welp this the post I’ve avoided for about 7 1/2 years now!!!
I am an extremely private person when it comes to my deep deep heart feels and I have been since I can remember. No particular reason except for the fact that I hated being ~vulnerable~ it makes me kind of want to throw up to be honest!!!
BUT, more than ever before this “story” you could call it, has been weighing heavy on my heart to share. Not necessarily the shitty, hard, sad darks parts but the TRIUMPH, and the JOY.
Listen here, I know everyone has a story, a moment, something that they would say contributed to who they are today, good or bad. I think that’s the coolest part about humans, their stories, their experiences.
So let me preface this by saying this, there is HEALING that comes from heartbreak, and I never knew the true depths of unfailing love until I knew the depths of loss.
When I was 14 years old my entire average life shattered into a million pieces. Up until that point I lived like most of friends. I had two loving parents + my siblings living in the same household . We went to church on Sunday’s, baseball games, parent teacher conferences.
I had sang the same song for most of life. This song was happy and usually upbeat – maybe a couple angsty slow parts when I couldn’t go to teen bash with my friends. But for the most part, I sang the same song. (This song part is important, please remember this part!!)
The summer of 2010 was a big summer for my family. My (best/coolest/hip) grandma was turning 80 years old and we had decided to go all out and have a huge week long celebration for her! We were thrilled for this, my mom especially because she loved hosting people, and made the best food EVER. This party was going to be the first time most of this side of the family were ALL together! Extended family, cousins, aunts, and all of the babies.
I remember this June day like the back of my hand. We had most of my California family arriving in the late afternoon we were set to have a big family dinner with the kids and grandkids to kickoff the week before more guests arrived. Our backyard was decked out – we had twinkly lights and flower baskets everywhere, even a bump and jump for the kiddos because we are kind of extra.
Earlier that morning I remember my mom requesting that my little sister and I cleaned the baseboards…. of the whole house…. with a toothbrush. She just wanted everything perfect as she spent the whole day preparing some BOMB fajitas. That evening was something I am so grateful for. All of my family laughing, eating, and drinking in the backyard. It sounds so cliché, but it was almost out of a hallmark movie. That night my mom cleaned the kitchen and kissed me on the head and told me goodnight.
I sang the same song.
No event, person, or situation could have ever prepared me for the following morning. The morning I was woken up to chaos, to tears, to fear. My mom had stopped breathing in her sleep. My dad was trying to keep her awake. I felt myself looking around like everything was in slow motion. (I’ll try to keep the details to a minimum for your reading sanity.)
I waited outside where I called my brother and my sister, and then my aunts. I heard the ambulance and for the first time in my life I realized it was coming for us, to my house.
I ran inside as I saw the first responders carrying the stretcher down the stairs and into the ambulance where my dad jumped in behind them. This was a good sign right? There was hope in this moment, there was a lot of fear but there was hope.
My cousin threw us in her truck where we hurried to the hospital (my least favorite place in the world) and were lead to conference room. We sat. We waited. I took myself to a secluded area in another room. My song changed.
My song was anxious, filled with fear, and unknowns. I don’t really know how to describe this song, but it was different than anything I had ever sang before.
Long story short (because this is a very long story) my mom was taken to the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit where they placed her in a medically induced coma to protect her organs. I really had no idea what was going but I was sure with every bit of me that she would make it.
A few days went by, my song changed. My song was hopeful, my mom had reacted to a reflex test and opened her eyes for a moment. My song was thankful (still scared, but thankful).
The days went by, some fast and some terribly slow. I really didn’t want to talk to anyone so I kept to myself most of the time. I finally mustered up the courage to go see her in her room. It was scary – it was heartbreaking, but somewhat comforting. She didn’t look the same with all of the machines, the life support, the tubes. I only wanted to visit her at night after visiting hours where I just sat in a chair and flipped through the journal that nurses and guests had been writing in.
Progress grew slow, to none at all.
Day 15 had come before we knew it. We were headed to the hospital to pray. As we walked out into the healing garden we were met with family, friends, doctors, pastors. We prayed. We prayed really hard and we prayed for a miracle, for healing, for my sweet mama to wake up. I went with my sisters into her room, lights dimmed, I sat down right beside her and just held her hand as I cried.
My song had changed. We went home that night as they had begun to take her off of the life support. I sat on the side of my bed on the floor and I sang. I sang a song of desperation from the depths of my heart and the pit of my stomach, with everything I had in my I sang and I begged God. With tear filled eyes, with fear flooding my thoughts – I sang.
A day had passed where they had moved my mom into the not so shiny area of the hospital. Her body was fighting – she was a fighter her whole life, there was no stopping that now. I gave her a kiss and hug as we left the hospital. My aunts (my moms sisters) were by her side the whole time.
The next morning came, it was a Sunday. The phone rang at about 7:30am. I knew. In the pit of my stomach I had a feeling. My dad hung up the phone.
On July 11th, 2010 my selfless, god fearing, compassionate mother had gone home to be with her Lord and Savior. She was healed.
My song changed. Everything changed.
These 17 days in the ICU – and the 7 1/2 years after changed my song forever. It was in the sleepless nights where I felt so scared and defeated. It was in the mornings when I felt like I could hear my mom singing Kenney Chesney from her bathroom as I got ready for school.
“I waited and waited and waited for GOD. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to GOD.”
Psalm 40:1-3 MSG
I went through that mud – that deep sinking mud that bogs you down. I will be the first to admit that that my walk with God has been ANYTHING but perfect. Like every relationship I was tested deeply.
Walking through this life with Christ does not mean your heart will not break, and break again, and again. The Lord never promised us a life free of pain, BUT what he did promise is that He would be there, every step of the way.
I asked God everyday. Question after question. How was my dad supposed to raise two teenage girls alone? Why would God allow me to experience this heartbreak? Every question, believe me, I’ve asked.
IT HURT. This part of my life hurt, and sometimes it still does. I used to be so ashamed of this “story”. It took me years to be comfortable with my own life. The last thing I ever wanted was for people, my friends, my family, to feel bad for me. If you can think of a comment someone would have, I probably heard it.
“They didn’t deserve a life like this” – is what I overheard in the bathroom at our church following my mom’s funeral service. I didn’t recognize them, literally had no idea who they were. But I can say with 100% certainty that this life has blessed me more than I could have ever possibly imagined.
I went home that day with a new song. There were nights when my song was quiet and tearful. Songs of prayer, songs of asking. There are are songs of victory, songs of gratitude, and many many songs of joy.
There was always a song a sing, I just had to learn how to sing again.
This story, this death, this loss, THIS changed me. I am who I am because of this and I chose to no longer bury it. I am now more comfortable than ever before with my own story, my new song.
I do not have all the answers, in fact the older I get the less I feel I know. BUT, I do know this, and that is that life hurts, sometimes terribly, but God HEALS. He is willing to take your hand and pick you up from the side of your bed like he did when I was 14. He pulls you out of the mud, the grief, the abusive relationship, the loss, the hurt.
I have learned to sing a NEW song everyday. My life, my heart, my story, it’s always changing and experiencing. That’s what God wants. He doesn’t want the song you’ve memorized – the song you spit out each morning rushing out the door. Sing where you are now, in the pain, in the healing, the unknown, the blessing. Sing a new song.
I am a firm believer that no matter your story, or whatever that thing is that you bury inside your closet, if you’re ashamed, exhausted, triumphant, you can still sing. Through the storm, the chaos, the pits, the mountain peaks. Sing.
Through all of your life, in every season, God is still God and YOU have a reason to sing.