Summer “Daze”

In the world of family law, summer is a battleground. Parents jockey for position in an attempt to manipulate visitation schedules so that they’d get more time than the other parent. Usually, they just wanted that unfettered time of lazy days devoid of the school calendar. School’s out. No homework. No responsibility. Just fun as far as the eye can see.

Sometimes, parents would be more particular about crafting a schedule, homing in on the “forgotten” holidays – Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day. And, in South Louisiana where summer typically stretches deep into October, parents often went to war over “Parish Fair” Day – that extra Friday in October when the world of Washington Parish revolves around the fair. (Other parts might recognize this as the “county fair.”)

For those dealing with the loss of a loved one, summer can be a battleground. Even when the sky is cloudless and blue in the shade of a memory, shadows loom with the intensity of storm clouds. Read more

Here Comes the Rain Again . . .

Raise your hand if you played in the rain as a kid? We did – all the time. In fact, my parents encouraged it. Can’t say whether it was the allure of not having to bother with bath time at the end of the day or the fact that it was cheaper than a “slip-n-slide” that made kicking us out the door so appealing. Or, maybe, it’s just the way they did things back then.

The last time that I recall voluntarily heading out into the rain was the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. It was one of those soft, southern rains that sprout up on summer afternoons. No pomp and circumstance of thunder and lightning. No cold front to steal the warm air. I can’t recall what we talked about, but I can remember strolling around the neighborhood and splashing through puddles with my daddy.

Despite it’s questionable PR campaign, I love the sights, sounds, and smells of summer storms. The flash of lightning against an inky sky. A crack of thunder just a little louder than anticipated. Read more

Does the “Beginning” Ever End?

One of the things “they” say after losing a child is that the second year is worse. No way. I had endured “second years” after my brother, my dad, and others passed away. The first year is by far the worse. That settles it.

Fast forward 355 days or so and I can begin to see what “they” might be talking about.

I barely know what the next step is. I’ve spent nearly a year dutifully marking off each morbid milestone – One month – check; Two months – check; Brooke’s birthday – check; Start of a Fall semester with no Brooke – check; Halloween Horse Show – check; Thanksgiving – check; More birthdays – check; Christmas and New Year’s – check; Megan’s birthday – check; Mardi Gras – check; Gulfport horse show – check; and so much more. Yet, here I sit with the realization that – it doesn’t end. This is just the beginning.

The reality that Brooke is gone – it must seem fairly obvious, but the mind is a tricky thing. The mind gauges just how much reality the heart and body can endure at once. Even when we are sure of “reality,” the mind is there acting as a gatekeeper. Filtering out the bits that are too much for the moment. Saving them for a sunny day. Doling out reality in measured doses.

As the heart and body begin to bear the weight of reality, the mind piles on a little more until eventually the full load comes to bear.

If someone handed you and load and told you that you’d have to carry a 500-pound weight every day for the rest of your life, you’d protest that it is impossible. But if someone handed you just a few pounds here and a few there until 500 pounds was sitting square on your shoulders, it would be different. That’s what losing a child is like. That’s the nature of tragedy. Read more

When you’ve lost so much – how do you manage to be grateful?

My daddy was an ironic mash-up of 70’s flower child and Sicilian Catholic. In the 70’s and 80’s he had an annoying habit of preaching the gospel of “PMA.” For those of you who might have been subjected to this particular brand of torture in your own lives, you will recognize “PMA” as standing for “Positive Mental Attitude.” For every negative comment that Daddy caught us uttering, he would literally make us repeat the opposing positive statement out loud ten – TEN – times. You recognize the formula. It takes ten – TEN- positive thoughts/actions/comments to erase the energy created by just one negative thought/action/comment.

How does this look when applied? Quick example – I might say something to my little brother like “I hate you.” Read more

Why “Dances with a Limp?”

You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken.  And the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved.  But this is also the good news.  They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up.  And you come through.  It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold.  But you learn to dance with the limp.  – Anne Lamott

If you are looking for evidence of God’s sense of humor – you’ve landed in the right place.  Had I lived in Biblical times, you likely would have had an easier time finding me at the well than in the synagogue.  Frankly, there hasn’t been a less likely candidate to share the Word since Saul of Tarsus.  And, there is where the comparison between the Apostle Paul and me ends. Read more