Everyone believes in something. Even if you believe in nothing, that’s still something that holds your belief.
I believe in God… mostly. It’s not that I don’t believe in him or don’t have faith in him or think that he’s just a mean old guy sitting on his throne ripping peoples Dad’s out of their life. I was never mad at God for taking my Dad away. It was just how it had to be, and I had faith in the big picture He could see, that I couldn’t.
I “mostly” believe, because it’s incredibly easy for me to relate to other faiths, beliefs, etc. In a way, I believe we are all worshiping the same entity.
Either way, I came across a blog post as I was opening up WordPress this morning. ‘Ask Bigger,’ it was called. Now, i’ll be honest… I didn’t read it. In my defense, I hadn’t even had my coffee yet. But I did read the little blurb that sits below our titles attempting to lure our readers into clicking our links. “Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession” (Psalm 2:8).
The quote stuck out to me in an odd sort of way. You see, lately I’ve been half assed following along with that whole “Attraction” method that is slowly becoming a popular trend. The gist of it? Ask the universe for your wishes, and they will be granted. Funny right? Nearly the exact same message. The universe, God, whomever you believe it to be, gives you what you want.
I don’t believe that’s the whole story though. Sure, ask and it will be given. Believe, and it is yours. But, I also think sometimes the universe gives us what we need as well. And what we need, isn’t always what we want.
During my high school years I had about ten of my classmates die. We didn’t experience the horrors of a massive school shooting rampage, or a hurricane, or even a food poisoning scare. No. There were drownings and car accidents and rodeo accidents. It was hard. My class graduated with a reality of mortality that most didn’t obtain until many years in their future. In a way, all the loss, all the tragedy, might have been the sole reason I survived losing my dad. And, I wasn’t even alone in that. By the time I was 21, more of my high school friends had lost a parent than I had ever heard of.
Through high school we learned a lot. We learned algebra and Spanish. We learned about clicks and bullies. We learned how to pass a note without being caught. And the pain of loss was forever burned into each of our diplomas.
I had learned a little something from each friend I had lost. One set of friends were two boys about 15-16 years old. They raced through the back roads of our small town kicking up dust behind them. Until at the top of a hill they collided head on with an oncoming pick up truck. Both boys had died. In the truck sat the grandmother and brother of one of the boys. My heart broke for their families every time I passed the giant cross that now stood on that hill. But, I never once drove down the middle of a dirt road when I couldn’t see oncoming traffic.
Another set of friends were two girls. Two girls coming home from a party on a late winter night. Their car spun out of control. They crashed into a gully 20 feet below the road. They were injured badly, but they didn’t die from their injuries. A few cars went by them that night, but they didn’t notice the mangled car off in the gully on the side of the road. There was a house about a quarter mile away. The girls laid on the horn for hours. The next day the people that lived in the house said they thought they heard something, but brushed it off assuming it was just the screams of a harsh winter wind. Those two girls, mangled in that gully, froze to death that night.
I still refuse to drive down that road in the winter. In the rain. In the dark. I also ensure that my cell phone is somewhere tucked tightly to my body, just in case I shall need to be able to reach it.
One kid died riding bulls. I often wondered if he were to have known what was going to happen, if he still would have gotten on that bull that day. It was his love. His passion. He died doing his very favorite thing in the world. This kid, he was life in a nutshell. I sat behind him and his best friend in math class. Together, they were hilarious. And most likely the only reason I didn’t skip math class that year. His death was part of teaching me that no matter what, to do what I loved because it just wasn’t life if you did anything else.
There was one girl though, the very first death of a friend I experienced, that really hit me hard. Of course at the time, I was fine. Or so I told my parents. But, it left a mark on me that would never go away.
We were in a boot camp for troubled girls. Remember the slight story of my life I let slip through the cracks in my rant to Mom? That daughter of hers that treated her husband like shit she needed to wipe off of her shoe? That daughter was me. (And I know you’re dying to know… I was also the daughter that pissed her fucking bed till she was ten. It happens. Deal with it.)
I was so full of anger and hate as a teenager. My dad was telling me he’d never leave me, as his health was proving to me that he’d never be there forever. I hated him for dying long before his death ever came.
As my dad began slowly dying, slowly losing control of the world around him, he started trying to control me. I was not born with a remote, and I was the type of girl that would be damn sure to let you know it. He hated how I wore my hair, how I painted my nails, the clothes I dressed in. I was grounded pretty much my entire teenage years. And boy did I let him have it.
I was the girl that screamed in his face that I’d give every penny I had to see him dead. And man did I regret it later. But, in the meantime, before I had learned all those hard truths, I had been deemed incorrigible. Incorrigible is a fancy word the courts use to say uncontrollable. When I was 14 my incorrigible status awarded me a summer of boot camp for troubled teens. That is where I met Tabby.
Tabby was an awesome girl. Once I got the privilege of talking to my other cell mates, we talked about everything. Her story, made me realize that my story wasn’t all so bad. She had been there for a year. While I was thinking my 45 days were the longest days of my entire life. She had been there, forever. I realized that my 45 days weren’t the end of the world, and I might as well get through them.
I began writing in a journal. Of course, only because it was the only way I could count down the days without the guards catching on. It became the start of something that later would become this blog. While I was there I ran 26 miles straight and found my love for exercise. Stripped of all things of the outside world, I became me… and Tabby was a huge part of helping me to do that.
A few weeks before I got out, Tabby and I laid on our bunks whispering into the night. The rain beat against the tin roof something fierce, drowning out our voices before they reached the night guard. We weren’t too worried though, she was some new girl that probably wouldn’t yell at us for talking anyway.
Since then I have heard alternative versions of the story but that night, I heard Tabby’s story. She had a boyfriend a bit older than her, and one day he just didn’t want her to go to school. Like any normal boyfriend, he wanted her there hanging out with him and his friends. So he did what any normal boyfriend shouldn’t have done, he called in a bomb threat to her school. When the police finally traced the call, Tabby did what any normal girlfriend shouldn’t have done, she listened to her boyfriend say that she would only get a slap on the hand, and she took the blame for him. Now, she sat in a boot camp for a year until she went to court, being charged as an adult. The next day was her sentencing. The sentencing that would ruin her life. Lock her away from the world for years. She was terrified, and as we closed our eyes that night listening to the wind howl and the rain patter, I felt her fear and I prayed that God would hold her hand through all of this.
It was the first time I had ever really prayed for someone else.
I heard the night guard shut the bathroom door. I heard the rattle of the metal bunk as Tabby jumped out of it. I heard the jingle of the keys she grabbed off of the desk. And I heard the whoosh of the bunker door hang open as she ran off into the night, gone, forever.
Tabby ran from her fears that night. She stole the guards car and ran with everything she had left in her. As police swarmed behind her she ran… head first into a tree. Four months later her parents would finally take her off of the life support that was the only life she’d ever have left.
A few weeks later I went home. With tears in her eyes Mom cried for me. She wanted me to go to boot camp, she wanted it to change me… but she never meant it to change me like that. It wasn’t her fault of course. She didn’t know, and I instantly forgave her for the blame I had cast on her 45 days before.
It was the first real death I had ever experienced. It changed me, but not the way the other deaths had. I will never forget that night. I can recall it now as clearly as the day it happened. But what did I take away from it? Nothing but the pain.
Any old bloke can clearly see that Tabby’s death was not in vain. Her death touching my life could have meant something, something more than pain and tragedy. Her death should have taught me to face my fears. Just as the others taught me, hers should have too.
The universe has been giving me a big dose of what I need lately. Everywhere I turned there it was. Stories of mothers so much worse than my own. Mothers who were addicted to heroin. Mothers who had ran off to be rock stars rather than mothers. Mothers who had abandoned their children when all their children needed was them.
My mom was never one of THOSE moms. My mom gave her entire life to better ours. As the universe unrelentingly slammed me with this information, I pretty much felt like a spoiled rotten little girl shit talking her mom. Did I regret the post I had written? No. Not at all. I needed to write that post because it was killing me on the inside.
I had directed it at Mom. It was all to Mom. But, I really didn’t want her to see it. I didn’t want her to read the nasty words I had written. And as the days wore on, there was a cloud that hung above our relationship that I wondered if she even knew was there.
I still didn’t know if Mom had read that blog post. As sweat poured down my body every time I saw her online, I still didn’t know. And I sure as hell wasn’t going to ask. After all, if she didn’t read it, she surely would if I asked her if she did. So I sat, doing nothing, unwilling to face to my fears.
I knew I had to face them. I had to face her. I had to face the pain of watching her read my blog post. And I knew I couldn’t let her do it alone.
I had to tell Mom some hard truths. I had to listen when she told me my own. Because we’d always have each other, and I wasn’t really holding up my end of the bargain either.
I’m not much of a confrontational person anymore. So when Mom says things that burn on the inside, I just bite my tongue and let them slide. It was time that I stood up and said, no. No, my husband isn’t a worthless piece of shit, my kids aren’t spawns of Satan, my house isn’t deplorable. It was time I stood up to Mom and told her she was wrong. Wrong about me… and wrong about herself.
It was time I stopped running from my fears and faced them. Maybe then the universe could stop giving me so much of what I needed, and start tossing me a thing or two I wanted… like a winning lottery ticket…perhaps?