Doing Church in the New Millennium

Church exists in culture and is populated by fallible humans and God is not up in heaven, expecting us to know stuff we haven’t yet learned. Just like you wouldn’t give your hungry child a stone, you wouldn’t expect your kindergartner to do calculus.

They’re not narcissists.

They’re not shallow.

They’re not fundamentally broken.

They’re not different from us, the Xers and Boomers who fill most of the leadership positions in Christian churches.

The Millennials are the vanguard of our new, digitally-driven culture.

As an Xer who has embraced digital culture more readily and more fully than most people my age, I inhabit a front row seat from which I view the present cultural shift, and I understand why some Christians are afraid. Sometimes, the life of millennials seems weird, incompatible with our traditions of togetherness, with the investments we have made in buildings, property, tables, and chairs: spaces and tools with which we gather, face-to-face, in a tradition broadly similar to that of the people of the early church. Culture is changing and that is never not scary.

On the other hand, on some Sunday mornings, church doesn’t seem as relevant to me as Meet the Press or Melissa Harris-Perry. Church-world doesn’t always feel like it touches my everyday world, in spite of the fact that I am now a 40-something in leadership. I wonder, how will we keep doing church if we don’t feel connected the way we used to, or the way we hope to?

But consider that the church has survived;

  • Communism
  • The Enlightenment
  • Literacy
  • The rise of cities
  • The Middle Ages
  • Cars
  • Suburbia
  • Westward expansion
  • Feminism
  • Capitalism
  • The Protestant Reformation
  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • Television

…and so much more. Christianity has survived all the things that have happened in the past 2,000ish years, and Christianity will survive digital culture and the Millennials. Someone, somewhere is always declaring the death of Christianity, and every generation wails about the incapacity of the next.

That’s OK. Good, even, except that it too often reflects an attitude that is closed-minded due to fear. What I want to shout from the (virtual) rooftops is, no matter how wild this gets, God is doing God’s thing. We’re going to struggle and argue. Some of us might throw chairs and get very, very upset, and we’re going to say things we regret, and we’re also going to be brilliant and ultimately (probably often, if we are paying attention), we will see the face of God.

Is this going to hurt? Yes. It’s going to hurt because as God is baptizing individual people, God is also baptizing our communities, our families, and our very traditions.

People, baptism hurts. This is the refiner’s fire. We have volunteered to be transformed, and God does not take that lightly. The old has passed away.

We are often confused about what it means to be transformed because we humans can’t do it. We understand reformation because we are (in some limited way) capable of reformation, but transformation is not even tangentially related to reformation.

Let’s say I have a table. It’s a broken down, sad, ugly old thing. It wobbles, and one of the legs has come off. The top has a crack in it, the apron is all gouged up, and the whole thing has water damage. I decide to fix up my table so I can bring it into my house. I go out to my garage and I glue the crack and clamp it. I add new hardware to secure all the legs, replace the apron, and get busy sanding it until it’s smooth. Finally, I stain that table until it’s so shiny is nearly glows in the dark. I take my table to the dining room and my whole family stands around and admires it. It is gorgeous. I have reformed my table, and it is the handsomest specimen of table you could ever hope to see.

But it’s still a table.

God has a table, too, and it’s just as ugly and sad as my table was, and maybe God wants it to be a beautiful, gleaming table, but God is not limited to the perceivable possibilities the way I am. Perhaps God will turn the table into a bird, or a droplet of water, or a universe.

Ouch, right? We think we’re tables, and mighty fine ones, at that! Who are these youngsters, these twenty-something millennials, to question our table-ness?

Knock knock, maybe they are the voice of God? And maybe not. I don’t claim to know. God doesn’t deal in certainty (much as we yearn for God to do just that). God deals in mystery, faith, and what C.S. Lewis called the Deep Magic. God shows up in the desert, where there are no landmarks and we have no idea where we might find our next water.

The incredible wringing of hands that has happened in the blogosphere (launched by Rachel Held Evans at CNN’s Belief Blog) is exactly what we must do, though some people may wish to take a breath and two steps back (If your God can’t withstand a culture shift, get a bigger God).

Church exists in culture and is populated by fallible humans and God is not up in heaven, expecting us to know stuff we haven’t yet learned. Just like you wouldn’t give your hungry child a stone, you wouldn’t expect your kindergartner to do calculus.

God knows we are bound by the traditions of our faith. We need them because they provide us with a sense of belonging and continuity, but they are for us. God doesn’t need to see us all line up in the sanctuary to share bread and juice. God knows God’s place in the universe and our reminders don’t make God more secure or more content. God is not in the ritual, nor does participating in such ceremonies give us special access to the presence of the divine. God is God, God is love, and God is everywhere. The rituals of worship, communion, foot washing, baptism, and all the rest exist because we have wild monkey minds. We need gestures of the body and practices of the mind to help us show up for our relationships with God and each other.

God is not the rituals. God is God, and God won’t change.

But everything else might change. God might make into us something entirely new. God does not need our protection and God is not afraid. God is doing what God has always done: pursuing us. How do we keep Millennials (and others) in the church? Simple. We follow Jesus. We do not attract new people; Jesus does that. We are not transforming ourselves; Jesus is doing that. We are not creating church; we are the church that Jesus built and is continually rebuilding.

So we follow. We pray. We practice togetherness (talk, argue, shout, share, cry, lament, laugh, sing, teach, learn, and kiss the wee babes) in ways old and new. We experiment. We unclench our fists (my church, my traditions, my faith) and look around. We invite and we include, and when we screw up we say so. When church disappoints us we speak out, and when we see the church disappoint others we sit up and take notice, and we go to that place and search for Jesus and share the love that God has lavished upon us. We revisit Micah 6:8 until it is engraved upon us.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

So simple, but we resist. I will be the shiniest table! Make of me a beautiful table, Oh God! Hush and follow, says God. I will make of you. I will do with you. I promise.

We meditate upon Galations 5:1, which says, “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” We have not been set free in Christ to build institutions or to “win souls for Christ” or to do anything. We have not been set free to follow rules, and we most certainly have not been set free so that we might hit people in the head with our bibles in the name of Christ.

Simple freedom.

Glorious, wild, extravagant freedom, a gift, given freely. God does not seek our slavish devotion to rules, but our exuberant devotion to the person of God and the way of Jesus. We walk together, with God, and with one another, and the walking is the thing we are doing, and God is unrolling history as we walk.

God does not need our protection and God is not afraid. God is doing what God has always done: pursuing us, God’s own, God’s beloved.

Let’s let God catch us.

 

All Bible verses are from the New Revised Standard Version.

Too Vast a Project

Parenting a child with serious mental illness is easier if you can mostly ignore the future.

It was my ability to cast my mind out—out to the experiences of others and out in time—that made me. My childhood imagination was vivid but it was never populated by monsters and fairies or dreams of myself as an astronaut or ballerina. I was haunted by the real and the really possible: the devastation of a Central American earthquake; the starving Cambodian children on the evening news; fear that my sister would be killed by the leukemia with which our next door neighbor was sick; fear of my parents dying in a car crash on their way home from dinner when my sister and I were home with a babysitter.

I wasn’t inventive, but I was profoundly receptive. Oh, how I wept for those children in Cambodia, chasing and eating bugs to survive, left alone without parents to look after them. I imagined that South American earthquake, saw families asleep in their beds as their homes came down on top of them, and hoped that they were dead before they felt any pain or fear. Growing up as I did in the later years of the Cold War, and in Albuquerque (and hence at a location that would be among the first annihilated should there ever be a nuclear war), I prayed often that no one would feel compelled to push the Big Red Button. I pictured two matching buttons, one under the letters USA and one under the letters USSR, and covered them with bulletproof glass and locked them tight so they would never be accidentally pressed.

I am me because I was born porous. A million possible futures presented themselves to me, each more plausible than the last. When my aunt took her life, I knew that anyone I knew (and even I) could do the same at any time. That knowledge hung there, as real as breakfast and school and the changing of the seasons and the tattered copy of The Little House on Plum Creek on my nightstand and killing fields and famine and devastating natural disasters that killed tens of thousands.

Obsessed with the future and all the anxiety-producing potential it held, I became possessed of a superstitious notion that, if I showed the universe that I was concerned enough about a possibility, the universe would protect me from it. While I was pregnant with Jacob, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I would handle it if he was bullied in middle school. Granted, I have a history that makes me ultra-sensitive to such things, but he was still a fetus at the time.

I made some half-hearted attempts to live in the present. Who doesn’t want to live more peacefully? But the casting about that my mind does is so much a part of me, it seemed all but impossible to bring it home, to live among the people I love and the time I have been given, and so I continued to indulge in my fears and fantasies of the future. As much discomfort as was caused by my tendency to share the pain of people I don’t know and in times I cannot touch, it was also a source of inner adventure. I was loathe to let it go.

And then there was Carter. As we slogged through his first five years, Carter gathering acronymic diagnoses like a snowball rolling downhill, the future grew dark, and then darker, and finally unbearably sinister. I had worried about my children since before my eldest was born: would they be unhappy? Struggle with depression? Get addicted to drugs? Have unhappy relationships?

But this, with Carter, was something different. I began to see his face on every muttering homeless person I saw. The possibilities for his future brought me to my knees: life on the streets, drug addiction, prison, catatonia, a death like that of Kelly Thomas, an act like the one committed by Jared Loughner, and most of all, suicide.

And then, suddenly, the self-help advice about living in the present (If you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, what are you doing to the present? Pissing on it.) as some lofty self-actualization goal was bullshit.

I didn’t need to learn to live in the present to make my life nicer. I needed to learn to live in the present to survive.

The fear still overwhelms me sometimes, but I have become adept at putting my blinders back on my face so that I see exactly what is in front of me. Assess the present situation (Is he anxious? Raging? Manic? Delusional? Too disassociated to leave the house? If he’s calm, is it a fragile calm or is it robust enough that we might make it through a fun activity?) and act accordingly. On any given night, I may sleep, and I may not. I roll with it because there is no other way. Fighting against what is will only bring heartache.

To understate the point in a most dramatic way: rolling with it is not in my nature.

Jorene used to tell me, “Don’t do battle with God. God doesn’t fight fair and God always wins.” True enough. Also true: mental illness doesn’t fight fair, and you never know when you’ll be able to beat it and when it will beat you. There is very little information out there about the prognosis for kids like Carter, and what there is, is not nice. Add to that the fact that Carter has other issues beyond his social/emotional/behavioral ones and, well… I can’t think of any good reasons to think about it.

The future still exists. I imagine Jacob working hard as a skilled craftsperson, happily creating beautiful things and enjoying his work. I envision Abbie arguing a case in front of a jury, firm and impassioned and brilliant, and driving home satisfied with a job well done. I see Spencer creating huge murals, fully immersed in his art and stepping back and finding that other people love his work almost as much as he does. I see them with lives filled with relationships and love. I also fear the other possibilities, that they will somehow settle for less than they are capable, for lives that will not burn hot and bright.

The future exists, too, in my dreams for myself as a writer and all I hope to do in the next thirty years and in the hopes Brian and I have of changing some of the laws and institutions that hurt children with mental illness.

But with Carter, I wear my blinders. Even when I prepare for his future by studying our options for when he turns 14 (the age at which a child can refuse all medications and treatment in New Mexico), and 18 (when he will have all the legal rights and responsibilities of an adult whether he is prepared for that or not), I am learning in the abstract. Puberty hangs 3-5 years in front of us and I refuse to look.

I’ve been criticized for what others view as negativity. Dream big! they say, as if that dreaming would make the dreams real. While I am far from giving up hope for a happy, fulfilling life for Carter, it is not easy to dream when almost all the evidence in front of me speaks to continued struggle.

He is very sick right now (though not the sickest he has ever been) and I am thrust again into the reality of this awful thing, this unforgiving, relentless, loathsome illness that came to us like a lightning strike, this thing that impacts almost every minute of every day of his life.

I keep my mind right here in my skull. My heart wants to bleed for the people living on the streets, most of them tormented by voices and visions and brutal delusions so much like the ones that make Carter suspicious of the water I give him and my reassurances that there are no bugs in his hair, and I won’t allow it. My heart can’t bleed for them without putting Carter’s face on the fronts of their heads. I feel that tug and I turn away, not because I am callused but because I’m not.

My mind lights on a thought—will he ever learn to read, perhaps, or will medicine and delusions rob him of his already limited cognitive ability—and I instantly yank it back. I help him sleep and reassure him when he can’t. I try to help him get out of the car without pounding all four door locks 12 times apiece. I count to ten when I’m angry and usually succeed in not screaming at him. I feed him breakfast and I feed him pills. I restrain him when necessary and tell him sternly that I will not let him hurt himself, ever. I help his brother and sister live with their brother’s constant symptoms and try to find ways to meet their needs in spite of Carter’s intense demands. Whenever possible, I put some joy into Carter’s day because he has so much less of it than the rest of us do.

And I keep my mind right here, right now.

The Future
Rainer Maria Rilke

The future: time’s excuse
to frighten us; too vast
a project, too large a morsel
for the heart’s mouth.

Future, who won’t wait for you?
Everyone is going there.
It suffices you to deepen
the absence that we are.

The Transcendent Familiar 7: Choking on the Ashes

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 3.1 (except it’s less of a part and more of an interlude)
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
If you haven’t read parts 1-6, that’s OK. This one stands pretty well all by itself.

Peek with me into a house and observe the family therein.

There’s the dad, young and handsome, laughing at two tiny children who are splashing and playing in the bath.

There’s the mom, also young, and she would be pretty if she didn’t look so tired and puffy, getting small jammies out of dresser drawers.

The dad lifts the older of the two children out of the bath and towels him off. The boy runs across the hall and into the bedroom where the mom is waiting. He flings his tiny body onto his bed, howling, “To infinity…and beyond!”

“Silly boy!” the mom says, and she reaches for him, pajamas at the ready, and he grabs her arms, pulling her to the bed with him.

“Read Sam, Mommy! Can we read Sam?”

“Again? Jacob, we have tons of books! Let’s read a different book, OK?”

“No,” and the little boy shakes his head firmly. “Read Sam.”

“OK,” the mom sighs, “but jammies first.”

The little girl comes in then, all pink pudge and halo of ginger hair. She climbs onto her brothers bed, imitating his shouts with her own, “Ifity! To ifity!”

They are beautiful children—healthy and exuberant and sweet. The mom puts a diaper on the little girl and helps both children with their pajamas. She reads Green Eggs and Ham while the boy sucks on two of his fingers and the girl sucks on her binky.

The mom tucks the little boy into his bed while the dad tucks the little girl into hers. They pass each other in the hall, switching rooms so that she can kiss the little girl and he can kiss the little boy.

The dad goes to the couch in the living room and turns on the television. The mom moves past him, to a desk in the den where she turns on a computer. She connects to the internet and spends an hour on UseNet, reading and responding to messages on boards about depression, marriage, politics, and parenting.

At 8:00, her husband appears in the doorway. “Hey, you wanna get it on?” he asks, and she turns to him, fear and disgust plain on her face.

“I…” she begins, but he interrupts her.

“God, you make me sick. How do you think we’ll save this marriage if you won’t give me the one thing I want? Why the fuck would I want to touch you, anyway? Look at yourself! Look at you!”

She does. She looks down at her stained shorts and sloppy t-shirt and her face is desperate and despondent for a moment. She slumps in her chair.

“Jesus, you don’t even try,” he says, shaking his head. “It’s a good thing the people in that goddamn computer can’t see you or they’d tell you to go fuck yourself.”

“Like you’re any better,” she says, standing and moving toward him. “What the hell is that? Wanna get it on? Is that… what? Romance? Love? You haven’t said two words to me since you came home from work!”

“Whatever. I’m sick of talking to you. Why don’t you just get the fuck out? If you won’t have sex with me there’s no point. Just go away.”

“Fine,” she says. “I’ll get the kids.”

“Like hell you will! You won’t take my kids out of this house!” he shouts, and one of the children cries out. He blocks the woman’s path so that she can’t go down the hall to the bedrooms.

“I’m taking the kids!” she screams at him. “Move!”

He laughs at her, shoves her backwards into a bookshelf. She looks stunned as books and photos thump to the floor. He is nearly nose to nose with her, shouting, “Those kids are mine. I’ll tell the judge you’ve been in the nut hatch and you’ll never see them again! You could just kill yourself right now and no one would give a shit. You’re crazy! Fat and crazy! You disgust me!”

There is another cry from one of the children. The woman makes another attempt to push her way past her husband and he shoves her again. This time she lands on the floor atop the books and photos.

She sees the phone amid the clutter and grabs it, running for the back door as she dials. “Dad?” she says into the phone, stepping onto the back patio. “I need you to come over right now.”

She waits on the back patio until she hears her dad’s truck in the driveway. Walking through the house she sees her husband, still standing sentry near the opening to the hallway. “My dad is here,” she says.

He shakes his head and smirks at her a little, then sits down on the couch and turns on the TV.

When her dad comes into the house, the mom picks up the children, one in each arm, and takes them to the car. She buckles them into their seats and drives the six blocks to her parents’ house. She sings the children back to sleep then lays, listening to her babies’ breath, until dawn. She does not cry.

At breakfast, her parents ask her, “What happened?”

“Just a fight,” she says.

“You should go home after we eat,” her mom says, “before it turns into a big deal.”

“Yeah,” says her dad, “the longer you wait the more uncomfortable it will be.”

And so she does.


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What else could I write?
I don’t have the right.
What else should I be?
All apologies.

In the Beginning

Here’s the thing: in the beginning, everyone is lost and alone.

No matter how a person goes from being parent to parent of a child with disabilities, in the beginning the world turns itself ass-end-up.

Whenever the news comes or the realization dawns—during pregnancy, immediately or shortly after birth or adoption, or later—there is a period of disoriented scrambling that is made up of some combination fear, grief, and shock.

In the beginning, the air is filled with new words—diagnoses, symptoms, tests, therapies, medicines, treatments, programs, prognoses, so many acronyms—and schedules are thick with new places to go and new people to see.

All at once, there are arrangements to be made, waiting lists to which the child’s name must be added, professionals’ credentials to be verified, sources of assistance to be researched, potential therapies to be chosen.

And meanwhile, the grief and fear.

We take our children everywhere, make sure they have every evaluation, test, and assessment, travelling across town or across states or across the globe. We drive them to see the best available health care providers we can access, sit up all night researching medical and educational options. We learn to provide care at home or spend hours sitting in the hospital. We learn new methods of discipline, feeding, communicating, educating, loving—whatever our children need, we try to find a way to provide it.

And meanwhile, the grief and fear.

We wait. In between crises, we wait. We wait in exam rooms and hallways; we wait for phone calls and lab results. We wait for meetings, appointments, and insurance company decisions. We wait on schools, therapists, and doctors as we claw our way through layer after layer after layer of red tape.

We learn a new language. We learn what our insurance companies will and will not cover. We learn special education law. We learn the intricacies of our children’s diagnoses. We learn how to take care of our kids under extraordinary circumstances. Some of us learn to say goodbye.

And meanwhile, the grief and fear.

We show up. We arrive early, well-prepared, steely-eyed and strong, for confrontations with educators, health care professionals, and insurance company representatives.

We don’t cry until we get home, usually.

We find educators and health care providers who will give our children what they need and we weep with gratitude.

And meanwhile, the grief and fear.

People tell us we are heroes. They ask how do you do it and they say you must be very special. They say I could never do what you do.

And we smile because we know this secret: that we are utterly ordinary.

Some people tell us that we are fools. They question our decisions about treatment, ask us if we have tried diet X, therapy Y, or system Z. They wonder aloud about causes, ask probing questions, look at us with one eyebrow cocked.

And we smile because we know this secret: that there is no right thing to do and there is no wrong thing to do. There is only the next thing to do.

And meanwhile, the grief and fear.

The landscape around us is unfamiliar as relationships change. Some friends disappear; some family members judge us. Marriages are strained and some of them rupture. Siblings feel hurt, angry, and afraid.

Our economic lives are violently altered as days are missed from work or jobs are quit or lost and medical bills grow to outsize proportions.

Our own health suffers. We struggle to find the time and energy to attend to our own needs for healthy food, exercise, and medical care. We lose many, many hours of sleep.

We earn our PhDs during the wee hours of the night, studying, researching, questioning, agonizing, wondering, and wringing our hands. We discuss, consult, and discuss again. We watch our children, attuned to every slightest shift. When medications or therapies change, we turn up the gain on our radar until we jump at every slightest twitch or sound.

And meanwhile, the grief and fear.

Here’s the thing: in the beginning, everyone is lost and alone.

Here’s the other thing: in the beginning, everyone feels like the only person who has ever felt so lost and alone.

Eventually, the beginning begins to end and we find that our feet are under us, that we have found a new normal. We discover that we are ourselves again; changed, to be sure, but released from the shock that has blistered us for months or years.

We create a new life for ourselves and our families; not at all what we expected, built with tape and paper clips and bits cast-off string, but we find that we have become adept at making things work, even when nothing works.

We find new friends to replace the ones who left us. We find support for ourselves and find that we are better able to support our children.

And meanwhile, the grief and fear, now shared.

The Transcendent Familiar 6: Love Is Not a Victory March

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 3.1 (except it’s less of a part and more of an interlude)
Part 4
Part 5
However, maybe you didn’t read those, and maybe you want to read one post and not 6. Fair enough. Here’s what you need to know: Robert was my first husband. We married in May of 1993 and our son Jacob was born in December of that same year. We were both very young and our relationship was always chaotic and difficult.

During Jacob’s first year, I controlled every bite of food that I put into my body. I subsisted on vegetable soup, oatmeal, and dry salted potatoes, a diet so low in fat that eventually I became deficient in fat-soluble vitamins, and by consequence was covered in bruises. Every time I scratched an itch, bumped a table, or Jacob bit my shoulder, I would get a black-and-blue mark all out of proportion the to the injury. My doctor sent me to have something like 20 vials of blood drawn so he could test it for God-knows-what-all, and we all breathed a sigh of relief when those tests proved I didn’t have leukemia. The doctor seemed unconcerned that I was so thin I wasn’t menstruating and had to sleep 12 hours out of every 24 in order to maintain my brutal workout schedule. He prescribed a multi-vitamin and sent me home.

During that year, I also kept our house in pristine order. Everything was perfect. I washed my cloth diapers and hung them out to dry and they were so perfectly even and white out there on the line, they looked like movie star teeth. I swept the floors daily and mopped them twice a week. My dishes were clean and there were no sticky jam spills in my refrigerator. My jeans were size 4 and my breasts had all but disappeared.

Everything was perfect.

Eventually, not long after Jacob’s first birthday, I lost the thread that connected me to whatever force enabled me to do all of those things that were so unnatural for me. I ate some cookies or I watched TV instead of cleaning the bathroom, and soon it all unraveled and I was me again, laundry half done, dinner unmade, my nose in a book, and candy bar wrappers hidden at the bottom of the trash can. Robert told me I was “marshmallowing out” again and asked how a person who couldn’t cook anything more complicated than Jell-O could possibly manage to get fat.

When I lost hold of the thread, my period came back, and in April 1995, the rabbit done died again.

When I was four months pregnant, Robert got a new job and he asked me not to come visit him there, in spite of the fact that he would be working less than a mile from our house.

“Why? Don’t you think Jacob wants to see where you’re working?”

“You can come when you look more pregnant. I don’t want people thinking I have a fat wife.”

I didn’t respond. I didn’t know how.

My weight had fluctuated widely since my late teens, but during my pregnancy with Abbie I became genuinely fat for the first time. Part of that was almost certainly due to the fact that I entered the pregnancy on the rebound from a year of near-starvation, but also, I was angry. With food to nourish my brain, I couldn’t ignore that anger, and since I couldn’t starve it away anymore, I ate it. I ate my anger with omelettes and toast, with roast beef and mashed potatoes, with ice cream and cookies. I ate and ate and ate until I had stretch marks in places I didn’t know people could get stretch marks and I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.

I was so ashamed, I almost never left the house. All my emotional and mental energy was consumed with food and weight, planning how I would find that thread and get back to being the perfect, tidy, slender person I had been a year earlier. I spent hours lost in a daze as I planned the diet I would pursue beginning the instant I wasn’t pregnant anymore.

Awful as it was, it was better than feeling so violently, helplessly angry.

And then there was this:

Oh, the pink juicy wonder of my Abbie. She smelled so good, I thought I might accidentally suck her up my nose. She was round and rosy and sweet and always, unmistakably, her own person, sharp and opinionated and stubborn.

Two babies were a heavy load on a weak and shaky marriage. Soon after Abbie’s birth, the cracks in our relationship’s foundation began to grow. By the time she started to crawl, I could fit my hand in those cracks, and when she learned to walk I discovered that I could climb right into some of those cracks and take a nap.

Maybe there’s a God above
All I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah…

Part 7