Hearts of Gold

“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold.  They believe when somethings suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful.”

I love this quote.  If I were to look into my own chest right now, I can image my heart, intertwined with ribbons of gold, holding all the tattered pieces of brokenness together, creating a beautiful masterpiece.

As these last few days have passed, I’ve had some time to reflect on the events of last Tuesday – court – and all that transpired in that actuality of such a short timespan but what at the time seemed like an endless tailspin of voices, emotions and impossible decisions.  I can say with the most candor that from the outset, I was in complete anguish over what occurred.  In my wildest imagination, never once had I envisioned leaving that courtroom convicted of a crime, assigned a suspended sentence and probation.  I fully believed that with the truth on my side, the mistakes would be revealed, wrongs would be righted, and this extended nightmare would finally be over.  This obviously did not happen.

I have decided for the privacy of my children to not write about the specifics of what my case was about.  Too many lies have already been printed by the press, and those are bells I cannot unring.  My children have finally begun to heal from the miscarriage of justice that the various media outlets let loose on our street, neighbors and town 2 years ago.  I am fully aware of the issue surrounding freedom of press, but what these monsters did was nothing less than a witch hunt, manufacturing lies when people refused to speak with them, running erroneous stories again and again to fill time prior to each court appearance and costing my family more than anyone will ever truly understand.

What I have learned in the days since my sentence is that I am deeply and richly blessed.  I have an incredible circle of friends that have been held to the fire time and again, refined in ways I don’t deserve, and still they support me when I am so low I don’t even know where to begin to raise up once again.  As I returned home Tuesday and words failed me, I merely texted those close remaining few.  I was instantly flooded with an outpouring of love and support – it touched me to my core – and though doubt remained that I had made the right decision, their love helped to wipe that away…each one more and more still.

I have also been affirmed that my character, which has been under attack from all directions by the enemy – who takes on many forms as of late – is worthy of admiration and example.  I try to live as Jesus would, and I fail miserably each and every day – but to hear the words from my child, my friends – that I am respected for who I am, especially at a time like this…it speaks volumes to me.  I am humbled, and so thankful that I have a Savior who forgives me for my shortcomings and allows me to return to Him every time I fail Him.  I won’t change who I know I am – not for this world, not for anyone.

Lastly, I have shared that I have been working with an incredible therapist for these past 2 years, without whom I would never have made it through this crisis or been able to recognize the me who was trapped inside this body ready to break free and take charge.  I am so thrilled with the work I’ve done – reclaiming my voice, embracing who I am, learning new strategies for old issues, growing relationships with my children, finding happiness – it’s been a lot of work, but I would not have given any of it a second thought.  In meeting this week and sharing Tuesday’s events, she listened intently and I awaited her response to all I’d shared.

She asked first why I’d taken the deal, and it caught me off-guard.  I shared that there was a list of people prepared by the Prosecution to call to testify…my children were at the top, neighbors, friends, my Pastor, police officers, DCF workers, teachers, on and on and on.  Too many people stood to get hurt – and when I weighed my children on the stand and that deal, the risk wasn’t worth it anymore.  And then she said two of the most powerful things I’d heard all week:  two years ago I was so stuck on why this happened and what were we going to do about it and how were we going to fix it, that I could barely see straight.  Now I had just sacrificed myself so that my children did not get hurt – look at the progress I’d made.  Secondly, I had maintained that the Justice System never really cared about the truth, they just wanted their pound of flesh.  But she said that my truth, my version of what happened, is still true – whether they heard me or not.  It doesn’t negate what I know is true.  There are interpretations of the truth, and I will always know what happened – this plea doesn’t change that.

I’m finding that helpful in being able to stop calling myself a ‘convict,’ which I’ve been doing all week, and to stop comparing myself to others who were in court that day.  They don’t walk my walk, nor do I walk theirs.  I’m giving myself permission to feel whatever I need to right now – and that’s something entirely new for me.  I’m not going to linger too long, and then I’m going to process what God has next for me, because there’s always a plan.  It’s been a long 2 years to get to this point, and there’s a lot of hurt and healing to process.  But I am absolutely in the best place of my life to deal with those feelings, which lets me know I’m right where I’m supposed to be, with exactly who I need beside me.


Warrior Mamas – Heroes

It takes an incredibly special breed of mother to raise a child who is differently-abled, who comes to you not quite fitting the mold of those who came before, whether they came to you through 9 agonizing months of worry and weight gain, or a trip halfway around the globe.  Those of us who share the privilege of raising these princes and princesses with autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child’s ability to communicate verbally and non-verbally, interact socially with others, and  causes repetitive behaviors, have been given the term ‘Warrior Mamas” due in some small part to our incredible strength and never-quit tenacity.

I’ve had the great fortune to grow and know many Warriors here, as we’ve shared our journeys together – through tears of triumph and tribulation.  The sleepless night, the raging hormones, the School Board battles, the medication changes, the intimidating IEPs, the State Capital rallies for tax funding, insurance legislation and appropriate housing for young adults – we are a tireless bunch who won’t hesitate to raise our voices when our children are in need, but remain silent when the spotlight is looking for a soliloquy.  We take up our cause at least annually at our favorite walk, race, Puzzlethon™, fashion or art show, or auction – all in the name of research and support for this disorder that families deal with each and every day.  And while each of us hopes for a cure someday, we know in our hearts the time for that cure has passed for our children – the battle has shifted to better long-term care, more planning for adults with autism – the future they face is staggering.

One blessed woman I am lucky to call friend, Judith, ran the Boston Marathon yesterday, as she’s done in many years past.  The weather, as those from this area know, was atrocious – cold, windy, non-stop rainy the entire 26.2 miles.  Each year she runs for her son, soon to be a teen, on the spectrum.  She adorns her tiny body with the names of each and every student from her son’s school – the most perfect of placements for him to flourish and be all that he can be.  She begins her training months in advance, as do most of the seasoned marathon participants, running in the steeply stacked snow banked winter months, building her endurance in preparation for the big race.

The amazing thing about Judith, in addition to being a Warrior Mama (as if that weren’t already enough!) is she works tirelessly for Autism Speaks, an exceptional organization, where she is helping to promote insurance coverage to states where coverage for autism services, such as occupational therapy, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), speech and language services and the like, are not currently mandated coverage for children.  She travels across the United States all week long, as those who follow her on Facebook are lucky enough to keep up with her current travels, and still manages to find time for her family, her faith and giving back.

As I watched Judith prepare for this race the last few weeks, she really humbled me in a new way.  First, the sheer determination she possesses in that tiny body just blows my mind!  Second, as a nation, we all know what happened 2 years ago near the conclusion of the Boston Marathon.  Judith was present – shaken but unharmed.  Her family was on-hand, as they always are, awaiting her arrival, and as you can imagine the pandemonium…as an observer on television, I was gripped with fear for those I knew were near.  As many who stepped out in true humane style, Judith was taken in by someone on the route, fed and warmed up, and helped to contact her family…an act that still gives me chills today.  I long for a time when we as a country can stay still in that moment…and just be.  We know how to be wonderful to each other – we just can’t capture it for long.  To Judith, and all the others – especially those who were wounded during that awful event – that had the courage of their convictions to return once again; to not let evil win…I am in awe.  You are what I want my life to be about.

Lastly, for as many more years as Judith sees fit to run this race, she has left behind a legacy for her son that he can be so very proud of.  She has left her mark on this world in his name, and that is why I would dare call her ‘Hero.’  Judith…no more, no less…YOU ROCK, GIRL!!

To all my fellow Warrior Mamas: Please smile and take a silent bow!  I know you hate the attention, but from one WM to another, some days we need all the kudos we can get!

Dedicated to: (in no particular order…I love you all!)  Judith U., Beth K., Shannon K., Kristen B., Noreen S., Diana Y., Donna C., Beth L., Vicki P., Kim S., Darlene B., Onika B., Jennifer W., Annie C., Micaela O., Dianne M.


“Do not be sad I am with you always; close your eyes…listen.  Can you hear me?

I am the music in the trees, the song of a light rain, the rhythms of your heart beat.  Can you hear me?

Find the afterglow of my smile in every whisper of a bird’s song, feel the warmth of my touch in every crescendo of the ocean’s waves.  Can you hear me?

Feel the reverberation of my life, the happy times and bright and sunny days we shared and let you tears of grief be dried by the sun; I am the music of life, and my song will play on.  Listen…and you will find me.”


Tonight I spent a few hours at the wake of a young man of such promise.  He was the brother of my daughter’s friend – a senior in high school – an honor student, accepted to an excellent college for the fall, plans for the future, for a life full of LIFE.  A bad decision – one with terrible and permanent consequences – cost this young man his life earlier this week.  I watched his devastated parents, numb from grief, go through the motions – stand in line and hug family, friends, and strangers alike, all who thanked their God that it wasn’t them who stood in their stead, that it wasn’t their child each guest knelt before, praying to whomever they believed in, all with the same look of disbelief that I had as I found my seat.

How could this happen?  How could you think you’d done everything right as a parent – raise a seemingly exceptional kid who checked off all the boxes, but when push came to shove, you had possibly missed the glaringly obvious signs that your child wasn’t prepared for the toughest challenge of all – stepping onto life’s stage and living?  Please hear me when I say I am in NO WAY judging these poor parents.   There but for the grace of God go I most assuredly.  I just find myself at a loss as a parent – as I watched the evenings events unfold, surveyed the roomful of memories, observed countless high school friends experiencing their first loss with their parents in tow – how can I do all I can to prepare my teens for life as it races to meet them head on?  How can I assure them that they are enough in this world when I still doubt my abilities?  How can I trust they will turn to me when they question themselves, their worth, their value and that I will be there in their moment of need?

The world has faster, cooler, and smarter answers than I have.  Their friends are available at their fingertips, always at the ready.  I am who they come to when they’ve exhausted their other options.  I want to change that scenario.  I know I’m not going to ‘replace’ their best friends, but I also know I’ve implanted in them the knowledge that they can trust me – good or bad – they can come to me with whatever is on their minds.  We can talk it through and I can help them, even if they think it’s the end of the world…I’m always going to help them.  I may not love the choices they make, but I am always going to love them.

As I walked my daughter through this first wake experience, I secretly hoped there wouldn’t be any more for her to experience such as this.  Her innocence on what to do, how to react and where to go reassured me that I still had time to plant more seeds within her.  She’s growing into an exception young woman, and my prayer is that the pressures of this world don’t overwhelm her ever.  But if they do, I hope she remembers my subtle reassurances that she can always come to me – even if she thinks I’m goofy – and I am going to help her.

I hope this young man felt surrounded by the overwhelming love of his parents, even as he made a costly mistake last weekend.  I hope he knew without a doubt he was cherished, special and enough.

In Memory of ABR 4/12/15

I’m Fine…I’m Running as Fast as I Can

“It’s only when we admit our un-fine moments that people can actually get to us to help us.”

I am a stubborn human woman.  I know, it’s shocking to hear, but I have learned over the course of my life to be fairly self-reliant.   I don’t ask for help for much of anything, and when I do, I have to be darn near death.  What I have learned, in times when I expected help to be there, was that people will always fail you.  People will hurt you, disappoint you, even crush you if given the opportunity.  So why on earth would I want to place myself in a position where I am actually asking for support, needing another person to raise me up?  To me, it just seems like you’re asking for trouble, and I certainly don’t need more trouble in my life.

And then I began this transformation…this recent self-reflection of who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m headed.  And I’ve realized over the last few years that some changes need to be made if I want to achieve the happiness I desire, with the people I want in my life and stability, all wrapped with a nice big bow.  So I’ve been trying these changes on for size, one at a time, and seeing how they work for me.  You see, no one gets to be who they are by accident.  I’m not this stubborn, independent woman by accident, but absolutely by situation, dictated by the events in my life that demanded I either adapt or die.  For the most part I like who I am, and strange as it may sound, I wouldn’t change most of the events that happened in my past – they all occurred to mold me into who I am today.  Sure, do I wish I could be who I am without those traumas…well, yeah!  But I understand that God’s purpose behind each and every trial we face is to mold our character, not to harm us, and to make us reach closer to Him.

But I’m also learning that how I coped with these events just a few years ago might have functioned perfectly fine then, but for where I’m headed, they are not quite so functional anymore.  And I want to change – which is the biggest victory of all.  So I’ve been working very hard to acknowledge the areas that might need tweaking, or a small sledgehammer, and have been eager to work on those areas and test them out.  But even with all this work and support from a phenomenal therapist, there are times I feel like that small, scared little girl trapped in the grown-up body, cowering in the corner, alone and afraid, just wanting someone in my corner, saying they are with me and talking me through what’s happening.

That was this past Tuesday.  Court…again.  Sometimes I think I’m so grown and strong, but court…lately it brings me to my knees every time.  The atmosphere, the environment, the reason I’m there – it crushes my spirit faster than anything else I can imagine.  I knew before I went I should bring moral support – but felt embarrassed to ask someone to subject themselves to that ugliness.  After all, it’s my junk…I loathe being there, why would I ask a friend to endure what I can barely stand?  But that morning, I heard God telling me to simply ask – and so in obedience, I did just that…at 8 am.  I sent a group text to my friends – the ones I know I can count on…and in God-like fashion, they responded.  Why it continues to surprise me, I should really be ashamed.  Two separate friends rallied, while those who couldn’t sent their words of encouragement and prayers.  I felt so very loved and protected in those moments – it brings me to tears again just recalling the texts.

At court, ‘they’ were there first, but knowing I had support on the way, I held my head high.  I didn’t feel anxiety as I usually do.  I was receiving texts of support all the while until my first dear friend arrived.  And we just chatted and passed the time – the LONG time – visiting and forgetting where we were, which made me so at ease.  Then my 2nd friend arrived, and it was like a party of privilege, with just us 3 as the only attendees.  We joked and laughed and had a great time – almost completely oblivious to where we were.  God was truly with us, and I was certainly blessed.

As the business at hand finally began, it was unproductive and difficult, as predicted, but I wasn’t afraid or uptight.  I conducted myself in a pleasant manner, as I usually do, and his actions spoke for themselves, as they typically do.  When we were finished with the Judge, I simply walked out as if ‘they’ didn’t matter, and left, emotionally tired but not defeated.  There will be more battles to endure, but I am now confident that if I actually trust to call on my friends, they will rally to that call and be there for me when I need them – I just have to choose to let them.

God never intended for us to live this life alone – John 15:13 states…

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Here God is referencing more than a friendship, but a love relationship between us and Him, and in turn, between us and those around us.  His greatest command to us is to love one another; when it’s the hardest thing to do, when they don’t ask for it, when they hurt you, when they don’t talk to you for years & years, when they laugh in your face, when they try to kill you, when they destroy your reputation – there is no stipulation on loving one another.  Jesus loved prostitutes and murderers – are we under any less of an obligation than He was?

So I’m trying a radical new approach – praying for ‘him.’  There was a time he loved Jesus, when he wasn’t so lost, when he knew the right choices to make.  I decided a long, long time ago not to carry around hate – it’s useless, heavy baggage with no purpose and it only impacts me.   I’m certainly not going to start now.  Lay down my life?  Not quite yet, but I’ll keep up with the prayer and let you know how that works out…