She

She
was callous with his heart
Keeping him near
Only from fear
She’d somehow end up alone

He
Moved on

~~~~

Thanks to the Eclectic Contrarian for the photo prompt, although as usual I’m not playing by the actual rules. Sorry John. 🙂

(You should check his blog out!)

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In which a measly $4 haunts me

Last week I met a lady who asked me to fax her food stamp renewal information.

I charged her $4.00. It should have been $5.00 but you know, she’s on food stamps.

The prices are listed on the door, so she knew coming in.

But the thing is, I could have done it for free and I didn’t.

She reeked of cigarettes and when she opened her purse I saw two packs.

At the time I thought, “If you can afford your smokes, you can pay for your fax.”

It was just the principle of the thing to me.

That night I tried to sleep but couldn’t stop thinking of her, how she was embarrassed, how she kept saying “Yes ma’am.”

I guess that $4.00 is going to haunt me.

For a long, long time.

~~~

Dear Lord,

Please help my principles and motivations trend towards grace, instead of the law.

I’m so guilty.

In Jesus name, amen.

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save

‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death

This is the power of Christ in me

From life’s first cry to final breath

Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand

Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
I will stand

I will stand, all other ground is sinking sand
All other ground, all other ground
Is sinking sand, is sinking sand
So I’ll stand

“A steady place to let down my defenses…”

That crazy conversation, where we took turns finishing each other’s sentences?

It changed me.

I’m not sure why, but it did.

It made me believe that this friendship mattered to you.

(You’ve given me so much evidence before. I don’t know why I struggled so much with that…)

It made me believe that I wasn’t going to wake up one day and never hear from you again.

The words we spoke that night took away my fear and replaced it with surety.

You gave me peace.

“A steady place to let down my defenses …”

Tonight I’m trying to give back a tiny tiny portion of everything you’ve given me in the past eleven months.

Joy. Confidence. Strength. Patience. Love.

I know you’ve felt edgy lately. Worried? Tired. Lonely. Even frustrated.

I hear it in your voice and read it in your words.

I turned off my notifications last Wednesday because I was taking it personally.

When I realized how silly that was I turned them back on. But still.

Silly me.

I know that whatever you are dealing with right now isn’t me, and in all actuality has nothing to do with me.

(I also know that once you get some rest and think things through you’ll level up.)

I tried to open the door last night and let you know we could talk about whatever it is, and all the things.

But you’re an artful dodger.

And I’m not one to try and pressure you to talk, even if I’m worried about you.

You however have skills skills skills where that is concerned!

So many times you have lifted my burdens. Why can’t I do the same for you?

I digress …

Tonight when you apologized, I acted like I had no clue what you meant.

I really did though.

But honestly my sweet friend, everything was okay on my end. I wasn’t mad or hurt or bothered.

(Unless it was only aimed at myself because I don’t feel like I’ve been very much help to you lately.)

But no apology was needed, precious though it was of you to give it.

~~~~

Angel, finish this sentence: Angel is important to Asa because …

“… Because she absorbs his moods.

Feelings.

Frustrations.

Joys.

Cares.

Concerns.

And she says, “Everything will be ok buddy, I believe in you.”

And I do.

All, all that you dream
Comes to shine in silver lining
And clouds, clouds change the scene

Rain starts washing all these cautions
Right into your life, make you realize
Just what is true, what else can I do

Just follow the rule
Keep your eyes on the road that’s ahead of you

All of the good, good times were ours
In the land of milk and honey

And time, time has its scars
Rainy days they turn to sunny ones
Livin’ the life, livin’ the life lovin’ everyone

Little Feat – All That You Dream

I met a lady who is going to Steve Jobs herself

“I have pancreatic cancer. But I’m not letting them cut me open. I’m fighting this naturally.”

When she said that I teared up and reached for her yellowed hand.

Not because she has cancer, although that’s sad.

But because I know she’ll be dead soon.

She has insurance, and money, but she doesn’t want a colostomy.

I wanted to say, “But Steve Jobs…”

I didn’t though. Because sometimes you just have to think things, instead of saying them.

She asked me to pray for her and I will.

“Mrs. Douglas, stop back by when you see my car out there by itself, so we can spend sometime together and pray.”

She promised she would.

In anticipation of that day, I went ahead and put Steve Jobs biography and my office Bible on the small table between the two leather chairs.

God opens a door, I stick a Steve Jobs biography in it faster than a Jehovah’s Witness can hand you a Watch Tower magazine!

~~~~

Just so I will remember

“In death, he becomes the essence of love.”

I guess I could put this in my drafts along with the almost 800 other ones.

But nah.

Doug messaged me tonight.

Which meant I had to download Messenger and reinstall it, which isn’t hard, but it did take a minute since everyone is on the Internet screaming “Roll Tide.”

Plus I always forget my password, being an early adopter of Facebook not withstanding.

So, I’m slow.

Finally I message him back and he says, “Are you mad at me?”

What?

“No of course not! Why would you think that?”

“Because it took you about thirty minutes to reply.”

Oh Doug.

He goes on to tell me what’s going on with him.

He’s on hospice now and has almost overdosed on pain meds twice so far.

Of course I’m shattered to hear this but he says, “It’s ok, I’m ok. But the pain is so hard to deal with Angel.”

We talk about pain and how much we owe, in the sense that we came unscathed through the tempest.

(He’s says that. He was unscathed. I was not.)

But I know what he means. He means he’s glad now that I said no.

He means he’s glad we can talk to each other without shame.

He means he’s glad to have me back in his life as the rock-solid friend I always was.

~~~~

He ties up a few loose ends about the publishing event we were involved with and asks my advice about a final interview with a national reporter.

“I’m not sure if I should do it. I’m afraid of leaving too much on the table.”

I know that he wants me to interview him. I’ll be much softer on him than the national guy would.

I volunteer (again) and he says he’ll think about it.

“Not for publication, but would you write the questions and come interview me for a DVD for my family? I know I could use my IPad and tape myself, but I don’t know what to say.”

“Of course I will buddy. Let’s plan on Saturday.”

“Ok Angel, I’ll call you.”

But I know he won’t call, not about that.

I can tell he’s getting tired so I make up an excuse to log off.

“Wait, don’t go Angel.”

“What is it Doug?”

“You know a few months ago, and a few weeks ago, and all the other times you offered to bring food?”

“Yes, and the offer still stands.”

“Would you make me some fresh banana bread, from the recipe my mom gave you in October?”

“Yes buddy, I will. I’ll bring it tomorrow.”

I was sipping on a Whiskey when I got the call
Yeah my friend Lex was lying in the hospital
She’d been pretty sick for about half a year
But it seems liked this time the end was drawing near

So dropped my plans and jumped the next London train
I found her laid up and in a lot of pain
Her eyes met mine and then I understood
That her weather forecast wasn’t looking too good

So I sat and spun her stories for a little while
Tried to raise her mood and tried to raise a smile
But she silenced all my rambling with a shake of her head

Drew me close and listen this is what she said

You’ll live to dance another day,
It’s just now you’ll have to dance,
For the two of us, so stop looking so damn depressed
And sing with all your heart that the Queen is dead”

Frank Turner – Long Live the Queen

Goodbye Michael

Dear Michael,

The situation being what it was, when the adoption was severed, I was not able to say goodbye to you, or tell you that I love you.

Do I still?

I wasn’t sure at first, when everything happened. But I think I do love you, now.

I’m still afraid of you though.

~~~~

You were five when we met, my brother’s long awaited foster son.

The adoption was finalized when you were six and Patrick was four.

Your brown eyes had more hurt in them than I have ever seen, before or since.

We loved you buddy, we did.

Remember how much you loved Brownie, when we came to visit in Myrtle Beach?

After all these years, the love you showed to her still stands out to me.

That sweet little boy, begging to sleep in the garage with the puppy, so she wouldn’t be lonely and afraid.

I finally took you out to check on her. You knelt down on her blanket and whispered, “Shh girl, shhh, don’t be afraid. Mikey’s right here.”

You cuddled right up to her while she licked your face, and you both fell asleep.

I wish that Michael could have been preserved and saved, before all the bad things happened.

~~~~

I know it was hard for a little boy to come into a family that never understood why you missed your mom.

Being infertile had practically driven his wife into a place of thinking another woman’s child could become her’s and fill the emptiness both husband and wife felt.

That was wrong of them.

But in case you ever wonder, they did love you.

Your birth mom loved you also.

But you know what Michael? Even at age five, you loved and protected her more than she ever did you.

I don’t know if anyone ever told you, but your birth mother was raised in foster homes herself.

I know she caused you and Patrick a lot of pain and trauma. But when you grow up, I hope you will forgive her.

Mostly for your own sake, but also because she just had never been given a fair shot at life herself.

~~~~~

And so we met, and there I was, charged with babysitting two traumatized foster kids for ten days while the foster mom and dad you hardly knew went to Venezuela for ten days.

Supposedly it was a work trip that my brother couldn’t get out of, but his wife could have stayed home with you.

I thought then, “I’m not sure they are prepared for the sacrifices parenting entails.”

And they weren’t.

But is anyone?

~~~

My nephew *Michael’s adoption was severed six weeks ago. He is 15.

I don’t know if I have the right to have an opinion about it or even tell his story.

But I feel that his memory, the memory and story of him, and even Michael himself deserves to be un-amputated.

*Not his real name.

My Favorite Boy

He’s still little, Aidan is. Six years old and only started kindergarten in September.

We bonded over the summer when I introduced butcher paper and bright markers into his world.

He drew towns and cities and worlds for hours on end. Cars, ships and houses.

“Draw your house here Midth Angel.”

He didn’t talk much then, and still has a hard time with words. But he can draw, and tells complex stories with his drawings.

Dith is me and MidulAngelo. He prodects me at home. We met on de Ditantic and daved people.

[Met on the Titanic.]

Aidan loves me. I know that he does and I don’t know why. I love him right back.

When his family of five arrives at my facility he he’s always the first in the door. I see him before he sees me and I don’t deserve the look on his face as he scans the room to find me.

He runs to me like a whirling dervish, yelling “Hey, Hey!”

Heads turn at the noise of him, but I don’t shush him. Not this golden child.

Hands out for a happy high-five, I say, “hey buddy, how are you?”

As is with most kids, the niceties are lost on him and he launches right into what he wants to talk about.

Something something, we saw it! Indiscernible and dis is Baby Groot.”

Brushing dark hair out of his big brown eyes, he looks up at me with complete trust. Plastic Baby Groot is offered with outstretched hands.

“Tee him!”

Oh sweet little one. Did you know that I can’t always understand what you say? Is that why you started bringing the Target ads, to show me your favorite super heroes?

Dis is de Iwon Man Wego but Twny Start is not weally in dere-a-uh.

(In Aidan’s vocabulary, some words at the end of a sentence have two and often three sing-song syllables.)

You funny little fella. You roll your eyes at me when I tell you I’ve never seen the movies you bring and place in my lap.

The Avengers. Guardians of the Galaxy. Captain America. Thor.

“My sons have seen them though,” I say.

“Ou can’t have doose boys. I’m woure boy,” he proclaims, pointing at his chest.

Wake the deal-uh,” Aidan insists, holding out his hand to shake on it.

“Ok buddy, you can be my boy while you’re here today.”

Then for the briefest of moments I allow myself to remember another boy who was mine for a day. The newborn son who lies in a cold grave near his grandparents, his birth and death dates the same.

It seems forever ago, but it wasn’t. It’s just that the girl I used to be was also buried that day.

“Would my son have been like Aidan? Overjoyed with the smallest of attentions? Elated with a big empty piece of paper onto which he could draw his own universe?”

“Is he mad at me that he died? Does he think it was my fault? Does he love me?”

“Does he know that I was so young and afraid? That I thought the doctors knew best when they sent me home that night?”

“Who would he be now?”

I still ask those things, the questions without answers. This side of Heaven, I’ll never know.

I do know this though, grief paralyzed me after he died. Then shame strangled me.

“Her baby died. I’m not sure what happened. But she’s not even taking care of her two-year old. Her younger sister comes every day and stays there most nights.”

The gossip was right. I didn’t take care of anyone then, not even myself.

All I did was lay in bed and relive over and over not fighting back when the doctor said, “Oh you aren’t in labor. It’s too early. Go home and rest.”

I relived giving birth with just my husband in the room, him screaming for help when I told him what was happening.

Relived how peaceful it felt when the baby moved against my legs and I thought for a few seconds that he might not die.

The flashbacks of holding him never stopped. He struggled to breathe, before they took him to “see if there was anything that could be done for him.”

“He’s little though. Don’t expect a miracle.”

But the worst thing was constantly reliving my sister entering the room 45 minutes later, holding the baby.

“I found him next to the sink, on the counter. They said he died and nothing could be done. They were waiting for the doctor to finish stitching you up before they brought him back. But he’s moving. He’s not dead.”

I relived reaching out for the baby. His chest slowly rising and falling. Then faster frantic breaths, his tiny fingers jerkily grasping, his head moving from side to side as he fought for air.

My husband screaming again at the call button speaker.

Then, the baby just didn’t take another breath. I relived the deathly silence. Over and over again.

For months afterward I stayed in my dark bedroom clutching the blanket he was wrapped in, my wet tears mingling with tiny drops of dried blood. (My blood, not his. He was perfect.)

One day my two-year old son came in and patted me on the cheek. Silently, he touched my face. Sweet little fingers tried to gently pry open my eyes.

“Mommy get up. Mommy come back. Mommy come play.”

So I did.

The empty shell of me tried to live a semblance of a life. I mostly failed. But I was up walking around and to everyone in my life, that seemed to be a huge improvement.

I prayed for months after my son died, that God would give me a dream of the baby.

I so desperately needed to see him somewhere besides that tiny casket. Somewhere besides being lowered into the hard red dirt.

Over a year later God answered that prayer.

I dreamed I was in church when a laughing toddler with wavy dark hair and big brown eyes peaked over the pew in front of me. His chubby little arms stretched towards me, smiles wreathing his face.

I reached for him but before I could hold him, the dream ended. I awoke with full knowledge and memory of my baby as I saw him, his soul alive.

I started the long journey of healing at that moment in time. Bitterness of soul lingered, but my wavering faith was completely replaced with sure knowledge that I will hold my son again one day.

I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
~2 Samuel 12:23

As I settle in to draw with Aidan and his brother Cody, the journey of healing continues.

One tear slides down my cheek onto the three feet of butcher paper.

I’m surprised by this. I don’t often cry for my baby anymore.

Aidan notices. “Don’t cry Midth Angel. Whass wong-uh?

“I think it’s just dust in my eye. I’m ok. Tell me what you want our zoo to look like. Where shall we put the tigers?”

Aidan roars at me, curling his fingers like claws. “Draw them here, in front of me,” he says with a pretend tiger-ish growl.”

So I do.

In the end I decide, “maybe I’m just crying for all the boys.”

The ones taken, and the ones given.

“The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Dear son, we’ve been waiting for you
Thrilled beside ourselves that you’ve arrived
White coats came in, heads held low
Talked for a bit, shuffled outside

We closed the curtains
And held each other
And cried
We said hello
At the same time
That we said goodbye

And smallest and wingless
Leaving as soon as you’d arrived
But sadness is just love wasted
With no little heart to place it inside

We closed the curtains
And held each other
And cried
We said hello
At the same time
That we said goodbye