Live Like LucasThe non-profit organization Live Like Lucas was founded in August of 2015 in order to accomplish the goal of empowering youth to spread kindness. Our first official event was on January 16, 2016 where we had over 200 youth as well as adults participate in service projects and random acts of kindness in the Grand Rapids area. We served a pancake breakfast at Park church, made over 100 lunches and hygiene kits and distributed them to the poor along Division avenue. We made breakfast and did activities with the children at Hope Community, which is temporary housing for single moms and their children. We went to nursing homes and played bingo and bowling with the elderly. We distributed fifty 10.00 gift cards at Meijer as a random act of kindness. The result of just this one day was astounding. The volunteers had their eyes opened to situations that they had never been in before and met people unlike they had ever encountered. They saw people in poverty as real, worthy, human beings who weren’t just lazy. They saw the elderly, as one student put it “peppy and funny and mischievous.” They connected with people who were far outside of the Forest Hills “bubble.” And they wanted to go back. They wanted to do more. They asked, “When can we do this again?” Live Like Lucas is not just about spreading kindness out on the streets of Grand Rapids but also in our schools. We are currently researching programs and speakers to encourage our youth to practice kindness EVERY DAY- not just to their own friends but to those who feel alone and disenfranchised. We want to encourage friendships across all social, racial, and socio-economic boundaries. Teaching kindness also needs to start young. We are working on a program with “Lucas puppets” for the social workers to use to teach lessons on being kind to others and encourage conversation about sadness and loneliness and bullying. The kids will be able to put letters to Lucas in a mailbox so they can express their feelings and in turn the social workers can address these issues. One especially powerful method of learning about kindness in a global way is through mission projects. Our goal for next summer is to fund or partially fund at least 10 trips to Guatemala for kids who would otherwise be unable to go due to financial concerns. Lucas went 2 years ago with my grandparents and it was life changing for him to see the utter poverty and lack of medical care that was available for these people they visited in remote villages. He was prompted to really think about what his future looked like- he had planned on going into the medical field and now felt drawn to the mission field. Live Like Lucas has a vision of youth who look outside of themselves, look outside of wealth and power and popularity as goals and really see the world as how it is- full of hurting people. Even a small act of kindness can turn someone’s day around. It may even change their life.
Monthly Archives: October 2015
Today as I got my three girls off to school-combed their hair, helped with their lunches, laughed with them, hugged them, kissed them and sent them off on the bus-
For the first time in 10 months I thought, I wouldn’t miss this for the world.
Then I sat on the couch with my snuggly little three year old in his fuzzy jammies and he wrapped his arms around my neck so tight and I thought-
I wouldn’t miss this for the world.
They are so so so precious. I knew it all along, I never forgot. It was just that the pain was so large and looming it over shadowed any feelings of wanting to live this life. I knew I HAD to. I just didn’t WANT to. I put one foot in front of the other because cerebrally I knew that there simply wasn’t another option but my heart wasn’t really it.
I guess that is the only real way that you can explain the extremity of the pain and devastation of losing a child- it overshadows your entire life, even the really good things, and makes it hard to see what is really in front of you. I imagine it a little bit like having cancer and the pain is so unbearable you just want to die despite the fact that you still have children to live for. Forgive me if that is an insensitive comparison.
Except it’s not really like that. There are no drugs for grief.
Only those who have lost a child will truly understand.
Brooklyn is the last to get on the bus and as she was getting her stuff together I playfully slapped her on the booty (am I wierd?) commenting on how she has the tiniest butt in the world.
I used to say the same thing to Lucas. He was 6 foot four and had NO BUTT. It was a running joke. Immediately pain flooded me like acid through my veins.
It is a constant paradox. Joy and misery. Comfort and sorrow.
Yesterday I was searching through a basket of junk I hadn’t gone through in a long time and found the birthday card I had give Lucas for his 15th birthday. His last birthday. The check he had received was still in it.
How…to even wrap your mind around that fact. She sheer wrong-ness of it. I curled up into the fetal position and begged for God to take me to heaven where I could see that baby whose birthdays were now going to be spent there.
By the sheer grace of God I was able to recover from that blow and still make it to my Live Like Lucas foundation meeting. My board is amazing. Phenomenal. Mind-blowingly talented. They lift me up, they carry me, they comfort me, they give me hope. They are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to help carry out the legacy of my son. They are all working like crazy people to make things happen- awesome things- that will soon be unveiled.
It is a beautiful thing. It is a beautiful thing when God provides for us exactly what we need.
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
I have been asking myself, over and over, why the pain has not subsided one tiny little iota. Why I simply cannot just move on with every tasks and every day parenting without it feeling like I am dragging a boulder along with me.
It has after all been nine months. Isn’t it supposed to get a little better by now?
A very important person in my life told me, “I just can’t be reminded every day. I cannot go through the trauma every day. If I don’t move on I can’t function.”
I wish and yet don’t wish I could do this. Of course it would feel so great to have one day without being under a heavy blanket. One day that I don’t cry in the car so no one can see me. One day that I feel like I don’t feel like I can muster up the gumption to be what I need to be.
Last night I could not fall asleep and I was going over and over in my mind how badly I wish I had a documentary of Lucas’ life. Every minute of every day. A snapshot of each moment I could flip through and see his moments of joy and happiness and accomplishment and even just the mundane moments.
That I could relive with him so many of those moments even just one more time.
I took him for granted.
He was my baby, my hard fought for baby that I raised by myself until he was two and I don’t need to tell you about what a mother child bond is like. The strongest bond on earth. There is no greater love other than Jesus’ love in my mind and the bonds are like steel. I would have laid down my life for him. Few parents would describe their bond with their children as anything less. He was also my firstborn. I always felt a very special connection with him. We were on the same wavelength. We had something very very special that does not always occur with parental bonds because I have experienced it myself.
Then one day that bond of steel was severed, suddenly, in the blink of an eye, chopped apart with a swift sharp blow.
Now as to having some sort of connection with his spirit or soul or yada yada I have no clue. I don’t even know what to say about that. I think I am still traumatized at this point to decide whether or not I even think it’s true. He is in heaven with God, what would his spirit be doing down here in this realm of sin and darkness. I just don’t know.
All I know is this, that in an instant everything I thought to be true became questionable. For a mother to lose her child shakes up everything I thought was good in the world.
I have to fight for it every day. It’s called faith. I have to have faith that God is good and he loves me and somehow this will all work out. That in heaven it will all be made clear. Its a fight that is taxing, exhausting, when all I want to do much of the time is lay down and die.
Because the singular thing that i want most deeply and resolutely is to see my baby boy again. Every human cell and molecule and atom wants to be with him. To give up EVERYTHING to be with him again. The other end of that broken steel bond is like a magnetic pull to which there is no resolution.
We weren’t finished yet. I was supposed to have so many years with him, I took for granted how much time I had with him and I had four other kids. There was never enough time for anybody. Regret. Regret is the worst thing in the world.
I HATE cliches like “you never know how much time you have” and “enjoy every moment.” Blech. The problem is you don’t really believe it. Not until after. Not until the time is gone and the moments are done.
Its no secret that the only way I get up every morning is my faith- that the incredible all knowing all powerful God that created US is still in control. That I know he wants me to be here and he has a plan for me.
This verse is amazing:
His compassions are new every morning. His love is there every morning. Every morning when I wake up to a racing heart with anxiety and feel the weight of another day without him- his faithfulness is still there. He IS yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
I don’t think I have ever sat down to the computer to blog feeling this overwhelmed about what to write. I feel like I have described my pain in every possible way, ever angle, every description, every analogy…
Yet it still comes back no matter how many times I let it all out. It will never leave.
Yesterday I changed my profile picture to one of Lucas fishing when he was probably 11, I’m guessing, and the big ugly salty heart wrenching tears I cried while looking at that picture…if you’ve never cried so hard you couldn’t breathe you’ve never really cried.
I called my husband after coming back from an appointment because the entire drive I was bawling and just couldn’t get a handle on it and the kids were about to come home from school. I told him in between gasps that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take the pain anymore, I was waving the white flag, I was just done.
Which is of course completely meaningless. I was just dreaming and hoping that there was a way out…a way to be free of it… a way to anesthetize it.
He is on my mind day and night. I think “I wish Lucas was here” every time I have 1 child clinging to my leg crying and two fighting and one asking for homework help while I have chicken burning on the stove. Every time I feel like I need a hug. Every time I see or think about a person around his age and I think, what would be he doing right now. Every time I think about my family of 6 that’s supposed to be a family of 7 and its just not right. NOT RIGHT NOT RIGHT NOT RIGHT NOT RIGHT.
You don’t realize how often people ask about your kids or how many kids you have. You don’t realize how hard it is to tell strangers that your oldest son is in heaven. Not that its so hard to say (which it is) but that don’t know what to say. So they kind of just nod or mutter they are sorry. Its awkward. But I will not tell anyone, ever, that I have four children. It’s simply not true. Maybe I should say I have 5 and leave it. But I feel the need to qualify it. I just can’t help it.
I CANNOT look at a picture of him, any picture without that knife twisting in my gut feeling. I cannot look at his smile and be happy. I feel agony. Pure, unadulterated agony. Every time. I quickly avert my eyes as if it will make it easier but the image is still imprinted on my brain.
Nine months tomorrow. Nine months since I have seen his precious face and hugged his tall lanky muscular frame and teased him about his blonde chin hair. I still have not stepped in his room since the day of his funeral. I have not been to his grave. I can’t. I just can’t.
I had to pick out his gravestone on Monday. I had to pick out a marker for my fifteen year old son’s grave. Is there anything more awful? I was absolutely sick walking past all the colors and shapes and textures and thinking, what difference does it make? It only matter that he is gone and that is horrible and shitty and I never want to see where he is buried. I cannot, cannot cannot think about him in a casket. I want to be sick. There is nothing worse.
I have one leg in the real world and one leg in hell. The mental hell of mourning and grief and feeling consumed by loss. The one leg in the real world has a heck of a time balancing without that other leg. But I try. I really try. Some people think it’s not good enough. That that other leg needs to come back to the real world. Yet it’s mired in. It’s deep in the mud. There’s an inch for every ounce of love I have for him. That doesn’t want to let him go. There is an inch for every piece of me that died with him.
I ask people why they read my blog and they say it helps them understand how to deal with people who have lost.
This is how it feels.
Do not judge the bereaved mother. She comes in many forms.
She is breathing, but she is dying.
She may look young, but inside she has become ancient.
She smiles, but her heart sobs.
She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS,
but she IS NOT, all at once.
She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.”
What is this thing we are doing? I find myself asking myself that so often as I get caught up in LIFE and everything its “not” supposed to be but yet it creeps in…slowly…unintentionally…
I wake up to my girls fighting every morning. A 12 and a 6 year old sharing a room=bad news. 6 year old has some strange and disconcerting habits that 12 year old chastises 6 year old for which results in crying and hitting. Every morning. Broken mom ( that’s me) has yet to figure out how to curb this issue. Also 9 year old is very sensitive and tends to freak out over many many many things. Better this year than last, for sure. Much better. Yet many tears.
Not a good way to start a morning. I get irritable. Then I think, what am I doing? Every time this happens I think, I have experienced unspeakable loss, I should be able to handle this. This is nothing. Nothing. Ha. Ha. I have been all of the way to the bottom, the cold dark, hellish bottom and a hectic morning should be like a bug on the windshield.
It just doesn’t work that way. Life happens and in the moment I don’t do the right thing. Sometimes I do some stuff more right ( this is my blog and more right is grammatically correct). I hug more and encourage more and I am trying, not doing well, but trying, to be present more. Emotionally and physically. Yet I feel like so many, like a failure.
Few would understand, and for even fewer this may be true, but connecting with other children is harder after a loss. Right or not right, that lost child looms larger than the ones that are physically present. The Lucas shaped hole makes it easier for the others to slip through. There is just no getting over or filling that Lucas shaped hole. No one else fits in it.
Yet I keep trying. I have to. I have to remember the big picture of this thing called LIFE that isn’t really about hectic mornings and crying and gnashing of teeth. Its really about the God shaped hole that can be filled. This is everything and all and completely what keeps me going. Because (again my blog- grammer is optional) this is IT. There is nothing else. The rest is all details. I have seen that in a thousand different ways in the last almost 9 months. People. Gestures. Situations. Boards coming together. Live Like Lucas becoming a household name and affecting hundreds maybe even thousands. Who knows? Basketball games in a public school where I got to talk about my sons FAITH IN GOD.
Here’s a beautiful one- someone I didn’t even know (at the time) messaged me on facebook and told me her son had decided instead of birthday gifts to have his friends donate to the LiveLikeLucas organization. I was flabbergasted. Then she dropped off the money- over $500. 6th graders. All these wonderful kids.
yes I spilled coffee on it. I spill on everything.
She told me all about how excited they were to give. They connected with LiveLikeLucas. They don’t even fully know what it’s going to be (trust me there’s A LOT of planning going on) but they see the person that he was and the impact that has already happened and they are EXCITED.
I couldn’t even begin to describe to you the things that would have been so cosmically unlikely if the world was just a spinning unattended ball in the middle of space…no- there is someone in control. Guiding, protecting and loving us. Who created us just for the pure joy of loving us, send Jesus to redeem us, to redeem EVERYTHING.
Is that kind of hard for me to see redemption in the pain, the suffering? Yes- but its getting just a little clearer every day. Will I ever understand fully how the loss my my precious child plays into this redemption? Not until I get to heaven. I also don’t understand why little children die of starvation and students get gunned down in their classrooms. Suffering is hard. The hardest.
So what do we do with this, this life? This life that is so precious. This life that does not belong to us, that we don’t even deserve to have. We muddle through it and get disappointed in ourselves and feel like failures sometimes.
Yet we have to come back to big picture. These awful mornings are like dots in a giant beautiful painting. I feel like my son dying is a huge, gigantic, ugly black blob on the painting of my life- yet somehow I know that when God is looking at it he sees the whole thing- and it’s beautiful. He created us in his image, with his artistic hand, with his omniscient being and he said to us, “I LOVE YOU. I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU. EVEN IF YOU HAVE AN AWFUL MORNING. EVEN IF YOU CAN’T SEE YOUR WAY OUR OF A DARK TUNNEL. I AM HERE.”