Jessy & The Zombie Apocalypse

Our family, like many families, has been discussing the recent murders in Orlando and vigorously debating what could be or should be done to prevent such unimaginable tragedies. We talk about the particularly complicated nature of these events – xenophobia, homophobia, mental illness, public health and safety concerns, the inaction of our elected representatives, the anguish of the victims’ families, and more. And I am reminded of the zombie apocalypse.

moms hatsThis idea first emerged shortly after 9-11. Our children were much younger then, only 4 and 8, so we worked hard to shield them from much of the news coverage. My husband and I talked in hushed tones about what we’d do in the event of a widespread attack. Who would be closest to the children? Where could we go? Should we find each other first and then go? Or just determine a safe location to meet up later? How surreal it was to even discuss. Over time, the kids have joined the conversation about our plan, though we don’t refer to it directly. Instead, it has become, in our house, the “zombie apocalypse.” This allows us a bit of distance and some humor as we contemplate injustice and hatred in today’s world.

kids 2015Our children are now young adults, 19 and 23. We’re enjoying a moment in time when both happen to be living at home. They are delightful people – funny, thoughtful, and fiercely passionate about their opinions. Jake is heading toward his sophomore year in college. Jessy just finished her first school year as a teacher.

And so, in our conversations these days, the zombie apocalypse idea re-emerges. We’d all be in different locations, which makes it a bit trickier. I’d head out from my office downtown, pick up my mom who lives nearby and we’d all rendezvous at home. Then we’d grab groceries (non-perishables), the antique rifle (or is it a shotgun?), and head for the mountains. Sounds like a plan. “Nope,” says Jessy, “I can’t do that. I won’t leave my kids.” Her “kids” are the first grade students she teaches. She is steadfast. Sure, perhaps some parents would come get their kids, but if any were still at school, the only way she’d leave is if they came with us. We discuss how many of them we can fit in our smallish vehicles and determine perhaps two cars is the way to go.

People, we live in a world where my daughter won’t leave the children she teaches during a zombie apocalypse. There is plenty more to be said, but somehow, absurdly, this sums it up. How do we begin to make this a safe, loving community where we build each other up rather than tear each other down? Let’s promise not to leave each other during the zombie apocalypse. Let’s create the world we want to live in, together.

 

Blessed to Miss You Terribly

daddy2Thursday will be my father’s 77th birthday. Last Tuesday was the 2nd anniversary of his death.

This morning as I sat in church, my thoughts inevitably turned to my father, a Moravian pastor. He had 70+ years of good health, then 4 and a half years of ill health prior to his death. At the time of his life-altering aortic dissection and stroke, he was playing golf, mowing his yard, and teaching his 10-year-old grandson basketball. Of course, we expected him to live forever. He was a kind, calming influence with a dry wit and balanced approach to life’s challenges. His childhood was undeservedly difficult, but he persevered, served God and others, married wisely, and made good choices. Still, at the time of his death he was a shadow of himself, unable to do nearly everything that brought him satisfaction or joy. Why?

Why? It’s a question I’ve never expected to answer but continue to ask. Please don’t tell me it’s God’s plan. I cannot believe in a God who would cause something so tragic to befall this faithful servant. Every day, our family – my mom, my sister, myself, our husbands, our children – every day, we suffer his loss. We feel his absence keenly and we grieve. We miss him terribly.

We know we were blessed to have had him in our lives . . . to have benefited from his unconditional love, his quiet wisdom, his supportive presence, his back pats and shaking shoulders, his uplifting humor, his gentle manner. I think of people estranged from loved ones, or those who knew only an abusive or absent father. I realize it is a gift to miss my beloved daddy.

daddy3

And he’s among us still. Echoes of my father resonate in the sure strides of his grandson Jake on the lacrosse field, in the corny puns of his colleague John, in the lush green of the 18th hole, in Andy Griffith’s southern drawl, in our pastor Stuart as he serves communion in his crisp, white surplice. We sense Granddaddy’s approval when celebrating the achievements of his wonderfully talented grandchildren, and of course, when the Braves or Panthers win.

My dad would “knock a hickey on my head” if I left you with the impression that I blame God for life simply happening. With us every step of this difficult journey is the very God my father served with such devotion. God gave us strength to carry on through the darkest days and nights. God showed up in the form of caring friends and thoughtful volunteers. God still provides inspiration and solace through scripture and prayer. And it’s God who links us to these precious echoes of my father each and every day.

So, yes, God, I get it. And Daddy, please know how blessed we are to miss you terribly.

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