Monday, June 30, 2014

Summertime Makes Me Miss You.

Summertime makes me miss you. 

It’s amazing how our minds and bodies work, how one smell, one sound can take us back to a place in time that we haven’t thought about in so long.  We started our journey together in the summer, spending the long nights sitting outside on benches around the city, attempting to soak up as much knowledge about one another as our brains would absorb.  Many of those bench moments were spent stealing kisses in the night as we sat closely together, limbs intertwined.  Those moments were my favorite, full of innocence and excitement of getting to know someone new.  Back before things got beautifully complicated.

The smell of the gym in the summer makes me think of you constantly, daydreaming back to when we first met and to where we spent much of our time together in the beginning of our relationship.  Back to when I would casually stride into your office, arriving earlier than I needed to, just for a chance to chat with you.  Back to when you would randomly pop your head into my class like an absolute creeper, but I found it hilarious anyway.  Back to when we were keeping our newly found attraction to each other under wraps for at first and we would linger around the gym, waiting for all of our friends to go home so we could get in the car together and make a late dinner run to Waffle House.  The smell of summer, the feel of summer, the sounds of summer – they all take me back to you.  My thoughts completely skip every other summer that I’ve had in my 27 years and circle back to you. 

Today I pulled out the “Richard” box for the first time since January.  I pulled out the stack of pictures, bypassing the letters from you and the cards from so many people after you died, though had I had more energy I would have sifted through those as well.  I looked at you in all of those pictures and became overwhelmed by emotion.  It is still so hard to grasp the concept of you being gone.  It is still so hard to understand why God chose me to spend your final days with.  It is still so hard to fathom that you chose me to spend your final days with, though of course you didn’t even know they were your last.  God tethered our hearts together as soon as we met and I am forever grateful that I had the chance to know, love, and share so much with such an incredibly intricate person.  I look at those pictures and everything comes flooding back – the conversations, the struggles, the jokes, the happiness, the pain of each moment.  There is a, and I suppose always will be though maybe not as prominent, a hole in my heart that is reserved for you.  You, sweet Richard, saw me for everything I was and for everything I wanted to be.  You loved me with an unconditional love that I did not deserve.  You taught me so much about strength, determination and grace.  So much about grace.  I often wonder when these feelings of nostalgia will go away.  Will they ever go away?    

Summertime makes me miss you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Next Day She Ran Away.

I'd sat across the Starbucks table from her, looking into her eyes trying to channel my thoughts about her to her brain.  My thoughts about how loved she was, how cherished she was by God, and how I believed in her so much, that she would be able to break the cycle.  We talked about boys (we always talked about boys), and her GED classes and why she should respect her house mom.  It was one of our best one-on-ones we'd had.

The next day she ran away.


This is the brutal and honest reality of working with foster kids.  Just like they have had many people pop in and out of their lives, they, too, pop in and out of yours as well.  They either run away, get sent to another group home, (hopefully) get fostered by a family, etc.  And you're left standing here in the dust, scratching your head, wondering what just happened.

When she ran away I cried and cried and cried.  First I cried for her safety, worried she was in harm.  Then I cried because I was angry at her for running when I knew the potential she had and the things she could have done had she just sat still longer.  And then I cried because I was heartbroken for her that she felt like that was her only other option.  Now I don't know who she's with, what she's doing or where she is.  It's the worst.

Selfishly I thought - did I even have a chance to make a difference in her life?  Did she hear anything I said to her?  Doesn't she know how much I loved her?  But of course, this story is not about me.  Of course no matter how much love I showed her, if she had the chance to run away because she caught even the smallest glimpse of being back with her family, she was going to take it.  No matter what these kids have been through or how horrible their home lives are, they still want to be home.  And that, my friends, makes my heart throb.  But it is a part of our sad, broken world.  Something we cannot avoid, something we really cannot blame these kids for, and we cannot understand.

After my pity party, I slowly began to feel peace about her whereabouts.  She finally sent me a text and relief set in when I knew she was okay.  God began to whisper sweet nothings of protection, calmness, and sovereignty to me.  I pray and hope and desire and wish that I did, indeed, make a difference in her life, even if just a small one.  Obviously, I was not meant to be her mentor forever, but I hope that the short time we had together was real and raw and she felt the sincerity.  God is sovereign over all things, including that little girl's life.  I pray for protection over her and that she will continue to see her worth in His eyes, instead of in the eyes of another.  And in the meantime, I will continue to love those kids with every fiber of my being, attempting to channel my thoughts about them to their brains.  That they are loved, they are cherished and they are believed in.  It's all any of us can really do.

And merely days after she ran away this article I had written for Shattered Magazine was posted.  Life certainly is ironic.  ;)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars/How Many Tears Can One Shed in Approximately Two Hours.

Listen.  If your boyfriend, that you had a fleeting romance with, is suddenly diagnosed with leukemia and dies in the ER, it is probably not wise to go see a movie where the main character's boyfriend also tragically dies in the ER due to cancer.  This is pretty basic stuff, folks.  But I'm not a pretty basic girl.

Instead, this not so basic girl threw herself into the theater, forcing a few friends to go with her after several other friends told her that they would absolutely not go and see this movie with her and sh freaked out and panicked because SHE HAD TO SEE THIS MOVIE, so she drove to Birmingham and watched it with two friends that she knew would appreciate it as much as her insane self also would. (shout out to C. Graham and Yates, whaddup!).

And you're wondering: What does it look like for 3 grown women to struggle to not be the loudest criers in a theater full of teenagers?  Horrible.  Like the most horrible thing on the planet.  Like as horrible as sitting down in a public bathroom stall to realize, too late, that there is no toilet paper times infinity.

But the truth of the matter is that I was exposed to this story in the summer of 2012 (coincidentally the summer I met Richard, but this is beside the point).  The story I am referring to, in case you have been under a protective/unemotional/want-to-deny-yourself-beautiful-things rock lately, is The Fault in Our Stars.  I read the book that summer and freaking fell madly, deeply, widely in love with the characters and the author.  This author, John Green, has a way with words that I strive to emulate and channel when I write.  He is witty and has a way of laying out exactly what you're thinking without even knowing that you were thinking it until you read his words and OH MY GOSH YOU WERE THINKING THE SAME THING.  But he says your words way better than you could ever dream of.  The depth that he is able to portray in a young adult book about two teenagers with cancer that fall in love is a thing of the cosmos.  I can't even.

So, you see my friends, I HAD to see this movie.  It wasn't even a question.  NO, it did not matter that I would spend the entire movie tearing up, to only have the flood gates OPEN and to start SOBBING thirty minutes before the movie ended and to think it would NEVER END I SWEAR I DIDN'T KNOW WHEN IT WOULD END.

Because I was invested.

But truth be told, this movie-going experience would have been different if Richard had never happened.  I still would have lost my composure in front of a multitude of teenagers, but the deeper heartache would not have been there.  The deeper understanding, longing, and empathy would not have been there.  But this is no surprise.  Everything would be different if Richard had never happened.

Wouldn't have it any other way.