The American Dream

It started with a headline.  Even now, a few days later, I can barely recount the story without tears of sorrow.  After a stretch of several days spending too much time online, twittering, facebooking and blogging, I was out of ideas.  Out of memories.  Out of inspiration.  I was in a cycle of act-react, act-react.  Reading and tweeting everything, experiencing nothing.  Everything about my day was being monitored and scripted to fit in to my next post.  140 character blurbs of humor, wit, anger, or hunger cataloged to be at the tips of my fingers in the Rolodex of my mind. Categories of meals, recipes, craft stuff, kids stuff, homeschooling stuff, swirling and twirling, dragging me down.

As I fast approached the blurbers block I took to the news sites to find a story.  Something.  Anything that would spark my interest and ramp me up for a political rant, or a parenting diatribe. I clicked my way over to and I caught a headline.  “Mom ate pizza, while son lay dying.”

Mom ate pizza, while son lay dying.

I know better than to read stories like this.  They destroy me.  I have been an avid reader all my life.  As a child I could not fill my head with enough stories, knowledge, facts, tidbits.  (Ironic that I would HATE school so much, but I did.) A flip side to gathering knowledge is gathering sorrow.  From stories of the Holocaust, to women working in textile mills burning to death, I took it all in.  Tiny arrows into my heart that over time, did not harden it, but left it exceedingly vulnerable. Like May Boatwright in “The Secret Life of Bees”, I find stories of tragedy bring me to an inner Wailing Wall.  My spirit grieves for people like I knew them, I was them.  I throw myself into the story until I know their pain, and sometimes its more than I can bear. Sometimes, it’s almost too much.

I clicked on the story and read about a three-year old who was beaten to death at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend.  (I don’t remember if he was the child’s father or not.)  The little ones crime?  He had a potty accident.  Something my own boys have done countless times.  They took turns kicking him, punching him and throwing him.  After brutalizing this precious spirit, they ate pizza and watched a movie.  The little guy lay dying, until his mother (and I use that term VERY loosely) called 911 at five in the morning because he was wheezing and she couldn’t sleep.  And now, his body sleeps forever, while his spirit is held in the tender arms of angels.

Now, forgive me, but I don’t care what happens to these people.  I don’t care if they ever cry for the little boy they destroyed. If they one day repent and find the Lord, good for them.  It’s the life of the boy that grieves me so.  There was no baby wearing, attachment parenting, nursing mom for him. How many times did he look to his momma for comfort and found only anger and pain?  Just the thought of it now, leaves me with tears streaming down my face.

After reading the story, I said something to Jacob about how messed up people are.  I went and washed my face and headed to my bedroom.  I fell to my knees and wept. And wept.  I prayed “Lord, Please, no more innocents.  Not like this.  How long can this go on? Oh that poor precious boy, Lord.  Why?”  I asked God that if I was blessed to be taken home to heaven, could I please just hold that little angel for ten minutes the way a momma should.?  I said over and over how I just needed to know He had him there with Him and was comforting him.  In my head I heard “Yes”.  I felt comfort.  But still the tears flowed for the innocent lost.  The ones who don’t make the headlines.  So many tears.  I was overcome.

When I awoke the next morning I still felt such deep sorrow for the loss of innocent life.  I told Jon, “I don’t think I am equipped to deal with this world today.” He was immediately concerned and asked if I was depressed.  I shared with him the story of the little boy, and was overwhelmed with tears anew.  Later, when he checked the news, he said “Maybe there was a reason you felt so upset.  Japan was hit with an 8.9 magnitude earth quake this morning.”

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened. -Obi Wan Kenobi

I don’t mean use Brother Obi Wan as a source of spiritual guidance.  But, I believe that connection exists. Now, if you want to know how I can believe the way I do, yet reconcile the fact that tragedies can (and do) happen while God is on watch, I would be happy to share.  For now, I am writing about my wake up call.  Thanks to a three-year old who had to die so that I can share with you, gentle reader, my change of heart.  In his short, precious life, he had time to change mine.  What I would not give to have learned this lesson in an easier way.  Maybe, I would have missed the enormity of it.  Maybe I would have glossed it over.

Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ – this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin’. Pretty Woman

I’ve been sold a bill of goods.  All prettily packaged and slicked up, and it’s called the American Dream.  It says that if I have everything I want I will be happy.  I will be livin the dream.  What happens when it’s all washed away?  What happens when its gone in an instant?  Who am I when the man I love passes away, if I built my life around him, or my children?  Who told me I was in control?  It was on the cover of the manual.  With pictures and glossy paper.  But I missed the fine print.  To get it, I had to be a slave to something.  Make it fully master over my life.  With everything I gain, I must sacrifice.  How much could I sacrifice and still look in the mirror?

I am so lucky to have the time to turn things around. For so many, time has run out.  Other countries are full of broken starving people, while this one is full of broken, well fed people.  That fact that we have each day in a clean environment, with a roof over our heads and food on the table, is an amazing, wonderful miracle.  Until someone tells us it isn’t.

“No, you are not blessed, because you do not have x,y and z.”  And there is the nasty evil twin of that mentality.  The one that says, you are not blessed because you do not do x, y, and z.  It’s a trap. Just as I can be enslaved by possessions, I can be enslaved by ideals.  Why would I allow such a thing?  This life is not a dress rehearsal.  When I die, I will be missed after 5 years.  Fondly remembered after 10.  All but erased after 20.  Do I really want whatever lasting impression I leave to be my wealth (or lack thereof), political stance or what I did to save the environment?  ????

So I leave you with the heart of my struggle.  What can I do while I am here?  Where can I go and get involved in saving human life, and especially children?  Ditch the planet and the animals for now.  I believe when we change the hearts and minds of people, the earth and its creatures benefit.  I will look to donate my time to protecting all human life, especially that in the womb.  I will not picket outside of abortion clinics.  I will not scream in the face of broken women who have made a heart wrenching choice (even if some don’t realize it right away).  Planned Parenthood is not a place for screaming.  It is a place for love to be freely given no matter which way the door is swinging.  I believe that groups should be in place for taking care of these women and their babies .  I cannot expect a woman to birth a child and then just abandon her when the baby takes its first breath. I want these groups to be so successful that there is no need for government funding.

It’s like the little children’s bible song says:  “love your neighbor as yourself.  For God loves all.”

As for little Noah….I take hope in this passage of scripture.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

Your workmanship is marvelous-and how well I know it.

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

as I was woven together in the dark of the womb

You saw me before I was born.

Everyday of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

Psalm 139 13-16

Little Noah had a purpose.  The fact that his biblical namesake, loved by God, helped keep humanity and life on earth from extinction speaks volumes to me.  Thank you Noah.  Your life was a blessing to me. One day, I will hold you, like a momma should.


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