Sunday, April 29, 2007

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

My son is a senior in high school. This next weekend is his senior prom. He has been elected to the prom court and tonight I am overwhelmed with sorrow as I think that his father will not be here to witness this great milestone in my son’s life.

As I sat, wallowing in my self-pity, this verse in Jeremiah came to mind. God has far more planned for my son than I can imagine or envision. God has plans for my son that includes hope and a bright future, despite the “hand he has been dealt:” So tonight I celebrate who my son is—who he has become and who he will be.

He is the living legacy of his father. He is loved by everyone and has a special spirit that causes others to be at ease with him and themselves. He has a strong moral fiber which I, as his mother, am so very proud of. He is a natural musician and uses his talent to serve. He is a “normal” teenager, who, under abnormal circumstances has risen to become an exceptional human being. Sometimes, I look at him and am saddened that he no longer has an earthy father to share his life memories with, but am forever grateful that he has many strong men in his life who are more than willing to stand-in and represent his father, not take the place of, but to simply represent.

Life is hard, but my son is a perfect example of how overcoming is not only a possibility, but required to continue into a life of hope and a future filled with promise. Whatever God has for him, he will meet the challenge with the confidence and conviction that is his birthright. Whether he is crowned prom king on Saturday night is of little significance to us, he deserves much more than a silly earthly crown and will indeed receive such.

THIS I know for sure…

Thursday, April 26, 2007

To Simply Exist

It's not enough to simply exist. Somewhere a choice must be made to actually stand for something. When I think about life in general, I wonder what it is that my life stands for? What can my children point to as the “point” of my living?

My son graduates from high school in just a few weeks. It seems like yesterday that I walked down that aisle and received my high school diploma. I thought I had the world by the tail. I was in love, going to college and knew most everything there was to know (at least that’s what I thought). The reality was that I had little to NO knowledge of life in general. I didn’t know you could marry the love of your life and it not be forever and though this has been my biggest heartache, life, in general, has been good to me. I have a job that I love, a family close by for support, some of the very best friends God could give a person and the hope that the next chapter in my life will be as amazing as the first.

I do have hopes and dreams—even at 44 years old. I hope to make a difference. I hope that I can build on the foundation laid by my husband and me; continue to raise my sons to be successful and happy adults and create a “chapter two” that is full of hope and promise.

Leo Buscaglia recommends this alternative to “simply existing”:
“May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely?”

We have opportunities every day to enrich another’s life. We have life experiences, thoughts, advice and views others could not only benefit from, but find joy within. Simply existing is to waste your life experience to horde what life has taught you as only your own. It is only with sharing and creating community within our lives that we are able to live fully.

It is my desire to “stand” for hope; for the ability to take life and not only exist, but flourish. Am I there yet? No—not even close. Do I expect to arrive there---Yes, I really do. I want my children to know that life may be difficult, even unbearable at times; but that God, through His strength and love can embrace us and guide us to a far greater existence than we could ever imagine. As my son graduates, my wish for him is to NOT simply exist, but to thrive.

This I know for sure.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Two Posts--One Day --Senseless!

I conducted a poetry workshop within my classroom today. It was successful, as lessons go,—my students were so engaged that they didn’t even want to go to band—they wanted to continue to write. Tonight, I found myself watching Oprah on TIVO—and I found myself encompassed in my very own poetry workshop lesson of the day. Oh, a victim of my own instruction---trying to make sense of something so utterly "Senseless"


How many will join our ranks?

I am sitting

At home

Watching Oprah and learning of a man

Named Ken Granda

Father of three


In the hallway of Virginia Tech


I knew something was wrong

He didn’t call me back

He was brilliant

How is his wife?


Three children…

He was a wonderful father..

Hearts are broken

Children without a father

What do we do?

It is surreal…

We can’t move forward…

We can’t make arrangements

We can move forward until

They release


Release the body

“Our sense of grief can not be compared to your own…”

No, it can not.


Can not be compared….

I Hate Guns!

I will admit that the recent happenings at Virginia Tech have aggravated my feelings in this area. You see, a former student lost his life a few years ago to the fact that firearms were readily available to him. Now, we find ourselves reading about a college student with a semi-automatic handgun who had the capability of killing over 30 young people in one fell swoop --- in a heartbeat the lives of the Virginia Tech students and families will never be the same-innocence has been stolen from them. Security is gone. I can’t imagine the pain that the parents of these children must endure—it is truly senseless. The loss of my husband was great, but I comprehend and acknowledge that the loss of a child is the greatest loss of all.

I am unwavering in my stance regarding guns. There are very FEW absolutes in my life—this happens to be the ONE that is steadfast. Is this harsh--perhaps, but I will not waver---I will not back down---nor would I ever stand in the way of your “right” to own a gun, especially for hunting (though I have zero tolerance for semi-automatic anything). But if I am aware one is present in your home, my child would NOT be allowed to visit you. See, I am under no illusion that my child, who is capable of conquering any extremely complicated video game, could figure out how to open a “locked” gun cabinet if he so desired and curiosity; well, it is within every child’s nature.

At the end of the day, I believe in the potential of life from conception to death—it is a part of who I am. I can’t explain it any better than to tell you that---ALL life has promise. It doesn’t end at conception and it certainly doesn’t end with making horrific decisions. Do I KNOW that at moments in time, this doesn’t make sense, YES, but I still am willing to hold true to the fact that life is precious no matter what---and guns---seem to only accelerate the ability to take it away.

This I know for sure.

Monday, April 16, 2007

When Will I Learn?

Don and I never played the “popular in the school district” game and sometimes our kids suffered; however, in the past, Don was actually here to “oversee” the kids sporting activities. When my youngest son received word of the baseball team he was to be on this summer, I took exception with the fact that he seemed to be on a team coached by someone outside our community. As a single mother, I was hoping that he would be on a team coached by a role-model from our own community with which he could “connect”. Selfishly, I wanted to be able to car-pool with parents I knew well and be able to count on their support.

As always, I took things into my own hands and emailed the head of the youth league my concerns. As I was reading his response, my 11-year-old was looking over my shoulder and asked “Mom, why are you emailing Mr. L?”. I told him and, of course, he was APPALED. He said to me “Mom, we will deal with the hand we are dealt. I DO NOT want any special treatment.” So, I sent another email to Mr. L (who, most likely, thinks I am a nut case by now) that we would simply stay with the original team my son was assigned to.

The next day I received the team roster. Though I do not know the coach, the son of our “spiritual development pastor” at our church was on the team (my son already has great admiration for this man) and also the father of another man who was friends with my husband.

WHEN WILL I LEARN? When will I “GET” that God is truly in control of our lives and those of our children? I long to, one day, have the faith of my 11-year-old son and embrace the “hand I have been dealt”.

This I KNOW for sure…

Monday, April 09, 2007


My 11-year-old son and I love to watch movies together. We watch all kinds of movies, but have noticed that in many of the movies we watch together a parent dies. This could have been the way it was in movies we watch before, but we seem to be more keenly aware of this plot line now. With all we have been through you might think this to be horribly difficult to watch, but it really isn’t. Instead, it has opened dialogue between my son and me and has, in fact, assisted the healing process.

This weekend we watched the movie DUMA. DUMA was listed on my brother, Evan’s website as his favorite movie of the year. Now, Evan usually likes those artsy movies where, when I leave, I am left wondering what it was all about. Even with that in mind, we decided to take a chance and give this movie a try since it was about a South African boy who befriends a cheetah (who doesn’t fall in love with a cheetah cub). I am so glad that we did.

This is a lovely movie about friendship and the legacy of a father as the boy, Xan, goes on a journey to return his beloved cheetah back to its rightful home. The scenery is breathtaking and will make you want to hop on the nearest jet to South Africa to experience the “wild”. There are many poignant quotations in the movie, but one that really stands out is when Xan tells his new friend, Ripkuna, that his father died. Ripkuna articulates, “People go when they are ready to go, not when you are. We are all just travelers on the same river, grandparents, parents, sons and daughters. We all have our time on the river. We do what we can before we disappear”. How true.

Another moving scene is at the end of the movie when Xan expresses that his father will live on within him. At this point my son looked over at me and said, “That’s where dad lives on—in me.” Yes, yes he does.

This I know for sure.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

48 Hours!

Life circumstances certainly change us. For 25 years I shared life with someone. We went through wonderful times and dark ones. We supported each other through health and sickness. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t tell him or share with him and then our lives were forever changed in an instant. I preface my recounting of the events of the past 48 hours with this information because I believe it will shed light on my actions.

This weekend I found a lump on my breast. Now, I am usually a quick-to-react person, but for some reason I didn’t wish to borrow trouble and made an appointment with my doctor for Monday afternoon. I chose NOT to share this information with anyone except a close friend (who happens to have a nursing background) and my mother (because I needed some family medical history).

Following my visit with Dr. Walton a mammogram and ultrasound was ordered for first thing Tuesday morning. At the time, I was unsure if this was because she knew I was anxious or because she had serious health concerns.
It is interesting the thoughts that went through my mind during this personal crisis.

That evening I mentally put my life in order. I knew my will was incomplete and needed to be filed. I even thought through how I would want to handle a crisis if, in fact, I heard the “c” word the next day. What surprised me was how pragmatic I became. My life became a laundry list of “things to do”. When it came down to it, my biggest concern was with my children. I never once shed a tear.

I spent the better part of the evening in a prayer-like state. I scoured scripture that might provide strength.
John 14:1 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. I had that---peace, yet I still didn’t want to burden anyone else until I knew for sure what was going on. At first this seemed a selfless act, as I found later, that was not the case.

Following the tests on Tuesday morning, I went home and waited. It was storming outside – appropriate, I thought. Several hours later the physician’s assistant called with the outcome of the tests.

“The results are negative. There is no mass; it is most likely an enlarged lymph node.” I heard her say with a confidence that calmed me.

“Could you repeat that,” I replied and she obliged. As I hung up the phone, a great sense of relief engulfed me—then the tears started. Why now? I thought.

Now, I was able to share with friends and family the happenings of the past 48 hours. They were not exactly elated that I had not told them. One friend even said that I had robbed her of the opportunity to support me. How fortunate I am to have such love in my life.

I lived a lifetime these past 48 hours. I learned that I could face life situations alone (though I am never totally alone) and still derive strength from my faith. I learned that though I can go through crisis alone, there is no need to. God has placed a wonderful, support system in my life for a reason. I learned a great deal about myself and my ability to find peace in the midst of a pending storm.

48 hours can change your life—just ask me. It can also define it.

This I know for sure.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Search is On!

I am an avid reader. I enjoy every aspect of reading and especially enjoy the way what I read affects what and how I write. I pride myself on viewing the world through a writer’s eye—not that I am an accomplished writer, but I have this egocentric need for validation in this area. This fact was significant in my decision to begin to blog.

Though I enjoy the process of writing, I have come to the realization this practice of blogging has NOTHING to do with good writing and everything to do with searching for some meaning to what has happened in my life. With every stroke of the keyboard I find a new piece to the puzzle.

Words appear to have a universal connection. You see, pain is not exclusive to young widows. Working through life’s heartache is not limited to those who have lost a spouse.

So as I search for meaning through writing this blog, I drag the lot of you around with me. We climb to the heights of enlightenment and plunge to the depths of despair – collectively. I may not even know you, but we share the same journey to find meaning to the life we lead.

This I know for sure.