Where have you gone?
I feel you deep inside me as if you were still there.
But now as the wind blows through the trees
There is no whistle. There is no sound.￼￼
Where have you gone?
Why were you taken so quickly?
Were you here only to say goodbye? Only to kiss the sky?￼￼￼
I lift my hands to the heavens to give you back,
Before I was even able to kiss your newborn skin.
There is no song. There is no sound.￼￼￼
I hold my hands to my heart in ache
Where are you now?
How will I ever be the same without ever hearing your laughter?
The giggles of innocence silenced.
Without a heartbeat without a breath.
There is no laugh. There is no sound￼￼.
Are you lost?
… have you found someone to rock you to sleep at night?
I hope you are taken care of, I pray you are not fearful…
Hush baby… don’t be scared,￼￼￼
For I am always here and will never forget you.￼
I whisper in your ear as you cry and kiss away our tears.
…I will always sing to you
My Silent Lullaby.
~Ami Beth Cross~July 2009￼￼￼
Absolutely hating the saying, “it is what it is”, has lead me to really digest the phrase. To me, this popular saying is wildly repetitive. I mean, come on now, of course, “it is what it is.” Let’s put a little more thought into it, why is it what it is? Stuff happens I get it, but in this life, especially as Christians, we are called to turn the “yuck” of what life throws our way into His master plan. Introspectively I contemplate that “is it really what it is?” Or is it an eternal opportunity for us to make it into something that may impact our inner ability to grow and prosper into what God has intended for us in the most magnificent way?
My tire blew out.
“It is what it is.”
I was late for work…again.
“Oh well, it is what it is.,”
My life sucks, I lost my keys…AGAIN!
“Who cares ’cause, it is what it is.”
My wife left me because I’m an addict and can’t stop feeding my want for the numbness drugs bring me.”
“It is what it is.”
I’m back at Rogers Memorial Hospital after promising I’d never have to go back to this place.”
“It is what it is.”
No!!! Stop this complacent way of justifying our situations. It isn’t what it is, it is what we make it!!!
Can I get an “Amen” people?
Life throws many curve balls. The best way to make God laugh is to tell Him you’ve got this great plan for your life, that you’ve got your life figured out.
Reason being: We can’t predict what is going to come our way, the struggle, the torrent, the joy, love, acceptance, rejection etc… None of it is in our hands. All of it is far out of our reach, as far away as the stars we watch on a warm July night holding our loved ones close.
So…it is what it is…right? Let’s take a look at the last week of my life and see.
I recently spent four days at Rogers Memorial Hospital Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. I saw people of each gender and every race struggling with mental illness and substance abuse. Let me tell you, I saw it all, from depression, anxiety disorder, heroin, cocaine, opioid, ecstasy withdrawals, alcohol dependence, Bipolar Disorder, and Schizophrenia. I met the most extraordinary people fighting to combat the darkest and deepest places in which had created their own living hell.
On my journey, I met…
A homeless man whose love and hope resided in Jesus as he spent a long winter in Wisconsin… homeless. Living under bridges and one meal a day at the local food bank, somehow he managed to find drugs. He was there with me recovering from heroin use to help dispel the fact that he had been raped. I asked him once, “How did you survive being homeless in Wisconsin in winter?” His answer, “Jesus of Nazareth. I continued, “How on earth did you survive being raped. The very worst of the worst. I get it.?” His answer, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Through squinted eyes and messy hair, his hand covered his mouth, as in a showmanship of trying so hard to not vomit up the turmoil he had been through. My hand reached out to meet his quivering broken self. “I admire you more than you’ll ever know,” I whisper. His response…
“It is what you make it.”
A lawyer from Houston, Texas who carried with him sorrowful stunning crystal blue eyes, going through a painful, yet, necessary divorce. On Sunday I asked, “Being it’s Father’s Day how hard is it to be away from your newborn son?” He responded, “that is part of why I’m here. My Bipolar went completely out of control at the thought of my son growing up with me as a part time dad.” My words seemed to echo through the commons area where we spent our free time, “I can’t even imagine.” Bowing my head in introspection and sorrow for this wonderful man who had reached out for help, I smiled at him with tears in my eyes. “So, my friend what are you going to do?”
“It is what I choose to make it.”
I met an addict deep in the trenches of withdrawal symptoms displaying profuse sweating while feeling cold, body aches, tremors, and his nose bleeding out all the poison. Come to find out he had been using heroin for ten years straight, I asked him one night, “Why now, why are you here here in this moment, after many attempts at rehab?”
After a long pause, he stuttered, “My addiction has taken over every aspect of my life. I have overdosed five times in the past week, man. I’m so lucky to be alive. My last OD was at work, my boss found me passed out in the bathroom. I’m most likely going to lose my job where I was making crazy money.” Responding with my eyes wide with the wonder of what can happen to a life I also stutter out, “Why now, what about this time after two stints in rehab is going to make you clean?” He ran his worn construction hands through his dark thick hair. “Because I can’t be buried next to my twin brother. He died when we were 16, I just can’t do that to my mom, my dad, to me.” Tears dripping down my placid face I ask him, “How? How do we do this, never turning back, giving up our crutch?
“Our sobriety is what we make it, man. We just have to Ami, you don’t want to be buried next to your babies, do you? Of course, you don’t.
Let’s chose to make it what we have the ability to make it; which is something so much…better.”
I had these amazing and deeply strong and courageous people surrounding me as I went through one of the most difficult trials in my life. We poured into one another for hours on end. Talking, crying, withdrawing from the poison that we filled our veins with. We played silly games that the counselors made us, after rolling our eyes at the sight of “Loaded Questions”, we all laughed and felt authentic empathy for one another. Our stories were all different, our past, our pain, abandonment, abuse, and total destruction of our hearts. We were united in a common joining of pain yet hope to make it what we had chosen to make it by having the will to seek out help.
I’ll never forget the people I met the four days I was in the hospital. Never ever ever. They were one of the many reasons I had to fight because in fighting we were in the battle together. Cheering one another on toward victory over the enemy’s playground we had chosen to play on. Death was searching for us, each and every one of us, yet by crying out for help we fought the fire of an inevitable end. We battled the turmoil inside us that we had invited into our inner will to fight. Fight. Fight. Fight.
Eventually, seeking the ability to overcome, I am currently in a four-week partial hospitalization program where I spend six hours a day with intense medical observation, coping skills, weekly drug and alcohol testing for accountability. Which is perfect, as God designed such capable people to care for the “us” who have such battles inside our minds.
It is what it is.
I have a mental illness.
It is what it is.
I struggle with alcohol abuse.
It is what it is.
I have had a really rough go of life, facing struggle after struggle since I was two years old.
Oh heck no, it isn’t what it is…it is what I make it!
And I chose to make it perfectly where He needs me to be, ministering to others.
Make it well with my soul. To follow Christ, giving Him all the pain, addiction, sickness and my past turmoil that has an imperative reason as to why I’m here, right now in this place, facing this struggle.
Ultimately, it is what I make it
I chose to make my life the stunning bright light of beautiful glory that God intended for me before I was even me. And that is the true definition of, “it is what it is.” God’s grace tells us that we are perfectly and wonderfully made, and it sure helps get us there when we make it what He desires for us to make it.
I’m stuck in a pit of mud, the dark thick kind that keeps sucking me in deeper and fuller into its abyss. My hands can’t move, my legs can’t kick. My mind is racing for a rational way out, to race to the top and surge my way up. I’m sucked in like a storm surrounding me without a name, no prediction of its force, only a gale force wind and black clouds closing in faster, my breath is gasping.
I move without motion.
Emancipated in a silenced fear that races through my inner mind that rages with a blank stare, I lie in silence.
I see her.
Her long blonde hair and gypsy green eyes tell me it’s ok. A small hand reaches out to my sinking appendage that can’t move from the blackness I’m covered in. “Help me!” My voice is but a sound of no accord as my throat is parched past the shadows that are covering my shoulders now.
Light will come, just hold on. Her song sings, loud and like honey to my ears.
Yet, I can’t.
I’m sinking fast and far, dark and smothered by the stretch my body is capable but that isn’t there. My muscles tense as I wage the war against the black smoldering slithering mess I’m in yet again.
I turn my eyes down as the love is undone. I’m not worthy, my life has surely become what it deserves to be-swallowed.
Light will come, just hold on! Her voice is getting more panicked. I know she needs me and my teeth push together making a sound that growls with the wind. Howling is coming as the breath of the sky shakes the leaves and makes ripples in the mud bath I’m lying in.
I’m sinking deeper into me. Faster into the demons of my past and the fear of my future that the weakness will always hunt me down and eat me up, piece by bitter piece.
My mouth is close to the murky substance that collides with me every night. The sick taste fills my buds before I can even feel it touch my palate.
You’re closer than you know. Her voice is a shrill now. Calling to the wind, begging for my mercy.
Closer than you know, she cries. Fight your way out!
My lower lip feels the cold taste of the earth as it starts its wage against me slowly etching its way toward my lungs, to fill them deep so I can no longer taste air and slowly drown in my own demise.
Fight, fight FIGHT! She is screaming now which is coming out in a singalong sonnet of her hope. Her voice rises with each octave that raises its plea. FIGHT, Mommy, FIGHT!
My lids close, my lips are covered and I dip my face in head first. I open my mouth and let it all in, the sin, the darkness, the feel of the rocks and debris fill my senses as the last thing I see before my eyes fill completely with the mud of my life is her long hair and gypsy eyes.
Lift up your eyes and see, Heaven is closer than you know! I hear in a symphony before my ears are filled with the murky death that is calling me to fall into. It’s not just a singular sweet honey voice anymore, it’s the orchestra of many. Five voices sing out in unison.
Come back! Fight! You’re closer than you know!
I succumb to it, fall forward and backward and wayward and deeply into what the demons in my head say I deserve. The last thing my ears penetrate is all of them; singing praises and a plea to God.
I know you’re there, come back! They bellow to the storm above, the shadows that are taking me away.
My lungs collapse. My body shakes with the faint air that’s left in me. My mind goes blank and all I see is the mud I’m encased in.
God are you here, I calmly ask? I let the mud in and then I’m nothing but motionless.
It’s dark here, silent. The fear is gone and the sleep is deep. Peace is on me and I’m walking on the mud now, yet it is a sea of blue not brown disparaging bleakness. I am still. And I am quiet.
But He is there reaching out to touch my hand and He grabs my heart to heal it from all my pain.
I’m there, where I thought I wanted to be. To be rid of it all, the torture, the fear, the sinking sand I was falling deeper into every night, even as I smiled and tucked them into bed, wasn’t this what I fell asleep to after night fall? The thought of it all ending here, me in quicksand, them okay without me being the burden I know I am.
LIFT UP! LIFT UP, LIFT UP.
I hear her, him and him and him and him. My head turns and my eyes open in the black of death and I shake with a fervor I haven’t felt in months. For, I don’t really want to be in this sinking mud, this really isn’t what I desire, for them to be at the top and me at the bottom of a deep grave I’ve dug myself into.
I’ve got to find a way out. To lift up.
By your spirit I will rise, from the ashes of defeat.
In your name I come alive. The resurrecting King, is resurrecting me.
By your spirit I will rise.
They are all signing praise songs. In my imminent death, they are closer now to what God needs of them, singing out a symphony of a pardon for my life.
My arms find their lift and I fight with every muscle in my body to find a way to the top, to fill my lungs with the air that He gave me forty four years ago. My legs kick, my torsor begs to rob my grave and give me another chance at Victory.
It’s always going to be a struggle for me, to find my way out of the sinking sand, but relying on the wrong crutches to help me walk is never going to bring me back to the top. I have to hold on to my King, who can defeat the ashes of depression and suicidal thoughts. He declares that as the mud doesn’t quite touch the fullness of my soul, it only delights in my demise. Loves me giving up, cheers me on as I give up.
Yet..God hears the voices of my army.
They are signing now.
And somehow I can hear them. Their tearstained echos find their way into the pit. I can hear them now.
I fight. I climb my way out and my head emerges from the pit, filled with debris and sticky mud that covers my milky white face.
She’s going to be okay! I see her long hair and gypsy eyes come dancing towards me.
His and his and his strong presence come running behind her. “Yes she is, baby, yes she is.” He says; my husband and the love that needs me
I grab their hands as they slowly lift me out with all of their might, pulling me from the trenches of a thousand pounds of mud.
Darling! My voice dances with hers as I know I belong with her and him and him and him.
It’s all I hear as I lift my voice in praise for a God who doesn’t want me to hide my face from Him as he has surely come for me-sent my family-my friends-and the sounds of Heaven to Praise a God that wants me here. Even when I cried out to fall into the sinking sand, He was lifting their voices in praise because I couldn’t.
They dry me clean and I hug her, and him and him and him over and over again, promising that I won’t fall so deep again. I may struggle, I may succumb to pain and call out in the depths of the night where I only hear their rhythmic breathing, but I vow to never fall into the quicksand again, but to lift my praise in times of despair.
Just as they have done for me, I will do for Him, for He loves me and needs me here to lift up the heavens and tell my tale of being an overcomer. A fighter, even when the quicksand of life beckons me to fall into it, I won’t for I have seen the cost is deep and my life is worth light and praising even in the despair of quicksand.
Nine years ago I found out that I was twenty three weeks pregnant with a sick and dying baby.
“Not compatible with life.”
“Even if you make it to term, he won’t survive the trauma of labor.”
“Your baby is going to die.”
The echoes of voices breathed into my bones as I laid on the hospital table shortly after having the level two ultrasound that followed an amniocentesis confirming that my baby boy had a chromosomal abnormality called Trisomy 18.
A hole in his heart.
Thick tumors on his brain.
Sick, deformed hands.
My child who I had dreams and hopes for, a life growing deep within me that I wanted more than my life itself was given a death sentence. My heart was plunged into a grave that at times I still believe resides in with him. Dark, deep and barren.
“What do you want to do?” The White Coat asked me.
My head spun, my muscles tensed and my baby kicked.
“What do you mean, what do I want to do?” Perplexed by his question I sat holding the hole in my stomach where they had just pierced out fluid to tell me the fate of my life growing inside me, I sat tearstained wondering what in the world did I want to do? Die. Yes, in that moment I wanted to die. For him. Let him have my life. Oh, by the way, his name is Zachary and I wanted Zachary to have my life. A soul for a soul. I’d easily jump off that cliff for him.
“I want this nightmare to be over.” I gasped staring deeply into the deadpanned doctors eyes.
“Ami, do you want to interrupt the pregnancy, or carry him to term where he won’t survive? Where you risk your own health. What do you want to do?”
Immediately my husband bellowed into the darkness of the blinding room, “We want to interrupt. I can’t lose her too.”
I gasped. Lose me too? The doctors in a synonymous state shook their heads up and down. Yes, lose me too.
Pro-life my whole existence, I agreed. Besides, the doctor didn’t say “abortion”. He clearly said “interrupt.” A much nicer term. Something I could live with, right? The overhead dim lights took the brightness away of the gravity of the words of it all, the smell of hospital made knew by hope that I wouldn’t have to live another moment with gushing women wanting to touch my swelling belly with a non-thriving baby that was sentenced to death. Interrupt. We prelude our thoughts all the time, the shadows in our mind that overcome them with what we think they should be. I blocked out the convictions of my youth and stared blankly into my sonographers eyes that crystalised the ocean, that brought life in the face of death. Her head moved up and down in a synchronized dance telling me no matter what I chose it was okay. In my mind’s eyes I interrupted her and trembled out the words; “I just can’t.”
“Well, some people don’t want their babies if they aren’t perfect.” The main White Coat Doctor said and hastily left the dark yet bright small, stale, sickly smelling room. Brutal. You have never lived this moment, I thought. You arrogant, judgemental man.
…I want him…Yet can’t have him…I yelled out with a voice that had no voice. Yet, at that time I did. Abortion still existed in my state after 20 weeks at this time and the choice was in my hands, in my heart and completely up to me. It was my body after all. My choice, his sick broken body to do what with I willed it so.
Nights turned into days, appointments confirmed the amnio over and over. Pictures on the screen echoed the tumors, holes in his heart and his hands, over and over we saw the pictures that justified it all. The bad hands were what made our doctors in Kenosha worried enough to send us to the big city hospital in the first place.
Zachary was dying. He really was. Nothing was bringing him into the perfection that we dreamed he’d live in. A child that can run, play and actually thrive in. Not one that will die any day in my body, or in my arms shortly after birth. I thought in my youth I was one of those women who could do so, but at 34 I realized I wasn’t that woman. I just couldn’t. I needed interruption of this torment, this flood of grief and a longing to be free of being pregnant with a dying child who was in fact suffering inside me, not thriving and growing, one who was waiting for the moment. The breath of non existence.
I was resolved, after doctor after doctor told me that I risked my own health. Hypertension, heart failure; the list went on and on. Alan’s skin paled when the risks were made aware again and again and I held Zachary in my arms through my stomach, coupling him with my love as my body was the cavern he lived within. He would die, but today he was alive, kicking inside me. His existence at that moment was life, yet, his terptidude was death. But isn’t that the case of us all? Who are we to decide when that time comes? That thought still haunts me today.
I wasn’t a Christian then, but I was raised one. Deeply demonstrative in my youth about my faith, especially when it came to abortion. I breathed pro-life and argued the right to a babies life no matter the circumstances, well maybe not in rape or incest, but I was pretty dead set on babies getting to live. I even told a friend of mine once who thought she was pregnant that I would take her baby so she wouldn’t have an abortion. We were sixteen.
My husband and I decided to interrupt Zachary’s life. For me, for them, Caleb, Cameron and Trasen, our three other children who needed me to be here. I mean, Zachary was going to die any way and they couldn’t lose me too while I carried a sick baby that could suck the life right out of me as he continued his voyage towards what I somehow hoped would be the gates of heaven. Hoped.
I had lost a baby 17 months earlier who had died in my stomach, no choice to make, no idea of interruption, just a death. It was much, much easier. I promise you this, it was much easier. At least they’d have each other, dancing as brothers should in the sunlit clouds in the sky, overlooking the oceans I’m sure that there are in Heaven.
The day of interruption came and I slowly throughout the day became encased in labor without interruption. Contractions cradled my stomach so tight I felt it so deep that I had no choice but to give into the fortune in the stars that a God I didn’t believe in was giving me a piece of heaven. My heart beating in the throws of labor as a form of upward falling. The gift of freedom I was being given was a trade of decision versus fate. My spirit accepted the gift, my body caved and I ventured into a force of producing a lifeless body fast and hard.
Zachary was born still at 8:04 am on a Tuesday morning in a form of surrender in a sweep of love that God gave me, knowing that the youth of my belief and truth would always be there and the future me couldn’t live with the reality that I chose interruption even if it was the best choice for me and my family in that moment. That time stamp on my life slowly began my voyage back to my love of God again. Of Forever, of Truth. My knees hit the ground that day as my baby slithered out of me, sick, dead and with all the presentations the doctors told me he had, of Trisomy 18, a sickness not compatible with life.
When God placed it on my heart to write this blog in the climate we live in now with new abortion laws, I have lived with tremendous guilt. Even though I didn’t have to do it, empires of reflection have caught me half way between grace and guilt. 9 years later, I wouldn’t have that choice as the laws changed. After 20 weeks gestation a woman has no choice to interrupt now. But would that have saved me the blinding ravage I still face each and every day that I was going to do it? I think so. If I didn’t have a choice but to wait for Zachary to come on his own, the choice would have not been on me, the decision of interruption wouldn’t reside and I could live guilt free. I have fallen back into my Savior’s arms, entrenched in my faith once again but with much more fervor than ever. Since then, with the thought that I had decided to do it, I have faced depression, addiction and severe anxiety.
It is a huge issue in our nation at this time. Laws are being made that call to the truth of life. No matter your stance, it isn’t just your body. It is her’s and his and your partner’s who really has no say as they say it is your body, your choice. If it were today I wouldn’t have been given the choice I had then. I would have given birth to a broken baby who had died in childbirth, I would have had no choice to do so. And is that such a bad thing? Society and famous people say yes. But, I would have held him with no guilt that held a crown of thorns in my head so deep and bloody I’d have to dig them out for the rest of my life.
This isn’t a political blog. I’ve never been a controversial author, this is just my story. I realize I may lose friends and family over it but it is my story to tell. Zachary was mine, life was in my hands and I know that it was his body, yet my choice. And the echo was made for me by the God that loves me and knew I just couldn’t have lived with it all, yet I still have a hard time to this day existing in a world where I thought I could. I love you all and understand we have different views on this one, but this is my tale. My Zachary is in heaven with his brother and I’m on a earth that I have found a place I can live in because the choice of it all was taken away from me, because God took him before I could.
I had a dream. Of telling my story in front of Journey Church. I would pour my soul out about losing my two babies and many women would relate and run up to me and say “me too!” I would hug them and say, “I know. It’s so sad.” We would cry, I would hug them and the story goes on. I wrote a book, I told my story in front of hundreds and I would feel better at the end of the day.
The dream seemed to have come true. I was asked to speak in front of Journey Church to tell my story of losing my two babies, Jaden and Zac. But I couldn’t meet the requirements of the venue, I was going on vacation and wouldn’t be able to speak in front of who I thought needed to hear my story. I was devastated. I cried. My ego was called out by God, He said, you aren’t on the course I want you on. I called back, “but God, I want to tell my story.” He said, “You already have, you wrote a book.” I yelled back, “but I want to speak!” He cried, “Your ego is too big. I am bigger.”
It broke me, my heart, my story seemed insignificant. I wanted to tell it at Journey Women, because I was certain that women needed to hear my story, that they would befriend my story and take my loss into their hearts as their own. I knew I needed to tell it on a stage. But God had another plan and I was too wrapped up in my own idea of how He wanted my story to be told. I buried my need and held my dream in my heart. I would tell my story on a stage…someday, right?
I lead a table at Journey Women Gather and only two women showed up. They disappeared before I had a chance to gather them up and take them into the stadium where the other women were telling their stories, the ones I was supposed to be with. I wandered into the sanctuary and found a single woman. Alone, sitting by herself. I asked if I could sit by her and she said yes. I said ok. We sat alone, together, listening to the ladies talk and the Lord work. God nudged me and said, “ask her if she’s a mother.” Um, ok. I don’t know this girl but ok. “Are you a mother?” I whispered in her ear.
Then He brushed against my ear hard, “ask her if she’s had a miscarriage.” WHAT????? Are you sure God? I don’t know this woman! Are you SURE? Yes, He said in my minds eye louder than I’ve ever heard Him.
“Have you ever had a miscarriage?” I obey.
Eyes meet. Tears collide. She holds up two fingers. Yeah well, me too, I think. Me too, side by side burials. Two. Me too.
God says, ask her if she wants to talk outside. The volume of the speakers blare, the sound of their words override what I’m afraid to ask. But somehow I do. “Do you want to talk?” She nods. We walk hand in hand outside to the vestibule that God had waiting for us from the moment she walked into Journey Church tonight.
We sat, we cried, we listened, we wept. For our babies. For our loss. God didn’t want me to speak to a huge audience that my ego would have loved. God needed me to speak to a singular person who I had no idea existed. He needed me to tell my story to allow another to cry, to hear her tears that the world tells her that are not good enough. For a world that says that miscarriage isn’t a loss that needs to be heard. It’s a silent loss. It’s a secret for us to keep.
God told us that we are not alone. That the anniversary I celebrate yet mourn on Sunday, the 10 year loss of my Jaden Hope, is a forever loss that needs to be heard. But God wanted it to be intimate, to be between me and a stranger this year. I listened, she told me her story, I cried, she spoke and we are forever bonded together.
Ego is strong, I am a victim of it, but God had other plans for me tonight. He had a picture of me sitting with a grieving mother who has suffered as I have, one who needed to be heard, one who needed to tell her story more than I needed to be up on a stage beaming my story as I pridefully told my tale. God said, “No”! I have other plans. I have a single person who needs you and you need her.
Because, God plus me equals trust. God plus me equals truth. God plus me equals a story that was meant for one not many. Because ego is strong, but God is Truth if we listen. If we follow, if we hear the story we are meant to tell, to whom we are meant to tell it to in the moment it is meant to be told. In that we are met with the breath of God, the Holy Spirit and the truth that is meant for us to live in the moment we are meant to live in it.
The stars were brighter than usual and my fingers hurt as they bridged the pencil in my hand onto paper. Shining in the room the moon was giving me just enough light to place my heart from my hand to paper. My six-year-old mind was alive and my stubble of a pencil couldn’t keep up with my mind wild with stories that vented through my being like the bright moon that radiated outside my window.
It began there.
A singular dream.
Catching fire from within, I wrote and wrote and broke through my fear that my grandma would find me up way past my bedtime. Breathing heavily, I stopped mid-sentence that I was writing; “I will be an author someday.” I declared into the starlight bedroom. “Someday, I will write books and people will read my words.” My six-year-old little self declared into the tremble of my heart’s desire and followed me throughout my days.
Dreams are so powerful. They propel us, drive us, make us dig deeper than we know we can go. They give us a rhythm we feel deep inside our souls, wanting to fill up our empty spaces so that we play the part we know we can become if we work hard enough. I wrote and wrote, poetry, stories, paradise on a writer’s white sanded beach. I lived a painful journey that sometimes broke the hearts of counselors who would read my young words. I danced my life out on paper, through the heartache and devastation of a young life that produced things that children shouldn’t know to write about.
Teenage heartbreak for me was missing my mother, her soft whisper in my ear was an illusion~and it brought forth some of my greatest poetry to date. I dug deep into my sorrow of loss and it bled from my fingers as they burned through the tree that sacrificed its life for my craft. Writing found the light in me that I feared I couldn’t find. The first time I was recognized for my turmoil in the form of poetry trying to write my story out, I was shocked. My English teacher told me that this part of me will never die. That our poetry is forever and is ever relatable, that I had talent thus having the ability to touch lives.
That day I realized that my childhood fantasy could be a reality some day. I wanted so badly to have my words enriched in the minds and hearts of those that were lovely enough to read what I had to say. It might be raw, painful and dark at times but I longed for my words to be in the world.
Dreaming is hard. Fulfilling that goal is next to impossible at times. Rejection a part of dreams but can face us as a shallow yet deep grave. Experiencing that is any author’s epitaph, it is a reality that we all face, but in a lot of ways, I feel along my journey the most rejection I’ve experienced has been the voices inside my own head. Am I good enough? Who will really want to read my words? The messy parts that I am spitting into the world, who really want to summon my stories? Who will read what I have to say? Am I talented enough to have people read my words?
Is my tempo full enough that people I don’t know will want to read what I have to say? I swear it was such an upward battle overcoming my own fear of courage and lacking the skill of summoning hearts that would take in what I had to say.
The first book of mine fell in the form of a Romance Novel telling the story of two strong and broken people who found each other, fell in love and longed for change. Looking back, I wish I could have said what I really wanted to say the first time I published a book, but I wasn’t with God at the time and even though it isn’t anything I’d write again, it did open doors of great opportunity. A readership that wanted to read my words when I was ready to say what I really wanted to write. That I have lived an extraordinary life of loss, love, and beauty in the form of an emotional epiphany; Sunset Vibrations gave me that. People were actually hungry for my words. Across the world, those I didn’t even know wanted to hear what I had to say. I gave my heart away to strangers, new friends that I needed to need me and in that we bonded into a place that made us intertwined forever. That day in February of 2015 I made my dream come true through blood, sweat, plenary of tears, I made it happen. I did it. I was a published author.
Months later, I broke my heart into a million microcosmic pieces writing of my experience of infant and pregnancy loss, telling my heartbreaking tale of overcoming the most of impossible odds. To rise above the devastation of losing two infant baby boys back to back, to write the conclusion that I could not only fall into the ocean of deep grief but that I could rise above the drowning of my own spirit as a mother. That God could lift me out of the deep sea and give me my joy back as a gift in an offering of something only He can give. My book wasn’t about replacing a lost baby with a baby, but as miracles happen, that is what transpired. After the two losses my family had to endure, we were given a gift, a prize, a gem in the sky so bright that we still all look at her in awe each and every day. A little girl we coin as our lifting out of a grave of pain and into the skylit dreams of God’s promise.
My second book, The Return to Happiness hit bestsellers lists shortly after publication, which meant so many women were reading my story! I fell to my knees. My six-year-old self wept as she peered out into the moonlit room where her fingers bleed from the harsh pencil she kept writing her heart out with. The teenage girl took a leap off the deep end of possibility as she crashed into the ability to write vulnerability that won her awards for poetry about the longing of a daughter for her mother. My adult self met the author she was really meant to be, one who wrote from her pain, her struggle and her ability to dig out of that torrent to become something greater than the seemingly grim calling on her life.
I saw it. I kept it, and I ran with it into the sunset of my dreams. Past the vibrations life seemed to constantly give me. I dove in. I cried out to my dreams and made them my reality.
Seek out the secret place inside yourself that cries for more. Find it, take hold of it and make it yours. Never give up on the dreams that call to you deep in the night. Fight hard, train yourself in your craft whatever it may be. Dreams are made to come true, you are meant for greatness, I was and so are you. In all the good times you have a voice, the darkness that meets you can be your catapult to make you crash harder into the surface you are meant to breakthrough and make your own. Four years ago my little girl dream became my bigger reality and so can yours. Dig deep and go further. If I can do it, a girl born to struggle, but destined to overcome, you can too! Cling to it, claim it and make it happen. I’m a living testament that you can make all your dreams come to pass. Four years later, people still read my words and I’m so humbled by that as it was always my ultimate longing, my seemingly impossible dream. Change the dialogue that tells you that you aren’t good enough, talented enough, strong or able and make it into endless possibilities.
The moon is shining on you tonight, dreams are meant to come true. The bad times can be what you fear the most, but those can produce your greatest belief in yourself, in your ability to reach the hearts of thousands, hundreds, or beautifully just one heart who needs to hear your story. Never give up friends, never stop believing in what talent God has given you. Make it your moonlight, make it your destiny.
I’m not saying this isn’t where you are now.
Past the dark into the question.
I could lose my mind
If I hold on now…
Because I’m not saying this is where you’ll stay.
But this is where you’ll walk on
Past the moments that bring you past the dark nights.
This is how you walk on
I’m not saying this is where you’ll stay…
I’m just singing this is where you’ll walk on.
I’m not saying this is where you’ll stay
I’m just singing this is where you’ll walk on.
Depression sees you that you are in now.
You’re greater than all you see
Faster than regret that bangs at your door.
I’m not saying that this is where you’ll stay
I’m just singing this is where you’ll walk on.
The sun was shining so bright it hurt my eyes. Blue enveloped my prisms as I laid in the grass that tickled my cheeks as my hands reached down and pulled out the long blades as fast as I could grab. A wind blew through the large oak tree fast and strong, the sound bringing me out of my trance. My face slowly turned to the left to make sure that it wasn’t a ghost haunting me like they did in the night. Heart racing, blood pumping I brought my hand to my heart to try to push it back into a place where it belonged. My lungs filled, let go, filled, let go, filled…and then that is where it began. I could no longer breathe…
I am going to die. I’m nine years old and I’m going to leave this place, leave the oak tree. I saw my grandma, my grandpa, my mom. Oh, my mom. I missed her so. Her soft song in my ear, her sweet scent on my skin as I tried to fall asleep but never could. My dad’s strong arm around me crying in the night wasn’t enough to save me as my lungs filled with not air, but the absence of it.
…I raced up, ran to the oak tree in front of my grandma’s small cottage style house and begged it to take me far up unto its branches where I’d be high enough to catch my air. I fell to the ground as the tree abandoned me of such wishes.
The warm air came, took me away to a castle in the sky made out of beautiful white clouds that somehow saved me that day. From the demons inside my mind.
My first anxiety attack, I would learn later in life, followed me throughout…
Sixteen years old met me with worry and fear deeper than the sea and faster than a hurricane. I’d pace in my room until I could somehow wage peace with the fear that told me to take it all away. I remember walking past a Bible in my living room and thinking, “what if God ended it for me, then I wouldn’t have to.” I ran to my room in fear that the thought would hunt me down again, unable to escape the thoughts that raged inside me, I picked up a pen and wrote. Faster than words could flow from mind to pen, I scribbled them down.
Take me away
Find me death.
Find me life.
No more pain…
Seek me out greater strength. Please.
I don’t want to fight
I can’t fight Anymore….Ami Beth George 1988
Journals followed me through my life, giving me a window into my fight with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts through my days as I felt way too deeply. I read back in my life, penmanship sometimes smeared with tears deep into the night of the anguish I was in. Sonnets of pain filtered the paper and dug deep into the sacrificed tree meeting ink that screamed for help. At times I found that solace, I acted out trying to find a peace that comes in the ways of the world. Love that isn’t love, and hope that is fleeting in ways of horrible choices that made me hate myself even more.
Thirty years old came and it was apparent I needed help. At five foot seven, I weighed 100 pounds, my face sunken, my body barely covering my bones. It got so dark that I knew I needed light~if not for me, for my two sons. Beautiful lives that needed me more than I felt like I needed myself. I saw someone. She helped. I took the pill they told me to take, even though I absolutely knew that made me the weakest of weak, the lowest of shallow, the most pathetic person alive. I sunk the pink and white pills into my body, secretly not caring anymore if I was as low as the world tells us we are when we have to take such pills. I simply wanted to feel better.
And I did, four painful weeks later, I did. Miraculously, I did feel better. I came to life and found the sun shining on my face again, felt the blades of grass under my feet and smelled the flowers in my garden, and then it happened, I smiled.
Carole. Her name was Carole and she helped me, she dug deep into my past…divorce, abandonment, abuse, eating disorders and a need to be accepted at any cost, she opened up all my wounds. Carole, I’ll never forget her because about that time I took to the ice for the first time. The cold frozen water beneath my blade sounded like heaven the first time I lifted myself off the sheet of cold and leaped into the sky and landed on a quarter inch piece of steel. She encouraged me to seek the cool air and blue ice and keep skating until I could create poetry on ice, a story of my life, of fighting, of running, of seeking and of finding peace.
Finally, I found myself under the spotlight for the first time, I was terrified yet electrified. In front of a thousand people, I told them the story of my life as I lifted my hands far above my body, pushed my legs faster and harder and leaped, soared and met myself landing on one foot. In a bounty of grace, God had me, He kept me and called me His own, giving me the gift of dance. On ice.
Depression and anxiety have been a part of my existence since I can recall. Through writing, skating and speaking to others about my pain, I have found peace and even a bit of joy. I have come full circle with my struggle, accepting it, even embracing it a little. But then it all came crumbling down…
On a Thursday. In February. During the cold dark winter. It all came to a threshold of pain that no mother ever wants to feel. I received a knock on my bedroom door. Panicked he called for me. Pacing, grabbing his hair, ripping off his shirt in a bounty to get away from the darkness that was coming for him, the black that already had him, the wet dew of tears that had fallen down his face and that had stained his heart.
Oh, God. No. Not him.
Not my baby boy. No!!!
I stumbled from my sleep and met him in the comfort of my writing room. Falling into my arms, his eighteen old body wept. And then it happened. The words uttered, they fell into the earth with such thunder that I quaked. Bile rose up inside my lungs like it did so many years as a little girl, as he uttered the words that would forever change my life. “I don’t want to be here anymore.”
The spinning wouldn’t stop as I paced with him, pulling at my own hair, falling apart at that moment, I knew I had to pull it together. He needed me.
Back and forth I rocked him like I did when he was small enough to fit into one of my arms. Shhhhh….No. Go back to being innocent, my darling. Let’s go back, to where you and I exist, where the world doesn’t beat you down. To where only you and I reside, when you were safe inside me. Disappear pain. I begged to God, float away from his sorrow, lift your clenches on him~take me instead, but it already had. This was his.
He collapsed in my arms like he did when he was a baby.
But this time he wasn’t an infant, he was a young man, feeling it all. Each and every note of the song that is so sad he couldn’t drag himself from the depth of the sea. “Mom, I’m so scared. I’m so dark.” His voice mixed with excruciating anguish. He struggled to breathe. I made him, forced him to look me in the eyes and fight. Battle like he never had before. I’ll wage this war for you. But, deep inside, I know I can’t, all I can do is let him fall into me. All I can do is jump off the deep end and pray I don’t hit the bottom so I can be enough to bring him back to the surface.
The song sang, the band played and I heard a symphony in my ears as I listened to his pain. Words after painful poetry in the form of life, he told me how life had done him wrong. Going back in my life~staying right where I still am~I heard him like he was speaking my truth. That our brains struggle to find balance. The sky was falling and we only hope we can catch it before it closed in on us. My hand in his, he slowly found himself back with me not caught in the whirlwind of darkness that swirled between us.
“It’s not your fault mom.”
He said that.
But yes, it is. I gave him this. It played over and over again in my brain the days that followed that night. Thursday. Thursday night. Forever embedded in my mind forever, the night my child came to me and said to me that he didn’t want to be here anymore, that the pain was too great, the black was too dark when it became my child’s pain too.
A ringing in my ears screamed at a pitch so high I could hardly move. Life told me, this is a generational curse. ‘This is your fault. You gave him this.’
Sunday. The smokey bright lights sang loud as the singers at my church took to the stage. The song played on and I begged God for saving grace, I came forward trying to climb my way out of the darkness for my child. My body shook, my heart caved and then I found arms wrapped around me, telling me that it isn’t my fault. She prayed, hugged me tight and pleaded with me on my son’s behalf. “It’s not your fault.” She sang. I pleaded for it to be true. It’s not my fault.
Mental illness is like no other. You don’t feel weak in the mind if you have a diagnosis in the body. You accept it and take the medicine they give you to allow your flesh to heal. But the pain in the mind isn’t treated like it is in the body, it’s a weakness viewed by the world as incomprehensible.
Sunday. Sweet Sunday, the pastor took to the stage and his message was on, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. God is real, He is there and His timing is magnificent. Embraced in my husband’s grasp we listened to each and every word like it was the last we had to hear. I wept. I listened. I prayed. I cried deeply out to God to heal my son, to give me strength on my own voyage at sea where I have such thoughts from time to time.
My story is simple, yet complex as I’ve ridden out the falling force of my own mind and now I do so with my own flesh and blood. I’m off the deep in as I pray to reach the ground, afraid I won’t find the shore, but I have. Time and time again I find it~a large oak tree that whispers in the wind that I am ok and now that my flesh and blood will be too. Because we meet the ground, where God has us even when we feel our minds leaving our body, we find our way back again. To the surface where we can breathe again, where we can exhale the pain and find our way past the depression and weight on our hearts.
It’s not a generational curse, it’s not my fault. It’s called life, bad times fearing ourselves, that we aren’t enough. God is our enough, our complete in pain, our call for change when our brains can’t back away from the deep end.
I take his hand and we go down the path of healing; together. Knowing one another has been there, far from sanity, yet closer than we’ll ever know. I dive in knowing I can help him, testify my truth and how I found my way to the light in the face of bleakness. His smile will reach his eyes again just as mine did. We are in this together, darkness meets light, depression finds laughter, anxiety blending with calm~feelings of not wanting to be here, making us want to fight that much harder to be here.
Longing for change, we take this journey together. It’s not a generational curse, it’s a family blessing that he knew he could come to me, knowing he’d fall into my arms and I’d know how he felt. That I could, with God’s love, bring him back from the deep water, that we can crash back to the surface together.
I hold him, love him and tell him that it will be okay because as I didn’t give this curse to him, I know that he can overcome it. For, words spoken over my life are, Overcoming Odds, Fulfilling Destinies. And that destiny today is my own boy who needs to know he is heard like a young girl who ran to an oak tree for comfort can calm the wage at sea inside because my generational love and knowledge of this pain can be love only I can give him. Not a curse, a blessing to bring him out of the disparage of darkness. The light will come, we will embrace it together and I thank God for the past I have so now I can be there for my future facing the same struggle I did. My generational love will be the light I cling to as we wage the war against the shadows of darkness, together.
Take me past this pain.
Submerge me in your water
So I can stay above the ground.
Deep end meet me there where only we exist.
Take my hand.
As we walk together
Past the pain.
You called me out of the night.
And Cried with me…
Take me past this pain.
Cover me with your blanket because
The addiction of love fills my lungs so deep
I can’t breathe…
I crash to the surface and see only blurry blanks in my eyes.
Take me away~
Past the pain
Back to the surface.
Fill the void.
Take my hand and hold it tight
As we cry into the night.
Together lost in the deep.
Crash into the water~
Floating above the ground.
You see me.
You saved my last cry
~took my hand,
And saw the bleakness in my eyes and fed me light.
Save me tonight.
You saved me tonight.