Monday, April 15, 2013

Look For the Helpers

*Note: This was written during the early evening hours of yesterday.

Well, I’m sure there will be a bazillion articles and blog posts about the tragedy that happened in Boston today, and here I am adding another. This is my first time talking about a tragedy, and for the past few hours since the bombings occurred I’ve been so horrified that I felt I just had to say something about it.

As I sit here writing this now, the casualties are still two dead and 100+ injured. Just about everyone I know has posted on Facebook about this, most needing to vent their great shock and horror, almost all asking for prayers. I posted several times myself, and as time ticked on, watching the news reports and keeping a tab open with news updates streaming from a live blog, I realized that I was feeling a myriad of emotions I just have to talk about. I *need* to do this.

You always hear about the stages of grief people who lose loved ones go through. You know, shock, denial, anger; others I can’t think of right now, and somewhere in there you come to acceptance. I think tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing also affect us in that way.

When I first heard the news and turned on the TV to get information, I was so stunned and shocked, and felt sick to my stomach and helpless. How could this happen? Was it really happening? I watched the horror playing out on the news in videos and photos, and then I got on Facebook to see if anyone had posted. It all seemed so unreal, I guess I wanted to confirm that it was really true. And of course it was.

I usually get stuck in the rut of why. WHY do people do these kinds of things? Why do people hurt and kill others? I keep trying to understand, to relate, and it’s futile. I can’t. I just do not get it. I always have to come to the conclusion that some people are simply evil, and I won’t ever be able to understand. Period.

And after a while, that always leads me to anger. Sometimes people don’t want to admit they’re angry, because it may make people think less of you. Well, we’re all human, and anger is a human emotion. I’ll admit it. I was angry. I was more than angry, I was PISSED. What IS it with people?? Why do we live in a world where jerks go around doing things like this to innocent people??

I posted on Facebook that I’m sick of evil people, and I wish they would go live on another planet and leave the rest of us alone. If they’re angry about something, why can’t they express themselves in a civilized manner? I’m sick and tired of jerks who go and hurt or kill others usually because they disagree with some issue. If they’re so intent on killing to get their opinion or point across, why don’t they kill themselves instead of innocent people??

Now don’t go thinking I advocate suicide, because I don’t. I value human life. All human life, whether they are like me, unlike me, have different beliefs than me, different lifestyles, whatever. None of that matters. I believe all human beings have value. But hey, if their intent is to kill to somehow “express” themselves, then do it themselves, not others. No one has the right to take the life of another.

And then, after a while spent in Angry Mode, I come to the point when I’m looking for something good. I’m looking for comfort. I’m looking for proof that all of humanity isn’t so depraved and evil minded. Today I desperately needed that. Because this terrible attack shattered my sense of security, I needed to find something that showed me that even though there are awful jerks in this world who do sickening things like this Boston Marathon bombing, there are good people. And that the good people far outnumber the jerks.

So I came upon several posts and comments on Facebook quoting something Fred  “Mr.“ Rogers said about times like these. Though I watched his show growing up and even the music and theme song can bring me back to a special, peaceful, safe place, I never knew he said this. He said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,  my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers, so many caring people in this world.”

And in reading his quote and thinking on it, I felt somewhat grounded again. I need to stop asking why, stop going over and over the horror of this day, and start focusing on the good. And that’s when I started seeing posts about marathon runners who finished the race and went to Mass General Hospital to donate blood, runners who stopped running and ran to help, emergency personnel who ran into the fray to help. People who, instead of giving in to that natural inclination to run away, ran forward *to* it to do whatever they could to help.

I found a measure of peace again, and my sense of security increased. Those of us who strive to live peaceable lives definitely outnumber those who are so selfish and cowardly that they do these awful things to others and try to make others as miserable as they are. Of course, for me, my true peace comes from God, in whose hands my life rests anyway. But realizing that there are so many loving, caring, selfless people out there is a nice comfort too. And I can do what I can for the people affected by this latest incident, which is pray. So pray I will, and keep looking for the helpers. ~Peace

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Woman in the Making

The past two weeks, there has been a lot going on here. Not only did my third and youngest daughter turn 22, which was enough for me to feel like I’d stepped into the Twilight Zone,  but she also passed her state test to become an EMT in the state of Virginia.

Caitlin turning 22 wasn’t something out of the ordinary; children turn twenty-two every day. But this was *my* child. And my youngest biological child. After Megan, I had Bethany, who died, and then a year later Caitlin made her entrance into the world.

Sometimes, people have thought that Caitlin was the “replacement child” for Bethany. When I got pregnant with Caitlin, some even asked me if I would name her Bethany. As if Bethany’s life meant nothing. Bethany’s life *did* mean something; it *did* have value, and her gravestone verifies that fact. She lived, and was, and had a purpose. No, I would not give Bethany’s name to my next child, as that would have invalidated Bethany.

Caitlin was not a replacement child; nothing could be further from the truth. But she was so incredibly special. While Megan had been born with Down syndrome, and Bethany had been born prematurely, Caitlin was born just four days short of her due date, and she did not breathe when she was first born. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck several times, and she suffered a stroke.

The stroke made her have seizures, which I saw for myself in my hospital room and told the nurses about, but they didn’t believe me and insisted that what I was seeing was just “normal newborn reflexes.” Not until Caitlin had a seizure in the nursery did the nurses believe me, and she was taken to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), where she stayed for eight more days until I could take her home.

This sweet child came home finally, after days and days of my begging anyone I could to take me to the hospital with my pumped breast milk to feed her each day. Because she was on Phenobarbital to control the seizures, she slept a lot. Caitlin was the most beautiful child I had ever seen, and I never tired of looking at her.

The first few weeks after I was able to take her home, Caitlin slept almost constantly, due to the Phenobarbital making her sleepy. I had to wake her for feedings. But we got through, and the days and months went by. Caitlin was monitored through blood tests and EEGs to see how her brain was responding to the dose of medicine she was on. Two months after she had turned one, she was taken off the Phenobarbital. She did great, and we just went on from there.

Caitlin faced some challenges when she was young, but she was always up to meeting those challenges. The stroke she had had at birth affected the left side of her body, but only her Early Intervention therapist and later on, her ice skating instructor, could notice the lags. I just encouraged her to reach for her dreams. Which she did, wholeheartedly.

And here we are today, with Caitlin so recently turning 22. Who would have thought? My oldest, Megan, recently turned 25, my son Ryan will soon be 13, and the infamous Timotheus turned 9 a few months ago.

Where did the time go? How did this happen? I swear to you, it seems like just yesterday that I held that little bundle in my arms and coaxed her to feed, telling her how much Mommy loved her, how much she was wanted.

And here she is now, standing before me, all grown up and forging ahead to the life she has chosen. The baby I had nourished, the child I had comforted and encouraged, the teen I had guided, the woman standing before me into whom I have invested my heart.

She is reaching for her dreams, and grabbing them. Caitlin has become someone I not only enjoy, but admire. She has turned into a person who is responsible, mature, funny, fun to be with, sensitive, loving, kind, caring, giving, and so much more. She reaches for her goals and doesn’t let any roadblocks stop her.

She’s an inspiration to me, and all I can do is thank the Lord God for making me her mother. I will always feel blessed to have been her mother and had the blessing of having raised her and known her. Caitlin Elizabeth, I love you!