Saturday, April 28, 2018

Not Mine, But Yours

Last week, my youngest girl graduated from a drug rehabilitation program.

As she ran toward the rope climb outside the building where it happened, she explained to me, "I own these ropes.  I used to climb them when I was 16."

No longer a child, but still under my roof, under my care.  
Not yet grown, but still my kid, my responsibility.

As if it were a lifetime ago.

Did it start before or after 16?...

From the start, Em's life has been so dramatic and "different" from other lives that it would take me ~ well, the internet doesn't really have enough pages for me to share all of her history ~ but as she is beginning her New life, and because I must share in ways I have not shared before, I will start where the "seriously scared witless" began...

Monday, June 2, 2014

can we just call this poetry?

the incessant barking
that morning i walked to your place
two days before you would be gone to who-knows-where
to check on you for what may or may not be the last time 
(may or may not is always the thing with you) 
could not pray
could not concentrate
could only hear the dogs barking
and wonder
if i would remember that sound two days from now
May or may not ~ really and truly ~ has always been the thing.
Would she?  Wouldn't she?
Maybe.  Maybe not.

She was living literally around the corner from us when I made that post,
as she was being evicted from her apartment,
having nowhere to go,
one day before she would come to me in tears to ask if she could stay with us,
when i had to answer, "no,"
as if I had no heart,
two days before she made the exodus,
and literally, all hell broke loose.

I still hear the dogs.

Two days later, I finally came out with it.  Came out, that is, to the broader audience, to the whole world, I suppose, as I sought desperately for what to do, how to live with what was happening.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

For The Zombie Mommas

I’ve pondered writing this for a long time but have a host of reasons for having not. I’m doing it now for this reason: I am not one to look back with regret; rather, I look forward and wonder what I’m going to regret.

That said,

I care little for the zombie culture.  For me, it’s just one more manifestation of a desensitized society.  (But you go ahead!)

I’ve had this really weird theory about the coming zombie apocalypse and how drug addiction will be its genesis.  Turns out, this is not one of my less plausible theories if you have a look at some of the latest drug trends.  Which I don’t actually recommend doing.

But I’m beating around the bush.

I’ve re-written this paragraph forty hundred times, trying to decide what to say, how to say it, whether I have a right to say it, whether it’s a good idea to say it. Finally, I’ve decided to say simply:  It seems I’m losing one of my girls to drugs.

That’s a sentence I’ve put off writing for a long, long time, thinking that I’m breaking some kind of hipa law, or at the very least, I’m disrespecting my girl by telling her business.


She came through me.  I raised her (right or short-coming-like), and fought for her for all her years (realized or short-coming-like).

She is my girl, my daughter, my child.

And it seems that I am losing her.

It seems that we are all losing.

That’s all I wanted to say.

And needed to say.

Because I have no idea what else to say.
Or what to do.
And I know there are other zombie mommas out there, also not knowing.

So I’m raising this like a banner and a prayer for us all.
Thank Jesus, we did have her boy in safe keeping, though we'd had him already, and we may or may not discuss until Jesus comes back how much this had to do with the unraveling of events.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Fade To Black

I looked up to see a teenage girl in the street, bags scattered around her, her pacing and watching nervously until a vehicle came around the corner, and she threw her things into it and rode away.  Several hours passed before it occurred to me that she was probably somebody else's zombie daughter and that I might have made a difference in that life somehow.  I might have just opened the door, stepped out into the yard, and asked her, "babe, are you about to make a regrettable choice?" Instead, I'd just watched the whole thing as if in a stupor.  

It's the same thing I do most days. 

Regrettable choices.  How many have there been now?
I'd ask who's counting as if to imply that nobody's counting but somebody is.
Somebody's always keeping score, at least in the game that I'm not even playing.
I'm losing, by the way.
Even though I have the most points.

I saw the girl through the window as I was sitting and staring, wondering what it's like to become a zombie, in fact.  Is it a slow fade?  Do you snap into it the same way that people snap out of things?

Like, I don't know ... denial, maybe.  Sometimes you snap out of that and what you get is a bite of red-hot reality.  I'm not really in denial.  I just really like the way that last bit sounds and sometimes I say things just because I like the sound of it.

But the real truth is that some parts of reality bite and I am regularly watching in stupefied wonder.  There are some situations still not getting better, some people still not coming home.  There are some places that I would bleed out if I thought it would make things better but I know better.  Knowing better might be making me bitter.  Just a bit.

I'm obviously writing mainly for myself now.  Except for the others like me.  I do know you're out there.  I saw your daughter yesterday in front of my house.  I'm sorry, so sincerely, that I didn't help her.
It seemed to take the entire next year to fade completely.  November 27 was my sister's birthday.  On 11/26/15, I spent my last Thanksgiving with my sister.  Em had been arrested the day before.  My sister died while my daughter was in jail.  Those days ~ my God, those days were dark.

However, as is often said of folks once incarcerated, or once some other means of rock bottom is met, those days in the clink ~ and maybe, just maybe my little sister made a little impact ~ gave my girl some time to dry out and to think.

Here again, I'd like to spend several pages writing about all that happened over the next two years, but I'm already writing outside the margins.  Suffice it to say that she took the reigns of her own life, her own fight, and she fought for her recovery.

[(I must share this from a sense of pride:)  she could have been out of jail and on the streets within a couple of months; she could have gone to this rehab facility or that; but what she did was Insist on getting a chance at Path of Grace, a place that I will henceforth refer to as a "life recovery home."]

(musical interlude as I step back into real life for a few...)

"Do you snap into it the same way that people snap out of things?  Like, I don't know ... denial, maybe.  Sometimes you snap out of that and what you get is a bite of red-hot reality.  I'm not really in denial."

The next couple of years ...
I just can't.
Win some,
lose some.
Good days,
bad days.
We all
through it.

And got us to graduation night.

There were about 50 people in the room, mostly women currently in the program, some previous graduates, a few board members, her sisters, Pop and me, a couple of nieces, her son.

Em sat at the front as we passed a token around the room, each sharing words of encouragement, love, and well wishes.  (I could write a page about just that:  all.those.women. speaking to my daughter ~ to the grown up Em, who is her very own self in this world.)

Normally, what's passed is a rock, but in this case, we passed a prayer coin which had been given to Emily by a man ~ one of our people ~ who'd begun to feel some years back that he'd been given a very specific responsibility to pray for her.

The room was full of tears and laughter as people took their turns sharing their personal history with Em over the last two years:  "you were scary."  "you were mean."  "you gave me the stank eye."  "you have grown, have changed, have overcome, have demonstrated love and sincere care, have helped so much, so often, have saved so many animals!"

Then an older gentleman took the coin, and was several sentences in before I realized how prophetically, poignantly he was speaking.  He began by telling that he'd studied the meaning of Emily's name, and that he'd found she had origins in Scotland, Ireland, a bunch of places, but he somehow wove a path back to the Israelites.  Once there, he explained one of the ancient Hebrew practices of ritualistic bathing.  He said that he'd watched Emily during her time at Path of Grace ~ watched her spiritually cleansing herself of the old ways.

There were several more hands that held the coin before it got to me, my other daughters, and then almost last to speak was my oldest granddaughter, McKenna.  I snickered at first when she said, "Aunt Em, I've listened to what everyone else has said, and all I have to say is, 'just keep bathing, just keep bathing.'"  One of my other kids had to nudge me and point out that it was a Finding Nemo reference that pointed back to the older gentleman's words.  It was suddenly one of the deepest things I've heard in my entire life.

It took me a few days to start this piece, and I am finishing it now, almost exactly two months later.

But if there's really an end to this, it's that there really is no end until Jesus finishes the work He started.  Until then and forever after, they are not my children, but His.

Not my will, Lord, but Yours.