Saturday, April 3, 2021

Sweet and Sour Sauce

The last few days have been like sweet and sour sauce.  I’m not a fan of sweet and sour Chicken or similar dishes.  I’m more of a sweet hot person.  I love pepper jelly and make my own.  Nothing brings a smile to my taste buds like some hot pepper jelly on a gluten free sesame cracker with some lactose free cream cheese.  I don’t indulge in this culinary delight as often as I’d like because frankly, once I start, I keep eating.

But sweet and sour is a better description of my experiences over the last few days.  Rarely do I get to see more than one or two of my children at a time.  Over the last few days, five of my children were gathered in one place.  It was so sweet to be able to see them, give them hugs, and share a meal with them.  This always delights me and brings the sweetest of memories.

Like the cherry on the top, I got to see my youngest grandchild, a little princess named Phaenyx (Phoenix) ElsieDawn.  I held her just briefly, but it was enough to satisfy my urges to hold this newest member of the family.  Then came the great grands!  Those are the ones I see the least.  Times between our visits are long spaced.  Most of them have no idea who I am.  But I know who they are.  They are the sweetest human beings. 

I held the youngest of the great grands, beautiful little miss Ainsley.  As 16 of us enjoyed a breakfast yesterday, her older brother Aiden and sister Amira played around us.  While oblivious to the sorrow around them and not knowing who most of the people were, their happiness sweetened the day.  The other two great grands, sisters Abrella and Tiana also brought us joy and hope that life goes on.

But the sweetness was mixed with sour.  We were there to celebrate the life of Christopher Jason, my 28-year-old grandson who is now in the presence of the Lord.  So tragic.  So sour.  So sorrow filled.  There are not enough adjectives to describe the pain.  Scanning face of his family, his father, his children, and all those who loved him brought harsh reality amidst the sweetness. 

The moment when the sweet and sour mixed was seeing and hugging my beautiful twin great granddaughters.  These girls lost their father.  To see their little eyes, fill with tears, not understanding the magnitude of their loss, and yet experiencing the power of it.  To hug them and feel the love exchange as we smiled for our picture together, brought the sweetest moment.  Sweet and sour mixed. 

The last time I saw these girls they were babies.  This was also the last time I saw their dad.  I remember the hug he gave me.  It was deep and rich.  I told him I loved him and was so proud of him.  He’s gone.  But these girls live on.  At 8 years old, they can not understand.  Their lives are forever mixed as sweet and sour sauce.  Life is sweet and sour.

My prayer for them, for myself, and all of us who grieve losses is that we will remember the goodness of the Lord and remember:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Friday, March 26, 2021


Have you ever looked at a Kaleidoscope? When I was a kid, I loved those cardboard tubes with the hole on one side. Magnificent colors and design flooded my eyes as I peered into that hole. A twist to the right changed the visual display and a turn to the left yet another. Perhaps because I was a child before the internet – long before the internet – such a simple object could bring such delight. 

Today, I am looking in a kaleidoscope of dark colors and painful memories. Each little piece of brilliant colors and changes of light has turned into torturous memories of previous pain. Each piece familiar and each piece dim. Someone else is turning the wheel. It is spinning out of control. 

Death of a grandchild, I revisit that pain. Each layer of pain is now compounded by the most recent loss. I grieve not just this precious young man, but his brother, and his little cousin who was the first to go. Then I think of a beautiful great granddaughter whose life was snuffed out. Too much pain for one to bear. And yet, my pain pales to that of my children. We are separated by geography, experiences, and even emotions. 

These colors are not full of light. They are muted and dull. They are dark and murky. No vibrancy, no joy. I need time to adjust to each turn of the wheel. But there is no time. 

Fate or life or whatever forces are at work is turning that wheel too fast. Loss of home, sickness, death, tragedy, chaos, disorientation, each turn of the wheel brings another layer of painful memories and new pain. I’ve been here before. I am tired of being strong. I want to sit in sack clothe and ashes but there is no time. Life just keeps spinning in chaos. 

This is my lament. This is my reality. This is the painful existence of my life right now. Prayers will help. But they aren’t right now. Right now, I feel forced to peer through that hole of this kaleidoscope of pain and weep. Like the Laments of the Ancients, I will end with an affirmation of faith: 

  You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. (Psalm 118:28)

Wednesday, January 13, 2021


Hide and Go Seek, a child’s game.  Hide while I count.  Skip count by fives til you get to 200.

Five, ten, fifteen, twenty…ninety-five, 100!  Repeat Five, ten, fifteen, twenty…ninety-five, 200!  Ready or not, here I come. 

But no one comes.  You have followed the rules.  You have hidden yourself.  You have tried to make yourself invisible and hide your pain.  Hide your disfunction.  Hide your sadness.  Hide your essence.  You have no place in this world.  Always unwanted.  Always marginalized. 

Be good.  Be quiet.  Child seen but never heard.  Always hiding.  You learned it well.

You always thought someone would come.  Someone would come and listen to your pain.  Someone would come to affirm that you are ok.  In fact, you are amazing.  There is no one like you.  Yet, you wait, hidden long after the counting is done.  No one comes.

Mother May I?  Another game.  Mother, may I take three giant steps.  Yes, you may take three giant steps.  One, Two, Three.  Your brother’s turn, Mother, may I take two giant steps.  Yes, you may take two giant steps.  One, Two.  Your oldest brother steps forward.  Mother, may I take ten giant steps.  Yes, you may take ten giant steps.  ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE, TEN!

You never catch up – the sun has risen on the first born like in some ancient story of patriarchy.  Always in the shadows, and never catching rays of sun.  You and your brother, always in the shadows of the first born.  Mother, may I take three giant steps.  NO, you may not take three giant steps.  You may go back to start.  You will never finish.

A third sidewalk game is played.  STATUES.  The one who was mother in Mother May I, spins you around.  You are disoriented.  You are dizzy.  Life is a series of whiplash experiences.  You don’t understand.  What is up, what is down, what is right, what is wrong?  She stops and you turn into a statue.  Only no one comes to release you.  You stand still a shell of yourself.  No emotion.  No delight.  No crying out.  Just stand there, be a good girl.  Do the right things.  You are frozen.