Flowers from Heaven

It has been a horrible few days! Beyond the daily hiccups in life, I have just been missing my Peanut so much. I just want to hear his laughter and footsteps one more time. And not on a video, in real life.

While walking the dog this morning, I walked over where me and Preston had started a late flower garden project months ago. About 2 months ago I found some old flower seed and me and Peanut just went outside and threw them around the tilled up area. And by throw I mean we literally just threw them by the handfuls randomly. These seeds has to have been at least two years old. No way were they going to grow but being the lover of all things floral, I couldn’t throw them away. As I got closer the patch and then I saw it. The prettiest red flower standing tall in the rain with little white ones coming up around it. How in the world after the cold and rain we have had could this flower have sprouted? And being old seeds at that???

I will tell you how. God’s timing. It was meant for me to misplace the seeds after I bought them. It was meant for me to find them when I did. It was meant for me and Peanut to throw them in the garden spot. It was meant to bloom now when God knee I needed some love from Peanut. A sweet little red flower sent at just the right time. God’s timing. And Peanut’s love.

Ecclesiastes 3:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

I hate our friendship!!!

I have a best friend. And I hate our friendship.

I love my best friend more than she will ever know! And I hate our friendship.

The smallest, most intricate details of the way we became friends could only have been woven by God himself. And I hate our friendship.

I can tell her things I wouldn’t dare tell anyone else. And I hate our friendship.

She is my my life raft when I am sinking. And I hate our friendship.

I can’t imagine her not being in my life ever. And I hate our friendship.

We met because our boys died. And I hate our friendship.

We are friends because our hearts have been fractured forever. And I hate our friendship.

We would both trade our friendship to have our boys back in the blink of an eye. I hate we didn’t get to meet because our boys were friends here. I hate we didn’t meet under happier circumstances. I hate that we share a pain the is almost unbearable. I hate that we wonder if the boys are friends in heaven. I hate that I have come to love her son as my own yet I have never met him. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

I wish beyond words we weren’t drawn together out of pain instead of joy. But I am so glad that with this pain she brings me joy. Even though I hate our friendship!

Every wrinkle tells a story

I spent this morning looking real hard in the mirror. I look old. Gray hair, wrinkles, bags under my eyes, puffy places, droopy places! My jowls (as a friend calls them) are fatter and saggier. When did this happen? I guess it has been happening all my 41 years. Yes I have admitted it, I am 41.
I have decided this morning to embrace my age. Embrace my gray. Embrace all the wrinkles, sags and droops. Each one tells the story of my life. The lines around my eyes from laughing at my kids while growing up. The black circles under my eyes nights of sleepless worry while waiting on the kids to come home. The saggy puffy eyes from crying because missing my son is so unbearable at times. Even the one eye that is always puffier than the other! The gray hairs a mixture of a hard long troubled but happy life I have had. The gray streak a reminder from the day I was told my son was gone. The lines in my forehead from trying to understand why I had the life I had.
I have a friend that sells Mary Kay. She is always wanting to give me a make-over. “You will be a totally different person!” It seems every friend I have is selling this Nerium stuff. “You will look 10 years younger!” Friends that sell body wraps, eyelashes, weight loss pills and every miraculous age fighter known to man. It seems that every where I turn I can be prettier, younger, skinnier!
I am lucky to have the problem of aging. How many people are taken too soon to get to this point? My son for one. I have a friend that lost her daughter when she was 24. A time when her life should really start. Another friend who lost a son in his 40’s. I need to embrace this age and time that God has allowed me for whatever reason to see. I am lucky. I am blessed.
It seems to me we are all wasting precious years trying to be what we used to be or someone we are not. I don’t want to look like a different person. I don’t want to look 10 years younger. I want to look in the mirror and see me. All of me. Every flaw. Every line. Every age spot. Every little detail that makes me… ME. It has taken me quite a while to get the point that I am happy with myself. Happy with my age. I think happiness is the best look any women can have.
The endless lines tell the story of the journey that I have been on since birth. They are a road map that has gotten me to this day and the person I have become. I am going to embrace the gray! Embrace the wrinkles! And if I look 60 when I am only 41 then I will give God the glory for allowing me to keep on this journey of life. Because in my opinion, there couldn’t be a more gorgeous me than me.

Grief Stage #482

I seem to have hit yet another stage in this grief journey. I don’t even know what you can call it. The “if he where here stage” or “he’s missing this stage”? Whatever you call it, for three weeks now I just cry every free moment alone I get.

It started when preparing for my sister’s wedding. She and Richie are only a few years apart and were more like siblings than aunt and nephew. The whole time all I could think of was how excited he would have been for her. I have no doubt he would have been a groomsman or fought to give her away. I try not to live in the thought of every second of the fact he is not here but during the ceremony and reception it was all I could think of.

I have been doing that in everything. Even little things like what I am cooking. I have picked up the phone to text him what is being fixed so many times lately. I have all but stopped cooking. A movie was coming on the other night and wanted to tell him to watch it. I hate when we have anything lately with family because I can feel his absence. I just keep thinking about what he would be doing. Would he be aggravating Lexie and Kane? Would he be teasing his Grandma? Would he have been yelling at the football game on TV with Jeff and his uncles? Is he missing out on everything that is happening here?

Yes, I know everyone says he is watching down from heaven and isn’t missing one thing but I find that hard to believe. The only thing that gives me comfort in him being gone is that he is in heaven. As I am lead to understand from studying the Word, in heaven there is singing, worship, serving, ruling, fellowship with others, eating. (Rev 15:3, 5:9, 22:3, 22:5, 2:17, 2 Tim 2:12, Matt 17:3) Richie is experiencing a life of fellowship with God (Rev 22:4), a life of rest (Rev 14:3), a life of service (rev 22:3), a life of growth ( Rev 22:2) and a life of worship (Rev 19:1). Why would he be looking down here at this messed up world? He is probably having such a glorious time with no worries of this world, sickness or trouble that he hasn’t thought of us. I am sure my Granny has gotten a good grip on him and is showing him off to everyone up there.

With all that being said, I am still mourning what he is missing but I am comforted by Richie rejoicing at the right hand of Jesus!

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Prayerful Friends

I actually started a post yesterday about prayer. I stopped in the middle when I got stumped and was messaging a friend of mine. Our conversation made me delete what I wrote.

My friend’s husband has been having some health issues lately. Since the start all she has asked for is prayers. Prayers is what she has gotten. It was looking like her husband was looking at major setbacks in his recovery. She asked for even more prayers. Which they got! Talking with her at the beginning of the day it was about bad health. Last night, she told me that one of the major hurdles was turning around! Prayers of thanks went up. She had thanked me earlier for praying for them. I found that to be silly to thank me for. We are good friends. Friends pray for and with each other. Truly prayerful friends that is.

I can tell you that I have surrounded myself with True Prayerful Friends. I know that if I am having a bad day with grief, I can reach out to my friends Tonya or Mrs. Laurie and prayers are said immediately. When I just need prayers of comfort and guidance, Melanie is the first one I reach out to. If I need prayers to help me watch my tongue, Misty is the one I call. When I just need a flooding of prayer, I send a mass text to the Ladies of my church. I know my new friend Sheryl is about one of the most faithful praying friends I have. When I am needing deep prayers and questioning my faith, I make a call to my pastor and his wife. I have others that I know really pray. I can feel prayers being said right when they are requested. I also know that these people along with a few others, are really gonna get to the business of praying.

I have changed from the praying person I was 18 months ago to the one I am now. Most of the time when people asked for prayer, I would wait until bedtime or when I remembered it. Now I pray immediately. I have failed so many people by using the phrase, “I will pray for you.” I would say it and then just go about my business and my life. It took seeing some of the small blessings in my life that came only after prayer from myself and others to see the real power in it. Real prayers. Sincere prayers. Now when I say I will pray for someone,it goes in a prayer book and it gets prayed on multiple times a day!

Are you a True Prayerful Friend? Or are you someone that feels comfort in just saying you will pray?

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You Really Wanna Know Mr. Osteen?

I keep getting asked how I am doing. I guess people think that because we are about to hit 18 months into the grief journey that things are just peaches and cream, rainbows and pots of gold. I am actually quite the opposite. I haven’t written on it because I have been trying to sort out this mind of mine that seems to be getting more frantic and loud. But after reading an article a fellow blogger shared about Joel Osteen’s views on grief, I had to share. Osteen believes that after a certain amount of time that grievers are only wanting pity. Well, Mr. Osteen, here is my response.

I am 18 months in this new life that God has dealt me. For 18 months, I have made sure to put others before myself. My children rarely see me cry. I make sure that each day they are not living in the shadow of their brother’s death. My husband and I have struggled to keep this family that was 5 and now 4 as normal as possible. We have struggled to keep our marriage strong when we have no words to ease each others pain and are lost as to how to be partners when our life is broken. I have to the best of my ability, and often failed, tried to keep up appearances at family events. I have tried to go to parties for other people’s children. I went back to keeping children one month after the death of my son. I never missed a school event with my daughter. I made sure my living son knew he was just as important to me as my angel son. If I was asked to do something, I 97% of the time did it. The other 3% I just mentally couldn’t. I never quit putting others before myself. I never said no when asked to do something for the church. I have smiled and tried my best to keep up a sense of the old life I had while trying to learn this new life. I will admit, I failed a lot. I failed my husband numerous times. I have even failed my children. I have horribly failed my sisters and mother. But I did the best I could to try to keep the hurt, sorrow, pain, and aching I felt to myself and not lay it on the shoulders of others.

So Mr. Osteen, do you really wanna know where I am at today in my grief? I am worse off today than I was the second the doctor’s gave me a time of death. I am worse off than the day we put my boy in his grave. In fact, 18 months of faking it and trying to be strong has taken a toll on me mentally and physically. I spend most nights tossing and turning. Releasing a days worth of built up tears. I do not want to attend any family events at all because my family is the broken link. I spend most days waiting on the clock to strike 5 so that kids go home and I can start my new rituals. What new rituals you ask? Well, Joel, can I call you Joel? I used to be very OCD about my house and life. The birth of my children’s half sister quickly let me see that this curly haired little toddler was winning the battle of messes. Now the OCD is back and I have the belief that if my house is spotless nothing tragic will happen to us again. My house was a little messy when we got the call of Richie’s accident. In fact, everything bad that has directly happened to us has come at a time when the house was a little untidy. I have been cleaning the house completely. Each room has been getting a deep cleaning. I dread having to get up in the mornings to take care of others. Nothing to do with them, I just can some days barely guide myself much less others. I hate answering the phone. People start conversations with “how are you?” I text very few people. Only the ones I can be real with get them. (A very short list) I am no longer the one at church that speaks to every single person. I sometimes fake reading something so that I do not have to socialize on Sunday mornings. I am exhausted by the end of Wednesday night Bible study because I have to fake happy on the bad days. I do not watch the news because it sends me into a tailspin of PTSD. I hate FaceBook because people seem to not understand that seeing wrecked cars and kids in the hospital bring back images that haunt me every single day. The sound of a train horn makes my heart leap into my throat. I only watch movies after they have been cleared by others for my broken mind to watch. TV holds little interest for me. The Travel channel is safe I have found. I hate 6:44pm on Sundays and the 29th of every single month. I feel as if I have won the lottery if I make it to 3:30pm on the 30th or a Monday and my living children are still living. I cannot eat chicken, mashed potatoes and corn in the same meal. Tried once and had almost had a nervous breakdown. I have started panicking about where my deceased son’s belongings are. Even though I know they are safely packed away in my guest room, I still have to go see they are there. I do this numerous times a day. It is all I have left that is tangible of him. I now get up numerous times to see if my living children are still breathing as they sleep. (They are 18 & 20.) A scratch on one of them has me thinking that the limb will be amputated and they will die. I text them constantly to see if they are safe. I text their friends if I do not get a timely response. I hate leaving the house other than once a week grocery shopping and church. I have certain things that we can not do on Sundays because if we do, one of my children will die. I am failing as a friend to the ones that are closest to me. I can’t remember when I last wished someone Happy Birthday when I was the one that was always the first. I cannot concentrate on tasks that are dear to me. I start projects and quickly lose interest.I spend some days pretending so convincingly to myself that Richie will be coming home that afternoon that by 4pm I feel like I lost him all over again. Sometimes I think that I put myself back into shock just to shut my mind off.

Even worst than the mental effects is the physical ones. I constantly have stress and tension migraines. I break out in bumps and itch like crazy if one thing starts getting out of the “new normal” I am enclosing myself in. I feel tired all the time but cannot sleep. And the absolute most terrible thing…. My heart constantly feels like it is constricting. It literally hurts all day every day. I believe my heart broke the day they told me Richie had passed. Since then I can feel it 24 hours a day. You really never know your heart is there until you experience a loss so gut-wrenching that you cannot even fathom it until days later. Then you are fully aware of its every beat. Every bloody thump against your chest feels like you are being stabbed. Do you understand the heart hurt Mr. Osteen? I am constantly on high alert, waiting on the next terrible thing to happen so my muscles are always sore. My nerves twitch. I have developed little ticks of nervousness. Some others never notice. I just feel like I am always in pain yet have no sickness.

Mr. Osteen, I have done it your way. I have not asked for self pity. I have hated conversations that revolve around me and my loss. I have put others first. I have not wallowed in my pain shutting myself off from the world. Where has it gotten me? It has gotten me no where. I am worse off than I was 18 months ago. I took care of everyone else and did not take any time for myself. So what am I to do now? Do I tell others that I need time now all this time later to be alone and grieve with no responsibilities? Do I continue doing what I am doing and hope it gets better? Quite a predicament I am in. There is no time limit on grief. Some parents lose a child and have another in a year later. Some can never imagine another child in their home. A wife can lose her husband and marry 6 months later. A husband can lose his wife of 60 years and pass away silently that night in his sleep from a broken heart. There is no book on grief. I hate the self-help crap people have been sending me. It would help to shove it up their wazoos. (I forgot to add the part about my quick temper being even quicker.) So please, Mr. Osteen, what do I do now that the way you wrote about does not work? You can email me your answer at mrsjschell@gmail.com. I will be awaiting your response.

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Unexpected Friends, Unexpected Blessings

Over the past few days, I have been in constant e-mail with a lady I have come to know in this grief journey. She lost her son almost a year ago and is having a difficult time with the anniversary approaching.This morning when I read her latest e-mail she was saying she was glad we are friends. This got me to thinking……………..

I have met many, many new people since our own personal D-Day. We have met other grieving parents, donor families, organ recipients, church friends, blogging friends and just so many more. I have come to love and cherish each person. Saturday at the 5K, I told one of the coordinators that I could not imagine making it this far without the love from certain people at LifeLink. I can’t imagine not having Tonya or Sherri to be there for my spastic texts and e-mails when I am having a rough day. What if I didn’t have my new church family to be there to pray for me when the going gets rough? What if I didn’t have the recipients I have met to give me hope when I have questions of why? What if I didn’t have Debbie or Kayla? What if I didn’t have any of them?????

I look back and reflect on how and why I have met them. I have met them because my son died. Plain and simple. No sugar coating it. We crossed paths because Richie died. Richie died. I more than likely would have never met these people if my son was alive. I would probably have not even listened to the news story on Kayla and Zack,, I would have never read a blog from another grieving parent. I would not have even thought about LifeLink or Donate Life. I really do not think I would have had the heart I do now to even listen to some of the stories these new friends have. I would not have wanted the stories of death to come into the protective bubble I thought I had.

Then my bubble burst. My heart became broken. And these people came in at the right times in my life to help me stand. They have not healed my broken heart but they have done a pretty good job at putting a band-aid over some gaping holes. With that being said……….

I would give up everyone of them for one more day with my son. I love them all dearly but if I had my son here today, I could live without them, And they would think the same of me. With the friends that I can be brutally honest with I tell them, “I love you but I could do without having met you this way!” The friends that are brutally honest with me tell me the same thing. We hate this life we have been given but are stronger because of the people we have met.

This Saturday, Jeff and I will be going to dinner with a new friend we met at the 5K. Another unexpected friend to add to our growing circle of love.

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Another wreck

Another child, another wreck, another phone call, another panic-stricken Mom. Last Friday morning, on my morning to sleep late, I was awoken to a call from Jeff and he said, “Don’t panic but Savannah has been in a wreck, Get dressed I am on the way to get you.” Well, I panicked. I panicked so bad I kept losing my breath. I made calls to the people I needed to and naturally no one answered the phone, Made sure Savannah’s Dad had made it to the scene. And then left the house before Jeff ever got here. Like I was going to wait. Poor Will had came to get me and I made him jump in my car and gave him the ride of his life. Made it to the hospital and saw that Savannah was ok before I ever really breathed right. She was just sore. She and all the kids were going to be ok. She just over corrected and went off the road and hit a phone pole. Her car was a sturdy one and took the impact and protected the kids. All was well other than nerves.

Well, I say that all is well. But this wreck brought back memories and feelings that none of us ever wanted to have again. Last time I got a call like this, my son died. And as silly as it sounds, I made sure not to throw on the same shirt I did when I got that call. It upset me that I had to put on the same tennis shoes. (I couldn’t find my others. They were next to the ones I put one. Nerves!) I prayed this time like I did last and hoped this time God saw fit to answer them. He did. The kids are fine.

I caught some harsh looks and words when I told someone that no I didn’t thank God he spared my daughter. Let me explain before you judge. I believe that everyone has a time that God is going to call them home. He knows the day we are born how long we are going to be here, He knew when he gave me Richie that I would only have him 20 years. Wish I had the memo also. When Savannah wrecked, she did not die because it was not her time. I have faith in my God that he wasn’t ready for her. I did thank him that she wasn’t injured worse. I did thank him that the other kids were not injured worse.I do not think I should thank God for not doing something he wasn’t planning on doing in the first place. Yes, I know that it seems as if I am ungrateful but I am not. I am FAITHFUL! I am faithful in his plans and in his timing. I do however thank God each morning and each night for allowing me one more day with my family. I was asked if I would still be a faithful if God took one of them tomorrow. I would be devastated but I would still be faithful that God has a plan. I may struggle with it but I will have faith. I still struggle with God’s plans for cutting Richie’s life so short. But I have Faith that I will know one day. Faith that his reason is bigger than me. Faith, just simple faith.

Not a call I wanted to wake up but I thank God that I wake up to my daughter for a little longer. Getting her a bicycle for graduation.

Savannah (L) and her best friend/passenger Destiny!

Savannah (L) and her best friend/passenger Destiny!

Worry About Nothing

Last Friday started downhill from the moment all of our house got out of bed. Let me start over… It actually started the night before when we were in the ER for yet another knee injury on the girl child. (We averaged a few of these a year with her.) Nothing big, just sprained it severly coming across home plate. So I had to get her to school the next day since she couldn’t drive. After picking up her boyfriend, the fuel pump decided to crap out on the Rodeo at one of the busiest 4-way stops in the county. My Sis-in-Law took the kids to school and I waited for the Husband. While waiting, the Sis-in-Law came back and sat with me and we got to catch up. Husband arrives and we arrange for a tow truck. So I head home to finish getting ready. You see, Will and I had to be in Norcross to pick up some things for the next day’s memorial concert. So Will, Husband and the tow truck get back to the house and it is time for the next adventure.
Girl Child texts and says she left stuff in the Rodeo she needed so we head, 10 miles the other way to get them to her and low and behold, the key to the car we are in decides to come apart! THe silver part was in the ignition and the black part with all the buttons was in my hand. Apparently, they had to be together for the car to start! Will and I figure it out and get it fixed enough to come home to get the last running vehicle in the yard. We set off now! We get to Norcross and back without any more incidents!
Now to get ready and wait for that night’s football game and senior night. The night was to be the last night we had one of my babies on the field. While getting ready and waiting on husband to come home, he calls. “I am on the side of the road.” He was defeated! (Did I mention Boy Child gt out of work and his tires were flat? So technically now down 4 cars) I in a cheery voice tell him to not worry, we are on the way. He was very upset and defeated. His friend ended up bringing him home and I told him to quickly change clothes and put a smile on! He looked at me and said.”How can you be so cheerful! It is really making me mad. This is a horrible day. One of the worst.” I smiled and said,” This is far from the worst day we have ever had, Not even in our top 3 or 5. We are all still standing and breathing. WE may be out of cars but they can be fixed. We have never went without before. Worry about nothing, pray for everything.” I was answered with a snarl.
What else was I to say to him? I have learned that nothing that happens can defeat us. We have been through the worst. Shy of losing one of my other 2 kids, Nothing is ever that bad. In fact everything as long as we are healthy and alive is marvelous! The cars can be fixed. And if they can’t, we will get new ones! Money troubles, who cares! We have never been without a roof over our heads or food in our bellies. We have always been warm and safe. Worry about nothing, pray for everything.
I think he just doesn’t understand that the car breaking down that morning kept us out of a traffic accident on the interstate, Could have been us involved. The 2nd car messing up at the school kept us from getting 1 1/2 hours away and it doing it. I thanked God for keeping us safe. I thanked him for allowing us to all be able to see stand beside Girl Child on the field for Senior Night. That night when I said the prayers before bed, I thanked him for everything! Every single thing down to the waffle fries at lunch. And guess what? The Lord has provided, the cars are being fixed and all is well. We may be out a few hundred dollars but what is money when we still have each other?!!!!!
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A Little Monkey Told Me…..

I have this special little girl in my life. I have called her my Monkey from the time she was just a little bitty thing cooing at me. To say I love this little Monkey is an understatement. She has always been my best friend and just like one of my own children since the day I laid eyes on her. You know how you can just sense that there is something special about someone? Well, she has it. Whatever it is. Let me tell you what she taught me Monday.

It is no secret that lately I have been having a rough time in my journey of grief. I cry more and just have no desire to do a whole lot. I have tried to keep the tears and the sadness hidden from people, especially Monkey. See, she has been hit with double loss within a year. Her favorite cousin and her brother. That’s a lot for a six year old. Well, Monday I picked her up from school and greeted her with the usual I missed you! She looked at me and said, “Are you okay?” I answered yes and she called me out real quick. She said that I didn’t look it. I told her I was just missing Richie. And then this little Monkey set me straight. Here is what she told me.

“MumMum, God has plans for each person. He knows before we are ever born who our Mommies and Daddies are. He knows who our brothers and sisters are. He knows when we are going to be born and everything we will do for our whole lives. Everything we do, God knows before we do it. God also knows when we are going to die. He knows that before we are ever even born. He knew when Richie was going to die and how. He knew when Johnathan was going to die and how. He knew when my Mommie’s Momma was going to die and how. He knew I wouldn’t get to meet her until I get to heaven. If me and you get in a bad wreck right now and we live, if someone says “you are lucky you didn’t die”, they are wrong because God knew we weren’t supposed to. God knows what our life is for and nobody else. And that is why we have to live a good life while we have it and make him proud. So don’t be sad because Richie is gone, God had to have him back home like he did Johnathan.”

Now after hearing this, I was speechless and tears were flowing. This little girl who we are supposed to be teaching and guiding is the one teaching and guiding us! I asked her where she learned all this. She just looked at me and said, “A little from church and a little because it is what Jesus wanted me to know.” I did not feel the need to ask her if Jesus had told her directly or if she meant she had learned it somewhere. I think that is for her to cherish. But either way, this little girl taught me so much in her little speech to me. I have heard people and preachers say parts of this for over 10 months now, but coming from a 6 year old drove it into my heart.

Thank God for putting this little Monkey in my life!

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