Tuesday, June 05, 2018

It's your birthday, Sammy...

You'd be 8 today.  Oh my, I can just imagine how excited you'd be.  You LOVED your birthday.  The last one we celebrated was the best of all of them.  You spent the whole day with your sibling tribe, surrounded by gifts and love-and ended the day the best pool party ever with all your pals.  I remember looking at you that day and realizing that my little boy wasn't so little anymore.  Your face had "grown up" in that last year of your life.  Your pudgy baby cheeks were thinner and, while it broke my heart a little, it truly just made me so excited to see you grow, all at the same time.
You were such a study in contrasts, my son.  One minute you'd be tough as nails and ready to duke it out over whatever you were currently mired in and the next you'd be a bundle of crocodile tears, searching for mama.  You had one short little fuse and very little patience for giving up your way, but you also had the biggest heart for your brother and sisters-Heaven help anyone who might have offended or hurt one of them-the wrath of Sammy was a force to be reckoned with.  Who knew one day I'd miss hearing your fat little feet stomp like an elephant on the way to slam the door to your room, where you'd wail like a 2 year old until mama came in to make it all better.  (Which I mostly didn't do, you little turkey.  You knew I wasn't playing that game!  So you'd wail a while and just when my patience was almost depleted, you'd stop and crack the door open with a little whimper, saucer like tear-stained eyes blinking, and you'd whisper..."mama?")
You gave the BEST hugs.  You'd wrap your arms all the way around my neck and bury your face in my shoulder, your legs gripping my waist for dear life.  It's the way I held you the last birthday of your life when you asked me, "what was it like when I was born, mama?"  To this day, I think the Holy Spirit prompted you to ask me that question, to cement the beauty of that moment in my brain for when I couldn't hold your precious, living body in my arms ever again.
I forget things now, you know.  And watching your videos and looking at your pictures is still just so incredibly painful.  But it makes me remember and I so desperately want to remember- every. single. moment.  And when other people bless me and send me their memories and photos, it soothes the rough edges and brings me joy to see you carried in the hearts of others who loved you.
I completely lost it last night.  Snot and tears and sobbing and aching words pouring from my lips, probably making not a lick of sense.  And just like Miss Tolly rescued you from that pool on Charley's 7th birthday, she rescued me from my tears and let me cry all over her.  Because she loved you and she loves me and all of us.  It's beyond comprehension to me how I have been blessed with so many who love us unconditionally in the midst of all this pain and all the hard things that go with it.
I know it would break your heart to see mama cry.  But I also know that these tears and this pain and this sorrow is all the love that has nowhere to go now.  You & Mercy's earthly absence has left a hole nothing can ever fill.  Not a single thing.
So today, on your special day, a day that I never thought would be so filled with sorrow and pain, I will try for each moment of the day, to remember with joy all the love you filled my life for the years I was blessed to have you in my arms.
Happy Birthday Sammy-
I love you more than to the moon and back.
I love you forever, for always and for eternity.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day posted by Charles

Mother’s Day
Celebrating the woman who is always there for her children, her husband, her mother and father, her brother and sister, her family, and her friends; all those she loves so much! How do you let the most important woman in your life know that she is loved, cherished, adored, respected, honored, important, beautiful, sexy, desirable, on just this one day of the year? Just as our other holidays have been hijacked by commercialization so has this wonderful day of honoring and cherishing mothers.
Celebrate the Woman, not the day!
All too often on Mother’s Day the focus is spent on the commercialization, the stuff that we buy these precious women in our lives. The focus of the day, and actually every day of the year, needs to be on that special woman in your life. For me it is the mother of my children, Tiffany. She deserves my love and attention on this day most of all. But honestly, the sacrifices that my wife gives of herself for me, our children, her family, and her friends throughout the year truly deserve my utmost love, respect, warmth, compassion, passion, and giving of myself to her each and every day of the year. It is not possible to show this amazing woman, this true beautiful gift of God, how much she is loved, adored, admired, respected, cherished on one “special” day of the year deemed Mother’s Day! Of course I will try, I will shower her with love, kisses, hugs, flowers, and yes gifts. But all of this fluff on Mother’s Day would hold so much more in her heart if I did it throughout the year, each and every day. I am not saying, flowers and gifts everyday. I vow to show the love of my life, this gorgeous woman who has walked by my side through our life, through our peaks and valleys along our 23 year journey thus far. We have had our bumps, fell into some deep pits, and been floating in the clouds so high in happiness. Tiffany has always been there for me, her children, her family, and friends; she always gives so much of herself. I vow to be there for her the same, not just today on this commercial holiday but each day of our lives. I want her to feel my love, to know that she is cherished, appreciated, respected each and every day.
I Love You!


Saturday, May 12, 2018

All done today.

I held a broken mama today.
Her sobbing body shaking in my tight grasp.
I had no words or wisdom that could ease her pain.
Only love to lend, pain to share and tears to mingle.

Somewhere deep in my soul, I sensed it.
That the intense, unending pain would dominate this day.
But that the other dominating force would be the hand of the Lord-
molding and guiding, bringing another broken heart into the ever-widening circle.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me the blessing of being a safe haven for just one moment for another broken mama.  

A Hallelujah Chorus and a Castle on a Cloud...
memories of my little loves resonate so loud.
Each one of them an imprint deep into my heart...
even in eternity, we're never far apart.
Forever and for always, in my soul they'll dwell...
the music of their memories tinkling as a bell.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 
Psalm 73:26

clan mac mama

Sunday, March 18, 2018

24 hours in the life of this grieving mama-

6:45-open my eyes, realize I'd rather be asleep than get out of the cozy, warm place that often provides the only true respite from the reality of dead children.
7:15-realize that if I don't get my ass out of bed, my day will shot before it begins, so I throw my workout clothes on and head to the rec room.  Where there are the last sets of "school" pictures I framed and the kids handprints hanging on the wall, staring at me.  I face the doors and try to keep up with my workout without looking at that picture/handprint wall, because today, like almost every other day, it takes my breath away and reminds me of the desperately deep and jagged hole where the lives of 2 of my children used to be.  Unfortunately, facing the doors includes facing the red chair where Mercy used to sit and bounce around like a ping pong ball while I tried to read to her.  It's got the microscope sitting behind it that she'd also spread all over the place and try to examine whatever she could get her hands on.  It also means staring at the bins of art supplies that lined my school room in the old house and caused me hours of aggravation when they'd empty them, but also filled days with so much creativity and joy.
But if I face the other direction, I have to stare at the wall of toys that never gets played with anymore, the basket of puppets that lay untouched, the My Little Pony bin that only makes an appearance when Lyla comes over. The trains that Max now builds alone.
7:45-awareness that Eva isn't up pokes into my consciousness, so the internal debate over whether to wake her or let her sleep starts to rage.  Did she have nightmares again and that's why she didn't get up to her alarm?  Was she tossing and turning, trying to rest but unable to find that place of respite?  Did she get up in the middle of the night and turn on all the lights again to keep out the fear?  Do I have the energy to deal with her tears if she wakes up engulfed in them?
8:00-I poke the bear and the tears start.  I can't help it, I'm less than understanding and my weariness translates into irritation.  I've NEVER been a morning person and the challenges of mornings since "the accident" can sometimes feel like scaling Mt. Everest.  (And I'm stuck on the damn climb-unable to EVER just take a damn minute.)
She has a headache, so I try ibuprofen and a big glass of water.
Nope.  Not helping.
More tears.
Ok, let's try a shower.
By this time, I'm pissy because Charley and Max are messing around and I seem to have SO little patience any more for things that don't go according to plan.
It's a control issue.  Duh.  I've always been a control freak and when your kids die because of circumstances beyond your control and then you live the aftermath of more circumstances beyond your control, that deep fear and need to just control SOMETHING, ANYTHING, takes over and turns you into harping, nitpicking, buzz-kill of a mother.
9:10-still too much messing around and now I'm REALLY mad.  The standard lecture ensues, which sends Eva completely over the edge.  To which I respond with ZERO compassion.  (Yup, super proud mom moment here.  It's fan-freaking-tastic when your meter is so pegged that you can't even find a shred of peace to bless your child with.)
9:15-Eva sits down to eat her breakfast and all of a sudden, the wailing is beyond anything I've heard from her, in a really long time, maybe ever.  She shut the door on her emotions a long time ago and it shocks me now when it creeps out.
Her pain finally breaks through my wall and my heart is breaking because hers is too.  ALL OVER AGAIN.  Like it does a thousand times a day.
"What-love, what's the matter?"
Through her sobs, she stutters-"Max always gives me a hug when I don't feel good, just like Mercy did.  And I just want her to hug me, Mommy.  I just want her to hug me."
And I have not a word that I can utter that can change that pain, take it away or even make it better.  So I just do what I always do now-I tell her "I'm so sorry, baby.  I'm so very sorry, I wish I'd never sent you, I should have kept you all with me. I'm sorry, I'm just so sorry.  I miss her too, I miss her buttoning my sweater and playing with my hair.  Smearing too much butter on her toast and stealing my candy.  I miss seeing her smile and hearing her laugh. I'm sorry, love, I'm SO, SO, SO sorry."
9:25-convo with my husband, during which I'm reduced to a weeping mess, probably not making a lick of sense other than to just keep repeating that I'm just so very tired.
On. every. level.
9:40-by this time, I've got a headache and I just want to hide in my closet and cry. I open my door and leave my room to find my son on the living room floor surrounded by dinosaurs and trash packs.  Lining them up, building a safe space where his mind creates a world that still has his twin and best friend/brother living in it.  Last week it was his car mat and matchbox cars that were favorites with Sammy, this week it'll be trash packs and dinosaurs.  So-every. single. time. I walk into the living room, which I do at least 50 times a day, that sight will sucker punch me in the gut and take my breath away.
10:00-I'm trying to rescue the morning, so I park Max at the counter to start on math and I try to put on my crockpot dinner.  Phone rings-it's my sister.  She can tell the moment I answer that I'm a mess. And I am.
Can't hardly talk without sobbing, make zero sense, pour out every fear, frustration, and all the pain filled pieces of grief that have been building since I mostly stuff them now.  Because I'm supposed to stuff them and wear that mask that makes everyone comfortable.  You know, the one that says I'm thankful to still have 3 children.  I'm blessed to have a home.  The one that says I'm finding purpose in the pain and the silver lining in the deaths of TWO of my kids.  Joy, the finding joy in Jesus mask.
I am NOT finding joy in much of anything.  I'm freaking pissed that this is our life and I'm so mentally exhausted that it takes every ounce of my energy to find the brainpower to make dinner.
10:45-finally wipe my face off enough to throw crap in a crockpot and hope it's edible.
11:30-guess I should shower.  Maybe it will give me a minute to breath and whisper a prayer that I can get through this day.
12:15-check on lunch for kids.  Am reminded by the smaller pot and less boxes of mac and cheese that there are less little people to feed.  Then I throw away the extra food in the fridge that I can't seem to stop buying and that just expires because there are aren't enough of us to eat it all.  Last week I cooked enough food in 3 days to last us 10 because my default setting just kicked in and big clan mama took over in the kitchen.
That sucks.  Because when I have to put it all in the fridge, it's yet another reminder of who I don't have to feed.
1:00-I field an inquiry from Charley about what we're wearing for Easter, followed by request to have an outfit just like the ones in our very last family picture.  Sucker punch to gut.  I used to get such joy from finding just the right things to showcase the personality and style of each of my neat little people.  I'd spend hours scouring racks for my picky Charley bean, going store to store to find edgy little "men" clothing for Max and Sammy and searching high and low for matching dresses for Eva and Mercy.
Not so much anymore.
Or really at all.
I HATE shopping for any of us anymore.  We're all SO different and holidays, honestly, they suck.
1:45-Max is starting to check out and desperately wants to lose himself in "trash pack" land, so I give him and Charley a break and decide to try and do paperwork/bit of office stuff.  Receive text from my brother about our family visit for Charles' retirement in July.  Start to stress because worry goes into overdrive and I think he's going to tell me he can't come.  Which I can't handle.  Period.  Charles' retirement is scary, it's bittersweet and it's not what we had planned for this stage in our life.  So I need all my people here to stand beside us and celebrate all that my husband accomplished as he served our country.  Because this part of our life looks so different than it should and it's a hard pill to swallow.
2:15-Worry unnecessary, but my heart is still racing and my anxiety is up as I start realizing for the thousandth time that I have no idea how we're going to make it through that day without all of our children by our sides.
2:30-check email looking for estimate from handyman.  Who is at least the 6th person I have talked to as we try to make minor updates to the Island house so we can sell it in a few months.  Stress level peaks as I realize it's STILL not here and I have run out of ideas for finding someone to do this damn work.  I don't want to deal with this.  I don't want to move.  Just going into the storage shed filled with their stuff sometimes starts a spiral I can't get out of of, what on earth will it be like to be constantly surrounded by boxes and boxes of tangible things they touched, wore, played with and lived in?
2:45-Charley starts waxing poetic about moving back "home."  At which point, I not so gracefully respond that it's not a done deal.  And her face falls and she shuffles off to the dining room to do her schoolwork.  So I plod behind her and give her a hug and tell her I'm so sorry-that I shouldn't respond that way.  Just that her dad and I are still praying through so much and the decision about where to live is a big one that we can't just rush into.  And there's so much more to the decision than just where to live.
2:50-the internal war over where to live peaks for the day.  Even though I want to go home in a part of my heart, the other part just can't settle with what it will be like to move back into the home we built for the family we no longer have all of.  What will it be like to wake up every day without Sammy's big brown eyes staring at me from the side of my bed?  How bad will it suck to know that I'll open the door to my room to grab a glass of water before bed and I WON'T see Mercy curled up on the floor just outside my room?  How will it feel to look out and see only 2 kids playing on the swings instead of 4 or 5 hanging from every surface?  HOW will Charley, Max and Eva feel when it hits them that moving home isn't going to fix the holes in their hearts and souls?
3:30-I'm ready for bed.
And it's seriously not even dinner time.
4:00-hop on Facebook for a minute to check an event time and get assaulted by suggested event for Mother/daughter pampering day.  Don't have a little lady who loves to be pampered anymore.  Which makes me cry again. And mad.  MAD.
Mad enough to spit nails.
5:00-load Charley up for Lacrosse practice and head off to Newport.  Spend most of the drive thinking about how desperately I don't want to deal with all the crap falling down around us right now.  How I don't want to face this decision about where to live, what Charles should do, what I should do, where our kids should go to school, whether or not we should switch churches because every time I walk in ours, I flash back to the day we filled the FLC with people to "celebrate" the lives of 2 children that ended too soon and in such a disgusting and violent way.
5:30-Drop Charley off and am flooded with guilt that I'm not staying to watch.  But I can't do people today and I just need to go home.
6:00-Call Mom and rehash all the stuff that never seems to change and the frustration I slog through constantly.  Living in the shadow of grief may change, but it doesn't get any easier.  Every day that passes is another day further from the moment I last hugged my children, heard their voices, smelled their sweetness and waved as they pulled out of my driveway for the last time.  Vent that I wish people would stop looking at us moving back home as some kind of exciting life event.
Maybe it will help our hearts and maybe it will make me even madder.  And the rub is that we won't know until we're in it.  There's no crystal ball or burning bush to tell us what to do.  It's simply a leap of faith.  And leaps of faith for people who leapt into a new chapter in faith only to have the worst possible outcome aren't just leaps of faith.  They are momentous launches into a deep, dark chasm that feels bottomless and bleak.
6:45-finally head inside to eat dinner and find my husband and son reading at the counter.  Find my heart filled with gratitude for the wonder of hearing my son read.  Something I wasn't completely sure would ever come to pass. And gratitude for the incredibly giving and selfless people who have come alongside us in that journey.  It's not just a little boy learning to read, it's an anxiety ridden, twinless, brotherless and traumatized little boy overcoming more emotional and mental obstacles in his short little life than most people do in a lifetime.
Gratitude in that moment to provide respite in a day that feels like a thousand heavy bricks crushing my soul.
7:15-hiding in my office.  crap tv.
I simply can't think for one more minute today.  I need to check my brain out and zone out and find a little quiet in this brain that never stops.
8:15 move to room to hide.  take bath and eat popcorn.  more crap tv.  Snuggle goodnight to my little man.
9:15 crap tv has lost it's luster and I read.  Read other broken mama ramblings and pray, with every ounce of my soul that tomorrow will be a little lighter, a little easier, a little quieter.
But I know it won't.  Because at the end of the day, this is my life.  It may look a little different each day, but at at the end of the day-
this. is. my. life.
And every day that I wake up will be another one that doesn't include Mercy and Sam.
So I pray, when I can, that something will give.  Something will change.
I'll keep trying to deal with the alligator closest to the boat, do the next thing and not give up.  Even when, most of the time, it's what I most desperately want to do.
Grief is not self-pity.  
It's not whining. 
It's not being stuck.  
It's the manifestation of a love so deep and so wide and so full that it's all encompassing to wade through life without the physical manifestation of that love.  
Changing, ebbing, flowing and crashing over our life interrupted.    
10:45-close my eyes and pray that the night brings the peace that eludes the day.

I'm not sure when we ALL started to hide behind a mask because it became easier to stop talking about it and being honest than it was to be raw and true to the pain.  When did it become "easier" to shut things out than hear that AGAIN "God has a plan," "God is sovereign," and "God will work all this together for my good and His glory," one more time?  It is so easy to say that when you haven't held the body of your lifeless children, running your hands through their hair while you try not to let the smell of the embalming fluid be what you remember.
So easy.
You may not want to hear this and you may not agree-but I will never believe that the God who loves us, created us in His image and walks beside us in every part of our days would PLAN for my children to die so violently in a field, PLAN for my surviving children to be forever scarred, PLAN for my daughters to blame themselves.
PLAN for us to spend our lives wondering why we didn't get a miracle.
What do I believe?  I have to ask myself that over and over again, and I'm waiting, still waiting for that answer to settle in my soul.
The only thing I know for certain is that The Father, The Lord, The Giver of all good and beautiful things, gave these children to Charles and me.  So I will love them, cherish them, find patience and grace when none remains, and never give up on finding my way out of this fight I'm in for my very soul.
Truthfully, I know one other thing for certain.  I simply cannot censor myself or what this looks like for my family anymore.  I know it's hard to see us cry, painful to hear our sorrow, heartbreaking to watch any of us fall apart, frustrating to not know what to say or do, and exhausting to listen to us over and over again, I know that. 
But the mask is too heavy and painful to wear, so we won't be wearing it anymore.

as always,
clan mac mama

Monday, February 05, 2018


I’m going home tomorrow.

967 days have passed since I walked out that garage door-utterly shell-shocked and devastated by Sam’s senseless and heinous death and praying with every ounce of faith I had for Mercy’s precious life to be spared.

And yet it wasn’t.  

Tomorrow, my husband and I will step through the door of our family home together, for the first time since we left to start picking up the pieces of the mess we were handed.

Such. A. Mess. 

To that end-I don’t write much anymore, because most of what I want to say right now wouldn’t inspire a single ounce of faith in even the most Jesus infused soul.  967 days out and I’m wrestling even more heavily now with questions I’ll never know the answer to this side of Heaven.  Questions that I know I won't get an answer to, yet I simply have to let them run through my soul and out into that black pit of doubt.  Because that's what grief looks like.  

And I’m just so very tired.  To the very core of my heart, my soul, and my inmost being.
It’s a mind-numbing mental exhaustion that I simply can’t seem to shake. My words don’t come easily, just living everyday life often feels so painful and awkward.   Relationships are strained and my faith feels distended and splintered.

Life hasn’t stopped for us.  We don’t “get a break” because our lives imploded when our kids died.  We’ve had to figure out how to keep putting one foot in front of the other in a world that often has little patience for extended grief or stories that don’t end with a quick redemption.
And ours doesn't feel like a redemption story.  I can’t and I WON’T try to find a silver lining buried in the tragic deaths of my children. In my heart, I believe that someday I can find purpose and a measure of joy, but for now we’re surviving.  

And taking the next step.

Tomorrow that next step is figuring out if we can live, every day, in the home we built for all of us with just some of us.
And after that, it’s finding out what life without the Marine Corps means for a family that started there, grew there and for some-
ended there.

So tonight I beg for your prayers, my friends.  We need some vigorous ones in the days to come.  We are in desperate need of an undergirding of the Holy Spirit, an infusion of divine strength into our souls and a potent dose of the fire of faith to carry us into an uncertain future.

Tonight my heart is anxious, but it's also certain of something that Cassie reminded me of today.

Walking in that house can’t ever be worse than surviving the last 967 days without Sam and Mercy.  So we’ll make it.  It’ll probably completely suck, but we’ll survive.  

And take the next step.

“Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes."
                                                  Isaiah 54:2   

Perhaps the widening of my tent is willfully choosing to pull back the curtains of doubt, fear and isolation.  It's facing the malevolent whispers of the enemy and declaring them powerless to rob my house of the strength we can only EVER find in The Lord.  
Will you pray that for us tonight? 
And for every family facing an uncertain future?
Those facing a future without all of the ones that make them whole? 

Thank you from the depths of our souls-
Prayers are our balm of Gilead and we are ever so grateful for each one offered to the Father on our behalf.  

with love always, 
clan mac mama


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Wishing you were here, my precious girl...

I wish I had some eloquent words to frame this day, but mostly we're just trying to find the smiles to celebrate our sweet boy and remember our smiling beauty, Mercy. 
It's rough around here without you, Mercy.  We laugh a whole lot less and hugs are so much harder to come by.  You were truly the glitter glue that stuck all of us together, melded our hearts in tighter and lightened so many of our moments.  The best little surprises I find are the selfie videos you constantly made on my phone/computer/ipad-for just a minute I get to hear your sweet voice, see your kookie smile and listen to one of your silly rants.  You seem so alive and I can almost reach out and touch you...
Our world was forever changed the minute you slipped into this world and into our family.  Your heart for your siblings, especially your twin, was as deep and wide and full as the greatest ocean.  You filled our days and nights with crazy plans and silly dreams, dress up days and movie nights, box forts and icy water slides, barbie castles and ninja battles, candy sneaking and make-up madness....
Our ears were blessed by your melodic little voice lilting in a lullaby, singing a song of praise of our God, who you adored and worshipped-
Mercy-I'm sorry my words are failing your memory today.  Our hearts hurt so desperately and we love and miss you so very much.  I pray that your sweet twin will have his heart filled with your love and presence today, reminding him of just how much you adored him.  Whisper a special prayer to Jesus for all of us today, sweet girl.  And give Sammy the biggest hug and pretend we're all in it together.  I long for the day when we're reunited in Christ, baby girl.  Until then, we'll do our best to honor you, to honor Sammy and to spread your love and light wherever we go.  
Mama loves you-
Happy 9th Birthday Mercy and Max-

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Alice's bottle of grief...

Imagine a little bottle sitting just in front of me.  And before you can ask, ponder, question or inquire anything of me, you have to drink it.
And in that bottle is what sits inside my heart and soul- every second, of every day.
As it pours down your throat, you gag.  The bile rises and it burns, relentlessly firing inside your throat.
Every instinct in your body is forcing it out.
But you can't.
Once you drink it, you can't go back.  It sits there, spreading and seeping, invading every layer, pore, fiber, vessel and crevice of who you are.
It chokes you, suffocates you, blankets you.  With feelings that don't even have words that can capture the layers and depth of your heart-wound.

When you're wounded by the potion in the bottle, words and opinions are like arrows, sharpened and pointed into razored barbs that embed in the jagged and bloody flesh you have left hanging off of your broken and battered body.

Descends in a shroud, hovering and covering all that your senses take in. Distortion is inevitable, the funhouse mirror is all that you see.  Reality feels surreal and who you are simply doesn't make any sense. 
All of a sudden, you were too big for your life.   Your head hit every corner and your mere presence made chaos of all that was around you.
Then just as quickly, you were too small, so small that you not one single thing fit anymore.  Everything was just wrong.  All WRONG.

When you drank the potion, you started falling. And it felt like you fell forever, the black bottomless pit swallowing you whole.
And then you hit the bottom.  So hard.
Then standing back up took every ounce of what little you had left.  

But you have to stand up over and over and over again. 
And you're just so tired.
So when you stand up over and over and over again, it's all you can do.
Literally.  All you can do.

And it's still all I can do. 

And it's all my husband can do.
And my children.
When nightmares and loneliness, confusion and anger, fear and failure, when they walk in your steps and at your side...
sometimes standing up is more than we can do.

We are loved.  
We are blessed. 
We are thankful. 
And we are so broken.

Please don't splatter me with "Jackson Pollock" scripture or platitudes you think might ease the sting. Don't use my tragedy to tell other people to hug their loved ones tighter.  Because you have NO IDEA how tightly I hugged those babies before they left me for the last time.  Please don't place your timeline of healing on my shredded soul.  
And for the love of all that is holy, don't tell me my children are in a better place.

Just tell us you'll keep praying.
Lift us to the throne of the only One who can lift us out of the hole.
Share your memories if you have them.
Plant a flower in their garden.
Don't give up on us.

Just know that every day, every minute, every second...
standing up is mostly all we can do.  

And when it's time and when we can, maybe we'll stand straighter.
And take a few steps.
We'll wobble and stumble, most likely we'll fall.
But we'll get back up.
When we can.

It's not easy to walk beside us on this broken and pitted road.  Switchbacks and cliffs are lurking in every moment, around every corner.  We're like that box of chocolates in Forrest Gump-"you never know what you're gonna get..."
You will get tired and fall off.  Our shrapnel will become too much and your patience will wear thin.  Because you want us to be better.  Because you love us.  Because we fail to be whole again.
And that's awkward.  And sad.  And shitty and uncomfortable.

You want the gal who thought "asshat" was entirely appropriate in the right circumstance.  The loose lipped chick whose favorite adjective was "craptastic."  You want the redemption and the good.


But it's not my story to write and I don't get to pick the timing.  And I don't get to decide what the redemption and the good is.

What I do get to do is be me.
See through.
Broken and battle scarred.  

I get to be me. 
I'm trying to do it gracefully and I'm probably failing in epic proportions, but I'm not giving up.

A sweet friend asked me the other day if I share my testimony...
I didn't really know how to answer her.  Because I can't tell you, with any amount of the eloquence you'd expect, what my testimony is.
Maybe it's as simple as this.
God doesn't leave you.  Even when you try to make Him.  When you put up the wall, erect the barrier, close the door and deadbolt it shut.

And what I can tell you is that I refuse to give up. 
Bitterness is my constant companion and I DESPISE the words FAIR and HEALING.  (And for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT tell me everything happens for a reason.)

I don't know what that looks like or how it's going to play out, but I'm hanging on.  By a thread.

Don't for one second think that because I figured out how to keep putting one foot in front of the other, we are A-OK.

We ain't.

You can pray for the nightmares to stop.
For sleep to come with peace and stillness.
You can pray for our hearts to thaw and our family to find our center.
You can pray for your own hearts and souls to be moved with that same earth shattering awareness of His goodness and presence that invaded you in the weeks and months after the accident.
You can HONOR God with remembering that You are SECOND. 

Me? I can pray for you.  For me. For my husband and children.  My whole family.
For every soul in this world to realize that it's not about them.
Charles said this to me today when we stared off into the endless horizon of the ocean-
"He's not coming back until we stop believing WE are what matters."  

Above all else, love one another as I have loved you.
With an everlasting love...
That type of love means WE don't matter.  
HE does.  

His pillar of fire in my heart and the hearts of my family-I pray for that pillar of fire to burn away the barriers and the bitterness.
I pray for the LOVE  to be the center of it all.