The Revelation of a Grieving Parent: Chapter 3

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Stop Praying

The easiest consolation prize to bestow after any tragedy is, “I’m praying for you.” It is loosely thrown and carelessly offered as if it’s words and well wishes are tangible.

Please, don’t pray for me.

I pray for myself. My husband prays over me at 5:00 am EVERY morning. My mother fasts and prays for me without fail EVERY week. My daughter even prays with mommy twice a day.

Stop saying you’re praying for me and become an answered prayer for me.

Not just for me but make this an application exercise for every person you are tempted to vicariously spew that weightless benevolence.

What are you praying for that person? Peace? Joy? God’s Love? Blessings? Well, put your money where your mouth is and become an agent of Peace, a bringer of Joy, a bearer of God’s Love and bounty of Blessings.

Stop talking about it and be about it.

These past four years, people have run to me, even bowed and cried at my feet, all before saying, “I’m praying for you.” What they really meant was, “I’m sorry for you.” Honestly, that would have felt better because it expresses empathy. It shows that you are hurt by my hurt.

The next time someone you know experiences loss or tragedy, compliment your faith with works. If you can’t, gracefully bow out and allow someone else with more courage to meet their needs. Your ineffective presence may cause others to believe he or she is receiving help, when in reality there is a lack of resources.

Many have assumed that because I know celebrities or associate with certain groups of people, that our opportunities and finances are identical. This can not be further from the truth. So, seek to be and do good, rather than only speaking of such.

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The Revelation of a Grieving Parent: Chapter 2

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Not Ok

This week, I was speaking with a friend who attended our (Forever Jaiden Foundation) most recent event, a Dia de los Muertos Fiesta. She remarked that our presentation stirred her soul to activism and she now feels called to serve others who have experienced her misfortune. My friend’s misfortune is that her loving, doting husband was killed in a car accident a few years ago. Though the nature of our losses are different, the emptiness is still present and the irritations are the same.

Irritation Numero Uno: Asking a grieving or bereaved person, “Are you Okay?”

NO! I am NOT okay! I am so far away from OKAY, that we’re on separate planets!

When someone who is absolutely integral to the completion, personal atonement and satisfaction of your life is ripped away by death, you are not okay. The only way that you would be “okay” again is for them to return, safe and healthy.

Last week, my friend’s mother died. She is not okay. While she may have nurturing women in her life, only one woman gave birth to her. That relationship is irreplaceable and incomparable.

Be sensitive and do not ask your family and friends this question. Instead, ask them, “what can I do for you?”

The Revelation of A Grieving Parent: Chapter One

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MG Empress and her Warrior Princess

MG Empress and her Warrior Princess, Jaiden Tamyah. Forever Jaiden.

This is my gospel. This is my news. This is what I know, intimately, because I have felt, thought, been and am, so many of these Revelations. These are my proclamations, my absolute authentic truth, in raw form. Shared to help you realize that if you are a grieving parent, grandparent or sibling, you are not alone in your darkest, most cynical pondering. I am a very positive person. But I am an injured Soul. We are not “either” “or”. We are complex and capable of exercising tension in our lives. This is also aimed at those who interact with us. To help you realize when you are being insanely ridiculous with your expectations of us. And when you–like I– choose to speak when silence is found more profitable. I would be gravely remiss if I ignored this portion of my life because it is indeed, mine and Me.

1. I can’t BELIEVE this is my life!
What. The. Hell. Of all the people in the world…why Jaiden? Why me? Why us?!  I loved Jaiden. I STILL love Jaiden. She was my First Everything Right. At what point in the book of my life’s story was her death necessary? Wow! Really, God?

2. God, I don’t like going to CHURCH anymore.
And He isn’t the problem. It’s the secrecy and avoidance in sermons that healings do not always occur. That our levels of faith aren’t the prescriptions for our diseases. The insistence on prevailing through positive affirmations while denying that I’m drowning in depression. The scrutiny that if I openly admit my pain and disappointment, I am no longer a spiritual victor. Even warriors need reprieve! The empty promises that are proof-texted from another culture, another time period, that leave us wondering if the same God even exists…or if He’s impotent or unconcerned. This is the incubator for apostasy!
The empty “declarations” that are scathing to my soul! I can say it and believe it and it does not manifest. Yes, I believe it with ALL of my heart. No, I am not wallowing in sin nor a covert operative of iniquity. Just tell the truth. “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer. Please don’t ruin the solace by chasing it with euphemisms and platitudes. Identify with us. More so, identify, not gratify. Because hopes unrealized never satisfy.

3. Why couldn’t I KEEP my child?
There are countless parents who do not want their children. They mentally, sexually, physically and emotionally abuse them. Some even murder their precious heirs. Yet, I cherished my child and she was taken.

4. I have not LOST my child.
Jaiden has not been misplaced. I know where she lies. Matter of fact, for months, I wanted to sneak out there in the middle of the night and dig up the casket just to hold her. She is not lost. I have not misplaced her. But Jaiden is gone…

5. My child has not PASSED.
Passed what? From whence has she matriculated? Her life on Earth has ended. I do not consider that “passing”, it is failure. Failure of the medications, the protocols, our attempts at a healthy lifestyle. Failing to save her.

6. My child did not WIN the battle against cancer.
There was no victory. I AM HURT! She suffered unjustly. It is demoralizing to blatantly lie by proclaiming that she won. Did the millions of survivors “lose”? If death denotes victory, why medicate to prolong survival? Why “race” for a cure?

7. My child was not HEALED in Heaven.
I didn’t know that cancer and other diseases were taken to heaven and healed upon arrival–marked sarcasm. Saying, “she’s healed now”, is no consolation. Healing is needed on earth, where infirmities are seemingly infinite.

8. My child is not an ANGEL.
Angels are ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14) created by God to protect, give messages and serve however He sees fit. Never have I read in the Holy Bible that humans become angels and are assigned to surveil their grieving loved ones. Especially for children. Western Christianity has exchanged the biblical veracity of cherubim and replaced it with the Renaissance period’s depiction of innocent souls. In addition, God did not need another angel or flower, therefore He took my child. God needs nothing. And if He did, He is the creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and can speak anything into existence. He could’ve spoken a replica “angel” or “flower” just like my Girl.

9. I don’t care that your story has a happy ending…YET
Two years ago, I attended a bereavement meeting. It was proven the best balm for my dry, cracked soul. The facilitator was a therapist who’s child also died from cancer. He shared that for the first few years, he was bitter and even jealous of the families whose children survived. His admission freed me! The therapist encouraged us to own our feelings and not avoid them. They were not permanent, IF we addressed and move through them. Not devised a plan to avoid them. I’m just not there with people for whom I carry no affections. I must say, I am not happy when a child dies from cancer. I receive no satisfaction from that cataclysmic, devastation. Yet, I see stories of success and wonder, “why not Jaiden?”. I can’t help the acidic feeling of jealousy in my chest. I can’t help feeling re-injured. Stab. Stab. Stab.

10. ANXIETY is suffocating!
There are days that I am not sure if I will make it. That my heart will not implode and I will not survive this agony. My heart rhythm becomes erratic. My respirations increase. My mind is incarcerated by the memories of her demise. I try to remember her long, black, thick curly hair. But all I see is a bald head. I try to recount her laughter, but all I hear is her whimpers. Her faint calls for, “Mommy”. Before I know it, I’m hyperventilating, weeping profusely and praying to not lose my mind within the next 60 seconds.

11. I can’t breathe because I’m missing my LUNG.
Jaiden was my right lung. Jana is my left lung. I am suffocating because an essential part of me is gone. I am an amputee of the soul.

**This series of articles is dedicated to the many parents I unfortunately know because of our families convergences with pediatric cancer. This is for you and our glorious children, whom the world was not fit to contain.

In high esteem of:
The brazen, warrior Patty Wimmer and her “Bubbles”, formally known as Luke “Lukers” Johnson. An affectionately loving, brilliant mind, with the humor and wit of a 71 year old man, though 17 were his years.

The humble, perseverant Heather Williams and her “LiLi”, formally known as Aaliyah Miranda Mitchell. A true miracle and blessing to the inhabitants of this earth. A loving, compassionate, and steadfast  princess who reigned for 10 years.

The legendary, vivacious Leslie Singleton and her charming, charismatic Christoper Damien Singleton, Jr, affectionately known as “Junior”. Nine year old Junior remains known for his unprecedented benevolence, tender expressions of love and his inviting smile. 

The resplendent, champion Yolanda Hightower and her dazzling dancing diva, Jernee’ Janice “Na-Na” Fagin. Her contagious smile and tenacious spirit fuels her mother in stem cell transplant awareness and advocacy.

The loving and equally lovely, Leslie Filion and my nephew, Roger Harrison Filion. Though Roger did not have cancer, his departure from this realm at 8.5 months changed my forever friend, Leslie and colored her character with unparalleled empathy.

The dignified, righteous queen Ra’anaa and her “King” of a son, Kevon Jenkins. Stunning, ambitious, and intransigent in his faith. For 16 years he loved his family unequivocally. 

Why My Husband is NOT the “World’s Greatest Dad”

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World's Best Dad? HA!

What makes your father the World’s Best Dad? The dude in this picture has it all figured out! 

Today is Father’s Day and many people will proclaim:

  • My Dad is the BEST!
  • My Dad is #1!
  • My Dad is the World’s Greatest Dad!

Well, my husband is NOT! To wave that title belt in the air, a person must be the embodiment of perfection. So, stop your delusions. Your dad isn’t the best either. LOL! Here is why my husband isn’t the World’s Greatest Dad:

  • When he cooks, our daughter instantly feels spiritual and starts fasting.
  • If his looks of disapproval could kill, he’d be an assassin.
  • He rushes the Child…though, he is the Tyrant of Tardiness.

This list could become a scroll that extends from California to Japan. My husband is the BEST at meaningful attempts; just like you, and positively, like myself. What makes us the “greatest” at any thing is:

  • Consistency
  • Humility
  • Love and it’s components (Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

My husband is consistent in his involvement with our daughter’s academic and socio-cultural progression. He is humble and apologizes when he makes mistakes in judgement or behavior. In praise and discipline, his love for our daughter exhibits great patience and kindness. He has tremendous hopes for her, refuses to keep a record of wrongs and his love never fails.

As parents, our minds can become cesspools of inferior thinking. Comparing ourselves to others. Remembering the blunders of early parenting. Carrying the burden of guilt. The point of this article is to share that my husband is not the perfect daddy, but he is good. His fathering is reminiscent of a construction zone: tons of heavy equipment, uneven bumpy roads, exhausted and overheated workers, and changing directional signs. He is a work-in-progress. Aren’t you and I the same? Let us be accommodating, understanding, and merciful with one another as we are blossoming alongside our children.

Being the epitome of a position leaves no room for growth. Because I desire for our family’s Leader to expand his consciousness and eliminate all boundaries for his endeavors, I will not deem him the “greatest” of anything. There is far too much more to Become…and he will.

Pushing Through the Pain of Empty Seat Syndrome

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Jaiden's Empty Seat

Tuesday night, my little Nubian Princess stayed with YaYa (my mother). Which means the Emperor & Empress had some sweet “communion” on a weekday. Praise God!

Afterwards, we visited Jaiden’s favorite pizzeria for a late date-night dinner. We sat adjacent to her favorite window spot, imagining her there; bright smile and chocolate skin illuminated by the moonlight. Jaiden used to devour mounds of pasta and plates of pizza at this quaint, inviting place. Their buffet was often her reward for enduring a painful procedure or a pleasing update. Sometimes, this pizzeria was our hiding place to cuddle, talk and be best friends.

This was not our first visit since Jaiden’s departure. Eating here does not trigger anxiety or grief because it was our Happy Place.

But tonight was excruciating.

We sat peering at Jaiden’s spot and the door chime rang. Penetrating the threshold of our Happy Place was a reel of film from my not-so-distant past: a small framed, thin little girl, wearing a yellow medical mask and knit pastel colored beanie cap to cover her bald head. Her father held the door open, as she was frail, slightly bent over as a little old lady. Accompanied by her mother, clutching an emesis basin, just in case, the sick little girl had to vomit.

My appetite instantly evaporated. Seeing pass her tiny little body was Jaiden. I saw my daughter when I looked at her. I think the Emperor and I both felt as if someone punched us below the belts and left us gasping for air. I thought to myself, “Please don’t sit near us, little family. I will not make it through this night without exploding into an emotional catastrophe.” Lucky for me, they didn’t sit anywhere in our view.

On this night, I realized why operating The Forever Jaiden Foundation, Inc. has become easier on my heart. I think it’s because all of our current families have or had male children with cancer. No families with little girls have entered my bosom for support and service. I now recognize this feat in advance and am praying for courage to be vulnerable and strong when the next cancer warrior princess comes along.

Jaiden’s empty seat at the restaurant reminds me of her empty chair at home. At each meal, the four of us would kiss around the table. Jaiden would start by planting the first kiss on her sister’s cheek. My little Nubian would kiss me. Then I’d pass it to Daddy. Last, he would kiss Jaiden and scruff his facial hair on her face. She’d laugh and say, “Euw, Daddy! That tickles!” Often times, she’d warn him and gleefully flinch, saying, “Don’t you even think about it!” 

Now, our compass is incomplete, as we can not pass the kiss around an enclosed circle. It hurts when we stretch beyond Jaiden’s seat or get up to bypass it all together.

Our late date-night became an evening flooded with my Ninja Tears— the ones that sneak up and attack without warning.

Planting Seed in Fertile Souls

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Seed Time and HarvestThe principle of Seed Time and Harvest sequentially illustrates the process of labor and reward.

First, as a Gardener, you accept your role as the progenitor of life; possessing the future of a generation of crops within your hands.

Second, you choose the appropriate seed to produce the fruit that you desire. As Gardener, you will clean the land, break ground to make the “soul” impregnable, nourish it properly and test it’s loam (contents of it’s character).

Third, you will plant your prime, superior seeds into the lush “soul”, confident of a substantial return on investment.

Entrusting your labor to the Son and [His] reign, your seeds will expel through their protective shells, burst from their dirt ceilings and bathe in the warmth of their new enlarged territory. Gusts of winds will disperse their seedlings beyond your reach, carrying your initial blessing to the homes of exponential families.

Consider each step of this process and the role you play as the Gardener.

We are all Gardeners in the lives of those we love, causes we support and places in which we invest our time and money.

Are you planting your seeds in fertile souls? Or are you squandering your energy, efforts, and productivity in places and on people who are incapable of reaping a plentiful harvest?

Have you ever considered being a blessing to a person who is already blessed? Instead of issuing hand-outs to habitual offenders? Stop granting subsidies on your loyalty!

This year, I am committed to investing and planting seeds into souls who are prepared to increase. Ready for an impartation of wisdom and faith, fueled by ambition with hearts of humility. I will no longer cast my pearls to swine and I encourage you to do the same!

I am not instructing you to ignore the needy. I implore you to seek the disadvantaged and disenfranchised. To mentor, disciple and plant seeds into such as these. Then teach them how to garden!

But absolutely start at step one and realize you are the steward of your resources. Someone’s future is connected to your discernment and decision making.

Follow the second step and choose carefully, cheerfully and not impulsively or emotionally, how and what you will invest. Then assess the prospective soil, get into it’s business and clean it. Break through barriers of doubt with prayer and nourish your mind with the wisdom of God’s Word. Now, you are prepared (in the power of the Holy Spirit) to test the character of the soul in which you seek to plant seeds.

Third, if the prospective soul is fertile and ready to receive, sow and watch them grow to God’s glory and the world’s benefit. You can not help anyone or anything grow that does not first realize the infertility of their circumstance and barrenness of their land. Be, seek, choose and plant wisely.

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.— 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 (ESV)

You Can

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One of my Facebook friends just posted a meme asking what advice you would share with your younger self in two words. Among the replies were: You’re Enough, Experience More, Study More, etc.

If I could look 15 year-old, naive, insecure, broken little princess (not quite an Empress) square into the eyes, I would tell my younger self, “You Can.”

You Can:

  • Love yourself before you even consider loving anyone else.
  • Wear the boots and clothes that others ridicule you for: you’re 2 years before their time.
  • Create your own ideal of a real body image.
  • Find validation in your character, not a guy’s approval.
  • You can heal the painful wounds of your childhood…or they’ll remain, become infected and disable you as an adult.
  • Stop tormenting yourself with life-changing decisions of the “NOW”. You can wait…
  • You can wait. For the right college, the best friends, the smartest career move and the (im)perfect man.
  • You can BE and not simply DO.
  • You can find happiness, joy and contentment in the crown that rests slanted upon your head and the growing, radiating self-love within your heart.

Acceptance or Authenticity?

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I am sitting on the edge of my bed feeling the cool crisp chill emission from my ceiling fan. The dark of midnight with a slither of alluring moonlight invites me to the cloud-soft mattress.

I am ready for sleep but my mind is not able to rest. I ponder:
Have I reconciled this year with my debts? My goals? My Self?

Did I sacrifice my solidarity for the preeminence of someone else?

Did I sell-out for acceptance and approval in lieu of authenticity?

In the non-profit industry, I have been encouraged by many successful people to follow the status-quo and render an appearance of sainthood. I have been taught the formula for success by those who have degrees and salaries to prove their expertise. Yet, I do not believe their definition of success correlates with mine.

One must understand that when Everything (Jaiden and our previous life as a family) was violently snatched from me, I could no longer be hurt any worse, deeper, nor in severity to this level of traumatization.

Therefore, grappling for the acceptance of others is laughable and an insult to the weight of my worth, height of my aspirations and sanctity of my sanity.

I will live my Truth. Live YOUR truth. Not your parents. Not your spouses. Not your professional industry’s. Not the one you have created based upon someone else’s life on social media that is an illusion. Live your truth BUT make sure that it is aligned with the truth of God’s Word. While living your personal truth, be conformed to the Truth.

We can not live authentically without awareness. With awareness of your beliefs and identification of lies, you are forced to make a decision: live in bondage or live in authenticity.

Authenticity is premier and from it flows freedom. Get ya some!

When DeadBeat Dads Become DeadBeat Granddads

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My childhood was satisfactory sweetened by the overwhelming involvement of my two GRAND-Fathers. They truly were GRAND men and I love them with every quantifiable measurement of my energy.

My maternal grandfather, Clarence, was a machismo, tough, bad-ass, cussing, fighting, protective, provider with the sincerest, softest heart that became putty, upon the birth of his first grandchild–Me. He was my dad in the willful absence of my father. My best friend, my compadre, my heart. From my conception until the dreadful day that he died, we did everything together. Toy shopping, car repair, pranking, church…everything! His death detrimentally changed my life. I became insecure and depressed at the age of 12 years old and remained that way for 7 years.

My biological paternal grandfather died before I was born. His son, my dad, exited my life before I could remember that he ever existed. My mother remarried and my new grandfather, Rufus, was the refined, eloquent version of my rough-neck maternal grandfather. He was hilarious, witty, loving, extremely smart and taught me how to be a responsible adult during my adolescence. He taught me about mortgages, credit, bank accounts, budgets, bills, relationships, men, diet, etc. School was always in session with him and I loved it!

My little Nubian Princess is not afforded the glorious luxury that I relished as a child. My Two Dads are still absent. Yes, we talk on the phone–briefly–but there is no sense of familial responsibility or relationship. Quintessentially, we’re just relatives. My husband’s father? Psst! I’m better off asking the Milkman.

What’s that?
Milk service is discontinued?
My sentiments exactly…

A few nights ago, my Baby said, “Mommy, I wish I had a grandpa. I have good Nanas but no grandpas.” 

In our situation, it seems that our forefathers have not realized their error nor calculated the effects of their absence from their children’s lives. Now, decades later, history repeats itself through the lens of my daughter’s eyes. Instead of amending their ways and redeeming themselves from the folly of the childhoods of my brother and me, deadbeat dads have become deadbeat granddads. There is nothing grand about that.

The Discipline of Discernment

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Discernment

My fingertips are on fire! I have not blogged in a very long time and for great cause. For the past 3 months, I have become an intellectual and spiritual recluse, carefully filtering the words, emotions and images that seek entry into my psyche and my spirit. Some request admission through subtlety, and others through forceful invasion. Regardless of the method, I have learned to refine the God-given gift of discernment by practicing this vital discipline.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines discernment as the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. Essentially, it entails recognition of a truth or falsehood, beholding it to access its variables, and becoming fully aware of your next course of action based upon its veracity and value.

We should all seek knowledge and practice the discipline of discernment by slowing down and not being so quick to make a judgement. Sometimes, we can make long-term decisions and mistakes based upon temporary emotions. We should slowly step back from tempestuous, inflammatory situations and carefully discern (recognize, behold, access, & judge) the underlying intent before we make hasty decisions.

In the Holy Bible, the young inexperienced King Solomon (heir to Israel’s throne and son of the wise ruler, King David) asked Yahweh for an “understanding mind… that I may discern between good and evil”. Discernment is a gift that we can pray for but it is also a discipline that we can practice in the stillness of our spirits and quietness of our minds. Undoubtedly, the precursor is patience because only a fool will make haste decisions and forego discernment.

Embrace the old adage, “Haste is Waste”, and do not rush to make serious judgments without discerning it’s consequences. You may waste or squander a precious, invaluable gift.