Posted in Celebration, Grief

Kitchens and the Howl of the Not Yet

The past several months have been marked by much suffering.

The pain can be overwhelming.

Substance abuse by those we love.

Every kind of loss imaginable from the dang virus.
A very scary diagnosis.
Betrayal.
Unkindness.
A debilitating disease that prevents normal life-function.
Mental illness that doctors are having trouble treating.

The excruciating long and threatening unknown.

We find ourselves overwhelmed in the most ordinary of places.

For me, it’s often the kitchen (even when I’m not cutting onions).

We cry…

How long?
How much?
Why?
Why right now?”

I love the holiday season.

It’s FULL (even during this very out-of-whack new normal).

My tree is FULL of ornaments.
My tummy is FULL of food (way too much of it, as my current waistline is showing).
My neighborhood is FULL of lights (my favorite).
My garage is FULL of empty Amazon boxes, gifts waiting to be wrapped and opened on Christmas morning in the family room.

And especially this year…

My heart is FULL of

gratitude
wonder
hope
love

I’m desperate for them. I’m holding onto them with all my might.

I like living in the FULL of good things part, the JOY part, not the CRYING part, the SAD part.

The period leading up to Christmas morning is commonly known as Advent. It’s Advent right now.

Advent speaks to the “howl of the not-yet,” the pleading, the waiting, the yearning, the “crying in the kitchen” part.

Advent is NOT Christmas morning.

Advent speaks about and grieves broken places that are yet to be healed, questions that have no answer today, and yearning that is unfulfilled.

Advent gives a glimpse of fruition at the end of a long season of waiting.

Advent says there is suffering and it is real, palpable.
But it also says there is hope, just as real and palpable.

Advent says “don’t skip over the suffering. Don’t minimize the heartache. Sit in it, acknowledge it, and feel it.”

This is not an easy place.

I struggle with Advent.
I do not sit with the grief, acknowledge and feel it.

I skip right to Christmas morning, the happy place, where the answer is here and salvation has come, the “FULL of JOY in the family room” part.

Skipping right to Christmas doesn’t work.

It doesn’t take away the pain.
It doesn’t make bad things not happen.
It doesn’t bring true healing.

Advent is what brings healing.

It’s the place of truth that speaks to both heartache AND hope.

It’s the place of grace that speaks to both suffering AND a Savior.

It’s the place of life that speaks to both waiting AND receiving.

Right now, there is more than a week until Christmas morning.

I think I have some more “crying in the kitchen” work to do.

Howling.
Waiting.
Questioning.
Grieving.

The Not-Yet.

Christmas morning will come soon enough.

A baby will be here.
A Savior will come.
What is empty will be filled.
Heartache will be healed.
Yearning will be fulfilled.
What is broken will be repaired.
What we’ve lost will be found.

It will be time for the “FULL of JOY in the family room.”

But right now, I’m headed to make breakfast.

(P.S. I lit my third candle this morning – this time the pink one – the one for JOY – we wait together)

Posted in Celebration

All we are saying is….

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE.
 
The mantra sung and chanted and begged for in 1969.
 
1969.
 
War rages and protests break out all over.
Charles Manson cult members murder 5 people.
Hurricane kills 248 people.
Chappaquiddick (look it up).
Police raid a gay club in New York City. The Stonewall Riot ensues.
 
1969.
 
GIVE PEACE A CHANCE.
 
What the messenger asked of a young, brown-skinned, oppressed, poor girl named Mary.
 
4 BCish.
 
Herod the Great kills his own family to hold onto his reign of brutality.
Taxation of the poor is almost 50-60%.
Women are viewed as property, to be used and discarded on a whim.
Revolts and uprisings are commonplace.
Politics and religion intertwine and hatred for the “other” rules.
 
4 BCish.
 
GIVE PEACE A CHANCE.
 
What our collective, modern-day hearts continue to yearn and plead for.
 
2021
 
COVID continues to threaten our way of life. Will it ever be over?
Politics and religion intertwine and hatred for the “other” destroys communities, families, and even our hope.
Sex-trafficking is at an all-time high. 40,300,000 current victims.
Another school shooting. #excruciatinglyawful
Continuing racial tension that seems insurmountable.
 
2021.
 
GIVE PEACE A CHANCE.
 
PEACE.
 
The idea that ALL IS WELL.
 
inside and outside
individually and collectively
mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally
 
for EVERYONE.
 
Not just for some.
Not just for the rich.
Not just for the healthy.
Not just for the insiders.
Not just for the free.
 
BUT for everyone.
 
The rich and the poor.
The healthy and the sick.
The loved and the lonely.
The insiders and the marginalized.
The free and the prisoner.
 
GIVE PEACE A CHANCE.
 
PEACE.
 
HOW? HOW? HOW?
 
Begged for in 1969.
Asked for in 4 BC (ish).
Yearned for STILL in 2021.
 
Something so elusive. So difficult. So needed.
 
HOW? HOW? HOW?
 
HOW DO WE MAKE PEACE?
[not how do we KEEP peace]
 
1969.
4 BCish.
2021.
 
We MAKE PEACE by embracing that “ALL are created equal.” ALL.
Not just the ones who look, believe and act like us.
 
We MAKE PEACE by being willing to resolve turmoil.
Both what rages on the outside and on the inside of us.
 
We MAKE PEACE by standing up for it. Saying “NO MORE!”
Both for others and ourselves.
 
We MAKE PEACE by fighting for it.
In our own hearts and homes first, but NOT stopping there.
 
We MAKE PEACE by making room (just like Mary in 4 BCish) for the Prince of Peace.
 
The One who embraces that ALL are created equal.
The One who resolves the turmoil that rages inside and out.
The One who stands up and says “NO MORE!”
The One who fights for our hearts and our homes, but does not stop there!
 
The One who shows up every moment of every day of every single year (even this one)…and tenderly says…
 
GIVE PEACE A CHANCE.
 
P.S. I lit the peace candle this morning.
Posted in Anxiety, Faith, Motherhood

Relax, Mom! (how the heck can I?)

“Relax, Mom.”

My LEAST favorite phrase that graces the mouths of my kids.

It usually comes when I am in a tizzy, overcome with fear about something that’s out of my control.

“Mom, can I go to this party (far away with people you don’t know)?”
“Mom, I just rear-ended someone.”
“Mom, I have this weird rash.”

“Relax, Mom.”

In the middle of all the fret and freak out, it’s the last thing I want to hear.

Instead, I totally want to hang on to my anxiety and use it to gain control over whatever is in front of me.

[Secret reveal: it doesn’t work. The more control I try to take, the greater my fear and panic. I can’t just “relax.”]

I’m not a big “throw a Bible verse out there and hope it sticks somewhere somehow.”

But there’s this one that turned this whole “relax” nonsense on its lovely head.

It’s simple and not simple at the same time.

“Cast all your anxieties on Him…”

[I looked it up, being the nerd I am.]

“Cast” means to “fling something with great force” and it indicates “onto the back of some beast of burden.”

My precious body is not designed to carry the weight of fret and freak out.
My aching back and my clenched jaw are proof.

BUT my days are still filled with hard stuff that is just too much for me (and my fragile central nervous system).

What am I, the fret-and-freak-out mom, to do?

I’m not good with “relax,” but I am really good with “fling” whatever whenever onto God’s “shoulders.”

Sounds perfect to me. Good riddance.

But why should I, the fret-and-freak-out mom, do this?

Plain and simple answer. One I can get on board with.

…BECAUSE He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)

[I looked this up too.]

This word “care” implies “deep affection” and “meticulous attention.”
God’s not only highly aware and taking notice, but has utter tenderness for me and the heavy loads I am carrying.

It’s a good thing God doesn’t say “relax” to me like my kids do.

That would probably just amp me up even more.

Instead, He’s so gently reminds me,

“Take whatever load you’ve got on your back and fling it with all your might onto mine. I will carry it for you. You know why? Because I care deeply for you.”

EXHALE.

Maybe I can “relax” a little bit after all.

Posted in Faith, Grief

Death (my fear of it…and some hope)

Halloween is strange.

Skeletons decorate lawns.
Fear is prime real estate in the “fun to do.”
The “shadows” come out to play.
Death is paraded for the world to embrace.

I do not like thinking about death. Even on Halloween.

I like cute pumpkins.
Funny costumes.
Trick-or-treaters.

Guilt-free Kitkat bars.

NOT DEATH.

Perhaps this is why.

I am often held captive by my fear of death.
It’s where my anxiety heads on any given day.

At times, I am able to “keep it in its rightful place,” and move along.

[Get my work done.]
[Enjoy the beauty of life.]
[Have lots of hope.]

But at others, I feel fragile, afraid, and my heart is off to the races

[Text my family to see if they are okay.]
[Look on the internet for answers to my latest ailment.]
[Hunker down to protect myself.]

I would love to get to a place where I don’t fear death at all.
I’m not sure if that’s even possible.

But I’m pretty sure I don’t have to be a slave to this excruciating fear, wear it as a weighty chain around my neck, and allow it to lead me down the “not living anyway” path.

As of late, I have felt a few links come off and I wonder if this might be (at least some of) the reason:

I am leaning into it, instead of avoiding it.

Spending time and energy with those who are grieving and not trying to fix their pain (and thus, my own).

Asking questions about walking through it with a fiercely-loved one and being reminded again how God shows up in the middle of it all, and it’s one of those “thin places” where heaven touches earth, awful and beautiful, but mostly exquisitely sacred.

It all seems to reveal, like nothing else can, that “LOVE is stronger than death.”

In fact (as my hubby often reminds me)…

I was born in LOVE. I’ve come from it.

I am currently held in LOVE. I’m safe.

And eventually, I will return to LOVE. Sigh.

Death (as scary as it is) cannot destroy the REAL ME. I will live forever, doused in and surrounded by LOVE.

It is much stronger (HE is much stronger) than Death.

I’ll still have my moments and days and seasons of slavery to fear.
Of taking chain links on and off.

I’m still in a “continuing to heal” place in this area.

Maybe we all are.

Posted in Family, Grief, Motherhood

For the Mom Whose Kid is Hurting

The back door opens. It’s late.

I’m awake because that’s just how it is as a mom. No sleep until every child of mine is home safe.

My recent college grad walks into the family room where I lay on the couch, eyes heavy.

“We broke up, Mom.”

I bolt upright, dumbfounded. I can’t compute the words I hear.


This boy of mine and his girlfriend have been together since they were kids.

Seven years.

Tears form in his green eyes.

I don’t know what to do. I haven’t seen him cry since he was little.

This is a girl he was going to propose to.
This is a girl I love. Her picture hangs on our family photo wall.

I want to fix it, make him okay.

I am sad. I am angry.

I want to send her a “please love my boy again” text.
I want to buy him a plane ticket to visit his sister.

My own eyes well up and I offer him the only thing I can: my presence.

This is how it is now. The older my kids get, what they need comforting for or help with are not things I can do much about,

I can’t make people like them.

I can’t (and shouldn’t) fight on their behalf for a grade or a promotion at work.
I can’t force someone to want to spend the rest of their lives with them.
I can’t stop the world from hurting them.

What am I to do?

Offer my presence.

In simple ways.

Answer their text with a simple “I love you.”
Listen when and if they want to talk.

Take them to a movie, complete with popcorn and candy.
Write a “you’ve got this” note.
Make their favorite cookies.


Remind them I am praying for them.

Offer my presence,

Their lives are going to be filled with problems I can’t solve and pain I can’t take away.

This might be the most difficult part of being a mom. But perhaps it’s also the most beautiful.

By offering my presence, I’m being God (with skin on) to them.

I’m not doing the work that’s theirs alone.

I’m not fixing the dilemmas they find themselves in.
I’m not concocting ways to ensure they are not in pain (try as I might).

I am being with them in the middle of the quagmire.
I am reminding them they are not left on their own.
I am here for them, worrying, trusting, cheering, praying and hoping.

There’s no place I’d rather be.

Posted in Faith, Friendship, Health

I did a very HARD thing

I knew I had to do something.

I knew it would be HARD. Probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I knew it was right, in fact, more than right. It was good.

When the “thing” came to light a couple of weeks ago, my stomach churned.

I cried.
I looped around and around about it.
I talked with a professional and got wise counsel.
I chatted with my people.
I prayed.

I wished the “thing” did not exist. But it did. Large and scary and awful.

It was hurting someone I love. A few people I love. Harming them.

It was ruinous. The opposite of healing. That “wide road that leads to destruction.”

This “thing” was out of control.

Actually, it probably was in control, the horrific boss, dictating thoughts, decisions and actions.

Causing shame, fear, guilt, heartache, mistrust, disunity, chaos, impatience, lashing out.

That’s why I had to do something.

A very HARD thing.

I set a plan so I wouldn’t back out.
Gathered others to help.  With the “thing.”
Chose a day and time.

I knew it was good and right, but as the moment approached, my head ached, my heart raced and I was very afraid.

Of all the bad that might happen.
Of my own inability to follow through. Be calm. Show tender and fierce love at the same time.
Of screwing it all up. Bringing more harm.

But I forged ahead, knowing the “thing” needed to come out of hiding into the open.
Remembering that I can do what’s HARD.
Trusting the process of transformation and the very God who is at the heart of it.

The dreaded hour came.

It was awful.
It was scary.
It was sacred.
It was beautiful.
It was HARD.

Darkness came to light.
Tears were shed.
Boundaries were kept.
Bravery showed up.
Love fitfully reigned in the mess.

And the most important of all…

One small step was taken down the “narrow path that leads to life.”

One.
Small.
HARD.
Step.

*items in quotes come from Matthew 7:13*

P.S.  Jonathan Puddle has a 30-day devotional book.  It combines a short message along with a guided audio meditation for each day.

I started four days ago and it’s been fabulous.  Just what I need to center myself around who God says I am and how much I am loved by Him.

There’s a Kindle version, an Audible book and a hard copy available.

I hope you give it a chance and then let me know how it’s going for you. I am excited to continue with it.
Posted in Faith, Health

I QUIT!

I quit something recently.  In fact, I quit two things.

And these weren’t just two small things.  They were two ginormous things that I had been doing for umpteen years.  Umpteen.

First of all, I loathe quitting.

I was that mom who never allowed my children to quit something they had committed to (like a sports season, those art lessons, their service project).

I am also a human German Shepherd, loyalty coursing through my veins.  Once something or someone makes its way into my heart and my life, I’m holding on tight.

I loathe quitting.

But quit I did.  Q-U-I-T.

And these weren’t just two unimportant things.  They were highly meaningful things that I had poured my heart into.  My time into.  Things that had breathed life into me.

Second of all, I needed to quit.

Even saying that out loud and penning it for the world to see makes my stomach a little bit swirly.

But I needed to take a big giant step outside my never-quit comfort zone and pull the quit trigger.

I needed to quit.

For my integrity.  Something even more important to me than my loyalty.
Because the time had come.
To put to death what was no longer giving me life (I’m still struggling writing that).

So in one week, I wrote some of the most difficult emails and made some of the hardest phone calls telling some of my most favorite people in the whole world that I quit.  I was done.

And these two ginormous and highly meaningful things ended just like that.  Just like that.

Third of all, it was awful.

I cried.  I cried more.  I talked to friends.  I met with a counselor.  I told God how sad I was.  And mad.  And that I couldn’t believe this was happening and that I was doing this.

I also reminded myself over and over and over again that making the right decision does not mean it’s easy.  Or happy.  It often is not.

It was awful.

It still is.

Especially now that the newness has worn off and I am left with the empty space that those two ginormous and highly meaningful things filled to the brim.

I still cry.  I still talk to friends about it.

I tell God that I’m never going to quit Him.  And that I’m incredibly grateful that He never ever ever ever ever is going to quit me.  We belong to each other no matter what else stops or ends or is over.

Last of all, it brought me space.  And room.

Space for quiet.  Room to listen to the whispers from the heart of God.

Space for what might breathe life into me.  And what I might breathe life into.
Room for my next right things, what I might miss if I stay my German Shepherd self.

It brought me space.  And room.

To breathe (as my online yoga instructor says, “lots of love in and lots of love out”).

BREATHE.

I have no idea what’s going to happen in the big picture.
I’m a little bit scared.

I’m just beginning to see glimmers of light ahead of me.
I’m a little bit hopeful.

But for now, I sit in this odd space between the definitive past and the murky future.  I like it here.

God is here with me.

That’s all I need to know for now.

Posted in Faith, Grief, Motherhood

What Kind of World Are My Kids Growing Up In?

What kind of a world are my kids growing up in?

The question that plagued me on that dreadful morning 20 years ago.

I had four little ones scampering around at the time, one toddler half-naked and being potty trained (we all remember exactly what was going on that morning, right?).

Is it a world filled with consuming hate?

ONLY and awful hate?

How would I tell them that their friend’s dad had been killed?

How would I shake my own fear of it happening again and this time it would be their dad who had worked in NYC for most of their young lives?

How? How? How?

How will they know love?

ONLY and wonderful love?

The love that casts out fear in the form of a firefighter saying “I’ve got you. Come with me”?

The love that wins in the end as yellow ribbons don every mailbox for miles and miles and miles for months and months and months?

Today, my big kids are still scampering around, albeit fully-clothed, and the world still often seems consumed with hate.

ONLY and awful hate?

But it’s not true.

It’s not ONLY.

Both hate and love exist, intertwined in all of our hearts.

Along with a million other parts.

Mine. And theirs.

All I have to do is look back at these 20 years to see all the ways hate and love (and a million other parts) have shown up as I’ve raised my fearsome foursome.

They’ve brought harm.
Pain. Heartache.

But also…

They’ve brought joy.
Healing. Hope.

What kind of world are my kids growing up in?

The question that plagued me for a lot longer than that dreadful morning and still does often.

The answer is simple. And also super complicated.

It’s the wonderful, messy, awful, sacred, hateful, loving, broken, brave, and still healing world.

It’s a world filled with us.

Every single one of us.

Posted in Faith, Health

What I’m Really Fighting For

INTEGRITY.

A word I have always used to describe my husband.

He’s even won awards at work for it.

Me.  Not so much.

I’m sneaky.

And I struggle to always tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth when it does not fit my “get ‘er done” mentality.

TRUE STORY AND CONFESSION:

My son’s health insurance needed to be cancelled and I called up and told the people on the other end of the line I was him and cancelled that baby on the spot.  They didn’t even, or probably weren’t allowed to, question my high voice and my masculine name not matching.  He gave me permission to do such a thing, but I didn’t really think long and hard about this little fib.  Not a good look for this Dolly Mama.  Not a lot of integrity for sure.  I kind of feel bad about it as I write this.

NOW BACK TO THE POINT.

My husband doesn’t tell little white lies or big whopper ones. He’s as honest as the day is long.

No wonder he’s won awards at work for integrity.

No wonder I trust him implicitly.

But did you know that honesty is not the same as integrity.  Yes, it’s a natural result of integrity, but it’s NOT integrity.

INTEGRITY is when we live according to our deepest values.

When our outsides match our insides.

When all the parts of us are working together in harmony (they are “integrated”) and not separated and fighting against each other.

When we are the SAME in our homes, in our church, in our neighborhood, in our activities, in our workplace, in our social media posts and in our time alone.

INTEGRITY.

A word I would like to use to describe myself.

Maybe even win awards for it some day.

Recently, the rubber has met the road.

I have not been living with integrity.

I believe and value one thing and then I live, work, spend and serve as if I value something completely different.

It’s been kind of awful.

I have been hiding.
I have been pretending.
I have been trying to please others.
I have been anxious.

It’s come to a head.

I can’t do it anymore.

But the pressure to continue to do so seems insurmountable.

Outright pressure.
Unspoken pressure.
Internal pressure.

So I am on the mission to fight for it with all my might.

Have all the parts of myself aligned and working with each other.

My inside and my outside.
My feelings and my actions.
My heart and my mind, my soul and my spirit.

What I’m really fighting for is me. The real real me. The me that God made and loves and cheers and delights in. The one that is an absolute beautiful mess.

So here’s my first step. Speaking out what I value.

It’s scary.
I am afraid of being judged.
I don’t want people to think ill of me.

All the normal-ish and crazy reasons I keep going down the lack-of-integrity slide.

So here goes.

Right now, in my life, these things are what I value most:

  1. Freedom (mostly the inside kind)
  2. Becoming my true self and helping others to do just that
  3. Living with and under radical grace
  4. Questions more than answers (a posture of constant learning even if it’s downright hair-raising)
  5. Allowing God to be Himself, and not who I’ve told myself He is (mostly to fit in with others)
  6. Living in the gray, nuanced, complicated, and messy and forgoing the black-and-white
  7. Eliminating hurry and scurry
  8. Being present to joy
  9. Telling others about the unconditional love of God AND deeply knowing it myself
  10. Becoming healed, whole and integrated (there’s that word)

Looking at this list, it seems easy, right?  NOT SO MUCH.

Because, I like to: 

  1. Stay safe.
  2. Protect myself.
  3. Judge others to make myself feel better.
  4. Have all the answers
  5. Tell God who He is.
  6. Live in the BLACK and WHITE.
  7. Hurry and scurry.
  8. Think about the past and the future (I spend most of my time there).
  9. See #5.
  10. Stay in the same, comfortable place I’ve always lived in.

I know it’s going to be a rough road ahead.

I have some big changes to make.

Both outside ones and inside ones.

I’m a wee bit terrified.
I’m also a whole lot excited.
I’m wondering what my next right step is.
I’m trusting God will show up as I take one. He always has.

And I’m beginning to see the INTEGRITY light at the end of the tunnel.

The one I might just get an award for.

Even if I have to give it to myself.

From my heart to yours.

P.S. Want to hear a funny story about my lack of integrity this week?

I’ve been on vacation and posting all the wonderful pictures of sand castles, family time, ice cream, and sunsets. Meanwhile, I’ve been riddled with an outbreak of horrendous poison ivy for most of the time, been miserable and staying in the air conditioning.  I only went to the beach once. So there you have it. Finally called the doctor today and got me some meds.  Never have I ever had poison ivy on my nose and a few other unmentionable places.  YIKES!  I don’t think the foraging for blackberries was worth it.

Posted in Childhood, Family, Grief, Motherhood, Thanks

Two Spoons

I could see that she was holding back tears as she walked down the steps of the school bus and into the passenger seat of our family minivan.

The words came tumbling out like a waterfall, “He broke up with me at lunch.”

My heart sank as I watched her body curl into a ball and her head flush against the window, tears flowing freely now.

“Oh honey. I’m so sorry. I know how much you liked him.”

I laid my hand on her arm for a moment and she wrapped herself further into a ball. Silence ensued for the rest of our drive home.

She bolted into the house and to her room, shutting the door. I followed her up the stairs, and as I rested my head on her closed door, I could barely make out muffled sobs.

My heart sank even more. My girl was hurting. And no matter what I did or said in that moment, it probably wouldn’t help at all. She was suffering the normal heartbreak that comes with first kisses, first crushes and first rejections.

I would just let her be for now, alone with her own heart and all the feelings that were new and confusing and downright difficult. It was the best and only thing I knew to do. It seemed to be what she wanted and needed the most.

I meandered to the kitchen, not sure what to do with myself. I wanted to run right back upstairs and wipe her tears away with a kiss, a hug, an emotional bandaid, an “I love you” or one of the other many mom tricks I had up my sleeve. Not this time. Instead, all I could do was pray (and I sure did) and feel awkward and start to make dinner.

Time seemed to march ever so slowly that afternoon, normal when pain is loud for us or someone we love. Time feels achingly long and almost cruel. Why can’t it pass quickly so that we are on the other side of loss and grief and back to our hopeful selves?

How I wished that for her that insufferable day.

Right before dinner, there was a knock at our front door. Odd at that time of day.

I glanced through the window and right in front of my own teary eyes, one of my daughter’s best friends was anxiously standing there, carrying two spoons and a huge container of my girl’s favorite ice cream flavor.

I opened the door, gave her a quick, thankful hug and whispered, “She’s up in her room.”

I heard another knock, footsteps, a door open and then shut again.

Talk about strange and hard for my mama self, yet somehow wonderful and what I hoped for all at the same time.

What I couldn’t do anymore as a mom (as much as I desperately wanted to), her friend was able to do. Listen. Relate. Comfort. Eat ice cream out of the container right before dinner.

All so normal for that season of her life.

I kept milling around the kitchen, gratitude welling up inside of me for this friendship that my daughter had.

The kind that goes to the grocery store instead of her dance practice.

The kind that shows up instead of stays away.

The kind that hangs out with the tears instead of just the laughs.

I heard the front door close and a car pull away.

In what seemed like only a few moments, her friend was gone again, just like that.

Had it been enough for that very miserable afternoon?

I wondered what would happen next.

Only moments went by when I heard the familiar creaking of my girl’s door opening and loud footsteps down the stairs.

She bounded into the kitchen, hair a mess, eyes all puffy, but the next words out of her mouth were priceless.

“I’m going to be okay, Mom, even if I’m not right now.”

She threw her arms around me and we hugged for a long time and as I held her close, I knew deep inside that it had all been enough.

“What’s for dinner?” she quietly asked.

As we unwrapped ourselves, I whispered one last thing into her ear, “I made your favorite.”