Don’t Feel Sorry for Me

I don't need your pity - I need your love.

DSC_5504My heart quickens when I meet a new person because I know the inevitable question is coming. These days I am usually holding or holding onto our littlest who is now approaching 2 years old when I meet someone new. His presence spurs on the question “Is he your only one” or “how many kids do you have?”

Samuel

Samuel

My answer is always proud and straightforward. ” I have 2 boys here and a 12-year-old son in heaven. ” I don’t add unnecessary details unless they ask. Some do. Some don’t.  But, I have come to dread the looks of pity and awkward discomfort that follow my response.  Watching them avoid eye-contact and squirm and fidget….I almost feel sorry for them.

Almost.

I don’t want them to feel sorry for me.

When we feel sorry for someone, it doesn’t help them.  We have to push past our own feelings of fear uncomfortableness in order to connect with someone… this is almost always easier said than done.

Because everyone is going through something and we can be a blessing when we exchange that “feeling sorry for” energy to “doing something for energy.”

If you meet someone who tells you about a child who died (and yes it is ok to say they died – they are not going to fall crumbling to the ground) , please at least take a minute to acknowledge their loss.

  1. Exchange your awkward smile for truth.  For those who are speechless, I have some suggestions… “I have no idea how to respond but what you are going through/have been through is horrible.” “I can’t even begin to imagine how you must feel.”  Let the person know you acknowledge their pain and aren’t just showing them “pity.” I despise the looks of pity.

 

  1. Ask a question. “What do you miss most about your son?”  “What was your daughter like?” “What makes you smile the most when you think of him?” When you allow a grieving parent to share even a tiny bit about their child, you are giving them an unbelievable gift.

 

  1. Whatever you do – RESIST your urge to runaway. Don’t cut the conversation short or switch it immediately to a different subject or runaway in fear that you might “catch something”.  If you are feeling awkward and uncomfortable, suck it up!  When you ask someone a personal question, be prepared to follow through – otherwise keep quiet or stick to “safe” topics. Safe topics are things like “it sure is hot outside” or “these apples are too ripe.”

 

 

  1. God calls us to love each other. People are going through all kinds of stuff – divorce, sickness, financial difficulties, loss of a loved one, (insert whatever you’re going through right now because we’re all going through something however big or small if may seem).  When we put ourselves out there and ask a question – we had better be prepared to respond with love when we get a “real life” answer.

  1. Pray for God to use you to see beyond ourselves and lift someone up today.

“We rise by lifting others.”  – Robert Ingersoll

It doesn’t take very much effort to lift someone up and don’t worry – it won’t cost you much…just a piece of your heart if you do it right.

Words.  Simple, heartfelt words. The right ones can make a difference.

Can we all strive to be difference-makers?

“I don’t want to end up having simply visited this world.” – Mary Oliver

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Be a difference for a family who is facing this journey.  It can be a lonely journey. Let them know they are not alone.

Be blessed and be a blessing as we live and love a day and a moment at a time without our son, Zack.

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Choose Kindness

in a world where social media rage has become the new road rage

Really? I wonder if some of my “friends” would be so outspoken if they were not hiding behind the safety of an electronic device.  Social Media Rage (mostly revolving around but not limited to politics) has become the new road rage – where seemingly normal people (whom I thought I knew) become people I hardly recognize.

Vicious personal attacks can contain extremely hurtful words, pictures and symbols. Others sometimes join in the online assaults and people even publicly proclaim they don’t want to be “friends” with anyone who doesn’t vote for (insert your candidate name here).  Ugly exchanges force bystanders to ignore, “unfriend/unfollow” or block.

What are we thinking? Or not thinking?

It. Makes. Me. Sad.

While you’re busy getting angry and attacking someone for having a different opinion, another child is being diagnosed with cancer, another woman trying to conceive is disappointed yet again, another aging parent is being loved out of this world, another family is experiencing unimaginable and sudden tragedy and a lonely human soul is searching for hope in a horribly broken world.

And when they look at you – when they look at me – what will they see?

We all get so caught up in our world of standing for this or that and we forget the very circle of influence – our family, our friends and people who we come into contact with on a daily basis – who are watching carefully and desperately need us to be a beacon of light in a dark world.

Our children are watching. They are listening.  They are learning.

Brothers….looking very serious and always watching their parents.

And what about the impact of their actions as business associates, potential or existing employers can see some of these very public “expressions”?

We may not always agree but we always have a choice to be kind.

Agreeing to disagree is ok. And we don’t always have to be right

“Choose to be kind over being right and you’ll be right every time.” ― Richard Carlson

Let’s choose to be kind.

Be Blessed and be kind as you live a moment at a time…

Still Standing

Happy

Happy

It has been 5 years since Mayo and I attended an Express International Leadership Conference “Evening of Excellence”. It is a black tie affair and the evening is filled with fancy food, great networking and top offices are recognized with awards for various levels of achievement. Getting awards was always fun for us in the past, but after Zack died – it lost its appeal…

Everything changed after he died. We have had to learn how to live in a world where loss has transformed us. Loss forced us to adjust to a new normal….things and places aren’t the same; relationships with others are not the same; our relationship with God is not the same and the way we see ourselves is not the same.

And here we are.

Almost five years later (has it really been that long?).

After a record-breaking 2015 (with an incredibly committed and tenacious team), we decided to attend this year’s Evening of Excellence in the great city of Dallas, Texas.

I’m glad we did.

We are part of an amazing organization that has loved us through our loss and continued to celebrate our office’s success – even when we weren’t there to celebrate it ourselves. Saturday night, they cheered us on as Mayo and I took the stage to accept our award for the first time since Zack’s illness and death.

And we felt the love of our Express Employment Professionals Family (yes we are!).  This family was there for us in our office – in the hospital – at the Ronald McDonald House – at our home and at a funeral for 12 year old Zack.  They encouraged us, prayed with and for us. They believed with us and pushed us onward.  They cried with us and they grieved with us. They loved us.

And after being knocked down, they, along with so many others, helped us get back up.

And we are still standing

Even on the hardest of days.

We are truly blessed to be loved and to be in the business of changing lives daily and making a difference A Moment at a Time

Ready for the stage!

Ready for the stage!

This award will look great in our office!

This award will look great in our office!

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Team Wilmington!

Team Wilmington!

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Let God Fill the Empty

gravesite at christmas

The soft ground presses down under my feet. Perfectly placed poinsettias dance in the wind. Nearly every grave site shows signs of Christmas. Someone still remembers. Someone still misses.

We stop in front of Zack’s headstone and Mayo squeezes my hand. That squeeze shouts to my aching heart but quiet fills the air around me.

I wrap the tiny strings of light around the green wreath. The emptiness of the battery compartment is obvious and I wonder if emptiness is always obvious.

A tear slips out as I push in the batteries to fill what is empty.

Empty.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

And the lights on the tiny wreath twinkle full of life.

Full.

Mayo lovingly attaches the Christmas wreath to a plaque stand next to Zack’s headstone then he grabs my hand and squeezes. Again.

And I feel love. I see love. And there, in that moment of love, I spot God, enthroned in the emptiness.

When we let God fill our empty with His presence, He equips us to face the physical and emotional emptiness of loss.

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:17

How can you let God fill your emptiness?

The Empty Chair

Holiday Grief

Grief is so unpredictable.

Emptying a dishwasher, it crashes over me like an ocean wave.

Friends celebrate kids home from college, school being out and loved ones being together and all I can think about is the empty chair that will be at our table.

I have so much to be thankful for but I am deeply sad for what is missing. I miss our son. I miss his smile. I miss his voice and his silly jokes. I miss him picking at the turkey before it was time to eat. (Sigh)…

The empty chair waits for all of us who grieve. Thinking about sitting at the table of thankfulness without them is almost unbearable.

Please remember those who grieve as you celebrate with your healthy and living children.

And don’t forget to say Zack’s name to me. Please. Don’t be afraid to say it. I need to hear it. Because he is not forgotten.

And be gentle with all who are grieving this holiday season because the missing doesn’t go away.

The empty chair is there.

Be blessed.

dr nickboys pumpkin

Take Off Your Mask: It’s Time to be Real

DSC_5633I stopped by the store earlier this week and was bombarded by the huge display of Halloween paraphernalia. The aisles were filled with Halloween costumes and masks; some scary, some funny and everything in between.

Halloween is approaching and whether you participate or not, we are all aware of the multitude of masks that will be worn to parties or trick or treating.

And I am reminded of the masks I sometimes wear.

I have many. There’s one that smiles and says all is ok.  There’s  one that looks like “she has it all together”. There’s one that (insert your answer here)…

Because don’t we all wear a mask at one time or another?

New Season of Writing

I received many messages regarding my absence in blogging over the past year. Although I have continued to write (because writing is where I find my greatest healing) it has been better for me to keep my writing between God and me.

Mostly, because He is the only one who can handle all I had to say.

Because the world does not understand the reality of being a bereaved parent and the fear of loss again is real.

But, here I am ready to pour out words from my heart with whoever will read them.

Not because I am eager to share words – but because it may help even one.

And because we are called to be faithful to the task and leave the results of our training in the Lord’s hands.

May He find in me – and in you – faithful stewards.

I pray He will give me fresh courage in this new season of writing and the courage to keep seeking Him where I doubt He is and the courage to be part of a better story.

Watch for new posts coming soon… I hope you will be blessed.

Wendy

(And here is the newest picture of our Baby Sam – he turned 10 months old yesterday!)

Sam turned 10 months old yesterday!

Sam turned 10 months old yesterday!

Welcome Baby Mayo!

All my boys...

All my boys…

After being hospitalized for a week with pre-eclampsia, I was induced and gave birth early to Samuel Hugh Mayo on Saturday, December 20 at 10:29am…. 1 samuel 1:20 – it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived that she gave birth to a son and named him Samuel saying “Because I have asked him of the Lord.” (Born in answer to prayer and dedicated to God). Thank you Lord for this blessed baby boy…truly an answered prayer for our family.

Samuel was not due until January 30 so he was born early at 33weeks 5 days has been in NICU since his birth and our family is pretty much living there with him.  He is doing well but is still taking most of his breast milk through an ng tube (feeding tube through his nose) and he has to be able to eat on his own before going home. He is also experiencing apnea/brady epsiodes (where his heart rate drops) but he is able to bring it right back up on his own with no outside stimulation. Both of these are normal and expected for babies born this early. He is 36weeks gestational age today so we hope to see a lot of progress this week and hopefully take him home in another two weeks or so.

Thanks for your prayers for continued progress for him and for me as I continue to deal with lingering high blood pressure from pre-eclampsia.

We are truly blessed and are enjoying each moment of this new season…

Words can not express the joy of new life.

newborn samuel7

Nick holding Samuel’s tiny foot

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Samuel Hugh Mayo

Samuel Hugh Mayo

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Nick visiting me in the hospital before Samuel’s birth.

newborn boys

All my newborns…