If “some days are diamonds and some days are stones” is accurate, I would liken 2015 to a gravel pit. My very own gravel pit.

If you know me, or follow my blog you know I struggle with depression, intense feelings of loss, fear, and . . . well, it’s a long list and the list isn’t important.

Brad; Caius and Cooper; Cody, Karen, Ruthie and Buck; Bean, Ashley, Judah and Lennie; Mom and Dad; and Mom and Pop – YOU are important. Thank you for helping me out of the gravel pit.

I more than love you!

 

 

 

One night Jeff, Jason, and I were home alone and glued to the TV as usual, watching Gilligan’s Island.
Suddenly we heard the vacuum running in the laundry room. Me, being the oldest, smartest, and bravest sent Jeff to check it out. Tip-toeing cautiously he made his way to the laundry room, quickly switched the vacuum off, then ran back into the living room.
“Was anyone in there?” We asked.
“No.”
“How did it come on?”
“I don’t know!”
We concluded it must have been a short in the wiring or something and got right back to Gilligan. 
The roar of the vacuum sent chills through our bodies! This time I instructed Jeff to UNPLUG the vacuum. He was there and back in a flash! All was silent. We were frightfully silent.
The UNPLUGGED vacuum came back to life and sent us running into the bathroom, screaming wildly! Huddled deep inside the tub we clutched each other, feeling our fear rise with the pitch of the haunted sweeper.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
The thunderous knocking on the door and hearty cries of laughter shocked us out of our bathtub stupor.
There were no disembodies spirits inhabiting a vacuum – just a mom and dad who spooked their kids good! And gave them a story they’ll remember the rest of their life!

I am a white woman – most likely a privileged white woman.

My Dad loves me.  As a young girl my Mom made me lunch everyday and wrote my name on the side of the brown paper bag.  They had marital trouble (like most couples) but somehow made it.  I have fantastic parents!

I grew up with love; food; a stable home; electricity; clothes; health care; friends; transportation; I can read, write and do arithmetic; I was surrounded by people who believed in and prayed for me – nevertheless I grew up feeling lonely and afraid.

. . .

My heart breaks as I watch the fear and rage that’s surfaced in the not-privileged of our country. I can’t imagine their perspective, so I won’t try.  I don’t know what to do, really.  What I do do is pray for peace and for the circle who influence their lives.

May you be wise, filled with love, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

A personal illustration about how I once lost something precious or valuable should open this post, but I’ve thought for days and can’t remember losing anything of that nature – until now.

We were sitting in Starbucks when Margaret said:  “Jayme, you find your identity in what you do, not who you are.” Feeling, a bit indignant I responded: “I don’t believe so.”  Margaret, true to herself, let the conversation lie, finished her passion tea and went on her way, holding her wisdom until the next time we’d talk.

Time passed and everything changed.

It’s hard to explain what changed in me, but I just couldn’t do “church” anymore.  I loved my job and the creative outlet it gave me, but the growing desire to be tucked away somewhere in the back was larger than anything I loved. I “wanted out,” but getting out meant leaving my stable life – the life I had helped build for 27 years.  I had given myself to that life, and had no idea how the future would turn out.  However, I felt sure about one thing – that my friends would support me and be there for me, as I had been there for them in their times of change or distress.  I could not have been more wrong.  Most of them left me when I didn’t do church for them anymore.

It seemed as though my world began to revolve around misunderstandings and misplaced hopes, and I spiraled into one of the deepest depressions of my 46 years.  The gamut of emotions assaulting me weren’t newcomers, but this time I began losing myself and gave in.  Lonesomeness filled my soul.

I did my best to pretend I was okay during the loneliness.  Swallowing hard when I felt like spewing, blinking back tidal waves of tears, biting my lip at unbidden thoughts, but none of it mattered because pretending is tiring, and everything finds its way out one way or another.  Especially if you’ve lost yourself.

I wandered on that path for about 2 years. My weary family watching me become something unfamiliar.  One day, during an argument, Brad said to me: “I don’t know who you are anymore.” I replied: “Neither do I.  I’ve lost myself!”  Those words reminded me of my conversation with Margaret, and over the next months I realized that she was right.

For 27 years I thought I knew who I was.  I was Jayme, the Preacher’s wife.  Jayme, the Worship Leader.  Jayme, the Creative Arts Director.  Jayme, the writer. Jayme, the friend.  Jayme, the good listener.  Jayme, the whatever I DID.  And when what I DID went away so did I — I lost myself.

Slowly, my thinking is repairing, and I’m realizing the person I am — God’s girl; Brad’s wife; my kids mom and the grand-babies Gammaw.  Identities which will not change and they give me pleasure and peace.

Losing me has put me on the path to finding me — The Real Me.  And I’m pretty sure I’m gonna like her.

From my bedroom chair I can see my skinny little tree.  Last year Cooper climbed her, placing a permanent red balloon amongst her branches.  As the red balloon sways I’m reminded that nothing lasts forever.

An excerpt from Little Blue Box

It was small.

It was blue.

I have a vivid memory of walking a casket-lined aisle, one overwhelming thought screaming in my heart:  “Mother’s shouldn’t choose pretty boxes to lay their babies in.”  Brad held my hand as we chose the pretty blue box with chrome handles…as if we had any other choice.

Chase Able went to sleep happy and healthy on Saturday night but never woke up.  Early Sunday morning Brad found our three-month old baby boy cold and stiff in his crib.  We buried our son four days later under a cedar tree in the center of the churchyard cemetery.  We splashed his headstone with balloons and engraved the stone blanket that covered him with, “God is too wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind.  So when you don’t understand, when you don’t see His plan — when you can’t trace His hand trust his heart.”

We decided to let Chase lie under the skinny little tree when we moved.  The center of the cemetery was a good and peaceful place that needn’t be disturbed.  (Not to mention the emotional and psychological disturbance an exhumation would have caused us.)  Our family moved from Florida in February of 1991 not returning to the center of the cemetery for decades.

Between the Years – a haiku

I stand between years

Clenching with tight fist the clock

Suddenly, I stop

It was a cold, grey day.  I was at Staples when the bottom fell out.  Walking out of Staples and into the downpour I stopped in the parking lot and began to weep.  I just stood there crying in the rain like it didn’t matter.   I didn’t care who saw me or who thought I was crazy.  I was cold…inside and out.  Soaking wet I came home, climbed into the attic and found a small, wicker basket.  I opened it…

An excerpt from my journal

I keep it all tucked inside the little wicker basket bordered with white lace.  My mom and I bought the basket the week after we buried Chase.  We thought the little basket unique (and indeed it is)  as it holds my memories of him — the clothes he died in;  his blue pacifier;  some funeral arrangements scrawled on a piece of paper; and hundreds of cards and letters from people I never knew…

I read all those letters soaking wet and I wiped my tears away with Chase’s little sock and then I started writing about love and loss.  Writing was as a warm blanket to my hurting soul that slowly began to comfort me and helped me find my joy.

An excerpt from “I was sleeping”

Like a thief through my window to steal my heart away

You tip-toed to my soul

While I was sleeping

And so here I sit in my favorite chair remembering a skinny little tree and the happy baby boy buried beneath it and why it seemed good to write and dedicate a children’s book to them.  A children’s book to remind us that “all the seasons of life are worth living”.  Happy and sad seasons. Troubling or jubilant seasons. It is our life that makes us unique and we have been given our life as a gift and should strive to learn the value of living it well.

Your seasons make you you –they are your life.

And life cycles.

For more about Skinny Little Tree go to: http://www.bradandjayme.com/