Anything Can Happen – Planes Fall From the Sky

“Call me when you get in, ok, sweetpea?”

“Sure, Mom, I will,” my obedient son responds.

He’s on his way back to school in New York from our home in Connecticut. It’s a few hours on the train. A trip he’s made many times in his two years at college.

But, anything can happen, I think. He could miss a connection. Stand too close to the tracks and fall in while leaning over to see his incoming train. Or, someone could pick his pocket – or worse. There can always be something worse! The premonition of disaster is still in the back of my mind, though I’ve worked hard over the years to dissipate it.

Friends accuse me of being overprotective. One friend says she thinks I would like to enclose my son in a bubble and just let him out on weekends. That is pretty accurate.

Motherhood is strange animal. Even though my son is 20, it feels like yesterday that I could cradle him in one arm. As an infant, I often took him in the shower with me. In our first days together, it was the only way for both of us to get clean. He didn’t like being dipped into the water in his bath, and would cry incessantly. But, if I held him and washed him gently in the warm spray, his cries subsided. Holding tight to his tiny slippery body, I would feel his breathing slow as he calmed against me.

It wasn’t long after I had to let him out of that first protective bubble – the womb – that my internal warning sirens started blaring. I would have been happy to keep him in my belly. Warm, well fed, dependent on all of my decisions. Once he was out, my psyche took a sharp turn. Seeing the vulnerable little pulp of a human being, I knew that he would need my vigilance to stay whole. But, there was something else at work here too.

I had fought most of my life against my family credo – the world is dangerous place, anything can happen. We knew this because it happened to us.

My mother’s cautions throughout my childhood, about everything from crossing the street to trusting strangers, came from a deeper well of fear. I didn’t realize, though, that I drank from the same waters, in fact would have vigorously denied it, until I had a child of my own. But, now I knew precisely where my intense fear for the safety of my child came from. I inherited it.

My parents had one daughter taken from them much too soon. Before I was born, a freak accident killed their seven-year-old daughter, Donna, when a plane crashed into their house. Mom was taking cookies out of the oven, pouring glasses of milk when the roof literally fell in on her world.

My mother took this as a life lesson never to be forgotten. Certainly not when she had another chance with a new child – that would be me. So, you could say she hovered. I learned hovering at an early age. As a child I leaned away from it. As a mother I embraced hovering as my new religion.

After my son, Justin, was born, it seemed like my mother’s teachings had galvanized inside me even as I tried to ignore them. I could actually hear her voice in my head every time I left my baby with someone else for a couple of hours.

“No one will look out for your child like you will – no one,” she told me.

Even though she was there looking out for her child in her home, the unthinkable happened anyway. The commuter flight headed for Newark Airport, just three miles away, lost altitude and sheared the top off of her house. The plane spewed its nearly full tank of jet fuel into my mother’s kitchen. The flames came so fast, the structure around her crumbled so quickly, that she didn’t realize her older daughter was caught beneath a ceiling beam with her leg trapped under tremendous weight.

When Donna called to her that “The baby is on fire!” my mother instinctively ran to her two-year old in the front room and smothered the flames with a nearby blanket. She rolled the baby, Linda, down the stairs to the front door, thinking someone would be able to open the door and rescue her. But, the door locked just as Linda’s smoldering body landed against it. Mom ran down to unlock the door and found a man standing there. As she handed Linda over and turned back to get Donna, the man saw the ferocious flames inside the building and held her back. Almost immediately the top floor collapsed. The stranger at the door saved my mother’s life, Linda’s and mine.

Donna, however, was lost. Her final cries of “Mommy, mommy, help me. . .” echoed in my mother’s ears for the rest of her days.

Of course, that is not the end of the story. Linda barely survived, with third degree burns over 80% of her two-year-old body. She endured many years of reconstructive surgery. And, we all traveled with her emotionally every step of the way. My parents were both shattered by their loss, but bravely decided to go on and build a family. They decided to have me. But, that’s another story.

It was always clear why my mother felt that the world was a random place, that indeed, anything could happen. Planes fall from the sky -she knew that to be a fact of her life.

But, with my son’s birth, it was my turn to imagine every possible calamity that could happen to my baby in my absence. Whenever I would round the corner to my house, my heart would begin to race, my palms sweat until I saw that he was safely playing inside, or asleep in his crib. I was often close to a panic and my visions were visceral. I could feel him falling, cracking his little head onto the hard asphalt driveway. Blood spurting and ambulances screaming. It was graphic and physical, a weight in my chest.

I always tolerated Mom’s fears for me. Although, as I got older I would screen many of my activities that I knew would alarm her. I didn’t mention flying a glider until I was safely on the ground again. She didn’t need to know about the time I jumped out of a plane at all! Really, what would be the point?

Now, I understand what it cost her to let me go. To let me live my life free of the awareness of how tentative our lives are. The knowledge that we are held here with the stability of a mere twist-tie. Knowing that she could do that, after her loss – that she could still hold on to the hope of joy in everyday life, and ultimately give that to me, finally gave me the courage to do the same with my boy. To let him go, unhindered, into the life he chooses.

But, honestly, I am fine with it if he decides not to tell me about some escapades he knows may worry me. I’m pretty sure he already has a very sophisticated screening mechanism in place when it comes to sharing information about his travels. I believe I am now on a need-to-know basis. Which means, only if I have to pick him up somewhere!

When he has his own child — and these same kinds of fears inevitably unearth themselves from the deep freeze of his consciousness, I hope I can help him understand our legacy and move beyond it. Or, at least, hover gently.

How to Trust God

Many people, including Christians are afraid to trust God. For some reason people think they know better than God on how to handle issues in their lives. So the question comes to mind. Why are we afraid to trust God? Is it because we fear His answer won’t be the response we want to hear or is it because we would have to change the way we live our lives? I think it is probably a combination of both.

Years ago my son was 4 years old and I was at a Wednesday night church service. The pastor was talking when my little boy tugged at me and said, “Mommy, that preacher’s voice hurts my ears”. I just patted him and said it’ll be ok. That night he went to bed and the next morning he told me his head hurt. I carried him to the sofa and took his temperature. It wasn’t extremely high, but I knew he was sick. Soon I heard the telephone ring. It was a friend that I had attended bible study with. She asked how I was and I told her about my son feeling sick. Suddenly, she explained to me that she had no reason to “order me” to call the doctor for my son, but she was so strongly being urged by the Holy Spirit to inform me not to delay getting my son to the doctor. I thought she was overreacting and told her I would think about it, but that he probably just had a little bug. Again, she almost cried telling me, “Please call the doctor, I know this, but I can’t explain that this is what God wants”. I finally agreed just to calm her down. I called the doctor and they said to bring my son in at 12:30 PM.

It wasn’t an easy task to go to the doctors. I had no car and 3 other small children at home. I called my mother at work and asked if she could come and take us to the doctors. I remembering thinking how odd it was when she said “I’ll be right there”. I was expecting my mother to ask me a million questions about how my son was feeling before she would agree to come and get us. My mother arrived and she helped me get all the children ready and I dressed my little boy in a warm coat because it was a very cold February day.

When we arrived at the doctors I was amazed to see my friend sitting in the waiting room. She said she knew I was going to need help. I carried my son back to the room. He was sleeping now. The doctor came in and checked him over and then said, “I believe he has bacterial spinal meningitis – get him to Children’s Hospital as quick as you can. You can drive get there quicker rather than us calling an ambulance”. I was shocked. My friend took my other children and mom and I drove quickly to the hospital. We pulled in front of the hospital doors and the doctors and nurses were waiting on us. They took my limp, tiny little son from my arms and ran into the hospital with him.

I had only heard about spinal meningitis, but I knew it was deadly. I started praying for God to heal my son. A few hours later the doctor came out and confirmed it was bacterial spinal meningitis. I asked if he was going to be OK and the doctor said only time will tell now. The doctor said getting your son here as quick as you did may help. My son was in a coma and I sat by his bed singing Jesus loves me to him. The hours clicked by for the next few days and nothing. Then my friend came to visit me. She asked me if I wanted to go to the chapel to pray. I said “yes, please”. We prayed aloud for my son’s healing then she asked me. “What if it is not God’s will to heal your son? Are you willing to give your son back to God if that is His will”? I looked at her and said “Of course not”!

My friend sat and shared with me about Abraham and Isaac. This is the story where God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. Abraham didn’t want to sacrifice his son, but he believed that God knew what was best so Abraham was willing to return his son to God. My friend shared that my son was a gift to me, but that he was also God’s child and that I should trust God to do what is best for my son. This was just so hard to understand through my pain and tears. How could I trust God? What if it was God’s will to take him home to heaven?

Then we talked some more and I realized that above all things God must be first in my life. I knew that I must trust Him even with the life of my son even though I didn’t want to trust God. I wanted my way not God’s way. I saw the error of my thinking so with all my heart I prayed that God would heal my son according to His will, not according to my will.

We finished praying and as we entered the door of my son’s hospital room I was amazed. There sat my little boy in his bed and he looked at me and said “Hi Mommy”. I cried with sheer joy. As I sat and loved my little boy I asked him if he knew he was asleep for a long time. This beautiful little 4 year old boy looked me in the eyes and said “Mommy, I was going with Jesus, but Jesus pushed me back. Jesus made me come back”.

I know I received a miracle that day. But, moreover, I learned that no matter what we face in life we must trust and love God first. God must always be our first love and His will is the perfect solution to every problem even when we don’t agree. So let us give thanks to Our Lord because He will always do what is right for us if we just trust Him.

Depression Treatment – Tips That Really Help

8 Tips That Really Help for Depression Treatment

Disclosure: I am not a medical professional and you should not take this as medical advice. If you are suicidal please get immediate help by going to an emergency room, telling someone, or calling a help line.

Depression runs in the family. I recall at the age of seven watching as the ambulance drove my mom away. I instinctively knew when I found a vial of medication in the garbage what she did.

When she returned home from the hospital no one mentioned it, only “Mommy is sick, please leave her alone”. It was like it never happened. A memory I need to erase.

No one talks about depression and if they do it is most likely the common blues or lows that go with disappointments in life or serious changes like job loss or death.

It is easier for people to think of depression like that because it isn’t permanent, debilitating, and deadly. People come around, they awaken and go about their lives.

Depression, the way I and many others experience it, is constant. It doesn’t end with medication. Medication seems to control symptoms but the darkness that is chronic depression is still there. We may look okay on the outside but it’s usually a mask for your benefit.

I’ve been in treatment since high school – that’s a total of almost 30 years. Here is what works for me and hopefully will work for you, your friend, your child or family member.

1. Don’t Hover

I realize this is difficult especially for parents but it is important to give the person some space (within reason – see tip 6). Allow them to get through this period. Often times they will come around on their own without intervention, they just need space.

Try to refrain from ‘encouraging happiness’ or ‘thinking positive’. These things only help when they are outside of the hole of depression not while in it.

2. Encourage Healthy Interaction

Depression as a mental disorder is more of a thought disorder (my opinion). It feels like a cruel attacker is invading your brain. Someone who is constantly berating you, attacking you, showcasing dark images of death or hopelessness like a non-stop movie.

Your loved one or friend may isolate not only to wallow in self-pity but as a way to protect you from the chaos in their mind.

Depression wants to win and if it wins death wins. Despite what your loved one may say, visit them. Say hello. Offer to help with a non-invasive activity like laundry or cooking. If they say no, respect that and let it go. Often just sitting with the person without speaking is helpful.

If your loved one is hanging out with people to “drown” in alcohol or drugs try to intercept in a non-threatening way. A simple, “why don’t we go on a drive” or “would you like me to stay with you” is all that is needed to alter plans.

3. Shed Some Light

To an outsider it may seem that depressed people are lazy and sleep all day. This is true at times. Don’t think of it as laziness but recuperating. Depression is in the mind true but it is also a very physically draining disease.

If your loved one is held up in their room for days at a time, gently open a window to let some light in. They may protest loudly with harsh words but more than likely you have the upper hand because they won’t leave the safety of their bed to close it.

Note: Violent behavior is an expression of depression in some people. Skip this tip as your safety is important.

4. Give Support with Little Payments

Those suffering from depression need support but a little give and take is helpful. For example, if they want to eat but don’t want to get out of bed, offer to make a meal in exchange for them getting up and showering.

This shows that you understand they are going through a difficult time but won’t enable them to sink into a hole of self-pity.

There is a point in depression where the person can still fight, this is when this is a good tactic to take. This is right before they sink to the point where medication and/or hospitalization is necessary to get them out.

5. Be Patient

I know it is difficult for family and friends to watch a person suffer through this. It is especially heartbreaking to know that you can’t help them through it.

Be available. Hold the space for them when they can’t. This simply means sitting with them without speaking or “helping”.

6. Be Aware

Awareness is a great tool in helping someone with depression. Watch for changes in behavior.

Are there dramatic changes? For instance, weeks hidden and isolated with an immediate ‘happy, conquer the world’ attitude. This may mean that they have decided to end their life not fight for it.

I realize this isn’t the case for everyone but for most of my depressive episodes I hide behind an “I’m Okay” attitude for the sake of my family.

When I finally decide to end the pain that is depression (suicide) I get a burst of energy allowing me plan the next steps which gives relief and expectation.

Awareness about your loved ones temperament is essential.

7. Keep Your Advice to Yourself

Advice that may help you or someone experiencing the blues will not help the chronically depressed.

– “There’s always a silver lining”

– “God has a plan for your life.”

– “All things work together for good to those who are called according to his purpose (God)”

– “Just snap out of it”

– “Don’t focus so much on yourself”

– “Volunteer, it helps me”

– “Exercise more”

– “When I lost my friend I was depressed for months. Here’s what I did… “

I’m not discounting this advice. To a healthy mind it is actually good but to a depressed mind it can backfire.

It may drive them further into the pit. Guilt because they can’t snap out of it. Guilt for causing you pain and a whole list of other things that will pull the person into the spiral of darkness.

Very often this advice only solidifies the disordered thoughts and pushes the person closer to suicide.

8. Say I Love You Often

Throughout my adult life, my husband has been my support during my bouts with depression. He endures much for my sake out of love.

Even with my angry outbursts, he told me he loved me.

If nothing else, tell the person you love them. Simple as that. They may scoff. They may yell or curse but continue to say these simple words each day and often.

I love you – said without words – in a note, a look, or a smile is helpful too.

It might be a while before you get a return on this investment but know it does reach them even when they are deep in it.

Disclosure: I am not a medical professional and you should not take this as medical advice. If you are suicidal please get immediate help by going to an emergency room, telling someone, or calling a help line.

One more thought before I end. These tips are most helpful for those just outside of the suicidal stage. I can’t explain it in words but there is a point where you can reach a depressed person and one where only medical intervention and/or medication can help. For the later, I don’t recommend using these tips. Get help.

It’s been 13 years since hospitalization due to a self-inflicted attempt on my life. These tips help me. I hope this helps you or a person you know.

And now I’d like to invite you to read more on helping the mentally ill through my personal experiences.