When Things Get Hairy

The Sunday before my oldest son’s birthday we decide to meet him along with the rest of the kids after church at our favorite restaurant to celebrate. My husband asked me on the way to church, which I was attending for the first time in a very long while “You having the chicken fried steak?”

It’s what I always order when we go to this place for breakfast. It’s to die for: yummy goodness on a plate. I say “Hell no. That meal is ruined forever for me. Have you forgotten about that horrible day?” My stomach does a sickish little turn at the mere thought of chicken fried steak.

He looks at me with total amazement. “Are you kidding me? You’re letting one little incident ruin the best breakfast in Spokane?”

Now, if this were a flashback scene a survivor was having in a horror movie, you would hear the foreboding music that plays just before someone is about to be slashed with a machete by some creepy masked guy. The camera would first zoom in on a big, black hair that sat right on top of my gravy in perfect corkscrew form which made me feel CERTAIN it was a pubic hair. Then the camera would pan in on my face, horror in my glazed over eyes, lips thin and pale but stoically resolving to not scream. I wave my hand for the waitress who comes over quickly. “What can I get you love?”

“Could I have a double bloody Mary with extra olives?” I ask, trying to keep my eyes on her face and not look at the glaring abomination that has ruined my $14.95 breakfast.

“Sure thing honey!” and she trots off to get my drink.

My husband asks “Why didn’t you just tell her there is a hair on your food?”

“If I say something, then all they will do is take the plate back to the kitchen and take the hair off and maybe throw some more gravy on my plate, nuke it in the microwave and serve it right back to me. And that’s only if they feel BAD about the hair being there. If they think I’m a brat they will leave the hair and just cover it with gravy. And even if they did give me a new plate, I’d always wonder if they really had. No. The damage is done.”

“You have serious trust issues. Do you maybe need to see someone for this?”

“Look, I know that I probably eat plenty of other people’s hairs all the time without knowing it. But the emphasis for me is on the NOT KNOWING. Once I KNOW it’s just all over. See? So I understand that in reality this is not a big deal and if I were a mentally strong person I would pick the hair off and carry on with eating. But I am NOT strong in this category. No sense complaining about something that is my issue, unless of course the cook put that hair there on PURPOSE. But just thinking that would mean I am paranoid and just plain weird. So I am going to drink my breakfast and carry on. And YES I have guilt for wasting food. But that is a whole different issue.” The waitress brings me my new and improved breakfast and I raise it in a toast while my husband shrugs and digs into his food. He knows I am a lost cause.

Enter us, birthday breakfast day, into church. The prodigal daughter and her husband, the holy one who doesn’t let hairs get in the way of his enjoyment in life.

As I knelt down to try and pray, the hair incident stayed on my mind. Why did I so often let little things stop me from experiencing joy? I listened to the readings and then to the heartfelt homily from the priest who was new to our parish, or at least to me, the fallen one, and a swoosh of warm, delicious peace came over me. And as I returned to kneeling position in overwhelming, goose-bump awe after receiving communion, I realized I had I let my distaste for the previous priest, hold me back from witnessing a perfect place of Human/God connectivity.

Now keep in mind, I’m a convert to the Catholic faith and I have it in my mind that converts are looked upon by cradle Catholics in the same way people with new found riches are viewed by “old money” families: we simply don’t know how to use our riches properly and our ways of enjoying those riches are often frowned upon. But we newbies don’t really care. One example for me is that not going to Mass has never created a whole lot of guilt for me. I have always known, since I was a little girl that God wants us to WANT to hang out with Him, wherever we find ourselves. Going to church simply for fear of eternal damnation has always seemed counterproductive. Plus, no one wants to hang out with a friend who clearly would rather be somewhere else than with you. Right?

And this is the double edged loophole logic along with the excuse of disliking how another human spun HIS connectivity to God that I used to to stop attending mass for so long that I forgot how good it felt to go and got to a point that I no longer had the thirst to do so.

Funny the hell we can create for ourselves without any help from the devil. But grace is pretty bad ass and takes on all kinds of forms to open up our hearts. Sometimes in the shape of a yucky black hair on gravy.

Later at breakfast my husband raised one eyebrow when I ordered the chicken fried steak and a bloody mary with NO olives. On account of the fact that I was feeling pretty filled up.

Thunder isn’t the Scary Part

There was a storm at about three thirty this morning. I was awake before it started. Three o’clock is my wake up and think things to death time. Here’s a little glimpse of what was going on in my head before the storm started. I have left out a few things because I don’t want you all to think I am weird:

Am I ever going to get the kids to pick up after themselves? I’m always so mad at them for that! Its so hard to not let it get in the way of all the good stuff: their sloppiness. Why are they so inconsiderate when it comes to the house? They are such great kids otherwise. I’m tired of feeling like Hitler all the time…

…if the world had been a little bit nicer to the Germans after World War I would Hitler have made as much “sense” to so many of the angry Germans? I would imagine it’s easier to start an uprising filled with complete insanity when people are hungry and hostile. Did the Germans get a bad rap? If Hitler never existed would things on the Pacific front have changed any? I can’t remember if there were two different issues going on or if they were tied together. I should do some reading tomorrow. It’s Memorial Day after all. Maybe there will be something on tv that will give me a quick synopsis…

…Wow! I used to be so much smarter. I have a political science degree! Why can’t I remember if the Japanese and the Germans were buddies in World War II or if they both just happened to be pissed off at the same time. What has happened to me? I hope I’m not losing my mind. It IS hereditary…

…Mom’s grandma was German. I always think of German women as being cranky and big busted. Is this because of how I feel about Hitler?  Maybe war stems from cranky women in general, big boobs or not…

…I don’t think I got my big boobs from my mom’s side of the family though. We called her Tiny Grandma after all. But she did have a very wide and serious mouth. I don’t know if she was cranky: she died when I was little, but she looks cranky in this picture.

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I think it was my dad’s side that had the stacked women….

Crap. I really need to get in for my mammogram. I’m like two years past due. Maybe three…no wait…it’s only two…but still…

…Those machines are just awful. I bet a cranky German woman invented it…

…I wonder how they ever got my mom’s boobs to actually squeeze in between the vice grip plates? You would think there would be an easier way for flat breasted women. It’s bad enough when you actually have something to pick up and flop down on that cold plate…

…will my life be better now that I have purchased two new bras that do indeed (as claimed) not allow armpit flab to hang out? My girls felt so happy and didn’t once fall out yesterday no matter how hard I tried to get them to in the dressing room. Will taking away the double boob action truly be as important to my self esteem as Oprah said it would be? Flat breasted women are so lucky. But I am too now that I have good bras…

…Maria is really the luckiest: she’s right in between me and my mom in cup size. Gosh she’s so perfect! I wish she would figure this out. I wonder if she will let me in the delivery room when she has babies? I didn’t want my mom in there. I feel kind of bad for that now. But I don’t think she wanted to be in there anyway. She said she’d rather be burned to death than have another baby. I mean who wants someone with that attitude in the delivery room with you? It’s hard enough giving birth without negative thinkers in the room…I probably need to let go of that guilt…

…If there is a fire will all of us be able to get out of the house safe? Should I grab the turtle?  Gosh we have spent so much money on that damn thing…

…I really need to get Duke’s ears looked at. I wonder why he always has ear infections? He never swims. Who has ever heard of a lab that doesn’t like the water?

And it goes on and on like this, almost every morning at three a.m. It’s been this way since I was a little kid. My brain, filled with IMPORTANT thoughts such as I have described, wakes my body up so that there is someone to listen. Unless I have taken Nyquil. Then my brain just worries about getting addicted to Nyquil and ruining my liver while my body happily sleeps.

So silly.

But this morning, when the wind started blowing the thunder and lightening toward our neighborhood, all of my trivial worries were cast aside. At first there were just bright flashes that lit up the darkness.

It’s funny how so often you hear storms called thunderstorms or as I said at the beginning “a thunder and lightening storm”. I never hear anyone say “lightning and thunder storm” do you?  We all know that the scary part is the lightening right? Yet it’s the thunder that makes us scamper to our parents room in fear. By the time the sound of the lightning arrives to our startled ears and pounding hearts we’re safe from getting struck down. Until the next flash.

When I was a little girl, my dad told me that if you put your hand on the Holy Bible and told a lie, God would strike you dead with lightning. This was the only thing I remember my dad telling me about God. I have had many many nightmares, waking up in the dead of night just before the lightning hits me. I hesitate to this day when faced with telling a fib versus telling the truth, even when there isn’t a bible anywhere near. Truth doesn’t ALWAYS win though.

Mom was an ex-catholic, Buddhist, agnostic, new age, searching soul who scared the shit out of me once (I was a teenager) when she stood outside in the wind and rain, a glass of wine in one hand and the other one hanging on to our rod iron fence in a triple dog dare pose, her face looking up into the sky with ferocity equal to the raging storm. “Bring it on buddy! Prove yourself!”

So naturally I find myself lacking any logic whenever there is a storm. I laid there this morning, paralyzed and waiting. I could feel a buzz in my fillings (this for sure dates me) and started thinking about the movie Poltergeist where the dad explains to the kids how to tell how far away the storm is by counting right after the lightning flash “one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand” BOOM! the storm was three miles away.

How do we KNOW our house isn’t sitting on top of the angry bones of an ancient witch doctor who is conjuring the storm to take our house off of him? It could be true.

But no. I can’t ever seem to shake the idea that it’s God making all that racket. And of course it’s because He is mad at ME. At three thirty in the morning the earth DOES revolve around me and sometimes I am the cause of all the anger. I hear a whisper in my head telling me to put a pillow over my eyes so that I won’t see the lightning. I argue “but then I won’t be prepared when I am struck”. But then I do it. There are just some things you can’t prepare for.

My nose and mouth are not covered by the pillow and I inhale the yummy smelling rain through the open window about two feet from my face. I like it open all the time. It feels like I can’t breathe when it’s shut.  I freeze my poor husband out in the winter. He claims to have woken up one winter morning with icicles hanging from his nose. He’s such an exaggerator! Fresh air is good for you. But this morning I wonder if the lightning will come through the screen. Perhaps I should shut it but then think “will glass make any difference if it’s my time to go?”

God and I chat a bit in between His thunderous yelling:

“You know H. It’s not me making all that noise. I am not the bad guy here.”

“Yeah, well I know you could STOP it if you wanted to. Just like you could stop a lot of other upsetting things. It’s hard not to blame you.”

“Well at least you’re thinking about me. Bummer it takes all of THIS to get you to pay attention.”

“Ah-ha! See? I’m no fool, it IS you. You know how I feel about lightning.”

“What is it you’ve done that you think is so bad that I’m going to strike you dead? Do you really think I work that way? Dork.”

I start naming all my recent stuff to Him. “See?”

“Jeez. You suck! Sinner!”

“That’s it? That’s all you’re going to say?” My fillings tingle for a second followed by the loudest boom of the morning. I jump and stifle a scream. “Seriously? STOP!!!”

God gives me His best monster cackle. You know, like Count Dracula? Only it comes out like the Sesame Street puppet guy, ‘The Count’. “Okay, I admit that was a little show offy. But really, you should probably relax on yourself a little. I’m not saying you should keep doing that stuff. Especially that one thing. I mean yikes, it’s clearly not good for you or you wouldn’t be thinking it’s worthy of me striking you dead. Am I right?”

I nod my head under my pillow. I’m starting to get sleepy as the storm moves away.

He whispers one last thing to me as I drift off:

“Soul aching: it’s cause is so relative and unique to each of you, yes? Thank God I’m God or I’d never be able to keep track of you all and help. You can take the pillow off your face now H. I’m done talking you through the lightning.”

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Magic Morphing

I have been working on a project for the last month or so: evolving a rough piece of soapstone into a clock for a silent auction that will benefit CASA Partners (see website below for more info). This is my first real attempt at soapstone carving. The results are yet to be determined. But I’m not too worried. Even though I am NOT an artist, I love the cathartic peace that always comes when I am in the process of “coloring”, my term for any act that involves total focus on helping bring something into the world that wasn’t there before. The results don’t matter so much as the experience during the act. There is no risk that it will go wrong. It can’t because there are no expectations except to make with all my heart and soul.

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Do you remember when you were five and colored just for the sake of coloring? Total absorption in the act of making a picture.

Meditative.

Who knew we were so good at meditating when we were five? But see, we knew better then how to be completely in the moment.

I wish I could go back and hear what was in my brain when I was five and coloring. Did the Holy Spirit, the universe, angels and ghosts whisper in my ear then like they do now when I am in the act of making? I think so. I just didn’t question as much then. Funny how I can hear the whispers so clearly when I am using power tools!

Soapstone is fascinating to work with. It has been used for thousands of years for carving because it is very soft, containing a large quantity of talc.  Remember the Mohs scale from school? It is a method of comparing hardness of minerals by seeing how easily they can scratch each other. Talc is a 1 the softest. The type of soapstone used for carving contains about 80% talc and has a Mohs rating of about a 2.5.

AND soapstone is a metamorphic rock!

That being said here is a vocabulary lesson (because I am going to get to something with this, from the whisperers today, in the dust, who helped sort out a few things).

All of this is either from Wikipedia or my old Webster’s dictionary from 1988 depending on which definition I liked better.

metamorphic: of or relating to metamorphism

metamorphism: a change in the constitution of a rock, specifically a pronounced change effected by pressure, heat and water that results in a more compact and more highly crystalline condition

metamorphosis: a change of physical form, structure or substance especially by supernatural means

meta: Greek word meaning “after” or “beyond”

morph: to gradually change into another thing usually in a way that is surprising or seems magical

Working on my project today, I had this sense that I wasn’t so much forcing this piece of rock into a shape I wanted it to be but more discovering what shape IT wanted or needed to be and helping it along, uncovering and gently discovering its shades of rust, green, gold, and delicious variations of brown. You can’t force soapstone too hard or it will break and then you are faced with accepting a result that might not have been your original vision because you didn’t see where the rock’s weakness was until it was too late. But a break can often create a result that is stronger and more stable than before. So there is that.

My delight from taking part in the metamorphosis of this bumpy, rough rock,  watching it magically turn into something completely different, has not thus far diminished despite getting covered in dust, accidently sanding a hole in my wrist with the dremel tool (because I sure as hell would not do that ON purpose) (I could have almost DIED!) and hammering my knuckles countless times.

In fact, all of the whispers I heard today through the dust and pain gifted me a slight glimpse of how God must feel watching us all, His lovely creations evolving and changing, each going through our own metamorphosis during our time on earth. Does He smile with delight when our colors are gently uncovered by His angels, ghosts, and dear friends who are able to see below our rough surfaces to our rich, colorful veins? Does He weep with us when chunks of ourselves are painfully broken off, an unintended and often brutal result of our and others’ free will? Does He sigh in relief and pleasure when our jagged edges are smoothed, loved and soothed when our hearts are opened up (often with the gentle prodding of those He sends) to the idea that the break may be just what we needed to take on our next delightful shape.

There is such magic in the making and morphing that happens in our world, yes?

Written today with S.H.O.T.T.R. in my heart. You know who you are my dearests!

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Find out about “Make Time for Kids” and other events that support Casa Partners: http://www.casapartners.org/

Romantic Lighting

I have some stuff to say about romance. My thoughts were sparked when one of my guy friends texted me the question “which holiday do you like better, Valentines Day or Christmas?” That’s a dangerous question to ask a writer. My reply was probably geared as much to make him uncomfortable as it was to be self indulgent:

“I find myself a little more in love with the world than normal on both holidays. But Valentines Day to me is a canvas for poetic expression. It makes me want to color and sing and write. It’s not about flowers, candy, jewelry or woo woo. It’s about heart fluttering awe over little things and happenings in front of me and this overwhelming need to express it somehow to the world.”

Yeah.

He pretty much exited the conversation after that. I don’t blame him. I’m always complicating things. Valentines Day really IS about candy (especially chocolate), flowers and woo woo. Right? Specific traditional gestures and items given on a designated day to express the love we feel for people.

My words to him were an attempt to shun my own aching desire to be romanced BACK by the world on a regular basis, not just on holidays. To truly be seen. To be noticed. To be heard. To be acknowledged. Are we not all wired this way? Humans are a constantly changing, ever evolving, fluttering, flowing mass of beautiful, creative energy and this energy becomes more powerful and bright when someone says to us “WOW! You’re freaking awesome!”

Deep down all people really long to hear words like “You’re beautiful”. It’s not just a woman thing, right? Men like to be authentically admired as well. Its human nature to seek one’s reflection in a more impactful way than a mirror, which doesn’t always tell the whole story. Sometimes beautiful isn’t the right word. Replace it with: pretty, handsome, gorgeous, hot, funny, smart, creative, humble, delightful, spectacular, brilliant, bright, glowing, fabulous, witty, joyful…they are all words that can tell as much of our hearts and our minds as our physical appearance.

Several years ago a wonderful elderly gentleman said to me: “I think you’re absolutely lovely” at a social gathering for work. I had been poking fun at myself, as is often my way when I want to cover up the fact that I am out of my comfort zone and a little scared. His words stopped me in my tracks. I don’t think anyone had ever called me lovely before. I felt different after, altered somehow. His words still whisper in my head from time to time. Am I really lovely? Was I  lovely before the words were spoken? If so, why did I need to hear the words to actually think I could be?

My entire adult life I have questioned why so many of us, myself included, yearn to hear words (words that are truthfully spoken) from other people so that we might better believe we are beautiful or smart or funny or whatever it is that we are but can’t quite appreciate all on our own. What stops us from having complete certainty, all by ourselves, without help from others, that we are magnificent? We are ALL for sure created to be so, regardless of whether or not it is acknowledged.

This is where God comes in, to answer this question. Our maker, creator, higher power, flows through our souls with glowing warmth and makes us want to sing, write, paint, laugh, dance, shout with joy and just PRAISE in authentic admiration all the cool stuff and people around us.

Or maybe some people just say “wow life is good!” I realize not everyone is a nutcase.

But here’s the thing: sometimes I try to break up with God. I don’t know why. Maybe I just like the drama. Maybe sometimes He’s just a little too much for me to bear. And when I do this, the ache, that deep, painful aching desire to be seen, to be admired, to be romanced is the most intense.

He, of course, just kind of hangs out, my annoying persistent lover. I sometimes imagine Him rolling his eyes at me and grinning “Oh girl, when are you going to just give IN?”

And when I roll my eyes back at Him (sometimes I call Him my stalker) and step aside from myself and make room in my heart once more, a peculiar thing happens:  I am able to see again that the world is magnificent. And because that lovely warm, interesting light that I am recognizing in everything and everyone around me is the exact same beautiful light in my own heart, the ache leaves.

That gentleman who said I was lovely? I believe that when he saw my eyes light up from being SEEN by someone who had nothing to gain from simply saying what he SAW, he recognized himself in the light, and the world got brighter.

It’s just so romantic, keeping where the light is. Yes?

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Jesus Eggs and Other God Mullings on Easter Sunday

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The monotonous act of peeling three-dozen hard boiled Easter eggs this morning (to make deviled-eggs) made me wonder a couple of things:

What makes one egg peel easier than another? Why do some resist, chip by stubborn little chip, giving up their colorful shells while other eggs are stripped so easily down to their soft, vulnerable insides? Is it from their placement in the boiling water? Do mellow chickens lay easier to peel eggs than old haggard cranky hens? Do certain colors of dye alter the strength of the shell?

And which of these is the more favorable:  the easy to peel egg or the resistant egg? Are we talking about modest, hard to get eggs versus promiscuous eggs; tenacious versus yielding eggs; or thick-headed compared to open hearted eggs?

I REALIZE that eggs don’t have personalities. This is another garbled attempt at METAPHOR people.   

But why do we call them deviled-eggs? Maria said she thought we should call them Jesus eggs which sounds kind of crass, so I researched it and it seems the word “deviled” is an 18th century word referencing  food that is spicy or zesty. So I have to agree with her that we should call them Jesus eggs. First, He was always feeding people; second, He was able to spice up the mundane; though the devil probably takes more people to the dark side than is realized with his soft, subtle whispers that the mundane holds no value or joy.

And this made me ponder what a crap Catholic I sometimes am, especially during Lent. This year was by far the WORST EVER 40 days for me in terms of any kind of spiritual growth: I didn’t even PRETEND to be working toward holiness. I dug my heels in and worked on perfecting a few of the seven deadly sins.

And I didn’t go to church one time from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday, which is no light sin my people…high heels in deep, thick mud, which is really bad for your shoes and other things.

I don’t really know why I fight so hard against spiritual conversion, especially during Lent. But here is a thought that I have been mulling over. The other day I witnessed a man on the streets. My guess was that he was in his mid-thirties. He wore groovy, kind of pimped up clothing: a plaid vest, leather coat, nicer jeans and a fedora. He had blonde hair, a smooth, shiny complexion and would have looked healthy were it not for his sunken mouth caused by lack of teeth. He was waiting for the walk sign to flash and was as high as a kite, blissfully grinning and stand-still dancing, flapping his arms around, the joyful buzz of whatever drug he was on making it hard to be contained in his skin.

Now, I know this is in poor taste (by stating that, it makes it at least look like I care) but I could not help but feel sort of envious of his current state of mind, even IF it was FALSE and chemically, illegally and HARMFULLY induced. Because while the after-crash was going to be total agony for him, he was for sure in current state of euphoria that in the moment did not contain an ounce of mundane.

While I am a no drug expert, I HAVE experienced some pretty amazing moments of elation. To name a few: the birth of my children; hearing a song that calls to my heart; closing a sale; writing something that says perfectly what I mean; and yes, the intense, knock me to my knees moments after receiving The Eucharist.  But to sustain these highs is impossible. We’d be exhausted. See? And it’s frustrating.

We for sure TRY to keep that high: some with drugs and alcohol, others with caffeine, sugar, exercise, sex and yes…spirituality. But all of these things we humans cling to as a means to feel GOOD inevitably end in a low, by comparison,  which is hard to take when you have been so high you can hardly be contained by your own skin.

There were saints to whom God gave these amazing visions and I can only imagine that it must have felt more euphoric than a thousand doses of any kind of drug.  No mundane in THAT kind of high. But the lack of God, or at least the lack of feeling or seeing God, which is an inevitable part of every human journey, had to be completely soul shattering for someone who has had more than just a glimpse of God. These saints, however, were able to sustain faith through what had to feel dreary and dull and dark, because DUH, they were saints.

I, however, am no saint. Nor am I a drug addict (which is good). I am a moody Christian who often lacks conviction when faced with monotony, which, let’s face it, is a pretty standard part of life for most of us. So, sometimes, especially during Lent, I pout, ignore God, eat Pringles and watch back to back episodes of “Hoarders: Buried Alive” until my ass hurts and say “Yeah? So what? Your point to all of this monotony would be WHAT? ”

But here’s the thing: God is a sneaky, conniving intervener and patient when it comes to peeling shells. And He uses people to help pull heels out of the mud: drug addicts, saints,  hoarders, teenagers who go to confession on their own and “feel less stressed out after” and little children who build churches at your feet out of Lincoln logs complete with a tabernacle and convince you to turn off the television, step away from the Pringles, put some shoes on and go to Easter Vigil, even if it’s just so there is less guilt and more time for the combat Easter egg hunt the next morning and Jesus eggs later… which by the way have never tasted so zesty.

Happy Easter everyone!

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Connected to Kayleigh Keeble

Written words have always been my method of choice for communicating. I use them to defend, soothe, convince, agitate, explain, define, beautify, announce or (as is most often my way) find the funny angle in whatever person, place, event, action or thought that happens to have my attention, my hope being to help others (and me) to see deeper, think differently and perhaps feel better.

But sometimes words don’t work and they don’t make me or anyone else feel better. And sometimes things just aren’t funny.

On Thursday, a beautiful thirteen year old girl, whom I did not know of ten days ago, died from an aggressive, fast moving form of cancer. I’d have never known about her (her name is Kayleigh Maria Keeble) were it not for an email from a dear friend asking me and others to consider helping the family of this little girl, who was in the hospital fighting for her life while doctors tried to get her stable enough to deal with a large tumor between her heart and lungs. He asked for our prayers and if possible, financial contribution to an online website fund set up to help the family. All of us who were sent that email became right then and there, part of this family, connected to their nightmare, to their hopes, to their desperate plea to God “Please not our baby.”

I and an exponential number of others through the beautiful side of the not always beautiful social media united all our good mojo with conviction and rich optimism. No matter that many of us didn’t know Kayleigh. Someone WE loved knew and loved her so therefore we loved Kayleigh too and so then did the people who love us, and so on. And these beautiful, golden threads connecting us all were woven into an intricate quilt of love and wrapped protectively around Kayleigh and her family and there was no way God wasn’t gonna notice.

But within days of her diagnosis, she was taken from her family and from the world.

And it feels like God didn’t listen.

Because while we whisper knowingly in our hearts (and beg our brains to catch up) that Kayleigh is for sure in a better place where she no longer has to “fight like a girl”, the family she left behind is NOT in a better place right now.

There are some strong souls who are unwavering in their hearts and actions despite the dark, lonely space that death creates. These people are soothing saints who keep that quilt of woven love in place while the rest of us rage, curse, wail and shake our fists and try and see one tiny glimpse of understanding as to why a beautiful girl would be ripped from her family so ruthlessly.

Rage is not comfortable. Selfish, blasphemous questions are certainly circling in my own head. From the perspective of someone floating helplessly far outside the circle of Kayleigh’s family and friends, I ask: “Why did I have to know about this? It hurts so badly! It brings me fear and worry and uncertainty! Why God, did you involve so many people in this if you had no intentions of listening? With so many people wrapped up in this, wouldn’t it have been a great time to show us what you can do? How do I explain to my kids why you didn’t help Kayleigh the way we all asked you to? How do I explain to them why prayers don’t always fix things or make us feel better? What the HELL God?”

But pause for a moment (as I am) and think on this: rage is a form of love. The ever eternal words of poet Dylan Thomas sing a bitter sweet song. He raged in prayer for his father to fight to the end: “Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

That we (all of us here, feeling robbed and abandoned by God and by death) would hold desperately to the light of another human being, that we would rage and wail and curse at the idea of Kayleigh’s light being extinguished puts value on what is most important in the world: love. And this fuels and stokes Kayleigh’s flame, helping it to burn more brightly so that she not only shines forever “into that good night” but also continues to burn with infinite and comforting love upon her family.

So let us rage and stoke the light, and be glad to be a small part of one family’s journey (you as a reader of this are now on the journey with them too) knowing that it somehow, through some kind of cosmic, interconnected, angry beauty does indeed give us a glimpse of a plan that has been mapped out with such passionate love that while we don’t know much, we know we have been brought together, regardless of our degree of separation, to lessen this family’s pain by embracing the sorrowful rage that keeps the flame burning.