Thursday, October 02, 2008
Loren Practices the Art of "Shut Up and Listen"
I went away for a weekend with a group of my girlfriends because I needed a break. We did all the things little girls do except we're not little. We played ridiculous board games, ate chocolate fondue, went out to a karaoke bar, (okay, little girls don't do that), and spent one day at a spa.
At the spa I had an opportunity to get a massage, something I had never done before. There were two masseuses. One was a grinning old man with twisty fingers. The other was a female college student; it was her first day on the job. Readers, I think you know me well enough to guess who I went with. That's right. No thanks, old man.
In a soothing, quiet room I'm making small talk with my masseuse. She asks me what I do for a living. I tell her I work part-time as a youth director. She's intrigued. "What's that like?" I tell her that it can be really fun, but since teens deal with a lot of serious issues, it is also tricky sometimes. The conversation meanders along. The next thing I know, we're talking about suicide. I'm rambling on. "I've known kids who contemplated it, and it's scary, because you know they look up to you. What you do, or don't do, can make a difference in their lives." I stop there. She is suddenly quiet. On one hand, I think I should change the subject, but I have this other thought that I should continue. "The one thing you have understand is that suicide is a decision a person makes under a lot of stress. Ultimately, the decision is made alone, and it is never the fault of others." The masseuse asks, "What do you think happens to people who kill themselves?" I pause. I feel like I'm at work, and should be careful wording my response. "You want to know what my personal opinion is about it?" She nods. "Well, I think God's capacity to forgive is beyond human understanding. I think those who choose suicide want the people they love to know they are okay."
I sit up, my massage is over. Wow, that was uplifting! My masseuse has glassy eyes; she's fighting back tears. I feel dumb, and upset that she is crying. "Are you okay?" I ask, awkwardly. All choked up, she says, "You look exactly like this girl I know. She's my best friend. I got mad at her and we stopped speaking. Last week she committed suicide."
That was probably the creepiest moment of my life, not counting the time a "psychic" neighbor put items that would "cleanse my house of spirits" on my doorstep. I was at a loss for words, but I felt really moved. Later, the more I thought about the conversation, the more I recognized it as God at work in my life. I listened to the urge to keep talking about an uncomfortable subject, and unknowingly brought some peace to a complete stranger.
What I learned from that chance meeting was that God is speaking to me all the time, actually. The thoughts that I choose to follow determine if I will answer the calls. It's really a fascinating subject. I've discovered that sometimes the thoughts that seem to come from the gut, are from God. The questions is: Will I shut up and listen?
I have a really great friend whom I love a lot. She and I bonded when we had our first born children. She is a very private person, and also, as close to a real-life super heroine as one can get. My husband loves the television show "Heroes," because ordinary people have extraordinary powers. That's my friend. I didn't know she had a super power until I watched her face a great test.
When I was pregnant with my third child, (baby Bigfoot), she was expecting twins. We were due one month apart. One night I was sitting on the floor playing with the princess, when I suddenly felt damp. I looked down and saw a puddle of blood. In shock,(because I was 13 weeks pregnant), I wiped up the mess with my sweatshirt and locked myself in the closet with my cell phone. I was so afraid that I was miscarrying that I started shaking. I had to go to the doctor right away, so I was trying to change my clothes while still bleeding, heavily. I felt real panic, and sadness. I got all tangled up in my stretchy pants. Then I had this thought; it came out of nowhere. It was, "Knock it off; he's okay! Put your pants on." So I did. Then I wondered, am I having a boy? I decided that if I were, then that thought was not my own. I didn't find out for a few weeks that baby Bigfoot was a boy.
That night I called my friend to tell her what happened, and she was worried about me. The doctors weren't sure why I bled, but the baby was still there. I was so afraid of losing him.
The next week my friend suddenly lost one of the twins, and the other was in great danger. Doctors determined that the living baby would not survive after birth, and pressured her to terminate the pregnancy.
I will never really understand her pain through this experience, but I can tell you how I felt. It was like she and I were in a combat situation, and the bullet that grazed me hit her, right in the heart. I felt guilt, horror, and devastation. I woke up in the middle of the night crying about it.
That's when I saw her super power: a mixture of courage and faith. She struggled with the pregnancy, trying to save it despite the odds, the advice of doctors, her own fears and physical discomfort. I kept my mouth shut, because the last thing someone facing such a trial needs to hear is a pro-life lecture. How could I? I told her I loved her and respected her no matter what, and that is the truth. She endured the pregnancy, and I can't imagine how agonizing it was, to know your child in the womb as only a mother does, and know that child will not live. She listened to her heart and followed it through.
During that time, we went to a baby shower for another mutual friend. Women there were asking my friend the usual questions: due date, any names, etc. She handled their questions with great poise and grace. She never let on that she had complications. That was the day I proclaimed her my new hero.
One night her husband called. They had a baby girl, Molly. She lived an hour, but was born perfectly beautiful. I got my big belly into the car and drove directly to the hospital, teary-eyed. I sat in the lobby and called his cell. He came down in the elevator and sat next to me. I thought I was going to burst into tears. He talked about how strong my friend was through the birth, and how beautiful the baby was. I sat and listened. Then we hugged, and I left. There was not much to say, but nothing had to be said.
A month later baby Bigfoot was born. The next morning my friend came up to visit me. It was the first time she had been back to that hospital since the birth of her little girl in heaven, (and Molly's twin). I was so moved to see her. It was such a beautiful gift of love that she faced that pain to see me. I'll never forget that she did that.
I don't know why that precious baby girl only lived an hour. I guess she wanted to see if there were any real angels on Earth. That's what her parents are: selfless, wonderful human beings. My friend's super power is the Grace of God, and I hope someday, I can be half the person she is. (S & M, I love you!)
Dear Internet Traveler,
Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.