a family’s erosion

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton,
you may as well make it dance.”

George Bernard Shaw


(should not the day a new baby comes home be one of joy? Try telling the little girl on the
right / 1964)

It seems that even at the tender age of 5 I was gifted with intuition…
as in knowing something is a bad idea from the get go.

Just look at that all-knowing face captured on the day the new little brother was
adopted and brought home.
The younger me must have had a premonition that none of this was going to end very well…

and I was correct, it did not.

As most of you who know me recall—
I have written at length in past posts about both my adoption as well as the
dysfunctional life my family suffered at the hands of the mental illness that
engulfed and eroded my brother…

In his erosion, my family eroded.

Today it is not my desire to rewrite any of those posts but maybe today’s post can be a
bit of an addendum…

(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/
and
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/mr-mole-continued-forgiveness-and-grace/ )

The reason for this heavy revisiting is due in part because I happened upon a letter
that I’d found in a box that has been buried deep within dad’s basement for many years.
It was in a box tucked away in a forgotten back corner, under a table,
left to the spiders and whatever else lurks in a dark 65 year old basement.

The letter was written, or more accurately typed, in 1986.
It was a letter from my dad to my brother.
Wednesday was the first day I had ever seen the letter.

I want to share the letter with you and I’ll explain why after you read the letter:

September 2,1986

Dear Ed,
As you know, your mother is seriously ill and will probably die within the very
near future.
Because of that I am under probably as much stress as I have ever felt.
At the same time, it seems that our past problems have come to a head and are causing
me more stress than I can handle.
I had hoped that we could continue to relate as father and son, and to live in the
same household.
That has become impossible, so I have had to ask you to move out.
I hope you understand that I take no enjoyment from all of this.

I realize that you have some personal property in the house and will make it
available to you if you will just call me and set up a time to pick it up.
I cannot, however, consent to you coming and going if I am not present,
so please do not come to the house without calling.
If you don’t have any place to store your things I will help you with a mini
storage warehouse for a couple of months.

I want you to have the bank account your mother and I set up for your education,
and hope you will use it accordingly.

When we talked last Tuesday you said I couldn’t make you leave, and you refused to return
your house key: so I checked with my lawyer to see just what our respective right are.
He said that technically I could ask you to leave the house, or not return, and have
you arrested if you come back. I sincerely hope this never happens, but you must understand
that I will do whatever is necessary to preserve my sanity and to be sure I can be supportive
of your mother during her illness.
I hope you can understand how I feel and that I still want to help you to whatever
extent I can and feel justified, but cannot have you living at the house any longer.

Please let me hear from you and let me know what you want to do about your belongings.

Love, Dad
(the typed letter was signed personally)

And now a little background if you are new to this history of mine…

My brother and I were 5 years a part in age, with me being the oldest.
We were both adopted and not biologically related.
Even in the beginning Ed was different from me, mother and dad.

He was very fair complected, burning easily rather than tanning and he was covered
in freckles where we were not.
His hair was much lighter than our darker hair.
Despite my not being biologically related to mom and dad, no one could
tell it by just looking at us..
Ed however was different….and he always sensed it.

Even his head was more elongated than ours.
He cried incessantly as a baby.
He wet the bed long past when such was considered “normal”
He was considered hyper in school long before there was ADHD.
He struggled academically but soared in the area of physics.
He loved music, didn’t play sports and had a difficult time “fitting in”
He ran away when he was a senior in high school and was found in Texas,
driving Mother’s car, on his merry way to California, “to watch the moon and the stars.”
He fought dreadfully with all of us as his temper was dangerously violent.
He had threatened each of us at different times by promising “to blow our brains out”
Dad tried to get counseling but it was to no avail.

He eventually attended Ga Tech where he excelled in science with a keen interest
in aerospace engineering.

During this time Mother was diagnosed with lung cancer at the tender age of 53, only
to die within a 9 week window from the initial diagnosis.

I know without a doubt that death was mother’s blessed release as she had lived 15 years
of abusive hell at the hands of my brother—
who was especially vindictive to her despite her unending kindness.
He succeeded in eventually breaking her spirit.
Cancer and death were her ticket out.

I know now that his “abuse” to her was the misplaced anger he had so wanted to direct
to his own biological mother.
He was full of rage and simply could not live with that initial rejection.

During all of this time, my brother had actually begun a quest into his adoption and to
finding his birth parents.

I had long since gone off to college, graduated, moved to what I hoped would be far
enough away from the madness, and eventually married.
I had promised myself to “get out” and out I did.

My brother was the first case in the state of Georgia to have an adoption annulled—
my dad wanted to do whatever he could to help this troubled son of his find the peace
he so desperately sought…as is evidenced in his letter written prior to the court case.

This was a story of two loving people who simply wanted to have a family and because they
were unable to do that on their own, they turned to adoption.
And this is a story of a family member who suffered for years without
understanding what was wrong with him.
Life in a family where one member has a severe undiagnosed mental illness….

For those of you who don’t buy into the fact that much is happening in utero with a
fetus except for the physical development….
Let me tell you that there is also a great deal happening as far as mental,
emotional and cognitive development is concerned.
I am a firm believer in the transference of both positive and negative emotions
from mother to forming baby…
that there is much in the way of a lasting impact from mental and emotional miscues
just as there is with the physical miscue.

The long story is that my brother was eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and he
did eventually locate his birth mother…moving states to be near her…
However she resoundingly rejected him again.

The adult rejection was more than he could bear, and so in his rejection he found no
alternative but to end his life.
He shot himself.
He was only 30.

I don’t write about this to make you sad or upset or to discourage anyone hoping to
adopt a child…
I share this story because I want to hopefully bring awareness…

I am the sole surviving member of my little family of four.
I am an ardent advocate for adoption as I am gravely opposed to abortion.

Yet there are those who would callously argue that had my brother’s birth mother sought
an abortion or had it been in a time when an abortion was legal and “acceptable”
perhaps years and lives suffered in misery, with an eventual suicide,
could have all been avoided.

Yet murder is never truly justifiable now is it?

I also know that despite the tragedy, the heartache and sheer madness—
God’s hand was alway there for me…guiding, steadying, leading….
but I also know that He is not a manipulator and will not
stop folks from doing what seems to be on their inevitable radar…

Yet He can bring goodness and light from both the bad and the dark.

I believe this, because I know this.

I simply write this because I want others to know that there is now help more readily
available for those who suffer mental illness than there was even 30 years ago.

Sadly my dad had also became broken in the loss of his son—
for he lost this boy he had loved on so many different levels,
only to find the loss unbearable.

For my dad was not a strong man who could bear up under tragedy.

He went to his grave just two months ago still feeling guilty over ever having to have
written that letter, for “kicking Ed out of the house”
He had rationalized, unjustly so, that somehow he too had contributed to my brother’s
rejection—
and no matter how hard professionals and loved ones tried to convince him over the years
that he did what he had to do in order to perserve the safety and sanity of his
remaining family, he carried that painful guilt with him to the day he died.

So this little story which is all about adoption, rejection, mental illness, suicide
and even survival is just as much a story about Grace…

For I have seen and lived both the dark and the bad and had it not been for God’s healing Grace…
this sole survivor of 4 might not have been here today to share her story.

So everyone who has ever been touched by tragedy, sorrow, heartache, darkness, cancer, suicide,
mental illness…must know that even in the darkest dark, there is always HOPE!!!
Because there is help…on so many different levels!!
And no matter how bad things often seem…God is always God and He has overcome the darkness
so that we may find our way to the Light….

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:4-5

Rays of Hope

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
Desmond Tutu

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(a late afternoon setting October sun casting rays through the trees / Julie Cook / 2014)

As you may recall I ventured over to visit my dad on Friday.
He was so so.
Gloria was her typical ornery self but had made a wonderful Greek salad for lunch.
Dad doesn’t eat any lettuce other than iceberg, so he wasn’t happy. God forbid he should live dangerously by trying a bite of romaine. . .

Just after arriving, I made pleasantries with Gloria who was struggling in the kitchen.
I happily asked if I could help her as it appeared she was going to such trouble.
A sarcastic quip and smart response of “oh, I suppose I don’t ever go to trouble any other time!?” flew back. . .ooookay I thought, fumbling now trying to explain what I meant. . .ugh. . .
“No, that’s not what I meant, it just looks like you’ve really done too much, I didn’t intend for you to go to any trouble. . .”
She told me she didn’t need any help. . . of course. . .so I wandered in to chat with dad.

He was sitting in his chair watching, you guessed it, a black and white movie with this one being a bit newer, as in 1947 new , Cass Timberlane.
Spencer Tracey and Lana Turner.
“So Dad, how are things” I asked trying to sound perky.
“oh, I don’t know” comes the rather dejected reply.
“Well what’s the problem Dad?
“Oh the things I see in my mind’s eye. . .”
“WHAT did you just say?!” as in when did he start talking like Yoda and a mind’s eye??
“Every morning when I wake up the first thing my mind’s eye (really?) sees is Ed laid out on that table.

“Oh dear lord, here we go again” I silently moan.

For those of you who may be new to reading cookiecrumbs, I’ve previously written about my brother and his suicide and of my coming to terms with that crazy time in my small family’s story, shortly after beginning this blog.

( https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/ )

I’ve also written about my rather dysfunctional family, as well as about having been adopted, as well as having lost my mom to cancer when I was much younger, as well as now dealing with a parent in the mental decline of Alzheimer’s disease along with the continued steps of coming to terms with all of the above while maintaining sanity complete with a good dose of humor.

I share my stories in hope that they may bring comfort, a smile, a thought, an idea, the encouragement that none of us are ever truly alone in our various trials. . . a hope that others who may find themselves dealing with or living with and in similar circumstances never feel totally isolated. I also share my stories because I am a strong believer in the power of HOPE!

My hope comes from my faith and the knowledge that I am only the created and NOT the Creator. Meaning I am not the one who is in control. There is One much greater than myself and that I constantly need Him to be very present in my life. I marvel that a loving God, sent a part of himself as a sacrifice for a woefully fallen and dark world in order to offer me, and anyone or everyone who so chooses, salvation from the despair of living in a fallen world. Hope as well as Life in the Resurrection of the One who over came Death. Yes, we may still have to fight the battles, but our Hope rests in the knowledge that the War is truly already won.

It is to that very Hope which I have chosen to cling to because the alternative is most grim.
My dad has always chosen grim.

My dad continues to blame himself for my brother’s death. My brother was, if memory serves, 30 when he took his life, and I in turn was 35 as there was a 5 year difference in our ages.
Before that fateful day there had been years of great trouble.
Years of our family living in a dark place with a member spiraling out of control with metal illness.
Violent outbursts.
Living with genuine fear and misery.
Eventually he was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia.
Mother had long succumbed to the cancer, as a means of release.
And my brother had gone on a meticulous and manic search for his adopted parents–only to be rejected again by the mother he so desperately sought.

Doctors had told us he was dangerous.
Finally, after years of maintaining a life of codependency and enabling, Dad thankfully took some initiative. He told my brother that he was no longer welcome in the house—unless he sought help and maintained that help.

Dad had to change the locks on the house–even putting a deadbolt on his own bedroom door.
At the time I was married, pregnant with our first child and living off in another town. I was told to be vigilant and to avoid my brother if he attempted any sort of contact.
Our relationship had always been strained at best—I wasn’t expecting contact.

The short of this long story is that he committed suicide up in the Ohio town to where he had tracked his birth mother. After shutting him out for the second time in his life and rebuffing his gesture for a reconnection, he was devastated, choosing the sad alternative of simply taking his life.

After that tragic time in our family’s history, Dad spiraled deep into his own dark place of mental isolation as he took on the full responsibility which was never his to take.
Our family doctor prescribed for him anti depressants, encouraged him to talk with a psychiatrist, but after years of his refusing to work toward some sort of understanding as to why my brother was the way he was, which had nothing to do with my dad or mom or me, and for refusing to let go of constantly blaming himself, our family physicians threw their hands up in frustration.

Dad bit onto the guilt, and everything associated with it, savoring each sad piece and proudly wearing it like a hair shirt—almost relishing the negative place it took him.

My uncle, when he was still living, was the only person who could get my dad to “act right and fly straight” as he was Dad’s older brother. One word from him and Dad would shut up his “oh woe is me” business turning to the forward moving reality of life at hand verses the dark murky business of a past who’s ending was always the same.
I miss my uncle.

So on this particular Friday afternoon as Dad continued babbling on about “his mind’s eye” nightmare, of what he did and didn’t do, I simply reminded him, for the zillionth time, that that was a long time ago.
Ed was sick and we / he had nothing to do with that sickness and it was time to let all of that go, for his own peace of mind.
Then I immediately brought up Spencer Tracey staring at us thankfully from the television.

Thank God for Spencer Tracey!! I don’t think I ever thought I’d be thankful for Spencer Tracey!
And thank God for Gloria arriving at the door to announce that lunch was ready and thank God for romaine lettuce!

But more importantly I truly and sincerely thank God every day for the Hope He has provided and for its place in my very being.
Hope, joined together by Faith is all any of us has—the alternative is a long, deep, dark hole of emptiness and despair.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see
Hebrews 11:1

May we choose both our enduring faith and the power of hope. . .

Heeeellllloooo

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.
Robin Williams

mrs-doubtfire

The world now seems deeply less funny with the recent tragic death of Robin Williams.

Firstly, as you probably know, I am not one to ogle and fane over the likes of Hollywood. I do not care for the rag tag magazines which so love to follow the infamous lives of those members of tinseltown, or the music industry, around like hungry dogs, nor do I care to watch such television programs, which provide the windows of voyeurism into the often twisted lives of those in the field of entertainment, as there is just too much in this world which needs doing besides “following” those society pathetically deems “famous” or infamous, the distinction is yours to decide. . .

Secondly, I do not care for comedians, particular standup comedians as their base of humor, to me, is simply not funny.
I am not a fan of the supposed humor which is steeped in raunchy and vile language–I don’t need to hear the “F” word over and over again as a form of humor. I do not enjoy watching these onstage individuals vie for the laughter of others as he or she proceeds to make sarcastic fun of everyone and everything. . .And as tragic and as sad as life seems to be today, it appears as if there is nothing which remains sacred or reserved, or hands off to these comic individuals–which I find to be the terrible making of our lives into that which is “less than.”

To me, none of that is humor.
The use of the vile and crude, while taking cheap shots at the lives of others, to me again is a poor excuse for funny.

I did however enjoy Robin Williams as he could make me laugh until I cried.

And yes, I am aware he had his crude, crass and vile takes on comedy– and no, I did not care to watch those particular standup moments of his—but I did, however, watch what he did so well— and that was to bring smiles to the faces of the young and old as only Robin Williams could do. He knew he could forego the crass, the vile and the cheap and still bring smiles to the faces of those who desperately needed to smile–and perhaps it was his own depth of inner turmoil which was his impetus to that intuition.

Watching him interact with children was a joy. He could immediately forget being the “grown up” and engage with a child on their own tiny level making that child feel magically important and special. The work he did for St Jude’s Children Hospital was tremendously heartwarming as he would light up the eyes of a child who’s face was ashen and deathly pale, who’s hair had long since fallen out and who’s sunken eyes gave the perception of immanent death–yet Robin Williams would work his magic and suddenly there was a twinkle in that sunken eye as life suddenly reappeared, where just moments before, there was none.

His concern for our military, especially those soldiers who came home broken of both body and spirit was tireless. He recognized the sacrifices made for our freedom as he paid homage to such. He respected the men and woman who, suddenly missing limbs, sight and mind, felt as if there was now nothing remaining worthy of respect–Robin Williams worked selflessly to remind them that many do care and that these broken individuals do matter and that their respect remains intact even if their bodies do not.

Movies such as Hook in which Robin played the grown up, stressed out, workaholic and jaded Peter Banning reminded all of us of the importance of maintaing the one on one relationships with our children—of touching base, finding and embracing our deeply buried imaginations and of seeking the hidden places where our own sense of fun and joy still remained.

Yet it was probably his role as Mrs. Doubtfire, the doughty British widow alter ego of a divorced dad, down on his luck, who simply wanted to be with his kids which brought me great delight, laughter and touching joy.

Yes Robin Williams could make us laugh, but he could also make us think. He could disturb us and he could remind us of the importance of life and of what in life was truly important.

However it is now in the wake of his tragically sad suicide that I find myself troubled. I worry that Robin’s choice to end his own life may be seen by those who suffer addictions and battle the life altering heaviness of depression as a sign that sadly things do not get better, that it is all just hopeless and the only way out is death.

Those individuals must know that that is not the case at all.
Hope always remains, as long as we breathe, there is Hope.
But I know how shallow that can sound to one in the midst of the misery.
I know.

I have written on the topic of suicide and the effects it wrecks on a family back in March of 2013 when I addressed the issue of my own brother’s suicide in the post Forgiveness, one step at a time
(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/)
I don’t wish to rehash a previous post but I do think it important to note that the finality of suicide is a sadly permanent and non retraceable choice which has sweeping and lasting repercussions to those we are left to pick up the pieces. But I get it, I understand that the depressed are not concerned with any of that as they merely want the torment and the suffering to stop.

I also know what it is like to live with years of bitterness over what seemed to me to be a selfish choice as I watched my father spend a lifetime of invisible regret and endless sorrow.

I do not want the life Robin Williams lived, of the joys he brought to others, the gifts he delivered when playing a particular role, the relationships he had with family and friends to be overshadowed by the finality of a single sad choice.

I do not want those who suffer the insidious heavy veil of depression to feel as if all is for naught for if someone like Robin Williams, who was actually proactive with the disease and treatment of mental illness, could not get out from under the crushing weight, then who can. . .his choice must not be seen as the only choice available for those who suffer and hurt.

It is my hope that in the wake of this latest loss and sadness that dialogue may begin as we all look to ways and means to help and support those who suffer mental anguish and addiction. It is our responsibility, as the extended family of humanity, to offer hope to the hopeless, joy to the joyless, freedom to the imprisoned—not to sit by and watch others feel forgotten and alone.

As I stated earlier, there is much in life to be done besides sitting around reading and watching rag tag magazines and shows, rather we all have a responsibility to reach out to all of those around us who are hurting and who suffer the debilitating struggles of mental illness which cause the brokeness of spirit and soul. Yes it is easier to treat the obvious exterior brokeness of bone and body, but it is the internal brokeness of spirit and soul which remains so frustratingly hidden, that we must address head on as real and yet capable indeed of help and of healing.

May we work to heal broken spirits just as hard as we work to heal broken bodies. . .

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

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“Give me Liberty or Give me Death” or everyone has “stuff”

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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(beautiful white azaleas in Julie’s yard / 2014)

Most individuals who we currently read about today in the annuals of our History, those brave men and woman who have gone long before us, paving the way for the life we all know and treasure today, have grown, no doubt, larger than life exponentially with the passing of time. Exploits and deeds take on lives of their own as the truth, history, fact and legend mix precariously through the ages.

We tend to think of such individuals as almost super human, void of the things we mere mortals suffer and deal with on a daily basis.

I think Steven Spielberg helped us humanize Abraham Lincoln in his most recent movie “Lincoln”. The movie portrayed a man acquainted with deep sorrow and affliction. We actually saw a man (albeit the actor) wrestle with grief and loss while dealing with the shared pain within the dynamics of his family, all the while as a Nation wrestled with tremendous growing pains.

The cynics among us can say that Mr. Spielberg may have taken liberties with the emotions of a man that we know only through grainy black and white photographs and the myriad of writings, letters, and documented statements regarding his actions and reactions. Yet it is the actual seeing and viewing of such actions and reactions, via the medium of stage and screen, that which we see with our very eyes, which makes the man, truly a man.

I say all of this as I read most recently a most interesting article regarding Patrick Henry. Our famous Revolutionary War hero whose immortal words “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” have cemented his fame and notoriety in the pages of the birth of this mighty Nation.

Not knowing a great deal of Mr. Henry’s personal life, I was intrigued by this short article regarding such. It seems that one evening, several years prior to the turbulent days of the Revolution, Mr. Henry was entertaining some guests. As everyone had gathered in the parlor for after dinner brandies and conversation, a commotion was heard coming from somewhere in or under the house. A scratching sound and the faint shrieks and screams of what must be a woman or perhaps bobcat. Appearing somewhat confused and baffled, Mr. Henry moved his guests to another room of the house where the remainder of the evening was quiet and without further distraction.

Was it a ghost the guests, and now reader, perhaps wonder?

Upon the departure of his guests, Mr. Henry returned to the parlor where he first heard the dubious sounds and proceeded to pull back a rug from the floor, revealing a small trap door. Mr. Henry pulls open the door, and with a candle in hand, proceeds down the steps to a dark labyrinth which ran underneath his home. He makes his way hesitantly through the dark and wending alley like maze. Suddenly the candle casts an eerie glow towards something huddled in a darkened corner. Cowering in this dark tomb crouches a figure, which at first glance appears to be that of an apparition or other worldly specter— but in actuality was that of a woman.

She is dirty with wild darting eyes. “There there my dear” the reader hears Mr. Henry utter, whispering across the span of hundreds of years.

The story now takes on a sad twist verses one of some other worldly shenanigans.
It seems that Mr. Henry was once married to a woman named Sarah– to whom he greatly loved as she in turn loved him. During the course of their marriage, she bore six children for the couple, but as the years passed, it was noted that her mental health became more an more erratic. Her actions became violent as she attempted to cause harm to not only the children and Mr. Henry but to herself as well.

Given that this was the mid 1700’s, in a young new land, facilities and care for the mentally ill were quite archaic if non existent. The notion was still widely believed that those who suffered mental illness were actually demonically possessed or were practicing witches. Treatment for such individuals was often more torturous then restorative with many patients dying in unspeakable conditions.

Historians continue with conflicting theories as to Mr. Henry’s intentions for locking Sarah in a damp and dark cellar. Some believe that, fearing for her safety as well as for the rest of the family’s, it was the only solution but to lock her away (shades of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights comes to mind). Others theorize that his reasons were a bit more sinister and selfish as he was embarrassed having a wife who was mad and wished that no one knew, or as few individuals as possible, of his wife’s “condition”.

Either reason mattered not upon her death, at which time Mr. Henry cleared both house and heart of any and all reminders of his wife, never speaking of her again.

It was not much longer until the Mr. Henry we all now know grew into his own with his famous Revolutionary battle cry.

This story is but one small reminder that we all have our burdens to bear in our lives. No one is exempt from the mishaps of life. Some of us may seem to be more blessed than others, living more charmed lives than others, but that is merely only on the surface. Chances are that even the most fortunate among us have had their share of trials, sorrows, tragedies, setbacks, struggles, miscues, and misadventures.

Even as those who saw the recent movie “Saving Mr. Banks” came to learn, that even the most magical among us, have had to bear hardship, often times at the hand of physical and emotional abuse.

The real story here is that greatness can and does rise up from adversity. We may either allow the circumstances of our lives to ruin and destroy us, or we can use them as a stepping stool, reaching upward and outward, working our way toward bigger and better places.

I have written often about the dysfunction and mental illness which plagued my own family as I was growing up, so I can speak first hand of its devastation and darkness, but I am here to also speak of the saving Grace and Hope that can be found waiting as well.

Do not allow life’s darkness to cover the radiant light that lies deep within your own heart. Do not succumb to the hardships and sorrow. It is all merely the furnace which is being used to forge, shape and mould the beauty in your own soul.

No one says that you must love these difficulties and burdens but they will tell you to learn from them and to use them for making not only yourself and your life better, but use them for making that of the World’s existence better as well. . .

The Little Flower

“If a little flower could speak, it seems to me that it would tell us quite simply all that God has done for it, without hiding any of its gifts. It would not, under the pretext of humility, say that it was not pretty, or that it had not a sweet scent, that the sun had withered its petals,or the storm bruised its stem, if it knew that such were not the case.”
― St. Thérèse de Lisieux

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The flower in the photograph above is a white amaryllis. Each year at Christmas, the stores are full of vases and pots containing various color shades of amaryllis as they are easy to care for, quick bloomers and rather showy as far as flowering is concerned. Did you know that a well cared for bulb can actually bloom for 75 year or better?! In Greek, amaryllis means “to sparkle” and I imagine that is in part due to the star like quality of the flower. Quite the show stopper.

Our quote this morning, by St Thérèse de Lisieux, is a lovely reminder to us concerning the multitude of blessings God graces upon our lives daily–many of which we either take of granted or acknowledge rather awkwardly. St Thérèse de Lisieux,the tiny Carmelite nun, who died at the young age of 24, is known to us today as “the little flower”. Thérèse would certainly not be of the showy amaryllis blooming flower variety as she was a small quiet novice who lived in a tiny cloistered community in France. It was always her wish, however, to live and to die doing something big for God. She wanted to be a martyr, or wanted to go on far flung missions, just something important in order to accomplish much for the God of her heart. Given her circumstance, however, of living a sheltered life in a tiny cloistered community, such big dreams seemed quite impossible.

Her popularity grew tremendously following her death. One of her sisters, also a nun, had taken Thérèse’s journal postings, copied them and distributed 2000 copies–sending them to other cloisters and convents. Soon people were reading and discovering that this small tiny novice had the heart and determination of a giant (she was never allowed to make her profession as a true nun due to her sister’s insistence—her sister was prioress and thought it would be in poor form if all 4 sisters were nuns at the same Abby–therefore she asked Thérèse to step aside, as it were, remaining always but a mere novice–of which Thérèse agreed)

Thérèse had fretted over how she, in her most small and insignificant life could ever do anything great for God. This troubled her heart tremendously. She prayed constantly yearning for God to tell her how she could best serve Him. One day, the epiphany came. Thérèse is quoted as saying– “I am but a small and insignificant individual how ever could someone of such little importance ever do anything great? Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love. I understood that Love comprised all vocations, that Love was everything, that it embraced all times and places…in a word, that it was eternal! Then in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my Love…my vocation, at last I have found it. . . My vocation is Love!”

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Thérèse made the conscious decision to do everything out of and for Love, to greet everyone out of Love, to meet every challenge out of Love, to meet every insult and injustice out of Love. It was a conscious decision and a determination of great doing–which in turn required great inner strength.

Not long ago I found a small frail little book that had been my mothers. I was a bit perplexed when I found the book as it was a tiny read cloth bound book whose cover was hanging tougher literally by threads. The copyright is listed as 1925. A cost of 10 cents is penciled inside the front cover. The title of the book is An Hour With The Little Flower

The book was with some other things that had belonged to my mom. We were not Catholic. My mother had been tossed around a bit, as far as denominations were concerned, when she was growing up. Once she married, she and my oh so Baptist dad settled on the Episcopal Church as the best church of choice. Their reasoning was not so virtuous as the Episcopal church was liberal enough allowing them to drink and smoke—-Just great— what every kid wants to hear as to how one’s parents decided on what church to attend and where to raise their family—that should have been a clue to me early on about the Episcopal church, but I’m digressing as usual.

If you’ve ever read any of my posts regarding my growing up and family you know that ours was certainly a convoluted mess. Sometimes I often wonder how I ever got to this point in my life, but I am most thankful that I am here–now much the older, the wiser, and I perhaps admit, the better for it all–but then I know it is truly by Grace and by Grace alone.

But mother and this tiny book—now that’s the mystery.

To read Thérèse’s story, it is not the type of story or life that you would imagine could or would catapult one to sainthood, fame or significant importance. . . and yet, ironically . . . it did. In twenty five short years following her death, Thérèse was declared a saint. Her simplicity and huge determination to do great things through a very quiet small life, as well as through very small acts, had mass appeal to ordinary people. I think we all have dreams in our heart of doing something for the betterment of mankind and / or for God on some sort of grand scale—yet how many of us ever rise to such a status?

I think on so many levels my mom could identify with Thérèse and of her smallness and seemingly insignificance. My mom was very quiet and shy. I think she, like many women who did not work outside of the home, dreamed of one day going and doing something grand. She struggled to raise a child, my brother, who suffered from mental illness in a time when such was taboo to admit or even talk about as very little help was available. It is no wonder that St.Thérèse, the little flower, would appeal to someone who felt as if she too was “little”.

So I will leave you today with the words and wisdom of a young woman who dreamt of doing great things. Who chose to do so in small, steady and seemingly insignificant ways. Who rose from that of a spoiled young girl, to a quiet and demure novice, to a great saint—who became the living embodiment and example of someone who chose the course of Love over glamour and glory, quiet and steady over boisterous and hurried, kind and courteous over self-centered and rude. . .

“To dedicate oneself as a Victim of Love is not to be dedicated to sweetness and consolations; it is to offer oneself to all that is painful and bitter, because Love lives only by sacrifice and the more we would surrender ourselves to Love, the more we must surrender
ourselves to suffering”
― St. Thérèse de Lisieux

Mr. Mole, Continued Forgiveness and Grace

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(photograph: my dad circa early 1930s)

My Dad.

There is a great deal of emotion wrapped up in that simple statement. Good and bad. There is also a good dose of guilt and regret. I am not a “daddy’s” girl. My dad was never that oh so strong and ever protective figure. I spent, or I should say, wasted a great deal of energy and time regretting and resenting him over all of these many years for not being that strong male in my life. That’s not to say however that he was not there for me—on the contrary, I have always had a dad in my life. Thankfully, I still do.

My parents were never divorced or separated, except for the when my mom quietly gave up her battle with the cancer in 1986. They had married in 1953, adopting two children over the course of that marriage. My dad, being a big kid at heart, was probably the “better” parent when we were little as he doted on us at Christmas and birthdays, being most extravagant with gift giving, even though it was never affordable for him to do so, and enthusiastically enjoyed taking us to every Disney movie imaginable. Oh to be a child, in the very early 60’s, getting to go see a full length animated Disney classic at the oh so magical Fox Theater in midtown Atlanta.

A family movie night, at home, consisted of an elaborate production of setting up a screen at one end of our home’s small hallway, lugging out the 16mm projector and setting it up at the opposite end of the hallway. Woody Woodpecker was the featured film and I never tired of watching, albeit it silent, Woody getting into the same troubles view after view. I knew that obnoxious call of his from television. It was perfectly fine not hearing him on these occasions. My brother and I would lie on our stomachs with heads propped up on hands and elbows with feet tangling up in the air. Nice memories.

But if you ever read my post Forgiveness One Step At A Time, you will recall that this oh so bucolic scene of family bliss was not the norm. There was the dark umbrella of mental illness, which hung over my small family like a cloak of death waiting to claim it’s latest victim—all the while as my brother would eventually bring the very concept of “family” in our world, to its knees.

I spent a lot of time being angry with and at my dad for not being stronger—for not doing more, for being frozen with inability. For what so many today crudely say of those lacking in tenacity or a certain strength, “for having no balls”– for not taking the bull by the horns and for not working harder at saving our crumbling world. Instead he stood by watching rather hopelessly, wringing his hands all in ill effect. It seems now it is easier for him to lament that he drove my brother to madness… which is so far from the truth.

My dad has allowed himself to be a victim of my brother’s illness, and all these many years later, he constantly pulls out a picture of my now deceased brother, at a much younger age, telling any and all who will listen as to how he drove Ed to be what he was. This, always sending me in a silent fit rage as I and others gathered around continue the litany of “no, that is not true, that is not how it was”…… talk about frustration….

After my mother’s death, my father, who was not one to spend a dime except if it was your birthday or Christmas, slowly began to divest himself of some his tightly guarded and secured assets. I think there was a sense of silent guilt that my mom had not always had the new and improved things or appliances. No house updates, no upgrades or remodeling for us. No fancy vacations, luxury cars, private schools, or extravagances of any sort for us.

We were, however, never were left “wanting” as we had what we really needed. Unfortunately however my Mom was only allotted $50 a week in order to buy groceries, clothes and basically handle a family of 4—leaving very little if anything remaining for herself– no lunch with friends, no trips to clothing stores or fun afternoons out with the other moms. She was a stay-at-home mom, but always, one, who I sensed as very unhappy—a very sad unhappy woman.

It was my friends and roommates in college who gave my dad, unbeknownst to him, the moniker of Mr. Mole, as it seemed my parents never went out for adventure, movies, ball games, etc.– never venturing far from our home, which they dubbed the mole hole. The name stuck and my dear old friends always lovingly ask today how is old Mr. Mole? Only adding to that sense within me that we were not an average family…compounding any growing resentments I was already harboring.

My dad, however, has since become very generous and kind the older he has become, not that these are traits he ever lacked— old family friends always talk about how nice a guy my dad was—and that may just have been part of the trouble—he simply was too nice and naïve a guy. I feel today that perhaps he, after losing mom, after my grandmother’s death, after he retired, after becoming a grandfather, having since remarried—thought deep down that now it was “ok” to spend a little of the tightly hoarded savings and to enjoy the little family he has remaining around him—to dare to actually enjoy and live life—all however in a very conservative small way—not being able to stray too far from those silent voices that haunt him.

If it were not for my dad, my son, his only grandchild, would not have certain opportunities that he now has and enjoys. My dad has helped to take care of and provide for my small family in ways that we could not necessarily do for ourselves and we are truly indebted to his generosity. It is now that I can see and appreciate his early frugal ways as they have helped to make life today a bit easier for all of us. My son has a very close relationship with his grandfather as they are “partners in crime” and for that, I am grateful.

I believe that it is not until becoming a parent and being able to put time and space between one’s self and that of one’s own childhood that a type of healing can finally begin to coagulate. I know this is true in my own life. All of the energies I wasted being hurt, regretting, and simply being mad that I didn’t have a strong dad have, thankfully, finally melted away. God’s Grace of healing has slowly been at work in my soul—for which I am truly truly thankful.

I have indeed been blessed, on the one hand, of having that sort of relationship a growing girl needs with a strong leading male figure, that with my godfather—a long since retired Episcopal priest. He has been that stronger male in my life– the one who I could run to with all of my worries, fears and regrets….the one who has often picked up all the emotional pieces of my life—I owe him a great deal as well. And I know today that I have been actually doubly blessed. All this coming from a once very angry young woman.

It has not been until I have seen up close the mistakes I have made as a parent, the poor decisions, the things I regret, those mismanaged moments of my own parenting– as a mom, that I have finally afforded myself the ability to “forgive” my dad and to forgive myself as well. As any parent will tell you, there are no owner’s manuals given out in hospital at the time of delivery. We simply do the best we can do with the resources we have, or don’t have, and hope for the best.

I hope one day my son will be able to look back and forgive all the mistakes I have made along the way in his upbringing. As parents, it’s as if we simply walk a minefield of error…screwing up here and there, but always hoping for the best. Humans are resilient and this is a good thing.

And perhaps in all of this, age is an issue—in my case, thankfully, it is the mellowing with age that is proving a saving grace. My dad never knew I was always angry with him or resentful, that was more of an intrinsic battle I was waging— but it is certainly nice to be able to shed some of its weight. Does he continue to frustrate me? Definitely! As he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, his childlike nature is simply being compounded. He is manipulative in a very passive aggressive manner. He has elevated my deceased mentally unstable brother to the level of Saint—but even that, thankfully, I am learning to let go of…

So at 53 I am getting to a place of some peace—or that is, until the next crisis rolls around 🙂 I can also say a latent “thank you” to my dad, for all that you have done and continue to do for us. Hopefully God’s work in me is on going, as I know it is, just as my previous post stated– forgiveness one step at a time—forgiveness for others, forgiveness of self– Thank God!!

I am a true believer in God’s Grace, as I am indeed a product of that Grace. I believe in healing—on a grand scale and on the smaller more subdued scale—the healing that takes place in my own heart is that of a gradual slow trickle—and that is obviously the way I need for it to be—even though I would often prefer being hit over the head and suddenly being a perfect person—but who is that perfect person? I’ve yet to meet one…
May God bless you as He continues blessing and healing me—-
Here is to Mr. Mole, my Dad.

Forgiveness, one step at a time

“Jules, your family has put the dysfunction in dysfunctional long before it was popular.”
He said it not with sarcasm, not with contempt but more of a passing state of resignation…
as though he was simply voicing a troubling thought out loud.

I looked down at my feet–tennis shoes no doubt and most likely jeans.
I adjusted my position in the elegant leather wingback chair.
The office was rich with dark coffered paneling–a gothic office in a Gothic Cathedral.
A copy of Diego Velázquez’s Crucifixion graced the wall—–one of my favorite paintings.

This certainly wasn’t the first time I’d sat in his office.

I was probably 18, or maybe I was 22—it didn’t matter as I had been finding myself in his office
since I was 15.

Behind his desk, on a credenza, sat several baseballs in displays cases…you see he
wasn’t just any ol priest or a random dean of a cathedral, he was also Chaplin to the Braves Baseball team—
Yet most importantly he was my “godpoppa”– a surrogate father.

I loved him immensely and I needed him terribly.

I was drowning and he offered a lifeline—one that I clung to
Just as I still love him to this day— despite the passage of time, he still finds that precious time for me.

We also shared something in common.

We were both adopted.

So I believed he always understood some things about me that I had yet to grasp or realize myself.

This was just one more visit in a long line of visits.

There really were no answers to my troubles– he was simply gracious in allowing me some of his
precious and limited time.
Time from his busy and frantic schedule, allowing a “woe some” young person an opportunity to vent,
to share, to describe the latest story—the latest incident in a never-ending stream of incidents that
only seemed to be escalating with time.

My family suffered through something that many people today now painfully acknowledge and recognize.
But for my family, at the time, our turmoil was pretty much just for us to experience.

The trouble was my brother and his trouble was mental illness.

Mental illness is now finding itself front and center of national headlines—
as there are more and more violent ramifications reverberating throughout our society.
My younger brother, unbeknownst to my parents at the time, suffered a mental illness.
It would be years before it was diagnosed, but the years of turmoil would not be lost on anyone.
And by the time of his diagnoses, it was really too late.

Both my brother and I were adopted.
We were not biologically related and were 5 years apart in age.
Something never seemed quite “right” about Ed.
He was a colicky baby, crying often and difficult to soothe.
My aunt often quips that she knew they should have taken him back as soon as they had gotten him.

A bad apple so to speak.
However, it was 1963, no one really knew much or talked much about the baggage babies can carry
from traumatic pregnancies and/ or births.
We didn’t know or understand the effects of the mother’s life on babies while in utero and
how that could/ would transcend to life and living of these yet to be born children.

Ed was different from the very beginning.

Back then, adoption agencies worked hard to match babies with the adopting families—
skin tone, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, etc.
Ed, however, looked quite different from the rest of us.
He was faired skinned, freckles, light haired, lanky.

I suppose growing up, discovering you are adopted and then looking at your family,
you immediately notice you are more different than you first realized,
which only adds to that already existing sense of alienation.

Given the fact that I was 5 years older and that I was prone to having that bossy big sister demeanor,
certainly did not ingratiate me ever to Ed.
We were more like oil and water, which I can now only imagine having grated on our parent’s nerves
and frustraton.

However, they loved us both very, very much.

In school, Ed struggled.
He was ADHD but no one knew about that particular “condition” at the time.
Believing that hyperactive element to be a part of Ed’s troubles,
our family’s pediatrician told my mother to give Ed coffee, as the Medical field was currently
looking at the use of caffeine, a stimulant, in the treatment of kids who were simply “all over the place”
counteracting that hyperness.

I’ll skip most of the growing up and won’t bore you with the mundane details.
However you need to know that my memories of family meals were not the happy Norman Rockwell
images that we all so long for—–but then again, are any family’s time together pictures of such tranquil images?

I can’t recall an evening that didn’t see some sort of fight or struggle.
Ed wouldn’t eat.
Dad would get mad, telling Ed that he could just sit there all night until he ate.

One night it was two hours before Dad gave in and told him to go to bed.
Mother would begin to cry.
As frustration set in, I would get mad.

I couldn’t understand why things always had to be so hard.
It was supper for crying out loud, can’t we eat in some sort of peace or harmony?!
Mother would leave the table in tears.

This was the typical evening.

If it wasn’t fighting over supper, it was homework.
I would just go to my room and drown my adolescent sorrows in James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James”,
“Fire and Rain”, “Don’t let me be lonely tonight”—-
playing his album over and over and over.

And yes there were the thoughts of suicide.
What teenager, who was an adolescent ball of emotional hormones, who was experiencing unhappiness
night after night, wouldn’t entertain such thoughts??
What other remedy was there to such a problem?

Thank God for that gothic office in that gothic Cathedral and for the life-line I had found there.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I was aware of how bad things really were with my family.
It was my 22nd birthday. Mom and Dad had not called all day wishing me a happy birthday.
This was long before cell phones, texting or e-mail.
It was a long distance to Athens from Atlanta—the rates went down after 5PM so I was expecting my call.
By 8 PM I was getting a little sad, as well as concerned.
Finally, I called home.

A collect call of course.
Mother answered.
No words of happy birthday but rather “everything here is fine.”
Great, I thought, but does anyone remember what today is?
I wonder out loud.
“Oh, Happy Birthday Sweetie, Ed’s fine.”

That’s odd.
I wasn’t asking about Ed, and truthfully didn’t particularly care.

This was a surreal conversation and happy birthday to me.
Mother told me Dad was busy and would talk to me later—doubly odd to say the least.

It wasn’t for a week or so later that I discovered the truth behind that strange evening’s call.

It seems that Ed had decided to run away.

He took mother’s car, two thousand dollars (where in the world he came up with money is beyond my soul,
as we did not have that kind of money lying around)
and his bass guitar.
He decided he would go to California
(why do all young people seem to want to run away to either California or New York?!)
to live in the desert and look at the stars.
Okay.

He made it to the US/ Mexican boarder when the Boarder Patrol stopped him.
They searched the car.
I suppose seeing some 16-year-old kid driving an old mom car pulling up to the US/ Mexican Boarder
threw up a giant red flag.

When they opened the trunk they found wet underwear hung over the bass guitar, drying.
They also found the money.

The Agents called my parents and told them that had they not stopped him,
he most likely would have been stopped in Mexico and most likely would have been killed by
the border bandits when they found the large sum of cash on a wayward kid.
Dad had to fly out to get him and drive back to Georgia.
I said then and there, they should have left him to his own devices.

Later, when it was time for me to start my student teaching,
I had to move back home in order to student teach at a school in the Atlanta Metro area.
My brother at the time was attending GA Tech.

Living between our great Aunt, who had run a boarding house during the War and
that of our house—–all depending on his mood.

He was really super smart but really super socially awkward.

There was one evening, in particular, that I recall most vividly.

It was my first-day student teaching.
To say I was nervous was an understatement.
And it just so happened that mother was in the hospital at the time,
as she had to have a hysterectomy.
I had to juggle the new teaching post,
running to the hospital, getting ready to help take care of mom and help take care of my dad.

That evening I had come home after a very long day of school and hospital duty
only to find Ed in the den with all of his record albums spread out all over the floor.
I sat on the floor, looking over what all he had.
Ours was a tenuous relationship and his temper was explosive–
I had to tread very lightly and truly wanted to be able to get along with him.

The conversation turned to mother.
He had fallen into the habit of referring to her only as “woman”,
as he did not consider her his mother.
I found this to be infuriating.
But the whole adoption thing was coming to a head in him, to such a level, none of
us fully grasped.

The stories of his explosive temper were becoming legendary.
Mother would have prepared him a baked potato.
If he had found it not to his liking, the potato was slung against the wall as he would spew foulness from his mouth.
Calling mother a ‘fucking bitch.’
There were holes in the walls from thrown hammers or screwdrivers or the wayward fist.

I could not fathom how on earth Mother and Dad could or would tolerate such behavior.
It made me crazy.
I was mad at them for letting him control the whole house.
I was thankful to be living away at college, spending summers away working at boarding summer camps—–
dreading ever coming home.

What I couldn’t understand, at the time, was that they had tried counseling.
Ed refused to attend.
The whole “tough love, kick him out on his own” approach was more then their hearts would allow.

This particular evening was not to be any different.

As I brought up the fact that Mother was in the hospital and that he should go see her,
he reacted in typical explosive behavior.
He blew up at me.
Why?
I have not a clue.
He proceeded to take a ball bad to every album sitting on the floor, smashing all in sight,
waving the bat at me and telling me my head was next.

He next stormed off to his room where I knew he kept a revolver.

When did my family every have a gun in the house is beyond my soul.

I left the house.

I went to the only place I knew I could find safety and solace—my godparents.

I called the house hours later only to have Dad answer the phone.
I recounted the series of events.
Dad got mad at me for “setting” Ed off.

Are you kidding me??!! He got mad at me??
WOW!!

As life with Ed is now becoming a small book, I will condense the remainder of all of this–
and bless you for reading all of this.

Ed eventually moved out of the house.
Attending Ga Tech sporadically and living in one of our great aunt’s boarding rooms,
as her large house was all but empty.

Mother by this time was broken and beaten.
I eventually got married and moved away.
Thank God.

By the time I was 25 and Ed was 20, Mother was diagnosed with cancer.
I know in my rational mind that people do not give other people cancer.
It doesn’t work that way.
Mother was sick for all of 6 short weeks.
It was as if she gave in to the cancer as an escape.
She had no will or desire to fight as her “fight” had left her long ago.

I blamed Ed for her death.

Like I say, people don’t give people cancer but I believed with all of my heart that
he had killed her.
And I resented the hell out of him for it.

By this time he was deeply involved in his quest for answers regarding his adoption.
He had also been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
It was at this point for my dad that he would do anything to help Ed find “peace”.
To say that my dad didn’t love him would certainly be a lie.
I just wish Ed could have understood that at the time.

It was the first case of it’s kind in the state of Georgia.
Ed had his adoption annulled.
My dad went before a judge, on behalf of Ed, asking that it be so.
Ed had exhaustively sought his birth parents, finding his mother and narrowing down who
his father had been.
In the annulment, he relinquished his identity of being Ed and took on the name
from his biological birth certificate–Timothy William Sommers.

There is still so much to all of this that time simply will not allow me to go into more detail,
as I am certain your eyes are already glazing over.
I am also certain that you realize that this story does not have the happiest of endings—
but it is an ending all the same.

By the time I was 31 I received a call at work.
I was teaching at the time.
They called me to the front office.
Ed was currently living in Ohio, continuing his quest to establish a relationship with his biological mother.
Upon meeting her he called my dad telling dad that he now understood why he was the way he was—
seems the old expression holds true—nuts don’t fall from the tree.

This particular day, when I reached the front office, I saw something in the face of our school secretary.
She was handing me the phone telling me it was my dad.
No one had to tell me what I was about to hear.
Dad was on the phone, telling me that the State Patrol in Akron, Ohio had called him.
They had found Ed dead in his apartment from a single gunshot wound.

You would think that this would be the sad ending to a sad story,but it is not, thankfully—

I am a firm believer in Redemption and Grace.
God’s hand has been too evident throughout my life, despite a troubling growing-up.
And yes I wholeheartedly believe that what doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.

It took me a long time to stop blaming Ed for mother’s death,
and for resenting him for how terrible our family was because of him.
I even had a great deal of resentment for my dad for not being stronger to do something,
anything to stop the craziness.

It wasn’t until years later that I found the forgiveness I so long needed—
not so much for Ed’s sake but rather for my own.

I had a student who was terribly troubled and had a severe drug problem.
He was removed from our school and sent to an alternative school.
I was terribly frustrated in that here was a kid that I never could reach and felt as if I had
somehow failed with him.
Shortly after his removal from school, he killed himself.

Being raised in an Anglican church, to me, suicide, at the time,
was very taboo.
Many victims of such were not even given church funerals.
I had always thought it to be the greatest sin against God—as it was a slap in the face
for a most precious gift of life.

The husband of a dear friend, who at the time was a Methodist minister,
sent me an email regarding the situation.
He told me that at the time when a person seems to be at their lowest point on this earth…
a time when we cannot know what is transpiring between that person and God—
how can we say that at that decisive moment when a person pulls a trigger,
or takes a drug, or breathes in a poisonous breath,
that God is not right there, right then still offering His undying and unyielding Grace and Forgiveness?

I can’t answer that.

And so it goes.

That God is so much bigger than me, my brother, this student, my parents, the cancer,
and all the tragedies any and all of us ever experience!!

After all of the years and all of the energy, the oh so negative energy,
I could and can look at my brother, and yes despite an annulment, he will always remain my brother,
I could and can find forgiveness.

Yes the story is sad—but it is not hopeless—
as long as there is light on the Earth, there will always remain Hope.

I must forgive as I too have much to be forgiven for in this life, just as we all do–
for it is one step, one day, one act at a time—

God remains Sovereign!
His Forgiveness and Grace endless…
Thank God and Amen!!!