I feel as if I’ve lost my voice, lost my words, lost myself. I’m struggling to just breathe, and even then there are moments when that hurts so much I can barely do it. I keep myself together by pushing it all down as far into my stomach as I can when I am around others. I do the best I can to pretend that I am strong for all those that are grieving the loss of such a precious child. But I’m not always successful, I try to hide in bathrooms and bedrooms so others don’t see my pain, because it’s not about me right now, it’s about them. They are grieving the loss of a little soul so perfect, so bright with pure light that our world truly is far darker without her here with us. I feel broken, shattered, and torn apart. I know that no matter what I will never be the same again. And when I feel like I can’t even breathe through the pain of losing my niece, I think of her parents and how I know without a shadow of a doubt that it is a million times worse for them. I want to fix it for them, I want to ease their pain, but I know there’s nothing I can do. I can’t bring their Joy back. I can’t mend their shattered hearts. I try to stay busy, I try to do things or cuddle with my own wee ones, but nothing eases the pain at losing her. There is no comfort for me or for her parents or for so many others that are also struggling to just breathe through this tragedy.
I love you Jo-Jo, and I’m sorry, I miss you so much princess, more than words can ever say.
Peggy O’Mara said “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice” She was right, on so many levels she was right. The way we talk to them directly effects how they will think of themselves as they grow up, and once they are grown. IF they are always told things that break down their self-esteem and make them feel bad about themselves they will eventually grow into adults that believe they are not worthwhile. There are many times in each persons life where circumstances or events feel unfair or cruel or outright horrendous. We as parents do not need to make those situations worse by instilling a lack of self-worth in them, when that is exactly what they need to help them get through those times. The world isn’t fair, and life can be intensely cruel, I want, no I need to know that my children’s inner voice will tell them a few specific things when those times happen to them:
1) You are an amazing being worthy of respect.
2) You are loved exactly as you are, and you are worthy of love exactly as you are.
3) There is always a solution, it might not be easy but it’s possible to make anything better than it is.
4) You are capable of creating that solution and following through with it.
It is because I know that my words will become their inner voice that I try to choose very carefully what I say to them, especially when I am upset or disappointed with their actions. They will make mistakes and bad choices at times as all human beings do! But how I speak to them, and what I say will effect them deeply, so I am mindful of what I say because I want their inner voice to be a positive one.
On the second day of our birthday adventure we went to the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls.
I loved all the butterflies fluttering around and giggled while Miss. G was getting excited watching them fly. Miss D was enthralled as well and I felt like I was in a fairy tale setting between the tropical plants and the beautiful butterflies flying all about. My personal favorite was one that was native to Australia with the most stunning green wings I have ever seen. While my husband adored the Blue Morphos and thought it was fantastic that they kept coming to see him because of his iridescent blue sunglasses perched atop his head.
After grabbing our lunches out of the van, Miss B says “Daddy, the front tire is hissing” We both look, and sure enough the front and back passenger side tires are flat!
We decided to continue with our adventure for a bit more as we figured out what we were going to do so that the kids were warm and having fun while we worked out a plan. After seeing the most amazing exhibit of butterflies and being thoroughly enchanted with the place I asked the manager John if he knew of a Canadian Tire nearby that we could get a tin of tire sealant to hopefully get the tires to last until we could get home and buy a new set. Instead of just giving us directions (which he did) he then went even further…
He talked with Cedric the maintenance guy and then directed my husband to the service door where Cedric was waiting with an air compressor. Cedric then filled all 4 of our tires, and Mr. C called him the magic van fixer (I concurred completely) and we were able to get to the Canadian Tire to buy the sealant. If it hadn’t of been for these 2 gentleman’s wonderful kindness we wouldn’t have made it out of the parking lot! (Our front tire takes a total of 44PSI and Cedric had to add 42PSI’s)
They didn’t have to help to such a degree, we could have been forced to call a tow truck for the van plus figure out bus schedules to help get most of us home as no tow truck has enough space for 7 passengers! But they both went above and beyond their jobs to help out a family far from home. Their kindness truly touched my husband and I.
It started as an innocent story told by a nice young man, and I was quietly smiling at the pleasant moment between him and my husband…and then there it was, one of the very few words I do NOT allow to be said in my house or near my kids “retarded”. He was speaking about how he felt someone was looking at him at that point in the story. I’m sure he didn’t actually mean that he believed they thought he was mentally challenged. He meant that they looked at him strangely, as if he was silly, unrefined, uncouth, or even loutish. I then heard a little voice say “what retarded?” Mr. N had heard him.
I called him away to talk to him, I knew he had not thought of what he was saying, especially in the context of where he was saying it. We spoke, I explained how there are very few things I’m not okay with being said in my house, but that word is certainly one of them. I watched his face change from confusion to surprise to remorseful as he listened to me explain why I am not accepting of that word being said in the way that it was.
I didn’t yell or rant, I wasn’t angry with him, not when I heard it, not when he looked surprised at first that I was saying it wasn’t allowed, not as I explained why. There was no anger in my heart because he truly is a sweet boy that adores my sons. He wouldn’t purposely hurt them, wouldn’t purposely, callously use a word society uses to mean “less than” wouldn’t degrade them by stating they were less than him. He was simply a teenager using a common slang word.
I don’t think he’ll choose that word again, I know that if it should pop into his thoughts after today his mind will conjure up a picture of my boys and what that word has the power to make society believe about those with special needs. And I know he’ll choose a different word. Because words truly do have power, power to shape how we perceive life, how we decide who is our equal, and who is not, and how we will treat both. I know he’ll choose other words that don’t demean the boys he adores, because he’s good person with a good heart, who is now more aware of why a common word should not be commonplace in our vocabularies.