“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.” ~ Jodi Picoult
In two weeks we will be blessed with a wonderful opportunity to spend a week together as a family on the sunny beaches of the Florida Keys, all thanks to Make a Wish. And while we are very excited to go, I’m a bit nervous about getting Ryan through TSA smoothly because of his wheelchair, leg braces, stimulator in his chest, plates and screws in his skull, not to mention all his meds, feeding supplies, formula, diapers and other medical supplies. And then what if he has a lot of seizures on the plane, and will the airline attendants or other passengers freak out even though to us it’s as normal as taking a shower every day. I know in my head it’s silly to be worried but I still feel uneasy about it all because we’ve never flown with him. But the opportunity is amazing, and I have no doubt we will have a fabulous, relaxing week. These are just minor details, and God’s already got them all worked out.
I simply wish the kids were more excited about our trip and didn’t have to endure the emotions that are connected to a Make a Wish trip. All three of them are well aware why we are going – because their little brother has a disease that can kill him. It’s easy not to think about all that on a day to day basis because for all of us, it’s our normal. We live it every day. This week has been especially teary and for good reason.
A few days ago one of the kids was talking to their teacher about being gone for a week. I think it had something to do with a project or a test they would miss. I can’t remember, and it doesn’t matter. Anyway, my child told the teacher we are going out of town to which the teacher asked where. Child said to the Florida Keys and teacher asked why. Child said for a Make a Wish trip and teacher responded with this – “so when is he going to die?” Are you kidding me?! Who in their right mind says that to a child? Or to anyone for that matter?! Child stared at the teacher, turned around with tears in their eyes trying very hard not to cry in class and said nothing.
That evening I came home to child who was all worked up and started crying. Several times that night child cried and has struggled with thoughts of their brother’s death throughout the week. I’m sick to my stomach for the agony such senseless, thoughtless words have done to my child. The other kids were nearly as upset but nothing compared to the anger that stewed in Travis’s heart when he heard those ridiculous words.
I did send an email to the principal of the school and have not received a reply. More than anything, I simply hope the email gets out to all the teachers there because my words were kind and thought provoking – a good reminder that words count.
Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. ~ Proverbs 21:23
There are five things you can’t recover in life: a stone after it’s thrown, a word after it’s said, an occasion after it’s missed, time after it’s gone, trust after it’s lost.
I hate that the days leading up to our wonderful trip are clouded with hurt. I want to scoop the pain out of my children’s hearts and hide them away from the cruelties of this world. I want to protect them from the insensitivity of others, from the careless words spoken much too fast.
School has always been the one place in my kids’ lives where they get to be normal. Where they can just be Brad, Sidney and Trevor. Where their youngest brother and all his seizures and hospitalizations and surgeries and medications and need for constant supervision and 100% dependence on others does not enter through the doors. Where they can laugh and talk and socialize and forget for even just a short time that home may be wonderful, but home means disability and not knowing what one day to the next will bring with their sweet little brother.
And I feel like that was taken away from my child. And I’m angry about it. But I have mastered the decision of forgiveness. I have stretched out my hand and my heart and given grace. Completely undeserved grace. And I have prayed for that teacher. Prayed they will show mercy and love to my child. That humility will win and forgiveness will be sought. But at the end of the day, I am not responsible for how this teacher chooses to handle their insensitive words that pierced my child’s heart with pain and lingering sorrow. So I choose to dwell in forgiveness and bless my child with a mother’s love. Because my job is to be comfort. I can’t scoop the pain from my child’s heart but I can love. I can cry along with them. I can be mercy.
Words matter. They can’t be taken back. I know full well the damage a spoken word can do. Years ago when my kids were young, I was at the park with several friends. It was a play group I belonged to and there were lots of cute little ones running around with chips and fruit and peanut butter smeared all over their clothes, faces and hands as they jumped and giggled. I don’t remember how the conversation played out but I can tell you which picnic table I was sitting at, I can tell you where all the other moms sat, I can describe the big evergreen in front of me, I can tell you the sun was shining down on us. But what mattered, what affected my soul, were the spoken words when one of the moms said to me, “Kim, you have a very overwhelming personality”. After many months, buckets of tears and far too much time questioning my personality and my worth, I chose to forgive. Yet even now, years later, those words still sting. And I will never forget the impact those words had on my heart. I guarantee you my child will never forget the harsh words spoken to them this week either.
The Bible says it best…
Keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable. ~ Phil 4:8
Because out of the mouth the heart speaks. Choose your words carefully.