartment became a home.

More years went by, I bought my first house, started my baby boy in school, worked 4 jobs to support the household, and did most of it alone with no steady boyfriend or much family around.  My parents cared, but I was pretty independent and wanted to be able to do things on my own, so I didn’t ask for help very often.

One morning I woke up completely unable to go to my main job anymore.  I just couldn’t do it.  I was over worked, under paid, and I never ever saw my son.  It seemed pointless.  The very reason I was working was hard was growing up quickly without me being able to see it.  So, that morning, when I saw my hot water heater had stopped working and was overwhelmed with my need to be with my son, I just stayed home.  I shut out the world and forgot about everything else except for him.  We watched movies and played and had a wonderful time together.  Eventually I lost my house because without my highest paying job ($8.26 per hour) I couldn’t barely afford to pay my bills.  My son and I moved into a rental home my parents owned.  I couldn’t afford the $500 per month, so I had my sister stay with me at one point and help pay the bills, then she moved out and I had a friend move in, and so it went for a while…

Finally, a stroke of good luck.  I met him.  I was a piano teacher and his daughter was taking lessons from the piano teacher next door to me…the first time I saw him was like time stood still.  Our eyes locked…I remember what he wore down to his shoes.  His daughter was sitting there swinging her little legs next to him waiting for her turn to take lessons.  She looked to be the same age as my son.  Something resonated with me about him. I don’t know why.  But, apparently it was the same for him as he remembers everything I was wearing too.  It is odd how God brings you together with your forever, but, there was something in me that just knew.

It took a few years and a lot of back and forth between us, but eventually we went on a date…and I was very shy and nervous and he read that to mean I wasn’t interested.  But, oh, how I was.  I had cried my eyes out before the date because I just knew that going out with him meant signing on the dotted line.  He was my future and I was his.

A few months later we finally started seriously dating and it was magic from the first day. We married a year later and then bought our first home 6 months after that and then a month later found out we were pregnant with our first child together…and then 19mo after that I had our second child together.  We are now in our second home together, a larger better fit for our family of 6 and life is seemingly perfect.

Except that it isn’t.  It has been hard.  Really hard.  My husband and I have had serious issues understanding and relating to one another.  I have felt consistently under appreciated and lacking in affection.  He has felt consistently under respected and that I am too dominant.  We also consistently have loved on and given deeply of ourselves to each other.  You really have to take the good with the bad when two adults come in to a relationship with their own children and loads and loads of baggage.  It is hard to sort through it all.

Yet, here we are, back to the present moment, where I was standing in the kitchen and realized that all this time I have really believed that everyone was leaving and I’m just living out a pattern of loss.  I believe that I hold those I love at arms length to avoid the severe pain of their loss, whether they pass from this earth into the arms of Jesus or if they just choose to abandon me.  Having these knowings deep in my soul created a sort of shift in me-an awareness that I can’t live this way any longer.  I can’t keep living as if everyone is leaving.  I have to embrace each person, each moment, and trust a little more, love a bit more openly, and treasure each day because it is important, not because I expect it to be my last one with the ones around me.

God has blessed me with a life to treasure and that is a value in and of itself.  There is something to be said for “living like you’re dying” so you learn to embrace each moment…but, when that becomes a detriment to your enjoyment, I say “life each day full of life” because we aren’t promised tomorrow, but there is no guarantee we won’t have a lifetime of tomorrow’s either.

Pain always finds a way to find us.  It is the very nature of things, but God has given us the great gift of joy despite our circumstances, despite our pains, despite the loss we all experience in so many varied ways.  But, joy, not pain, should be what drives the decisions we make.

Love over everything…even loss.

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