Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Ultimate Fighter

I am a life long student of human behavior.  From the time I was a young girl, I can remember being intrigued with people.  I would watch how they communicate with each other, how they would respond to situations. The faces they would make when they were happy, the faces they would make when they were sad. How sometimes people's eyes would flicker in conversation.  I love people. I can remember as a young girl, no matter if someone had just been mean to me, if someone different was mean to that person I would feel called to comfort them.  My heart would break when I saw pain on others faces.  I still to this day watch people.  I have learned to read the persons unsaid body language, and it has helped me greatly in anticipating others needs. It helps me be successful in my work, and it helps me in many relationships.  However,  when it comes to seeing/reading/observing my own behaviors I may not be as insightful.

I love my work.  I have spoke of it many times.  It is my job to help others. I manage a group home for people who struggle with persistent mental illness.  I never know what I am going to get when I go in (I love that part, it keeps me from getting bored.)  I take pride in the fact that I get to help people everyday.  It is very fulfilling for me, however the favorite part of my job is when someone I am supposed to be helping, shows me I'm not as smart as I think I am. :) The thing I've realized after being in this field for 20 years is that often people with some sort of what we call disability has a much greater understanding of love than we do.  One of the people I work with always says Thank you.  No matter how small the task is that I may have helped them with, they say Thank you, in the most sincere, heartfelt way. They have a grateful heart.  As I was helping them in some mundane task, they say "Thank you Tina".  It immediately made me smile.  I thought WOW I love this person, they are just so grateful. As I continued thinking, I realized I have not had the most grateful heart this summer.  I have been in a great deal of pain, and fairly short-sited because of that.

I have talked about a grateful heart  being a peaceful heart in my blog before.  This wasn't new information to me, but it was the reminder that I so desperately needed.  I have tried hard over the last few weeks to tell God "Thank you" for at least one thing a day.  I was on vacation with my family last week, and I was having one of my many conversations I have with the good Lord.  I am not the best with the formal prayers (it is a much needed area of improvement) but I have no problem talking his ear off.:) As I was talking with him, I said "Lord I am so tired of having to fight"  Ever since I was a small child, I have been a fighter (not in the physical violent sense), but in some ways needing to be to survive, and in others I hated seeing injustices.  If  I saw someone hurt, I would go to them, I would stand up for them. I would fight for them. If ever there was a hint of unjust behavior towards another, especially if  it was someone I love, I was there ready to do battle on their behalf.  I am still that way.  I can be a little hot headed.  One time a priest friend smiled at me and said "your are like Peter cutting of the soldiers ear, when they came for Christ" I am ready to do battle for the ones I love.

In many ways, Liam's death seemed very unjust.  I couldn't protect him, I couldn't fight for him, I didn't know the enemy..... I didn't know what to fight against, so I just fought against every wrong that I felt was done.  As I was talking to God, telling him how tired I was and that I wished I didn't have to fight so much, he told me in the very loving way he tells me things "Tina, you can't fight against death.  I have already fought that battle for you and I won."  Our God is so good to me.  He loves me, even though I am hot-headed, stubborn, fiery ,inadequate, prideful and always seem to think I can do it on my own. He is patient, I know I wouldn't be that patient if I was in his shoes. I Took that moment to Thank him, and give him Liam.  I hadn't let go, I was still fighting to keep him. I wasn't ready to say good-bye.

Since that conversation, and my attempts at a more grateful heart, I believe I have begun to find acceptance for Liam's death.  There are days when fear creeps back in on me.  There are days when my heart still feels very broken.  Yet under all of that, there is the beginnings of peace over Liam's death.  I don't know why he was called home so early.  I do know that he is basking in the glory of a greater love than I could ever give him.  I just miss him, and the time I could have had with him, but I know we will have eternity, because the ultimate fighter ( My Savior, Jesus Christ) has already won the greatest of battles.

Friday, July 19, 2013


I went for a run this morning with a dear friend. I should call it more of a walk in all reality.  We started out running, talking and of course then came the tears.  I couldn't run and cry, so I walked, talked and cried.  God love her!  She just walked and listened.

I have been struggling with the fact that I am so angry.  I don't want to be.  I actually get mad that I'm angry which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever!  My Friend of course informs me that God can handle it, and I just need to let it out. I struggle with this because, well, it's Jesus! He died for my sins; He suffered greatly to save me!  I feel so guilty at the thought of being angry at Him. One of the things I have been most angry about is that I am having a hard time finding purpose, meaning and a reason for Liam's death.  It all just seems so unjust. I cant find a positive thing about it.

The other day, I went and prayed at the Eucharistic Chapel at OLV. Usually when I pray there I find peace.  I found none that day. In fact I left feeling more frustrated than when I arrived.  I pleaded with God, "Please just give me the answer, show me the purpose in all of this...tell me why?  I need to understand!"  I didn't get the answer on my heart.  I didn't find any peace.  All I heard and felt was silence.

As I have been thinking about things, I believe the answer came to me today.  The answer is there is no reason, purpose or answer that would ever help resolve the pain and loss I feel over Liam's and my other boys deaths.  There is no reason or purpose that is ever good enough to justify the loss of life. It is tragic, and that is all there is to it.  At first I thought, "Wow that seems like a pretty hopeless outlook," but as I have continued on with this thought process I believe that God is leading me somewhere.  I think I have a VERY good understanding as to what the value of a single life is.  I have lost 5 children, and the pain is so deep and so real.  My heart is pierced and broken. There are times that I am so overwhelmed with the pain and suffering and loss that it truly takes my breath away.  I believe that is why I get angry because it is easier to be mad than to feel a pain like it is ripping your soul to shreds.  The more I reflect on this the more I become convinced that I have only gained a small understanding as to what the value of a life is.

I think that we as humans can't even begin to grasp how truly valuable life is.  God above GAVE His only Son, so that we might have eternal life.  I can't even adequately put into words the anguish I feel over the loss of my sons, and to think God WILLING took on that sacrifice for my life.   I have known this my entire life, I have repeated it time and time again, and I have shared emphatically with others this truth.  I have stood up for life my entire life.  I have advocated for young, old, disabled, newborn, and preborn for as long as I can remember.  I thought I GOT it.  I thought I knew how valuable life is, yet in one of my greatest hours of pain when I did not think I could hurt anymore because of the losses I have suffered I became convinced that I don't have a clue what infinite value is.  My mind and my heart can not truly grasp it.

So the question now is since there is no reason or purpose good enough for the loss of life how do I reconcile this in my mind to help me move forward? For any of you who have read my blog previously, you know that I have to have a reason, answer, purpose or something or my brain just can't handle it.  So I am faced with more questions.  Can I be okay with the answer if there is no answer?  Can I make sense of this enough to try and heal and move forward?  As I think about these things, I realize that there truly is no purpose in his death; however there was purpose for his life.  It doesn't matter that is was short.  It doesn't matter that others didn't have a relationship with him. It doesn't matter that I never got to see him smile, laugh, cry, sleep or grow.  I love him so completely with every fiber of my soul. I love him.  I love him unconditionally.  I love them all unconditionally.  So I guess I will find my purpose in their lives.  Short as they were, there is always meaning and purpose in that.

I don't know if this is even making sense to anyone but me. I believe that in this suffering I am going through, Jesus has allowed me a glimpse of how much he truly loves us.  It is almost crushing the sheer magnitude of it. In the end, I will cling to the fact that Jesus does have victory over death, and at the end of this life, I will see my children again.  So as Steve's Grandma Mary always use to say: "It's only so long for a little while."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The stages of Grief

Today is two months since Liam was stillborn. I feel I must preface this post with a disclaimer. I want everyone to know I am still seeking professional consultation for both physical and emotional aftershocks of Liam's death and the still birth.  I also must let you know that the emotions and feeling I type are where I am at, and I know that it is all part of grieving, healing and moving forward. However, I don't plan to sugar-coat a thing. I am firmly planted in stages 3 and 4 of the grieving process. (Yes I researched it.) It's that part of me that needs to know the why of things.

I am angry.  I am angry Liam died.  I am angry that no matter how hard I try I can not find the positive in this situation. I am angry that certain people in my life who I thought I could count on, I can't.  I'm angry that people apologize for a certain behavior, yet d0 nothing to change it.  I am angry that I am ALWAYS supposed to be the bigger person and forgive and move forward, yet they do nothing to change any hurtful behavior towards me.  I am angry that I am depressed, I am angry that I am angry.  Over all I am thoroughly PISSED OFF! This is stage 3 of the grieving process.

Stage 4 is being depressed.  I am depressed. I am sad. I feel like my brain is in a fog.  I miss details I normally wouldn't.  My emotions are raw.  I cry at the drop of a hat, I get mad at the drop of the hat. I am oversensitive and my feelings get hurt way to easy. I'm defensive and again royally pissed off.

I did my diet for a month, lost 18 lbs, but had to quit because I don't have the emotional fortitude right now to apply that kind of energy and focus that is needed.  My running is hit and miss. I ran for about a week, quit for about a week.  This week I've ran twice with plans to run with a friend tomorrow as well.  My shins hurt, my calves burn, I feel like all the tendons in my legs are just going to snap because they get so tight and burn while I run.  I know this is due to my weight.  I gained 60 lbs while pregnant with Liam, due to progesterone injections and the prednisone.  My Doc informed "you are going to get very big on these medications"  That's another reason I'm angry.  It is one thing to go through all this and have an alive baby.  It is worth it.  Right now, it just sucks......Liam died, and I got fat. I'm sure that sounds vain....but it is how I feel.

I feel completely alone and abandoned by God.  I have tried really hard to live my life in a way that he has asked of me.  I have been open to life, I have never used contraception.  I sacrifice my own health to carry my babies.....I am incredibly sick during pregnancy. I have tried to do what he asks of me, yet 5 of my children have died.  Why?  What could that possibly teach me?  What could possibly be the point? 

Some days are definitely better than others.  I am sure for my post you can tell what kind of day it has been.  I know I am being negative, I know that I have many blessings,  I know that being pissed off isn't going to do anyone any good, especially me.  I know that forgiving those that hurt me is in my best interest, because the anger only hurts me.  They have already proven they could care less.  I know that God has not abandoned be.  I know that he loves me.  There is a huge gap between the feeling and the knowing right now.  I had someone ask me the other day, "How can you still keep believing when you feel this way.  I told them,  Because Faith is not about a feeling it is a choice.  I choose to believe, despite the feelings I have.  I choose to continue to go to church, even when I don't want to.  I choose to continue to try and forgive those who hurt me, even though I feel really mad about it.  I choose Christ, because I know he chose me.

So that is where I am at in a nutshell.  Please continue to pray for me.  I have tried to will myself through this, because that is what I do.  However I can't.  So I guess that means I just have to walk through this.  So I will keep going one day at a time, one step at a time. I will survive, because that is what I know how to do.