“Code Red. If I don’t make it out alive, I love you.”
“What’s Code Red? What’s going on?”
“Someone is shooting. I’m in the auditorium with a bunch of people. We’re in lockdown.”
This was the text exchange between me and my then 16 year old son, who was a Junior at Millard South High School in Omaha.
It was absolutely stunning. Beautiful countertops, beautiful carpet. Everything brand new. And the master bedroom – oh, so romantic with beautiful windows. This would be where they would make love. I was thrilled for my friend. She’d stumbled into this fantastic man. He was so kind, so good. He was handsome, loved her kids and was financially secure. And he loved her. She was living a miracle. Her life had been such a mess. She certainly deserved a wonderful man and future filled with love and security. And so did her kids. But, I cried myself to sleep that night.
“Where’s MY miracle?” I whispered and tried to pretend I wasn’t praying to a God I shouldn’t question. But I was.
“Pain nourishes your courage. You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” I love that quote. Mary Tyler Moore said it.
Her sentiments mimicked what I felt in the middle of a sprint triathlon race – of all things.
It’s the hardest part of the race. The first mile of the run – right after the bike ride. If I’m going to stop and quit at any part of the race, that first mile will be it. If I’m going to have any mind failure…it’s there. But I’ve also had the most amazing thoughts at this point in the race. And it’s there that this thought came to me:
It Takes Courage To Fail.
“I never got to watch my parents get old,” my friend told me as we sat at his kitchen table. His parents both died when they were in their early 60’s. Cancer was the executioner. And although he’s outlived them now by several years, he feels like he missed out on watching them age.
I remember at the mortuary, looking at his body there on the table. My ex-husband. He was at the mortuary by choice and his own gun. He and I sorta grew up together since we had been high school sweethearts. We started dating when I was 16 and he was 17. But after 20 years of marriage, it crumbled and he quickly remarried. Two years later, there I stood over this face I knew so well.
“Don’t touch!” my mom gently scolded as I stretched out my hand towards the kitchen table. But the eight-year-old me was so fascinated by what I saw. It was hard to resist. I wanted to touch all the shininess laid out before me. Continue reading
I stared down at the notepad where I had scribbled the caller’s name. It had taken me a few minutes to put it together. But I think. . . Yes, I was talking to the shooter’s dad. The name he’d given me sounded so familiar but I was also trying to pay attention to what he was saying — or trying not to say.
“…because I prayed about it.” These painful words came from a fairly well-known Christian author and speaker. After hearing that, I almost walked out of the big auditorium filled with other women. She started to talk about her fantastic husband and how she’d prayed for him and that’s how he became fantastic. The pain in my core dug in deeper as I thought about what I was going to go home to that night.
As if I haven’t prayed for him. Years and years I have prayed for him to change! So…her prayers got answered because she’s either loved by God more or there’s a different set of rules for me.
Her next comments struck another nerve. “People ask me all the time how I stay so thin,” she began. She’s not really going to say this. “And I tell them it’s because I pray about it!”
Coulda Shoulda Woulda. If only. Wish I could go back.
It sounds so easy. But it’s not. Especially if your mistake stares you in the face every day.
It’s the guy who goes home to an empty apartment every night because his drinking split the family up. Oh sure, she had the affair, but it was his drinking that drove her there. And he knows it. The single mom who wakes up to her four kids every morning. Each one from a different Mr. Mistake. Every time she writes on a form each different last name than hers, she cringes. Or like me, I come home from working all week only to pack up two kids who really don’t want to go to their dad’s for the weekend. And I really don’t want them to. They’re arguing with each other and letting me know very clearly that they don’t want to go. And there’s nothing I can do to protect them. I should’ve put stronger boundaries down early on with my husband. I didn’t love him with honesty. Instead I hid our problems because I was too proud to reach out for help. And it turned into a nightmare divorce. As if there is any other kind.
I was shocked by what I was hearing at the ladies’ lunch that day. One of my new friends began to explain that her husband of 15 years had been having an affair. He was divorcing her and moving in with the “other woman.” She started to cry as she talked about their two tweenage sons. Life was a mess. She proceeded to tell us that she was quitting her job that she loved. She’d be taking the alimony to go back to school in order to provide for herself and kids. Then, in an attempt to wrap up this ugly package with a beautiful bow, the words came out of her mouth.
“Well, I guess there’s a reason for everything.”
I bit my tongue. Oh, I have walked in those shoes! I have let that phrase rattle around in my head as I dealt with the fastball sting that life hurled into my glove. While I pondered my own struggle with “everything happens for a reason”, one of the other gals spoke up.
“Oh no…” she said. “Don’t put this on God.”
Even before the “until death do us part” in my early 20’s, I had begun to draw out the sketch of my life. All 20 year olds do it.
My drawing was done on a beautiful white canvas. I took my permanent black marker and drew out my life with the only man I ever loved. My sketch had a house and a few kids. I was careful not to get too fancy on the house. Not too set on how many kids and not too determined how many would be boys and how many would be girls.