Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday, June 29th~God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~A Mother's Memories

Joshua, age seven months

“Happy birthday, dear Joshua, happy birthday to you. We love you sooo.”

Joshua’s family clapped and said, “Yay, yay.” He smiled and tucked his ear near a shoulder, acting shy.

Jami said, “Blow out your candle, Joshy.” With the help of his brother and sister, he did.

It had been a difficult first year for our boy. He stayed sick with colds and respiratory problems. He had allergic reactions to several foods, so it took a lot of thought as to what to make for his birthday cake.

I settled on banana cake with no frosting. I arranged toys on top for decoration and for him to keep.

My husband removed the number one candle, and I kissed his cheek, and then said, “You’re a big one-year-old.” 

I pointed to the toy train. “It’s yours, Joshua—take it.”

In slow motion, Joshua reached for the train and brought it to his chest. “Mine.”

His smile lit all our hearts.

Father, thank You for enriching our lives with Joshua’s presence. In Jesus’s holy name. Amen.

Reader Journal
~Your Mother Memories~
~Your Prayer of Praise~
~A Scripture of Encouragement~

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday, June 26th~God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~Losing a Long-Time Friend~Devotion

photo by Jean Ann Williams

 “But you, O LORD, are on high forever.”
—Psalm 92:8

I punched in my friend’s phone number and got her answering machine.

Again, after my third attempt to reach her.

I wrinkled my brow and hung up this time without leaving a message. What was going on? Why wouldn’t she call me back? Surely, she wasn’t avoiding me after years of friendship.

I waited for her to call me as my birthday came and left. Now, I waited for her call when her birthday passed within a month of mine. What about our annual birthday lunch? Did she forget? Feeling sad over her silence, I received her Christmas card in the mail. She did not write anything but her name. No “how are you doing?” No glowing words like she used to write.

I blinked as I reread her signature.

Did I mean so little to her when I needed her most? If I’d done something wrong, I knew her well enough to know that she was not afraid to confront. Now, I had a new loss to grieve. I struggled through all those stages of sorrow and anger.

Much later, I spoke to my hospice therapist about feeling abandoned by someone I thought of as a good friend. The therapist said, “You know, Jean, it’s another loss for sure. But some people don’t know what to say or do when someone they know suffers a loss from suicide.” She shrugged. “Your friend might feel you are better off without her.”

I squeezed my eyes to keep the tears back. “She’s my best friend.”

“I’m so sorry, Jean.” The counselor was shaking her head, and her eyes had filled with tears.

Father God, I’m so sorry also. I don’t know that I will be able to understand how my friend could leave our relationship without an explanation. I feel wronged. Please help me to forgive her. In Jesus’s holy name. Amen.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday, June 24th~God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~A Mother's Memories

eighteen-year-old Joshua on the right, and a friend at an amusement park

Joshua got up early, a rare thing for him in the last months before his death. He came to me and said, “Happy Birthday, Mom.”

I turned to see his unsmiling face, but his expression showed determination. I hugged him. “Thank you, Son, for remembering. I can’t believe I’m fifty.”

His eyes darted, and he looked away. I wondered what I might have said to worry him. He finally said, “Yeah, fifty,” and left the kitchen. A few minutes later, with a duffle bag slung over his should, he said, “I’ve got to run an errand.”
My husband came in soon after Joshua left. He looked me up and down. “Dress nice today. We’re taking a ride in an hour.”

My husband then walked out the door. Okay, something’s going on. I went about my morning chores still concerned over Joshua’s sad demeanor.

Our ride consisted of a trip to the city park. Jim weaved the car past picnic areas and to a large barbecue area. People stood around the site and watched us get out. At first they appeared to me as strangers, but then faces smiled. My cousin and her family walked toward us. I recognized a few friends also.

People began to yell, “Surprise! Happy Birthday.”

My hands flew to my mouth. I looked at my husband. “Did you do this?”

He shook his head. “Joshua did.”

My youngest son, Joshua, stayed at my side all day, except when he discovered he forgot some of the food he prepared back at the house. He even watched me play volleyball with my cousin’s children and our grandchildren. He never smiled, though, and that fact nagged at me.

After I crawled into bed that night, my mind flashed on Joshua’s stern expressions. Is Joshua worried because I’m growing old?

Dear Lord, this day was a mixture of happy and sad. Why would Joshua go to all the trouble of bringing people together for my birthday and seem so withdrawn? Please, Lord, help my son. In Jesus’s holy name. Amen

Reader Journal
~Your Mother Memories~
~Your Prayer of Praise~
~A Scripture of Encouragement~

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Monday, June 22nd~God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~Celebrating Joshua's Birthday~Devotion

Jami and her family, the day we left California to live in Oregon~July 2008

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
—Lamentations 3:24

Two days after Thanksgiving, Jami and her family arrived early in the evening with a food dish to add to my menu.

She kissed my cheek and wrapped her arms around me, hanging on tight. “How are you doing, Mommy?”

My tears welled behind lashes for the hundredth time that day. “I’ll be okay now that you are here.”

She nodded. “I love you, Mom.” She went about setting the table.

After our meal, we set Joshua’s favorite birthday dessert on the table: New Orleans chocolate cake. No candles. No singing. Quietly I sliced the cake, and Jami dished up the ice cream.

One of my grandchildren said, “Uncle Joshy’s cake tastes good, Nana.” I smiled, tears stinging at the bridge of my nose.

Later, we cleared the leftovers, and everyone spread around at different places at two tables.

I piled boxes of puzzles on the breakfast bar and spoke to my grandchildren. “Okay, I picked easier puzzles for you. We adults will help if you want.” Most of them chose an animal puzzle and got to work.

I stood at a distance and watched my family. My son-in-law helped two of his children with one puzzle. What started out as an awkward night, celebrating Joshua’s birthday without him, became a relaxed determination to honor him.

As I cleaned the dishes and wiped counters, I quietly cried, so as not to disturb my family and their peaceful moment.

Father God, thank You for a family willing to gather together even though it’s difficult. We miss our Joshua, and nothing we do will bring him back. Help us to love one another through these hardest of days. In Jesus’s holy name, I ask. Amen.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday, June 19th~God's Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother's Heart~A Mother's Memories

This photo is on a cake. It is of my husband, me, and ten of our thirteen grandchildren

A pain in my lower back caused me to cry out.

When it passed, I continued opening a can of yams. My husband and I agreed that we should make our Thanksgiving meal simple. We couldn’t drive the hour to feast with family because my third baby was due any day. Besides, my ankles stayed swollen, and I ached all over as though I had the flu.

Jami, now seven, helped me set the table, and she put the food down as I instructed. With the meal ready, I told her to tell everyone dinner was ready.

My husband smiled. “Canned ham, canned yams, and canned corn—our Thanksgiving meal came out of a can.”

I soft-punched his arm. “You said . . .”

He laughed. “Yes, I did. I didn’t want this to be too much on you.”

I winced again, this time from the pressure in my pelvis. It had been too much, but I wanted a Thanksgiving meal.

As we ate, my husband said, “Do you want to go for a ride later?”

I picked at my food with a fork. “That would be nice.”

After eating, Jason, Jami, and their dad cleaned up, while I elevated my feet. Ah, I thought, this is my treat and my time.

Four days later in early dawn, I woke to a slam and bump in my pelvis. “Ow.” As the pain calmed, I drifted back to sleep.

Too soon, the contractions began and kept me awake. I got up at seven, and by five-thirty that evening Joshua came into our world. Our funny little guy would add more love and laughter to our home.

I’m happy that I had three children, Lord. I’ve loved them with all my heart. Thank You. In Jesus’s holy name, I’m joyful. Amen

Reader Journal
~Your Mother Memories~
~Your Prayer of Praise~
~A Scripture of Encouragement~