I admit it, I’ve neglected this space for quite some time. It’s not because I intended too, my brain has just been busy with obligations that have kept me from sitting quietly to write about what matters most…. God and family.
I’m reading and spending time in the word daily, I am trying my best to lead my teenage daughter by example and ensure that she is as engaged in the youth group at church and keeping up with her studies. But there are still times when the cares of the world pull so heavily on me that I just collapse from the weight of it all.
Two weeks ago, I bought a house. It was time for us to put down some roots once again. We are officially, Alabamans and though that is not a name I ever thought I’d carry, I see God’s hand so clearly in bringing us here. You see God knows exactly what we need and where we need to be, if we have faith and lean wholly into Him. I’m learning to do that here.
While I can say that my job is a thorn in my side, I am grateful for it because it is a daily reminder of why I need to trust and consult God in everything. My life is more than a job or checking a box. My life is meant to be lived in submission to God, sanctified and holy.
I guess what I am trying to is that I am back and ready to serve.
I’m here. My daughter is here. We are embarking on a new year and a new life with one less, my son, her brother. Even though it’s been almost a year, it still feels fresh. An open wound still not ready to close. Though, I could sit here and cry and feel sorry for myself, because I could, but I would then be denying the power of Jesus Christ in the midst of midst of my sorrow. He has never forsaken or forgotten me, He has kept every single one of His promises.
God knows and knew what He was doing when He took my boy to be with Him. For a long time, it felt like I was being punished. I still feel that way at times. But, then I reflect on all of the blessings that I have received and continue to receive even in this season of loss, this grief. There are so many emotions right now, knowing that I will never see my boy grow up. He will in my heart and mind always be eleven.
As I look forward to this new year, I will never forget what happened in 2022, a part of me will be gone forever, but through it all, I am growing stronger day by day. And I have a loving Father, who is the same today, tomorrow and forever. That is a huge comfort to me. I can believe in Him, I can trust in Him and I can share the gospel and live faithfully until my natural death. While I wait to be reunited one day with Ethan. I will accept His continual refinement so that my life might be an example of His mercy and His grace. After all, diamonds are produced under pressure.
So, what are my plans for 2023, you may ask. Stay tuned, I have so much to share. But until then know this, I will shed the remnants of fear and scarcity, that have followed me for many years. My life is too full now for those two to have any place in it. That is why for 2023, I’m going to happily invest in both of my businesses and I will continue to study the scriptures so that I might be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks for the reason for the hope that is in me.
This is not a resolution but it is a commitment to grow outside of the fear and to walk in the victory of Christ. I hope that you will join me.
You all know that 2022, has been a heart crushing year for me. Unspeakable pain. But in midst of the worst pain, Jesus has held me. He has provided and protected us and held us up and when it was impossible for either of us to stand on our own, He carried us.
And when knew it was time for us to move, He sent us to the one place that I never would have chosen myself, Northern Alabama. After living here since August, I can emphatically say that I’m so glad that I didn’t choose. When I prayed and asked Him to place us where we could grow in the word and expand His kingdom, He answered my prayer and has turned to beauty what were ashes.
God has gifted us with friends, that are more like family, Emily is involved in so much with the youth group at church, that I’ve become her chauffeur. In fact, she just attended her first sleep away camp this past week. She was so impressed and truly enjoyed being there. I’ve linked the video from there last night here. https://youtu.be/r6KdR6vN71U
The classes and the Bible studies for the adults at church has been like attending Bible college and in late January something big is coming to us, so stay tuned for that announcement.
I guess the point of this post is to say that, though we may think we know what’s best for us, only God knows exactly what we need and when. So as we close out this year and ring in the new, I’m going to praise Him and glorify Him even more because I know and I remember from whence I came.
“The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Everyone wants to be loved, it is our fundamental and most basic emotion that we need to endure this life. Lives absent of love are hard, difficult and incredibly lonely.
I was in my late thirties, married and pregnant with my first child, when the unthinkable happened. My mother, my sister in Christ and very best friend died. That was the first time, that I felt to my core the absence of love. It was the first time that I felt truly alone and inconsolable. On that day, I could not imagine how I could possibly live this life without the one person who knew me better than anyone, including my husband.
I forged ahead for my daughter. I put a bandaid over that chest wound and busied myself with preparation of becoming a mother. I was fine. I functioned convincingly, until the next worst thing happened. Ethan had his first seizure at my dad’s wedding. I was forever changed that day. I left my body in anguish that day, hearing every voice around me, but incapable of responding. I only returned, when I heard the paramedic say, “your son needs you, please snap out of it!” He was right, Ethan needed me from that day forward. I became Ethan’s person and he became mine.
Countless doctors, a big from North Carolina to Georgia, with the bright eyed belief that I would find the answers that would take the seizures and autism away. I read, I researched, I consulted. He would improve and then he would slide back. Always following those seizures. I hate seizures.
With every setback I forged ahead, determined that the ship would turn for my Ethan. He was my focus. Eventually my body broke down, autoimmunity moved into my once healthy body. One month later, it became too much for husband to bear, so with a simple text, he wanted out. For nine months, we occupied the same house. He filed for divorce, I accepted without a fight. Why? Because it never should have been. A divorce was the relief that I needed to fight for my son and to nurture my daughter without the demands of a counterfeit marriage.
Life became harder, but then it would get better. Ethan would do well and just when I thought we had cleared a hurdle, there would be something. But we always rebounded. Always. But then one day, we didn’t. Ethan died. And once again, that deep gut wrenching hurt absence of love came back. How could this have happened? Countless ambulance rides, two life threatening weeks in the hospital. But we always turned it around. Until we didn’t. Why Lord, why?
I still think about that day and wonder why or what I could have done. I know that even if God gave me an answer, what comfort would it give me? Ethan isn’t coming back. I have to go to him.
So, when I prayed and asked for direction for Emily and I, He led us to northern Alabama. The one place I never expected to live but now can’t imagine living anywhere else.
While I still don’t understand why my life had to go this way, I can say that my soul is no longer wandering, because I have finally found my home.
It’s hard to believe that one year ago today, I had a large tumor removed from my leg. I had no idea then what the next several months would bring. What started out as routine, ended up being more extensive than I could have imagined. It took months to heal and even though the internal healing is complete, I will have a scar to remind me for the remainder of my days of the lessons that I needed to learn.
In those weeks, I learned how to accept and appreciate support from others, but also disappointment. The very people that I thought would have come to my side at a very vulnerable time in my life, did not. And the very people, who had no reason to, did.
That is the funny thing about loss, no matter what it is, surgery or death. Love and support comes from the most unexpected places to fill your cup. They are those angels that come and minister to you without saying a word. They just flutter about doing, because they know that you would never ask.
Behind the scenes they make sure that you are fed and comforted. They make arrangements for your beloved children. They send cards, they call. They ask about you. Sometimes they just sit and listen to you go on and on without judgement. And sometimes, they catch you before you hit the floor.
Were it not for the angels near and far, that chose to love on me when my pride would not permit me to ask for help, though, I very much needed it, I would not have fared as well as I did; my heart is grateful. I am grateful that they ignored my foolishness and did the work that needed to be done.
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2
Who would I be without You? Without You, my life would be a heap of ashes, without a hope and without a future. Without You, I would barely be hanging on. Without You, my words would have no meaning, my life a waste. Without you, I would be unsaved and destined for damnation. Without You, I’d never know that love is patient and is kind.
I pray that I will never forget, Who you are and all you have done for me; because I never want to live this life without You.
“With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!” Psalm 119:10
It’s been four months since my precious son left this life and there isn’t one day that I don’t think of him. It’s not possible for me to forget the joy that he brought into my life. He made me a warrior, a fighter, he made me brave.
I try to stay busy, because sitting with my thoughts for too long is too hard. I have to pack, but it seems like I barely get started before I stop. I know that it needs to be done, but for some reason, I can find a million distractions. I wonder if it’s because part of me feels like packing makes his death final or is just a reminder that this next journey doesn’t include him.
I know that God has him. There is no doubt in my mind that he is healed and happy. I’m just sad that it didn’t happen for me to see. Sometimes, I find myself calling him to come and give me a hug, I just want to hold him and snuggle. But he doesn’t come. Maybe he doesn’t miss me in the way that I miss him.
I still wonder why he had to leave and I know that I may never get the answers that I am seeking. I guess I just want to know why I had to go through another hurt so deep that breathing hurts. But God doesn’t owe me an explanation so I’ll accept that His grace is sufficient.
Besides I guess none of us gets to leave this planet without some amount of sorrow. Just seems that I have had enough for two lifetimes. Maybe there is a lesson in that for me to learn. I guess, I need to figure it out, because I am tired of walking through sorrow and having grief as a constant companion.
Perhaps, I’ll wake up one day and grief will be gone and if she is, I pray that I am ready for the day.
What do you call a mother who loses her child when he is eleven years old? Is she a widow like when her husband dies? Is there even a name to represent her heart being pulled from her chest, like a heart attack that is associated with cardiovascular disease? There should be a name to call a woman who loses her child without warning or explanation. Maybe I’ll be the first to wear that name. I am after all a grieving mother and will likely be known by that until the day I die.
Most days, I wake up and do all of the things. But then there are moments when I see his lifeless body in my mind and I want to scream and cry and beg for it to not be real. Oh and then there are the times, when a friend will just simply ask, “how are you doing”, and the tears just start rolling down my cheeks before I even say a word. I know that people understand and they give me grace. But for some reason, I find it hard to give it to myself.
Since my dear Ethan’s passing in February, I’ve had time to sit with grief and ask why him he has been my companion for so many years. Why it seems, he follows me everywhere. Is there a lesson that I haven’t learned? Or have I not humbled myself enough? I wish I knew how to shake him or to travel a different route where he can’t find me. But somehow I don’t believe that is even possible. As soon as I let my guard down he takes someone that I love and need in my life.
My neighbor recently asked me if I thought I might date or find love again. My response, “probably not.” I reminded him that as a special needs parent, I wasn’t planning to get involved with anyone in that sense because my life was devoted to being Ethan’s mom, his person. I was prepared to take care of him. I am not prepared for someone to take care of me or for anyone to take up that much space in my life. That idea is so foreign to me at this point, that I don’t even entertain it.
What’s so interesting, is that being divorced didn’t and doesn’t feel like a loss. Losing my nana, my mother and my Ethan were losses, abandonment really and that is a visceral hurt that is indescribable. Those are the losses that make me question and wonder why I am still here. But grief won’t answer me, he just follows me and stares when I tell him to leave.
I guess this is the time where I have to accept what is and to be content with raising my daughter. She needs me and wants me to be the all in mom that she didn’t have for several years. So, that mom is who I will be because she needs me to be her.
I am lonely. There I said it. Not in the way that most people would think. I am lonely in the sense that the one constant that anchored me, my son is no longer here. I feel like a boat with no real direction or a place that I should be. No real sense of belonging.
Before I knew that Ethan he was a he, I knew that I was pregnant with a boy, I knew he was my son. I had dreams of all the things he would do and would eventually become and I was grateful. I was grateful that once again, I would be a mother. Two children to love and nurture. That would be a blessed life.
Even when he received a diagnosis of autism and later, epilepsy and PANDAS, and my dreams changed for him, I still knew that he would be here and whatever he would need, I’d in some way be able to provide. That’s part of a being a mother, right? I mean it never would have occurred to me that I was only meant to be his mom for a short time instead of a lifetime.
Most days I am fine since his death. But lately, I find myself sobbing before I drift off to sleep each night. I know that God is with me and He sees me. I am comforted daily by His loving hands, but it is in those moments that I miss Ethan the most. I miss his hugs, I miss his smiles, I miss his innocence and his unconditional love. I miss my boy, my only son. I miss being his person and holding his hand. I miss talking to him, though he could not talk back. I just miss him.
This is my new normal. This is my normal and what I must accept for the sake of my daughter. She missed so much of me when her brother was here and has grown up so much; but she still needs me. She needs me to teach her all of the things that I thought she would just pick up because I told her or showed her one or two times. Turns out she needed me too, she just didn’t ask because she knew that Ethan needed me more.
While I don’t understand, why Ethan had to go or why I still have to navigate my life without him, I will accept and be assured that Ethan is with God and is waiting for me to be reunited with him one day. That is my hope.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Thank you Lord for allowing me to be Ethan’s mom for eleven years. I will always be grateful.
What occupies your mind? Does your work align with your values and beliefs?
I spent nearly 24 years of my life trading my time for a paycheck. In that time, I sacrificed what was most important, not because i wanted to, but because I thought that I had no choice. Ultimately, my only son died as a result of choices that I thought we right, but later learned that they were wrong, it was a hazard of the profession that I had chosen.
Since my son’s death I have had many sleepless nights and more time to study the Bible and to remember what my purpose is here on this earth. I have had the opportunity to speak to my sisters in Christ about maintaining their physical health and the best gift was witnessing my daughter commit her life to Christ through baptism into his kingdom. Acts 2:38.
We only get one life and in the grand scheme of it all, it is short. So while there is still breath in my body, I will heed the advice of King Solomon, who penned, “ The end of the matter, all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13&14