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A Hug From Mom….(re-posted in honor of my sweet Mom for Mother’s Day)

I leaned my arms against the side of the shower, pressed my forehead on my arms and stood there weeping while the steaming hot water beat down on me.  Why was I crying?  Why, now, a year and a half since Mom had died?  The tears flowed freely in the shower, no worries of my daughters becoming distressed by my sobbing.  It was a week before Thanksgiving, Mom’s favorite holiday.  Maybe that was it?  It was late and I was extremely tired.  Maybe that was it?  I was stressed trying to plan our first Thanksgiving meal with family members, and feared I would not do her justice.  Maybe that was it.  I knew one thing was sure, I missed my Mom everyday!  I was going through each day, doing my best to mother my three daughters, but one thought ran through my mind constantly, “I wish Mom was here for me to talk to….”

I felt the water from the shower beginning to cool.  I turned my face toward the flow of water and allowed it to rinse the tears away, hoping it would also rinse away my thoughts so I could go to bed and rest peacefully.

I dressed for bed and towel dried my hair, taking note that I really could use a haircut.  I would love to be able to sit in my Mom’s chair at the beauty shop and have her snip away, chatting and watchng her laugh as she joked with those around the shop.  For a moment I was lost in the scene that had played out so many times in my life as the daughter of a hairdresser.  My Mom was a people person and she had a unique way of making each person feel special, whether they were getting a haircut or were one of the many young woman that she taught to sew or smock.   I was not as gifted as she was at connecting with people and I needed her here to mother me for awhile longer.

The house was very quiet.  My husband was out of town on business and my three daughters slept peacefully in their beds.  I put on my favorite praise and worship music and slipped between the covers, hoping to quickly fall asleep.  My mind kept reviewing memory after memory.  I faught the urge to resume my tyriad of tears again.  So I prayed.  “Lord, why am I so melancholy?  I’m a grown up!  I know she is gone, but its been 18 months and it feels like yesterday!  Lord, right now I could use one of Mom’s hugs.  I could use her way of encouraging me.  I could use her shoulder to cry on.  I need her, Lord.  I don’t understand why she had to go home to you now?  I need her so much, I need to still feel like the daughter. ”  I wiped the tears away and tried to fall asleep.

After awhile, out of frustration I got up and walked around the house picking up toys and clothes and putting things away.    I smiled thinking of my Mom’s wise words about leaving the house clean before you go to bed, so you can wake up in a good mood and to an uncluttered home.  It was 12:30am and I dragged a blanket to the couch, hoping a new venue would allow me to fall asleep.  Weariness overtook me and I drifted off to sleep on the comfy couch.

I slowly became conscious of myself facing the back of the couch and tears once again flowed down my face.  I was whispering over and over “I miss you so much Mom, I miss you so much.”  As I lay there, I felt the pressure of arms wrapped around my waist and I realized that my own arms were lifted and clasped together as if around someones neck.  I didn’t move.  I could feel the familiar cool softness of my mother’s skin against my cheek, I could smell the comforting aroma of her favorite lotion.  My eyes were closed tightly, but I was awake, the visions of my dreamworld mixing with consciousness, I was being hugged.  My face was pressed against Mom’s neck and she was holding me tightly, rubbing my back with her gentle hands.  I am not sure how long I lay there relishing in the moment.  But I know that during that surreal embrace, my troubled spirit ceased to struggle.  Peace surrounded me.  I was comforted.  I had been given a precious gift from the Lord, a hug from Mom.

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I Am a Writer

I listened to the quiet.  It was summer and my children lay in blissful slumber.  I slowly got up and walked to the bathroom. Stopping in front of the mirror I looked at the woman before me. “Who are you?” I thought, leaning closer to get a better look.  “Who are you?” I asked out loud this time.  The sleepy face in the mirror stared back at me confused.

I looked down at the counter at the photos I had found the night before.  Staring up at me was a fresh faced eighteen year old.  “Who are you?” I asked the girl in the photo.  She smiled, her hair perfect, skin flawless, eyes full of expectation.  Aspirations of becoming a famous writer sought after by every agent in the publishing industry flooded through my mind.  I looked back at the woman standing in the bathroom mirror and back at the girl in the picture.  Were they the same person?  Twenty-five years had changed everything.  The woman in the mirror had hair sprinkled with gray….highlights, she jokingly told her friends.  Freckles covered her face from sun exposure.   Eyes now surrounded by little creases, looked very tired.  Weight gain from pregnancies had not disappeared as hoped, and her face had become rounder.  “Who are you” I asked her once again, agitated that no answer came.  Suddenly I heard a voice “You don’t know either, huh?”  Did I say that?  Did she say that?

Where was that girl in the picture from twenty five years ago?  Marriage, babies, potty training, laundry, ball practices, school projects, dinners, the list was endless.  It had been years since I had sat down to put words on paper.  “When did you get so old and fat?” I asked her.  She frowned this time.  Then I heard the words “Are you writing?”

Tears filled my eyes.  Memories of dreams, tucked deep in my heart came flooding back.  A dream that might not be worth removing and dusting off, I thought.  “Tend your dreams” the words of a writer friend rang in my ears.

Then, as if someone was standing next to me, I heard “Dana, your real excuse is fear.  Fear that you won’t be good enough, fear that you will fail.”  This was too much, I backed up and sat down on the side of the tub and began to cry.  I was afraid.  Afraid that it was just one of those dreams never realized.  The voice returned “What are you going to do about it?”  I sat there for some time thinking, then from somewhere deep within, a renewed passion began to stir and a renewed strength found its voice and declared  “I am going to write. Good or bad, I am going to write.  Talent or not, I  am going to write.  Published or not, I am going to write.”

Joy bubbled up from somewhere.  I stood and looked at the woman in the mirror.  There was new sparkle in her eyes, her cheeks were flushed and she had a smile on her face.  Walking closer to the mirror, I looked intently at her and introduced myself, “Hello, I’m Dana and I am a writer.”

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In My Weakness, He is Strong

In 2004 I came face to face with the reality of the fragility of life. It was a typical day of rushing to take my five year old to school before heading off to my part time job. Through a sequence of circumstances I found a huge purple bruise on her left size that alarmed me. While she was clueless to how it had happened, I made an appointment for the next day with the pediatrician. That night I sat at my computer staring at the word LEUKEMIA glaring back at me. I tried to think of symptoms I may have missed. I clasped my hands tightly together over the keyboard and prayed for God’s healing and strength. I slept very little, a thousand scenerios forming in my mind. I watched as she ate breakfast, amazed at how quickly she had grown.
The visit to the pediatrician’s office was a blur, with blood work and then instructions to go to the hospital. As the doctor gave me instructions, I stared at him, trying to remain calm. I felt light headed, the lump in my throat making it hard to breathe. He put his hands on my shoulders and leaned down, looking me straight in the eyes. “It’s probably not what you are thinking. It will be okay.” I excused myself and walked quickly to the bathroom. I stared in the mirror, tears in my eyes and cried out to the Lord., “Lord, I am afraid!” were the words that bubbled up from the depths of my soul. Like a warm blanket, peace surrounded me. I took a deep breath, washed my face and went back to my daughter.
At the hospital more tests were required before we were taken to a special ward where children received medical treatments. The brightly colored walls mimicked the undersea world. Large salt-water tanks with beautiful fish were inserted in the walls. The sound of water and soft lighting was soothing. On each side of the room, children sat at stations, entertained with movies, cartoons and games as they received intravenous treatments. Molly was wide-eyed, “Wow, this is cool, Mommy!” The adults smiled with sympathetic eyes as we walked by each station. I forced a smile, desperate to quiet the voice in my head screaming “I can’t do this, I can’t do this!”
I sat for hours while Molly played and watched cartoons, silently praying for God to give me strength. Psalm 46:1 kept going through my mind “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” God’s voice whispered that He alone was sufficient for my needs and for Molly’s needs. He reminded me that in my weakness He is strong. As I watched her I recalled every moment of her life since her birth. She had a zest for life that was unequaled.
The doctor and my husband arrived at the same time. Our rambunctious daughter had Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). I had no idea what ITP was and listened anxiously, as he explained. Her antibodies were destroying her blood platelets. Normally, antibodies are a healthy response to bacteria or viruses. But, in people who develop ITP, the antibodies attack the body’s own blood platelets. She would be treated over a three day period in the hospital. I felt every muscle in my body relax.
Molly is now a busy twelve year old with no continued affects of ITP. She still has that same zest for life that is sometimes exhausting. The reality check that day, reminded me that life is fragile and filled with the unexpected. I have slowed down and watch closely as my children grow and relish every moment. I now understand the emotional devastation parents experience when their children become sick with life threatening diseases. I learned that God hears our cries even when we cannot clearly express what is in our hearts. When we cry out to Him, we experience the peace that passes all understanding in the midst of this storm. If the diagnosis had been different, I am confident that in His strength I could have handled the road we would have gone down. Whatever circumstances come into my life, I am not alone and in my weakness, He is strong.

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The Pit

I am home….back in the pit. It has called me and I have surrendered. It is familiar and welcoming and it cares whether I am here or not. It has promised to listen to my sadness and understand. It justifies my feelings. It confirms my thoughts. I didn’t dive in, just got to the edge and slipped on in. There’s no one here to stop me and no one who cares to grab my hand before I go down. And my money is on the truth that no one will come looking for me.