Forgiving Debts

As the time approached for Arrow to return home from prison, to begin his life again, we rearranged bedrooms, we got rid of all the alcohol we had massed, we installed a landline again for his ankle monitoring system. We discussed rules and boundaries and set a plan to get him back to independence. We filled our days with hopes and tasks and considered each step carefully, knowing full well that his success and our sanity depended on creating a safe place, one that included support as well as accountability. I am reminded of all the hours spent on the phone with him as the days grew closer to his freedom, each of us considering that while prison had been horrific, the real work lay ahead. Even with all the intentionality that process held, we made mistakes, we blew it and we all lost. I take comfort in knowing not that while we were not perfect, we didn’t prevent his relapse, we did give our best efforts, we did the best we could at the time. My regrets often feel like a debt I can never touch, a steady reminder of how I fell short.

Every day I see the scribbled card that hangs on the refrigerator, the one where we recorded his debt. Like a talisman, it has hung there for years now, showing not only the money we offered him that he insisted he would pay back, the money he hoped always to pay back as a show that he had become a responsible man and not a child getting an allowance, not a dependent kid. We paid to have a tooth implanted to replace the one lost in a prison fight, we paid to have his driver’s license reinstated, we paid for a gym membership. The truth is that I would have willingly gifted all of this to him but understood my need to rescue him could be the very thing that undermined his success. My boy went to prison, I struggled to see the man who had returned. He grew confident each time he offered up $20 and marked it on the card, understanding that the thousands we had spent while he was locked up were certainly forever out of his reach but he could stop the slide further. Of course not everything made the list, the cost of new clothes and shoes and a winter coat and meals out and the pantry stocked with food we wouldn’t normally purchase, these were considered the cost of parenting.

The card remains on the fridge, a reminder of debt that has been abandoned. Mostly I view it with great sadness, not that we won’t recoup the funds, (we spent equally on Stella but that is a very different blog post) but rather the reminder that we will never have a chance to see him to restoration, to redemption, not on this side of the heavens. No , I look at this list of money owed and know that maybe, just maybe, if he had stuck to the plan, we would be celebrating him rather than mourning him. Maybe if we had written everything down, he would have recognized how much we had to offer and he would have felt humility and respect rather than noting the loopholes and means to manipulate. But I think this card reminds me of more, brings sadness t my own shortcomings rather than just Arrow’s. More than what this card says about us and our failed attempts to keep him sober, I see that I also carry a list of debts and know that I will never pay them off.

Pastor Pat once told me and probably many others in the congregation, (was it a sermon, the words echoed so loudly with me that it is hard to remember he surely was speaking to us all) that God has my picture on his fridge. A simple deep message, that I am honored and cherished by my creator. He didn’t say that God has a list of my transgressions, not a quid pro quo of my blessings and what I need to do to get us even. My picture. I can never repay my debts, I daily even scoff at my blessings as I want more and different ones. I forget that God has already provided, that He sent His son to pay for it all. What if I chose to face daily not the list that outlines how my son fell short but the one that I carry with me, the tattered card full of scribbles that describe how I fell short? Would I notice the ways I did work on the debt, the ways I have held myself accountable and sought to be better or only the ways I didn’t? Indeed, it is a choice, to look at a life and see the losses or to celebrate the gains. Does God celebrate each time I offer up $20 to pay for the groceries of the person in front of me who is silently, embarrassedly putting items aside because the total is too high, the wallet is too empty? Does God rejoice when I notice the least of His, when I recognize another broken soul? Do these count as my offerings, accepted with the same sense of delight as I pocketed that $20 from Arrow? I think He does, I think I have missed the point of being indebted all this time.

My birthday is approaching, days away now. It has almost never been a happy day for me, not something I wanted to share. Vivid memories of childhood horrors when I experienced the conflicting messages that I was to be simultaneously feted and molested have created deep ruts where I find myself stuck, year after year. I hate surprise parties, recalling the year my father took me away from home while friends gathered, away to pick up my birthday cake and to a country road where he violated my body and my soul and then returned me to the party, shell shocked and unable to find sanctuary. No, my birthday has never been cause for celebration for me, one met with trepidation and hyper vigilance. Yet something strange happened this year, as January brought a relief from the intense grief of the holidays and I began to breathe. I felt God nudging me to accept the present of my birthday, to accept life and see that those who have celebrated with me through the years were not just showing up for cake. While my picture may not be on any of their fridges, I hold a place in the hearts of many and that is good. The danger has passed and I am being invited into life. Ever mindful that I not seem proud or boastful, I wondered, what if? What if I looked not at how I fall short but rather on the ways I thrive and survive and say that is enough, just for one day, that is worthy, I am worthy?

Before you wonder why you weren’t invited to my own celebration of me, know that my plan didn’t come to be. While I am not this year throwing a party for me, cooking food I want to share with you and opening the door of this closed off home to your laughter and your friendship, maybe one year soon. I am getting closer to acknowledging my debt to God and also the ways in which He rejoices at my birth. I am removing the card that lists my son’s debts and instead am remembering all the ways he lived. My gift to me this year is to intentionally begin living, growing into me. I hope you will forgive my debts and yours as well, that you will destroy the accounting of wrongs and embrace the fresh start we have been given. I think that counts as another payment to our creator who keeps cleaning up our messes and offering a fresh start.

A New Year

Like any good horror movie where the star runs through the scene alternately looking forward for an escape and back to see monitor how close the threat is, I can see how I experienced this last year. Looking over my shoulder, seeing hurts and memories that threatened to consume me, I looked forward to upcoming holidays and birthdays and knew the danger lay ahead as well. Stuck in an endless loop of running and hiding, constantly feeling like I was one wrong step away from losing all of me. Like a bright light, a gust of fresh air, suddenly I find myself on the other side, out from under the cloud of doom and into a calendar that is fresh and waiting for new memories and safe. Sure the same holidays and birthdays and special events await, yet somehow just surviving the first grief-filled year has brought some clarity and a healthy dash of hope.

The truth of grieving my son has shown what even I cannot deny, I do have a desire to survive. Too many times I wondered why someone else got cancer, was in a horrible accident, when I had no desire to take the next breath. Not actively suicidal, no worries friends, but also not actively living. I heard of someone who died of a broken heart and wondered to God why my life was continuing. When the pain felt unbearable, I got another text from a friend saying they felt the strong call to pray for me right then. I cannot say I always welcomed those but I recognized them for what they were, a lifeline, a rope thrown to a drowning woman. When I asked God to let me stop this survival run, I found in the mail another card, a sweet message from a friend near or far who acted on the impulse to remind me there is a greater world outside of my mourning and I was welcome to rejoin when I could. Couldn’t they sense my resentment at their kindness, why wouldn’t they leave me alone in my misery? Cards and calls and dinners arrived inspire of my surliness, breaching the walls I was erecting. I was offered bits of hope and just enough air to endure the next minute, to exist another day.

As the new year arrived, I realized I no longer wanted to run from pain and look back to all that chased me. So bizarre that merely flipping the calendar could bring a fresh start, an awaking to the blessing of a new day and yet, it seems it is so. Certainly all the resolutions and goal setting that begins on this day each year would hint that I am not alone in embracing another chance to get it right, be healthier, find joy again. The grief group I attended surely assisted in gaining this different perspective, 6 weekly meetings that provided a safe space to be angry and broken as well as the offer to see even a tiny bit beyond my limited view. Imagine running in the darkness, desperate to avoid the dangers of sorrow all around and then the lights come back on, casting out the shadows of “what-ifs” and “if onlys”, illuminating the truth that I was running for no reason, the threats were all in my head. I was given the larger view, that my Arrow is in a better place, words that angered me in the darkness but reassured in the light.

I survived a year of firsts, a year spent mostly sitting silently in my grief, sometimes showing my tears but most often putting on a fake brave face. I thought I was getting through each empty day mired in memories without making progress, what really would progress look like? Trudging through every morning, long nights that brought no relief, and yet I find I have moved forward, into an unknown life without the joy of my son, also without the worry and despair that comes from loving an addict. I was freed from the demons that haunted us for 11 years, it just took some time to stop the habit of fretting and wringing our hands and checking the local police blotter every day. We survived against most of my efforts and even as I questioned the wisdom of a God who refuse to offer me the out I desired, I was slowly given the knowledge that I still had more to live for, more to experience, more life ahead.

I didn’t get the blessing of dying from a broken heart, instead I am offered the chance to live with one. The energy, the adrenaline rush that comes after the crisis has passed now fills my soul, even as I resist the fresh air and look suspiciously at the empty calendar and the hope that flutters within. We are embarking on the second year, one surely filled with more tears and sadness and dark days and yet… we are moving forward into a light that exposes happy memories as well. Plum, Chef and I celebrated New Year’s Eve with root beer floats just as we always did with my Stella and Arrow. We played games and built Lego sets and were asleep by 8:30, safe in the belief that we didn’t have to watch the clock to know another day was coming. As the first day of the new year dawned, we lit sparklers and celebrated both the darkness and the light, both surviving and living as we breathed in deeply the possibilities of this new 24 hours. We have entered year 2, a year of seconds that seems to be inviting us into different firsts.

Happy New Year friends, thank you all for continuing to read a blog filled with longing and sorrow, thank you for the texts and dinners and cards and your couches. Thank you for walking through the darkness with me, bringing your light and showing me I had nothing to fear. You are the angels of God who knew I would follow you back to Him. This isn’t a horror movie, this is a life, full of minutes and moments and months, full of joys and sorrows. I have survived thus far, I might as well see what is ahead, I might as well grasp the joys that also lurk just around the corner. Be blessed friends.

I Remember You

I dreaded the calendar flip from November to December, dragging me into a month of reminders that you are gone. Knowing the anniversary was creeping, often speeding towards me, I desperately tried to cling to the emotional stability I had achieved, I tried to stay busy. Still, the quiet moments were consumed with flashbacks to the morning I learned you were gone. Most of this month has been about pretending I could celebrate Christmas for the sake of your child, my Plum. The Christmas tress were up, all the presents purchased with the help of online shopping to avoid people and music and merriment, the cookies baked. Plowing ahead, moving forward as if each day were a separate 24 hours to get through. Then I saw the comet (lens flare?) and I regained some footing. I imagined you dancing through the sky, playing with your beloved Pony dog and my heart became lighter. Another day closer to the anniversary but also another day I had survived and glimpsed a moment of peace and clarity.

Next I went to dinner with my mother-in-law and was given the chance to really remember you. My mother-in-law has Alzheimers, she doesn’t remember you died. While at the restaurant celebrating her birthday, she asked me repeatedly how you were doing. What could have been excruciating, to tell her again and again that you died, I chose instead to recognize that she only remembers that you lived. With her diminished capabilities, she gave me the greatest gift. I too could focus on all the other days of your life and not just on the one day that you left us. “He is doing well, I think,” I replied the first time she asked. The next time, I considered carefully and stated, “He is strong and healthy and happy, I believe.” With each question, I affirmed what I had been told, by the comet and the pastors and my friends, that you are in heaven and no longer in the grips of addiction. I got to see you as you are, I got to talk about more of your story and not the last chapter.

Time continued without any help from me, today marks one year since you began to fly in the heavens. I remember you, your silliness and your laughter. I remember how much you made me smile. I see you cuddling pets, always cuddling pets and realize you are now taking your beloved Pony (the black lab we rescued after he was found swimming following hurricane Katrina. Please don’t ask me how he came to be called that) for walks in heaven, oh how you loved that dog. I am convinced there is Sriracha sauce up there, that you are eating steak and hot fries and one day I will join you and make my special pancakes for you.

I am sure you are listening to your son and glowing with pride at his wit, at his ability to play with words and cock his eyebrow just as you did. I cannot forget your face if I wanted to, I cannot escape you when this child is near. The same blue eyes, the same silly looks, I think each time that I am seeing you for a flash and that you will never fully be gone while this child walks among us. I can hear you laughing, delighted in his teasing of me and his quick quips. He has your intelligence and also your deep well of empathy. He sees the invisible around us, he reaches out to those who are vulnerable. I remember in elementary school when you chose to sit at lunch with the child others shunned. You came home and asked if you could share some of your clothes with him, did we have an extra coat? You had all the charisma, you drew everyone to you just by walking in to a room, and yet you often chose to take your place around those who had none. You elevated others without fear of your own standing. Your child does the same, he recognizes the lost and the hurting and shares his heart with them. H doesn’t worry what others will think, he thinks for the crowd and pulls them in the kindest direction. I know you are watching him and your smile outshines the stars I gaze at each night.

I have long seen you as an arrow, as a child with a choice of the direction you would fly. I didn’t consider that and arrow lays still without intervention, without a force to propel it forward. I tried for most of your life to be the bow, to hold you steady and direct your path and I failed. Or maybe I didn’t, maybe I became broken and loose and not able to withstand repeated walking, running to pick you up and start afresh. I do know that I gave you all of me until there was so little left that when you died, I became empty and useless and emotionally dead as well. A year, 365 days of surviving without purpose and then this morning I a reminded of a conversation with you shortly after you returned home from prison. You chastised me, your direct honesty and wise words are echoing within me today even more than that horrible phone call, the screaming and crying. You told me to stop, just stop mourning the estrangement with your sister and start living again. You said my sadness was robbing you, Plum, Chef of me. You said I needed to get a shower and stop wearing pj’s all day and begin laughing. I didn’t know then you were preparing me for this very day. You were showing me that I was more than the bow to hold you up, more than a punching bag for your sister. I was needed each day for a greater purpose and I needed to stop wallowing in past hurts and see the new day ahead as opportunity to find other parts of me. I hear you, I still hear your words and I know, just like the comet I am being given a new perspective if only I chose to see it. You have become the bow, I am the arrow.

I often say that you I am more than one chapter of my story, sometimes I say it with conviction, others I whisper it and wonder when it will feel true. By focusing on only the last chapter of your story, I lose the joy of remembering all the ones before, the ones filled with your huge presence and silliness, “Mom did you know mom upside down is wow?” and all the notes you left me, scribbles of sweetness and a request for a certain breakfast or a wake up time early enough that we could spend time together. I remember you Nick, with every breath and with each second and today I will try so very hard to shower and put on real clothes and do something, anything to take a step forward. The shower and clothes may be the only steps but forward, into the search for life and not mere survival without you. Today I will remember that you lived, that you loved and that you are forever a mama’s boy who took pride in that relationship. The hundreds of letters I have from you while you were in prison are beautiful reminders of the love we shared, the hopes you held and the successes you experienced.

You and I, we know our truth and we know you are living free and healthy and flying with support of the strongest bow, One who will not tire or lose strength. You are living fully now and I am given the choice to follow your example and your life and your words. Today, on the anniversary of your last breath, I will try to fill my lungs and begin to live again.

I See The Moon

I see the moon and the moon sees me and the moon sees somebody I want to see

God bless the moon and God bless me and God bless the somebody I want to see

This lullaby, written by Meredith Willson, was a particular favorite when my children were tiny, we almost reflexively repeated it each time we caught sight of the moon. Certainly as I was imprisoned, we chanted the words over countless phone calls, taking comfort that the same moon they looked at was within my view as well, we couldn’t truly be that far apart. I silently said these words during the time was daughter was on another continent, while my son was missing or jailed or homeless. Somehow, knowing the moon was watching us all, wherever we happened to be, regardless of the distance between us, gave us all peace. 

During the memorial service when Chef talked about our Arrow, he again used the imagery of the moon, illustrating how he was the brightest thing you would see whenever he entered a room, much like the moon that always overtakes the starlight. The moon has special significance in our family, each night for the past year, as sleep eludes me and I wander the house while Chef is seeking rest, I look out at the moon and the words to the lullaby echo in my thoughts. I chant the words, I wish to see someone I can’t. 

It is no secret that this year has tested my faith, that I have battled with the need to understand and the knowledge that I never will. The anticipation of Christmas has been excruciating, remembering how blindly I celebrated last year without the knowledge that just 4 days after all the presents were opened and the cookies eaten, I would hear the devastating news that my son had died of a heroin/fentanyl overdose. Christmas this year has brought dread, a reluctance to put up the decorations and hang the stockings, still knowing that the season is important to Plum, that we must carry on has forced me to go through the motions at least. Each night though, I look up at the moon and say the words and entreat God for what I cannot have. Often I take a picture of the moon, filling my camera roll with shots of the night sky to replace all the pictures I will never again take of my son. 

Two nights ago I was following my routine, sitting on my back porch and considering the moon when I noticed it was oddly shaped. Not a truly 3/4 moon, it seemed to have a bit more hidden but just in one section. Yet in the picture, the moon appears full and bright. Not understanding what I was seeing, I pulled out my camera to capture the image when I saw something else on the screen, a blue ball, a floating orb. I wiped off the lens and tried again. Same thing. Snapping several pictures, I looked to see if  changing my position would cause the ball to disappear. I inspected the sky, I couldn’t see it yet every time I raised the camera, it appeared. Finally I went back inside to get Chef’s phone, thinking surely it would be gone and the mystery would be solved, something must be wrong with my phone. It remained in the viewfinder. Wondering at the image and needing an explanation, I posted the photo in a subreddit called @whatisthisthing, knowing someone out there could offer an answer. What I learned has shaken me, given me pause and a sliver of peace and a large helping of hope. I apparently was capturing the image of the Christmas Comet, something  visible only that night and not again for centuries. 

I don’t know if it is really true that I saw the blue of my son’s eyes as it traveled in the night sky, appearing to play by the moon. Maybe it was a lens flare, as some redditors suggested. Yet I am embracing the ones who explained about the Christmas Comet, who posted links to astronomy sites and assured me it was so. What I can be certain of is that while I couldn’t see this blue in the sky with my naked eye, that I needed a strong, different lens, I could find it with the a different view. Much like I cannot know for certain where my son is and my view is most often cloudy regarding most things these days, with some help I can be offered the truth that there is more to the story, there is a greater plan and God rules the heavens and the earth and sometimes we can have a pleading to see somebody we want to see, if we look around differently. 

I was given a Christmas gift that I will treasure forever, the image of my boy traveling the sky under the watchful gaze of God, a quick visit to assure me that Christmas is still relevant and magical and deeper than the presents under the sparsely decorated tree in our home. I am still puzzling out what all it means for me, much like the shepherds of old who heard the angels sing, it is awesome and holy and frightening, to have had this encounter with the God who saw me too, who knows that I wander in search of assurance and beg for the closeness that disappeared Dec 29, 2017. I was given this sign that He does know there is somebody I want to see and he is blessing us both. 

Stella is 30

One of the gifts of finding God again is that I survived a hard day and didn’t crumble.  Yesterday was Stella’s 30th birthday, the 4th anniversary of her wedding and coincidentally, 4 years since I have seen my daughter.  While aching over the loss of this relationship, I was still able to celebrate her life and her presence on this earth. And I found joy.  All day joy as we cavorted with Plum, listening to giggles and chatter.  A bustling day as we sought ways to be occupied that didn’t involve screens on an unexpectedly unseasonably cold day.  We survived.

As we created 8 different colors of slime, as the glue plopped on the table and the food coloring stained our wooden island, I ached over the grandchildren who are not so indulged by grandparents who would foster a curiosity about science as well. As we coated the floor in baby powder to ensure maximum slipperiness, I imagined the day the house is filled with little feet sliding through the room.  As we bowled at the local university lanes and Chef gave up his turns to provide the most opportunities for Plum to practice, I could almost hear the lessons given to all the little girls who have yet to be taught by a patient grandpa.  I trust that one day we will be granted those chances, that our table will be surrounded by family again. I trust.

As I stole away a few minutes to crochet and consider all that my heart was wishing for, the boys took extra skein of yarn and created a disaster of traps upstairs, a tribute to the recent Home Alone binge Plum has enjoyed. Even as I reflected on the ones who were not filling my home, the ones who wouldn’t eat a cake or pie I made to celebrate this milestone birthday, the laughter filtered back down the stairs and into my soul. We love the ones who present, we beg God to bring the others back around. I knew my son was watching from above, relishing the ways we allow his own son to experience joy and fun and learning even as the messes pile up.  We kept living.

I don’t know what it will take, I fear what that might be, in order for her to call, text, email me again. I am sure though that one day it will happen and I will rejoice, forgetting the hurts as we begin anew. I will remember then as I do now all the years that preceded the estrangement, I will focus on the travels and parties and the every days that create a lifetime, that fill scrapbooks and facebook memories. I will glorify the One who builds bridges.

Happy 30th birthday my Stella, my Miss Pie.  I love you most, I love you forever. I imagined your day as you were the center of attention, as you ate some Boston Cream pie and taught your daughters to see their mom as a person also, one who is worthy of celebration and honor. Also, I pray you didn’t have to have pork chops for dinner. When you come back home, I will make your whatever you want, will welcome you as the prodigal daughter, we will feast and rejoice.  Until then, I know God has you.

Changing Time

The wonder of waking to see that my phone and the clock that has rested on the table on my Chef’s side of the bed are an hour apart, understanding that someone somewhere created a program to automatically adjust time while I slept on my device, leaving me with the chore of adjusting all the other clocks around the house to accuracy as time change Sunday arrives. Mentally considering each one that must be pulled from the wall, manually turned back to give an extra hour today, I can’t help but question why I should stop at just one hour, why not go back days, weeks, months. I was given an extra hour to sleep today but what if I had an extra year, 4 years, to go back and redo all the wrongs and the angry words and the missed calls and and and.  Where would I stop?

Ten and a half months have now passed since my son died, 7,665 hours that continuing to accrue and yet I am given this one extra? I want more, I want to go back years. I want to travel to the days of relationship with my daughter, I want to return to when her laughter filled my soul. I want to go back to the days before Arrow’s addiction charted a course we couldn’t alter, back to when he was silly and safe.  How many times must I twist the dial to get back to when life felt sweeter and full of possibility? Each day now brings me closer to the anniversary, December 29, which means all the first times so far have been preparation for this big event, the milestone that shows I have survived without him against what I have often desired. I made it through his birthday, his son’s, mine, Chef’s. Through holidays and spring flowers and starry nights and full moons, through little days and every damn Friday since I got that call that will always mark the before and after of my life. I could go back to before that, but really to set things right, I would have to go much further.

We must be careful with adjusting time, taking only that one hour. If I go back 9 years, I could mess up the sequence and never know my Plum, never hold that tiny baby and sing him to sleep, never teach him to drink from a cup and drop the bottle, never potty train this little boy or help him learn to sleep in the knowledge that he was safe and secure.  I wouldn’t hear his giggles and find Lego everywhere in my home. No, I must only take the 1 hour given, there is still too much to lose by going back which means I must have a reason to go forward. Just as I taught him to tie his shoes and step into the world with confidence, I take the next step and the next, stumbling and tripping and resting often, but moving ever forward.

Looking back is risky. My breathing slows, my thoughts create an impenetrable fog, I miss the sunlight on the leaves. Trusting that timing is above my station, that I cannot return to former days and cannot rush forward to a place where it doesn’t  hurt, I am left with today. One extra hour to wallow, to wonder, to wish, yet still the same 24. A fresh start, a chance to not make the same mistakes and seek forgiveness for those already committed. An opportunity to live into trust, that someone is programming the time to be exactly what I need. I’ll take that extra hour to be gentle with myself, I’ll offer kind words to someone who needs them, I’ll go to bed a bit early tonight and pray to visit with my children at least in my dreams.

How will you spend your extra hour today? May it bring you a sliver of peace and an offering of grace, a chance to tell someone you are sorry and you love them and you delight in their presence in your life. As we move the clocks back, we still must go forward awash in the grace of the Ultimate Timekeeper who understands every minute counts.

 

No Light, No Grace

When I began this blog and considered the title, it seemed fitting to establish my roots in faith. I sought examples of God’s light and wanted to document experiences of grace as I journeyed through each day. But what now, when darkness seems to close in unexpectedly, when grief overcomes my ability to see or trust the Light? Certainly I have been shown grace as my emotions rule, as tears flow in the midst of everyday conversations or when I appear hardened and aloof, trying desperately not to feel in order to complete tasks. Truthfully though, I have discovered during this mourning time that I don’t find the light to be bright enough,  the grace I once knew was from God is little comfort. Marooned, angry, unable even to recognize a thirst for healing waters, I realize I have lost my ability to write as well.

What was comfort, a means to express what I often couldn’t say out loud, now feels like whining and moaning and pointless. Shall I say each day that I am sad? Shall I list all the ways I have displayed my anger? Who really wants to read such depressing drivel? How can I find my way back as a light-seeker when I am distrustful of the rays that break through, knowing the night is coming again, the inky blackness that mutes colors and turns all who move around me into shadows? Eleven years I was faithful in praying to a God, asking fervently for the prayers of others who seemed more deeply faithful, that my son would be given a way out of his addiction, that he would be safe and redeemed and restored. A pastor told me once, through the darker times, that my Arrow was working on his testimony, that one day he would share his witness. Taking this as a promise from one who had the inside track to God, I just knew Arrow would stand in church one day and thank everyone for coming alongside him in prayer, for propping up his family and caring for his child He would say he was now a believer and committed to a different life. I held this as a promise even when he was homeless and filthy, even when he was missing and the police were searching for him. I trusted this plan when he was in danger in prison and when he attempted suicide. I trusted God with my child, yet God took him anyway.

Tricked, I feel tricked. I search for a way back to God, a reason to go back to God. I still beg him to protect my daughter, to keep my husband safe, to watch over my grandchildren but I know He may not be listening to me. After all, why hasn’t He restored my daughter to us? Why is life often complicated and difficult with Plum’s mom? When is it going to go our way, when? Yes, we have a safe home and food in our fridge, we are mostly able to pay all the bills and our health allows us to participate in our church ministries. Still my deepest yearnings, my fervent prayers lay at the altar, abandoned neglected shriveled. I want the easy joys of restoration and relationship and celebrations, when do I get my share, my payback for the mistake of taking my son? Kubler Ross might notice I am angry and bargaining and oh so far from acceptance.

I listen as others who are mourning or have grown in their grief talk about the assurance of a better place for their lost loves, knowing I am rejecting their faith, rejecting the idea that the timing was God’s intention. How can I believe that Arrow was supposed to die alone in his kitchen with drugs coursing through his body, destroying the chance of listening to his children laugh and walk and run and play football? What sense does that make? How can I not feel rejected by the One I have followed, to give me this child only to rip him from our lives?  No, writing does make me feel better, see truths I may have missed. I can only rant and scream out with the ragged voice of one who has suffered a wound so catastrophic that wholeness will never be possible.

I am sad. Everyday I am sad. Every minute I ache and I search for answers that won’t come. Acceptance of this loss and of a new relationship with the One who pulls the strings seem far off, out of reach to a mother who just wants to hear her son laugh again.