Holier than Thou

To say that the recent evening news that we’ve watched pour from our television screens every night, informing us of what’s trending across America, has been more than unbelievable would be the understatement of the year thus far.

We’ve been confronted with the proof that the power in one individual’s personal hate & ignorance towards the validity and worth of every human experience, can single-handedly create a harrowing impact on hundreds of people’s lives. We watched in disbelief as the unimaginable has happened to our children, allowing them to be at the mercy of deadly animals while we beg for a sliver of control to end the nightmare. And we’ve been downright disgusted as we watched a confirmed rapist get a slap on the wrist after ruining the life of another young person, who likely before his selfishness, was still attempting to figure out who she was in this world.

Yep, I’d say that all of these events are more than just unbelievable.

But even with the acknowledgement that you would hope to only witness these via a Hollywood production set, they are still very real events that have rocked our nation to it’s core.

With that being said, I think I’m more disappointed with how we as a society have responded to them. Maybe I’ll always have a slightly tainted view when something of this nature occurs, but that’s only because I’ve already been confronted with the fact that no matter what you do or how in control you think you are, life can and will happen to you whenever the hell it wants. And I don’t care about who or what God you personally believe in, even He or She or whoever, cannot actually stop life from touching you personally. That “it could never happen to me” mentality is such an Achilles Heel for us.

But for whatever unfounded reason, we like to use this flawed logic to shame the other individual’s that life has recently happened to. That not only baffles me, but it angers me. Why on earth do we think that we have any right to tell the next human about how they could have prevented a tragedy in their own life, when we have never been through it ourselves?

Are we really so self-indulged and entitled that we think that we could never make a mistake as a parent? Or unwittingly drink a little more than we initially planned to?

And since we should have so clearly been able to prevent both situations without question, does that mean that we deserve to say a forever goodbye to our child? Or should we clearly expect that if we slip up and have one drink too many , that we must then proactively anticipate that another human automatically has the right to take control of our body and violate us from the inside out?

If you didn’t read that and clearly understand the absurdity to it, then you are what’s wrong with our world today.

Why are we so hell bent on publicly shaming people who are going through one of the worst experiences they will ever have to face? Does this make us feel better about our own mistakes? Do they seem less now? Maybe smaller? Maybe now you feel like it’s okay that you’ve shoved your child off on any other person who would take them, or that you’ve spent the majority of their short life making them feel inadequate or insignificant, to the point of creating a lifetime of issues regarding their self worth?  Is that now okay because no matter how many mistakes you’ve made as their parent, or lack of being their parent after choosing to bring them into this world, they’re still alive?

Or maybe you feel more than at peace with the fact that you crush up prescription pain pills and snort them every 2 hours of the day, because no matter how dependent you’ve become on a mind altering substance to get you to the next day, you’ve never let yourself get to the point of someone being able to rape you? Does that get you to a place where you can continue pretending you don’t need help yourself?

Somebody please help me wrap my mind around what I’ve seen taking over my timeline recently. How on earth anyone could think that making fun of a child passing away, no matter the circumstances or who they feel is at fault, to be amusing on any level is down incredulous to me. This was an innocent 2 year old boy, who more than likely has only ever brought positive energy into this world since the messed up thinking driven by the same individuals creating these ridiculous memes had not had the chance to influence him yet.

And I don’t care if you feel like the parent’s should be made responsible for making what should have been an innocent mistake, because let’s be honest, how many of you perfect parent martyrs out there would actually think to yourself,  hmmm..I must make sure that I’m on the lookout for any wild alligators who are on the hunt to eat my child while vacationing at the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Exactly. You wouldn’t have.

Yes, if they were out spending time in the known swamplands where wild gators are to be expected and just allowed their kids to wander off for hours and this occurred, then yes, I’d agree. I could see a case being made for them probably being negligent as parents. But that’s not what happened here. And either way, the idea of shaming them because they’ve lost their son is infuriating to me.

Spoiler alert America, they already feel more guilt than you could ever imagine possible. They have already what-if’d themselves to death. Every second, of every minute, of every hour since this happened to their little boy.

And before you fix your mouth or keyboard in our society’s ‘fearless’ case to tell me otherwise, I’d like to caution you.

I’d like to caution you, because I know how this family feels. I know because I carry around this guilt daily.

Kamren didn’t lose his life because of anything that me or his father did. Or didn’t do. He lost his life for no other reason than he took a nap and just didn’t wake back up. And before we get on our American high horse again, let me remind you that every safe sleep guideline was followed. He was in his bassinet, on his back, with no blankets or anything else besides himself inside of it that could have suffocated him. And let me just kick it up a step and tell you he was in it for less than 10 mins. Literally, 10 mins prior I kissed his little sleepy face and felt his breath on my own skin for the last time.

Even with medical confirmation that he passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and was able to have his organs use to save 3 other lives, I still felt 100% at fault. I’m not sure that I’ve ever been more ashamed or felt more undeserved guilt in my life. And that’s with knowing that there was nothing I could have done differently. I still what-if’d myself every day for the first 10 months that followed.

So imagine how they must feel. Or how the family who’s little boy somehow managed to find his way into a secured Gorilla habitat must have felt in those moments when they had no control over the fact their child could literally be crushed right in front of them.

Why do we feel the need to intensify this? Or to mock it?

For what? For a few likes and shares?

Do we really need that much self-validation as a nation? Is this the only way we know to make ourselves feel more valuable? More significant? Someone please, please, help me understand why any of this should be considered okay.

Why do we as a nation not rally behind events like this to support the other human lives it’s impacting? Can we really not see the value in supporting each other and helping the rebuilding begin?

Maybe the old saying we’ve heard since we’ve been kids ourselves really is true. Maybe it’ll only ever be the most hurt and damaged souls that help lift another broken down one back up. Maybe that’s when we’ll see a difference.

But let me not endorse that idea anywhere publicly because Lord knows that our society would be the one to interpret that to mean that every family must have one of their children killed. Or that they must sacrifice a member to be forcibly raped, or even murdered in cold blood because of choosing to give love to another human being with the same reproductive organs. Yep, let’s continue keeping ourselves on this recklessly elevated moral high ground that’s so clearly been successful for us.

#’MERICA

 

Morningside

“No one is going to love you until you learn to love yourself.”

At some point in your adult life I’m sure you’ve either heard this saying, or maybe even passed it along to someone else in your immediate social circle. And on the off-chance that you have not personally crossed paths with this little gem of information, you’ve undoubtedly heard it somewhere in the pop culture phenomenon of today’s world.

My only question now though, is why?

Why did this saying ever become a thing?

No seriously, I’m actually trying to figure this out.

Either I’m missing the message completely, or I’m just not enlightened enough to actually comprehend it. But this isn’t actually good advice. Nor is it even mildly motivational.

Personally, I think it’s more on the offensive side.

Am I the only one who hears this and thinks, “yep, great way to just kick them when they’re already on the ground? Let’s keep doing that!”

The whole premise behind it is also confusing for me. Telling someone who may already be struggling with a positive self-image or finding their own self-worth that they aren’t qualified to be loved, makes as much as sense as telling a paraplegic to just walk it off.

And who even came up with the idea that you have to have this perfectly packaged life to be worth loving? Why are these the ideas that seem to catch like wildfire in Oklahoma after a dry spring?

I can personally speak to the fact that I’ve been down that rabbit hole of being unable to love myself, and I’m absolutely certain that there is no way I would’ve ever made my way back out of Wonderland if it weren’t for the love that bled from other hearts to mine.

Love does not require careful organization that keeps the colors of our personal being from bleeding together.

It demands the exact opposite.

Love is being able to find joy and beauty in the mess of the person we’ve somehow pieced together from the rubble of our own personal wars.

Yes, I think that self-love is hands down one of the very best kinds of love to have. I hope and pray that if you’re reading this, you have just that.

But, if you’re reading this and aren’t currently in that space, and maybe you never have been, then that’s okay too. That doesn’t disqualify you from love. Don’t you dare ever believe that it does.

To give love is to know love. Maybe we should start encouraging people to start there.

Maybe this idea could become a thing.

Borrowed

I’ve noticed that silence can be a really uncomfortable idea for a lot of people. I’m sure this isn’t new, and I absolutely know that I’m not saying anything groundbreaking here, but I don’t think I’ve ever really taken a step back and tried to understand why. Until now anyway.

And just to keep things completely transparent, I’ve only even now noticed because I’ve had a few people comment about mine recently.

I guess I’ve never inherently defaulted anyone’s silence to being related to something negative or unpleasant, but somehow our general culture tends to see it this way.

That’s confusing to me.

I like silence, a lot actually. I like being still. I like self-reflection.

I can’t imagine being stuck in a constant state of chatter. That thought alone gives me anxiety. I don’t function well in unnecessary chaos. I never have.

I think I was asked at least 10 times last week if I was “okay,” or “upset,” based solely on the fact that I was just quiet. Not even silent. Just not overtly friendly.

Granted, typically I am very outgoing and I honestly do love connecting with people, but just like everyone else I have my needed moments of solitude. And not due to being bothered or anything in relation to that. Sometimes I’m just looking for a little room to breathe.

Plus I don’t think I see the world around me, like everyone else around me. And not solely because of my son either. I’ve always thought a little bit differently than most everyone I know. Granted, Kamren’s life has brought such a wonderful and inspiring perspective that I lacked prior.

But let’s also throw in the fact that my life these days has so many little triggers that most people wouldn’t expect, myself included. I’m not even aware of all of my triggers yet, and honestly I probably never will be. They’re very fluid, directly correlated with both my grief and my love for him.

Case in point: I was refilling a Brita water pitcher at a friend’s house the other day, because I’m not a jerk who leaves those empty after I pour the last real glass. Before switching to drinking a gallon of water a day straight from the  gallon, I relied pretty heavily on one of these. And it used to annoy the hell outta me when someone would empty it and leave it in the fridge with enough water to maybe fill a shot glass. Either way, refilling a water pitcher wouldn’t typically have much of an emotional impact on the standard person. With me however, totally new and different story.

It took about 5 seconds into this process before my thoughts pulled me back into my kitchen in Tampa, to the exact moment of hearing the soul shattering sound of Kamren’s dad yelling for me to call 911. Because when he went to grab Kam from his bassinet, that is exactly what I was doing. I was refilling our Brita pitcher. I will never forget the way his voice cracked through the panic. It is literally burned into my brain, every decibel identifiable.

When we came back to the house for the first time after Kam passed away, I remember walking into the kitchen and seeing that damn pitcher there half filled. I don’t know that I’ve ever thrown something so hard in my life. I didn’t care where the water went, I just needed it out of my sight. There was so much anger and hurt in that moment. And I berated myself thinking, if I would have just had my son in my arms instead of this stupid pitcher, he would still be here.

Obviously that thought was more than misguided, fueled by every negative emotion possible. But for about 30 seconds Saturday morning, I relived that all over again. That exact same thought pushing forward, 17 months later. And no, in case you’re wondering there was no pitcher throwing that occurred this time, but there was water that was spilled back into the sink from the tremors in my hand.

I don’t think I became any more quiet after this, but it was absolutely one of those moments where the processing began.

Shadow days, I suppose.

Either way, the quiet of these days will always be welcomed in my world.

The stillness of the silence bringing me back to the strength in my own light.

 

 

 

Eight Dollars

I rip myself open willingly, eagerly, just so you can watch the blood fall into puddles at your feet and see the love I keep there for you.

I watch expectantly while you step left to prevent the possibility of leaving your foot prints stained there, confirming the nightmare that it isn’t enough. Your snide remarks insinuating that the red that drips through the pink of my palms is somehow manufactured, the shade not deep enough for you to trust. Even after you watched me manipulate the blade that you sharpened for me yourself, slicing to sever my skin from my muscle and show you inside. So I cut deeper still, recklessly abandoning my ego and pride in attempt to find your shade of crimson.

But again you push past the silence between us, leaving a bucket of bleach and a look that tells me to rid this space of any remnants that would be us. So I wash myself of myself, and of you, futile attempts to mold me back into whatever it is that you see fit.

I break myself down again and again, only to spend hours fitting the pieces back together in a way that is amenable to you. Losing any and all of the ones that threaten your power over me. I make myself smaller, in every sense of that word, desperately pleading to have left just enough behind to gain your approval.

Your palm grips my throat, allowing just enough oxygen to get lost in the sensation of your lips over mine, creating a slow burn between us. You let go and my thoughts go black as you stare right through me, never stopping to take me in. I beg you, breathlessly, speaking nothing until your left hand takes place at the hollow of my throat where my collar bone meets once again. It’s here that I trust you. Your grip the confirmation that I’d follow wherever you chose to lead me. Blindly, instinctually.

Still you say you cannot see my loyalty, or trust how I’ve bled myself at your feet. My emotions too unsteady in your eyes, threatening the idea that you cannot seem to nail down for me. So I walk away, again. You feeling nothing as I leave, unaffected by the venom you left pulsing to my now unfeeling extremities.

The silence of the next week only broken by your midnight text to see if I’m awake. Self-hatred flushes down my neck to my chest, as I respond within minutes of waking to the vibration on my mirrored bedside table. I tell myself to ignore it, and you. To leave you in the nighttime stillness. But that isn’t the way that this works. So I find my way back to your hands at 2AM, surrendering to the grip of your forefinger and thumb against my windpipes, controlling the depth of my next breath.

I want to believe that you see me the way that I see my reflection in your eyes when you ask if this is what I want. And unaware of what the “this” is, I make my head move side to side to tell you no.

I’ve pledged my allegiance to you, put my hand to the Bible and felt the joy that is found when you hold my face between your hands and smile.

But you still don’t see me.

You’ve set your focus on the eight dollars left between us, unwilling to budge in either direction.

So for you that’s what I’ve become.

(For Kris – I know I cannot stop your heart from bleeding for him, but I promise to love you through his indifference.)

 

 

Scars to Your Beautiful

I see you.

Baited breath, praying for the next to come easier than the last.

I see you.

Simultaneously hoping no one can see your mother heart, all the while begging for absolutely anyone to just recognize it.

I hear you.

Your silent anguish that lives right beneath your surface, threatening to rip it’s way out of you with every second that passes by.

I recognize the familiarity of the hollow in your eyes, and the emptiness of your arms. I understand, more fully than you know, the self hatred that your harbor undeservingly.

Yes.

I see you, you childless Mother on Mother’s Day.

But did you know that this day is still yours too? That it always will be?

I’m not saying that the day will be easy, and in fact it will probably never be. But it will still be, because you still are.

You are still a Mother. Today, tomorrow, and every other day your eyes open to meet the sunlight.

So I hope in a rare moment of peaceful clarity, you are able to see that this day could actually be worse.

Instead of you having to temper the moments without your child, it could have been the other way around.

Your negotiations and bargaining with both God and the Devil could have come to pass, and you would’ve taken your last breath instead of your son. Then what? What would today be for him?

He would be a motherless child on Mother’s Day. And your heart breaks for the umpteenth time just imagining for a moment the sadness that he would feel. The pain he would have to endure on this day, and countless others.

That’s not what you were bargaining for. Your negotiations only there to stop any possible pain, not project it.

And so your mother heart beats proudly in this moment.  In this clarity. Because you will gladly accept the anxiety fueled tightness in your chest, knowing that he will never have to.

From my bleeding heart to yours, I see you beautiful Mama.

For Kamren; Thank you, for making me your Mother. Thank you for giving me a lifetime of love in 284 days. You’ve changed me in the best, and most needed ways possible. You saved me, when I couldn’t save you. I promise to carry you with me until my heart stops beating, or longer. You will forever be mine, and I will always be yours. You are my forever.

 

 

Sirens

The rain in Wichita has started to fall, and the skies have darkened just enough to become eerie. It’s officially tornado season, and the weather outside combined with the warm, muggy air is absolute confirmation of that.

According to both the local and not so local news, this evening is supposed to be interesting. And by interesting I mean bad. Dollar sized hail and multiple tornadoes are expected to touch down, so much so that a lot of businesses throughout the city seem to be shutting down. My office was included in this, so I’m home in my pj’s watching the doppler on the tv grow more red by the minute.

Maybe I’ve just been jaded from growing up in the midwest, or maybe I’m just truly at a place of peace with my life, but either way,  I don’t think I would describe any of my current emotions as fear or anxiety. I actually still have tentative dinner plans for tonight, as long as there isn’t any hail and the rain hasn’t gotten too crazy.

Even when I left work, I went to finish running errands and grab coffee. I also had every intention of grabbing a quick manicure with my few extra hours, but unfortunately the shop I go to was closed. They’re probably prepping for the storm I suppose.

Really everything about my day, including my 5am workout, has been pretty darn good for me.

That is, up until the point that I went and checked my mail. I did get a couple of highly anticipated packages, so on that side of things, still fabulous. But, I also got a really quick gut check when I pulled all of the envelopes out, and buried in between them was a Target offer for discounted and free baby gear.

Ugh.

That’s what’s so crazy about child loss and living through this eternally raging storm. You never really know when it’s going to hit you, or what’s going to trigger it. And there isn’t a doppler or a news channel you can tune into to help track it. It just sort of slaps you in the face and reminds you ever so quickly, that everything in your day, is not coming up you.

Target baby offers and coupons used to make my entire day when I found them in my mailbox or inbox. Now they just make me want to reconsider life. I thought I was getting past that since baby aisles are no longer the enemy, but I guess I haven’t gotten any of these little reminders lately either. And honestly, those aisles have just shifted from the infant ones to the toddler ones since Kamren would be 16 months old right now. I suppose that’s how these shifts will continue to move. Hopefully the pressure on them will ease eventually. I imagine so, since it has with almost all of the other moving parts.

I guess either way it really doesn’t make too much of a difference. Whether it’s this tornado tonight or the constant hurricane brewing at my core, all I can really do is bunker down, prep for the worst, and hope without failing for the absolute best.

 

Perpetual

Have you ever had that moment where out of nowhere you feel this looming sense of impending doom? Where a thick cloud of dirty gray smoke just hovers over your being, and begins to suffocate you to your very core?

Yeah, me either.

They’ve started the over advertisement of Mother’s Day everywhere, and no matter what I do, I cannot escape it. It’s on my television when all I’m trying to do is watch people compete against each other in a kitchen setting on the Food Network. It’s in every store I go too, no matter if I’m just picking up more coffee or grabbing windshield washer fluid for my car. It has become inescapable.

I hate that I feel this way, this doom.

In my mind, I know I’ll survive it just like I did last year. And just like I have with every other holiday that’s came and went since Kamren had to leave. But man, when I think about May 8th and it being less than a month away, I feel like I’ve got a cellophane bag zip tied around my head, keeping fresh oxygen from reaching my brain. I find myself with the internal whispers saying, breathe mama, just keep breathing.

I’d like to put a disclaimer out about what I’m going to say next, so brace yourself for the less than politically correct.

I’ve also found myself getting irrevocably jealous lately, rationally or not, when someone else that I know announces a new pregnancy or posts pictures of their new child. I’m jealous every time they get past the 16 day mark, and I could put my fist through a wall when I see another 1st birthday party come to life. It’s not that I want their child to die, because I absolutely don’t. It’s just that I’m still so jealous that mine did.

And when these moments hit, I find myself back in the ugliest parts of grief. I hate these moments, but when they’re here, they’re here. And they take their pretty little time finding the nearest exit.

I’m sure to at least one person I sound like an asshole, and whatever other word one would use as an adjective. I’m okay with that.

Along with the jealousy and doom, I’ll own that.