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hope

I Jumped In The Jug: Day 3  

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It’s official. I’m a murderer. After paying my neighbor to feed my goldfish while I was out of town, (which cost more than the fish themselves) I came home only to kill them myself. How? Poison. Too much algae eater. They were so excited to see mommy return, they swam happily to the top. “Feed us!”  They yelped through their tiny mouths.

Hovering over them with my magic bottle of poison in hand, I thought “a little extra algae eater won’t hurt one bit.”

It did. All 10 are floaters.

If that isn’t bad enough, I’ve been drunk for the past 36 hours. I’ll admit it.  I didn’t plan on it, I thought I could handle one snide remark here, one comment there…but let me just tell you….one sip of poison and that’s all it took. I started talking about the hurt and before I knew what was going on I discovered I had hopped head first right into that giant jug of poison we all call unforgiveness. I think I may need to join FFA: Forgiveness Failures Anonymous. Sheesh.
But I can explain… It’s not all my fault……

Ok so it is ALL my fault.

First of all, Day 3, I tried several times, with about 70% success –  I must gloat – of avoiding speaking about the offender with my friend Viola. She called and asked me what I’ve been up to and I excitedly explained my

FORGIVE EVERYONE PROJECT.  

Bad idea. 

Why?

Because then, like Jobs friends in the Bible, they all have their own opinions. Now usually, I would want them to slander ‘said offender’ but when I’m trying to commit to stop talking about the entire situation, they (my friends) attempt to console me and say things like: “Well I don’t totally agree with all RT’s suggestions. You need to talk about what happened…. Don’t bottle it in.” And  “RT said to save face??? Oh no, he needs a punch in the face not to have his ugly face saved!”  Vern exclaimed!  (Yes, I told her about my project too)

When describing my Forgiveness project to others, I discovered that it just brought back bad memories and actually found I was defending myself for trying to forgive the offender. 

I’m squeaking through Day 3 and am proud of myself for not divulging my project any further when I went to see my friend Kerry over a glass of wine. This is difficult because Kerry went through a divorce four months ago and has already found a new love to focus on.  Still, I zipped my lips and inhaled no poison.  I just smiled and listened.  Through clenched teeth.

Some girls have all the luck.

BUT ….

I know that God will NOT ever bring someone into my life as long as I am holding into this hate. I know I must forgive. 

I came home from Kerry’s house; feeling slightly sad and unnerved but was happy I had refrained from discussing my project with one more person.  If you don’t remember, the night before, I slept ZERO because I had three separate nightmares. I’m blaming it on all that praying.  So this night, I cheat and take two Advil PM, I had to rest. And I did.

I did have one dream though and it was about my daughter and I. We were in a race and somebody told us “if you take this road, you can get to the finish line much faster.” Of course we took the easier and shorter route. And of course my daughter fell and hurt her ankle. As a result, we missed out on the entire race and had to watch all the others cross the finish line, all winners. I looked down at my child’s ankle thinking “I wonder if it really wasn’t a reason to keep going, maybe she wasn’t hurt as bad I had thought?” I pulled up the sack of ice on her ankle and good grief!!! Her ankle was all broke and distorted.

I’m not a dream interpreter but it seems to me that if we take short cuts in life and always look for the easiest roads – all while dragging our children behind, we will Most likely end up hurt and watching others succeed as we lay crippled on the sidelines. 

Not good. Not the mother God raised me to be…..

I begin day 4 promising I will put down the bottle of poison.

 

Letting go of Amanda

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I told myself that I could read Amanda’s funeral program when I got home. Then I would be away from the family, her friends and those pictures – a giant drop down screen displaying photo after photo of the last 33 years of her life.
Amanda died on Tuesday, July 23. http://www.sissiedale.com/spotting-amanda/
I hate blubbering in front of people; it always starts a snotty, mascara mess that takes me hours to recoup from – almost like stabbing a bottle of molasses, it just oozes for hours, creates puffy eyes and assorted random snorts; making my day generally sticky.
I try to avoid crying at all costs.
In order to do this, instead of listening to the family’s last memories of Amanda’s life, I studied the stained glass windows, pushed back my cuticles or studied the wood beams that hung above my head. I flipped over the program so I wouldn’t have to look at Amanda’s picture – her steel grey eyes, neatly combed hair, the blue grey sweater she had chosen that very morning to wear as she had her portrait taken. I tried to avoid it all. Turning over the back of the program, I found more grief: words from her personal journal. I tucked the journal neatly into my purse. Ugh.
I can’t take this, I shoulda stayed in the kitchen to help with the sandwiches.
I was doing a half decent job of tuning the whole thing out until her cousin stepped up; maybe it was her sister, I’m not sure.
I glanced up to see this girl with wild curly hair that ran past her shoulders and down her back, her hands shaking; she kept shifting her feet side to side.
“The last time Amanda and I spoke we had a disagreement. I did something that she did not approve of and she had her accident before we could make amends.”
I once again tried to tune out the voices, I didn’t want to hear about her grief.
When something like this happens, it makes me want to run out and make peace with any and everyone that I’m not right with… The mailman I snipped at earlier in the week for yelling at my dog, the sales clerk who overcharged me and insisted that she didn’t and then there’s that one person who has hurt you…..
And I mean hurt you to the bone. The one who carelessly stabbed an ice pick into your heart and twisted it a time or two – just for fun. Yea,that person…
And then I started thinking (as the girl started convulsing into hysterical sobs), if I forgive someone, is it truly necessary that I tell them? What if they don’t care that they have hurt you? What if they twist it and turn the entire situation around and say horrible nasty things? What then? More grief for me, that’s what.
I, personally, am tired of grief.
I bit down on the sides of my cheeks trying to hold it all in as I watched Amanda’s mother, Diana, stand up. She began speaking; sending out love and thanks for everyone that pulled together during the last 7 1/2 months.
I felt like an anvil had just been dropped on my chest.
I considered going over to the person who has broken my own heart to say: “Do you realize what I just witnessed? Do you understand how precious life is? We could all be gone tomorrow and this is the last memory I will have of you? Sadness?  Hurt? All the mean spirited things you said? Do you not realize this is how I will forever remember our relationship?”
Ugg. Too much grief.
I drag myself from the pew and watch as the family members walk out; single file. Each person is still crying… Crying for relationships lost, Christmases that would never be celebrated, gifts never opened. Thanksgiving will come and go but a very noticeable hole will always be at the dinner table. There will be wonderful memories that were never made, words that were never said and forgiveness for words that should never have been said in the first place.
I did not go over to my heart breakers home as I could not bare for them to say one more hurtful thing to me. Whether it was the right or wrong thing to do, I’m not sure. This morning, as I get ready for church, I finally pull out Amanda’s program.

From Amanda’s journal….
Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Listen hard.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
Laugh.
Choose with no regret.
Continue to learn.
Appreciate your friends.
Do what you love.

– Mary Anne Radmacher

 

Spotting Amanda

I will be honest: when I walked into Amanda’s room, my intial thought was “Oh my gosh, what have I signed myself up for??”

One week ago, I received a church email asking for volunteers to sit with Amanda ~ a young mother of two who barely survived a horiffic car wreck just 6 months ago.  I knew the wreck was bad ~ It was on the news. It was in the papers. I saw the pictures of wrecked cars; I heard the whispers of a family completely devastated.  IT WAS A VERY BAD ACCIDENT.  Amanda is now in a vegetated state.  The email said the family is asking for people to sit with Amanda so her mother, her caregiver, could get out of the house for errands.

I have no problem sitting with sick people. It’s just not a biggie.

This one was a biggie.

“Let me introduce you to Amanda.”  Her mother, who is beautiful (and I do not use that word lightly) says as she guides me down a hall and into a window filled room.  Amanda is sitting in her wheel chair.  From the start, I am completely taken off guard. Her pale steel colored grey – green eyes gaze straight ahead – those same beautiful eyes are what caught her husband’s heart many years ago, I’m sure of it.  Her long frail arms sit folded in her lap – those same arms that used to hold her 2 children; a baby only 6 months old when she had her wreck and a 4 year old little girl.  Now they are living in another state with family members because Diana has her hands full caring full time for Amanda. Those arms – they used rock her babies to bed each night.  Her legs were neatly positioned in the cradle of the chair. I could tell that if Amanda were standing up, she would be taller than me.  Those legs – they used take those babies on long walks, those same legs were working just fine hours, minutes, seconds before her accident, yet now they render Amanda useless.

I have never in  my life seen another human being in a ‘vegetable’ state.  I won’t lie.  I was utterly overwhelmed.

Fear starts to swirl in my head. What in the world was I thinking?  I’m not a doctor.  I can barely wipe a scraped knee!! What if she falls while I’m with her?  What if she stops breathing?  What if, what if, what if????

Excuses danced across my mind….

Maybe my own children need me, perhaps I should tell Diana there is an emergency and I need to leave? This lady is counting on me,  I’m not prepared for this.  I don’t know what to.  Amanda won’t even look at me.

TWO THOUGHTS OCCUR TO ME:

1. I want to bust outta this house and hunt down the careless, reckless girl who decided to speed the wrong way down a one way street smashing into Amanda’s car head on and well…..clobber her.  She stole a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister , a friend from so many.

OR

2. I want to run out the house crying.

But neither of those options are mine to take.

Her mother, Diana, can’t read my jumbled thoughts; she is completely unfazed by all this. She stands at the foot of the wheel chair and says “Come help me, Sissie, I need lift Amanda to back to her hospital bed.  It’s not hard, I just want you to spot me.”

And it was like a little voice whispered to me.  “Diana isn’t asking you save her daughter, heal her daughter, she’s asking you to help her, to spot her.”

So I spotted Diana.  She cranked this banana swing thing up and over (it was actually very cool) and within seconds, Amanada was back in her bed.  Diana seems so calm.  She changes Amanda’s diaper before she leaves and as she gives her medicine, she lets me know that the beeping sound coming from Amandas left side was simply a tone monitor the hospital had placed inside of her.  “It’s ok if it beeps.  We are going to the doctor on Wednesday.”

Before she leaves to run errands, Diana gives me a few tips:

“We hold up pictures of her children; maybe it will help her remember. We read to her.  We watch television with her.  You can just sit with her if that makes you happy.”  After 30 minutes, Diana is gone and Amanda and I are alone. I don’t know what to say to her. I look into her pretty eyes. Her lashes are so long and thick, I watch as they blink back and forth.  “You know Amanda,” I tell her, “you really do have magnificent eyes, you should consider being a mascara model one day…..”

I take out my Coastal Living magazines I brought to show her.  This is what I did when my friend Amy was dying of cancer many years before.  Amy was too weak to hold the magazine herself, so I held it for her.  I flipped through the pages; showing Amy all the people and colors, she loved it, I could tell.  Amanda is different.  There is never a change of facial movements.  Never a smile.  Or a nod. Nothing. I speak to  Amanda as if she can understand every single word.  We discuss poor decorating choices, pretty ocean views, and recipes.  Good grief, there were a lot of recipes.  We talk about what food looked good and what looked like dog food.  When my stomach starts growling (I know, how sad) I put the magazines away.

Her eyes never once meet mine.  But I don’t get discouraged.  Something inside of me feels at ease with Amanda, like she is my friend, she is just very tired and she wants to rest.  Diana said she would probably sleep but I never once saw her close her eyes.  I watch her for a minute and then I pulled out my kindle.  I told her that there was a new book by Joel Osteen called Everyday A Friday and began reading it aloud. It talks about how statistics show that everybody’s mood is always so much better on a Friday.  He goes on to say that we should always have the attitude that everyday is a Friday, wake up and be excited about your life, embrace it, live it, love your life!

I put down the book and stand over her.  “You have an entire army rooting for you, Amanda.  Your momma absolutely adores you, your babies love you, your husband, your entire family, please don’t give up!”

Then I boo hoo.  Amanda doesn’t which is probably better because it is at this minute that her momma walks back in and it would be very embarrassing if she happened to walk in and I’ve made her lil girl cry…..

Diana walks right up to her daughter and cups her hands to Amanda’s face where she gives her a big smooch.  I am not kidding when I say I saw Amanda’s face lit up.  It changed somehow, she knew her momma was back and that the crazy girl who just hours before suggested she become a mascara model would be leaving.  She knew her momma was there.  I’m sure of it.

Diana thanks me, I mean genuinely thanks me, for sitting/spotting her while she was away.  She is so grateful but the strangest part is that I am the one who is grateful to her…she trusted me enough to spot Amanda.

It was honest to God life changing, I can’t wait to spot her again….