Posted in Uncategorized

The Negligence of “13 Reasons Why”

As many of you know my sister committed suicide nearly 7 months ago. This blog expresses eloquently what angers me about the show 13 Reasons Why.

BeautyBeyondBones

“13 Reasons Why.”

The Selena Gomez – produced Netflix show that remade the YA fiction novel by the same name.

The topic? Teenage Suicide.


The “13 Reasons” refer to the 13 cassette tapes the victim, Hannah, left behind, explaining why each of the 13 people on the tapes were to blame in why she took her own life.

I didn’t want to watch it. Clearly, this is not a light subject matter, and not particularly something I wanted to watch alone in my studio apartment in New York. But given my affinity for Justin Bieber, and as a result, his first love, Selena Gomez, I wanted to see what she produced.

And well, after watching all 13 episodes in less than 48 hours, I have some thoughts. Strong ones.

Suicide is never the answer. It should never even be an option. Let’s get that right out of the way from the…

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Posted in Beauty For Ashes, The History of Me

Physical vs Emotional Pain

I have always had a myriad of health issues.  Within hours of my birth doctors discovered I had elliptocytosis, a blood disorder in which my red blood cells are half moon shaped rather than oval.  Since the condition is rare and the majority of sufferers have no symptoms little is known about it.  There is more information available now than in 1969 but it is still cloaked in a great deal of mystery.  Mystery that created a lot of heartache for me over the years.

Besides elliptocytosis, I was also born with partial nerve deafness.  My ears became a constant source of illness.  According to my mother, it was rare for me to go a month and not have double ear infections.  Back then there were no ear tubes to help decrease the infections nor were there hearing aids to help improve nerve deafness.  Like elliptocytosis, it was just something with which I had to learn to live.

In addition to those issues, I had trauma induced stuttering, requiring six years of speech therapy.  The trauma was evoked from the terror I had of my father.  My Dad frequently launched into screaming tirades if I was talking to my Mom and he wanted to say something.  That screaming often devolved into physical violence.  Those events were so common that I developed a fear of speaking to anyone.  The first memory of my life involves one such event.

I was three-years-old.  My Mom was cooking dinner, and I was standing in a chair next to her “helping.”  I was chatting away about the dandelions I had plucked from our yard to make a necklace for her.  Daddy came in and as was his habit poured himself a drink the moment he walked through the door.  I suppose he attempted to say something but if Mom heard him I saw no indication of it.  I certainly didn’t hear him.  All I heard was glass shattering against the wall.

The sound caused me to jump and topple from the chair.  It took me a moment to figure out Daddy had hurled his drink across the room.  In horror, I watched the amber liquid slide down the wall.  For the briefest of moments, the only sound was my own heartbeat.  I could not only hear it but feel it in my ears.  Then Daddy erupted.  He began screaming about “that damn kid” who wouldn’t “shut the hell up.”  On and one he went cussing and never calling me by name.

A chill swept over me as Mom moved me behind her.  But that put me in a corner.  With only the kitchen cabinets behind me and Daddy between me and the door, I was cut off from any escape route.  Brenda, my protector, the big sister I looked up to, wasn’t home.  I was on my own.  I could do no more than stand there and watch as my Dad grabbed Mom by her hair, dragged her across the floor and flung her like a rag doll out the back door.  I opened my mouth to scream but no sound came out.  In that instant, I lost my ability to effectively communicate with anyone outside my family and friends.  And it would be many years before it would be recovered.

It wasn’t long after that event that I had an urgent physical ailment to accompany my traumatic one.  My elliptocytosis was of the most severe form.  I had far more abnormal blood cells than I did normal and they were accumulating in my spleen.  My spleen was so enlarged that it rupturing was a certainty.  My life was in danger and my spleen had to be removed immediately.

I recall more about the incident with Daddy than I do the drama surrounding my health.  One clear memory is of Mom’s face when the doctor told her they would need to cut me from bellybutton to backbone.  It was something I heard her say several times but didn’t fully grasp.  I was far more concerned about having to remove my panties before going into surgery.  Mom and I were at the hospital with totally different mindsets.  She was on the phone crying about me being cut half in two and I was crying about losing my panties.  Finally, the nurses agreed to let me keep my panties on until I was under anesthesia.

I have two clear memories when I awoke.  The first was that the searing pain in my side made it clear why Mom was worried about my incision.  The second was that no one had put my panties back on.  They were hanging at the end of my bed and I wanted them.  For years Mom told the story of how I had complications during surgery and her first sign that I would be fine came when I asked for my panties.

After a week or so in the hospital, I was discharged.  Once at home, I learned what Brenda already knew; Daddy was gone.  He had demanded Mom leave me at the hospital and come home.  When she refused, he got himself a girlfriend and moved in with her.  Despite Brenda only being 11 years old, he left her alone then called to tell her to inform Mom and me.

Later, as adults, Brenda would tell me how painful that was for her.  She said that even though she knew I couldn’t help being sick she still resented me and that somehow she blamed me more than Daddy.  As for me, I thought the surgical pain and having my panties removed was well worth the price of getting rid of Daddy.

hope

Posted in parenting, The DJ Diariers, The DJ Journey

God’s Painful Lesson – The DJ Journey 3

To understand why Steve and I were so confident in a message from God that was in direct opposition to our baby’s doctor, you must know where we had been. Steve had endured a painful divorce that drove him to his knees and closer to God. I was a wild child with a wilder past who finally accepted the call of Jesus at nearly thirty-years of age. Though our pasts were different, we had one thing in common. We had discovered a life-altering faith that would never allow us to be the same again. It was our faith in God that bonded us and within eight months of meeting we knew we had discovered a love of a lifetime. Everything we had ever wanted and joy we had never imagined we found in each other.

I had two sons, Colton and Dalton, from a previous marriage, which Steve would later adopt. He had two sons, Nathan and Jacob, from his previous marriage. Despite all the odds agains us our life just worked. Our family blended as if they had been born to be together despite outside influences that tried to tear us apart. We could not have been happier. Our lives were perfect. We were serving God faithfully; we were living a romance novel sort of love and our kids were happy and connected. So, when a surprise pregnancy arrived we thought it was a perfect addition. We were wrong.

Due to complications during pregnancy from a blood disorder I have, I was already in the hospital. I was resting comfortably in my hospital room. Steve left to go take care of our boys. Suddenly I had a cramping in my abdoment that felt more like I needed to go to the restroom than anything else. Able to walk on my own I unplugged my IV and made my way to the bathroom. Halfway there a mass slid to the the floor with a sickening thud. I let out a blood curling scream and yanked the emergency cord which brought a multitude of nurses to my side.

There was not one of them who wasn’t certain I had just miscarried. Tenderly they got me back to bed and told me to call Steve. I was so hysterical Steve couldn’t understand anything I was saying. He only knew I needed him and rushed to my side.

I was a complete werick. “He said it would be okay!” I screamed repeatedly as I thrashed in my bed.

“Who?” A nurse finally asked.

“God!” Well, you could have heard a pin drop at that proclamation. All movement in the room ceased. It was as if every previously confident nurse had lost her way. No one knew what to do with me as I kept screaming my statment of faith over and over.

Someone eventually stepped into the hall to call my doctor and literally ran into a female minister of the hospital. The minister was immediately hustled into my room in an attempt to calm me down. The nurses worried over my mental state. After all, not all patients proclaim to converse with the Almighty.  They were certain I had just miscarried my child yet I was ranting about God saying the baby was okay. They were counting on this female minister to talk me off the proverbial ledge.

Instead, the minister became so convinced by my faithful shouting she launched into prayer. Suddenly, she was thanking God for saving my baby.  Now, no one really knew what to do. My doctor arrived into the chaos to do an ultrasound and prove that I had lost my baby. However, to the shock of everyone, the baby’s heartbeat filled the room. Whatever had slid mercilessly to the floor was not my baby. I was still pregnant.

By the time Steve arrived mourning had turned to joy and shocked gasps had become the talk of the floor. Suddenly, complete strangers appeared in my doorway just to say they had heard of my faith and how God saved my baby. It was more than a bit surreal.

The next morning I was still the talk of the labor and delivery unit. The day shift came in to celebrate with me, I received gifts and was very overwhelmed by the attention. My doctor rolled in the ultrasound machine once again. This time it was a prcaution as I was about to undergo a blood transfusion. There were three or four nurses in the room and the female minister from the night before. We were all still talking about what a miracle God gave us when I noticed my doctor’s face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked but hated myself for it. I already knew.

My doctor, close to tears answered, “the baby’s heart isn’t beating.” And just like that my miracle turned to tragedy. My precious little baby, who I was certain was a little girl, was gone.

Where did I go wrong? Why had God said the baby would be okay knowing she would die? It was the first test of my faith and the questions kept me up all night. I sat staring at the wall asking the same thing relentlessly. Finally, somwhere just before dawn, God answered me. “I said it would be all right. You assumed ‘it’ was the baby.”

Was that true I ran it over in my mind. Not once did I hear God say to my heart the baby would be okay. He only said “it would bne okay.” Obviously, “it” now meant my situation no the baby. Talk about a wake up call.  It was the firt time I realized I could hear from God and still get it wrong. It was a powerful, painful lesson that is very much a part of my faith today. And what makes me always get clarification before I start putting words in God’s mouth.

 

 

Posted in In The News, Uncategorized

United Airline Doctor Has Sordid Past

I’ve got to weigh in on this Kentucky doctor pulled from a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville. Dr. Dao refused to give up his seat after being randomly selected by a computer to do so. The flight was overbooked, a common occurrence in the airline industry, and four people were selected to leave the plane.  Two people did so without incident but Dr. Dao decided he was not going to comply. Security was called and after talking with Dao they forcibly removed him from the plane. That resulted in the doctor receiving a bloody face and while some proclaimed he was knocked unconscious others stated he jumped to his feet and ran back on the plane. Cue the uninformed outrage.

It seems the majority of people are furious at United Airlines for treating the doctor like a criminal. Well, when you don’t obey the directions of airline staff, it is a crime. Considering, what we know now about the doctor’s lack of stability all of those passengers should be thanking United. Furthermore, the airline offered the doctor $800 and a hotel room as well as a flight the next day. The doctor claimed he had to get to the hospital. Let’s just roll with that and ignore the fact that there are plenty of doctors who often miss rounds at the hospital for various reasons.
There were a number of options available to him. He could have flown a different airline. Louisville is no small airport. A number of airlines offer service from Chicago to Louisville. But let’s just say there were no more flights, which I highly doubt. Why not take the $800 and rent a car to drive? It is only four hours from Chicago to Louisville. His outrageous behavior delayed the flight for two hours. Had he been driving rather than acting crazy on a plane he would have been halfway there.
The other passengers were supposedly in shock but not one of them stood up and offered to leave the plane so the doctor wouldn’t have to. They didn’t feel so bad for the doctor they were willing to inconvenience themselves. Now, news comes out that the doctor has a history of trading prescription drugs for sex. Did I mention he’s married, with children and grandchildren? That’s just one of the blots on Dr. Dao’s history. He nearly lost his medical license in 2015 and I suspect he will after this incident.
What is the moral of this story? Before you whip out your phone to record some perceivable outrage, ask yourself what you can do to improve the situation. Don’t be someone so eager to create a public outrage that you forego truth and knowledge. Because in the end the truth always comes out and you only end up looking as foolish as the one causing the scene.
Posted in Beauty For Ashes, The History of Me

Seeing Me

I can see me as clearly today as I did that night. It was pouring rain pitch black. The rain was exceptionally cold or perhaps I was in a sort of shock that had me experiencing the rain at a much cooler temperature. The rain pounded relentlessly against the windows of the car. I sat alone in the backseat and my sister Brenda, who was eight years older than me, occupied the front passenger’s seat. While she had her eyes deadlocked on the front door of our house, I stared out the window in the opposite direction.

Daddy was not just a drunk. He was a mean, merciless, abusive drunk. We never knew when the whiskey would go down wrong and he would turn on us. Sometimes he didn’t. Most times he did. That particular night the drinking prompted Mom to accompany me to bed. She wasn’t the sort of mother who tucked in her children so when she took me to bed I knew what it meant.

“Sleep in your clothes and put your shoes by the bed so that you can slip your feet in them. And no matter what stay with Brenda. Don’t come back into the house.” Her instructions were unnecessary at this point. Despite not even being school aged, I knew what Daddy’s drunken rants meant. In a few hours I would be awakened by a ruckus that would be my parents literally fist fighting.

True to form, I hadn’t been asleep long when I heard it. The sound of your father slamming your mother into a wall while punching her viciously is unique. One that I can’t describe and one you should never know. I barely had enough time to roll to a sitting position and shove my feet into my shoes before Brenda filled my doorway. There were no tears or words. She simply snatched me up and ran. Mom made sure the three of us were a well-oiled machine highly skilled in escaping.

As Brenda carried me to safety she never glanced to the kitchen to see exactly what our parents were doing. But being carried with my head over her should I had an uninterrupted view of the violence. Some nights the three of us got out before Daddy threw the first punch. That would not be the case that night. Mom was taking a beating though I had no time to react to it. Mom’s mantra was no emotion, stick to the plan.

And the plan was that Mom would keep Daddy from attacking Brenda and me. Our job was to get to the car, lock all the doors except the driver’s side, start it and wait exactly five minutes. At the end of that five minutes if Mom hadn’t appeared we were to get out of the car and run across the street to our neighbor’s house. If the worst happened, Mom was badly injured or dead, and Daddy appeared I was to lock the driver’s door and Brenda would blow the horn relentlessly until someone rescued us. Under no circumstances were we to get within reaching distance of Daddy.

Once Mom made it out, she would slide into the driver’s seat of the car and off we’d go to a hotel. How long we would stay in the hotel would depend upon Daddy’s rage. Most times it was only overnight but other times it would be days weeks or months. Yet, we would no doubt return. And that fact often left me hating my mother for returning more than I did my father for drinking.

On that night, however, there would be a new addition to the routine. Through the rain, just outside my window, I saw an older version of myself. Her facial features were obscured but her hair was the same wild mass of curls I currently had. I was transfixed.

“It won’t always be this way,” she spoke to me. I blinked a couple of times thinking I was hallucinating or dreaming but Older Me remained. “There is someone who loves you and will take care of you. Be strong.” Before I could respond or at least ask Brenda if she saw Older Me, Mom exploded through the front door and Older Me was gone. Never to be seen again.

Not until I was grown and married did I recount this story. The moment was so profound and personal I wanted to be the only one special enough to know about it.  Many times later, in great fear of my father, I would try to conjure up Older Me. I never could. Yet, one very distinct message remained. Daddy wouldn’t kill me as I feared. Older Me was proof that I would live to adulthood.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Love that Lets Go

A beautiful example of love.

BeautyBeyondBones

I’ve spent a lot of time recently in my own head. Today marks the three month mark since my mom’s stroke, and there have been a lot of ups and a lot of downs.

And I’m learning a lot.

And honestly, I’m learning a lot about God’s love for us.

We’ve reached the stage in my mom’s recovery where…there’s a frustration within her about how things aren’t back to normal. And a gripping desperation for autonomy.

And I’m going to be really honest, being in my position, as her grown daughter, having come home to be her “sidekick” as I call it – there’s a really delicate balance of how much help is too much help. I want to assist her so that life runs smoothly, but I don’t want her to feel like a child or that I’m belitting her or discrediting her capabilities or contributions. And I’m finding…

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Posted in The DJ Journey

The Glorious First Sunrise -The DJ Journey 2

“Your baby may not survive the night. So, I will sleep on a couch in the NICU so I can be close to him when he needs me,” the neonatologist said to us.

My husband, Steve, and I glanced at one another. I had just given birth to our son DJ, nearly two months premature. Doctors and nurses immediately whisked him away to the neonatal intensive care unit. NICU is where only the sickest babies go. Although the NICU staff is the most highly skilled, it is not a place you want your child to be. If the neonatologist thought DJ wouldn’t survive the situation was about as bad as it could get.

The doctor stood obviously waiting for our response. When none came he said gently, “Do you understand what I just said?” He received our nod and continued.  “Your son will not live to see his first sunrise. Do you understand?” He wasn’t being cruel. His voice was gentle and cracking a bit with emotion from the blow he was delivering. I think he thought we were in a state of shock and not comprehending the circumstances. He wanted to make himself perfectly clear and prepare us as best he could.

“I understand what you’re saying. But that’s not what our God said.” My voice was as gentle as his. But unlike him, I lacked any inflection or hesitation.

The look which crossed the doctor’s face actually made me pity him for a moment. Here he was, with all his medical training, doing the worst possible thing (trying to prepare parents for the death of their newborn) and here we were not responding as we should. Our response was that our unseen, unheard, God said the doctor was wrong.  He looked quite desperately between Steve and me as if hoping one of us would come to our senses. It took less than a heartbeat for him to see that Steve agreed 100% with me. With nothing more to say, he turned and left.

374888_2066195994454_259002162_nAs the door closed behind him Steve and I looked at each other and grinned. We knew the doctor thought we were crazy. But we knew what we knew. And what we knew was that we had seen far too many miracles concerning DJ for him to die a few hours after birth. God was doing something well beyond our comprehension and unlike the many trials that would come later. This time God’s word was crystal clear.

The doctor filtered in and out of my hospital room all through the night providing updates. There were a couple of moments that scared the medical staff as DJ seemed to decline only to rally again. He did nothing to improve his status in the NICU except continue to have a live. The only change was his steadfast defiance of his death sentence. The medical staff was at a loss to explain it.

When the sun rose high in the sky on December 8, 1999, the exhausted doctor made his way into our room. I was sitting up in my bed beaming a thousand watt smile at him, for DJ was indeed seeing his first of many sunrises.

The doctor stared at us for a moment as if trying to understand us before he spoke. “Your son is alive. I’m not sure how or how long he will stay that way.” He rubbed his forehead, still trying to shake off his sleep deprivation and lack of understanding.  “But for now he is alive.” Despite all his expertise, it was all he could say.

It was enough. Later that day I sat beside my very sick three-pound miracle and had to smile. DJ was a mess. He was wrinkly and angry at being born too soon. There was a tube in every orifice possible. Breathing was a monumental chore for him. The tiny baby who had only the word of God in his favor was making fools of well-educated men. But it wasn’t for naught.

On DJ’s first birthday we received a card from that neonatologist. In the card, he 388336_2065986549218_990363180_nexplained that he too was a Christian. He wasn’t aware how far he’d strayed from his faith until DJ was born. The doctor recounted not only that first night and our unshakable faith about what God had said to us but other occasions when DJ declined and we still rejected their prognosis. He informed us that he never expected DJ to go home from the hospital but our faith had him hoping for a miracle.

Once the miracle arrived and DJ went home, the good doctor made a promise to himself. To our surprise, he said he would never again factor out God. No more would he go into a hospital room and pronounce a death sentence over a baby. His patients would know everything his medical training permitted, but he would always allow room for God to work because a tiny infant named DJ taught him to.

What the doctor still doesn’t know is that our faith in the message from God about DJ’s birth wasn’t easily accepted. No, far from it. We had seven months of training, seven months of fear, and seven months of doubt that led us to this beautiful conclusion. And what we didn’t know at that moment, was that this excruciatingly painful Merry-Go-Round of faith was only just beginning.