faith, family, grief and loss, hope, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Quarantine Lessons from A-Z in 500 Words or Less

A is for Amen

The Working Title is…Can I Get An Amen?

Like the rest of the world, the last few months have left me feeling anxious and unsettled.  I usually put pen to paper when emotion gets the best of me, but even that has seemed impossible.  Nothing feels right anymore.

Can I get an Amen?

I know there are lessons all around.  Truths waiting to rise to the surface in a sea of confusion.  But the weight of the world keeps dragging me down.

Can I get an Amen?

While true strength comes from within, it only exists there because of what feeds it….

Family, friends and faith (see future Chapter F) are the one true constant on which a devoted heart can depend.  In the absence of extensive human contact, these months have been defined by imagery.  Can I see past the divisive, painful imagery found in social media and the accompanying comments filled with vitriol?

Even though I may feel lonely, can I acknowledge I am never truly alone?

Can I get an Amen?

My head has been spinning over the barrage of misinformation that comes from every angle.  True verifiable facts seem non-existent.  I’ve had to “leave the conversation” of three group chats because they made my heart race.  (Sorry, girls, I’ll be back one day when all we talk about is bad television and good wine.)

I don’t know where to turn for reliable insight, sage advice and pure fact. (See future Chapter I is for Information.)

I took a journalism class or two at Marquette University and had a former White House Press Secretary as my Academic Advisor.  We were taught to have TWO credible sources for every fact quoted. Hey NBC News, you know what “he had heard from colleagues” equates to?  Hearsay. Disallowed in a court of law and should be disallowed in the court of public opinion.  Maybe it’s true, but how about you (and by “you” I mean all journalists) quit being so lazy and sucked into the trap of a 24-hour news cycle where verifiable facts don’t matter anymore.

Can I get an Amen?

My heart has been heavy because my mind’s eye can picture a loved one in respiratory distress, and I intimately know how a ventilator can steal the chance at Goodbye.  (See future Chapter G.)  I count my blessings everyday that my family has not yet been touched by coronavirus.

Can I get an Amen?

Ok, ok…in the interest of journalistic integrity, I confess that none of those future Chapters are written yet.  Not a one. They’re all just bouncing around in my noggin.

And maybe that’s the most important lesson of Quarantine.  If you have something of value to say…say it. Reach out to an old friend.  Tell someone they’ve made a difference in your life.  Ask forgiveness.  Let go of anger.  Offer praise.  Say I love you.  For we may have all sorts of plans bouncing around our noggins, but only one thing is guaranteed…right now.

Can I get an Amen?

kmp

xoxo

Standard
children, faith, family, grief and loss, hope, Inspiration, Uncategorized

The Working Title Is…. Where’s Mom Now That I Need Her?

I had held my new job title for less than 24 hours when I sat alone, staring into the face of a tiny baby as her coloring turned a frightening shade of red. Certain she was choking, I jumped up, nearly shredding the mesh panties a nurse delicately handed me a few hours earlier. Just as I pulled the baby into my arms, this tiny angel let out the most explosive sound that allowed her face to regain normal coloring.

“Oh dear,” I said, returning her to the bassinette. And then, much like one might ring the hotel concierge to assist with dinner reservations, I pushed the nurse call button and reported, “She pooped.” After a few seconds of silence, the nurse replied, “Time to go to work, Mom.”

Mom. I was someone’s mother. What the hell was I thinking? I am not prepared for this. In the midnight darkness of the maternity ward, my heart raced, my stomach flipped and I felt lightheaded. I’m someone’s mother.

(Editors note: If the phrase “mesh panties” made you at all uncomfortable, you certainly won’t be able to handle the next few thoughts, so I suggest you skip the following two paragraphs.)

Sensing my anxiousness, the kind nurse came in to help me through my inaugural diaper change. And, thank God she did because I was not prepared for what I saw in there. Was it tar? Or black licorice? Why is it so sticky? It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, and the nurse explained that this would change within a few days. I should have asked for more detail instead of just trying to conceal my expression of disgust and raw fear.

A few days later at our first pediatrician’s office visit, another diaper had to be changed, and thank God I was again in the company of a medical professional. This time it looked like she had somehow swallowed a packet of seeds. My eyes grew wide as only one thought blazed a path through my brain. “Holy crap. My mom was right to yell at me as a kid for eating watermelon seeds, but instead of growing in my belly, somehow one must be growing in the belly of my child. Please, God, no, please save my baby from watermelon belly.” But before having to confess my sin, the reassuring doctor said, “This is all normal.”

I used to think I was somewhat smart, but becoming a Mom put all of that into question. I had read all the books, done all the research, but this was the first time I became keenly aware that for many of life’s lessons, there is no manual and you simply learn by doing.

Five years earlier, this three-ring bound survival guide was a Christmas gift from my future in-laws. A year out of college and having just moved to Michigan with very limited homemaking skills, I was grateful to receive something touted as “a cookbook with a difference” featuring not only recipes and blank pages to save your own, but also an extensive stain removal guide, a succinct first aid section and even car maintenance instruction.

Now, almost 30 years later, the cover is torn a bit, but it still bears an inventory tag from the beloved retailer Jacobson’s, a whole bunch of added recipes and, upon deeper examination, a ridiculously gross amount of food splatter stains.

In those early years, I would use it quite often in conjunction with a phone call to my Mom, as chronicled by notes in the margins like the one next to the Chicken Divan recipe, “Do NOT substitute Miracle Whip for Mayo.” Maybe I was never as smart as I thought I was.

While the contents of this book were a great resource, I always knew the answer to the question the title asked. My Mom was either on the other end of the phone or beside me…always available, always accessible. But that all changed in 1995, when I was six months pregnant and my Mom died suddenly and unexpectedly.

My first Mother’s Day as a mom was also my first Mother’s Day without my Mom. As a result, the second Sunday in May has always been bittersweet for me. I have also learned there is no manual for learning how to live without your Mom either. The loss is as individual as the love you shared.

On Sunday, I will say a prayer of thanksgiving for the two remarkable young women who call me Mom. No handbook could ever describe the feeling of joy these girls give me through their kindness, humility and courage. No manual could have helped us become a family that savors a good laugh, a good meal, a good cry and the promise of each new day.

On Sunday, I will say a prayer of thanksgiving for my Mom and the imprint she has made on the lives of two girls who she never held in her arms, and yet, they hold a piece of her in their hearts.   Although my Mom was not there for any it, she was somehow there for all of it through the gift of faith she imparted upon me that led me to a wonderful man and brought us these fabulous girls.

On Sunday, I will pray for my dear friend and her sisters who, only this week, held their mom in their arms as she drew her last breath. I will pray for all those I love who feel that hole in one’s heart that comes from being a motherless daughter or son. And I will pray, most especially, for my friends who have experienced the most agonizing grief imaginable through the death of a child.

On Sunday, as every day, I will give thanks for my Mom who always told me to put my trust in God. That while my life path may be steep or rugged and shrouded in uncertainty, we are told to look neither forward or behind, but to focus on our faith, trusting that God will equip us for whatever awaits on this journey.

Thanks, Mom. That’s the only recipe I ever really needed.

kmp xoxo

 

My favorite picture of me and my girls. Mother’s Day 2000.

June 1995. The last picture I took with my Mom who died the next month. 

Standard