Fallen dominoes of grief

I recalled having to tell the young man, then eighteen,  what he’s been missing whilst in a coma. I wondered what demons he had to battle in there, his mind. I wondered if he had any dreams post the short piece he lived through of that horrible Sunday. I wondered if as they say, “you can hear in a coma”, if he heard all the while from the very beginning, with me, when there was no nurses, no police, no eyes to witness our every move. Just us and… How do you tell him he’s one parent down? How do you tell him how long he’s been down? How do you tell him he missed the funeral? How do you explain his new unfamiliar face? How do you explain his new living arrangements. “You’re up, now here’s a life from the twilight zone, brought to you by…” Sigh.

Those days I lived with constant stomach aches, on top of everything else. A precaution, they called it, with side effects. Everything seemed like a negative side effect of that day. Fallen dominoes of grief in an endless maze of happenings was this life. Little did I know then how long this maze would take me about, chasing my own tail of feathers for my head had been cut off all at once. I shake my head at myself at times now because heck, it’s now and I’m wiser, but I know all too well how easily I find myself entwined in my personal maze.

He took it and sat with it. We sat. The three of us.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. (period) But take heart! I have overcome the world.

…Remembering and meditating on that fact. That promise. That declaration. It’s…it’s everything. The victory has already been won in Jesus!

…He was there in that room as we sat. But He, He never sat. On my behalf He never sat. He continues to fight on my behalf as I continue to fight to stay enveloped in His peace, the creator of peace.

 

Too soon after

Everything those days, every moment, felt like a desperate plunge into the next activity or happening. All occurrences and events, even those I didn’t manifest in my blind state, displayed themselves too soon after. Too soon after the last moment.

Returned to my new sunny version of the place I just visited and before I knew it I had received a call of a dear friends death. By the end of his life we had the type of friendship where he along  with another were prepared to avenge my mother’s death. He was family. His death and the details that surrounded it had me again. How do you feel hurt when you’re already there? How do you empty a void? Dark was getting darker.

I had taken the call out by the kitchen. The caller, the third of our trio, repeated foreign yet familiar words. Yea, I’m fine. My ever familiar response. I couldn’t return to my room. A future casuality of my selfish blind life awaited me there. I was feeling breathless and in pain. I couldn’t make it stop. I ran to my friend’s/roommate’s room. Getting her out of her bed and the arms of the one she believed to be the one, we went into her bathroom.

She tried to console. She tried to get it out of me. She tried to assume. By doing so she revealed what I’ve always felt to recur one day.  She asked, “Did he rape you”, referring to the future casuality? Now up til then, I never thought others could feel that way about me as I did. Being that she asked me that. I mean I didn’t see, yes she’s being a good friend for caring. I didn’t see, it was the middle of the night and I was hyperventilating and couldn’t get words out. I couldn’t see the situation for what it was. What I saw, what I allowed the enemy to confuse me into believing was, “Wow, see it’s not just that they know what happened, other people believe as I do that tragedy will hit me again. Otherwise why would she ask that? And to top it off we just returned from up north so going back so soon when you’ve just moved and penniless. To know another one so dear to me was no longer on this earth…so soon after…Devastation over took me once more. A new numbness crepe its way over my skin. My life was really no longer my own and everyone around me was either going crazy or dying one way or another. Clarity brought on more consoling. Breathing through the invisible hands that choked me, I returned to my room.

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

…I thank God for every revelation, every secret He let me in on, every uncovering of scales over my eyes that the enemy had strategically placed there.

Fogged up and Damp

If I remember correctly it hadn’t been 3 months and I was back. It felt longer but the type of longer that didn’t make the heart go fonder. At least by the time I had settled into my stay anyway. The moments before that was cool. Getting ready for a trip no matter how tight things may be, or how uncomfortable the trip itself will be, is an exciting pass time. But like I said…then you get settled in.

Goodbye to sunny palm trees of turmoil, hello fogged up and damp well of woes. The chill of the air infused with my deepest grievances overcame me the moment I stepped off the plane. The thrill of packing for a trip was over. The measure of excitement was equal to the measure of knowing it was a “have to trip”. While the reason for the trip was being handled, yet another struggle in itself but it wasn’t mine to enclose in this blog, I had to partake in my own personal realities.

Forms and signatures. Being that I moved, they came as I came. I came and there I was. Various forms had to be signed. Forms that when signed on the dotted line closed a chapter of her life for good. Various forms that finalized everything. I no longer sign my name that way. Not sure how much of a conscious decision that was.

Visiting family and familiar faces after a tradgey…my opinion…take small bites. It doesn’t matter what stage you are in finding peace, rubbing two open wounds together can never be a good thing. And it wasn’t.

With hugs and kisses genuine enough one wouldn’t realize the CA-BOOM! that was about to occur. I knew better. I’m good for that, knowing when the slip was coming, no matter how slight the implication. The emotions were brewing and it was a matter of time. I either reminded every one of the one they lost, the one I lost or their grief brought on the ever popular yelling and the blame game. They reminded me of who I was sorely lacking in becoming or ever could be. I reminded myself of that as well. I lacked so much. I lacked the ability to deal with it. With them. Our emotions were like a can of soda being shook everyday since I was there last and now that I was back, well you know what happens to shaken cans. Drowning our sorrows, laughing and yelling through the elephant sized void we felt so deeply, we all dealt. Dealt with it all one way or another.

I dealt.

…But all the while Jesus had already won the game on my behalf, over the pain, over the anger, over the blame.

…Jesus been dealt.

From peace to wandering feet.

So I said to Amithys, my furry child, “you left your peace to chase feet.” You see she had been lying atop the large sectional, head stretched out peering through the window, just plain ole’ chillin’, til’ I made a movement that is. Next thing I hear is the sound of her bell from around her collar, jingling as she followed behind me. She had no regards to her own comfort and peace. She didn’t bother for a second to stay put and continue basking in the warmth of the sun that shown through the large window. Her peace wasn’t as important to her as it was to follow my wandering feet. It was quite cute and funny as she stretched out each step to fully awaken herself.

As the words, “you left your peace to chase feet” left my lips, I giggled but quickly thought to myself, “Goretty, how about marinating on that for a while yourself?” I don’t take credit because I’m not that brilliant. My Spirit, however, loves to convict me, no matter how silly the reference. You gotta admit it was a profound thought for early in the morning, pre-caffeine.

I mean think about it for a sec. How often have you found yourself soaking in the warmth of peace and harmony, looking good, feeling good, having somewhat of a balance in life then all of a sudden BOOM! You, yourself stray to follow whatever peace hindering whim that comes about. Some may say, “oh that’s just you being you” or even “she’s spontaneous and goes after things”, which may look okay from the outside but what are you chasing? I had to ask myself some important questions. Do I subconsciously crave drama? I don’t believe so. Do I fear calmness? Maybe but why? Do I feel worthy of peace? Sometimes… I mean why do I deserve it? Asking myself these questions and digging a little deeper than comfortable to seek the answers is helping me to reclaim and hold on to my peace for longer periods of time. Of course I have to continue to ask myself these types of questions and be honest with myself. You can’t lie to yourself about yourself. At least you really shouldn’t because if and when you start to believe those lies yourself… ohhh boy…To regain peace, you’ll have to have your pieces not someone else’s or made up pieces. Imagine two different puzzles. The pieces from one cannot complete the other. When dealing with yourself, it’s all about you, the true you.

But the kicker, as unique you and your ‘what matters’  are and no matter how unique others are and their issues we have a chance, an opportunity to receive peace if we accept a gift that only God can provide and when that gift speaks decide. Decide to be still and listen. Peace is coming. When The Holy Spirit speaks it may be hard to listen at times. Amithys is a mere kitten and we are mere human beings. Like Amithys however, when I said lay down and stay still she continued on, still unfamiliar to my authority and commands, she purred about, jingling behind my feet when my commands were clear.

For so long in this journey, a journey to me, a journey to peace, each coming with their own set of struggles and continuing growth, a journey to my Jesus and his gift to me, The Holy Spirit, I was unfamiliar to the voice. I blatantly ignored nudging warnings at times. I dulled the voice of the one who held my peace and kept it safe for me. I would find a sense of peace for a while to only find a new thing to chase which brought on its own particular brand of misery. Of course some of these times, these so-called peace moments, overtime proved to never have been to begin with, peaceful I mean. And some instances, I believe you’ll find you’ve strayed way too far and dulled your senses too profoundly to even hear the loudest call of the Spirit. Those are the scariest parts of life in my opinion. But even those times, even those unbelievably scary moments in life, you are not alone.

Be still, call out to Him, and listen. Don’t remove yourself from God-given peace. Because the rest, well the rest are just other pieces to someone else’s puzzle. They mimic happiness and contentment but in truth they won’t fit. You are unique and only He can give you your brand of peace. He has the missing piece. He is the missing piece.

…I’ve written a few blog posts now and I don’t know why but this one had me a little more than kind of nervous. Hope it was a blessing 🙂

 

As time went on

It bothered me for many years.

I never understood why I had to carry this particular burden.

The burden of memory.

No matter how selective, no matter how much consumption of the world around me, the memory was mine and mine alone.

My mother could never be a reliable witness and my younger brother’s coma caused memory loss, to this day he remembers very little. I use to think him lucky. I, not only carried the burden of remembering, but always lacked the knowledge of why. Why do the memories conceived that Sunday morning have to be carried by me? For a while I thought it was my punishment. After all it couldn’t have been a reward, right?

It wasn’t fair, I thought. I would never put this burden of the mind on anyone.  And it was lonely. It was so very lonely. The gruesome scene, which tore apart my sense of safety and shredded any happy moments that occurred in my home prior, replayed itself bit by terrifying bit on a daily basis in my mind.  My life quickly became ridiculous, to me anyway, but it didn’t matter.

The awe and newness of sunshine, palm trees, and orange farms quickly dissipated. Trying to settle in a new place and meet new people always came with the agonizing question of where are you from. And yet again another rewind of flashbacks. My overly blunt responses, “she was murdered”, became a shield. That unfeeling, guarded mask of an answer seemed to stop the flood of memories, for a while, and any further questioning of my past. Saying it and not feeling it was a great deterrence for a short while. That is until I started to feel like I was living in a much sun shinier version of Boston. The walls were brighter but closing in all the same.

So let’s get a job and party on weekends and as much as possible. We needed a job or else how would we party?

If you’ve ever heard of a functional alcoholic then you can understand what I mean when I say by the time I was truly settled in Florida I was a functional partier. The only time I felt sane enough that my  loneliness, insecurities,  fears and memories didn’t attach me was when I could drown it, smoke it, and forcefully laugh it away. What a miserable time that was.  What liars laughs can be. What dishonesty a smile hides. What turmoil dancing feet carry. She was murdered. Quick, simple truth that bear no feeling but held every emotion all at once. Most responded with  blank, confused for a moment looks. Some with, “are you serious?” I couldn’t say which I preferred. Even now. No response could have made me feel any better in all honesty. Nothing could.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

…I walked and talked through my lie, my fear-filled lie. The on point smile and just the right amount of laughter did more than just keep questions at bay. It enclosed my heart and prevented my eyes from truly seeing. He was there. All the while He was there.

…Tears form as I remember how much time I wasted in the pits that kept me shut off from my life, from my God.

…Today, gratefulness.

 

Happy Mother’s Day…was it?

So it wasn’t until the moment when I started to write the draft for this blog post that I realized the occurrence happened on Friday the 13th. L.O.L. Once again God proved to me He has a sense of humor.

So I was rushing to get this and that done so I would make it out to my spiritual sister’s birthday dinner. Dressed, check. Pick up my nephew for his weekend sleepover, check. Get to the church to help set up, check. Don’t forget the table covers I washed to bring back, check. Get to the church and give a helping hand. More hands make work light as we like to say. Running a bit behind but it’s okay. Finally done and rushing out the door. Still needed to go pick up flowers for the birthday girl on the way. Thank goodness I already had the card. Exiting the green double doors to the school, which we transformed to our worship house and there she was, the pastor’s wife.

“Are you leaving”, she asked? “Don’t leave”, she insisted. I was obedient and curious. As she finished speaking to another sister she turned to me and with sincere eyes she stated more or less that her Spirit was nudging her to ask me for assistance in preparing for the upcoming mother’s day church festivities. My eyebrows raised and my heart fluttered. She went on talking about my creativity and happiness when serving in that way. God was doing it again. I mean really? Me, mother’s day? Seriously? Could I take this on? That’s  a whole lot of “mother” business in my face all at once. Was I ready? Am I ready? I told her I was humbled and honored by the request and would pray on it. I told her I would give thought to what could be put together for the women. I honestly wanted to sink down to the ground and run screaming I don’t even have a mother. Of course I didn’t and I was convinced this was all part of His healing process for me.

And so, after planning and decorating, I helped serve the various mothers and their children that played about, feasting on the goodies meant for their mothers, and playing catch with loose balloons, I was surprisingly joyful. The pain I had come so accustomed to feeling around this holiday had been replaced with the feeling of arms around me. The tears I kept back replaced with laughter, my own, my children, and all the laughter in the decorated gym. I could actually hear the laughter. It wasn’t just another set of noises this time. The aching was replaced by so many hugs. I missed my mother so much of course, but this time, this mothers day, I wasn’t faking the happiness, the inner joy.  The event went off without a hitch, in so many ways.

That evening, I slipped, well almost. I don’t know if it was the quietness of a settled day that had once been so long and rallied up, a flash of memory or perhaps the sad scene that just played on the television, but whatever it was, the sadness was finding its way in. This time though, this time I was more prepared. More aware. Where once I hated the constant reminders of an awaken consciousness I now held those reminders dearly. Being aware of what I was feeling, was about to feel and why instead of hiding from it made it easier to call out to Him in the shower as I did.  Yes, the shower. We’re all familiar with singing in the shower but there’s something to be said about worshipping in the showered. I praised. I thanked. I cried and I sang. The water fall above cleansed me as he cleansed my thoughts and filled me back up with the afternoons joy. And then some.

…It was a good day. It was a joyful day. I pray that your days are filled with joy even in the mist of your pain and loss…however long ago. Be blessed reader.

Bothered

I was bothered. I was agitated. The awe of sunshine and palm trees no longer held a place in my heart? Loneliness found its spot in me and over-stayed its welcome. Was it welcomed? It was so familiar. Where a foggy pain filled existence once reigned an impossible illuminating spotlight of sunshine now resided.

In Boston I found it hard to live in the known, living in the aftermath of what had happened. Now in Florida the unknown begged to be familiar. Common small talk seemed to always lead to where is your family and how about your mother? One day my answers became overly blunt and stayed that way. She was murdered. Plain, simple honest and abrupt. It was like removing a band-aid. A band-aid that was smothering my pain, harshly removed to cover up and shield over an unwanted conversation. The worst part was I was doing it to myself. Was it easier? I don’t know. I felt as if I was cutting through probing questions and dished out the nitty-gritty for the person asking the questions. It hurt. It sucked. It was utterly lousy, but to say she was murdered and move on in a fashion that halted any further questioning, that’s how I was going to deal. That’s how I dealt. As much as a normal part of the conversation it is when getting to know someone to ask about their parents and family, the question and its follow-ups were the nails on a chalkboard of my life. One ladies face after hearing my answer was almost as if I introduced her to the term murder itself. I was feeling more and more awkward in this new sunny state.

Psalms 25:16 Turn to me and be gracious, for I am lonely and afflicted.

…Every move I made, every covered up emotion, every nonchalant response, none of it changed the fact that I was afflicted and deeply lonely. For a long time I wasn’t in tuned with His call to me. I blinded myself from everything including all the ways He was gracious to me. That never stopped Jesus from pursuing me. He never stopped. He just never stopped. Even when I had.

A Rocky New Beginning

Cocaine rocks, paper, scissors, go…maybe not in that order

Ever watch those movies where someone comes across the bag full of cash and drugs and you wonder what would happen next and what they would do? Ever thought about what you would do?

Well, scratch off the part about the cash and lets discuss what we did, A, B, C and I.

Rocks…We started off in Hollywood. Fresh from Massachusetts, we settled in a motel, emphasis on motel, not hotel. We were far from ballin’ (meaning very well off) as they say. I believe it was after the first or second night one of us admitted to how uncomfortable the beds were. Another might have said we should flip the mattresses. Removing thin comforters and sheets off the bed, one of us felt something. Why so lumpy? Suspicion ran through us all. Scissors… Grabbing a small pocket knife a tear was made in one of the mattresses. Eyes bulged and eyebrows raised. Another mattress, another tear. Was it what it looked like? Was this really what it appeared to be? Did I leave my somewhat comfortable futon bed back in the apartment my brothers and I now shared to sleep on a crack cocaine infused mattress? Like seriously?

C, who was showing us the ropes, confirmed it was what it was. It was decided it had to be removed from the room where we stayed. Go…We also decided we had to get out of there, period. I blinked. Paper (money)…Before I knew it, stuff was being sold on the corner and whatever security we felt for just having a place to rest our heads was diminished by the fact that this motel was ‘hot’, and not in a good way. I’m no where an expert on drugs and how much they cost but I will say that the findings from our mattresses combined could have made an excellent beanbag chair. Okay, a little exaggeration, but it was a lot. Enough to know whomever put it there would definitely be back.

From living a typical teenage/young adult life, having house parties, staying out late, and anticipating the return of my mother from her trip, to now having no maternal guidance, full of anguish and sleeping on mattresses that encased drugs and unknown troubles. Finding the rocks opened my eyes to my surroundings. Why hadn’t we noticed the suspicious looking residences of the motel, the prostitute infested street, and the uneasiness of the environment around us? What new beginning was this? God, how is this my life? This new existence of mine was getting scarier by the day.

Eventually, a return call. A check in call to whomever back in Massachusetts. “How is everything”, a family member asks? “Fine.”

Fine. Yea right.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

…This new life was starting off rocky. But He was with me all the while. That whole thing would’ve gone so much worse had He not been.

…Thank you God for being there even when I didn’t acknowledge it.

 

What a liar

So jumping right into it, I’d like to refer you to blog post titled: Familiar Ground, https://wordpress.com/post/piecesofgoretty.blog/44 where I revealed a major fear I had, have, working out with Jesus on a regular basis, is the fear of life repeating itself. My life has always been a ticking clock, duh, we all have that ticking clock, right? But what do you do with the belief of knowing how and more or less when you’ll die.  I say belief and not the knowledge of because none of us really know…(Scripture: Matthew 24:36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only  the Father”)…Nor did I say feeling because that’s just one of the building blocks towards belief. How do you remove the feeling turned fear and now full-blown belief that your life would repeat itself and you’ll die much like your mother before reaching golden years, tragically leaving behind not fully grown children to figure it out for themselves. Irrational fear, perhaps, but its fangs sunk deep onto my subconsciousness and I lived in that belief for so long.

Remembering all the times I was meant to die added to this feeling turned fear turned belief. This belief manifested itself in a real fear of man, double chained doors, chaotic images that replayed in my mind that depicted vivid pictures of my demise. When I started having children, their playful and sometimes loud play had me trapped in my shower attempting to assure myself that the noise was of them and not of pass familiar noises. ( check out Blog Post The Sounds That Plagued Me, https://wordpress.com/post/piecesofgoretty.blog/125 ) It’s been said that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. My fear was so real to me that I believed it to be pure truth. What a liar fear is. Instead of seeing that I was being saved each time, one way or another, fear only allowed me to view those circumstances as my supposed end was chasing me down. I adopted fears truth and I just knew I wasn’t going to live pass 48, most certainly not pass 50. What would you do if you knew….felt you knew….you only had so many years to live? A question that is usually answered with various types of adventures, apologies, and some showing of affections to people we otherwise don’t take time to appreciate. For me, that belief gripped my heart, squeezed, and rendered me a tumbleweed.

TUMBLEWEED-a structural part of the above ground anatomy of a number of species of plants, a diaspore (seed and fruit together) that, once its mature and dry, detaches from its root or stem, and tumbles away in the wind. (google/Wikipedia) The structural part of me, above ground was no longer rooted. I was detached.  Numb, and dumb because most of my actions in that state of mind were simply that, not thought out flat-out dumbness, I tossed about in the world, unable to be in the present and fearing the future.

Like a woman living and breathing in the nausea of her new circumstances due to her first trimester of pregnancy, I lived and breathed the fear of being attacked…again. But this time, this would be the time I wouldn’t make it out in the end. After the ordeal of nausea and all that comes with pregnancy a child is born. A blessing.

This fear, this belief of my death and the pain of leaving my children in such a harsh manner, the fear of man, birthed in me not a child but when God picked me up and dusted off the remnants of what ailed me, a new trust in Him was birthed. One I never had before. He removed and continues to remove all the particles of this above world that combined created this tumbleweed. (continued from Wikipedia) Apart from its primary vessel the tissues of the tumbleweed structure are dead; their death is functional because it is necessary for the structure to degrade gradually and fall apart so that its seeds can escape during the tumbling, or germinate after the tumbleweed has come to rest in a wet location. In the latter case, many species of tumbleweed open mechanically, releasing their seeds as they swell when they absorb water.

…I’m so thankful that His grace is sufficient. I’m so grateful to soak in His waters, to be refreshed, and renewed once more. I challenge you today to empty out the fear(s) that cripple you, be filled by Him and absorb all the benefits of just knowing Him. Allow yourself to be touched and renewed by Him. Don’t live in a lie. You don’t have to.

Digging my pit

I watched my mother work and work. The only time she enjoyed time for herself and had a blast was when she took her yearly trips to her birth place in Haiti. The only place I ever heard her desire to visit besides her childhood home was Florida. This was mainly due to the fact that my unofficial godmother/ her b.f.f. visited there so often. She eventually moved there and my mom never got the chance to visit.

Although I watched both parents always work and had multiple jobs at times, I never had that kind of work ethic. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m not lazy. Far from it. I mean I’ve worked since I was about 15. Working is all gravy until you have to, at least in my case. I just am wired a little differently. I never wanted to be under someone else for as long as I could remember. I loved and required freedom over a chained existence. As I got older, the need to have things but not through typical hard work became part of who I was. We’ll get more into my work history at a  later post perhaps, but I say this to say, I left for Florida to pursue a new life, one my mother might have had, but lived my life more entwined in chains than she ever was working her crazy hours to provide for our family. She may had to work for someone else all her life but she most certainly was free. I know and understand that now.

The day I moved, I longed for the sense of freedom to come crashing through my every being. I ached for it. Can someone ever be free of themselves, their thoughts, and memories though? I half expected it to be like a switch one can just turn on then whammo, I’d have my sense of freedom. With every mile driven south, another heap of chains was added through sheer grief and turmoil. Spiritually, I weighed more getting out of the car to Florida then when I left Boston. Honestly I believe that spiritual weight and heaviness would have come on a lot quicker had I stayed. I think somewhere in the midst of it all, I was surrendering. No. I had surrendered. To put it mildly, I had surrendered to never feeling content and happy again. That was very mildly. It’s so difficult to explain. I guess what it was is I just sort of gave up. I gave up and gave in. The situation took away my mother and parts of me, but by this point I was just giving pieces away. My joy, my compassion, my morals, my sense of self, my freedom. I didn’t know it but I was going further into the dark rabbit hole, all chained up with my grief. So with that and whatever was left of Goretty, pass the chains, if anything well, Florida would have to deal with.

Psalms 40:1-2 I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

…In those days there was nothing patient about me. Had I been who knows. God was faithful though, even when I wasn’t. He was working even when I wasn’t. He plucked me out of Boston where my grief began. After turning into someone I didn’t even recognize, He still remembered me and freed me from my own personal pit. Today, well today I thank Him that I even have the opportunity to surrender to His will. And no one else’s. Now that’s freedom.

Question to Reader:

What chains do you put on yourself?