Monthly Archives: November 2015

The gift of normal

On October 17, 2014, our older daughter took a terrifying fall from a tree in our yard. That story is chronicled here. The anniversary of this event came and was not at all lost on me. But I could not bring myself to sit down and reflect deeply on the significance of that day. Recent happenings have begged me to take another pass at reflecting on that miracle day for our family. Though I have a million tasks calling out to me today, my writer’s mind will not rest until I allow these words to flow. So here goes…

As the one year anniversary approached and the memories of a day blanketed with a severe mercy and grace rose up to surface level, my heart raced accompanied by a stomach that flipped and flopped. The story could have ended in tragedy, yet we were all spared. The “why God does it happen this way sometimes, and sometimes not”, questions persist. The what ifs still occasionally haunt and whisper inside my head. These moments are always followed by a desire to fall face down, spread eagle on the floor with gratitude for the grace sprinkled all around on that particular evening.

A few days ago, our neighbor and his dad were up on the roof. There was a fall. The local EMS responders were on the scene within minutes, just like when our girl tumbled down. A memory rose up for one of the emergency workers. He recalled being on this street and the brick home two houses down. In the midst of tending to another fallen family member, he sought out our neighbor lady, mom of three. Ma’am, there was a little girl who fell from a tree. Over there. Two houses down. It was a really big fall. Do you know if she is ok? In this job, we never get to find out how the story ends. Is she normal?

We had only lived in our new home for two plus months. Our now neighbor friend didn’t know which girl was which on the day of the tree fall. She now knows our names but wasn’t sure who fell. Well, one of the girls plays soccer and darts around speedily wherever she goes and the other is our babysitter. So, yes, she is normal. Follow up questions and answers assured this skeptical EMS guy that in fact on that day, the story had a happy ending.

The alternative endings are too painful for this mother’s heart to dwell upon. It is another form of grace when the what ifs that ricochet within my mind are quieted. As I shared these deep thoughts with a gentle and quiet soul that I barely know, she softly relayed the habit of her preacher as he encourages his flock with the visual of a ladder. He calls it the thin space between earth and heaven. That was where we resided on that October 17 autumn day. God reached down as we begged and pleaded upward. And as I’ve said before, no matter the outcome on that day, I cling to the idea that this thin space exists for all, come joy or sorrow.

Our family took in deeply and was touched by the care and concern of the emergency worker who does his job day in and day out with no ability to  know where it all leads. Our girl decided to write a letter that we will do our best to get in front of those specific individuals in our midst on our miracle day. But if that is impossible, this letter goes out to all who work and serve and heal without intimate and detailed knowledge of the grace that they sprinkle all around. In reality, that is each one of us.

November 23 2015

Dear EMS workers,

Hello.  I am the 11 year old girl who fell from the tree, in her backyard October 17 2014.  I am writing this letter to you because one of my neighbors had to call you guys and while someone was there, they asked about me.  I am now 12 years old and am doing great.  Of course I am hitting puberty, so I have my emotional troubles, but it was only a concussion that I have suffered.  I am in the 7th grade and am doing Common Core 1 (9th grade math) and my grades are just where I like them.  I want to assure you that I am doing great.  Thank you for saving my life (maybe) and for asking about me.  I know it can be hard not knowing how the people you save are doing due to all the patient confidentiality and stuff.  Thank you again for wondering and I am glad that I am able to at least fill you in.  Have a wonderful thanksgiving.


The girl who fell from the magnolia.   





Flying up to meet the soon to be other half of my boy’s family. A gracious invitation to stay the night. Wonderings from both sides I am sure. Do we go to the back door or walk around to the front? Greet with handshake or hug? A warm reception as we step through the main entrance and are greeted by both future in laws and their friendly cats. Hugs flow out. Stories shared. Breaking of bread together. The reflecting and sharing of our children’s lives and family as they walk toward the day of parting from their first family and blending into their very own.

The possibility and desire has been in the air for weeks and actually since before they wed. But when the final choice is spoken, tears flow. We are heading northwest and settling close to her people. Though from the day he was born we have raised him to be a separate soul with a mind of his own, this parting will sting. Many a recent Sunday, we have set the table for six. Soon, we are back to four. Before many days pass, we will be two. Thoughts drift ahead to the seemingly distant place of one alone.

Traveling to the airport on a bus and our eyes meet. A few awkward smiles and then she spills it out. Did you hear about Paris? Yes, I reply. Desiring to share a burden, she speaks of staying up into the wee hours of the morning taking it all in. Somehow she knows that across the aisle from her on this day is a kindred mother’s heart. Then the words that reveal her particular terror surrounding the non stop broadcasts from abroad. The news is terrorizing, “especially when you have relatives in the military.” In response I could only ask, do you?. Yes, my son. This unconsidered angle of such fresh and recent news had not yet pricked my maternal heart. As the doors open and it is time to step out, that which slips out of my mouth falls a bit flat. I hope that your son will be ok. Violence all across our world ripples outward and inward. We are all connected.

With great love comes the terrifying vulnerability of sorrow and loss. Along with Juliet, I understand that “parting is such sweet sorrow.” Sorrow intensifies the sweet as we hope and dream of meeting again. Letting go beckons a grief that opens wide the heart to deeper joy. Echoes and shadows of partings from days gone by rise to the surface of my heart and mind. Partings instruct and shape the soul.