Dear Class Of 2016 or Whenever

 

I haven’t written is quite some time and this is bound to be a little rusty, but I am gonna try. Those of you who read my blogs previously know that some of my last posts were over a year ago when my parent’s home burned down. Sadly, I haven’t had any desire to use my words since. I’m not sure if I’m totally ready now, but I’m going to try to see where it takes me.

I was looking at graduation pictures on Facebook and I was admiring these young individuals. I was thinking how they probably believe that they have their whole life ahead of them. I started to think back to when I was graduating and how I thought the world was mine, or at least could be, if I wanted.

All of these graduation pictures and memories got me thinking of how much I’d love to give a commencement speech someday.  What an honor! Well, I’m not famous and never will be, I also am not a scholar, in fact I spelled scholar wrong before spell check. So my chances of some educational institution requesting my words of wisdom to grace the ears of their graduating class… is less than zero. So I thought I’d write my commencement speech instead…. To the graduating class of  2016 or whenever.

Dear Class of 2016 or Whenever,

What an honor it is to stand before you today as you embark on a new journey. You have all worked so hard to achieve such an accomplishment that should not be taken lightly. I stood in your shoes before and my eyes were filled with dreams and goals and excitement. I too was ready to take on the world.

Since that day over a decade ago, our world has become a very different place. So many things have changed socially, technologically, environmentally… Your world is a very different world than the world I walked out into, but make no mistakes, it is still your world for the taking.

You all have the chance to make this world something amazing. You all have the opportunity to make a change. You will leave here with a fire inside of you or with a black hole. Some of you will challenge yourselves and some of you will just get by.

For those of you that choose to challenge, I implore you to challenge not only yourself but someone else. We are all on this earth for a reason. Each one of us has a God-given gift. Even the worst of us, has something to offer if we can just find it. The difficulty is working together to see each other’s gifts. My gift may or may not be words, but without each of you sitting here to listen, there is no gift at all. I need you, just as you will need someone else. Don’t ever forget that.

For those of you that will just get by, I tell you that you are not alone. Even if you don’t set out to just get by, and it happens by mistake, know that it can happen to the best of us. This life is hard and it will take everything that you have. Blood, sweat and tears is not a joke. Life will literally demand each of those and more as payment for just breathing some days. My advice to you, is find one of those challengers. Become their friend, spend time with them. Let their fire slowly spark yours. You too have that God-given gift, sometimes we just need help finding it.

As much as times may have changed from my day in that cap and gown untill today, I will tell you that some things will never change. A quote from my dad, who is not famous either, “You get nothing for nothing”.

Hear those words. You Get Nothing For Nothing. Let them rest inside of your head. Repeat them over and over as my Dad did. I thought that if I heard that phrase one more time growing up, I’d lose my mind. Here I am saying it to you.

These five words will relate to everything that you will do for the rest of your life. Yes, five words from my nobody Dad to his nobody daughter that I am sharing with you today. If you get anything out of this speech at all, get this. You Get Nothing For Nothing.

If you give no effort, in your education you will get nothing out of it.

If you give no compassion, you will get none in return

If you give no faith, you will get no peace.

If you give no work, you will get no success.

If you give no understanding, you will get misunderstood.

If you give no love, you will get no love.

If you give no forgiveness, you will get no grace.

If you give nothing, you will get nothing.

There is a price on everything in this world. More so today than ever. You will never get something for nothing. If it is free, it is garbage or it will be in a week. Nothing is given away anymore, and I’m not sure if it ever was. Promotions come at a cost, love comes at a cost, dreams come at a cost. Life comes at a cost. Everything costs something. Remember that, save up and give everything you can to get what you want, but don’t ever expect that it will come to you for free. Don’t ever think that you deserve something that you didn’t bust your ass to get. You Get Nothing For Nothing.

This world is yours. It is ours. Make it the place that you dream that it can be. Work hard and fight for each other. Fight for everyone. Give all that you have and receive all that the world has to offer. Remember that you deserve nothing, but can earn anything! My best to you Class of 2016 or Whenever!

Love,

Cherise

 

 

 

Why Me?

Dear World,

Why me?

Why did I choose this checkout lane at the grocery store? It was the shortest when I got into it, and now I’m seeing why. The cashier is one hundred and ninety and has scanned one thing in the time that it took me to shop for my full cart load. I’d move to another one but they are all full now with three people deep. Why me?

Driving to work this morning I wonder why did I get into this lane? It was moving so much quicker than the one I was in, and of course as soon as I make the switch, it comes to a screeching halt! Now I will be late for sure. Why me?

Why did I loose my job?

Why did I wreck my car?

Why did my husband leave?

Why did an eight year old die of cancer?

Why do my kids hate me?

Why did my parents house burn down?

Why did my father pass away too soon?

Why me? Why you? Why any of us?

We all ask it. We ask it over and over when things just sort of suck. It’s like, if we just had a reason why the world is blowing up in my face right now, I might be able to understand it and move on.

I sat with my Mom last night and she said those very words to me. “Why me?” Her eyes filled with tears, not enough to start dripping, she is far too tough for that. Just enough that I could see the little red veins start to pulse and the tiny waves of clear liquid put a shimmer over her fading green eyes. “I’m a good person, why me?” and then my eyes began to fill.

I remember when my grandma Scott passed away so many years ago. It was what I remember as the very first time that I questioned “why”. I was still in high school and though we were separated by many miles and several states, I was very close to my grandma Scott. She was the world to me, and to everyone else that knew her.

A few months prior to her passing we visited her for the last time. The car ride lasted about fourteen hours and felt like six years. It was agony knowing that this was the last time we would see her alive. Say everything you have to because this is it. Horrible! Why her? She was a good person. I watched as cancer took her and destroyed her. It let her have a comeback only to tease us all into believing that she was alright. Then it sucker punched her and come back worse than before. That was the last punch. KO

I prayed every night. Maybe at the time I didn’t know how to pray, but I still did. I would try to make deals with God. I would say “I’ll never do this again if you just save her” or “I will be the best kid ever if she just lives”. I begged, I pleaded and every night my prayers went unanswered so I thought. When she passed away I wondered why. Why?

It has taken me until a few years ago to realize and come to terms with the fact that I don’t get to know why. I don’t get to have that information. Maybe someday I will, but here on this earth, I probably will never know why. I won’t know why the ones that we love so dearly leave us way too soon. I won’t ever know why my parents have to rebuild their lives after over thirty years in a home, because of a fire. I won’t ever know why I am sitting in front of this computer right now instead of somewhere else. We don’t get to know the why, but I like to imagine that it’s a really good reason.

January 9th 2015

It is midnight and everyone in my parents house is sound asleep. My brother who normally stays elsewhere on the weekend has decided to stay at home. He is deep asleep after an evening out with his buddies. No one can smell smoke because it started in the basement. By the time it reaches the main floor, the fire is already too extensive to escape. The smoke fills the first floor like a wave of death and then makes its way up the stairs to take the rest of the living. The smoke alarms go off but at this point there is no floor. The roof is already spewing flames and the beds that they sleep in are now coffins. Why?

This easily could have been their story and it was not. We don’t question why it didn’t happen that way. We are thankful and feel blessed. We praise God that he spared all of my family. We are beyond grateful that this was not our reality. We don’t question why it didn’t happen this way.

Instead, it happened just as it was supposed to and life went on just as it was planned. Like a well rehearsed play, Saturday morning came and when the fire began, two people were in the house instead of four or five that could normally have been. Two people made it out of that house. My Mom rescued my niece and she continued to run in and out of the house to save their beloved pets. She saved two of their five dogs. We ask why? Why just two, why not all five?

It turns your stomach and it makes you breath faint when you think of it, but the reality is that we don’t get to know.

I hate to replay that day, and yet it continues to rerun in my head. It is on a continuous loop and each time, I look at the different people. For my family, this was the worst day. If I look at the movie with those eyes, all I see is my family. I see our pain. I see our lives changed, charred, ruined. I see my Mom’s black lips that are chapped and quivering. I see my Dad’s blank stare in the direction of his life. He watches lifelessly as it evaporates into the sky above. I see my younger brother’s heart peal from his chest and die in front of me. He was born there and now it is dead. I see my older brother confused and bewildered as his daughter is taken off to the hospital to be checked out. I see my sister go into frantic mode as time races and everything is happening so fast.  Every thing I see is hazy and it is like I look through water beads. All of our faces are chapped within minutes from the stream of tears and the extreme cold.  I see us. I don’t see anything else or anyone else around us. The firemen don’t have faces and the on lookers don’t have names. There is no one but us.

Then I replay it once more and see those faces of those people that were a part of our worst day. Those firemen that were at our house. Now they have faces. They are people in the flesh and they have lives just like ours that are going on right now. They have families and loved ones and they have good times and suffer tragedy just like we do. I think that fireman Joe, spent his morning at my parents house. He fought hard to get the blaze under control. He was on his knees in the ice cold slush that covered our street. I watched as he knelt for balance as he held the hose and aimed it directly at the devil inside. He swayed only once and caught himself quickly. The force of the water exploding from his hands.

I think about Joe. He shared the worst day with us. Why?

Where would Joe have been if he hadn’t been on McNeilly road kneeling in the ice cold water.

Would he have been in a car driving down the interstate on the way to see his sister that lived a couple hours away? She just had a baby and since it was his first day off in two weeks he couldn’t wait to see his niece. Suddenly a patch of black ice reached out and grabbed his tires to spin his Honda Civic into oncoming traffic leaving him crushed between the layers of metal until rescue workers could finally cut him from his seat. Would he have been paralyzed from the waist down and suddenly his career of being a firefighter was over? His whole life that is what he wanted to do and in an instant it is gone. For Joe, being at my parents house that morning was the why.

I think about the reporter lady that was taking pictures. She was very kind, asked me a few questions and seemed genuinely concerned for my family. I don’t know her name, if she gave it to me, I don’t remember. She was there that day. Why?

Where would she have been if she hadn’t been there looking through her lenses magnifying the horror of our lives with every shutter snap of that camera?

I imagine that she would have been on her way to the office to print some pictures from the day before. She woke up late and didn’t have time to brew coffee before she left. All she needed was just one cup and she’d be awake. She stopped at the convenience store that was a block from her office.

She never stops here for coffee, but it was early and she thought for sure it would be quick.

My parent’s house never caught on fire so she was not there. Instead the news reported two people killed in a convenience store robbery. One woman and a man that was behind the counter. The woman was found laying in a puddle of coffee that had poured over her chest as she fell to the floor. For her, being at my parent’s house that morning is the why.

I can imagine each and every person involved in that day and I can even think to the future. Maybe it was because my parents needed a home that they could grow old in. Maybe it was because they needed to know that their kids could step up and care for them. Maybe it was a wake up call to get their things in order in case they should leave this earth unexpectedly. Maybe it was to show them how many people care about them. People that don’t even know them that drive past their house every day on their way to work that just care.

I can come up with a million more maybes and a billion more whys. They might be right. They might be wrong. We don’t get to know.

We don’t get to know.

It’s not fair. It sucks, but we don’t get to know why.

We do get to have faith that the reason is important. My parent’s loss could be someone else’s gain. It could be their own gain. We just don’t know. Time will go on and we will start to heal and rebuild as soon as we stop asking why.

I pray that over time the why no longer matters. I pray that my family can look at the worst day with the eyes of someone else and see that it was someone else’s best. I pray that we can all trust in God, that it does happen for a reason and while we may never understand it, it is perfectly planned.

Amen.

Cherise

P.S.

Some words that have helped me to remember that it is all a part of the plan…

“If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it” Not sure where this quote originated but a friend shared it.

“It’s ok to get angry with God. He can take it. Just don’t stay angry. It takes courage to believe that the best is yet to come.” Robin Roberts