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Don’t Get Too Comfortable

My spirit was disturbed in the wee hours of the morning on April 25, 2015. I was unaware of what the day was going to bring and I was not prepared for the events that followed. News spread throughout my family that my one and only brother in law William Crawford had passed away at the young age of 55 after dealing with an on going up and down battle with congestive heart failure. My sister Latrese  (affectionally known as Trese) performed CPR until the paramedics arrived desperately trying to save his life. The paramedics and the doctors at the hospital did all they could but his poor heart couldn’t take it and he transitioned to be with The Lord, his mother, father and mother in law.

William Crawfrod

William Crawfrod

Having to break the news to my 14 year old son AJ  who says to me “Why does someone else in our family have to die. We’re not over memama.” was the beginning of the overwhelming emotions that would transpire throughout the course of the day. It took me about 45 minutes to get to the hospital in the pouring rain. Walking into WellStar Douglasville Emergency Room, I could feel the sense of loss. When I turned the corner I saw my oldest brother Calvin holding Trese in his arms, my niece Jasmine being comforted by her Aunt Nell (William’s sister) and my nephew Jeremy sitting off to the side with his hands in his head. I went to my sister and embraced her. Through her muffed tears she said “I tried to safe him, I tried.” My heart was broken for my sister.

Hearing Latrese explain the events leading up to her husband’s passing is surreal. From the dinner they ate together, the conversation and laughs that closed the evening, to his non responsiveness of the early morning and crying out for her sisters Carol and I for comfort because the world around her had crashed in a matter of minutes. Everything she knew to exist was gone.

When we returned to the home she shared with her husband, Trese tried to maintain well but in those moments she sat in silence tears started to fall and she cried out in pain. Even though she was surrounded by her children, siblings, other family members and close friends the one person she wanted, the one who understood her more than anyone wasn’t there. We knew her heart was broken and you could feel it in the atmosphere. Unless you’ve loss a spouse you could never know the pain that she is experiencing in but can sympathize. Every time you loose  someone different in your life it resurrects the emotions of a previous loss. True enough you never get over one loss, you learn to deal but how do you deal with loosing a parent and a spouse all within 3 years? Latrese has loss her husband of over 20 years, father of her children, friend, confidant, biggest support and cheerleader. I had no words of comfort and I couldn’t tell her “I’m sorry for her loss.”.  I gave Trese the only thing  I had and that was to be there in whatever capacity she needed so I found myself laying at the foot of their bed watching her rub the place where he slept and crying till she fell asleep.

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Latrese and William ‘Husbands love your wives.”

William loved my sister with all his heart and I can only pray to have that kind of unconditional love and supportive love from my significant other. He was a very good hard working man, caring and compassionate, loving husband, father, brother, uncle, friend and a damn good cook. With all that goodness wrapped into one person the family found ourselves asking the same question on April 7, 2012 “Why?” and the same answer is the same as it was then, “It’s God’s will.” That age old answer does’t provide the necessary comfort that is very much needed but prayerfully it will follow in the months and years to come.

William will be missed and this unexpected loss truly hurts. His physical absence is a constant reminder to never get too comfortable in thinking your loved ones will be always be around. You should learn to enjoy life’s moments and the people you love in. Stop texting and start calling. See one another and let people know how much they mean to you. I never thought in a million years that Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015 was going to be the last time that I saw, spoke, hugged and broke bread with my favorite (and only) brother in law, William.

Matthew 24:36 New Living Translation
However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.  Only the Father knows.

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Surrounded By Family February 14, 2015: Willam seated on the far right.

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Where’s My Reward?

Alzheimer’s came into my family’s life in the early to mid 90’s when my precious Grandmother the Late Julia Mae Brown was diagnosed. We knew very little about the disease and went along with what the doctors said and did what they told us to do. Gran became a shell of her former self. She was very forgetful, didn’t remember her family, wandered off and even had angry out bursts. The Grandmother who would walk me across the street to Mrs. Winner’s to get cinnamon rolls, dance and sing was mentally gone.

Mom watched my Gran slip away and I know it hurt her terribly. She was the only girl and shared a very special relationship with her. I recall the hurt in my Mother’s voice as she eulogized Gran on December 11, 2006  “So long Julia, So long Julie, So long Mom… Bye Bye take your rest…” It was after that moment that we would often hear Mom say “Lord, let me keep my mind.” Then a couple of years later my step-mother passed away from a tragic fall due to hemorrhaging in her brain. Mom became extra careful with going up and down steps and more cautious of things around her. She didn’t want what happened to Gran or my step-mom to happen to happen to her. As a life skills trainer for the Learning Services Mom had a soft spot for the patients she worked with who suffered from major brain injuries. We were all shocked to learn that Mom had a terminal and cancerous brain tumor.

I remember taking Mom to her very first oncology appointment. The doctor had no beside manner, was very cold (to me anyways) and told Mom she could do radiation and take the chemotherapy pill that at the end of the day most people with gliblastoma mutliforme only live 2 to 5 years from diagnosis. I sat there in shock, looking at this man who basically told me that my Mother, my world, my reason for being a “miracle” would die! Mom on the other hand seemed unmoved by what he was saying, she was very polite and said “Ok” and “Thank you.” took the prescriptions, referrals, gave the man a hug and walked out. I’m not sure if she held it together because I (the youngest of her children) was there or what. On the way home steady tears streamed down my face and Mom said to me “Merical Joy, do I need to drive?” I said “No, ma’am.” and then she said “Well, fix your face.” I knew that while the doctor told my Mom she was going to die, she knew who had the final answer. (1 Corinthians 15:58 | NIV Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.)

Mom's first oncology visit

Mom’s first oncology visit

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This is why I found myself being upset with God today… Psalms 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Mother prayed to keep her mind, so why couldn’t she have her hearts desire to not suffer like her mother, my step mother and her patients at work? She accepted His call, did what He asked and during the worse part of her illness she felt as if she had more work to do.” For the life of me I can’t understand “WHY??” To me, she DID have more work to do. There was so much more that I needed to know and learn from her. By no way do I believe that God is a magician, but I do believe that He is a miracle worker. Didn’t my Mom deserve a miracle? With all of her ups, downs, struggles and success shouldn’t she have gotten something?

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Mom’s Last Radiation Treatment

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After I got out of my feelings and into my Bible and then to google for further research, 1 Corinthians 2:9 was revealed to me and it says, “However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him.” At the end of the day how can you question that?

Everything that happened leading up to Mom’s transition is still very fresh and hard to accept sometimes especially with the anniversary of her passing approaching. I’m doing the best I can for the most part because I DO know God, I DO Love Him, and I DO believe in His Word and I KNOW she’s not coming back. It’s just today is not a good day. I really miss, want and need my Mommy and I pray tomorrow will be better.

Why Not Me?

We were sitting at the table with my Uncle George during our annual family picnic and he says “I miss my Sis.” He said during his last conversation with Mom before she passed he asked her “Sis, have you ever asked God “Why me?”” and she said to him “Why not me?” At that moment I was speechless. It was such a profound statement from such a profound woman. We will never know how and what Mom was feeling leading up to her transition but one thing we DO know is, that she accepted whatever God had in store for her.

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How many times have you questioned God and asked why something was happening to you? Better yet, how many times have you thought that God was punishing you? I know I have. I used to think that God was mad at me. He was mad at me for not going to church, not praying, reading the Bible and tithing like I was supposed to. I was in a dark place, depressed and very unhappy for more than a year. I felt like God didn’t love me anymore. He had taken my Mother and other things away from me. I couldn’t see the light or find my way through. It was a dear friend of Mom’s who spoke new life into me. She reminded me that God didn’t DO anything to me, He didn’t take anything away. God was simply preparing me for a new harvest in my life. He will never take anything from you that won’t be replaced with something better. When I look back at the times I questioned God, I can hear Mom’s voice saying “Why not me?” and am reminded that God gives his battles to his strongest soldiers.  Those three words are an affirmation that I had to go through some heartaches, heart breaks, some losses, and tears to be able to appreciate God’s love for me. Right now I can appreciate my life, job, finances and relationships more. I can truly understand that all things happen in divine order according to God’s will. We are exactly where He wants us to be in our lives.

Life’s A Beach

I had the pleasure to wake up one morning and walk along the beach. There’s nothing like the sound of the water washing up on the shore and the feeling of sand between my toes. I’m at peace when I’m on the beach because it seems as if everything fades as the waves come and go.

Every time the water meets the sand and goes back into the ocean it leaves a different mark. I began to wonder, what will my mark be? How will I be remembered? Will people remember how I made them feel? Things I said or didn’t say? Things I did or didn’t do? Will they remember my smile and laughter?

Walking The Beach

Walking The Beach

I have always felt like I needed closure. No matter what the situation was, I always wanted people to know how I felt or how they made me feel. I would often times loose sleep when things went unresolved or when I felt like someone wronged me. Eventually I realized that sometimes closure means leaving things, situations and even people alone and simply moving on. I had to remember to pray about whatever it was and put it in God’s hands. I also had to have faith that He would give me a sense of peace and that was better than closure.

I believe the best thing to do in moving on and creating an everlasting mark is to make sure your body of work, (your life) is done with integrity and humility. Life is not easy, we are not perfect and we should never miss an opportunity to start over and make better decisions. Pray without ceasing. Take responsibility for your actions.  Apologize when you’re wrong, even if it’s not accepted. Love unconditionally. Give cheerfully. Enjoy life and the people in it. Live with no regrets. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Smile and laugh often. Forgive as Christ has forgiven you.

Mom left us with memories that will never fade and numerous and valuable life lessons. I will never forget this particular lesson I learned, while simply walking along the beach.

When you leave this place, leave your mark and be remembered.

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34 Years….

Waking up in tears… Today is my 34th birthday. I dreamed of Mom last night. She called and asked me to take pics of her at the church. No matter how many times I tried to capture her I couldn’t. I was either too far away or my camera wouldn’t shoot. While attempting to take one last photo of her she started to faint, I ran towards her but by the time I got to her she was gone.

Photography is something that I love and cherish dearly and Mom was my biggest supporters and I pride myself on being able to capture amazing photos. It was frustrating trying to figure out what the point of the dream was and then I remembered this photography quote…

“Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don’t turn out right, just take another shot.”

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Mom’s not here but she did give me life and wouldn’t want me to focus on her death. To enjoy the good times, develop and grow from the bad times and to keep trying and pushing forward.

Today I will celebrate my birth, the beautiful mother that I was blessed with and the life that I have lived so far. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been good nonetheless. I can lift my hands and say “Thank You, Lord. I won’t complain!” through sorrows, tears, smiles and triumphs.

Happy Birthday to ME!

Sister Friends

I read this beautiful prayer in my women’s daily bread last week…

“Father God, thank You for giving us the gift of friendship. May I be the blessing to my girlfriends that they are to me. Please help me to always encourage and love them and to be a loving support for them in both their trials and their happiness. I praise you You for my loving sisters. Amen.”

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Mom would say “You don’t have any friends” and I would get so upset because every person that I was cool with was my friend. It took years for me to realize what Mom meant. During Mom’s transition, passing and even now, I started to see who my real friends were. Your circle of friends are a reflection of who you are and I am surrounded by some of the most incredible women. They are compassionate, loving, supportive, funny and a true blessing to my life.
These women prayed, laughed, cried, encouraged and hugged me. They held me up and kept me going. They aren’t just my girlfriends they are my sisters and I am grateful for every single one of them and they know who they are. Love You Divas!

 

Learning to Grow in Faith

My mom loved to plant things. She had the most amazing green thumb I’d ever seen. Needless to say I wasn’t surprised to notice that the flowers she planted more than 4 years ago still bloom every spring/summer. It’s been 2 years since she passed. 

This flower symbolizes to me that no matter what happens during our troubled season, there’s always a better season to come. We have to learn to be faithful through the process.

 Ecclesiastes 3:2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.

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2 Peter 3:18 ESV
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.