Saturday, February 4, 2012

You Have No Power Here...

I wanted to reach into the past and share a story from my book Dear Cheyenne.  This came up because lately so many families have been sharing stories of the unexplainable, those ineffable experiences somewhere over the rainbow.

This is from an excerpt dated December 17, 1999.  This was 13 years back into time. It's hard to imagine this was so long ago. Still, I remember it like it was yesterday.  Ah, "Time"... as Glenda would say, "you have no power here."

Dear Cheyenne,

I am writing this at nearly midnight. Lately, I have been very sad, not just over your death but for so many other families. The deaths continue, and I am helpless to stop it.  All I can do I cry with the heartbroken families and share their pain.  

Tonight, I took Cameron, Stevie Jo, and Joshua to a holiday party for a grieving kids camp they attended this past summer.  It was being held at a Catholic church quite a distance from our home, but they really wanted to go and revisit the friends they made at camp. 

The evening was a wonderful time to reflect.  I was an “attendee” this time, instead of my usual “busy” role.  Thus, I had an opportunity to experience the celebration of remembrance.  We sang songs and viewed a slide presentation of camp. During the candle lighting, I broke down in uncontrollable tears.  I was so emotional that I had to leave the auditorium and walk to the back of the room into the foyer area.  Tears were pouring down my face, mascara blinding my eyes.   Thoughts of, “Why do I keep doing this?” and “I cannot do this anymore, I’m not strong enough,” haunted me. I specifically asked, in my heart, for a sign- for strength to continue this work. Over and over, I said to myself, "I just need a sign to keep going" and "Why am I doing this (work?)"

Just then, your big sister, Stevie Jo came to the back of the room to check on me. I looked down at her, trying to see her through the tears.

Are you okay, Mommy?” she asked.  

Yes, Sweetie,” I said, “I am just missing your baby sister.

Knowing I just needed some time alone, she went back to her seat.  

With my head down and my heart heavy, I agonized over your death in my head.  I wondered why such horrible things happened to such good parents. I struggled because it had been so long since I’d felt your presence close to me. I have been so busy lately that I haven’t made time for solitude…to tend my own profound grief four years after your death.

When I finally lifted my head and wiped my eyes, I saw something that literally stunned me.  There was a large display shelf in the foyer area on the back wall with locking glass hanging on the back wall of the auditorium.  On the shelf was a large wooden sign:


I began to laugh, almost hysterically. 

"Well, I did ask for a sign," I said wildly to myself.

So there I was, in all my insanity- laughing, crying- trying to make myself believe what I was seeing with my own eyes!

When the ceremony ended, I stood in my place, staring at the sign. I showed everyone who passed the sign; certainly they would never really understand.  But still, I had to share it. I asked several people from the church if they knew how the sign got there, or what it was used for, but no one knew. It didn’t really matter. 

I was there at that very moment, standing in that spot, asking those very questions for a reason. It was a gift. Thank you...

The pain of never seeing you grow into a beautiful young girl, never seeing your smile, or hearing your voice, or feeling you wraps your arms around my neck…or hearing you call me mommy- that pain is always there. It will be until my last dying breath. But I hold you in my heart, Cheyenne. Your love and your gifts are far bigger than the pain now.

Though I didn’t have enough time to be your mother here on Earth, I hope that you realize how much you are loved, and that love I have for you is beyond this world.

For as long as I live, I am the mother of five children- four who walk and one who soars. One who soars, beyond our world, outside of time, somewhere over the rainbow.


michelle said...

Maybe because I am athiest, I dont know but I havent seen my sign yet and I dont feel my son in nature or around me :( but that was a beautiful story and I'm glad you got your very stunning

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

Thank you Michelle! I do understand as I was an agonistic turned atheist for quite some time before her death. My beliefs are not exactly traditional- actually, not exactly well-formed- I have much confusion and uncertainty around what's beyond this... but now, I do believe in something, the ineffable, that which defies materiality. Could it be self-delusion? Of course. Do I feel it is? Deep in my heart, no. I feel its truth resonating in me like a drum being beat from the depths. Thank you for your open-heartedness.

stephanie kelly said...

wow! what a sign..i lost my infant niece years ago due to a nurse i should be able to help with is part of my training. yet when it is family..that is another story. it is amazing what your daughter has brought to your life and the lives of so many..someone so small can accomplish such great things : ) bless you and your family dr. cacciatore!


The soul still sings in the darkness telling of the beauty she found there; and daring us not to think that because she passed through such tortures of anguish, doubt, dread, and horror, as has been said, she ran any the more danger of being lost in the night. Nay, in the darkness did she, rather, find herself.

--St. John, Dark Night of the Soul

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