billandmardy

Guest Blogger, Dawn George

Posted on: March 6, 2012


Hello Friends,

I have been busy working in our yards for the past week in this beautiful spring weather, doing all the things that pile up over a winter, and hurrying to do them before our Florida humidity and swamp weather returns.  Last Friday, a very busy day of yard work, was my first tear-free day.  That is one big baby step for me.  I didn’t even realize it until I put my head down on the pillow that night and thought, “Wow, this was a first.”  I cannot say the same about the three days since, but I can tell that normalcy is edging its way back in and grief is not so intense.  I think my job is to breathe in and breathe out, and just let the Lord do His healing work in my heart, much like skin knits together when you aren’t even thinking about it.

I took one more baby step last week, and reached out to meet a friend for lunch. It was my very first reaching out, and my first lunch outing with a friend.  It was a very refreshing time, but I found that those tears are still pretty unpredictable – a song playing overhead at Panera’s, the flash of a memory that my kid liked to hang out with her kid, just the way her eyes filled with love and sorrow – all triggered a battle with tears. That was much better than my first trip to Publix a month before, where I sat in the car before going in and practiced saying out loud, “I am fine, thank you,” over and over to be sure I could say it without tears when the cashier asked how I was today. I knew her greeting would feel invasive, overstepping (drat those friendly Publix employees), and I had to find a way to ward her off before her smile poked through my thin defenses and triggered another flow. “Fine, thank you,” I repeated my script, even though I had to keep looking down at my purse to say it.

Last, I’m discovering that I can’t listen to very much music. Music has the power to pull tears from me like one taps syrup from a maple tree!  I think that’s because the reality of separation from our son will always be present, just under the surface, and music pokes a hole through the bark of my soul for an always-available tear supply.  I have felt nothing productive in that sort of crying, though – it only stirs up a longing to be in Heaven or a desire to reverse time and write a different chapter.  Those desires can’t be fulfilled, so for now I am trying to be about what I think I am supposed to be doing, stopping to cry whenever grief shows up on its own.  That seems to be the healthiest track for me so far.

I have a friend in Miami named Dawn George.  Wait, I should say that I have not actually met her yet, but was sent her blog by mutual friends a few years ago when her 9 year-old son was diagnosed with cancer. During his treatment, she also tragically lost her father and his wife.  I felt about her those two years the same way many people think about me now, “Oh, Lord, I could never, ever go through her trial. How is she being sustained by such grace?”  I saw so much grace in her writings that I asked her to share at my ladies’ group last year.  I had to be out of town that week and did not actually meet her, but I heard from the ladies who attended that their lives would not be the same. Dawn is returning to speak for our group in May, so I am looking forward to meeting her this time.

In the meantime, I asked her if I could share some notes she sent to me.  I have received so many touching notes from so many of you, and may ask if I can share them. If your words have blessed me, I know they will bless others.

You can learn more about Dawn’s struggles and victories at georgefamilybreakthemold.blogspot.com

With love and appreciation for every single prayer, Mardy

Hi Mardy,

I have been so extremely blessed by your writing.  Thank you for sharing so openly.  Today as I read through several of the blog posts, especially the one of you at the wedding processing the love you saw displayed on the face of the father towards his daughter that was foreign to your experience, I sat straight up and couldn’t believe what I was reading.  I could have written that myself word for word. I had the exact same experience and processed it the same way.  I can still remember the look on the face of the father and remember my  heart trying to comprehend that what I was seeing was something I was supposed to have experienced as a daughter but unfortunately didn’t.  I think I processed envy, grief, pain and healing all in one moment as God showed me everything and gently reminded me, “But I love you like that, even more.”

And then I read the analogy of the runner on the sidelines.  I have been there, even recently.  Not too long ago, I pulled out an old prayer journal during a time of feeling like I was weary and walking as the runners were whizzing by.  So I thought I would get a boost and a fresh reminder of God’s grace by pulling out this old prayer journal.  I went through the pages and each and every prayer went unanswered or answered in the opposite of what I had been praying for.  I didn’t even make it to the sidelines. Instead of the boost I was looking for, I just slumped and sat right there and felt even more confused and weary.  I just plopped down in the middle of the race.   I desperately needed to hear those words you shared with that young girl you were mentoring that day.  Thank you!  God showed me that he allowed me to fall upon those pages of seemingly unanswered prayers and unwanted answers to remind me this was not about me or the outcome I desired  but the outcome he desired and ordained.  He was challenging me right back.  He knew I was looking to those prayer journals for the wrong reasons and seeking the wrong answers.  He just wanted me to look at Him, not what He had or hadn’t done for me.  Thank you!

As I read your email, I was flooded with memories when you shared your struggle with crying in public.  ‘Going public’ as I called it was one of the biggest challenges for me when CJ was first diagnosed and especially after he first came home from the hospital.

Let me pause here and say first… please know I don’t compare my grief with yours.  I never want to sound insensitive when I share any similarities.  I know we had different experiences.  Your loss was sudden and I can relate to it only through my father’s sudden tragic loss which doesn’t compare.  With CJ, I was only faced with the constant threat of losing him.  We “faced death all day long” but I did not know then I was only walking with my son through the valley of the shadow of death.  I had no way to how we would exit that valley.  But I don’t want to hold back from sharing with you.  I can remember so many people telling me they were afraid to share their struggles of problems or lessons with me for fear they would sound petty.  I didn’t want my child having cancer to separate me from people or make them hesitant around me but to make me more compassionate towards them.  And I know you would feel the same.

I remember at first I only felt safe in the walls of my home or the hospital.  There was no shame in crying in a hospital and at home there was the safety of my bed or husband’s arms.  Going out in public was such a difficult first step.

Oddly,  I felt it somehow betrayed my pain because it was somehow too “normal.”  The first trip to Wal-Mart to pick up only a couple necessities was torture and I cried the whole time and felt like an alien on planet Earth. I stared into the faces of people sure that my pain and fear was so palpable that they could see it just by looking at me.  But of course they couldn’t.  I couldn’t wait to get back home and crawl under the covers and cry.  What stuck with me most that day as I cried and was afraid I would never be the able to brave a store again was the thought, “If I was in the store in that much pain and everyone was oblivious to me…what and more specifically who have I been oblivious to?”

Not long after, I tried again. Actually, the truth is my fridge was empty and my family was hungry so I had no choice. The first time I braved Publix to grocery shop something else happened.  I cannot describe the feelings I felt pushing that cart through the store.  I kept looking at it and thinking there was no way these groceries could weigh so much.  The cart felt so heavy and yet I was terrified to let go of it for fear I may just run out of the store crying.  I remember staring at the shelves trying to focus on the items.  Cereal……was there always this many choices?  Was there always this many aisles?  It was never this overwhelming before. I couldn’t even think about sales, prices or coupons.  Pick up item.  Place in cart. Don’t let go. Keep pushing.  So heavy.    I don’t know how to describe it. It was all so overwhelming. Then, after what felt like hours and endless aisles, I took my full cart to the register and began the painstaking process of placing all the items that took every bit of energy I had to get into my cart back out of the cart.  It seemed cruel.  I had my eyes on the door as the cashier scanned each item   I decided the world was a cruel place and I wasn’t ready for it.  People were clueless.  It seemed like she went as slow as she possibly could.  I felt like a china doll standing there and I was sure I was going to hear, “clean up one aisle..register.” and it would be me they would be mopping up.  She was finally done.  Then the cashier broke through my  fog and said gently, “There is no charge today.”   I just stared at her in confusion.  Silence.  Then she repeated,  “There is no charge. The manager paid your bill today.”  I barely knew him.  He was a friend of a friend.  My mother-in-law worked there but they were not close.  This is no small town.  Big city.   Miami, Florida.  Most of us don’t even speak each other’s language.  I just stared at her and the tears rolled down my face.  I don’t even remember if I managed a thank you.  I was too overwhelmed and too fragile.  I loaded the car and sat in the car in tears. I put the windshield wipers on and then managed to at least laugh at myself.  The blur wasn’t coming from outside the car.  It was just a reaction to put them on.  I just wanted to get home.   I knew what I was feeling.  I knew what was beginning to happen.  But I didn’t want it to.  I didn’t want to be thankful for this trial.  I didn’t want to accept God could use this for good.  I didn’t want to believe I could brave the public because then I might have to.

Then I had to vote.  I tried to talk myself out of it over and over.  Surely I was justified and could feel released from this obligation to my country and my freedom just this once.  But it was such an important election in 2008 and there was no way I could not vote. My husband geared me up with a iPod and headphones insisting it would help. The voting station was a block from my house at a small Baptist church I had attended for over a year so I knew I would feel at least a sense of familiar.  I could do this.  I drove the long block, turned into the lot and froze.  There was a loooonnngggg line.  It seemed like a million people.  Strangers.  It would be at least an hour wait in a line surrounded by people.  I sat in the car and watched the line debating whether to just leave. I cried. i composed myself. Then I got out because I reasoned I would always be at the back of the line if I kept sitting there.  I got in line and immediately people filled in behind me.  I felt so trapped.  There were endless conversations around me and I could hear bits and pieces of all of them.  I couldn’t help but feel like they all had no clue.  I was not having nice thoughts towards them deciding their lives were petty and shallow. So I put in the headphones.  Bad idea.  The tears ran down my face as Praise You in the Storm by casting crowns played.  I wish I could describe the feelings. Anyway, to make a long story short.  After an hour and a constant debate within myself of whether or not to leave I started listening to people. The woman in front of me was saying she voted earlier that day.  That didn’t make sense to me.  Why was she in this line with me for over an hour if she already voted.  Then she went on to explain she was standing in line for her sister who was pregnant and didn’t want to stand in line so she offered to do it for her.  She was saying she felt this election was so important she was willing to do that and once she left this place she was going to stand in line for someone else who refused to wait. I over heard this and thought about the debate I had with myself earlier about excusing myself from voting. Before I knew it I felt a strong urge to share that with her.  I tried to talk myself out of it for 5 full minutes as she went on telling the story to those around her.  She was right in front of me. The last person before her was taken in. She would be gone in a minute.  I blurted out, “I have something you can share with your sister.”   I paused as she turned to look at me. I remember thinking this was really crazy and it was going to sound insane but instead of stopping like common sense told me to I continued to say, “Tell her that the lady behind you in line today just found out 2 months ago that her 9 year-old son has an aggressive cancer and standing in this line was one of the hardest and most embarrassing things she has had to do, but she did it because she knew it was the right thing to do.” All of sudden her eyes get HUGE. I mean HUGE! I am sure I just made a terrible mistake. And she locks eyes on mine and she blurts out, “My son had cancer when he was 6 years old. Aggressive, Stage 3, Large cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma.” My knees almost buckled.   Not only is that a rare cancer but it is the exact cancer CJ.  She jotted down some scriptures and handed them to me.  Then she disappeared inside to vote.

All I could think of was God placing me in that line exactly behind her.  The time I sat in the car and debated.  The time I procrastinated coming. The unkind thoughts I had towards her as I waited and stood behind her.   All these people and  I end up exactly behind a mother whose son was diagnosed with the same cancer as my son around the same age. I voted and then I got in the car and cried again. This time it was not because I didn’t think I could do this ever again and I wasn’t ready but I cried because God was showing me I could  because He would be there with me. It would have been my loss that day if I hadn’t gone.  Instead it was my gain.

I don’t know why I am sharing all this. I am not urging you to brave the beast and get out in public or anything like that.  You will know when you’re ready and you will know when you have to and you have no choice.  Maybe I just wanted to share these few stories because I feel like I needed to remember them.  But also to say that when you are ready God will be there every step of the way and He will place the right people in your path.

Much love and buckets and buckets of gold flakes of grace poured out for you my friend.

Dawn

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3 Responses to "Guest Blogger, Dawn George"

Powerful.

What a God-glorifying post. Truly, reading how He loves us, with tender love, with tough love, with persevering love “that will not let you go” just makes me want to fall on my knees and thank Him for His awesomeness.

I am so appreciative that you two ladies have been willing to share this intimate walk with us – and that God has equipped you to do so. It challenges and soothes me all at the same time.

This is a great reminder that our God is our great healer and that He so often uses others to encourage us along the way. Being in tune with God’s character qualities of mercy and grace prepares us to bring tenderness to others when they need it. Praise the Lord for Dawn and for you, Mardy, and for the encouragement you have been to others. May my Godly caring for your aching soul be a blessing to you. I pray that today, sweet memories which heal will flood your mind, and that God’s grace which is not only sufficient, but even abundant, will be your balm.

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