Gone Too Soon: “They Should Still Be Here!”

peace happiness hope beautiful day

A year or so ago, while driving Roxie, my little reddish-blonde Pomeranian to the groomer’s, I passed what was once the home and property of my Dad and Stepmother, who are now both deceased. At the age of only 53, my father passed away from complications of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia in the summer of 2005. My stepmother passed away eight years later of complications from Lupus. She was only 63.

Each time I pass that beautiful two-story home and spread of property spotted with gorgeous flower beds and bushes and covered with fresh green grass, I cannot help but gaze at it, remembering how overgrown the place was when they bought it. During the fifteen years my dad and stepmom lived there, they transformed the place from the eyesore it had once been to the gorgeous stretch of property it is today.

Those flower beds and bushes, still present today, are the footprint they left behind.

bullycide suicide death remembrance sympathy memorial

Even now, years after their deaths, the blood, sweat, and tears they both poured into the place is still evident! And I find myself thinking, “My Goodness! They should still be here!”

I go on thinking, “I should be able to pull into the driveway even today and see my father sitting on that wrap-around porch, taking a draw off a cigarette and looking over the property. He should be beaming with pride at the results of years of hard, often hot work. I should be able to see my stepmother crouched in one of the flower beds, pulling weeds with gloved hands.”.

I often ask myself if these thoughts are sinful…if thinking this way is, in fact, the same as saying that maybe God was wrong in taking them at such an early age. So I think this with caution.

Then I remind myself…or maybe it is God reminding me that I am only human and it is only my mere mortal and human mind which cries out, “They should still be here!”. And that God’s ways are beyond all comprehension…beyond our human understanding.

The reality is that, in the grand scheme of things, God’s plan is that some will not grow to a ripe old age like others. But that’s okay because although I miss them terribly, I can take comfort in knowing that my dad and stepmother are in a much better place than any of us left here on Earth.

Nevertheless, each time I drive past that old house and stretch of property, my heart can’t help but cry out, “They should still be here!”.

When a Bully Becomes a Buddy

butterfly

There is always a possibility that bullies eventually become friends. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen. And when it does, it often becomes one of the best friendships ever! I don’t know why it is but it seems like the bonds are much tighter than if you’ve never been enemies.

I turned a years-long bully into a buddy by appealing to her self-interest and realizing what her desires were. And what I learned was that, more than anything, she wanted to feel validated, valued, and loved.

This lady had been bullied in school herself. And I found that she would get bullied and afterward, she’d come around and bully me. Then, being a smart-mouthed teenager, I would bully her back. Between the two of us, it was tit for tat.

We both left high school, got married, had families of our own, created our own lives, and didn’t see each other again.

positive peace candle

Almost twenty years later, I ran into her again at a bar and grill. If looks could kill, I would’ve been dead on the floor because, when we locked eyes, she immediately knew who I was and that look came over her face- the same expression I remembered from high school.

It was clear that even after all those years, the same hatred was still there- the only things that changed were that we were now adults, we were both mothers, and had marriages behind us. So naturally, I mirrored her reaction.

A few weeks later, I saw her again when I sang in a karaoke contest and won. She was in the audience. After the show was over, she came up and congratulated me, and although I was stunned, I was grateful and thanked her.

We soon began talking as she whipped out of her purse a mini photo album and showed me pictures of her woodwork and paintings. And I’ve got to tell you! This lady was uber-talented!

positive peace flowers

Her work looked so professionally done! As I gazed in awe at the pictures and admired what I saw, an epiphany hit me. I realized that all she wanted was to be validated.

I’ll never forget how her eyes lit up when I genuinely complimented her work.

With time, we grew closer and she soon became one of my best friends. ‘You see? She needed someone to make her feel as if she mattered and I gave her that.

We grew to love each other very much. The two of us would go to lunch together, spend girl-time together laughing, chit-chatting, and talking about our kids and our lives. We’d even stick up for one another when we had to.

She and I stayed friends until she died after a three-year-long battle with cancer. She’s been gone for two years now and I still think of her- a lot! I miss her just as much as I did the day she passed away and I’m wiping away tears as I type.

Life hasn’t been quite the same without my beautiful girl-pal. How I wish I could call her!

positive friends

Our early enmity and later friendship taught me so much! And that to turn an enemy into a friend, it takes finding out what the other person’s deepest desires are, what voids they may have, and what kind of wounds they’re nursing. You must then help them fulfill those desires, fill the voids, and heal the wounds.

You must make them feel good about themselves by giving them recognition for their talents and successes, respect for the person they are, and unconditional love and friendship. You must value their trust as you would gold. Then make sure it’s reciprocated. Once those requirements are met, you know you’ve turned an enemy into a friend.

This is not to say that this will work for everyone because some bullies will think there’s an ulterior motive and only double-down on their hatred of you. Some will only fear that their softening toward you will be a win for you. But we were the lucky ones.

May you sing and dance down the streets of gold

May you wade in the Crystal Sea
Until I see you again at the pearly gates

In Loving Memory
Stephanie Rains Shoemake
1971 – 2017

“They Should Still Be Here!”

peace happiness hope beautiful day

Several months back, while driving Roxie, my little reddish-blonde Pomeranian to the groomer’s, I passed what was once the home and property of my Dad and Stepmother, who are now both deceased. At the age of only 53, my father passed away from complications of Acute Myelogenous Leukemia in the summer of 2005. My stepmother passed away eight years later of complications from Lupus. She was only 63.

Each time I pass that beautiful two-story home and spread of property spotted with gorgeous flower beds and bushes and covered with fresh green grass, I cannot help but gaze at it, remembering how overgrown the place was when they bought it. During the fifteen years my dad and stepmom lived there, they transformed the place from the eyesore it had once been to the gorgeous stretch of property it is today.

Those flower beds and bushes, still present today, are the footprint they left behind.

bullycide suicide death remembrance sympathy memorial

Even now, years after their deaths, the blood, sweat, and tears they both poured into the place is still evident! And I find myself thinking, “My Goodness! They should still be here!”

I go on thinking, “I should be able to pull into the driveway even today and see my father sitting on that wrap-around porch, taking a draw off a cigarette and looking over the property. He should be beaming with pride at the results of years of hard, often hot work. I should be able to see my stepmother crouched in one of the flower beds, pulling weeds with gloved hands.”.

I often ask myself if these thoughts are sinful…if thinking this way is, in fact, the same as saying that maybe God was wrong in taking them at such an early age. So I think this with caution.

Then I remind myself…or maybe it is God reminding me that I am only human and it is only my mere mortal and human mind which cries out, “They should still be here!”. And that God’s ways are beyond all comprehension…beyond our human understanding.

The reality is that, in the grand scheme of things, God’s plan is that some will not grow to a ripe old age like others. But that’s okay because although I miss them terribly, I can take comfort in knowing that my dad and stepmother are in a much better place than any of us left here on Earth.

Nevertheless, each time I drive past that old house and stretch of property, my heart can’t help but cry out, “They should still be here!”.