Friday, May 25, 2012

From Tragedy to Fiction...Lemonade Maker!

Letters From Heaven was born out of a tragedy that took place more than thirty years ago. I was a young mother with a house full of small children and an absent husband (real talk, truth time!). Due to my separation and financial situation, I suffered severe and deep depression. Nevertheless, I had little people depending on me: I didn’t have time for a “breakdown” or depression. And, if you know anything about the Christian community, they expect you to just “smile” and get over it, as though Christians aren’t suppose to have feelings like everyone else! In addition to this, I had taken on college and was in my sophomore year, so I truly didn’t have time for depression: I fought it tooth and nail! Now, here it was summer, I was alone (my husband was with someone else), and I was lost in my bedroom and couldn’t seem to get it together, no matter how hard I tried. I didn’t have a mother who cared, I had a mother-in-law who meant well in her advice, but was sometimes wish-washy (one moment she'd say take him back, don't let someone else have him; the next moment she'd say, kick him out and don't let him back in until he gets his act together), and my grandfather was too old for me to burden with these kind of problems (I thought)...was so alone! So, I hid away in my bedroom…away from my children, away from myself, away from the world! I hated living in this darkness, but I couldn’t get out; I couldn’t shake it off! My children would come and peep at me. My oldest daughter would bring me coffee and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which I couldn’t eat; my oldest son would bring me hot tea and buttered toast. This went on for about a month, with my older children watching over the younger ones: Keeping them clean and feeding them. I watched and monitored their activity from my bedroom. Listen, I know how bad this all sounds; I know how dreadful it all was…I know because it was my life, and I was barely living it! And, the fact that my children were living it with me was ripping me apart! And, yes, I was praying! I prayed feverishly all this time, like my life depended on it, but my prayers seemed to go unheard…unanswered…ignored, even. Of course, God never ignores you, but life can make it seem that way at times!
I’ve always prided myself on being a strong person (believe me, you have no idea [but, that’s another book…wink, wink!]), so on Saturday, June, 30, 1979 (after a month of severe, debilitating depression) I forced myself to bathe, dress, do my hair; get my children clean, fed, and dressed, and set out to visit some relatives we hadn’t seen in a while and go to the Park, which I really wasn't up for, but knew the children needed. Unfortunately, we never made it to the park. During a stop at my mother’s house (whom I was never very close to, but not because I didn’t want to be…again, another story for another time!), my son (who was 3 yrs. 8 mos. old) was hit and killed by a speeding car that had failed to stop at the stop sign at the corner before proceeding. It must have taken the medics half and hour or so to get to us. My immediate thought had been to pick my son up and take him to the ER, which was only about 8 minutes away from where we were, but my stepfather wouldn’t let me. He convinced me I could do more harm to him if I moved him: I regret not taking him to the ER to this day! I couldn’t seem to get anyone to call 911, so I had to leave my son in the street to call them myself! This is the weird thing: The call wouldn’t go through, initially. I tried about 3 times before it finally went through. I kept getting a “dead” tone at first! And, no, I wasn’t miss-dialing! I wasn’t! I am very calm and clear-headed in a crisis: I fall apart later! Anyway, after getting through to 911, I rushed back outside to my son who died in my arms about 5 min before the fire truck arrived: He never did regain consciousness. Now, this is where the weirdness about all this comes in: I had almost lost this son before to Spinal Meningitis when he was 7 months old, but he survived (barely). After his death, I was looking through his things, and for the 1st time I noticed the card they give you to show at the window (for visitors to see the baby) that has the baby’s date of birth on it, had his date of birth as October 10, 1979. He was born October 10, 1975. This is handwritten on the card in ink.  My question is…who makes a 4-year mistake like that?  At the end of the year?  And, they wrote this the day he was born!  And, even I – the MOTHER – didn’t notice this until a few months after he had passed! How weird is that?  Was the universe trying to tell me something when he was born that I overlooked? And, to tell you the truth, had I noticed that on his birth card from the beginning, it would have messed with my head a bit, and I’m sure I would have kept and extra eye out for him!
You would think that one so young wouldn’t know anything about being a Christian, but he did: He did!  He use to get my spoons and go to the middle of the playground in our court (in front of our home, in our apartment complex) and preach to everyone who passed by, young and old, alike.  And, we couldn’t stop him! Believe me, we tried! His preschool teachers told me (at his funeral) that he used to take the plastic utensils, and climb up in the chairs and preach to the other kids while they ate their lunch at preschool: I never knew any of this! But, that’s who my son was.
So, where does Letters From Heaven come in? From the pain of losing my son. It was all I could think about…day in and day out! Grief consumed me! Not the boo-hoo, feel sorry for yourself kind, NO! It was the ‘Where is my son, really, kind; ‘Is there really a heaven’ kind; ‘Is there really life after death’ kind! Already an avid reader, I was now devouring every book I could find written on Life After Death--Christian and Non-Christian. I needed to KNOW!  I NEEDED ANSWERS! My son was gone and I wanted to know WHERE! I needed to know if there really even was a where!
As I began to read various books on different people accounts of their “trips” to both heaven and hell, I knew (without a shadow of doubt) my son was in Good Hands. I knew, but my foundation had been shaken to the core, and I just needed reassurance and I received it. Letters From Heaven is my therapeutic gift from God. I woke up one morning and it’s like, someone was dictating something to me. I was trying to tune my ear to hear what was being said and I heard words pouring into my ear. Then I heard, Letters From Heaven. I said, "What?...What is Letters From Heaven?" I knew who was talking to me; I was quite used to His Voice. Then, He reminded me that I had asked Him for a good book to write, and here it was. The story continued to pour “into” me. I grabbed some paper from the side of my bed and a pen, and started writing what I was “hearing.” I know…I know…this sounds way out there, but it’s the honest-to-God truth!  
Anyway, it’s been a journey and I wouldn’t it trade for anything. Now, I invite you on the next part of this journey with me…a journey of hope, a journey of courage, a journey of possibilities. It’s can throw you some lemons (even, some rotten ones), but throw your head back, and let’s get ready to make lots of lemonade! Oh, just throw the rotten ones back! LOL!

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