It is Well, and yet Not

I held a sobbing child in my arms last night for the first time in a very long time.  I held her close and just let the tears go, with salty bitterness and nose running all down my shoulder.   There were no soothing words to comfort, no back patting to help calm.  Hold her.  That’s all I could do.  I held her until she loosed her grip and let go.  I held her hands in mine, and kissed them.  I took her face close to mine and kissed it.  I whispered “I love you” in her ear.

The beautiful, distraught child was mine.  She will be 18 exactly 13  days from now. She stands an inch-and-a-half taller than me, but in her Doc Martens it is near to 3 inches.  And last night she was my little girl who needed her Momma all over again.  I sat next to her as she, as we, her Dad and I too, attended a funeral.

This was an unexpected funeral, and a tragic one at that, as many tend to be. The service was for a 17 year-old high school Junior who died by her own hand.  Vivi was a friend of SugarBug’s from church.  Being close in age they went through many of the same church programs together starting in the nursery as infants. They have known each other their whole lives but didn’t develop a friendship until both were in high school youth group together.  It was there they bonded over similar music tastes, distaste for conventional trendy fashion and a love for Jesus.

I’ve known Vivi and her parents just as long.  I worked in the church nursery as a Supervisor in charge of one of the rooms when she was born.  Her dad was SonnyBoy’s guitar teacher for a short time.  Her mother and I connected through women’s ministry, and various other ways we had volunteered over the years.

Our girls had another connection: depression.

There are few things in this world I truly hate, and by “hate” I mean I wish it never existed anywhere, anytime in this world.   And I HATE depression.  It is a sinister quiet little devil of a thing.  People who suffer with it look like nothing is wrong with them, at least most of the time.  And those fighting it aren’t always immediately aware when it is getting worse.  Outsiders don’t always realize that something has changed with the person caught in its grip. Sometimes the depressed don’t see it right away either — and they are the ones living with it.  It moves slowly, so slowly that it can be weeks or months before it is recognized as having taken hold.

And sometimes it moves at lightning speed.

Maybe that’s what happened with Vivi, that lightning speed onslaught of darkness.  Only she knows, and she isn’t here to tell us.

I can’t blame her — at least I don’t want to blame her — for taking her own life.  The whispers of self-loathing telling me the world would be a better place, that I would be in a better place, that no one would really miss me all that much, to ‘go ahead, do it’ have been all too familiar. LIES!  Those are all lies.

I want to scream at the top of my lungs. Cursing won’t do any good, and it won’t change anything, and it won’t make me feel any better.  It never does.  Blaming her parents is the absolute wrong thing to do.  Vivi’s dad made sure to have Pastor tell the attendees of the service that no one loved his girl as much or as fiercely as her mother did.

I love my girl fiercely, too.  I am afraid that she has heard those terrible whispered lies in the quiet recesses of her mind.  I am afraid.  And I hate being afraid.  I don’t think she is in any real danger of self-harm. But …I know this age and stage in life makes her extremely vulnerable.  I am  certain she struggles to see beyond being 19 or 20 years old. Anything much past that is just.so.old.

I want her to not just grow up, but grow old.  At Vivi’s funeral our Youth Ministry director said she always thought Vivi would grow up to be one of the coolest adults: independent, artistic, poetic, unfettered by the norms that keep adults so ‘adult.’  I could see that.  And sadly we none of us will get a chance to actually see that.

The night before the funeral during the visitation time Vivi’s mom took my girl in her arms, remembered her by name, and held her tight.  They clung to each other — my daughter in grief, the grieving mother in relief that her child was remembered by a friend. She told my girl how much hers had loved her, how she looked forward to seeing her at youth group, how she loved and admired SugarBug for being SugarBug, and doing it so boldly.

So my sweet girl, continue to go boldly into adulthood.  No matter how old you get you will always have my shoulder to cry on. And make Vivi proud by being one of the coolest adults on the planet, and love Jesus the whole while.

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    • Refrain:
      It is well with my soul,
      It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is Well with My Soul, Horatio G Spafford, 1873

Popcorn on Picnic Tables

After my walk with Lady Bear tonight we came home to find my Dear Husband sitting out back with a fire going in his outdoor fireplace.  We said our “hello’s”, and Lady Bear drank her fill from the pool, as she is apt to do.  I excused myself to get washed up.  While the water was running the breeze wafted some of the smoke up through the window.  Those two combined, and in an instant I was transported to the summer I was six.

We had a ritual, of sorts; at least it seems like one in as far as nostalgia goes.  We lived in a neighborhood filled with kids, where neighbors got to be life long friends, and so did their kids.  On our little corner of Burke street my dad would pile on the Kingsford, let us soak it with lighter fluid, and fire up the grill.  It was Saturday night, and we were cooking burgers outdoors. The Dads, mine and Mr. S, our neighbor, would sit at their picnic table, still in their Saturday work clothes, and play cribbage while we ran around, waiting for the coals to be ready.  The method of scoring cribbage baffled we little ones, and figured it was definitely a game for the grown ups, and we mostly left them alone.  The Moms would be in their respective kitchens forming patties, slicing tomato, washing lettuce.  If one of us was lucky enough to come in at the right time, Mum would let us pour the sugar down the funnel and shake up Kool Aid in the old milk jug we reused so many times it was stained pink.

Most often we’d eat indoors, but every once in a while both families would sit together at the picnic table, and feast on homemade potato salad, corn on the cob, watermelon and lots of burgers.  I loved that picnic table. It had wooden benches and a wooden top, and curved wrought iron scrolling leg supports.  Mr S. had to scrape and sand it every spring and then re-shellac it after a hard Michigan winter would make it all peel.  It was a rich golden amber color.  We’d play games of Monopoly on it, and I’d always want to be banker, not because I was good at math (which I was), but because I would cheat and give myself extra money whenever I passed GO, or bought my properties. I hate Monopoly, I never win, even when I’d cheat.

After dinner was done we were off to take our Saturday night baths, with lots and lots of bubbles from Avon’s pink bubble bath. Those were the best, because we’d sit in there so long we’d get all wrinkly, my two sisters and me, all together in the tub.  And if there were enough bubbles we didn’t even have to use soap! We’d just make mermaid shell bras, Santa beards and Pippi Longstocking pigtails until we were clean.  I’m sure a Barbie or two had to do some acrobatic high dives inbetween saving the Fisher Price Little People from killer sharks and swimming the wide, wide ocean.  Afterward came Johnson & Johnson’s “No More Tears” detangler, and sometimes, pink foam curlers.

But the night wasn’t finished. O no, there was one last thing.  We’d all be cleaned, combed, curler-ed and dressed in our nightgowns then head back out to the picnic table in the neighbor’s back yard, sometimes in slippers, but usually barefoot.  The dads would sit with a cold beer, maybe the moms too, and we’d have a huge bowl of freshly popped popcorn, rich with melted butter and lots of salt, and a little more Kool Aid if any was left.  We kids would melt the leftover styrofoam cups and Dixie plates in what was left of the coals in the grill.  I remember once having marshmallows, and watching them puff up in the heat before they’d catch on fire.  If there were any sparklers left over from the Fourth of July, we’d get to light them up too, twirling and dancing, pretending they were our magic wands.

Thoroughly exhausted, we were ushered up to bed.  We’d have our bedtime Bible story and prayers, be kissed and told not to have any feet fights.  This was a constant problem–the feet fights– since I shared a bed with my little sister.  It didn’t matter, we’d had a great night.

Seen on the Street

Introduction

Every once in a while something grabs my eye, and it leaves an impression. It’s one of those things that just make you stop to think, not good, not bad, just “Hhhhmmmm” and wonder what they must have been thinking when they said/wrote/went/did whatever, and I was a witness to it.

Seen on the Street #1

Homemade car window *thing*, hanging in the rear window for all the world to see. At first I thought it was one kind of societal dig; turns out it was another:

War in Irag: 4,000 dead in 5 years

9/11: 3,000 dead in one day

Abortion: 3,000 dead per day, for the past 35 years

Abortion is killing America!

I just did a quick calculation, and that comes to ever 38 MILLION babies in the United States since 1973. I guess when it comes to making a life and death decision, one female and one child it, it becomes my own decision, and no one can stop me. When it becomes one President, one Dictator and peace and stability for a nation oppressed, it must be stopped.