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Right vs Happy

I once heard a story: On his daughter’s wedding day, the father approached his future son-in-law. “Son,” he said, “I want to give you some advice. I’m not saying this because you are marrying my daughter, but because I am married to her mother. You can be right, or you can be happy, but you will NOT be both.”

This has become a popular saying in my family now. While it’s a funny story, there is also some truth to it. I come from two very opinionated families. I grew up believing that if you want your side to be heard, you just talk louder and faster than the other person. Seems simple enough. At family gatherings, it’s not uncommon for me to carry on two or three (maybe four) conversations at one time, and they are not always with people in the same room. That’s OK: I am a loud talker. This is my “normal.”

Let’s review: I talk loudly, I talk very fast, and I am never wrong. I may not be right, but I’m never wrong. There’s a difference. If I have to explain it to you, you won’t get it.

Moving on…

Two nights ago, I was faced with a choice: shut up, be wrong, and get out of the way, or life as you know it will cease to exist. Done.

Really? That is unacceptable. Do you know why? BECAUSE I AM RIGHT! It gets worse. If I have to be “not right,” I will not be happy. Oh no way. NO WAY IN HELL. NEVER. Because this is all WRONG. Decisions being made will change life as I know it anyway. Maybe not as bad as the ultimatum, but I think still rather devastating.

This is what makes it SO unacceptable: This is about children. Kids. MY kids. Oh wait, they are not really mine. I’ve just helped raise them for the last nine or ten years. My vote doesn’t count. My opinion isn’t wanted. My feelings do not matter. All of the positive things I have done for them are not even acknowledged. There are a LOT of moments I was there when others weren’t. It all means nothing.

Here is the kicker. I do have a child in the middle of all of this. And it’s pretty much summed up as this: sacrifice the two that aren’t mine, for the one that is. Of course, when everything goes to hell, I will certainly be in the middle cleaning up the mess. There is no way to keep me out of it when it impacts my life. There is no way to keep my child out of this. It will impact him as well.

This isn’t even about trust. This is about letting go. I feel these children are lost to me. I have to remember they were never mine. They are His (and his and hers). I have to place this in the hands of God. I find no comfort in this yet. It’s not over. I’m not sure this can even be repaired or that I may truly lose them. I do know have no control over this.

Yet in the middle of this, laundry must be done, dishes need to be washed, soccer practice continues and I will still go to my 50+ hr a week job, while trying to run a household while being neither right nor happy. Life goes on.

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9/11 remembered

I was not at Ground Zero.  I had no family members immediately impacted.  I was just one of millions, listening and watching in horror as the events unfolded that morning.  I was in my office at work, when I heard it on the radio.  I was 31 years old, single, and the first thing I did was call my dad.  Funny, some things never change I guess.  I didn’t need him at my side, or for him to tell me everything would be OK.  I just needed to know he was fine, my mom was fine, and my sister was fine.  They lived in Northern Michigan.  Of course they were fine.  Still, I needed that reassurance.

I had a Nokia phone:  the one “everybody” had back then.  Mine had this ridiculously ugly multicolored foil faceplate and a hanging antenna with a light on it.  I haven’t thought about that phone in years.  Weird how that detail sticks in my mind.  I can picture the little blue radio/CD player, with a Barbie sticker on it, and the paper-clip antenna attached with a magnet to my credenza.  I just remember staring at the radio, thinking, “This can’t be.  This is America.  We don’t get bombed.”

Flash forward almost five years, and I am standing at Ground Zero, with my 22 year old sister.  She’s old enough to remember that day very clearly.  We traveled to New York City, just the two of us, to go to MoMA and the Met.  It’s a five day-four night getaway, and we are having fun.  She has just graduated from college, and I’m getting married in a few months.  Despite our fourteen-year age gap, we are established traveling buddies, and have promised ourselves more trips later in life.  We stand there, just looking.  There is a big hole in the ground, and construction work is going on in the bottom of this big hole.  Take away all the 9/11 memorial information, and you might not understand what had happened here.  Until you turn around.  A tall building, a skyscraper by its own rights but most likely overlooked in the shadow of the twin towers, is blackened from the blast.  Windows are still blown out.  Five years later, and windows are still gone.

We were both awed by that building.  We were also amazed by how close the firehouse was to the towers:  the infamous Engine Company and Ladder Company 10.  It is technically INSIDE Ground Zero.  Somehow, I never understood just how close they were. As we are discussing this, one of their trucks goes by, emblazoned with a memorial to their lost brothers.  Life goes on.  It’s been five years.  Their house has been repaired, their friends buried, and there are jobs to do.

As much as I’ll always remember September 11, 2001, those memories are linked to the day I stood there, with my sister, attempting to take it all in, to make sense of it, to understand it.  I’m not sure I ever will.  I don’t really want to go back.  I’m glad they are rebuilding.  I’m sure the memorial will be amazing.  But I saw the hole, and the blackened building.  I think sometimes you need to see the devastation more than you need to see the repair, to really understand.

Wrecked – track marks at a baby shower

I’ll warn you now, this is not one of my crazy posts about my kids.

I’ve been following Jeff Goins the writer for just a bit now, and he’s writing this amazing book, “Wrecked” (check out this link: http://wreckedthebook.com/buy/). He asked us how we’ve been wrecked, and if we’d share our story. I thought I’d share mine here as well:

Track marks. I remember watching the new mom, holding twins and smiling amid a sea of presents. I saw scars on her arms, and as my mind processed what could have caused such scars, I realized they were track marks. “I’m looking at track marks at a baby shower,” I thought, with shock. I realized they were old, and my shock subsided a bit. I remembered where I was and why I was here. My friend had started a ministry at her church, to hold baby showers for women that were not having one. Simple premise: if you are pregnant and not having a shower, we’ll throw one for you. This was her second shower. I had not known about the first, but she had talked about it at work, and here I was. What better way to show the love of Jesus than to hold showers for women who weren’t going to have one? It’s a couple of hours on a Saturday, maybe three if I help set up or clean up, and twenty bucks for a present. Easy.

I didn’t expect track marks.

When my friend was recovering from a critical illness, I ran the program for several months and held four showers. By this time, we had partnered with a crisis pregnancy center and a crisis hotline. When the director of the center called, she had a special case for us. Did I think I could help out?

I didn’t expect a rape victim.

Nine years after that first shower, we have hosted dozens more. Some showers are simply for people that didn’t have a place to hold one: they bring their own guests, cake, food, and presents. We just have the space needed. Others are for women who have no one. Sometimes they can’t even get a ride, so we pick them up and take them home. I’d like to say these stories all have happy endings but they don’t. We have a few women who have become great mentors to other mothers, who show up at these showers, like the ones given for them, with presents and snacks, and really connect with these new moms. Some just drift away, and we don’t know what happens. Some end up in the arrest blotter of the paper. Sometimes, these babies die.

Ripped apart. Broken. Wrecked. That’s how I still feel sometimes, after one of these showers or an update on one of the moms. “How can this happen? How can YOU let this happen?” I scream at a God who feels my pain but doesn’t give me the answers I want. I am reminded that I cannot save the world. God can but we must choose to be saved. For those who choose that road, there is still pain until we get there. My anger turns to a deep sorrow and then to some form of acceptance. I can’t say it’s a happy emotion, but this is something I have to do. I turn my thoughts to the next shower.

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