I Poisoned My Child

And I haven’t been arrested yet.

A big brother with liver cancer gets a sweet hug from a little brother.

If you don’t live in North Carolina, you may not have heard about our Cape Fear River water supply crisis. Apparently, the chemical that replaced C8 (used for Teflon) was replaced by a chemical called Genx. This chemical has been pouring into our drinking supply for years. DHHS says rates of liver cancer were up in our area during the time that our 11 year old son, Zack, was diagnosed.

And sure – lawsuits will be filed and there will be years of litigation and money will eventually be trickled out to people impacted but really? Money? Blah blah blah!
Criminal charges should be brought against anyone who knew this and didn’t make the public aware. Dumping it in the Cape Fear River for years – knowing it is the water supply for towns downstream…..I cannot begin to wrap my head around it! If I fed my kids poison, I would be arrested. But it’s ok for for a company with a permit to release unregulated chemicals ( chemical that they know cause a variety of health issues and death) into water supplies so I can unknowingly feed that poison to my kids? 
The thought of me giving my children poisoned water makes me sick. I remember insisting he drink water instead of soda because it was better for him. I remember encouraging him to swim in our city water supplied in ground pool because exercise was good for him. I remember making him bathe daily because he was dirty from doing little boy things.  I remember watching him die. He was only 12. He died from liver cancer….liver cancer likely caused from this?

What
??

His life mattered

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How can this continue to happen all over this great nation? Water supplies contaminated and poisoned (knowingly) by US companies! When I google it – I am dumbfounded that it is happening again and again. Our water is being poisoned by US companies – not by hate filled terrorists – these are US companies! How is it that we are not more outraged? Our communities, our children, our pregnant mommas and future generations are counting on us to stand up for them. 

If we don’t insist on better, it will never get better.

It’s time to fight!

Zack smiled as I fed him poisoned water.

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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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

Letter to Zack on his 16th birthday

zack today

Dear Zack,

Today is your birthday. Your sixteenth birthday. And I wonder…

I wonder how tall you would be now. I wonder how your voice would sound.  I see your friends and how much they have changed. And I wonder…I wonder if you are still twelve in heaven. I wonder what heaven is like. I wonder what you are doing right this minute.

I remember rocking you in the middle of that first night sixteen years ago. Just you and me and the dark. Those precious early moments…never knowing that twelve years, eight months and eleven days later, you would be gone. If I had known, would I have lived the moments of life differently?

I miss you Zack.

I miss your smile.

I miss your hugs.

I miss your messy room.

I miss your humor.

I miss your voice.

I miss you waking up before anyone else. – I’m convinced now that you somehow knew you needed to get all your living done instead of sleeping.

I miss your blue eyes.

I miss having to tell you to stop pulling your brother’s ear.

I miss seeing you and Daddy wrestling in the floor with Nick.

I miss your dirt bike races and your dirty face and clothes.

I miss tucking you in.

I miss everything about you.

I miss you.

I am quite certain I always will. Missing you has not been erased by the passing of time. But, I know – God sees what we cannot see.

We just passed the half-way mark with this pregnancy. This precious new life growing inside of me has stirred up many emotions for me.

Nick will make a great big brother because he learned from the best. He talks to the baby a lot – remember how you used to tell him to be quiet? He still hasn’t learned how. J

He says this baby will be his best friend just like Bubby.

This baby – this blessing – will know all there is to know about an oldest brother.

Today is your sixteenth birthday.

To celebrate, we are going to Granddaddy’s restaurant to have dinner with family. We will sing happy birthday to you. Nick will blow out your candles and we will eat your favorite cake. Then, Nick is going to open the sealed envelope and announce if we are having a boy or a girl!

We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate you.

We love and miss you with every breath.

Happy 16th birthday Zack Attack!

Click here to see Zack’s last birthday – celebrated at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital…

zack bday 1

Zack’s first birthday – celebrated on Grandma Bonnie Mae’s front porch…

zack age 3 (3)

Zack’s 3rd birthday – celebrated at Granddaddy and Ebie’s house.

zack 11th bday

Zack’s 11th birthday – his last healthy birthday – celebrated with 11 boys sleeping over at our house.

 

Wise Old Oak Trees

20140122_14144220140122_142217Landmarks, museums and other interesting sites are usually on our list when we travel in our motorhome to supplement our learning on the road. This trip has been different.
Because we came to attend the RV Supershow and purchase a new motorhome, we have spent a lot of time at our dealer’s campground here in Florida.

During the winter, most Florida campgrounds are the destination of “snowbirds”- a term used to describe retired people who flee the snow for warmer weather. They travel here from all over the coldest parts of the U.S. and Canada.20140117_161852

Someone messaged me and asked “how can you stand being around all those old people (at our campground)?”

The oldest trees often bear the sweetest fruit – German Proverb

We have met many incredible “old” people in the last couple of weeks here in Florida.

Yesterday, we enjoyed coffee with a sweet elderly couple (from Missouri but live full-time in their motorhome). Mr. Noel is recuperating from knee surgery. He explained how his knee troubles all began with a downed helicopter in Vietnam. Nick listened intently and asked questions about the war, the rescue and more about his knee and broken back. Mr. Noel also shared stories of his dad’s participation in World War II and his survival of the Normandy invasion.

For a little boy who loves to play battle with friends at home and who is studying World War II, this was an incredible learning experience. This kind of learning is better than any book we will read, better than any research on the internet – this learning is the gift of incredible living history.

“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.”—Deuteronomy 32:7

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Several days ago, another man, Mr. Walt (from Colorado – wintering here), saw Nick eating a lot of fruit one morning, and told him it was good to eat so much fruit. “You will grow up to look like Charles Atlas” he said. The look on Nick’s face revealed he had no idea who Charles Atlas was so Mr. Walt encouraged him to find out about him. Nick researched Charles Atlas on the internet and sought him out to share what he had discovered.

And just in case you don’t know who Charles Atlas is… As a youth, he weighed only 97 pound and a bully kicked sand into his face at a beach. Charles was humiliated which lead to him doing numerous exercise routines and becoming obsessed with strength. According to several stories, while at the zoo, watching a lion stretch, he thought to himself “Does this old gentleman have any barbells, any exercisers?…And it came over me….He’s been pitting one muscle against another!” He concluded that lions and tigers became strong by pitting muscle against muscle. It was this idea that lead to his dynamic tension program that made him so successful and earned him the nickname of “The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man”

Nick has given lots of sweet hugs to grandmas and grandpas and watched them dance together in the clubhouse. He has entertained with his keyboard and exchanged stories about the Titanic (his obsession for over a year now). He is currently working on a math problem involving our motorhome’s length and the Titanic. (Mr. Joe asked him last night how many 45 ft motorhomes would fit lined up straight on the Titanic.) I made him go to bed before he completed his living word problem but I guarantee Nick will find the answer this morning so he can share the answer with Mr. Joe.

The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.~Proverbs 20:29

Learning, sharing, exchanging…

Yes – that is how we can “stand” it – that is how we can accept the wonderful gift – the privilege – of spending time among the old old oak trees…

We are making all the moments count… A Moment at a Time.

Be a blessing to someone today!20140117_16190920140118_16072720140122_14063620140117_16200820140112_155558 (1)

Are you Ready for the new year?

A new year is upon us.

We hear much about the plans, goals and resolutions people are making for their lives.

Eat less. Exercise more. Drink less. Spend more “quality” time with family. Achieve more at work. Make more money. The list goes on and on…

We hear nothing about people planning to die.
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People don’t talk about death in our culture. It is a morbid topic and people avoid it. People don’t like to think about it so don’t until they have to plan a funeral for someone they love.

But, shocking statistics reveal that one out of one people will die.

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” ~ James 4:14b

That includes you and me.

Over 150,000 people in this world will have no tomorrow. They will die today. And most will have no warning – no diagnosis of terminal illness. Most will die suddenly.

Will they be ready? Where will they spend eternity?

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:10

If we want to make the most of life, we have to face the fact that it will end.

“Only those who are prepared to die are really prepared to live.” ~ Dr. L. Nelson Bell

Am I ready? Are you?

What are we doing today to prepare for eternity?

Will we be prepared to meet the Master at any moment and answer for all we have done for HIM? Or will our answers be filled with all we have done for ourselves?

Every day of our life, we are just a breath away from eternity.

How can I be a difference-maker?

How can I impact even one?

What can I do – what can you do – to be salt, and light, and to be a difference-maker?

How often do we fail to make a difference because we don’t even try?

We have a choice every day to be a difference.

How will we make a difference for HIS kingdom this year?

A new year lies in front of us. Are you READY?

God help us to live now in the light of a REAL tomorrow.

Happy New Year – may you all be blessed and live for HIM a moment at a time…

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Nick reads about the Titanic with a resident at Lake Shore Commons Senior Living Center.

Nick reads about the Titanic with a resident at Lake Shore Commons Senior Living Center.

Merry Christmas!

Love never dies…

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! We miss our Zack but continue to honor his life every day and trust our Mighty Savior’s plan for our family. Cherish every moment during this season and the upcoming year!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Be the difference

christmas card100Christmas.

The time of year when we remember.

Each ornament we hang has a special memory. Each song we hear sparks a feeling.

And my mind spins dizzy with the thoughts of my oldest son’s birth and of his death 12 short years later.

And I think of how all the more precious Christmas has become to me.

Remembering HIS birth.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6-7

Because without birth, there would be no death.

And in HIS dying, we were saved.

We, undeservingly, were given the greatest gift.

Our family has enjoyed a special month of giving to others. It has blessed us immensely and helped us keep our focus on the true meaning of Christmas. We pass on many life lessons to our younger son, Nick, by involving him and helping him learn to make sacrifices and give with us.

Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time for many.

Look around. We all have a neighbor in a valley right this very moment. Can you take them a meal? Can you bake something? Short on cash – no problem! Visit or call! Give a smile and an encouraging word. Show them that they are not alone. Show them that you care.

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa

What can you do?

What will you do?

To make a difference for even one?

HE made a difference for me and for you.

Be the difference maker this Christmas season.

It will make a difference for you.

Be blessed!
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