Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Future Home of Hope

(I took this picture.)

I’m so excited!

Ashley called. She’s my youngest daughter. 

She told me my all-time favorite fast food restaurant (Salad and Go) opened a drive-through a couple of miles from my house! I dove into my itty bitty Honda Fit and took off down the road still talking to her on my cell phone.

I already knew what I wanted: the roasted sweet potato and strawberry salad with champagne vinaigrette dressing. 

 On the way there, I saw the sign tacked up on a cement block wall: Future Home of Hope, church for real life. Awesome. Maybe this was a sign from God. Maybe He was sending me a message of hope that I would lose the twenty pounds I had been battling over the objections of my defunct thyroid. I could have my favorite salads now any time of the day.

Or maybe He was telling me this might be a good church for me. Maybe. I had learned that sometimes, there's a dissociation between a god who lives in a church with a red tiled roof and tan stucco walls and the God I welcome as the Master of my life.

Anne Lamott once said, “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.”

Hope is the expectation of obtainment, a desire to anticipate something in the future that is positive, or will enhance the quality of your life, or the lives of those you love.

Life without hope for a better outcome is a life that’s not any fun.Life without hope means giving up on the possibility of joy. 

Easy to say. Harder, if not impossible to do when the world is crashing around you, when everyone you love dies, is taken away, or they turn their backs on you.

I’ve never lost hope. It was stolen for a time. Losing hope is the equivalent of saying I lost my son when I didn’t. Adam was murdered.

My little son was born disabled with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. When he was born he was so fragile, I was told he would die before he would ever go home. His nurse was the first to give me hope that he had the ability to learn and grow. Throughout the six years of his life, Adam beat the odds. He became a miracle of God … until his babysitter thought Adam wasn’t worth being alive.

When Anne was only nine years old, she was taken away from me after I was falsely accused of murdering Adam. Hope that my daughter would ever be returned was slowly and systematically destroyed by the same courts that falsely accused me. Adam was dead, my daughter was gone, and I wasn’t getting either of them back.

I faced jail time for the murder I didn’t do. I saw nothing positive in my future because I faced the real threat of languishing in prison for seven to thirteen years. I saw my daughter growing up without me, hating me, being repulsed by me. I was unable to do anything about it. No one listened to me. 

Everyone I loved was ripped away or backed out of my life. All I was able to do was cry and pray. I wanted to die. I thought I might. I hurt so completely and so deeply, I had to peel off my grief, squash it into a box, wrap it with barbed-wire, and shove it into a corner of my mind. Dissociation from trauma saved me from going insane.

When people ask, “Why are you still focused on this? Isn’t it time to let go of the past?” 

The agony was so great, the grief so relentless, it became my heritage and the building blocks of my memoir, From Miracle to Murder: Justice for Adam. Grief for a murdered child is forever. It doesn’t bury itself into the grave. I hang onto the past because Adam is there. Love, grief, pride, panic, prejudice, and joy: they are all conjoined. As long as I breathe, I will bring him forward into the present - and the future with me.

 The actions of people took hope away until I was strong enough to seek justice for my children. My surviving child needed me to fight like a mother to get her back. I made the choice to survive for her, change, grab onto hope, tape it to my soul, and never allow it be destroyed again.

 Truth brings the ability to clearly see the facts of the past. Truth brings the ability to live so that we might choose to forgive and grow forward.

 I’m still working on the forgiveness part. 

(Me - taken at 2017 Parents of Murdered Children National Conference.)

As Long As I Breathe is dedicated to:
survivors of emotional, physical, financial, spiritual or sexual abuse – as a child or as an adult,
 parents, relatives, and friends who have had to bury a murdered child,
those who were falsely accused of a crime they did not do,
children or adults who were raised in or belonged to a misogynistic religious cult,
and children born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome.

Joyce A Lefler is the author of From Miracle to Murder: Justice For Adam.
She is a bereavement counselor, registered nurse, and a voluntary facilitator for the Arizona chapter of Parents of Murdered Children.
Connect with her on:

Joyce A Lefler