Tag Archives: encouragement

Eliza 101

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The visit went well.  In fact, the two hours sped by.  Although we covered a myriad of topics, there was so much that we did not address.  I was not ready to leave when our time was up.  She seemed lonely and depressed, understandably.  We were both nervous.  When she came out we hugged and I asked how she had been doing.  Then I told her I was there to discuss anything that she wanted.  I had already written and gained her permission to do so; but I could still see a tiny bit of disbelief in her eyes as she replied “Just how the boys’ are doing.”  So I began talking about Ethan and Evan which caused her to recount the night of the murder again. I listened. 

The conversation soon shifted to me.  Eliza loved the Closer to my Children journal I sent her the week prior.  She also shared how in the beginning as I was reaching out to her she wondered what my motive was.  I told her that was a normal feeling because I still felt the same about her sometimes.  She also confided that she doesn’t understand how it could be that someone who used to be her “rival,” a person she hated so much, could end up being the one offering her so much support and encouragement.  Eliza shared that I had written her more than anyone including her own family.  She said she couldn’t explain why she had this “undefined love” for me.  At this point tears came to my eyes and she was openly crying.  She said she felt so bad for the way she had treated me in the past.  I told her the story of my stepfather and how I DID NOT like him in the beginning.  I had just graduated high school when my mother met him.  However, when they announced five years later that they were getting married, I felt like my life was ruined. Flash forward twelve years later and I love him to pieces.  That story made her smile.

On the way home I questioned her sincerity.  I wondered if she was simply saying the “right” things to make me feel good.  She had  shared stories that could be “used” against her later down the line.  My sharing was more guarded.  Although I think this vulnerability is essential to develop trust, I still do not want to be betrayed or mocked if it turns out she has a different motive.  I know she has trust issues as well.  She even said so a few times.  But I think for the most part she was being sincere.  By the virtue of her telling me how unsupportive her family has been and how she hates her sister for her involvement in the crime, was a lot for her to admit.  Eliza usually likes to present the perfect picture to me.  It has taken her a while to reach this point.  She was in denial for a very long time regarding her situation.  I think she is finally beginning to accept the reality. Just her being able to express her gratitude, wariness, and problems to me in person, signifies something.  We ate, talked, laughed, and cried.  Had the setting been different, it could have been any conversation with one of my girlfriends.  I know we still have a lot of work to do because whatever this “thing” is, it is still very fragile.  And it might very well fall apart one day.  But in the meanwhile it just felt sooo good to have made some progress.  It also felt great to be of encouragement to someone.  I do look forward to our next visit.

Help Me Rhonda!

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When I need encouragement,When I need advice,When I have unpleasant thoughts, That really isn’t so nice…There’s someone I can count on, Who can make me think again-Cause no one checks my attitude, Quite like my sister friend…We tell each other all the news,We watch each other’s back,We lift each other’s spirits,And we catch each other’s slack[Rhonda], when it comes to true friends,You’re the leader of the pack!                      

 ~Unknown  

            She was a godsend to my life.  I couldn’t believe another person existed on earth that was going through what I was.  I had the good fortune to meet Rhonda through a coworker.  It was Fall Break and I wanted to check out the grand opening of a popular department store in my neighborhood.  Browsing down each aisle I ran into Patty, an acquaintance from work.  Her friend Rhonda was with her that day and she made the fateful introduction.  Almost three years have passed since then.

            Rhonda has been invaluable to me.  Not only does she help me process my feelings about my stepmom journey, but she is a natural encourager as well.  I trust her emphatically with my bad thoughts because I am confident that she will not judge me for being candid with my feelings.  I can vent to her because I know that she empathizes.  Sometimes she just listens.  Sometimes she offers at advice.  She does not always think that I am right and tells me so.  I need this.  She has a special way of getting me back on track by reminding me of who I am. 

            She encourages me to keep trying with Eliza even when her generous gestures are often rejected by Kierra’s mom.  Rhonda is a good role model for me because she loves Kierra unconditionally.  She continues to inspire me to be the best person that I can be. 

Reaching Out

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Today marks the one month anniversary of my mother’s death.  It has been overwhelming living in the wake of her loss.  And as much as I have wanted to stay in bed forever, I knew that I would have to continue on with life…eventually.  My first foray back into the land of the living was taking Ethan to see his mom.  My mood was quiet and reflective. I had no intention of sharing my loss with Eliza.  It wasn’t because I was uncomfortable around her.  Our encounters have been surprisingly amicable.  And not to say that there are not awkward moments, because there are, considering that all of our interactions previous to her incarceration have been over the phone or in a courtroom.

 I had several reasons why I didn’t want to share this news with her.  One, I didn’t want to burden her with my problems during her parenting time with her son, two, I have been trying to keep things on a less personal level with her (I was tired of having my kind gestures  rebuffed), and three, it was still difficult for me to speak about.

So when she asked me how work was going I was caught off guard. Generally she never asked anything directly about me. Sometimes I would offer bits and pieces about me in an effort to humanize myself. I wanted her to see me as someone other than her ex-husband’s (relatively) new wife whom she hated.  She would respond politely by asking a few cursory questions, cautious not to convey too much interest.

 I carefully replied that I had been swamped at work because I had been out for eight days.  I coughed for added effect.  I figured she would assume that I had been too ill for work.  However, this time she pressed on.  Were you sick? she wondered.  I took a breath and replied, No, Eliza, my mother died.  She instantly reached over and hugged me.  She also provided me with a few encouraging words before we continued our game of Scrabble. Periodically she would reach over and rub my leg or pat my back.

I had not expected any further mention of my loss.  After all she had already offered her condolences during the visit.  But a week later I received a letter in the mail. The following day, a card.  The letter read:

Morocco,
Hello friend, how are you? I pray you’re doing better. As I know these times must be very hard on you. I want to extend my deepest sympathy to you. When things get rough–as they sometimes do–we may think about giving up. However, I want to encourage you to be encouraged and know that trouble don’t last always. The sun will shine again. I say this from experience because after my mother passed on and began her journey with the Lord I felt like the sun would never shine again–how could it? But after allowing Jesus to be my comforter–the sun did shine again. Morocco, my friend what doesn’t kill us will only make us stronger. Your blessing are on the way. Know that you are in my prayers with each passing day. Be blessed lady!
Isaiah 41:10 “I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Jesus loves you–You’re not alone! God will be your strength!

I was touched and a tad suspicious.  I didn’t know what to think.  My old insecurities surfaced.  Was she writing to taunt me because I was finally suffering?  Was she sincere?  Did she want something in return? Of course I let Rhonda read the letter and she felt that it was indeed heartfelt.  I could only hope.  Tired of being paranoid, I decided to reply to her candidly.  Rebuking my wariness of her motives, I concluded that she was reaching out.  She did not have to write in attempt to provide my grieving heart with comfort.  So I wrote:

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor heights nor depth, nor any other created things shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:37-39 5 March 2008 

Eliza,Hello, I hope all is well with you.  I am fair.  I want to thank you for your kindness. This is indeed a vulnerable time for my family and I.  It’s funny that you use the analogy of the sun and death, because that’s how I have always felt. At the hour of my mother’s demise, it truly felt like the sun had set and would never shine again. No pun intended, but I know that someday the Son will rise again!A couple of days ago I had this desire to call my mother. I had a general question that I probably could have asked one of my aunts, but I just wanted to talk to my mother and no one else would do. It is in these moments that I am overwhelmed with sorrow realizing that she is no longer with us.Having been down this path before, I know you completely understand.  It is easy to stay faithful when things are going smoothly, but ever so difficult when you are facing troubles.  I know that my faith is being tested.  I am admittedly weak and I pray that I am able to remain steadfast.  I am working diligently to do so. I am attempting to be thankful for this opportunity to draw closer to God.  I need him right now because there is no one here on earth that can ease my heart the way he has and can.  I am still in mourning, though I am determined not to wallow in a puddle of self pity. I am reaching out to others because it makes me feel better.  It also puts the purpose of life into perspective for me.  I really think God meant for us to provide encouragement to one another.  So I thank you friend for reaching out and providing me with much needed encouragement. Be blessed.

When my mother died I remember confiding in the hospital chaplain that I would not be able to survive this tragedy.  She smiled before saying You will.  God is going to put all kinds of people in your path to get you through this.  Could Eliza be one of those people???