Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Reflections of a Soccer Mom: More than a Game

As the North Carolina FC Youth Recreation season is drawing to a close, I'm thinking back on how my son Elijah has changed over the course of the season. He has really improved in his knowledge of the game and I see his recreation team improving on how they work together.  I am grateful for his coaches.  He has a thorough experience between his recreation team and his weekly workout with the Junior Development program.

Coaches have such a huge role in our kids' lives.  Not just anyone can do it.  You could have been a talent like Messi in your day; but it's more than about the game itself.  Working with small children especially I can only imagine the task of finding that balance needed to grow the kids in the game and the discipline it takes to improve and play soccer how it should be played while still making it fun.  We have been very fortunate to have Coach Ian. 

I make it no secret that one of the reasons I have my son playing soccer is to increase the male presence in his life.  It is not as easy as it seems as a widow to provide a male child with the positive male influence he needs as he grows up.  So this is more than a game.  Sports provides a lot of life lessons and as much as I do for my son, some things I just can't teach him.  I don't mind admitting the exact words I used had more effect when he heard them from Coach Ian or his JDP coach.

Coach Ian (and the assistants) have been great with the children.  He is patient and kind; but still requires a lot of them.  During spring break he could have stayed home and played with his sons; but he made his way to the park with them inviting the kids on the team who were in town.  I gave my son a choice and he said "Coach called practice I'm going."  Elijah has always loved the game; and he has always had a "motor" but I have seen his interior drive really mature under Coach Ian. 

He has played when he wasn't feeling great because he knew the team needed him.  He has stopped complaining (as much) when someone gets the best of him in a game and just starts talking about what he has to do better.  And it isn't me.  I have read it isn't good as a parent to initiate a critique after a game.  So I don't.  Adults don't want that after a hard day so why would an 8 year-old child?  A sure sign someone has had an impact is them being quoted when they're not around.  You pray that in your children's lives that impact is positive.  Thankfully when I hear "Coach Ian said..." I'm not worried about what's coming next. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Thoughts at 8 Years: The Struggle is Real...ly Worth It

I saw a shirt recently that read "I survive on caffeine and chaos".  Life is normally a mix of chaos and calm.  When you have children, chaos tends to tip the scale.  My life is no different.  I have one teenager.  The female child is a complex one. Raising her is probably the hardest thing I have had to do.  We are alike in a lot of ways, some good, some not so good.  She has concerns I did not have as a teenager.

She has Dyslexia and ADHD.  She's smart and scattered as a good book I once read regarding teenagers and ADHD suggests.  She's creative and disorganized.  She stuffs brilliant work into the back of her binder past the due date.  Her art desk looks like a tornado hit it; but the pictures are beautiful.  It would drive her father up a wall if he were here.  But he's not.  And this year, for her, he has now been gone longer than he was here.

The relationship with her brother?  His love and loyalty for her I believe is limitless.  He can be upset with her; but he will try to protect her if he thinks I might be too harsh.  She doesn't quite realize how powerful she can be in his eyes; but she loves him immensely.  Every so often she will admit he is her best friend.  She has an artsy, quirky personality.  She's pulled her brother and me into her world.  We listen to her music when she isn't here.  My son is just as likely to ask Alexa to play "What About Us" by Pink as he is to ask Alexa for the PJ Masks theme song.

Music and Art provides a sanctuary for her in this world.  It's a struggle I know.  School isn't really set up for kids like her.  She wonders why she can't just take her English, Art, Math and Music classes.  She tolerates World History because the beauty of these other countries speaks to the artist in her.  She'd never take another Science class if she would get away with it.  One of my greatest challenges is somehow getting it across how important these annoying little assignments are.  I often think, "Oh the Places You'll Go," as Dr. Seuss said.  How do I get you to the right path?  I ask myself that question more than one time a day.

The right Art Classes, I'm ready.   Choir practice, okay.  Read that book, I'm on it.  A bit of volleyball on the side, that's cool.  She is also super competitive.  Assistive Technology so you can get that essay done...how does it work again?  Study for that Biology test.  It's mom again.  If I nod in agreement then lean back in the chair, put my headphones on and close my eyes, maybe she'll go away.  Her father did the same thing when he wanted me to be quiet.  I wonder if she fully understands how much I love her.  She may not until she is on this side.

I also have an 8 year-old.  The male child is my Science kid.  Daily I narrowly avoid injuring myself stepping on a Lego or stumbling over some new invention.   He creates entire battlefields in almost every room in the house.  It would drive his father up a wall if he were here.  But he's not.

When he locked in and building, he is also creating stories and adventures.  Writing that story down on paper...I might hear, I don't want to as he streaks out of the room like a track star.  He's also Dyslexic with ADHD.  He's a determined little boy.  Despite it all he has worked to become a strong reader.  He does time and a half with school because multiple days a week, he sits through lessons I have reconstructed to cater to him.  I have so much material I'm getting stuff in the mail offering me an educator discount on materials.  But I get the privilege of seeing him learn new things, grasp new things and experience that I knew you could if you were just given a chance feeling with him.

He has started down a path of athletics.  He is more serious about it than his sister.  He knows his father played multiple sports and he has successfully pulled me into that world.  Soccer is his love right now.  It's probably the one sport his father didn't play and that's fine.  He's having fun and it is a decent source of male bonding as he gets older.

It is tough to balance.  Sometimes I can't be everywhere.  Have I accepted it?  Yes, although I admit, grudgingly.    Twists and turns and even a change in jobs.  Two things have helped us a lot.  One was Ariana growing up enough to babysit.  The other was me finding a job in my field where I work from home.  I have had at least a 30 minute commute for almost 20 years.  Now that brought on a new one as I now put in close to 50 hours some weeks.  But even when I'm a starter on "Team No Sleep" I'm grateful for a lot of things.  Getting to soccer practice, swimming lessons and a host of other things wouldn't be possible.  It wasn't as easy as it sounds.  I had not left a job in 25 years.  Jobs had always left me.

I never pictured this life until we were in it.  I try to think of it as an adventure I'm privileged to be on; but I don't always succeed.  God often runs this train despite me.  It's hard.  Grief, feelings of abandonment, feeling cheated, like my children were cheated still happens.  I get tired, angry, and overwhelmed.  I have days where I will picture myself walking away from the next person that asks me for anything.  But it is an adventure and I am privileged to be a part of it.  So, eight years now, we have been on our own.  The struggle is real...really worth it.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Reflections of a Soccer Mom: Staying Back

My son started playing soccer when he was about five and a half. His school added an extracurricular activity called soccer fundamentals. It was open to Kindergarten through second grade. He fell in love with the sport. At now age 8, he still plays. He is in the lead on this. It isn't like school. He has to finish any camp, training or season he asks to do; but he can stop at the end of any season. I ask, "Are you having fun?" I ask, "Do you want to keep playing?" He has the occasional rough training; but he continues to love the game.
As he gets older, sports provides more than a fun way to use his boundless energy. He is learning sportsmanship, how to interact with other children his age and how to interact with other adults. And he is getting stronger. And I don't mean his little six pack. He once cried when someone knocked him down during a game and didn't stop to apologize. After all, he would stop if he accidentally knocked someone over. We just had a little talk. Manners are important son; but unless you are hurt, get up and keep going. If you are hurt, alert the coach and he or she will know if you need me. The game (nor life) will stop for you otherwise.
He is still having fun; but he wants to get better. He is still in the lead. We have switched programs based on his personal goals. But I have also sought out programs based on an experienced and yes, male presence in the coaching staff. I'm ever aware of my son's needs and one of them, a large one is to be able to look up to where he is trying to go and see a man pointing the way. His father is gone; but my son even though he doesn't remember having a father is no less in need of male guidance.
He is still very young so I am his source for just about everything. I point him towards Jesus, develop his faith. He considers Jesus his superhero; but the almighty isn't shooting himself down to put a physical hand on his shoulder. My son can't hear Him speak in a deep voice. That's a grief that won't end; but my son's need remain. So I told myself I would let him be coached. I'm dropping significant money on these training sessions, practices and club fees. Then there's, the clothes, cleats, and the time. I don't need to coach him too. The emails asking for volunteer coaches are hard to ignore; but when raising a child on your own, it is important to have a chance to step back and let someone else push him forward, pick him up, turn him around as I watch.
He continues to take falls. But he always hops up. But then yesterday, I had a chance to see if I could be about what I'd been saying. About half way through his Junior Development Program training with the local professional team, he took a fall I could see was different. I heard that faint muffled cry. Parents know this cry, the one I was likely the only one to hear due to the unique connection we share. I leaned forward but gripped my chair as he slowly brought himself to his knees. He looked my way but then he looked the other. I knew he was not going to run to me. He wasn't quite sure yet if he was okay; but, he was clearly going ahead.
His coach came to his side. I could hear him ask Elijah if he was alright. I could see him check him over; but I could also hear him encourage you in a way I could not. He had a mouth full of dirt. "Great job. Some of the best sometimes taste the field. Means you're going for it. Keep working hard." My son got up. He went ahead. The next water break came. He looked at me; but then he looked away. He finished his break. He didn't take one step towards me. He gave me a wave and went back to his coach. If he didn't move fast enough, I heard "Hustle up Elijah!" And he moved. When he wasn't ready to defend during the one on one drills, I heard, "Be ready Elijah!" And whether he got beat off the dribble, he was ready for his turn.
Did we talk about it afterwards? Of course we did. "Did you see me fall?" "I saw you son." "I cried for a little minute." "I know you did." "How did you know?" "I heard you." "How did you hear that? I was keeping it quiet?" "Your cry came right to me through the other noise." I knew he might not get that so I went right on past it. "You're okay right?" "Yeah mom. I'm good. I got up and kept playing." "Did you have fun?" "Yeah, it was fun." "I'm glad you had fun. And you worked hard." "I want to be great, mom." "I know you do son. That's one of the reasons why we're out here." While he doesn't yet fully understand some of the other reasons, he'll still benefit.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Rest Now, Superman. Saying Goodnight to My Spiritual Father

  Girls have this thing with their fathers.  They tend to see them a certain way.  My own natural father wasn't around as I grew up; but when he comes around, even as an adult, I somehow turned into a little girl needing to settle underneath his wing.

But at age 25, which wasn't exactly a highlight year for me, I laid in bed flipping the channels until I saw something I had never seen.  I wasn't one for watching ministers on television; but I stopped.  I could not look away from this guy.  He was walking but his feet didn't seem to touch the ground. Then he took off running, knees high in the air.  Oh and he had yet to stop talking.

The next week, I searched and found the program again.  And the next week I found it again.  He was still running.  He had his bible; but for the most part it was closed.  Didn't stop him from quoting multiple scriptures in that time.

On July 27, 1997, I got there for my first service.  Only July 27, 1997, I signed on as a member.  It wasn't long before I was that little girl, settled under the wings of (at that time) Pastor Frank Summerfield, later ordained as Bishop Frank Summerfield.

Over the years, he prayed, he walked, he talked, he taught, he loved.  He prayed, he walked, he talked, he taught, he loved.  He did what a father does...to all of us.  He corrected, he prayed, he walked, he talked, he taught, he loved.  He corrected, he prayed, he walked, he talked, he taught, he loved.  The greatest of these was love.

I was doing great, he loved.  I wasn't doing so great, he loved.  The moments I am sure he was frustrated, he pushed and he loved.  He said try harder.  If I did, he loved.  If I didn't, he loved more.

"Love like God.  Wait like God.  Forgive like God.  God's Love always forgives in advance."
Bishop Frank Summerfield 

There hadn't been anything like it for me from someone without a natural familial bond.  But I understood quickly this bond was different.  God had done this.  He was dad.  My hero.  He was Superman.  In every way he was a Super Man.  

In that time, he made sure we knew God was the source of it all.  He wanted us to see God and not him.  Still, God empowers some who still don't manage to correct, pray, walk, talk, teach and love in the way he did.  In all of the accomplishments was a humble character, a servant who just wanted the best for everyone.  Like a hero, he used what God gave him to come to the rescue.

At 37, I had to revert to a little girl when life got scary.  After a long illness, my husband died leaving me with a 6 year-old daughter, a 2 month old son and a big grieving family.  He corrected, he prayed, he walked, he talked, he loved.  He helped me bury his spiritual son and he helped me take the steps to go forward on my own.  He loved me.  He loved my children.  And when it got crazy, and it does, I could hear his voice.  

"How long should I say it?  Say it until you can see it.  How long should I confess it?  Confess it until you possess it.  Don't give up."
Bishop Frank Summerfield

At 44, I had to say goodnight to Bishop Frank Summerfield...dad...my hero.  He was Superman.  He was a Super Man.  Even as he walked slower, and the reality came to the front, his body wasn't invincible, his spirit, which was of God was faithful to love.

I will miss him.  I will miss his smile, his sure steps, his humor, and that goofy "Look what I've got, I'm so in love," look he had whenever he looked at Pastor Joe Nell.  But he left us so much.  

He corrected, he prayed, he walked, he talked, he taught, he loved.  He did it all with everything God gave him and now, God, in his infinite wisdom has taken him home.  It hurts.  I want to question, "why now?" but I would have never been ready.  I want to ask "why us?" But he taught us we were most definitely not above tragedy, just equipped to push through it.

All that's left is Rest now Bishop Frank Summerfield...dad...my hero.  Rest Now Superman.  I love you.  Thank you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Six Years Later: I Remember Day One

 It's said you have a vivid memory of the most significant days in your life.  That every sight, sound and even the smells of the moment come back to you and it's like you are back in the moment.  It's true for me too.  The best days like the day each of my children were born and the nightmare I lived six years ago today when I got home with them and found my husband had died and life flipped upside down.  I went to bed last night keenly aware of the dates of this week.  I woke up this morning keenly aware of the date.  I have not forgotten anything about it.

I try not to relive it and as time has gone on I have done much better even though I won't forget.  I still don't know how I survived the evening that I now call: The invasion.  Death, after all the times we fought it off, it invaded.  And despite all we had been through, when 911 had to be called, it was the first time.  And the strangers invaded.  I recall answering the police's questions while nursing my son under a blanket.  Yes, that's right.  He was 2 months old.  The moment meant nothing to him when his dinner time came.  But the police had questions.  The firemen had questions.  The EMS people had questions. I still remember. 

I still remember the pain in people's voices when I made the dreaded phone calls.  I still remember the quiet tears from my baby girl and her words, "So now we don't have a father?"  A month shy of seven years old, her grasp of the moment struck me then.  Her sadness was only interrupted by her many many questions.  Now a month from being a teenager, her grief journey has changed over and over.  She has begun to discover herself.  It's a challenged life; but it ain't dull.  She has the answers to all of those questions she had back then and can express herself in ways now that she couldn't then.  She's a poet, a musician, a humorist, and a real work of art who can push every button I forgot I ever had.  I so want her belief in herself at a level nothing can bring it down.  I want that for her that much more because I didn't have it.  It's work.

But that little baby, the tiny little boy who kept me from losing my mind that day (and a lot of days since), he is not a baby anymore.  He's happy; but he's no longer happily unaware of things.  Seems like such a short time ago he came into the world.  But he is a little person.  He's funny, energetic, obsessed with cars, trains, and legos.  He loves soccer and football.  He has gone on to school and is participating in his first sport.

 Now, he is the one with the questions.  He's in Kindergarten and he has friends.  He loves school; but he knows his house isn't like that of his two best buddies.  He talks to me about how "N" and "C" have daddies at home and he doesn't.  It's like day one, only instead of Ariana, it's Elijah asking these questions.  "Is he going to stay gone, mom?"  "Is he still sick, mom."  "Is he going to come back mom?"  "Can he just come back and give me a hug, mom."  "Did he go far mom?"  I answer as best I can and I hold him when he buries his head because the answers are never what he wants.

But we continue.  No matter how many times Elijah takes me back to day one, we continue.  No matter society's ideas of the fatherless home, we continue.  The number of times I have to change myself to fit this role don't matter.  That I'm just doing what I should while a father can stroke a brush once across his daughter's head and glitter falls from the sky, that really doesn't matter.  Just makes me roll my eyes some days.  Yeah, I know.  How I have to work during the day, support learning and activities and manage to get in 30 volunteer hours at their school...doesn't matter either.  I made them and I'm the one left. 

So we continue.  And I learn.  I taught my son how to write his name and I taught him how to tuck a football.  I watch the Avengers and The Descendants.  I hold him when he cries.  I tackle him when he wants to play rough.   I'm a poet, a humorist, a soccer defender, a musician, a historian, a wrestler, a driver and the rest.  Still working on my spiral though.

It's life day one and still is nearly 2200 days later and life is for remembering, learning, moving, pushing, loving, changing.  It's for living. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

He's Been Faithful to See Us Through: Five Years of Life With the Five Percent

In some ways my children and I have grown up together since we have been "three".  As they have gone through their changes I have changed.  As they have been challenged, so have I.  I think they have taught me as much as I've taught them, definitely more than I expected to learn.  They have both tested my sanity and kept me sane.  Motherhood has been an adventure of  heartbreak and hurray, holding on and letting go, troubling times and celebrations, confidence and uncertainty.  God has seen us through it all.  He's been that force that kept me going in the absence of their father.  To let me know I could keep going when I felt like stopping.  I still struggle with the fact that I'm still one person.  I find myself trying to overcompensate for it even though the reality is I can't.  That's something I'm still learning to put in God's hands.  But, we have enjoyed a lot of triumphs over the years.  It's sometimes hard to believe they were so little once.

It wasn't long after Thomas' departure that I started facing important events without him.  Just weeks later we were at church to have Elijah dedicated to the Lord. 

But unlike Ariana's dedication, the children's Godparents stood with me during the ceremony.  That was the first of many.  Between the two children we've done eleven birthdays, seven "first day of school", two graduations, several recitals and performances, Ariana has entered middle school and Elijah will enter Kindergarten this fall.  But somehow we made it to where we are today.  It's been a ride.  Finding ways to use their gifts and energy has kept me on my toes, used a lot of time and highway miles.  It's all been worth it. 

Elijah started preschool.  And while he loved to learn, he wasn't real traditional either.  He wasn't much on his school work during the day; but the technology based learning he got into when he pirated my tablet was another matter.  Then the transition from the first year of preschool to the 2nd tested my faith.  He didn't understand moving to another class.  At one point he even stopped talking. 

His teachers had to meet him halfway in a lot of ways, engaging him talking about outer space, science, trains and football.  Those are things he continues to be obsessed with even now.  He could name all of the planets at age 3; but the eight basic colors not so much.  Knows it all now though and more.  Still not much on worksheets though.  But we made it.  Kindergarten, here we come.
During all of that though, both roads were rough.  The path to finding out Ariana was Dyslexic was one of the most challenging times of my life.  The time before we found out, was like I was treading water while she slowly drowned three feet away.  It was close to three years during which I dropped an insane amount of money I couldn't afford on the wrong kind of help.  It was close to three years I spent being told I wasn't doing enough to help her.  It was close to three years of homework time ending with tears or just giving up and going to bed.  It was close to three years of her hearing she just needed to try harder, occasionally from me.

The first clues probably showed up in Kindergarten.  The struggle intensified though in first grade.  In 2nd grade her teacher experimented by asking her the same test questions in a different order immediately after she graded a test.  Written test grade was an F.  But she answered all but one questions correctly when asked in conversation.  She knew the material.  I was more confused than ever.  We sometimes took trips to escape the everyday grind.  She was finally diagnosed in third grade.  For 4th grade I hired a Reading Specialist and a homework helper.  She had classrooms accommodations and adjusted tests and homework, the implementation of which her teacher was brilliant.  She flourished.  She even won the Science Fair.

The following year was a whole different challenge.  I dove deeper into the world of Special Education Law, various reading programs and therapies.  I ended up with a 2nd homework helper by the end.  I had to hand it to my daughter.  She pushed through at times when I wanted give in.  She worked on homework from the last bite of dinner until way past my bedtime without complaint.  Knowing about the Dyslexia gave us both more patience.  I can admit, a lot of the time she displayed more of it than I did.  My soldier finished.  The last year of Elementary school challenged us to the point though that a transition from private school became necessary.

At the start of middle school we found ourselves in a new place with some familiar features.  The new school still had documented expectations of character, uniforms, small classes, carpool and it was all in one building.  This might have been the toughest first day of school for me.  I think it was tougher than leaving her for Kindergarten.

It was a relief to have an active (IEP) Individualized Education Plan set up prior to school starting.  With placement in a special learning summer program, I saw our confidence return enough to pursue her dream of an education in music.  Prior to school starting, I placed her in her very first after school activity.  She just finished her first year in a local group of young singers.  They just happen to meet just 10 minutes from her new school.  They had a winter concert, a spring concert, and some other performances in between.

God's had His work cut out for him the last five years.  But even when I felt alone, in my mind, I knew He was still there.  It's just who He is whether we deserve it or not.  With every challenge, I still see His faithfulness to us.  In my times of anger, and moments of unbelief, He'd show me that one little thing so I'd feel His love.  When I look back on all of these moments and some others, there's always a twinge in my heart; but I'm grateful He's kept me in a place where I can experience joy in the small and large things. This tragedy nor the circumstances we faced afterwards had the power to steal that from me.  As we go on, I'll do my best to hang on to that because while I know we have more challenges ahead, I also know God doesn't change.  He's got nothing left to prove, never has; but He's been strong for me.  And I need Him.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Help, I Want to Trust You: Five Years of Life With the Five Percent

Of course I couldn't get it all in one blog post right? 

Losing a spouse does something to your world.  I had thought a few times what it might be like if Thomas didn't survive one of his episodes; but nothing prepared me for his departure.  Something blew up that day in March and a lot of damage was left.  But slowly and surely as I allowed Him, God put our earth back on its axis and we put a life together as a family.  I didn't always make it easy for Him; but He did it anyway.

This Didn't Mean God Had Left Us

Not as easy as it sounds when you spend years hoping for a miracle; but one thing was for sure.  I wasn't going to get through this without God.  I wasn't wired to do that.  He was a major part of my life before this happened.  I was dependent upon Him everyday.  So navigating life on my own at my lowest point wasn't an option.  Interesting thing is it was being at my lowest point that had me considering it.  Yes, I said it.  I thought of walking away. 

Things were just that dark.  I had to work hard to get past the "I can't believe you left me here with these babies" with Thomas and the "I believed and what did it get me?" mentality with God.  If I'm honest I still have trouble with that first one. 

I read a book by a woman who lost her husband when he was killed in the line of duty.  She said she looked up and asked, "God, are you even there?"  The struggle is real.  So was Thomas' struggle; but as long as he had breath, there was at least a small chance.  When he'd taken his last that was gone.  So what was left?

This is Elijah.  He's about a day old here.  And what very few people know is that this is a person I longed to have in my life for what seemed like forever.  For various reasons I had always wanted to give birth to two children.  This isn't something you can really discuss with people in a world where so many experience the difficulties of infertility and infant loss.  You come across as ungrateful expressing sadness over not having the number of children you want.  When I did choose I thought carefully to mention it, I was told to just be grateful for the one child I had.

But it was more than that.  No one was infertile.  This was another thing the illness stripped from us...from me.  It was insult to injury.  I wasn't going to have another baby because our marriage...well, it wasn't like many other ones.  So when I look at my souvenir from that one rare night on a rare vacation, it's like God returned something to me.  Even now five plus years later Elijah represents knowledge that God had not forgotten my desires.  It felt like He remembered me.  It felt like He remembered us.  See after Thomas' health got to a certain point, I didn't say I was done having children.  Someone I love had advised against that.  But I had stopped asking God for another child.  But there was still someone asking.


Everyday she asked.  Every single day that God mercifully gave us, she asked for a little brother.  She sometimes tells him he wouldn't be here without her.  So when I thought about picking up the pieces of my life and walking a different path, I held on sometimes by a thread to the fact that God remembered me...He remembered us.

Some days in our family it felt like Thomas was all that mattered and after he died, there were days it felt like God left with Thomas; but that's a possible side effect of grief as a Christian.  I knew that.  Eventually I settled on the knowledge that it was going to take God's presence to put the pieces back together. 

It doesn't mean I've done everything right.  Far from it.  I've had dumb days and done some dumb things.  I've gone one way with my little family and had to turn and go another and had that to admit to my daughter in the process of making the correction.  I've had days where I didn't handle the pressures the way I should have.  See, there was some distance between knowing God could and would heal my heart and actually handing Him the pieces so He could do the work.  After March 9, 2010, that took a level of trust I struggled with more often than I like to admit.

God Knew I Was Ticked Off

I talked about being mad in the last entry and I see and hear  and read about not having such emotions towards such a kind, perfect, loving being.  But God is also omnipotent.  As much as I tried especially in those early months to focus on Thomas being free from the suffering he endured, that feeling of abandonment persisted.  As much as I tried focusing on my children not having their father to even talk to was like a 50lb weight. 

So yeah, I dealt with anger.  The only reason it didn't conquer me was because I admitted it and went to Him with it.  But it took me over a year.  I cried for Thomas more often than people know.  But for too long, I was so caught up in how I wanted to handle this, in wanting my daughter to see God could make things alright, in wanting people to see God could make it alright, I didn't really give Him every piece of my broken heart.  I broke down under that pressure around month 18.  I had said, God I trust You.  He had nothing left to prove right?  But after tragedy, the honest thing for me was...Help me, I want to trust You.  It worked in the Bible right?  (Mark 9:24).  I say this a lot; but God is a big boy.  When I said, "God I'm mad," it seemed His response was "Now we are getting somewhere."