Just take the high road, they say
Be the better person, they say
Rise to the occasion, they say
Don’t stoop to their level, they say
You’ll feel better, they say
The high road
The few people there
As they glance down
At the low road
Where the crowds are gathered
Gleeful in their honesty
Confident in their candor
Sincere in their authenticity
Just having a hell of lot more fun.
You miss me, don’t you?
You miss seeing me, don’t you?
You miss talking to me, don’t you?
You miss hearing my voice, don’t you?
You miss seeing my face every day, don’t you?
You miss laughing with me, don’t you?
You miss telling me about your day, don’t you?
You miss kissing me good night, don’t you?
You miss me comforting you, don’t you?
You miss me wiping away your tears, don’t you?
You miss me telling you that you’re the best thing that ever happened to me, don’t you?
You miss me telling you how much I love you, don’t you?
You miss hearing me tell you that I’ve loved you your whole life, don’t you?
You miss me telling you how perfect you are, don’t you?
You miss me right now, don’t you?
You miss me, don’t you?
Then come back, won’t you?
Come home, won’t you?
Please? Won’t you?
In my own journey with crippling depression, I have taken umbrage with that rather pithy expression, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem “. I’ve been personally subjected to these ill-perceived words of wisdom on more than one occasion, and adding to that narrative vein, another unhelpful expression, “Suicide is the coward’s way out”, has also been tossed in my direction at the precisely inopportune time.
I only recently have come to what, for me, is the simple and obvious and frankly, quite rational counter response, which is this: when one’s body, one’s person, sustains an injury or endures a pain of some sort, isn’t it the natural reflex, the very human nature ingrained among us, to find and execute the quickest and easiest remedy to that pain? If we cut ourselves, do we not apply a bandage? If we have a headache, do we not take a pain reliever? If we sprain an ankle or strain a muscle, do we not use a hot or cold compress and/or apply a wrap to stabilize the affected area? If we break a leg or an arm, do we not have the bone reset and get a cast?
All relatively permanent solutions to temporary problems, no? All the quickest, easiest (cowardly?) way to address the pain, no? So as with the very real emotional and even physical pain of depression, why wouldn’t we afford ourselves the same avenue of relief? When did the desire to ease the pain as quickly and efficiently as possible become “the permanent solution to a temporary problem”, and “the coward’s way out”? Who decided that masochism is the first and foremost appropriate reaction to pain like this?
Such is the ongoing stigma of mental illness. We’re making progress but we still have a long way to go. I would submit to anyone that managing to continue to live my life every single day is the bravest thing I’ve done so far.
My three shining stars
The compasses to my moral fiber
The guiding lights to all that is good in my world
The beacons that stared down my hopelessness
My three shining stars
Have begun their journey
To spread their radiance
Share their sparkle
Beyond the purlieus
Of the star cluster
From which they were formed.
I, the Mother Sun,
Gifted by God
Of these luminous new stars
Find that they have traveled
Too far away.
Shining more lustrous than ever
Seems now but a soft glow
That I am sometimes
Barely able to discern
Barely able to grasp
Barely able to follow.
For I remain in the original nucleus
From where these stars
To take their effervescent
Beyond that which they’d always known
As the safe place
Bathed in the sunlight
Of the origin of their light.
Am I still their Sun?
My light has dimmed
My glow has narrowed
No longer pinpointed
Towards my now scattered shining stars.
Am I still their Sun?
The warmth of my light
Encounters a brisk
That seems to chill
Of my ever reaching tentacles of warmth
That were previously
Entwined amongst my stars.
The three shining stars
Now beam a dazzling light
All on their own
And their Sun
Begins to flicker,
How can my baby be 18 years old today?
We call her our “ Migraine Baby”. We also call her “Our Angel Sent From God”. We tell her that she was an exceptionally unique soul that God was looking down from the heavens searching for just the right family for whom to gift her. There were many families to choose from, many who would love this precious soul, who would cherish her, give her all the love she deserved, give her every opportunity to use her myriad of gifts, and share her with all the world.
But God also wanted to find the family who needed her. The family who already had already been given an abundance of gifts and were thrilled to have had such good fortune after various difficulties earlier in life. This particular family of four, we were settled in for the long haul after my husband and I married in our early thirties, had minor struggles with conceiving our two amazing children, including two miscarriages, but ultimately having a beautiful baby girl and then two years later, a strapping baby boy. We had full-time careers, a lovely home in the country, and our two darling children, making our lives filled with charm and thankfulness. We had it all and couldn’t imagine how life could be any better.
One day, when our daughter was 4 and our son was was 2, I was stricken with a horrifying headache which evolved into vomiting, dizziness, and severe pain. It would not pass for several hours and I realized I’d suffered from a migraine headache for the first time in my life. I was blindsided by this; I was 37 years old and had never experienced something so painful (barring childbirth) in my life. And with a full and crazy-busy schedule, I certainly didn’t have time for this nonsense. But it happened again, and again, and again, so I finally sought help from my doctor. After several months it became clear that the majority of these migraines were happening during my monthly period and my doctor recommended discontinued use of birth control pills and see if that helped.
WHAT??? I’m not going to be able to take the pill, keep my periods regulated and painless? And what was I supposed to do about……birth-control? Jeez, this was turning into a bit of a hassle that I really didn’t need at this stage in my life. I was now 38 years old and I was totally over all this woman reproductive stuff. Bring on the menopause for heaven’s sake! (A most regrettable wish I now know at age 57. That’s a story for another day). My husband and I were flummoxed by this conundrum. I mean really, what were we going to do now? My husband is a man of very few words, albeit deep thoughts. He said, oh so simply, “Well we could just put it in God’s hands….” And I said, “Oh? Well, I guess we could……OK, that’s what we’ll do then.” Based on previous experience, I didn’t have any thought or expectation that God had a Plan, because I’d had such difficulty getting pregnant before so I was assuming, given my history and my late age, that life would go on as normal, and hopefully migraine free. Pretty much a win-win.
I conceived three days later.
I was two months shy of my 39th birthday when she was born.
And she was perfection. She completed me. I had no idea that I’d been waiting for her my whole life. I had no idea that she would enhance our already perfect family to a place that I didn’t even know existed. Make no mistake, I was madly in love with my first and second children. They were, and remain as great a gift as I could ever have imagined. I play no favorites. I suffered greatly when my oldest child left for college six years ago. I nearly lost my mind when my son followed her two years later. I mourn for them daily, even though they are only an hour, a text, a FaceTime, a phone call, a family holiday get together away. But I still have this amazing third child, this amazing young woman, who turned 18 years old today. She will be going away in 5 months, just like her older brother and sister. I’m officially the mother of three adult children.
But she’s still here, and we are all going to be together tonight to celebrate all the gifts God has given us. And I will cherish these next remaining months of still being a mother with a child living under my roof. She is the very definition of the extraordinary gift that I never knew I wanted or could possibly be worthy of having. She is the final brush stroke of an already beautiful work of art that we had. She made it a masterpiece.
And so what’s next?
Only God knows. And I trust Him. And I thank Him every single day for this embarrassment of riches. A loving husband, three amazing children, an unknown future, but a perfect present.
Saying Goodbye To My Children
I tried so very hard to prepare myself for the day that my son left for college in August, 2016. When my oldest child, my sweet, kind and very independent daughter, left for college two years earlier, I wasn’t really prepared for the upcoming emotional roller coaster that I would experience. Joy, that my loving and very grounded husband and I had raised such an amazing daughter who was capable of amazing things, and the pain of not having her in my life on a daily basis.
My own childhood was so different from what our family of three children is like today. I did not have the opportunity to go to college but instead just left home as soon as I could; no one really noticed that I was gone, and if they did, I suspect the primary emotion was relief. But now, my husband and I feel lucky and very proud that we are in a position to send our children to college; however I had no idea how painful it would be to see my children leave the only home that they, and even myself, have ever known as a safe place, a comfort zone, filled with love and an abundance of self confidence and reassurance that the world could be anything they ever dreamed it could be. So when my daughter left it was a very confusing time for me. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t reconcile the emotions that were so strong and deeply painful even as I knew that it was exactly what she was supposed to do and exactly what we prepared her to do. I simply didn’t know that I needed to prepare myself as well. Though she didn’t go very far away and we saw her often, it just wasn’t the same and I began a spiral deeper into the long time depression that had plagued me since my youth. The years with my children were the happiest years of my life. They were also at that time the hardest years of my life, with working full-time and raising three remarkable children in such a way that they would be prepared, unlike I was, to make good choices and live their lives knowing that they always had a place to call home.
So arming myself with the newly discovered realization of how I would feel when my son was ready to leave, I did my best to rise to the occasion and make sure that it was not about me, but all about him. I happen to be very close to this son of mine, my only son, and we have an emotional connection that I have not quite (yet) experienced with my two daughters who of course I love completely and unconditionally. But my son, wow, all I could think about was the idea that he would never know how much I love him because he will never be the mother of a son and there is just something very different and very intense about the relationship between a mother and her son. It feels like they’ll never come back and things will never be the same whereas with my daughters it feels like they will be back to look to me for advice and guidance in preparation for becoming a mother someday themselves.
The night before my son left for college we were scheduled to go out for dinner in celebration of his amazing accomplishments. I was dressed carefully, looking my best and happiest self but inside I felt like I was dying. Ultimately I was unable to attend the dinner party because the depression took a a type of grip on me that I have ever felt and I just couldn’t go. I just couldn’t say goodbye and I told him that I wouldn’t be able to go with him the next day to move him into college. And he understood because he understood……. it was just something special between us that he got in a way that no one ever had. The next morning, after saying my goodbyes the night before, I was going to sleep in and just stay home while my husband took my son away. But just before he left he woke me and gave me flowers and hugged me with every ounce of strength that he possessed. He knew, this amazing 18-year-old young man, he just knew. To this day I weep for him and the memories that I have of the privilege of being with him every day for 18 years. He’s doing great things in college and he’s going to be a great man in every way, much like his father. Recently, out of the blue, during a phone conversation with my son, he told me that he realized that I was the absolute best possible mom for him that he could ever have had. Any other mom would not have been the right mom for him even though they were certainly great moms. He wanted me to know that I was the only mom for him, that I was the only mom that made him into the man that he has become and without me he would not be who he is, so comfortable in his skin, so confident in his world.
Meanwhile my youngest child, a daughter, is leaving for college this fall, and I am steeling myself for the type of loss that I now know can only be experienced by a mother. Our third child that I and their dad, raised to be confident and independent and able to live without us. I was never a helicopter mom; I never hovered over my children or monitored their every move and every choice and experience that they encountered. I just raised them with unconditional love and availability, and a massive infusion of self-confidence and the realization that they were ready to face the world.
It still hurts, oh, how it hurts! Life will never be the same, these past 25 years filled with so much love, so many amazing experiences and a plethora of teaching moments for all of us. I see a lovely future with my husband and I’ve been looking forward to it for what seems like forever. But it will never be the same and I’m working hard to be okay with that. That hideous cliche: “It all goes so fast. Enjoy it while it lasts!” It’s more than just a cliche my friends. Sometimes, in the chaos of raising a family, it can even be insulting, but in the end, it’s a warning worth heeding. Prepare yourself as best you can, for there is nothing more difficult to face than letting your children go. And doing it gracefully? That teaching moment I’ve yet to learn.
The little one,
Came into this world,
Bestowed with the purest of soul.
He looked at Her and said,
I don’t think so.
I must go.
He reached for Her,
Took a piece of Her soul.
Not to cherish,
But so that He would remain whole.
Then She looked at Her,
With Her ragged-edged soul,
I will keep you,
I will make you once again whole.
But She lied.
And She looked at her,
I don’t think so.
You must go.
Stole a piece of Her soul.
Not to cherish.
But so that She would remain whole.
She sent her to the next one.
Oh, I don’t know…..
I guess so.
I don’t think so.
And He let Her go.
But not before
Stole a piece of Her soul,
Not to cherish,
But so that He could remain whole.
Bereft of soul.
And She found One.
One who was overflowing with soul.
And He said,
Come, be with me.
I will share.
I will make you whole.
And He did.
And He and She created a new soul.
The purest soul.
And then another,
And They were all whole.
Until the young, pure souls said,
We must go.
And They greedily,
All the stitched together,
Raggedy shreds of Her soul.
Not to cherish,
But so that They all could remain whole.
Having once again,
Lost all of Her wholeness,
And was empty.
An endless hole.
As if She’d never been here at all.