In St. Jude/Out St. Jude

That day is very vivid in my mind. It was so hot as we sat in the car. It we just the two of us, Jay and I. July 5, 2012. We had just walked out of St. Jude for what we thought was the last time and left Trey’s sick cancerous body. We both looked at each other and said, “What are we doing to do now?” We had no idea where the next 7 to 8 years would take us and that it would keep us at St. Jude.

Soon after Trey’s death, Dr. Sara Federico contacted us and set up an appointment for Collin to see her. We knew that he carried the same malignant melanoma gene that we believe caused Trey’s cancer. Dr. Sara told us that normally they send patients out for screening since they do not actively have cancer. Dr. Sara loves our family. She petitioned the powers that be and also because of Trey, Collin remained a St. Jude patient for screening. . .until February 19, 2020.

What my head was saying in both instances was the right thing.

“THIS IS WHAT IS NATURAL AND NEEDS TO HAPPEN!”

But my heart had emotions swirling like a carousel at Disneyworld. The picture below shows Collin walking down a long hallway at St. Jude as we enter the Chili’s building to go to our car to leave. What you DON’T see is that he was so happy he was walking and weaving from one side of the hall to the other. No more Kid’s Kafe, no more patient number, no more little red wagons, and no more painted halls. Now, it will be West Cancer Clinic. Leaving with one child and left without one child.

As I thought further when I took another picture through the windshield of St. Jude to go along with the 10 million I already have, our hospital is our church. How many of us leave our church, turn around, and feel sadness because of what life is handing us? Feeling cancerous.

We drove away and didn’t chat much, but I kept thinking. Jesus is our healer, our Jehovah Raphah. This last week or two has been very hard on us because Jay had surgery on February 18, my mother died that afternoon, and Collin’s appointment was on the 19th. There has not been a time of whaling or crying over our mother. We were at peace because she wanted to see Jesus more than anything. We were at peace.

I have the verse of the day sent to my phone each day and on February 26th it read, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matt. 5:4. I posted it on my Facebook story and said “You can’t make this stuff up.” I wanted people to know that God was comforting me and speaking to me in the most amazing ways and through friends and loved ones in our church. I actually got excited and began to think more about the church being the hospital and I began to pray that people would know that there are really genuine people in the church there to love and serve you and tell you about how Jesus can save you and give you the peace you so desperately desire.

There are things in our life that we have let sin become a cancer and metastasis to other people in the church. We know their needs to be forgiveness and He is waiting to cure us of all the ugly diseases we carry.  There may not be healing, like with Trey, but he’s healthy in heaven. We know we do not have the power to save, only God. There will be changes, as with Collin. There will be more bad news of cancer, as with Jay. But I know, I KNOW, like I told someone else, He never promised us an easy road. He only promised to walk with us through the valleys. He’s got my hand! You need to grab it too!

Psalms 23 – From the Message.

 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.collin st jude

Married or Single?

My sweet boy:

I have to tell you Buddy, your Aunt Donna and I saw Hamilton last week. Oh, it was something you would have loved! Almost as much as Wicked.  As Aunt Donna and I sat outside on a bench, I asked her, “What do you think Trey would be doing at 23?”  She had no idea. I think, as many “girl” friends as you had, you would have been married. We had a good laugh about that.  Well, look at all your male friends! They are just about all married!

Ms. Shawn (I know, you don’t know her, but you know Taylor), said something to me after the anniversary of your death.  She said I seem to be handling things with more strength.  She couldn’t put her finger on it.  I told her I knew.  I’ve allowed myself to grieve for you. I’m not letting anyone influence me anymore.

I had a rough time one week and I talked to Papa K.  I just didn’t know what to do.  They lost Oreo, Trey. And he told me that just like Oreo will always be a part of them and they will miss him as they walk through life, so will be the same with you, but to a greater grief.  I will always walk through life with an amount of grief as a mother with you beside me.  It was like a light bulb went off.

How can I not grieve? I’ve thought about it a lot this week. I’ve been in the bed and tried to remember the feeling 23 years ago and how massive my belly was.  You kicked the fool out of me. Sometimes it really hurt. As with labor pains, so does death of the child.

God has put us at Living Hope and Trey, it has been such a blessing.  I met someone who lost their child many years ago. They were able to share with me that missing your baby just doesn’t go away and no one should ever tell you to get over it. I felt SO much better! It was like a weight was lifted. God has put many in our path.  Remember Ms. Anita and Ms. Janice?

Honey, I know you didn’t want us upset.  But on earth, we don’t have the ultimate joy you have in heaven even though we try.

Sometimes, things are pitch black, as if I’m looking down a dark tunnel.  I feel as if my heart will break and there is total emptiness.  But, the goodness of God fills my soul somehow.  I do ask Him why.

Why God are you still forgiving my anger?

Why God are you still loving me after crying with jealously of other parents?

A friend of mine posted this and it’s so true:

“We tend to stay away from mourning and dancing. Too afraid to cry, too shy to dance…we become narrow-minded complainers, avoiding pain and also true human joy…While we live in a world subject to the evil one, we belong to God. Let us mourn, and let us dance.” Henri Nouwen

Trey, I still mourn. But buddy, I do dance.  And I’m so thankful for the people in my life that are still willing to walk beside me and your daddy and mourn with us when we need it.  You know the 24’s take care of us! You know God understands.

I know you would be so proud of Collin.  He’s growing up and trying to find his way. He’s wanting that truck that you wanted to buy. So when he gets it, I know he’ll think of you.

I need to stop the tears and end this Happy Birthday.  Another year of healthy in heaven.  Please hug Jimdaddy for us.  We miss him so.  I know you were glad to see someone else to play basketball with!

Dad and I still cling to James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”  We endure many trials and we continue to grow.

Love you Buddy.

Iphone 2017 1153

 

It’s Just Another Mother’s Day

Another holiday. Another Mother’s Day. This is for all the mothers whose children have gone before us. As Danny Thomas said, “No child should die in the dawn of life.”

We mourn on this day. We are sad and want to hold our children that are not here. But it doesn’t take away from the love we have for our other children.

Don’t be mistaken. If you are a mother who has lost your only child, my child was as irreplaceable in my lonely heart as yours. I can’t bring Trey back and he would not want to come back from God’s presence. Memories of Trey haunt me. I long for his voice, his hugs, his laughter.

I’ve said many times, the biggest fear a mother has is that their child will be forgotten. I believe sometimes the children left behind are loved so fiercely, it’s hard to let them fly.

About two weeks ago, a longtime friend put me in touch with another mother who lost her son seven years ago. She is also a blogger. We talked how we were walking through a dry spell at this time and blogging was not coming as natural. As we talked more, it became apparent that our stories dealing with the death of our child and the child left behind is very similar. Too similar. God places people in your life for a reason.

In church this morning during the greeting, a lady behind me asked if Collin was my son. I said yes and introduced him to her. She said she had lost her son. I told her I had also lost my son. We immediately felt connected. She said she had followed our journey. “Oh your Trey’s mother!” And my heart sank. Yes. I told her thank you and turned around. Before church was over, she passed me her email address. I smiled. Another club member.

As sad as today may be, I was still able to enjoy being with my 88 year old mother and my mother-in-law. These are two wonderful women who have shaped my life and helped my walk in Christ be what it is today. They miss their boy too.

God, thank you for today. You brought other mothers into my life who are hurting like me. God bless you all. As our pastor, Gib Gibson is preaching about rest. It is totally biblical to rest. So mothers, rest. Rest in the fact you are not alone, you are loved by me, by your sweet child, and most of all, an almighty, sovereign God.

‭“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭34:18‬

Depression and Suicide

img_2685Random conversations.  Facebook messenger.  Email.  Text.  Coincidental meetings. All females with the same issue…loneliness. Many with depression.  We are all the same age and all in the same phase of life.

Out of those conversations came these remarks:

“I go home and just go straight to bed.”

“I go home and just go to my corner of the couch.”

“I never go out with friends because I don’t have any.”

“I sit and watch television by myself.”

“I’m in bed when I go home, just me and my glass of wine.”

“…and since I don’t work, I don’t even have work girlfriends.”

“Maybe we should start a no friends girlfriends club!”

“I feel like social media leads to a lot of depression.”

I’d like to pick it up with the last remark.  We smile and waive, laugh at puppy pictures, “likes” on baby pictures, “love” on scripture pictures or postings, all the while using social media as our backup friend.  Yet we are the people posting the puppy pictures, babies, and even pictures with our husbands that are either never home or never in the same room. I don’t think society allows us to deal with reality because our character will be judged.  Personally, I have never cared.  Oh, I lie.  I do care or I wouldn’t have dealt with depression since age 18.  But, here I am.

According to USA Today, “The suicide rate for white children and teens between 10 and 17 was up 70% between 2006 and 2016, the latest data analysis available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although black children and teens kill themselves less often than white youth do, the rate of increase was higher — 77%.”

We are losing too many of our young adults to suicide and asking why. Yet we can’t deal with our own depression and suicide issues.  It is very hard to help someone else when you cannot help yourself.  I get it.  It is the “walk in my shoes” syndrome. I’m there with you.

If you look at the symptoms in children and adults for depression according to Mayo Clinic, many of the symptoms are the same.  Symptoms such as:

  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide

You might ask, “What does this have to do with me in the bed when I come home?” A lot.  I look at my son and I wonder what he thinks of me.  Then I remember my mother on the couch my entire childhood and it all makes sense.  Depression.

What does God say?

I like what how the Message phrases Galatians 6:1-3:

“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” 

Stoop down and reach out!

How do we decrease the rate of suicide? How do we uplift the depressed? We share burdens.  Are you too good for that?

Even with Jesus, loneliness and depression is very difficult.  Satan is very powerful and he knows how to turn every thought against you.

There are moments of pure vulnerability and uncertainty no one sees but God during your loneliness.  You try to make sense of it all while nurturing raw wounds embedded deeply within your soul.  These wounds may be from many different sources such as death, a spouse, children, or even church.

I have tried to throw myself into scripture and prayer crying out to God.  I’ve tried to be around friends at work to forget the loneliness.

           The struggle is real.  It is real with depression and suicide. 

These are topics people do not like to talk about.  Just like you don’t talk about sex at church, or depression and suicide really.  Well, I will talk about it.

A friend of mine said while teaching bible study that sometimes we like to find our answers when we cry out to God in our darkness by opening up the Bible to a random page and just pointing to a verse.  We then believe that is the scripture the Holy Spirit sent to us as an answer to our problems.  As much as I would like to believe that God works that way in coping with depression, I’m not sure that is His intention.  He wants us to seek Him constantly – in and out of depression.

Do you just want to throw in the towel?

Some days.  I believe God does heal our wounds of depression.  I believe he binds up our beautiful mess with a proper healing.  I know He provides sweet conversation with friends of like mind.  Though they may be few, they MAY be all you need.  It is all in HIS timing.  It might be the day I see Him FACE TO FACE! I can only tell you with my experience, it can be debilitating after losing a child.  The most hurtful thing you can say to a mother is that it is time to get over it and move on.  Nope, nada, ain’t gonna happen. Not soon.  I’ll grieve, in some manner, with an amount of depression, (even a thought of suicide, maybe) for the rest of my life for my baby boy.  But my faith is NOT diminished! I know that God still holds me in his hands and I take comfort in the song that says… “It’s your breath in my lungs, so I lift up my praise, lift up my praise to you only”.

I’m still on the road…a long and winding road.

But be encouraged! Oh Jerusalem!

“But now take another look. I’m going to give this city a thorough renovation, working a true healing inside and out. I’m going to show them life whole, life brimming with blessings. I’ll restore everything that was lost to Judah and Jerusalem. I’ll build everything back as good as new. I’ll scrub them clean from the dirt they’ve done against me. I’ll forgive everything they’ve done wrong, forgive all their rebellions. And Jerusalem will be a center of joy and praise and glory for all the countries on earth. They’ll get reports on all the good I’m doing for her. They’ll be in awe of the blessings I am pouring on her.” Jer. 33:6-9

The Wrestler

Jay was a wrestler so he liked to wrestle with the boys. He had Trey pinned to get his phone. Parents do that just to irritate their kids, ya know.

I remember the laughter…just as if you had tickled him when he was five under his armpits. It became contagious.

Tears from laughter fell.

Tears fall from grief.

Wrestling. What do we wrestle with? I’m wrestling with migraines, depression, grief, a dying dog, and to be honest – God.

Where do you want us God?

Tears fall from frustration and stress.

Eight years ago they wrestled. Today, we are still wrestling.

So for me – my prayer today is from Psalms. “But You, O GOD, the Lord, deal kindly with me for Your name’s sake; Because Your lovingkindness is good, deliver me;”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭109:21‬C485D394-E1FA-4C03-A158-3F22CAD0A8EA