Thursday, December 13, 2012

Anniversary 12/14/1992 - forever

Today I have been married to my husband one day short of 20 years.  Since I'm pretty sure neither of us have the money to file for divorce I can say with some certainty that we will make it to 20 years.
We met in the 1980's.  Ben Davis High School football team and Warren Central Football team were playing at the Hoosier Dome..... That may help clarify the date.  I was with my bestie, Sherry Jaynes. I saw a guy across the stands and I said I had to meet him.  When she said why I said because I was going to marry him.
Please note: True Story: This is public so there is no way I can lie and not get caught.

We went to where we thought he was sitting and he was gone.  Sherry said lets forget it there's a lot of people here and you won't find him.  If you know me or anything about me that simply means, "bets on."  We went out of the stands to the common area and there he was on the pay phone.  Does anyone see my halo becoming a hula hoop right about now???
I went to the guy and said, "What is your name, Well it doesn't really matter because I need you to hang up the phone we are going to get married!"  Yep true story.
He hesitated.  Oopp there goes my halo again.  I hung up the phone.  The young, I'm sure stunningly beautiful, girl on the phone was just hung up on by a ghettooooooo white girl, half of my head shaved straight out of, well you get the picture.
He looked at me and when his eyes met mine his frown turned to shock then a smile.  To me in that moment I HONESTLY feel like God was showing me a light at the end of the long dark tunnel that I was only about 1/2 way down.  There are other blogs about what my life looked like from my eyes as a child and young teen.  I was in deep.  But I won't rehash that now.  We hung out.  Please understand this guy, my future husband, for real, was the most polite gentle spirited person I have ever met.  I was, well, bad.  At the end of this blog when I post to facebook I will tag some people who will read and hopefully attest to what I am saying about myself.
Gene and I met various places and hung out.  We talked on the phone and wrote letters.  After a while we only saw one another a few times a year for several years.  He went off to college and I finished high school living with various people and working 2 jobs. I skipped school one day just to hang out and was very violently attacked.  I went to school the next day where my boyfriend at the time found out about where I hung out and hit me several times knocking me out in the hall way at Ben Davis High School.
A lot of my 'friends' saw this as my fault and left my side.  I ended up graduating from an alternative school in our township and my boyfriend at the time who was an all state wrestler was expelled.  His wrestling career over, high school career over, scholarships lost etc. Jason wherever you are I am terribly sorry.  Not because I skipped school that day but because I didn't have any common sense and it got us both in a world of trouble.
After that day I decided I was ready to settle my life down.  I needed a respite and I needed it fast.  I did the only thing I knew to do.  I called that guy that was stability to me.  He welcomed me with half open arms.  He was willing for me to come and visit him at college and even to hang out with his friends but he had a girl friend.  It wasn't long before the visits became more frequent, the other girlfriend went away and we became serious.  We decided that we would both go into the National Guard and if when we got back from training we were still in love we would marry.
We were married 12-14-1992
Robbie Jaynes & Stacy Mills stood up for us at our wedding.  Our mother's attended along with some of the friends we had met from our church family where we were attending and became married.
We have had our ups and downs.  Gene went directly into the 'full time Army' and was stationed in El Paso, Texas.  We soon found out we were having a little boy and we were ready to start our life as a couple, alone, in Texas.
It is strange sitting here writing this thinking of all we have been through.  There isn't anything that we have been through that I would not openly discuss.  I am very transparent and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt  our past is why were are where we are.
We had A LOT of people who thought we would fail.  We moved a lot at first, lived in poverty for a lot of our life.  And most recent and most crushing, we lost our first born son. The stats were against us, still are and always have been.  We have lived our married life as Christians.  We are an interracial couple married in 1992, had a child with a disability, a child born with multiple medical needs, etc.  We fought hard for everything we have and we will continue to do so.  Any number of the things mentioned above make our chances of staying married 0-none.  We give all the glory to God.
Gene is a little less open about difficulties that we have endured.  He is still a gentle spirit.  I am willing to openly discuss anything anyone would like to.  Please comment and at least let me know you read this blog.  If anyone, especially any of the teens, have any questions feel free to contact me.
Our journey is only briefly described above we have fought issues with health, addiction, etc.  No marriage is easy.  If it is, then it isn't right and won't make it.
As I said I would, I will list some names and then tag them.  These people can attest to my 'abruptness' even as a young teen. I was 13 when Gene and I met, he was 16.

Robbie & Stacy Jaynes, Sherry Parsons, Steve Yockey, Dyna Graham...  Anyone else who would like to add your name feel free.

Will edit as needed.  Suggestions accepted.  :) love you all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday November 20th 2:41am???

Coming as another unedited view of my heart at the butt crack of dawn.  No idea why I am up and sobbing right now when I have perfectly decent hours to do it during the day but..............


I have been sick for several weeks.  Generally speaking I get Bronchitis around this time every year.  I remember having it last year because it ended up turning into pneumonia and Corey was having some problems at school and I tried to sort of guilt him into listening to me about his lifestyle.  "Corey I am spending time in the hospital way from work because I am so sick and you are calling me at 3am telling me what extra curricular activities you are engaging in.  I am worried sick about you and that is not helping in healing"  Young adults caught up in what he was caught up in and/or young adults with diagnosis as he had do not respond well to this type of swaying.  Any of my other children would at least stop calling that late, if not be on the first bus home.

This year after the Bronchitis diagnosis I actually felt better for about 3 days.  I mean better than I had in a LONG time.  Then about the 4th morning I woke up sicker than I was before and things gradually got worse.  Thinking that it was changing as it did last year I figured I would wait for the weekend and go in on Monday.  Well over the weekend I began swelling starting in my mouth, tongue etc, nose, inside and out, face and various other places.  This was a painful almost couldn't bear pain.

Monday morning slowly rolled around and I find out my medications, heart, depression, anxiety, and the 4 extras for Bronchitis treatments have clashed somewhere along the way and I have a way different infection all through my body.  I will not go into details about this infection because it will absolutely gross me out but the only thing I can eat is yogurt and I have NO taste buds.  (for those of you that have read past blogs - yes they all crawled out) The doctor said by Thanksgiving I might be able to enjoy mashed potatoes.
I am not sure at all how many of you know me but I hate drinking water and I love food.  So for everything I intake to either burn or have no taste it is very frustrating to me.  When I say burn I mean like super spicy food all the way down.

I am now off of the medications originally given for the Bronchitis and on 5 new medications 1 being a steroid shot.  I am a big baby when I am sick. (btw) I am not a good patient.  Everything annoys me and I am extra super duper emotional.  Lets pair that with the fact that 231 days ago we buried our 19 year old a month in a half after that our next oldest went to college.  Two 16 year old's at home, a husband who is devoted to bringing enough money in for us to live, ALONG WITH IT IS THE WEEK OF THANKSGIVING.
I AM A MESS.
Just this week I have heard Dana I am really worried about you.  You have 3 other children and a husband who need you.  You can't just shut down. 

I have had some issues in my past that I have explained in previous blogs.  Along with those and the death of  our oldest child I decided it would be best to get on some sort term disability so that I could find some real healing and deal with some past issues.  When I was sent to the state funded doctor for a thorough diagnostic test I was given a list.  I was told that I did not have to live under this list for the entire rest of my life but I needed to be treated for these issues before deciding to end therapy.  (God played these cards right for me this day.  This therapist was a member of the Christian Psychological Foundation) Not sure if I am saying this name right.  Anyway he was, probably still is a Christian.

His laundry list for me and to the state..... Fybromyalgia, PTSD, which includes panic d/o, depressive d/o and anxiety d/o, Agoraphobia, Disassociative Disorder - Amnesia Type (brought on by sudden loss). 
{side note Disassociative Personality Disorder is Multiple Personality - please note that is not what this says}

For any of you that would like a layman's breakdown of this it means inside I am a scared little girl who startles easily has panic attacks lasting more than 30 minutes in duration, gets depressed easily hospitalized type if unmedicated, do NOT like to leave home or be in unknown environments especially not alone, do not like to be in close proximity of anyone especially not large crowds with no reasonable way out, fear of being trapped, can go out places and forget where I am why I am there and/or how to get home, could spend money not know where, why or what I did, (Within all of this I can get head spinning mad and pull someone's eye lashes out without much care in the world - ok that is a tad exaggerated.) I do hate injustice and can get pretty heated about it especially if it involves my children. All of this plus the Fybro that causes some trigger points that create generalized or overall pain within my body sometimes to the touch along with irritable bowel syndrome and immune deficiencies.   

When I used to hear diagnosis like this in people I would do more research but 9 times out of 10 make fun of them.  God has a sense of humor.  This is no joke at this point in my life.  I am Praising God through the storm.  I am attempting to find healing through individual therapy, support groups and medicine.  But I live in consent turmoil and pain.  I almost feel like the guy on Green Mile that took on other's burdens.  I feel like in some ways I am truly getting a taste of how Corey felt at times.  

So in light of the current illness plus the past diagnosis I am a walking time bomb ok maybe not a time bomb maybe a worm.  I do not know I have done very little so far this week besides sleep and cry.  I realize it is only 3:30am on Tuesday but I am counting Sunday as the first day of the week........ we will see it could get better.  CJ is coming home for a long weekend visit.  I am looking forward to that.  Thanksgiving with all of the food yet only being able to eat mashed potatoes because of swelling, well not looking so forward to my part of that.  Looking forward to everyone enjoying all of the food.  The missing seat at the table yeah not looking forward to that at all.....

Another interesting thing about all of this is we usually have stragglers, friends with no place to go for Thanksgiving come over and join us, granted we moved into a somewhat smaller house, but I have a feeling it is because most people are doing what would be easiest for us to do and that is running from the Whitten's Thanksgiving drab.  We will do our best to enjoy Thanksgiving even with my husband on call and a missing seat.  We will have all of the great food and we will have company on Friday for leftovers.  

We never have enough money to celebrate Holidays how we would like to.  Not much has changed in that area this year but interestingly enough when there is a MISSING SEAT no one focuses on that any more.  That becomes a non issue.  Interesting what types of this become non issues during times like this.    
We ask the kids about Christmas they say they are good they do not need anything for Christmas.  This is a double edge sword.  It sort of breaks my heart to think that they are saying it because of the MISSING SEAT but that we have raised them to realize Christmas isn't about gifts.  
I suppose the first's will be the hardest.  Things may not get better but easier to handle or easier to make a place for those feelings.  

WHY WOULD I JUST SHUT DOWN

Friday, November 9, 2012

National Grief Awareness Day 11/15/12

Brooke's Place National Children's Grief Awareness Day



Wear blue on November 15th is Children’s Grief Awareness Day. Wearing blue that day as we will be spreading the word to the community that “It’s OK to Talk About Grief.”






Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Isaac - the baby - he's 16


Isaac was born on October 24th 1996, one month before his sister Carrissa would be 1 year old. His daddy picked out his name.  He said since all of the other kids' names began with 'C' and this would be our last baby, his name should end with a 'C'.  We searched through the Bible to see if there were any names we liked and Isaac was the name we agreed on. Isaac means laughter and from the beginning he provided much of that.
 He was born in Lafayette, Indiana.  Before his first birthday we moved to Lincoln, IL to attend college.  As a toddler, Isaac had the longest curly locks and was the most cuddly boy ever.  He is the only child to this day that I can say honestly LOVED naps.  This has not changed much to date.
From a very young age he wanted a sports ball in his hands.  He did not care what kind but he had a genuine love for basketball.  We bought a Fisher Price Grow With Me Basketball Hoop and he would play ball from sun up to sun down if we let him.  He loved to play ball.
Gene, his dad, had an accident at work when Isaac was 4 years old. He had been playing basketball and landed wrong from a rebound and ended up with a double compound fracture, several surgeries and a lot of time laying flat on his back.  This created a huge fear for Isaac.  He became very worried about playing basketball.  We were able to get him signed up with Tae Kwon Do to help with his free time and extra energy but the basketball hoop scared him.


About 1 year after Gene's accident he was still having some issues regarding his leg.  The doctors in Illinois referred him to a surgeon in Indiana.  Since we were originally from Indiana we decided we would move our family back there. As soon as we returned we saw advertisements for Little League Baseball Signups.  We asked the kids if they wanted to play and CJ and Isaac said yes.
At the first practice Isaac was watching the catcher.  He seemed as though he really wanted to try that position.  The catcher that the coach had playing was struggling with the heat so Isaac asked if he could try.   That day Isaac found a new love.  He seemed to be a natural at baseball.  He loved playing any position and had an uncanny ability to tell what kind of a pitch was coming and how to hit it.  It was a lot of fun to watch him play.  He made the all star team that year and has been an avid player since.





Isaac still really loves baseball.  Sometimes its been hard for us to watch because he hasn't always been given credit for his talent.  For example, he is left handed and even at this age he is still an amazing catcher, he is not allowed to catch any more because, "there is no such thing as a left handed catcher." He has always been able to make up for the little disadvantages that come with being left handed.  He has resigned to playing that position now.  He loves to play center field.  He is able to run fast enough to back up the right fielder, left fielder and the infield and seems to know exactly where the ball is going.  His 8th grade year he went until the very last game before he struck out.  He is truly a great player.
The day his brother, Corey, passed away Isaac's team had a home game and he decided he wanted to play in it.  Several of our friends and their families took him to the game.  Isaac's coach said he actually played the best game he had ever played.  He has a true love for baseball.  

When we moved back to Indianapolis the church we were attending had UpWord Basketball program, we were able to talk Isaac into playing.  He successfully participated in that program for several years.  When he was in 3rd grade his older brother started wrestling.  Isaac watched him for a year and was his "wrestling dummy" at home, where he learned a lot.  The next year Isaac started wrestling.  One thing we've learned about Isaac through these experiences is that he can be successful at anything he puts his mind to.  He is a very talented athlete.



Isaac enjoys his family and friends.  He likes to have fun.  Sometimes he is misunderstood because he has very high standards for himself and gets very mad when he doesn't meet them.  People see this as disrespectful rather than what it really is.  He is very sensitive and gets his feelings hurt, people see this as a him being cocky or too sure of himself.  He presents very self assured emotionally yet is not.
Isaac took the death of his oldest brother very hard.  He had been home with Corey during the last big snow and they had a snow ball fight in the house.  They would frequently listen to music on the computer together and I could hear them both singing to the music in perfect harmony from the other room.  The last song I heard them sing together was the day before Corey died.  They were singing, Learning to be the Light by Newworldson and White Flag by Chris Tomlin.  When Isaac spoke at Corey's funeral he discussed these times that he shared with Corey.
Isaac has a special relationship with his other 2 siblings also.  Because they are all so close in age they have been good friends from the beginning.  Isaac and CJ share a lot of the same interest: Music, Computers, Sports, etc.  They have always been close to the same size, until this year, so they have always been able to be partners when at wrestling practices or meets.  They are always in each other's corner, literally.
Isaac and Carrissa have become a lot closer since CJ left for college.  They have always shared a special bond but it has strengthened in the past several months.
Isaac has been a joy to parent.  We can not always meet every desire he has.  Sometimes I feel bad because I think he could be further along in a given area if we had more resources.  But he has always overcome and over compensated.  Isaac wants to be a chiropractor and plans to study pre-med along with following his baseball aspirations.  He is a very intelligent young man and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for him.

Isaac, CJ and Corey at the zoo.  
Every time we went to the zoo they 
would pose for a picture like this.
do we look alike




Graduation 2012

CJ's home and a little taller 
than before he left.










Isaac, Carrissa and Bri going
to the Austim Walk in memory 
of Corey.
Isaac, CJ and Dylan after
 camo night with Purple Rain.



First day of school 2012.
 Pool boy 2012




Tattoo before color


Isaac getting his self designed tattoo
in honor of Corey.

Isaac (very tired) after having his long
hair straightened.



I want to share a story from 
when Isaac was really little.
Corey always had a wealth 
of knowledge and he was telling
us how every few years your 
taste buds change and you may
like different things so its good 
to try food you didn't think
you liked because you may 
like it after a while.  
Isaac thought that Corey 
said BUGS rather than BUDS.
He asked us if he would feel 
the "taste bugs" come out 
so he would know when 
he should try the yucky foods?
   
Isaac's long hair
(not straightened)

Monday, October 15, 2012

GIFTS


G.I.F.T.S.

Great

There are a few gifts that are far greater than any others during the past 6 months of the intense rawness of grief. I want to address these first.

Of course it is wonderful to have people around the first few days. What people do not understand is the first few days a grieving person in numb. They, generally speaking have no idea who is around and who isn't. Of course there are those few people that make large impacts I do not want to discredit them. (Grandparents who assist with funeral planning, sister who made picture boards, those who assisted with the programs, people who donated so that the funeral could happen etc.)

My real point is that the most important is those people who stay around. Not that we need a house full of people all of the time, but we do need people who continue to check on us even after 6 months.

Another gift that made a great impact is the people who prayed and continue to pray for us. I often tell people, I know the only reason we get up out of bed each day is because there are people continuing to pray.

Inspired

Several gifts that have been given have had deep meaning. There are things that have happened over the past several months that have not been discussed with people other than close family and intimate friends. No one has facebook-ed, instagram-ed or blogged about these things so there is really no way someone miles and hours away would know. I know that not everyone has the same spiritual beliefs but there is no way that anyone could have given such meaningful gifts without divine intervention.

God had to have directly spoken to or nudged these two women and they had to have listened and acted.

The first picture is of a visual prayer board. I am going to give a brief reworded explanation from the person who created it. It is a prayer in canvas. In the background is Revelation 21:4. She then said, "I do not even pretend to know what you all are going through. But please know you are loved and thought about."

The significance of this is deep for me. There is a song that played on the way to the funeral home. It is by Phillips, Craig & Dean and called When the Stars Burn Down

When the stars burn down and the earth wears out 
And we stand before the throne
With the witnesses who have gone before
We will rise and all applaud

When the hands of time wind fully down
And the earth is rolled up like a scroll
The trumpets will call and the world will fall
To its knees as we all go home

Star of the morning,
Light of salvation Majesty
God of all mysteries
Lord of the universe
Righteous King

There will come a day standing face to face
In a moment, we will be like Him
He will wipe our eyes dry
take us up to His side

And forever we will be His
Singing blessing and honor
Glory and power
Forever to our God
I had never heard this song before but it hit me like a ton of bricks. To me it said, "Dana, you will see him again." I have listened to this song frequently since that day in March. If you notice the bold part of the Lyrics and compare it to the verse referenced on the prayer canvas you will note it is the says, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”


All I could do is send my friend a message and tell her thank you for listening to God. He knew what I needed to hear right then.
How else besides her being INSPIRED by God could she have ever known. WOW This was an amazing thing to be a part of. Also note on the prayer canvas the dove and the admission tickets.



The next inspired gift just came today, six months after the funeral. So we are at the anniversary day of the funeral and I receive a package in the mail from a friend who lives several hours away. She would have no way of knowing that I needed to refocus on the fact that I can still see Corey in the faces and actions of my other children.


Also, Corey is buried in the Field of Valor next to the Eternal Flame. I am not completely sure if this friend would have known that. I know she drove hours to come to the funeral, but where he was actually buried was not mentioned at the funeral.
In the note attached she said that while she was out she saw this and thought of me. I have to believe that she thought of me immediately because she was listening to God he pierced her heart for me.




Friends

As I stated above, friendships have been a very big part of our healing. There have been a couple of friends who come to my house or we do something outside of the house every week. There are people who call or text each of us weekly just to check in. I get messages on facebook and by text etc. These have been wonderful gifts, especially after the months have passed and all of the rush of people, food and donations are gone. 
We are also absolutely gratefully for Corey's friends who have continued to keep in touch. They message us. They also continue to post on his facebook page. This is super helpful for us. This shows us that he did have true friends and had made an impact on the lives of others. 

The picture above is a gift that came from one of the friends who has continued contact with me. This was a very special gift because Corey loved animals. As a young child he wanted to be a wildlife biologist. As he grew up and became more self aware, he decided to study mortuary science. He still enjoyed animals his entire life.


 Another friend who makes weekly visits to me has encouraged me to work on my creativity. She brought materials to me so I can work on crafts while I'm healing, which has been healing in a number of ways.  I have made rugs, blankets, paintings and drawings.  





Treats





Early on in the grieving process I received a box that contained this gift.  First of all, I LOVE bamboo. Secondly Corey loved watching wind chimes when he was little.  As he got a little older and began having more sensory issues the noise of the chimes would really upset him.  Even if we were in a store and he could hear them across the store he would have a panic attack.
He would have loved this bamboo one because it doesn't have the high pitch chime of the glass ones.  I am excited to have it hanging in the corner with all of my plants from the funeral.






I love all of my plants from the funeral.  They brighten up the room and I really enjoy caring for them.  I have not been extremely successful but I am learning and they are growing (for the most part).  I appreciated all of the planters we received at the funeral.  It made the service all the more beautiful.


Special

These, along with several other gifts have meant the world to us.  On Easter we had some friends over for dinner and then we all put this pond in our back yard in memory of Corey.  We planted all of the Lillies around it.  A friend brought over a light that lit up at night.  It was beautiful and brought us much peace to sit and enjoy the sound of the water from the fountain etc. We had various gifts delivered that meant a lot to us.  We received a prayer blanket, stones with sayings on them, and a large Hersey Chocolate bar.  (that was for me)

   

The best gifts of all were and continue to be the friendships and love we have seen from the people around us.  We have several very committed friends and a super supportive church family.  We can't say enough to show our appreciation.  


Philippians 1:3   

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you

Who is this God people are talking about?

Names and some details are changed to protect the innocent and the not so innocent.  I want this story out there for people to read and gain understanding but I do not want to fully disclose certain details.

I know of a  young lady who lived a pretty rough childhood and really struggled with who God was and what part He was suppose to play.  One thing that was very clear to her is He was not the God everyone else said He was, not in her life anyway.  We are going to call her Sam.

Sam was the first born to her parents who had been married for several years.  In early childhood she witnessed domestic violence between her mother and father. One day he stuffed her mom into the dryer.  There were some times when her parents were not arguing but she usually had to be in another room during these times because they had friends over.  

The house always had a  very funny smelling smoke filling the rooms and loud music playing when their friends were over.  Sam was not allowed to tell any of her grandparents about these parties. One time she ran into the room because a noise outside scared her and found a bunch of pills on the table that everyone sat around. 

She was taken to her bedroom and given a spanking and told not to come into the room again.  She cried herself to sleep that night not because she was spanked but because she was hurt and angry.  
This type of situation went on for several years.  Until one day after an extremely loud night Sam's parents asked her to come downstairs.  She was told that she was going to stay with her grandparents for a week and while she was gone her dad would be moving out.  When they asked her how she felt, she said she was a little sad and a little happy all at the same time.  When her mom asked her why she was a little happy she said, "Because daddy won't hit you any more." Her mother began to cry and picked her up and held her for a while..  

Sam was all packed and ready to go to her grandparents house, she loved it there.  Her grandmother took her shopping during the day and her grandfather would hold her in his lap and they would watch sports and eat ice cream together at night.  While she was at her grandparents house she would hear the Bible being read and old gospel music playing all of the time.  Then on Sundays her and her grandparents would get all dressed up after breakfast and go to church.  After church they always went to a restaurant and had a big lunch then home to watch sports.  

Her grandpa always told her she was beautiful and she could be anything she wanted to be.  She spent a lot of time at her grandparents house over the years.

Soon both Sam's mother and father remarried.  Sam's mother never had any additional children it was her and her younger brother John.  Her father and step mother had 2 additional children.  Sam felt very depressed during this time in her life.  She felt like she didn't belong anywhere.  Her mother and step father had a lot of secrets she was not allowed to discuss.  Her father and step mother had their 2 children and it seemed as if they did not really have room for her and her brother in their lives.

When Sam and her brother would visit their dad their clothes always smelled smokey so the kids at her dad's church would make fun of them.  At least when she went to her grandparent's house they would wash her clothes or buy new ones so she wasn't embarrassed going to church in smokey clothing.

During this time in Sam's life she would watch her mother get beat up at least 1 time per week.  She would get the backlash of anger from the arguments.  She felt as though love was about physical abuse, or tolerating it anyway.  Then she would go to her dad's house and see a very loving and overly physical couple.  She felt as though she had no where she belonged.

There were times when the abuse would get to a point where she would need to be removed from her mother's care.  During those times she was usually placed with her counselor from school.  There were 2 times when she was placed in a residential facility. One of these times was after she spent two weeks in jail because she stabbed her step dad in the back with a small kitchen knife for severely beating her mom.  

Sam began babysitting at 11 and working at 13.  Adolescence was a very difficult time for Sam.  She didn't feel like she fit in anywhere and she was angry young.  She was being abused by people who "loved" her.  She was told she had to keep secrets that a young teen should never have to hold onto.  Sam had been in abusive relationships of her own by this time.  Some times she was the victim other times she was the abuser.  

Sam had been sexually active with over 80 young men some consensual and others not.  One time she skipped school and went to visit a friend.  He had friends waiting until she arrived.  Her friend made her whatever each of his friends wanted.  After a hospital exam at lease 7 different DNA strands were found.  She had changed schools multiple times and had learned way too much about manipulating the world to just get by.

There were people in her life that would say things about how God could help.  She would hear stories about God making things better.  People would say they just trusted God and then things changed.
Many times Sam tried with her all to do as these people said.  She would read her Bible and give her all to God.  Nothing would change, in fact, sometimes things would get far worse.  

The doctors tried medications, social workers tried counselling and other home placements, nothing worked.  Sam would feel such desperation that she would consider killing herself.  She rarely laughed or displayed any emotion at all.  It felt dangerous to be too open, vulnerable.

In the work I have done I have heard many many stories like this and have lived through one myself.  I do not feel like I am at liberty to disclose my full story due to people who would not be able to accept their part in it, yet are still a part of my life in some fashion or another.
My point of sharing this story above is that my story mirrors this in many ways.  Even as an adult I have struggled with people who tell me to just trust God or have faith and things will be fine, depression and anxiety will disappear.
I was listening to our local Christian radio station this week and they were having a pledge drive.  A lady called in and was saying how this station lead her back to Christ and her entire life has changed now.
These stories seem crazy to me.  As someone who has sold out to Christianity, yet still has problems, is still haunted by my past and has never experienced this entire life change. I get angry!  Where is this God?  Who are you talking about?  Why hasn't He saved me from pain and rejection?  Why haven't I been cured from depression?  Why do people close to me have to struggle with addictions?  Where is real life in all of this?
It all seems too sugar coated and false. I think Christians, presenting the Gospel in this way are setting people up for failure.  I fear that people who only hear this part of the story will loose faith when a major trauma comes.  
My husband and I lost our oldest son this year.  I have met several others who have also lost children. There are some that blame God. There are some who are Christians and chose to have the funeral services at their church now they can not walk into a church building.  These type of situations along with many others happen frequently.  How many people give up on God?  It is easy to blame Him and or just loose faith all together.
My point in sharing all of this is to say that it is not always an outer life changing situation that comes with the decision to follow Christ.  It is a heart change.  We can not pretend that just because we wholeheartedly make a decision to become a Christian that our circumstances are going to change.  It is a disservice for us to present the information in a way that a non Christian may get the idea that their circumstances are going to change in any way.  God does perform miracles but not everyone receives them.  He can change circumstances but it is not always in His will.
The devastating part is when we realize that even though we believe we still have freedom of choice as does everyone else.  We, even as God fearing Christians, still have to face consequences of not only our decisions but the decisions of others.  As with the story above, the rippling affects of others choices can be long lasting for victims. I am not trying to discredit healing in the name of Jesus.  I am trying to discredit the fact that it does not happen the same way for everyone.
Our family experienced a life spinning, world turning upside down trauma that no one should ever have to face.  It was hard to not blame God at first.  Could he have changed the circumstances, yes, but he didn't.  Now we will forever face the consequences of others actions in the devastating situation. If I chose to believe that God predestined every step for every person, at this point in my life I would choose to not follow Christ of be a believer of any "higher power."  Because I have learned that our salvation is predestined but not our every step then I can have faith knowing that even though I sin and sometimes cause others pain or they sin and cause me pain I can still have the promise of salvation.
One thing that is a blessing in all of the turmoil is that God does command His people to be his hands and feet.  He wants us to flesh out his love, mercy, patience, kindness, grace etc so that all will know he does care.
I found this song that really speaks to how I feel about this topic.  Sometimes God chooses to calm the storm but sometimes he calms his child.  In my family's life right now it feels like he is trying the approach of calming the child (children) although we desperately wish he would calm the storm.  Then again he may be calming the storm because it really could be so much worse even in the moment it doesn't always feel that way.
Be Blessed and Be a Blessing.





Monday, October 8, 2012

Our son CJ made this video for us last Christmas.  They tried to play it at the funeral and it wouldn't work with their system.  I am SO grateful that he made it because now I can hear each of the kids voices any time I want.  As hard as it may be.
Thank you CJ, Carrissa, Isaac & Corey.  I love you guys forever and always.
This isn't the entire video but the entire thing will not download. :(


video

Thursday, September 27, 2012

March 29, 2012

Note to the reader: I wrote this to help me process. The details continue to swim in my mind daily.  I know that it is very raw.  I could not even go back to proof read it due to the content but I wanted to get it out there.  I will edit more later and /or take suggestions.  Feel free to comment but do keep in mind Corey was 19 years of age.  We worked with him intently until he refused our help around 18 years of age.  This occurred 7 days after his 19th birthday.

We woke the morning of the 29th saying Happy 18th Birthday to our middle son CJ.  Little did we know at the time that this would be the day our world would turn upside down.

On March 28th Corey had left in a huff.  He was in a different mood that day and had said several things that were disheartening to me.  That morning he asked me if I thought he was going to go to hell for the things he had done wrong.  I had told him that when he was younger he had asked Jesus into his heart.  So even though as an adult there had seemed to be some struggles with mental health issues, I did not think that God would send him to hell.  I explained that I thought that since he had made a decision for Christ before his mental health issues had started, God would honor that and bring him to heaven and he would be made new, as it says in the Bible.

Another thing he said that day was that he felt God calling him away from home.  He felt like he was suppose to begin walking. Corey said that he may end up dying but that he was ok with that because he knew God wanted him to walk.  Shortly after this conversation Corey became very angry.  He said, "Mom, I'm going to leave now. I may never see you again but pray for me every day.  And mom, I love you very much."  Then he picked up a back pack and began walking.
I called the police.  I was in shock at what had just happened.  I looked up and down the street and could not see Corey at all.  My heart was breaking.

When the police arrived they searched the area and could not find Corey.  I explained that if they happened to locate him, please take him to the hospital and call me immediately.  The police said they would do this for me.

Since Corey had went to college the semester before I knew that he was aware of the streets and being alone.  He did struggle with some developmental delays and mental health issues and may participate in things that were inappropriate for the sake of gaining "friends."  He did however know survival techniques, so when he didn't come home that evening we said a prayer for him, left the door unlocked and went to bed.

The next morning (the 29th) when I woke up I turned on the news, there was a report about a man in Greenwood who had been shot in the leg through a door because he had been attempting to get into people's homes in the middle of the night assuming they were his own, the identity of this victim (or suspect) was already known.  The next report was about a fatal accident that had occurred in Greenfield around 6:30am.  The reporter said, "Stay tuned, after the commercial break we are going to release a picture of the victim, he had not been identified.  If you have any information on the victims identity please call....." I turned off the television and said, "One of those stories were going to be Corey one day." (Side note: thank God I had turned off the television during the commercial break)

Getting out of bed and going downstairs I began to get concerned noticing he had not returned.  By 10am I was having a lot of anxiety.  My mom came over and asked if I would like to go run errands with her.  I said I would, just to get out of the house and get my mind off of my fears. My mom and I were having casual conversation until we were pulling out of the car dealership and I said to her, "Mom, I do not think Corey's mind will be out of constant turmoil until he is in heaven." This was around 11am on March 29th.

Our next stop was the BMV.  By this time I was very nervous and anxious.  I began to have that feeling like my insides were shaking and I could crawl out of my skin. After sitting in the BMV for several minutes I walked outside.  A dear friend called me and said she was off work that day and asked if we could go out to lunch.  She wanted to pick me up at my house around 1pm because she had a Superman birthday cake to drop off for CJ.  While on the phone with her I received a call from a private number. I normally do not answer these calls because a lot of times it is someone who wants to sell something or collect something.

As I answered the phone the gentleman on the other end said, "Is this Dana Whitten?" I said, "Yes." He said "This is Detective XYZ from Hancock County.  I need to speak to you in person as soon as possible when will you be home?"  I explained that I was at the BMV with my mother and did not have any idea when I would be returning home. He then asked for the address of the BMV and said he would meet me in the parking lot.

I went inside and explained this to my mom so she did not come out and see me surrounded by police and freak out.  (I had no idea what the detective wanted.)  I then called my friend back, explained we probably wouldn't be doing lunch but I would call her back. We hung up.  I called her back immediately and said I realized what I had just told her and what that might have meant because I hadn't ever been visited by a detective before.  My stomach was in knots and I was shaking uncontrollably by the time the detective arrived.

The Sedan pulled into the parking lot with tented windows and two men in suits approached me.  Detective XYZ introduced himself again and asked me questions to insure my identity.
His questions:
Are you Dana Whitten? Do you live at 123 ABCDEFG?  Do you have a son named Corey Eugene Whitten? Is his birth date March 21, 1993? Are you here alone?  At this point my knees buckled.
The detective said, "I'm sorry I have to inform you your son was involved in a fatal accident this morning at 6:30am on US 40 in Greenfield, IN. His remains are being held at........."  

At this point in the conversation my phone rang.  It was Gene.  He was on lunch break and driving to a restaurant.  I told him I was with a detective and I needed the detective to talk with him.  The detective asked Gene to pull off to the side of the road and then he told him what he had just told me.  Soon after my mom came out of the BMV and the detective explained the same to her.  At that point one detective took my mom's keys and drove us back to our house.

The detective gave me all of the contact information that we would need over the next few days.  He said something to me as he was leaving, "Mrs Whitten, I want you to keep one thing in the back of your mind for later. God may have just saved Corey from something far worse. Call if you need anything."

Gene was on his way to pick up the kids from school and headed home.  When I called the school I explained what was happening and they retrieved each of the children and had them in a dean's office waiting so that Gene could tell them the news and then bring them home.  They had staff supports set up around the room for each child and Gene.  (thank you Ben Davis High School staff)

In the mean time I called my step father and asked him to meet us at my house ASAP.  By the time we arrived he was there and so was my dear friend I had been on the phone with earlier.  She said she knew it couldn't be good and knew I would need her there.  The amazing thing is once Gene got there with the kids there were enough adults to hold everyone. By 2pm we had a house full of people.  The support we felt was overwhelming 

We called close family members and friends and got the ball rolling for information to be released.  We hesitated to do this too quickly because of how quickly information travels.  An example of this is by that evening there were several calls saying they had heard that one of the other kids died.  (information era)

The next few days were very difficult.
It has been 6 months now and we are still in a fog of denial most days.  It is the hardest journey I will ever face, I am certain of that.  Thank you to all that have supported us and continue to do so.  We could not have done it without you and we still have a lot of work to go through.




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Part 2 What not to say to the bereaved (mourner)

I realize this one isn't quite as informative or witty as part 1 but these are some other things people said to me or my family that stung in the moment.  
Again as I said in the last blog, some of this is ok to say to the family after they have accepted it for themselves or as their reality.  Once they start working through things, they may need some reminders.  The real issue is timing.  I was just connected with another family who lost a child.  I was reading comments on their facebook page and cringed.  The comments still hurt me and it has been 5 months.  Once the family has time and energy to process what people have said they are going to be angry.  
The people who will be safe to discuss these things with the family will be whomever the family chooses to discuss them with.  A person may assume they are a "close friend or family" so it would be ok to say some of these statements, and be very wrong.


You still have another son

One son doesn’t replace another.  It is true, though, that having other children does motivate me ever so slightly to continue to function.  I cannot function on the same level I did pre death but I know I need to stay alive and work on healing myself and create an environment for their healing also.

Time will heal all wounds.

First of all, such phrases sound contrite. Second, they are often untrue: for example, time does not necessarily heal grief. The bereaved have every right to grieve as long as necessary without having a time limit laid on them of "getting over it."
For me, I will not be "over it" until we meet again.

At least he lived a full life.

No he did not live a full life.  He may have lived longer than the boy down the street or your niece's still born baby, but not a full life.  He had goals and dreams for after college.  He was only 19 years old. The natural order of things is great grandparents pass, then grandparents, next parents.  You get the idea kids are suppose to out live their parents.  No parent should ever have to bury a child, no matter what age.


Everything is going to be alright.


When?



Count your blessings.

In theory, this is a great concept.  The problem is that there is a large hole where I usually begin counting.  In the horror of the moment it is not helpful to be reminded of your other children etc.  
I am very thankful for my other blessings.  Counting them in the moment all I could see is -1

You have your whole life ahead of you.

I do have my whole life ahead of me but my son doesn't.  Right now it doesn't feel like I have my whole life ahead of me it simply feels like I have my life ahead of me.  My whole life would include my entire family.


Life goes on.

Whose life goes on?  

God never allows suffering without a purpose

Never say "...it is God's will." Just about nothing can upset a person in grief more than these words. When we lose those most precious to us, we may wonder why God could possibly allow their death.  There may very well be a purpose but this is for each individual to work out for themselves.  
The detective who came and told us about Corey's death stated, "Ma'am, please remember something in the days to come. God may have just saved Corey from something far worse."  Now looking back I can say, "Yes, that may very well be true." I could even have a dialogue about what could have been the "far worse he was saved from."  But had anyone else in that moment said that to me, I may have went crazy on them.

I know how you feel. (Often followed by a story about an Uncle or dog.)

There is absolutely no way for anyone to know how another person feels.  Every relationship is different.  Along with every personality is different.  We all handle trauma and grief differently.  Even 2 people who both lost their sons, they will process things differently.  They may have a general idea of how the other person feels.  But everyone’s grief is individual and feelings are processed differently from one person to another. 

Others have lived through it and so can you.

This statement is possibly dangerous: someone who has just lost a child might feel so close to death already that he or she is pushed over the edge by being told they can "get through it." Hopefully a choice of life will be the answer - but this is something with which someone must personally come to terms.



"Very horrific things do happen in this world, and if we have been touched by child loss, then we have experienced the deepest pain known to mankind. There isn't any sense trying to sugar coat it. The pain from losing a child is off the charts. And, somehow we are left with trying to chunk down this pain into daily manageable pieces. It's a life-long process." Grief Toolbox

Be assured, though: you can offer effective comfort to those in grief.





Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Part 3 What you CAN do for the bereaved or mourning


 Being the hands and feet.  

Suggestions for what can be helpful.

This is the conclusion of a three part blog on what shouldn't be said to a person who is mourning. I wanted to put a different spin on this part because I realized in my last two blogs I basically said, "don't say anything."  That is not at all what I mean.  So I have put together some things that were done for us that were very helpful.  

In finishing this blog 'series',  I would like to make some suggestions of things that can be done to assist those who are grieving.  Some dear friends of mine were discussing this with me just today and I realized how to explain it. The words one friend used were, "There really isn't anything to say.  And using Bible verses or discussing Heaven is great, but not in the moment of intense raw grief. The (Christian) mourners know that there is truth in the promises of God but they are feeling alone, betrayed, guilty, etc.  The best way to help is to flesh out Christ.  Show God's love.  There's no need to discuss anything or try to find a comment to soothe the mourners just help them.  Meet what physical needs you can."

In an attempt to show Christ’s love, your devotion, your sorrow for their loss, or however you want to define it, you must be the hands and feet.  There are no words to say that will help someone who is at the peak of hopelessness.  There are however things that can be done that will show the person you care and you are there for them.  If you are worried about the person not knowing that you were around then simply leave a card. 

One of the first things someone should do is buy or find a box or basket for everything that comes into the home; cards, letters etc.  This is where you can place a 3x5 card showing that you were there and what you may have done, or brought etc. Also encourage others who come into the home to put their name in this container.  When calls come in whoever takes them should write messages on a notebook for the family, even if the call ends up being taken by the family.     

The main reason I think these are good things to start off with is because the memory span of someone who is mourning is not good or reliable.  They may think they will remember certain details but generally speaking they won't.  I know several times I thought, "Oh my, that is really important I need to remember to tell my husband that."  Haha, it never happened.  I knew I had something to tell him, but not sure what it was.  There were over 600 people noted as attending the funeral, more people came in after the doors where shut and the books closed.  By the time I was able to write thank you cards, I had no idea who brought toilet paper or chicken.   

Make sure that the person’s home is well-stocked with toilet paper, tissues, napkins, paper plates, plastic silverware, trash bags, water, other drinks etc. We found out about our son's death around noon.  By the early afternoon there were people calling with their condolences and asking if there was anything we needed.  I began to write a list after a few of these calls, with some assistance I realized I had told at least 7 people that we needed dish soap and toilet paper.  It has been 5 months now and I still have 1 of the bottles of dish soap left.  It was extremely helpful, but I would suggest someone make a realistic list of what is needed in the home.  With sudden deaths this is not always the easiest part but someone, a close friend or family member, should take over this task.  Give the person who is answering the phone the list and have them cross off things as they tell people.  (Thank you to all of my friends who brought toilet paper and dish soap on March 29th) 

Someone should coordinate providing food for the household.  Our son died on a Thursday.  By Saturday we had 12 containers of chicken on our table.  We laughed about this, but between us and our visitors it all was eaten within a week.   The person recruiting for meals to be brought in should ask for family, friends, neighbors, etc. to assist with bringing in meals for at least 2 weeks.  Some churches have meal ministries and will assist with this it is as simple as someone calling and asking for help. 
This part is very important because during this intense raw grief, a person literally will forget to eat.  I am still struggling with this.  I cannot remember if I have eaten or not.  I feel like the person helping with this part should also keep in mind while casseroles and buckets of chicken are fantastic and nicely reheat-able, there are other food needs.  We had one friend who went to a discount store and bought an entire box of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Another thing that was very helpful were restaurant gift cards.  I do have to say I gained about 40 lbs in the past 5 months.  We eat what is right in front of us.  If it is not healthy, oh well. 

Another thing that a dear friend of mine thought of was to create a website and connect it to a Paypal account so that people could make donations towards funeral cost and any additional cost incurred by the family during this time.  This was very important because our life insurance didn't start until April 6th.  That was 7 days after Corey died.  The friend made it a memorial site so it had details of our son's life.  It also had the news articles associated with his death, great pictures, places to leave comments etc.  The link to the site is in one of the other blogs.

There were many other things done by friends.  
One friend took my other children out shopping for clothing for the funeral.  Separately she took me shopping.  This was an odd shopping trip because I was so numb that I literally stood in the dressing room while she tossed things  to me for me to try on.  I had no idea what I was doing.  
My sister called and said she would put picture boards together to lay out at the funeral.  
A friend of our family called and said she would do all of the flower arrangements.
My dad and stepmother came and went to the funeral home with us to plan services.  My husband and I were in such raw emotion we could not think.  It came down to my parents doing the talking and giving us basic choices.  
My father-in-law found the best burial site priced nicely. (whatever that means)

I will soon add another blog but I wanted to make sure to mention that it is very important for ongoing care of each individual.  Once the  casseroles are done and the people are gone things get really difficult.  Each person should have at least one person who who text them daily at first to check in.  

We are very grateful to everyone of our friends all of those who visited with us, prayed with us, took CJ out for his birthday, Isaac to his baseball game and Carrissa to DQ.  
We could not have made it this far without significant support from our friends and family.  Thank You.  
All of these things were greatly appreciated.