My husband, My Children, My Brothers in law, My sisters in law, my nephews, my nieces, aunts, uncles, countless cousins, and many friends. AT ANYTIME ANY ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE LAYING DEAD IN THE STREET COULD BE SOMEONE I LOVE DEARLY AND DEEPLY AND FOR WHAT?? ALL FOR THE SKIN THEY’RE IN
We all wear this skin differently that is very clear. I wear my white skin very differently than most of my white counterparts. Even those that have their minds, eyes, hearts and ears, wide open to the dire problem in this country right now. I most defiantly wear it differently than those walking around with white blindfolds on. Eyes wide closed as I like to say. Even though I am very much aware, in tune and stand firm and with eyes wide open to the lives being taken at more than alarming rates in the streets of America I still have no idea what it must feel like to wear the black skin their in.
It’s not about skin color I hear over and over and over and maybe in some cases it’s not. Not maybe, I know in some cases there have been some amazing officers that have had to use lethal force in order to save their own life or the life of someone else. Here is where the water gets very muddy, even those good, honorable, incredible officers lose credibility when the cases of clear cut murder are going unprosecuted. I know so many people are going to hate these words and that’s ok because I am not here for a popularity contest, I am here to speak some truth. Good officers don’t deserve to have our backs turned on them, but black men don’t deserve to die on the streets for being black. The African American community doesn’t deserve to live in fear. THEY LIVE IN FEAR!!!!!
This blog today is about starting conversations. Starting a challenge that people would start asking questions. Most people don’t know how to help especially if this is not a world that you live in. Well here is where you start. Have a conversation with you children about injustice, about racism and the fact that it very much still exist today. Don’t turn a blind eye or ear just because it makes you uncomfortable, I promise you nothing is more uncomfortable than picking out caskets. Fear is what got us here so just jump and start the conversation. I beg and plead with you please stop turning a blind eye and pretending it does not happen and that the victims are the ones to blame because, while I am sure there is plenty of blame to go around there is only one person laying on the ground in a pool of blood. Officers are trained to work in high pressure situations. They are supposed to be trained to use their weapons. This is their job. There are thousands of officers that go out every single day and do not kill a single person, not one person. There are officers that go their entire career and never even fire their weapons, so why? These questions can’t just be left hanging in the air they need to be answered.
As I laid in bed with my husband last night and talked with him about the fear he feels when he leaves home every day I was overcome with a sadness that threatened to suffocate me. We talked about all the things he thinks about that could put him in contact with police and what he does to avoid that and I became disgusted, what country do we live in right now? I prayed God please don’t let my husbands car break down, don’t let him ever need assistance from the police for ANY reason because he is 6’5, 330 lbs. and I could not survive picking out a casket for him. We talked about the conversations we have had to have with our children and will continue to have with them. As I drifted off to sleep with tears sliding down my face, I prayed for The family of Terrence Crutcher and like so many nights before with the names of so many people slain in the streets of the “Greatest Country on Earth” and I begged God that the next one wouldn’t be someone I love. Please God our nation needs you and only you can make this stop.
Go in peace and love, have conversations. Take it all to the Cross!!!
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
I have felt this grief before, I have felt this deep longing this deep deep ache that seeps down all the way to the pit of my soul. So deep that I can’t catch my breath. I literally can not take a breath in that moment. I felt it the moment my mom took her last breath. I walked out into her front yard and with my friend in front of my and my husband behind me, I exhaled. I released the pain that was anchoring me in that moment. In that moment I wanted nothing more than to have my mama back but I knew nothing on earth would change the fact that mere moments before I had laid next to her, held her in my arms as she walked in the arms of Jesus.
The next time I felt that grief was the moment I woke up from my 8th surgery. The surgery that I knew before I laid on that gurney would be the one that would take my foot. The nurses said my body was racked with sobs before I was even fully conscious. Just like the night in my mama’s front yard, there was that pain that had become so familiar, that ache that had made its home deep in my soul. I wanted more than anything to have my foot back but I knew nothing on earth would change that mere moments before I was a whole person and in that moment I laid in that bed less. No longer 2 feet but 1.
In that moment it was just one second at a time, that second. 4 days later I would have a revision to form my stump so I would lose even more of my leg, but it didn’t matter because nothing would hurt more than the moment I woke up from that 8th surgery and couldn’t take that breath. It’s been almost 10 years since my mom died and I still get those moments of deep grief where just for a moment, that one moment I want more than anything to have my mom back. I can’t catch my breath but I tell myself “just one second, this second.”
The last few days I have been having those moments. No matter what I do, no matter how bad I want it, I will never be able to grow a new leg. There is no hope for a cure when you are an amputee. On days like today when all I wanted to do was get up and walk around the church with my husband. I wanted to stand in front of the church back drop and take a picture. I don’t want to live another day in this chair. I look down at my one foot of painted toes and just want so badly, Father God please I just want my foot back. Yet I know that will never happen. And there it is, I can’t breathe, but just one second, this second is all I have to do.
If only people could understand that having and wearing a prosthetic isn’t that easy. If only it was as simple as some think and make it out to be, it’s an ok second choice if I could get into one that I can actually wear. Having one and not being able to use it is like a constant reminder that just out of my reach is freedom that I can’t have. But just breathe, one second, this second.
These collection of seconds are what get me through each day. The days when I just want to pull the blankets over my head and cry. Days like today, but I try to remind myself that everyone has something they struggle with and although it may be different for them it is just as serious to them as my amputation is to me. So I pray that their seconds help them get through their days a little easier. They being whoever is in my life dealing with something.
I miss things, I miss going on water slides, and wearing jeans. I miss doing things without having to worry about handicap accessibility. I miss walking beside my husband instead of always having him behind me pushing me. I miss just feeling “normal.” I pray that my collection of seconds become less about that deep pain that takes my breath and becomes more about living life and capturing memories. I am tired of sitting on the sidelines, of letting that breath seizing, time stopping, soul pounding grief hold me back, I want to fully step in2 my destiny.
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.