Safe Place To Land

Before I left for Guatemala I felt the intense need to go to the cemetery. I know Everett’s not there, but it’s our place and just like how I grabbed each one of my babies and hugged them tightly and kissed their sweet faces and told them I’d miss them like crazy before I left, I felt the need to go to our place and tell him I miss him like crazy too and I’d be back on Friday.  His burial plaque was still not in at the time and I just thought he needed something there.  I cleared a little area and gathered a few bright yellow fall leaves.  An E would certainly do.

Sweet boy, how you are desperately missed.  How I’ve never felt the pain of separation like I do being apart from you.  Everything in my body screams out daily with how not right our family is without you…none of us are the same now…we have all changed…we desperately miss who we use to be…we desperately miss our family with you here with us.  Our kids miss him so much and I keep telling myself, “One day.  One day joy will emerge.  One day their little smiles will slightly resemble what they use to.  One day their eyes will twinkle and dance again. One day.”

I cried because I didn’t want to go on the trip.  Grief and sadness and pain quickly have turned me into quite the homebody.  I cried on the floor of a Victoria Secret’s dressing room because I felt the least I owed Noonday was to have an actual real bra after wearing just sports bras for months upon months and since my fashion sense would certainly be lacking.  I text josh and explained the very lowly…literally and figuratively…position I was in 🙂  He cracked some text jokes and I eventually wiped my face and peeled myself up off the rather forbidding dressing room floor, real lady bra in hand.  I checked out and went home feeling quite pathetic/rather accomplished.

 

I was so anxious about this trip. I mean, sometimes I burst into tears at a moments notice and I simply cannot control the grief when it is so thick and heavy. I  packed.  And self talked. “This is going to be good.  Everything will be fine Laura. This is going to be just fine.”

Our littlest cried when I got out of the car.  Josh hugged me so tight.  He then promised her Sonic for lunch and her demeanor changed.  Forget mom, give me a slush and tots.  That’s my girl.

I met Lindsey in the Nashville airport and she was an instant comfort. She loves home and she self talks too. We were made for each other.  Lindsey was the highlight of this trip.  She was kind and compassionate.  She was supportive and talkative.  We we’re each other’s comfort, cracked all the jokes and supported one another in ways we each so needed.  We literally read one another’s minds and spoke hard truths out loud only confirming the other’s same hard truths.

We found our gate at the airport, grabbed lunch and chatted each other’s faces off.  We didn’t miss a beat. We started to board and while walking the aisle looking for our seats all I could think about was the last time I was on an airplane. The last time Josh Kelley and I boarded the worst flight of our lives in Michigan empty handed.  I remember our seats weren’t even together and I held in my hands Everett’s hand and footprint molds we did right before he died. I sobbed and prayed the man sitting next to me wouldn’t strike up a conversation.  I just wanted to guard his little hand and footprints with my life in a sweaty, tear filled peace.  No small talk man.  My mind raced back to that day and it made me sick to my stomach.  Where was that damn drink cart when I needed it?!?!

After some music and drawing and pretzels and a coke I starred out the window and thought about how this is physically the closest to heaven I can get right now.  How this is physically the closest I could come to Everett right now.  And then I creepily wondered about every other passenger on the plane and if any of their children had died too.  We’re any of them 3-years-old like Everett?!?!  All the weird, creepo, mother-in-intense-grief-mode questions spilled through my brain.  I pulled his photo out from behind my psssport and starred at his little face and thought, “This cannot still be real.  He was so lively and fun and full of life and gave the sweetest hugs.” I still feel intense regret and responsibility for his death.  I’m his mama.  I should have been able to protect him. The tears formed and I wiped them away with my shirt which instantly made my mustard yellow shirt appear darker in spots.  And then I remembered what I’d forgotten…my handkerchief.

Lindsey sat in front of me and passed me back a little note and present.  I knew she was going to be a gift on this trip and boy was she.  I seriously cannot say that enough.  When I felt the intense grief I felt like Lindsey understood.  I didn’t feel awkward or weird around her at all.  I never once thought how I might be putting her out…I felt seen and welcomed and known.  She would hear conversations and whisper in my ear words of empathy and encouragement.  She was so intentional with me and I hope was just as much with her.  Stepping out into this trip was not easy for either one of us.  Lindsey talks candidly about her battle with chronic pain and fatigue with Lyme’s disease and her sweet daughter’s intense trauma.  Us going on this trip was huge to both of us and we we’re each other’s champions.

 As our plane descended into Guatemala I watched the sweetest fiesta sunset and was so grateful for the reminder of Everett…of his little life.

The place of Guatemala and it’s people are ridiculously gorgeous.  I absolutely loved meeting the artisans and watching them create and work.  They are inventive and smart and creative and so freakin’ talented.  It was so neat and such an honor to work along side them briefly.  I cannot say enough how impressed I was with these artists and the work they do in Guatemala and with Noonday.

One of the days we visited Natalia’s house and it struck me right in the mama’s heart when I noticed some of the things hung up on her walls.  A calendar, some of her children’s crafty artwork, photos of their family and special moments like kindergarten graduation.  The exact same things I hold precious and hang up in our own home.  Women supporting and loving and lifting other women up is where it’s at!

The country was over the top beautiful.  Everywhere you looked was more and more to wow your eyeballs.  The lush landscape, the mountains, the volcanoes, the people, the food, the vibrant colors everywhere.  I felt so privileged to experience Guatemala for the first time.  What I loved most was hearing Lindsey’s excitement for it all.  This is her daughter’s birth country…a deeply rooted and beloved place by her, her husband and daughter.  She went on and on about it all and rightly so.  All I could think is how I would have been the exact same had we been in Ethiopia or Zhengzhou.  Our children’s countries…their beginnings…are so valued and I loved hearing Lindsey’s love and enthusiasm ooze from her body while there.

I’ll be super honest, this trip was crazy hard.  I felt weird, lonely and out of place a lot.  I missed home desperately and could not board those return flights fast enough.  I missed Josh and our kids.  I missed my place where I knew I was understood and my grief was understood as well.  I missed Everett.  Each night Lindsey and I would talk about the day and she was this soothing balm to my raw heart.  So many people hoped this trip would be joy and hope for me, but instead I got a greater gift.  I met another woman who knows suffering far too well and taught me how to tend to others who know it too.  In moments when I walked out to go cry in a bathroom stall, Lindsey would always catch my eye and simply asked me 100 times in a span of 3 days, “Are you okay?” or “How are you doing?”  So simple, but so needed for me.  I walked away longing more and more to be that type of person…that type of friend…to be a safe place for hurting people to land.  To choose empathy and compassion.  To include everyone and notice those who are on the fringes feeling misplaced.  Lindsey showed me love like Jesus and I know, that I know, that I know she was the purpose of this trip for me.  Massive bonus: She lives in Nashville.  We said, “Let’s be friends in Nashville too.”  Done and done.

Thank you guys so much for voting.  I am still so humbled and honored you took the time to vote.  And thank you Noonday for sending us.  Guatemala definitely became one of those places I want to return to and a place where I learned such an invaluable lesson about loving people who are hurting.

 And if you haven’t check out Lindsey’s Bottle of Tears shop, please go right now.  I actually cried after looking through her shop for the first time.  It is so intentional and sweet and not corny at all!  Her stuff is legit and hip and just an amazing way to comfort a friend who needs a little extra love.  Definitely on my list of places to shop now!

3 Comments

  1. What a mix of emotions for this trip! I’m glad you got to see Guatemala, but even more that you made a deep, meaningful connection with another genuine person. Sending you so so so many healing hugs <3 <3

  2. So glad you two connected and you got this trip, As hard as it was in so many ways. Wow what a beautiful land it is…. and love seeing God connect people.
    Grief hits in such horribly inconvenient places- thanks Victoria’s Secret- but in a non creeper way, you looked good for noonday Laura’s boobs ‍♀️. Sorry couldn’t resist.
    As dumb as it sounds sometimes getting a new piece of clothing can honesty go a long way on healing and self care even for five minutes. Nothing will bring back your boy but some days putting on makeup or an nice shirt and real pants (instead of Mom…. um are you in Jammies or clothes? ‍♀️‍♀️‍♀️) can just help us put one foot in front of the other and make us feel a tiny bit human again. Praying for you and thankful you got this trip ♥️♥️

  3. I love reading your blogs and so appreciate you sharing your real emotions and honest experiences. While I cannot imagine the pain you are experiencing, my heart hurts for you! I am a therapist and trained in a new treatment called Brainspotting. It’s unique and amazingly healing! Every time I read your blog I think “Brainspotting might really help her process her trauma and grief!” So, I’m going out on a limb and recommending you search for a Brainspotting therapist in your area! You won’t regret it! It is not contradictory to anything in the Bible, and in fact, many of my clients feel they hear from God in the process. I’m continuing to pray for you!

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