Life happens sometimes to fast and to often. We get going at a speed often thinking we are comfortable and able to handle all that is coming at us, putting things in their proper places or on their proper shelves and I don’t mean physical things I am talking all the mental.
Recently my family went through one of the hardest things I think I have ever went through. I was faced with holding my family together during a time when I didn’t even want to hold myself together much less anyone else. It’s something I have always know about myself, the ability to find strength and push through even the hardest of situations. It is how I was able to lay my mom to rest for the most part by myself, at the age of 25, and it is how I was able this time to rise up and care for myself, my home, and children after my husband attempted suicide on August 11th 2016.
I have known about this demon my husband battles since the moment I fell in love with him 15 years ago and it is something I chose for better or worse when I said I do 13 years ago this November. Mental illness is no stranger to me, it is something that has plagued people I love for as long as I can remember, many of them trying to combat and fight it only to find themselves slaves to another demon altogether, addiction. There is a pride that comes with seeing how hard my husband has fought all these years; because this disease has tried to take his life on more than one occasion. Yet on this night, one action, one thought, everything changed with just one decision.
We don’t have much support or guidance in way of parents, a lot of his pain comes by way of saying goodbye to his mother and father just 3 years apart beginning in 2008. When you lose the two people that are responsible for putting your fleshly body here on this earth it can do something to a man’s heart and way of thinking. Well in complete honesty we don’t have much support at all. You truly find out who your real friends are when your husband is in a lock down unit for 6 days in the hospital. When you are left with handling everything from taxiing the children, to school supply shopping, not to mention the practices and school functions. The beautiful thing about it all is that you also find out you had friends in the most unlikely places and sometimes that is how God loves on us. He uses these heartbreaking times to build a new friendship or build a bridge between a strained relationship. However, with every good side there is a bad side and you also see who isn’t your true friend.
I know that most people in general just don’t know what to do when someone is in crisis so the go to statement is “please let me know if you need anything.” I learned sadly from experience that when you are in crisis you more often than not don’t know what you need so you can’t tell people how to help you so you just go about doing the next thing. In the 7 days after my mom died and in the 6 months after her death I would have loved to have been able to tell people what I needed, but I did not know so how could I tell anyone. In the 6 days after my husband tried to kill himself I would have loved to tell someone what to do to help me with my 4 kids, but I was in autopilot. I was just doing the next thing. What I am recognizing now is that people know how to rally around him because it is easier to identify how to help and support him. I am the strong one keeping it all together and holding it down. I didn’t know and don’t know how to really ask for help or what to even ask for so no one really helps or even just stops by to be my friend, but they know how to help him. There has even been a few situations where I have suffered some negative consequences for his actions. I feel like I have been failed by those that should have showed up the most. My wall is up, I am shutting down and that is why I am able to survive.
The truth is this, I don’t ask for help because I am a fighter and survivor. I have fought my way through life since that fateful day in May 1982 when I was ran over and began to fight for my life. I fought through my parents drug addiction, through a bad childhood riddled with poverty and abuse, I have fought and survived my own physical aliments and obstacles and endless surgery’s only to come out the other side an amputee and will continue to fight every day the rest of my life for things that most people with take for granted. I am a survivor and a fighter and us survivors don’t know how to ask for help or what to even ask for, we just do the next thing.
It is only now that Brian is home and that we are in the rebuilding phase working on putting our family back together and healing from this life altering experience that I start to fray. It is only now that I start to look at doing a few things for myself and work on some serious healing in our marriage that I look to the heavens and I fall to my knees and I ask my heavenly father is it now? Is the time now?
Because when you have four children and a husband with a fragile heart and soul. When you have no mom to call upon and no soft spot to fall, when you know that you are the survivor and always the fighter and everyone looks to you for strength, it’s up to you to know the right time to look to your savior and ask……
May I fall apart now, Sir?
We all matter. God decided that. YOU don’t get to determine that. My friends don’t determine that, my children don’t determine that. God sent his only son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins, for all of our sins, and that is what determined that WE MATTER!!!! The Police should not get to decide that. For as long as I have known it however, there as been a consensus by most of society that black lives don’t matter as much as others. Actually let me rephrase that sentence, lives of color in general don’t seem to matter as much. Most white people don’t know the differences in the Latino communities, I will be honest I don’t. How about the Indian community, Hindu, East Indian? What about the Arabic cultures, they are all taliban right? Since the beginning of time people of color have been treated less than.
Do my sons deserve to walk down the street without fear of being stopped by the police? They deserve it but they don’t have it. My 10-year-old son is literally the size of the average grown man. He is 5’3 165 lbs, and guess what, like most 10-year-old boys he likes to play with toy guns and when he is with his cousins, my nephews he even plays with their BB guns/pellet guns. What is to keep someone from calling the police on my son and what is to keep him from being the next Tamir Rice? #BLACKLIVESMATTER
So what about Briana, everyone that reads this probably knows my incredible 14-year-old daughter. She probably babysits for you or maybe she is with your child in Life Kids, maybe you have heard about her from someone else or maybe you simply had her in class. Regardless how you have come to know her you know that she is the sweetest, most loving, respectful, helpful teenage girl you will probably ever meet. She is the girl you want your daughter to be friends with, the girl you want your son to date, but guess what that police man who sees those rowdy teenage kids on the corner doesn’t know any of that about her. All he knows is that in a community full of predominately upper middle class white kids she is the black girl in the group and often times more than not she is going to be the one that they decided to question. What is to keep her from being next? #BLACKLIVESMATTER
Meet my husband Brian, the first thing that everyone that meets him says about him is that his smile fills the room. He is truly a huge teddy bear. He loves with all that he is. He has a laugh that can be heard from miles away. Once you meet him you never forget him because he has a God filled spirit that is one of the most beautiful spirits I have ever experienced. My husband doesn’t just always drive the speed limit but he drives under it, just in case. Any time there is an issue or a complaint to be made at an establishment he stands particularly farther back than necessary just in case. In a discussion in public that might become heated he always stands with his hands folded in front of him just in case even when he isn’t involved in the discussion. My husband is also 6’5 300 lbs and as per previous situation’s resulted in the police killing Eric Garner apparently his size alone makes him a deadly threat regardless if he has an actual weapon or not. What is to keep him from being next? #BLACKLIVESMATTER
If at anytime you have thought to yourself it is not just black lives that matter but all lives that matter, I will say this to you, as I stated above yes we all matter God made that decision; however it’s not killing season on your children, your husbands, your family. This doesn’t just affect my direct house hold. I have 2 Brother and sisters in law, 5 nephews 1 niece and countless cousins that are black and any one of the above situations could be them as well.
As I have sat and wrote this 11 police officers, 4 of which have lost their lives in Dallas tonight. That broke my heart even more than it is already broken. I can promise you this, The families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile did not want this. The killing of police officers goes against the very change that we all want. The movement #BLACKLIVESMATTER isn’t saying that no other lives matter, it is saying we matter to, stop devaluing us so much that you will shoot us down in the street unarmed in front of our wives, husband and children. It is saying we matter as much as our white counter part. So killing police officers goes against those direct message’s because guess what there are black men and women on the police force and before they are cops they are black and their lives matter black and blue!
I want to end this by saying this, if you in any way think that this isn’t a race issue or that this issue doesn’t exist I ask that you kindly exit my life. I don’t want you here in our good times and should any of the unthinkable from the above happen I do not want you in my face being fake acting like you support me or my family in our darkness. I do not expect anyone who does not live with this reality to ever really understand, but what I do expect is that if you choose to stay in our life and be apart of our family is for you to acknowledge that this is a reality regardless if you get it or not. We ask for your support and most of all if you spend time with our children without us please educate yourselves on how you should handle any situations that may arise involving our children regarding these types of situations.
Tonight I pray for the fallen police officers and their families. For the righteous officers across our country that go out on our streets to honorably protect us. For the families of Alton and Philando and all those that were senselessly murdered before them. For the African-American Community that needs protection more than ever, they need healing and peace. Most of all I pray for the calm and peace that can only come from our heavenly father, our nation is in great need of you right now.
THE 5 BLACK LIVES IN MY LIFE MATTER
WE NEED TO DO BETTER
How can I be invisible in a world of billions of people. How can I hurt so bad that tears become a permanent path down my face. I become afraid to share the depths of my pain because of what others might think and I don’t want to lose what is important in my life and the few things that I look forward to, the only few things that keep me breathing every day. Others look at me and say how strong I am and how they couldn’t get through the things I have with a smile on their face but they don’t know that the smile is just to hide the pain and keep the tears from spilling onto my cheeks once again.
Everyday is like groundhog day. How many times do I think to myself there has to be more to life than this. My kids go through each day with the same routine asking the same questions and I give the same answers, praying with every breath that their life will contain more for them then what I have managed for myself. It’s not that I have a horrible life, and it’s not that I am ungrateful for the blessings that God has given me. You have to understand the history of my life and that it never seems to end. What is “it” you might ask? Well “It” is all the crap that keeps getting dumped on me. It never ends and it can’t ever be little stuff, no it is bad stuff and it just piles up and piles up and over time I have just broken. And at this time, right now in my life you find me completely BROKEN!!!
The question becomes can you meet me where I am right here on my knees completely broken. Not knowing which way is up. Trying to work through, heal, forgive, and ask for forgiveness of 34 years of pain, anger and destruction. I have to figure this out because if I don’t the outcome is detrimental. I know that losing my leg plays a big part in this because the day that happened it changed who I was, it changed my purpose. Everything that I was, did and took care of shifted. I was not longer able to do things that I had done my whole life. I had to depend on someone and that was brand new to me. I just don’t know who I am anymore.
I know that everyone has something and I also know that some people even have things that are worse than mine but the only thing I know what to do is deal with my own life. I don’t know how to heal. I know I am burnt out on life. I know I look in the mirror and I am disgusted with what looks back at me. My kids and husband are getting the worst of me instead of the best of me. Instead of normal life issues being dealt with and handled they are just piled on top everything else. Our life feels like it is in constant crisis.
I pray whoever reads this if they relate they just know they are not alone. I pray you know that one breath, one second, this second is all you have to do. I know that things pass and that most of the time things have a way of working themselves out. I encourage you to reach out to a friend, your pastor, a friend from church, school or even me. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SUFFER ALONE. I know that God loves me and that all I need is faith of a Mustard seed. I know that if I will just hold on the sun will rise again. I pray that every day I get better at living without a leg and that when I look in the mirror I see someone worth loving and saving but I know that is a work in progress. I know I have a choice and I have to choose life. I have 4 children depending on me to choose to overcome. I know that right now I may not be something they are very proud of but when all is said and done I pray they are able to look back and say that they are proud. I hope with all that I am down to the bottom of my soul that they when they are adults raising their own children that they look at me and say “mom thank you for all that you sacrificed for me.” I hope my daughters look at me and see an overcomer, a woman who worked her way from the bottom and never ever gave up. I want to work everyday to step in2 my Lyfe, so that they can learn to step into theirs.
I will always ask myself did I do enough, were the words I said heard by the ones I loved? I wish that I could name only one person as I sit here today and share this part of my soul with all of you, but there are so many people so close to my heart that I am sure it will never fully heal ever again.
I guess it starts when I was 5 years old and my baby sister died at home while sleeping in my brothers bed. We knew from the beginning that she was not going to live long but we hoped, prayed, and had strong faith that the outcome would be different. She was a very sick baby, born blind and deaf but that didn’t stop us from talking to her and loving on her. I didn’t really understand the depths of death at that age or what it does to a person. I didn’t understand what it did to my mom’s heart until I became a mom. The day my sister died was the first time I ever felt longing in my heart, I just didn’t know what it meant until much later in my life. My Sweet baby sister graced this earth for 7 short months, the only sound I ever heard from her was a cry but I believe in my heart that as she entered into the gates of Heaven God allowed her to hear all of the words that had been spoken to her here on earth that she could not hear. Carrie Jean Hawkins. 1/25/86-8/16/86
For years to come after that I experienced what I call “normal death” yes that is how twisted my life has been, that death can be considered normal. Normal death for me is when the elderly die. You know it is the normal cycle of life, the way things were intended to be. So I had some normal deaths and it made me sad but did not rock my world.
Then life stopped. On Monday December 11th 2006 I received a phone call from my grandma that my mom had slipped into a coma and that I needed to come now. My mom had been sick most of my life. Yet I guess I never thought that we were truly at this point and maybe that was because she didn’t want to burden me with what was really going on with her health. As a matter of fact just the week prior she had been in the hospital and we were not even sure she would make it home at all. At this time in my journey I had only had 2 of my 4 children. Briana was 4 and Bj was 1. I was in the middle of finals and what my grandma was saying to me was not registering because I had just talked to my mom on Friday. She had called to tell me how much better she was feeling after being released from the hospital. She sounded great at the time and we agreed we would talk about Christmas soon, looking back I know she knew this would be our last conversation, her next words will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was her final goodbye. She said ” Baby promise me you will remember the good times” this frustrated me because I hated her talking like that and I said “mom stop, don’t say that” and she replied “sister just promise me no matter what you will always remember the good times” and so I said ” I promise mom I will” and our call ended with the usual I love you’s and I will call you later. That was the last conversation I had with my mom.
I arrived at my moms on that Monday the 11th and she passed from this world at 11:50PM The following Thursday the 14th. I got to spend those 4 days with my mom talking, singing and praying to her as she was in transition from this world. She got to die at home in her bed with us all around her. I laid in bed next to her as she struggled for each breath and whispered that it was ok for her to let go. That I was ok and that I loved her. As my mama took her last breath I was right next to her praying that in her heart she knew how much I loved her, praying she knew I was sorry for all the things I had put her through, praying that she could feel how much she meant to me. My mom was 45 when she passed from this earth on to Heaven and I was 25. I know in my heart that during really special moments God gives her a window seat so she can be apart of the special things that are going on in our life. Nothing in this world can fill the void that loosing her has caused. Ruth Alice Hawkins 2/19/61-12/14/06
I have had a rough life, I am sure that more of that will come out in different times as more of my journey reveals itself. But the part that pertains to this is I was a very difficult teenager. I made so many mistakes and treated my mom so bad, but it didn’t matter she loved me unconditionally. This year will be the 10 year anniversary of my moms death and sometimes it still feels like the she just died. It’s hard to explain the feeling. It was like I was suffocating at times. Like it was all I could do to take my next breath. At times I did not know how I was going to get through the next moment. Even to this day I am still working and learning how to forgive myself. I know I did my mama proud though because I laid her to rest and took care of all the details. I made sure everything was handled and beautiful. I Pray her pride for me has only grown since then.
Never could I have imagined that the pregnancies of my youngest 2 children would include death, death of two of the most important people in our lives. In 2008 as I was beginning the 8th month of a high risk pregnancy with our third child. My father in law passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack in his home. He was found by my brother in law and my husband, unsure if he had been there 1 or 2 days. There were no final goodbyes, no time to make things right, just shock and heartbreak. 21 days later at 35 weeks, I delivered our son Brayden Gerry Carrethers named after his papa. He spent 7 days in the NICU and fought hard to come out. I have no doubt that our special little boy has helped us to get through this loss that we may never heal from . Jerry Lee Carrethers Sr. 10/14/50-4/29/08
At this point in our life I thought we had suffered it all and that nothing could rock our foundation again as hard as it had already been rocked until you get a phone call and you begin to ask God why he hates you so much. I was 5 months pregnant with our 4th and final child. My mother in law was being rushed to the hospital by ambulance. She was unresponsive and that was all the information we had as we headed to the hospital. My mother in law had been battling cancer, she had been in remission and the cancer had come back. We all knew this but what we didn’t know, what we later found out was that she had been hiding from us all was how bad the cancer had spread. She knew she was at the end of her life but she didn’t want any of us to know. My amazing mom Sharon had a faith like I had never experienced and she knew that if it was Gods will he would heal her and she was standing on faith that it was a possibility that might happen. My final goodbye came that night in the ER.
The Dr. had updated us all and explained that the cancer had spread and that she probably wouldn’t leave the hospital. We were so lost and shocked we had no idea it was so bad. For the most part she wasn’t lucid, but there were moments that she seemed to come in and out. There was a time that night when the rest of the family was out in the waiting room and I was in the room alone with her. We were waiting to get her moved to ICU. I was holding her hand and talking to her and a nurse walked in and told me that only family was allowed. Now if you haven’t read my previous blogs then you don’t know that my husband is black and I am white so the nurse had no reason to believe that I was family. I started to tell her that I was family and before I could say anything mom Sharon reached up and put her hand on my stomach and she said this is my daughter and she is having my granddaughter. The next morning my mother in law passed from this earth. 4 days later while in the middle of planning her home going ceremony Brian and I had an ultrasound to find out the sex of our baby. We found out on 3/22/11 that we were having a little girl. In honor of her nana Brooklenn Goyce Carrethers was born on 8/4/11. Mom Sharon is gone from this earth but everyday I see a piece of her alive and well in a granddaughter she knew she was having before we did. Sharon Joyce Carrethers 9/14/52-3/18/11
I wish I could say that it all ended there but it didn’t. About every six months or so up until about a year ago someone close to myself or my husband would pass away. As I have stated I am not sure my heart will ever be able to fully heal because the heartbreak is just so gut wrenching. Well and those are just the deaths, not to mention the other life changing ground moving obstacles that have been stacked up against us. But as long as they keep coming, as long as God is giving us the strength we are going to keep knocking them down.
To those left unnamed you still rest in our hearts and thought of more than possible to explain. I don’t know how my soul and heart can continue to exist under so much pain however God has continued to push me forward. Without his Glory and Grace I would surly be a paragraph in someone else’s blog where they are sharing their Final Goodbye.
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Honestly I don’t know if anybody’s image of themselves in their head matches the image they see in the mirror. That is defiantly the case when you are an amputee. Regardless if you wear a prosthesis all the time or if you spend most of your days in a wheelchair at some point you see your body for the first time after it has been anatomically changed. I won’t speak for anyone else but I don’t think I will ever get use to that sight. This month will be the two year anniversary of my amputation and a few days ago I caught my reflection as I wheeled by a mirror and it took my breath away, I said to myself “No wander little kids stare.”
I look at this thing every day and it still takes my breath away it shouldn’t surprise me that children, strangers, or even people that have yet to see me as an amputee are taken back by the sight of me. In my mind because I live with me every day and my children live with me every day it is normal, but it’s not. It Is not normal to have a part of your body “hacked” off (my husband hates when I use that word). On Rizzoli and Isles Dr. Isles makes the statement that Cause of Death is “Death by traumatic amputation” and I think to myself, hold on a minute is there an amputation that isn’t traumatic? Dang, why didn’t I sign up for that surgery, I am sure I would have liked that better.
Ok now, I know not everyone will appreciate my humor, however anyone that has been through what I have been though, and seen what I have seen in life has to use something to get through it, and I use humor. I laugh at myself and most of the time others laughing at me and that makes me laugh harder. There is 100% truth to the saying that laughter is the best medicine, it can heal or fix anything.
Writing is the other thing I do, write about this life, my journey, this walk. Or roll should I say since most of my days are spent in a wheelchair. So what do you see when you look in the mirror, do you see who you were in high school, or when you were 20 years younger? No matter who you see God sees the real you and he loves all of who you are even when you aren’t able to love yourself. He loves us at our highest and lowest, when you wake up after your 9th surgery and half your leg gone and the sobs are so deep that the air doesn’t move through your body, he loves. I am still stepping in to my life. I hope you are to.
Underserving favor, I feel so undeserving of many things and Grace is definitely at the top of that list. Love would have to be next on that list, I guess people would probably describe me as putting on a brave face, however I feel completely unlovable. So if I am not worthy of love why would I be worthy of trust, friendship, honesty, patience, and especially Grace, God’s Grace.
Maybe it’s not finding Grace that is so hard but accepting it for our self and even more than that extending it to others. The thought of it is so beautiful and can truly take your breath away when you think about what it means.
- Showing favor in a situation when favor is not earned
- Goodwill especially towards one that does not deserve it
- Extending love or care to others without thought or concern for ones self
There are so many more examples just like this. Jesus gives Grace as easily as he gives breath. More than find it for myself I want to learn how to be Graceful even in the toughest of situations. I want to leave people better than I find them and I want them to say as they leave my presence that I was full of Grace and love. I have a lot of work to do.