Monday, April 27, 2015

Theodicy, It's Elementary My Dear

On Sunday, March 29th our 2015 Confirmation Class waved their palm branches boldly proclaiming,"Hosanna! Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is The One that comes in the Name of the Lord!"

On tiny bent knees, 
surrounded by the strength of the community of faith, 
We prayed over each of them that...

The Holy Spirit (would) work within you, 
that being born through water and the Spirit, 
you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our youngest, Duke, was one of these tender branches grafted into the faith that had been nurtured in him from birth. 

Duke took the oath he was making seriously. 


A week prior our son wrestled with whether or not he was actually ready to make such a hefty proclamation. 


His reservation? An unanswered (and I would add unanswerable) question that loomed heavy on his fledgling heart...


 "Why did God 'allow' his brother to die?" 


Join the club, Kid!


Your pondering includes you in great company, theological Giants, that have been unable to unravel the perplexing mysteries of God and evil in the world and suffering and death and dying. 


Solomon, one of these greats, wrestled with such despairing wonderings... "I, the Teacher, was the king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. I observed everything under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless--like chasing the wind. What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered."  Ecclesiastes 1:12-15 

Life doesn't wait for you to figure it all out.

The very next day after Duke took that historic confirmation leap, pledging to strive to follow Christ all of his earthly days...

He was sucker punched.

And Eddie and I had the *wonderful* parental privilege of fumbling through attempting an explanation to our twelve year old as to why his DeDe took her life.

She was sad. And sick. And not thinking clearly. And made a terrible decision.

Screams of disbelief and horror. Deep guttural cries.
"No! No! Not Dede! Not MY grandmother!"

Deeper sobs of loss. Of lack of understanding.

"Why? Why did she think I didn't need a grandmother anymore?"

We have no answers. But...
"God loves you. DeDe loves you. We love you. We are sorry." 

And now I'm holding a broken hearted little boy faced once again with a horrific tragedy I cannot explain, and...

I, too, am wrestling with "Why."

and "Not Fair."

and "How Come."

And "Where were YOU" when this happened?

I shake my fists at God and scream and sob and ask (Beg. Plead. Barter. Bargain.) for a  do-over that can't be done over. 

No answer.

No explanation.

No do-over.

I'm left with thoughts of how Meaningless! Utterly Meaningless Life can seem!

Duke wondered if he could make a vow to follow God after what happened to his brother.

I, too, wonder if I am capable of keeping my vow to serve God, church and community when I have such unanswerable questions haunting my imagination. I wonder if I am "right" for the role of pastoring young people when I feel so completly lost myself? When I am so angry with God. Feel so utterly betrayed. Broken beyond repair. Cast down. Abandoned to the pit of hell. 

Returning to the giants, I am reminded of the internal wrestling of The One--you know Jesus Christ--God in skin--that we waved palm branches to honor on Confirmation Sunday...

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest. Psalm 22:1-3

And I think...Duke and I are in good company in our perplexed ponderings.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Let's Go Fly a Kite

I had *almost* forgotten what it means to have a little one. The Ides of March blew through transforming "baby" Duke from our 11 year old little boy to a 12 year old young man. The same age Jesus was found blowing the minds of the wise ones in the temple. The same age our Jeremy was tragically whisked away to the other side. 12 is a Grand Canyon-esque leap . "Baby" Duke is now fully functioning: Capable of showering (or swimming, fishing or paddling) without my fear of him drowning, selecting his wardrobe (the Kid has style), whipping up a pb&j if necessary, wrestling with "why" all this has happened to our family, and of course making his way down any flight of stairs...

I'm having to relearn old routines
Digging deep. It is difficult to separate the grief exhaustion from the now I have a little person I'm responsible for exhaustion. It all gets twisted up and leaves me feeling like a ragged, used up mop. 

I'm dusting off my preschool psychological warfare skills.
"Yes, I realize you don't feel like eating breakfast. I really don't either. But breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And guess what? YOU get to choose what you would like to eat for breakfast! Would you like oatmeal, fruit & a granola bar, or cereal? It's YOUR choice. Pick one..."  BAM! The "choice" trick gets the little people every time...Breakfast is served!

And then there's the indoctrination of Breleigh into Kirby Life. She is proving to be a quick study. Bre loves swiffering! 

All in all, Breleigh is handling this insanely, difficult transition beautifully. Some sort of God infused bubble shelters her from the harsh reality of her circumstances: 

Her mother is incarcerated. 
           Her "DeDe" (insert real mom) is gone.
She's suddenly a Kirby. (God help her!) 

In childlike fashion, she embraces each day with eyes wide open expectancy. Her gusto and get up and GO is at full throttle!  I can only liken her attitude to a surprise Easter miracle. If only we all could harness the faith of a little child...

Breleigh is sleeping all the way through the night...Not in our bed. 
(Eddie has battle scars from wrestling 5 boop boop babies out of our bed, and I feel sure he was NOT prepared/willing to relive those "fun" times.)

No screaming. 
No tears. 
No drama. 
(There IS a God! And, Bonus Prize! My husband is not going to run away...yet!)

Of course, Chloe is having to adjust to a roommate. She was quite accustomed to her quiet sanctuary.

We are all having to adjust. 

Breleigh LOVES her new school. She is enveloped in love and care. The predictable, rhythmic routine is proving to be therapeutic for her. Each day I drop her off and pick her up she is grinning from ear to ear. The highlight of my day. 



Breleigh is being super brave and trying all sorts of NEW and marvelous things! Her first snow cone!  First onion ring! Didn't care much for her first shrimp...But, that's no biggie. She's enjoying walks around downtown OS and learning new tricks on the trampoline. I just found out she has never been to the library! SAY WHAT? So, a trip to check out library books is at the top of the To-Do list.  


Chloe Kirby Kite Pro Extraordinare.
Photo creds: Big Eddie 
Mom did manage some of these little extras like trips to the zoo, movie dates, and GattiTown fun. But, I'm realizing there are a LOT more unexplored little life lagniappes like snow cones, the library, boat rides, an upcoming trip to Gatlinburg, and if I had to bet we will get to witness her first kite experience. Putting that in my notes right now....

"Ask Breleigh if she has ever flown a kite. Up to the highest heights." 

 I'll keep you posted. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mind Over Mud Mantra

I'm not really sure of much right now. Mind warped. Sleep deprived. Punch drunk. Drug to the bottom of the muddy Mississippi and held captive by heavy chains of 
    grief
            and anger
  and confusion
               and doubt
and sorrow
        and insecurity.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I am in the Tomb.

3:30 am my eyes pop open. A heavy ache stirs deep within my bones that drives me from my temporal resting place beside my man, my rock, to sitting all alone in the Darkness. Something is churning deep within my belly that won't let go. An awareness of the fast approaching Light, but for now a long, black night presses down on all sides.

I am in the tomb.

Grave clothes wrapped tightly. I'm struggling to be freed. I twitch and turn desperate to be released from the clutches of the box.  I try to locate the exact source of this immediate, frantic panic.

 Of course this internal wrestling is primarily birthed from the horrendous tri-chord tragedy that holds me captive...

Easter 2014
No one. And I mean 
no one wanted to stop 
and take this pix. 
Thankful I insisted. 
I lost my Mother. Period. My Mother that was so much a part of my everything. My Mother that was so giving, leading a life of sacrifice and service. My Mother that I loved and adored. My Mother my children loved and were doted on by her like none other. My Mother that would do anything for me. I mean anything. My Mother that I spent so much time with, and yet, not even a fraction of enough time with. My Mother that was snatched from this life in a second with no warning.

My Mother took her own life. I don't feel as if I'm trespassing her by saying that, because sadly it has already been said... (See here: Hattiesburg Realtor Found Dead). Wrapping your brain around this bloody reality is an enigma shrouded in deep, dark, unknowable mystery.  It is a violent vortex of indescribable agony that will suck you down into the darkest, vilest pit of hell if you allow yourself too much time wrestling with the "Whys."

And, yet once again, I find myself thinking: "I wouldn't wish this pain on my worst enemy."

All these unanswered questions loom...Could we have done something? What signs did we miss? Racking your brain...Circling. Circling. Circling back to those final encounters. Final conversations. Closing texts. What did I miss? What if I would have picked up on something? ANYTHING?

Yes, we knew she was depressed (and suffered from depression & anxiety), but there was always a part of her that was not settled. Disappointed. Heavy laden by some self inflicted, but mainly circumstances beyond her control and selfish people appointed chains. And so like a relentless detective on the case every single person I come in contact with I ask...When did you last talk to Mom? How did she sound? Looking back what did you notice?

Thank you, Dora!
And "thanks" to all  for the
 strong hedge of love &
support enveloping our family. 
And then there is Breleigh.  This beautiful, innocent lamb of God my Mom poured into sacrificially. Breleigh's mother, my sister, through mainly self inflicted, turned inward choices coupled with addiction that she couldn't (or wouldn't) shake is literally in chains serving hard time. Her shell of a half-life (See here: Generation Beautiful. Dirty. Rich. Or hereSomeone was Going to Die And here: At the Crossroads ) leaves my sister a prisoner of the State of Mississippi. Once released, Rayanne faces years of probation where she will be on a long, treacherous path to recovery and redemption (If, and only if, she chooses the light over the dark which is yet to be revealed.)

But if being paraded down the center aisle of St. James Catholic Church in a yellow jumpsuit (Weird I expected orange) and bent over by the weight of literal, noisy chains to view your mother's dead body and pay your final respects to the one you took more and more and more from can't change a person...Seriously, I don't know what could? 

I'm praying for a miracle of fish and loaves proportion!

 But back to Breleigh... Mother would always say, "If anything was to ever happen to me...Y'all would take Bre?" Our response: "Stop that, Mom! But of course! We would take Bre."

Naively unaware this was our last
Easter together...
And that's what we did. Are doing. And will do...

To circle back that's the immediate source of this morning's pain.

In a few short hours light is coming. Marvelous light. Morning is here. And THIS Easter morning will be the first one I face without my Mother.

My Mother that would have been here.

  Smiling because of
 Mom's comments
about her flip flops in Easter pix. 
My mother that would have made her rabbit cake with crooked little rabbit ears because she really wasn't that artsy, but loved adding to the celebration non-the-less, and I would have loved those crooked lil ears. And there would be Jody's Bakery Easter cookies, because there never, ever was a holiday without something from Jody's. And dyed eggs with the lil ones. And demanding we hide eggs for the grandchildren again and again and again. My Mother that would have taken me on a shopping spree the day before to have me and the Kirby kids all dolled up in Easter Sunday Fabulous just like she did last year.  And our larger than life Italian family would gather around the table once more...With my Mother that would have made this day a special day like only she could...

Instead of the Easter light, if I'm brutally honest...I'm sitting alone in the blackest space somewhere in between Good Friday and the coming dawn. Dreading today and all it means...

 I now have a precious 5 year old under our roof that is waiting on the Bunny to arrive. I have Easter, the pinnacle of the Christian experience, the breaking of all chains. The bursting forth of the Marvelous Light. The eternal Hallelujah Chorus echoing from generation to generation telling the greatest story ever lived...how Jesus burst forth from death, Got up and Walked out of the Grave!

And, yet, I don't feel like I have the strength to even wiggle my way free from the death cocoon that is suffocating my life and seeking to grind me into an ashen paste...

AND, YET, SOMEHOW...

Deep breath, here comes my guttural heart's cry...

WITH THE STRENGTH OF THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY WHO HAS CONQUERED DEATH AND DYING AND HELL AND EVERY DEMONIC STRONG HOLD EVER KNOWN TO HUMANKIND I WILL GET UP THIS DAY AND SEEK TO RISE UP AND CELEBRATE THE RESURRECTED LIFE I HAVE BEEN GIFTED WITH WHILE I STILL HAVE THE BREATH IN MY FEEBLE LUNGS TO CELEBRATE! LORD! BY YOUR RESURRECTION POWER MAKE IT BE SO!

But first, I  better pour myself a cup of coffee and wake up Cherry...