I haven’t been here in nearly four years, yet I kept renewing the page, just in case. Covid happened,,,lets face it…it is still happening. We tragically lost my father in law almost two years ago and remain shocked by the tragic loss of my mother in April of 2022. It has been a ride. I’ve decided to come back to writing and sharing. I suffered a grand mal seizure on New Year’s Eve so I’m sorta grounded until July 1. Johnny and I have many plans until then and we are splitting our time between Black Mountain and Huntersville. Alas, it gives me time to share the funny and sometimes “you can’t be serious” moments of the last year. So I hope you will subscribe to my blog and buckle up. It promises to be eventful.
No Rhyme, No Reason, Just Random Thoughts
I haven’t been here to blog in over a year. Almost a year and a half actually. Not quite sure why. My husband mentioned to me recently that he missed my blogs. Blogging takes me into some very deep spaces of my mind. I think I go through seasons where those places need to stay locked so I can function. Then the door bursts open like a volcano and the emotions ooze in ways I can not manage.
I’m doing a Bible Study right now “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way”. I started it 3 weeks ago. God’s timing is always perfect. I look back on my life 15 years ago. I had a full time career in non-profit work. I had a 5 year old and a 4 month old. The future seemed laid out for me, for all of us. A year later our world was rocked. I thought it would be the end of doing anything worthwhile for me. I could barely care of my children, much less expand my sphere of influence.
As time went on it became clear that God had a grander plan for me, and that our rocked world refined me in order to carry it out. I took on roles I never thought would be mine yet somehow it came naturally, not effortlessly but sort of that “meant to be” role.
I spent 3 years caring for my Grandmother until she passed. We laughed, a lot. We argued, a lot. We joked, a lot. She taught my son how to properly make a bed with hospital corners. Apparently that lesson didn’t leave a lasting impression. Though she did teach him a bed should be made every single morning, so the tossing of the comforter counts, I guess. She taught him how to count coins. If he did it correctly he earned $ .79 to get a fruit drink at Cashion’s. But she didn’t share quarters, those were strictly reserved for gambling at her bridge games. Y’all she was Presbyterian, so of course she gambled. She also spent $2 on the lottery every Friday. I have no clue why anyone 97 years old needs to win the lottery, but ok! She was a character and I was the lucky one to spend some of the most precious years of her life with her. I was her caregiver, and she was my caregiver.
When she passed I was lost, for a very long time. The hole in my life was huge and the hole in my heart was huge. I’m not sure you ever get over the loss of someone that big in your life. I spent several years spinning wheels, trying to figure out life again. Looking back I see that it refined me. I have often said that epilepsy won’t define me. Instead it will refine me. Caring for my Grandmother refined me as well. Raising two boys has refined me and will continue to do so. Bless….
Three years ago I felt the nudge that I needed to step back into the role of caregiver. I was back in my element. Stretching my mind and opening my heart to places I had held secret for some time. It was a joy, a pleasure and a privilege. It’s how I do love in action. And now I’m back in that difficult space of grief. I opened up my Bible Study this morning and looked back on my notes from two weeks ago. This morning my view is so vastly different. I keep finding myself thinking it’s not supposed to be this way. Yet, I know, without fail, that it is supposed to be this way. It is just my aching heart that causes my head to shake and leave me speechless. God has proven to me time and time again that His timing is perfect.
Twice now, I believe I made life easier for people I loved beyond measure. A career in non-profit didn’t define me. It prepared me to understand the needs of people. Epilepsy prepared me to pay closer attention to people. Loving people until the end has refined me. My grief is huge, but I’m better for it, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, February 2019
In Case You Didn’t Know
College freshman. Is my kid ready? Did I remember everything? Did they pack what I told them to?Will they wash their clothes? Will they wash their sheets? Did I get the right meal plan?Can they cook enough to sustain life? Do they have enough money for supplies? Will they go to bed at a reasonable hour? Will they get to class on time? Will their roommate want to grow drugs in the closet? Will they get something pierced?? Will they get a tattoo???
I am one year outside of all these questions, and a few more. Was I a wreck like many of you last year? Yep. Was I lost without my son for a bit getting used to his empty room? Yep. Did I miss the sound of his drums blasting throughout the house and shaking the windows? Yep. Was it the right thing to let him go and find the power to propel his own wings into flight? Yep.
To my mama and daddy friends as you tearfully, or maybe joyfully, pack up your kids, reluctantly releasing them into a new world, I want you to listen in to something very important. In case you didn’t know, YA DONE GOOD!
From the time kids enter our world we work tirelessly to make life the best it can be for them. We have dreams of all kinds for them. We get lost in the drama of each school year, worrying over signing reading logs, math excel, red cups during lunch, the premier of the recorder or wondering why no kid ever sees the bottom of their backpack. Then our top dog falls on the bottom of the pole again, trying to figure out combination locks, sharing a locker with someone who butterflies the lock, changing classes, elective courses, new classmates, selecting your own lunch and mom saying you can’t spend $10 on one meal. Blink three times and pat your head once. High school. Mom will be all over your case about grades and what one letter on a report card means. Blink once and touch your toes. Hold it there because they are about to start driving and we need extra blood in our brains to maintain calm. Blink two more times and pat your own back. Your child worked hard their senior year, on their senior projects, at their job, on college applications, suffered the agony of the SAT, the ACT and thrill or perhaps the agony of college acceptance or rejections. It is ok. All those little moments that seemed so bigly are now bits of a larger puzzle that is coming together beautifully.
In case you didn’t know, please remind yourself that you have taught your child well. Your child is ready because you lovingly and sacrificially placed each piece of their puzzle of life together to create a glorious tapestry. In case you didn’t know, your child appreciates all that you have done.
Now blink once and hold your breath for 10 seconds.
Did time stand still? Aw dang! We try so hard to make time stand still when our kids are young. In case you didn’t know, you gave them the courage to fly. Now, if no one is looking it’s okay to give yourself a giant hug, before you grab the kleenex and pack the car.
Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, August 2017
May I please be me? Please?
I started blogging years ago as a means to shed a mask and be real. I needed to let my story out, I needed to vent, I needed people to understand and I needed to stop committing Facebook fraud by only showing the good stuff. I’m guilty of saying only what I think will not be attacked because I am a people pleaser. Oh dear, I just admitted it…I am a people pleaser and often it is the thing that causes me the worst heartache.
I haven’t posted a blog in a while, but I have many unpublished drafts. I write as a means to get it out, but sometimes I’m afraid to be real. I am afraid to admit my feelings to myself more than I am afraid to admit them to the world. Before my injury, I really thought everyone was genuine and sought to bring good into the world. After my brain injury I saw the world entirely differently. My brain functions in a different way than before, and people I trusted treated me differently. Twelve years later this continues to confuse me. I can’t recall how I used to respond. I only know how I feel now. Mostly, I’m scared. I am scared of saying or doing the wrong thing that may cause displeasure or even worse, cause people to turn their backs on me. My filters are limited, and my tongue is too quick. I feel like silence is safer, but it leaves me lonely and isolated. My need to please has limited my ability to live more fully.
I feel things deeply. This place I used to view through a glass half full seems half empty. It looks more like a berry bowl with hundreds of holes leaking water. I want to be involved in my church, but there seems to be no place for me in areas where I am most passionate. Our current climate makes me crazy. I want to be involved in my local politics and improve my town, but my skin is not thick enough. I struggle with the deep convictions I feel and meeting closed doors in so many places. Sometimes I feel like the berry bowl, just draining water, except there is no fruit left in the bowl when the water is gone. Relationships that I trusted have gone and left me even more skeptical of everyone.
More than anything, I wonder what to do now? With one child in college, it feels like it is time to make some changes. I want to know how YOU face change? How do you keep from committing Facebook fraud? How do you accept seasons that take people out of your life? I have been told to let things roll off my back, but that is not me. God did not create me that way. He created a feeler and a thinker, but golly sometimes it hurts.
So there it is, in black, white and purple. I put it all, well partially, out there. This is my attempt to stop being the people pleaser. This is me, feeling lonely, broken and without a lot of purpose. I sincerely welcome thoughts you would share with me about times like these that you have experienced. You may comment publicly, message me through Facebook or email me on my blog, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The irony of this blog, I’m not embracing change so well.
Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, July 2017
Happy Heavenly Mother’s Day
I don’t know why her death remains so hard for me to digest. Was it her smile, her wicked sense of humor, her facial expressions that told an entire story in one second, her never-ending need for a bed made up perfectly, her special love language with Hunter, her stubborn ways, her secret stash, her days spent reading the newspaper cover to cover or perhaps her special friendship that we discovered? I imagine it is all of these things and so much more. I just miss her.
This week I had a dream and my grandmother, known to our family as Emmer, was still alive. She was walking, without the aid of a walker, she stood a bit straighter and her hair was a little bit darker. At first glance, I did not recognize her, then she called my name. That deep voice with a southern twist was unmistakable. “Gatewood?” I fixed my eyes on her. She nodded her head and assured me I wasn’t seeing a ghost. She had just been gone awhile to get better. She was holding a bouquet of flowers and held them out for me to take. She said “Happy Mother’s Day” and I stared at her with tear-filled eyes.
I started waking up and was in that in between stage when you realize you are dreaming and coming to, but you just don’t want to leave the dream. My brain was fighting with my heart. I kept telling myself that this was a dream. The happiness I felt at the mere thought she was alive was something I could not let go of. I wanted to get out of that in between phase and dive back beneath the surface, where I could see Emmer. I remembered she would be 101 years old now and there was no way this was real. In that moment, nothing could stop me from reaching her again. I wanted to feel her presence and soak it in. I must have channeled her stubborn ways, because once again I was with her. We were sitting and talking. It was as if I were floating over my own body and Emmer and I hovered watching a conversation filled with happy tears, sad tears and a lot of her story telling, and rather opinionated facial expressions. And then it was over.
My alarm woke me up. For a split second I felt a smile on my face because I knew Emmer was alive. Gloom smacked me out of it and I realized it was a dream. I felt her loss all over again and it was intense. I almost felt angry that my dream had been so real that it made me grieve her death again.
Later in the day, as my mind continued to recall the images of my dream, I found peace. My peace came from knowing, in my innermost core, that I could not have those vivid dreams had we not had a deeply honest and genuine relationship. Sure we were blood, but blood doesn’t always connect you. What I realized was that my connection to her is just as strong today as it was when she died four years ago. Somewhere, deep down, I guess I just needed to know that she is still here for me when I need her.
Happy Heavenly Mother’s Day Emmer. MUAH!
Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, May 2017