Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Last week my family sat in the conference room at the Victim-Witness Center in the DA’s office.  We talked about what we could expect over the next year.  He told us it would be a long process.  Done in a year if we are lucky.  The Victim Advocate reminded us that even then it won’t make everything better.  We already knew that.  No matter what happens – Jace will never be back, and that is the only thing we want. 

The ADA talked about life sentences and how sometimes it can be hard for a jury to come to grips with someone young spending the rest of his or her life in prison.  I wanted to stand on the table and scream, “WHAT ABOUT US!  WE’VE BEEN SENTENCED TO A LIFE OF UNHAPPINESS!”  We are locked in the prison of our pain. 

There have been moments over the last six weeks that I felt death would be a blessing.  That I would only be able to spend the rest of my breathing moments waiting for my time to leave this world and this pain behind.  There have been times I felt envious of my dad.  He has a 60% chance of getting to see Jace in the next year if the cancer wins. I don’t want to have to feel like this.  No one should have to feel like this.  This is no way to live. 

The thing is, I haven’t been found guilty.  My life doesn’t have to end, even though it feels like it’s over.  If I continue to let pain bind me forever, it will be because I refuse to use the key I’m holding to unlock the chains.  So I’m not going to sit around waiting to die.  I’m going to do things that make me happy.  I’m not going to spend time being hurt by people I don’t need or getting angry about things that won’t matter next week.  I’m not going to hide for fear of what others might think.  I won’t feel guilty because I’m alive or because I can smile when the sun hits my face, because in living each day – I glorify God. 

I will write.  I will sing off key and laugh too loud.  I will tell jokes that everyone will have to stop and think about before deciding they are funny.  I will play with children.  I will give money and time away to  people who don’t deserve it.  I will go to church.  I will eat pizza and feel guilty for not feeling guilty.  I will cuss because I want to be funny but never because I’m angry.  I will make everyone I just ate dinner with put their hands in the middle of a circle outside the restaurant and shout, “Justin Beiber!” on three.  I will drink Starbucks.  I will spend time with people who make me feel good.  I will travel.  I will cry at the Wailing Wall and swim in the ocean.  I will wish I hadn’t when I can’t get all the sand out of that crevice sand should never go in.  I will get lost in good books and long for someone to kiss me goodnight. 

And I will cry.

I will mourn.

I will let the sadness have its moment each day.

 I will miss him and dream about him when I sleep.

I will get choked up when my best friend’s children get on the phone and say, “Hi, Aunt Stacey.”

These are things I must do.  This is what is right.  This is how I will be set free. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Huge Love

I started this blog to tell you what was happening with Jace. I want to continue it to inspire and make people feel good and make everyone understand Jesus better. There isn’t much I can tell now about the case and updates about my day to day would pretty much say – I get up. I cry. I work. I cry. I sit around waiting to go to bed. I cry. I sleep. I want to write, but how do I try to be inspirational when I just feel like crap? So I’ll go on with this blog writing about whatever comes to mind from day to day as I go through this. I’ll talk about God and loss and faith and sorrow and gratitude. A recent conversation with Tim Roberts had me thinking about God and Christianity.

So yes – I feel like my life is crap right now. Did you know it is possible to love Jesus and feel like crap? You can love him and have a bad day. You can still love him and act like a jerk sometimes. You can love him and not say hallelujah at the end of every sentence. Sometimes Christianity seems like a product that is marketed to people that haven’t bought into it yet. People are told – get happy, healthy, and wealthy – just by coming to church! Other times it is marketed as a set of rules: don’tdrink, don’t have sex, don’t use major cuss words (minor ones are ok sometimes depending on the context and as long as it’s not on Sunday). If you do use a major cuss word on Sunday, you will probably burn for all eternity.

I’m convinced that being a Christian isn’t so much about what I do or don’t do. It’s not about what I get out of the deal – not about my return on investment. It’s not about me keeping or breaking the rules. It’s about the fact that God loves me. He loves me. He loves me. He loves me. I used to roll my eyes at my mom before, when she would tell me I couldn’t understand how much she loved me. She loved me so much that when I made bad choices, it made her crazy and willing to do anything to get me back to being safe. I think through my relationship with Jace, I started to understand what a parent’s love is like. I wasn’t his birth parent. I didn’t even adopt him. But I was there singing him to sleep, getting him up and dressed in the mornings, and alongside my sister , mom, and dad, trying to teach him to be good. I understand going a little crazy wanting to protect him, because I loved him so much, and now that he’s gone, I understand the immense pain of losing a child. I know maybe my feelings aren’t even as huge as if he had really been my son, but I can’t imagine them being any huger. I know for sure my feelings aren’t as huge as the feelings God has for us.

In helping to raise Jace, I really wanted him to share. I wanted him to say please and thank you. I wanted him to be a good friend and to be kind to people. I wanted him to do these things because I knew it would make his life better. I knew his life would be easier and more fulfilling if he followed the guidelines we set out for him. That is why God wants us to be “good.” Not because he is ready and excited to pounce on us and punish us if we are “bad” but because our lives will be better if we stay within his guidelines. Messing up – treating someone badly, gossiping, punching someone in the face, lying, cheating, stealing, killing - doesn’t mean he loves us less. Do you love your kids less when they break your rules?

It’s not about rules. It’s not about being one way or not being another way. It’s about the fact that he loves us. Kids ultimately don’t like to disappoint their parents. I remember crying more because my mom was unhappy with me than because I was getting spanked. That is why I want to be “good.” Not because I am afraid of going to hell. Not because I will be struck by lightning if I sin. Not even because the Bible says I should. I want to be “good,” because I know Jesus loves me, and I know it hurts him when I don’t do what he asks of me. He loves me so much, that I don’t want to disappoint him. I want to help other people, be kind, and do good things, because I think it makes him proud of me.

That’s what it means when people use the cheesy saying, “It’s all about a personal relationship.” I am thankful that loving Jace helped me understand God’s love for me more. Loving Jace has made me a better person. My sister said,“I want to live a life that makes God and Jace proud.” That’s right. I don’t want to take the gifts that God and Jace gave me for granted. I want to take the huge love that I learned from Jace and make my life worthy of his love and the love that God gave me through his son.

Monday, July 12, 2010

It's not Fair

It’s not fair that God answers other people’s prayers and not mine. It’s not fair that when other people face losses, they have husbands and kids to hug them. It’s not fair that more bad things happen to me than anyone else. It’s not fair that Jace was the only good thing in our lives, and he was stolen from us. It’s not fair that we rescued him only for him to be murdered later. It’s not fair that I have to cry while everyone else is happy. It’s not fair that my world has ended, and everyone else’s is still turning. It’s not fair that some people can eat a lot and be skinny. It’s not fair that everything works out for some people and nothing works out for me. It’s not fair that my dad has cancer. It’s not fair that my immune system is attacking itself. It’s not fair that the day before Jace died I thought life was finally looking up. It’s not fair that I work with parents who don’t take good care of their children but those kids will all get to grow up. It’s not fair that my mom doesn’t get to be a grandma. It’s not fair that I had to be Jace’s aunt and not his mom. It’s not fair that when my friends talk about their kids I don’t have one to talk about. It’s not fair that when I do talk about Jace, everyone acts awkward. It’s not fair that the person who loved me more than anyone else is dead. It’s not fair that the person I loved more than anyone else is dead. It’s not fair that no one ever listens to me. It’s not fair that I have to hurt so much. It’s not fair that I have to question God. It’s not fair that people I thought cared about me act like nothing happened. It’s not fair that Jesus gets to hold Jace, and I don’t. It’s not fair that some people’s lives seem easy. It’s not fair that people whose lives seem easy think they have it bad. It’s not fair that I have to rely on myself. It’s not fair that I don’t have more vacation time. It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It’s not fair.

End Tantrum.

People always say to do what your heart tells you. That’s not possible for me right now. My heart is broken. It’s not working right. My heart feels like no one cares, like I’m all alone, like the sun will never come out, like God has abandoned me. So I’m living by what I know – not what I feel. I know I am loved. I know nothing can separate me from the love of God. I know it will not always hurt this much. I know good will win.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Big Picture

Sorry for the lapse in updating. My sister and I went with my parents to St. Louis for the long weekend. Getting away from it all with four really sad and grouchy people wasn’t exactly a vacation, but no one got hurt. Tuesday morning my dad had an appointment at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes Jewish Hospital to discuss a stem cell transplant. (Not the controversial stem cells – they get these from grownups). My dad has Myelodysplastic syndrome which is a blood and bone marrow cancer. This transplant is the only way to “cure” him, but it in itself is very risky.

I’m sure you can imagine my family’s stress at the possibility of two huge losses in one year. Right now it’s really hard to pray and believe for miracles, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to. The thing about God is that he knows the big picture. You know how when you were in middle school that girl named ____ made your life a living hell? You thought it couldn’t possibly be any worse. You thought the world was over. You thought the pain would never end. Now looking back at middle school, I bet it is barely a blip on your radar.

Now I can smile as I remember the time I fell walking home from the bus stop, and the boy I liked asked me if I had a nice trip. I didn’t think it was funny then. But the horrors of middle school came and went, and now in the big picture of my life – those things that happened weren’t really that big of a deal. I bet that’s what our present lives are like to God. It’s almost scary to think about, but compared to eternity our earthly lives are barely going to be a blip on the radar. Right now everything hurts, but one day when I’m happy and free and skinny in heaven – all this pain isn’t going to matter so much anymore. So even if everything in this world falls apart – it’s going to get better. It won’t last forever. It’s temporary.

Still – I want to see the goodness of God in the land of the living. (That’s in the Bible)

Every night before Jace went to bed he would pray. He would do the usual thanking God for all the people he could think of – Thank you for Mommy, thank you for Stacey, thank you for Gama, thank you for Papa, thank you for Anoo, thank for Manda, thank you for aunt Nancy, thank you for Jack (the dog), thank you for Camon, thank you for Dani, thank you for Tommy, thank you for Domi – ique, thank you for the gas man (the plummer), thank you for Miss Sandy, thank you for Miss Pat, Thank you for Donnie, thank you for Ani – a, thank you for Regan, thank for Cracker (Kiefer sounded just like cracker – I don’t know???), thank you for Mickey Mouse, thank you for my ears, thank you for my monster truck, thank you for my dino. At the end of his very long thanks, he would always end his prayer – “And please make Papa all better.”

My mom told me that she is pretty sure Jace is telling Jesus to make Papa all better now. I can picture him tugging on Jesus’ pants (I think he probably wears pants now – it’s the 21st century) and telling him, “Hey! Make Papa all better, RIGHT NOW!” He was going through a bossy stage right before he died.

I still miss him every second. I wonder if life will ever be ok again. I still wake up every morning hoping this isn’t real. The pain is so sharp and so acute that I tend to start balling at random moments – like right now when I’m sitting in Starbucks typing this. For those close to us – I know it’s hard and awkward, but thank you for your hugs and your time and your help. It can’t be fun to be around people who periodically break down and cry and talk about weird things and tell you stories about a dead kid, but we need it. Thanks for reading this. It helps me to write it.