Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Losses and Blessings

I really don't want to write this entry. I really don't want to review this past year, because just a short glimpse back over my shoulder brings tears of both pain and gratitude, for there was loss and despair mixed with hope and blessings.

Therefore, I have decided --for your sake and mine-- to review the past year, month by month in a no-nonsense, one-to-two sentence manner. So here goes:

January: My family and I love living in our new home in Columbia, South Carolina, and we are thankful to God for such a blessing.

February: My PGAD worsens, so I have three MRI's that reveal nothing. I throw a party for Jeremy's 37th birthday in which we are surrounded by dear friends and family.

March: I have two unsuccessful nerve blocks. I try new medications, but my PGAD is unrelenting, so I set a date and make a plan to take my life.

April: My thirteen year old American Bulldog and constant companion, Sarah, dies the day before Easter. I do not sleep in my bed for a month, because I miss her sleeping beside me.

May: Jeremy gets me a new puppy, Hannah. I find a local, Christian doctor, Dr. Redmond, who specializes in Pudendal Nerve Damage and I am tested, but test is negative.

June: My friend Gretchen tells me she is going to kill herself because of her PGAD. I contact many doctors on her behalf, but none help.

July: Dr. Redmond and I begin to discuss possible Myobloc (Botox) injections for PGAD.

August: I start a fundraiser for Gretchen to get her medical help. I quit smoking cigarettes every day... only now and then do I have an occasional one or three.

September: My son turns 17 (!!!) then I turn 39, so my dear friends take me out to dinner to celebrate just a few days before I have Myobloc injections. I quit eating gluten, artificial sweeteners, dairy, and start seeing a wonderful, female Christian counselor.               

October: By the month's end, the Myobloc is helping to reduce PGAD symptoms and urgency, so I start to have hope again. I join a wonderful bible study with my dear friends.

November: We (Jeremy, Jonah, Chris, Chopper, Hannah and I) go on a family vacation to Asheville and have a truly blessed and wonderful time, despite the black bear. I start planning a Hobbit Holiday Celebration for next month.

December: On the 1st of the month, my friend Gretchen commits suicide right after her interview about PGAD appears in the Tampa Bay Times. On the 15th we have the Hobbit Holiday Celebration with our beloved family (my seester and nephew) and friends, and then we have a lovely Christmas day --just Jeremy, Jonah and I.

There is actually more to come this month, as later today Jeremy's family will be arriving to spend a few days with us and welcome in the new year.

Ooooh, the New Year! 2013. I will not do the stupid thing, as I have done before and say, "This new year will be better than last!" No. I don't expect it to be. I actually expect more good and bad events to occur, but in what proportions, I fear to guess.

I do know, in the new year, I will continue to love God, see His work and love in my family's and my life. I also know I will continue to have times that I yell at Him, ignore Him and will be utterly confused by Him.

My only prayer for this coming year is that I will be more open to inviting Him into each and every facet of my life, whether joyful or painful, and that I will grow in the knowledge of His love for me. I pray the same may be for you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mr. Huckabee, I disagree.

The video below of Mike Huckabee has gone viral on Facebook, with Christians liking and sharing and amening, and I have to say, I am sadly disappointed.

If you haven't already watched it, go ahead and play it below, and then I will explain why Mr. Huckabee's message contains hurtful, bad theology, in a tragic time when the world needs truth.

At first, in the video, everything Huckabee says seems right on. He says we can't make sense of what happened in the Connecticut shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, and he says that "Evil has visited this community." Very true.

What follows in Huckabee's answer to 'Where was God?' is where Huckabee's message takes a tragic nose-dive. Huckabee states that "For 50 years we have systematically attempted to have God removed from our schools, our public activities, but then at the moment we have a calamity, we wonder where He [God] was?"

First of all, Huckabee never defines who "we" are. Is he talking about Christians, non-Christians, or both? We don't know, and never find out.

Then Huckabee goes on to say (or make the accusation) that it's not simply the fact that we have taken prayer and bible reading out of school, but that people sue a city for having a manger scene, memorial crosses are taken down, Christian businesses are told to surrender their morals.

Now, just what is Huckabee referring to here? Could it be, oh, I don't know, persecution? Yes, what he is referring to is called persecution! So, we have some persecution coming against Christians in America? Well, praise God! Although, if we look at the examples of persecution that Huckabee sites, well, they are minor to what the first Christians experienced (being stoned to death, boiled, eaten by lions, etc.) or even what other Christians in other parts of the world are going through!

Persecution, my Christian friends, is not something that should shock us, in fact, Jesus said, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." (Matthew 5:11)

And why would we, as Christians, ever, ever expect the world to accept our beliefs, or even be glad to support us? Jesus told us, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." (John 15:18) Then, 1 Corinthians explains that unbelievers cannot comprehend Christians beliefs: "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."

Huckabee unfortunately continues by declaring, "We carefully and intentionally stopped saying things are sinful, and we call them disorders, and sometimes we even call them normal." Wait, did Huckabee just switch gears on us? Again, he says "we" but does not define who he is referring to! Since he mentioned the word "sinful", which is used mainly by Christians, are we to assume he's now speaking to us? Accusing us, too?

Now here's the real kicker: Huckabee says, "...we have escorted Him right out of our culture... and then we express our surprise that a culture without Him actually reflects what it's become."

What? America is a culture without God? I do not know what delusion Huckabee is under when it comes to the history of our American culture, but let me assure you, America has never been a "Christian culture." I'll say it again: Never. So go ahead and dismantle that lie right now. Ever since America established itself (and at the cost of over a hundred-thousand murdered Native Americans) we have had a plentiful share of war, murder, rape, and sadly, school shootings.

Yes, school shootings and massacres are nothing new in America. As far back as the 1700's, through the 1800's, 1900's and up until now, we have recorded, historical accounts of school shootings. This includes the time period when prayer and bible reading were allowed in public schools.

Following Huckabee's outrageous claim about our culture, he adds insult to injury by saying He believes God "did show up" at the shooting, as if God was not already there! What a horrible thing for Huckabee to insinuate! The Bible assures us that God has been present with every person, in every situation, even in every murder from the time Cain killed Abel! In Jeremiah 23:24 it tells us that God's Spirit fills heaven and earth, and Hebrews 4:13 states, "Nothing in all creation can hide from Him. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes."

Finally, Huckabee ends by saying that we do not need to implement a new law to stop school shootings, because there already is a law that works if we "teach it and observe it," and that law is "Thou shall not kill." Oh my, how very wrong Huckabee is, again.

It is important to note here that the law "Thou shall not kill" was given first and foremost to a people that God chose, that He entered into a covenant with, and set apart from all other people in the world. Yes, the Bible tells us that the law of God is written on every man's heart, which is why we have a conscious, however, the Israelites were the first to receive the actual commands from God, Himself, and receive the promise that would usher in Christ Jesus, who would then reconcile the world back to the Trinity. So, "Thou shall not kill" was given to God's people, not to the world, because God was consecrating them, and using them as an example of who He is and of His loving ways.

I promise, you can teach "Thou shall not kill" to every person in the world until you are blue in the face, and yet, murder will continue. Why? Because the law exists to reveal sin, but the law does not have the power to deliver you from sin.

I suggest you read all of chapters 7 and 8 in Romans to fully understand the difference between the law and the Spirit, but here is part of it, "So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Mike Huckabee has not only shared his bad theology, but his words are likely to bring much confusion and guilt to believers and non-believers alike. What his words are suggesting is that we are being punished by God, and he suggests it is audacious of us to ask, "Where was God?" when we have treated God so badly, made Him unpopular, and turned Him out of our lives with our pride. Really? Has Huckabee not read Genesis lately? Huckabee is accusing us of doing exactly what Adam and Eve did to God, and every human has done since! It's called sin! And isn't sin the very reason the Trinity set everything in motion for Christ to be crucified, in order to win us back to Him?

And how does God win us back to Him? With the one thing Huckabee left out: Love.

God does not point a finger at us and say, "You are repulsive and should be ashamed of yourself. You better straighten-up or I am going to hit you with even more calamities to wrench your puffed-up, proud heart!" No, rather, God comes to us with Himself, with love --love that overwhelms us, love that says, "My precious child, you are broken and in need of mending. I want you to crawl up into my arms and let me saturate your being with my love, for only my love can heal you and change your self-destructive ways. You cannot change yourself,  or heal your brokenness, so out of my love, I gave my life for you, shed my blood, and only I am able to change and heal you. In fact, I desire nothing more."

Yes, it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), and we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). 

Huckabee has not brought God's healing to any of us with the statements he made in the above video. God's love is the answer, the only answer that has ever been, or ever will be, for a broken and devastated world. I pray that Huckabee will experience the saturating, overwhelming love of God for himself, that he may, in return, be a messenger of that love, and not one of guilt and condemnation.

Bad Theology: Retribution

The excerpts below are from chapter 6, Retribution and Other Bad Ideas --Biblical Theology in Marva Dawn's book Being Well When We're Ill  (2008).

    ...[S]ome people seem to have an inordinate need to blame somebody...Maybe it is because they feel more in control of the enigma of evil if they can accuse someone. This was brought home by the headline in the news today. A gunman killed 32 people yesterday at a Virginia Technical University and immediately people began blaming the administration... the brutality of the destruction terrifies us; we feel a need to blame someone.

    ...The bad theology people express to us is extremely harmful. It not only cuts us to the quick and damages our sense of ourselves...but it also sabotages our understanding of the nature of the Trinity. Often it arises from the speaker's own faulty conception of God --in many cases the idea that God the Father is a wrathful and stern Judge whom Jesus had to placate by His sacrifice of Himself on the cross.

    This is one reason that I so often emphasize that God is Trinity. All three Persons share the same gracious essence. All three Persons were willing to go to the extreme lengths that it took to reconcile us to God's Self, and all three participated in the act of redemption. All three Persons love us unconditionally and perfectly. The Triune God desires our salvation and does not operate on the basis of retribution.

   Retribution is such a bad theology that an entire book of the Bible [Job] is devoted to denouncing it. ...[Retribution] is the doctrine that God gives "tit for tat" --a specific punishment or reward when we do evil or good.

   ...The cosmos is not founded on retribution. Its cornerstone is the character of God, who is boundlessly wise, everlastingly gracious, and unceasingly mysterious. God does not blame us for our sufferings; instead He wants to dwell with us in them and show us Himself.

...Why do we and other people so often feel that we have to give explanations? Could we rather not learn in the face of calamity to grieve over it first and leave the mysteries in God's gracious care?

...God's perfect will is our well-being. But the Trinity is working with us in a broken world that contains evils caused by many other forces. It is not that God doesn't have the power to supersede the will of these forces, but that out of His perfect love He will not mess with our free will and the natural laws of creation. So tragedies happen because this is an evil world, presently under the reign of it's ruler, as Jesus acknowledges Satan to be and yet asserts that he has been driven out.

    Sometimes also, for our well-being, God does allow tribulations to enter our lives. Here we truly must apportion wide space for mystery, because we do not and cannot know what purposes God might accomplish through our sufferings, nor should we try to distinguish decisively (as some actually try!) between what troubles are sheer tragedies of evil and what are permitted in order that we might  be changed. We simply know that evil is evil and that we will no doubt be transformed if we rest in God in the face of it.

   To think that everything that happens is precisely God's will is to malign God's character and to ignore human free will and all the forces of evil at work in the world. We certainly can, however, believe that even in bad situations, evil times, and dangerous places God will be at work. God never abandons us, but He will always be there with us to give us help and abiding hope.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Not BAD, but GOOD

There is some really bad theology in the world of Christianity --theology that comes out of fear, and is based on good or bad deeds. This kind of crap distorts who God the Father is, and how He really views His creation... how He views you!

Brennan Manning and Wayne Jacobsen have been two extremely influential teachers in my life,
and their theology is GOOD because it teaches the transforming LOVE of the FATHER
for YOU!

I highly recommend getting a hold of their books! My favorites are "The Ragamuffin Gospel" by Brennan Manning, and "He Loves Me" by Wayne Jacobsen.

Below is Wayne Jacobsen sharing life-altering truth. You really don't want to miss this.

This is no typical teaching, I promise you!

celebrating, despite many hardships

Throwing a Hobbit Holiday Celebration on the 15th, the day after the massacre at an elementary school in Conneticut, and just 2 weeks since my dear friend, Gretchen, committed suicide, didn't seem right at first. What right did I have to be celebrating when so many were mourning? Wasn't my heart broken and horrified, just like everyone else in the world who learned that 20 young children were murdered, as well as the adults who tried to defend them?

I thought about canceling the party, but things were already in motion: my sister and nephew were on their way from Atlanta to celebrate with us --I had not seen them in over a year. Guests were making food, dressing up, and when I prayed, I was aware that Father had been helping me to prepare for this celebration with friends and family, and I was not about to turn away a gift from Him.

The party was not as big as we thought it would be since five couples with kids who were going to come, suddenly had to stay home because their kids got sick. There's a nasty bug going around, and I pray they all recover quickly.

The guests who were able to make it blessed us with their company, and we hope we were a blessing to them in return. There was conversation, food, costumes (hooray), children, games... and love.
Jeremy and I both agreed that we love our friends and family very much, and are so very, very thankful for them.

This year has been difficult --not that any year during our 18 years of marriage has been easy-- but this year was extra hard for many reasons, mainly my health, which altered me greatly. This year I have seen many doctors, tried more medications than I can count --one which had devastating effects on me-- I had 4 MRI's and 2 unsuccessful nerve blocks through my lower spine. I fell deeper and deeper into hopelessness and despair, a crisis of faith, and decided on a date to end it all if nothing improved. Then, a few days after my 39th birthday (ugh, not even going to go there) I had Myobloc (a medicine like Botox) injected right into the damn, bothersome area... 3 weeks later, things did improve! Oh, I still suffer with symptoms and probably always will, but a few steps out of the dark hole toward the light can mean the difference between keeping a date with your end, or not.

This has also been a year of church-lessness for us. Every sunday I continue to miss our defunct church, Tommy's Interactive. Our 5 years there were vital to our spiritual life. Even on some of my worst days of suffering, I would get up and take the 30 minute drive to Tommy's. Now, we live in Columbia, and I will not get up and make an effort go to church --any church-- within a 15 mile radius, because they cannot hold a candle to what Tommy's was. We tried one church for a couple of months, but after realizing there was little-to-no community, we stopped --and no one missed us, because no one even knew we had been there!

This year, on the day before Easter, we had to put to sleep my sweet Sarah-girl. My heart was wrenched, and I couldn't sleep in my bed for a month, because for 13 years she had slept with her head on a pillow beside mine.

Then, my friend Gretchen, with the same condition I have, just took her life.

With all this personal suffering and heartache (there are many more things that I have left out) I have to acknowledge that this year there have also been blessings, even in my darkest hours, that have come directly from God, our Father, reminding me, I am here. Heather, I am here in your suffering with you.

The blessings from God have come in the form of His presence during prayer, and in the form of my husband and son, the two dearest people in my life.

They have come from my Mom, whose love and support is always available, my sister, Ginny aka Seester, who is always a source of joy and laughter, my friends, their fellowship and prayers, a birthday dinner they threw for me, being invited to a weekly bible study, and a wonderful friend who gave me a book sent directly from God to speak words of truth to my heart.

The last days of October and going into November, Jeremy, Jonah, Jonah's best friend Chris, and I, went on 6 day vacation to Asheville, NC. God blessed that trip in so many ways, and I treasure those moments in my heart.

There are many more blessings from this year too: our new puppy Hannah, living this year in our new home --and NOT in a trailor in Pelion!-- friendships that have grown closer, being led to a wonderful, female Christian therapist, and the miracle of finding Dr. Redmond, a strong Christian doctor, who prayed with me before the Myobloc injections.

For weeks before the party, I kept praying that God would bless our friends at the party, that they would experience joy, feel loved and uplifted while celebrating His holy birth, wonderful friendships, as well as the incredible works of Tolkien, whose books reflect the Christian faith.

So, despite all the bad, the good that God has blessed us with is worth celebrating, for He has been faithful to us, He has loved us, lead us, and kept us through much grieving and suffering, and He continues to do so. For that, for HIM, I am grateful.

I continue to pray for all those who are experiencing the grief of losing their children --a pain I have not experienced, and fear with all my heart-- that in their hurt, anger and despair, Father will hold them, and grieve with them, and be. Just be. Let them know He is there.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

when angels come down from heaven...

this is the song they sing, as they descend upon the light,

to gather the soul of a suicide.

ask me how i know...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Speculation Over Gretchen Molannen's Suicide

There has been a lot of speculation going on around the web since my friend, Gretchen Molannen, committed suicide on December 1st, immediately after she went public in the Tampa Bay Times with her story of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD).

Some have speculated that Gretchen was "planning all along" to kill herself right after the article was released. Others have wondered if she regretted going public or felt scandalized by the media.

I can tell you, in the past year that Gretchen and I became close friends, she attempted suicide three times. I know this because she wrote to me right before two of her attempts, and right after one that failed. I don't know if she attempted more than three times, but I think it is certainly possible. The last time she told me she tried to kill herself was October 15th, which is not very long ago.

As for the speculation about the media, I know that Gretchen approved the news article before it was printed. I also had to approve the blurb about me in the same article. To be honest, I think the article (as well as the on-line video) ended-up being told as sensitively as the 20/20 shows and news articles I have been in concerning my own PGAD.

Now, as to the question, did Gretchen feel exploited by the media? In her words to me, yes, "a bit". The interview process for this single news article went on for a much, much longer period of time than any article I have ever been interviewed for, and I know that Gretchen felt worn down by the seemingly never-ending interview. The stress made her PGAD even worse, and caused her to "abuse" herself more than usual.

I encouraged Gretchen to let the reporter know how hard the interview process had become, or to consider completely pulling out. Gretchen informed me that she had a discussion with the reporter, and the reporter apologized. Gretchen then decided to go on and complete the article, and do the video as well, in desperate hope that by doing so, someone would offer her medical care.

I have no idea what truly went on inside Gretchen's mind the day she committed suicide. What I do know, is that Gretchen was an incredibly strong-willed woman. Unlike my own PGAD, which medicine has made somewhat manageable --so that I can have days without any symptoms-- Gretchen had severe PGAD day-in and day-out, for 16 years! If I were her, I would not have lasted that long.

Gretchen was also so very strong-willed that she was determined to find medical help, going so far as to put an ad in Craig's List begging for a physician to help her! Sadly, not one doctor replied to her ad, but the reporter did, and the reporter did so out of hope to find Gretchen some help.

You know what? The article did find Gretchen help. Lots of help! Yes, indeed, after Gretchen put herself in the public eye, doctors suddenly jumped at the chance to say, "Oh, I will help the poor girl!"

That is the tragic, tragic truth.

If we are all going to speculate just who is to blame for Gretchen's death, the uncomfortable truth staring us in the face is not the media, who, although, took a very long time to get all the facts straight, I believe the reporter's motivation was pure: to find Gretchen help.

So who does that leave to blame? It leaves everyone.

Everyone is to blame who knew Gretchen needed financial help but didn't give her a cent, every useless doctor who Gretchen scrounged-up the money to see, only to get nothing but insults in return, the expensive specialists she called and e-mailed, but chose to ignore her cry for help, the judges who she came before twice, only to deny her disability, twice! The system is to blame for not renewing Gretchen's medicaid, every Christian who knew she needed prayer, but did not present her needs to God, every person who knew she was in a dire situation, myself included, we are to blame. We did not support her enough, we did not love her enough, and we certainly did not give her the help she was begging us for.

In the end, my fellow humans, there is no need to speculate: Gretchen's death is on all of our hands.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


it's almost 8am. since my dad took his life and the shotgun woke us on 11/10/07 at 2:30am, my sleeping schedule, which was already bad, got even worse. i used to stay up 'til at least 4 or 5am, but now i have trouble going to sleep unless the sun is up. can you really blame me? the sun is now up, it's been up, and the birds are chirping. when everything outside is alive and in the light, i feel safe to sleep.

when i lay down in the darkness the past comes back to me and unless i am good and drugged up, my mind will not go to sleep.

i think my dosage of paxil, which was upped a month ago, is making it difficult to feel sadness.
it is not a good feeling. i can feel anger, but sadness...not so much. i was glad when it came the other night and i was like, "oh hey, i can FEEL!" and i wept. i imagine in some ways it is good for me not to be feeling the full power of my sadness... only because i know that path, and it leads to much darkness and despair. i'm instead in a kind of twilight, but holy shit, not the movie. can i vomit now?

i am feeling angry tonight. am i mad at Gretchen? no.
God? well, i am usually ticked at him on some level at all times, but about Gretchen? hmmm, yes, somewhat. okay yes, i am angry at him, but not at the same time. i'll have to figure that out later.

to tell the truth, i am mad at the church (which is nothing new if you know me). i have just been wondering where the hell was The Body of Christ in Gretchen's situation??? could she have gone into a local church and told them about her situation, and would they have offered her help? i know what kind of help i got from churches: zero to really, really bad advice, you know like: you have a demon, or you have sinned somehow and not confessed your sin so you have "opened a door to Satan" to inflict you and you obviously don't have enough faith to be healed or are still living in said unrepented-door-opening sin and God can't help you so abstain from food for a week and see if God lets you in on what sin you haven't repented of cause he isn't in control of your suffering --he just lets the demons use your body for a torture playground until you figure out WHAT YOU ARE DOING WRONG.

i am not joking. the above was told to me more times than i can fucking count.

so here's the question keeping me UP this morning:

why is the Body of Christ still so seemingly ineffective when it comes to helping the poor and the sick? isn't that what Christ called us to do?

i had a fundraiser for Gretchen, when she was ALIVE and suffering, in order to help gather funds so she could see a doctor. i asked my friends, both christian and not, to please give.

we had a donation website, and i also informed everyone that whatever i sold in my Etsy store, 100% profit was going to Gretchen. a few believers gave. a handful of really wonderful believers gave. then money came in from my dear atheist and agnostic friends. then strangers gave. then, when i thought we had received all we would ever get, my very slow --as in no sales for 6 months-- Etsy store began selling items 2-3 times a week! i could hardly believe it, and i knew God was doing it... and i have honestly wondered this very difficult and disturbing question: was he doing it because his children were not?

i currently have a fundraiser for Gretchen, to cover the costs of having her cremated (which costs over $1,000) to have a memorial service for her, and have her shipped to her family's plot in Wisconsin so she can be buried with her parents.

and you know what? in 4 days time the donations amount to 5 times MORE than the month-long fundraiser for Gretchen when she was alive! does something smell wrong here?

it does to me. and i want to spit or slap or share my middle finger (lovingly, of course) with...
you, and you, and you and you and you and you and... YOU!

Friday, December 7, 2012

for all the suffering suffering suffering

i accessed the place... the place some part of me was blocking, without my permission.
i know why now. the small pain grew and consumed and twisted my insides.
the lament, the groan of grief came up from my gut... for Gretchen,
for my dad, for all the suffering suffering suffering...
for the fear, the damnable fear: will this also be my fate?

i do not deny i am afraid. i do not trust God as i would like.
he did not rescue my dad. not Gretchen. so what choice did they have?

what choice did they have?

pain. suffering. hopelessness. a gun? some gas?

the bodies. the thought of their cold bodies.

the night when we saw my father's white jacket glowing in the distant grass of the darkened field.

the following day when they had all of him covered in a white sheet,
all of him but his cold, hardened hand.
it wasn't my father's hand. it was a stranger's.
my father's hands were large and open and warm. this knotty, clenched hand...
how could it be his?

who will find my body someday? if only i could disappear when the time comes,
which will not be any time soon, mind you... but i hate that a shell must be left behind.
if only we could dissipate into the air like our breath on a cold winter night.

i imagine Gretchen... when they found her. no longer dwelling in her tormented body.
her body. her remains, as they call it.

i know her despair. i know her despair, and i do not blame her.
why wait for doctors who will run tests and do procedures with no assurance that one thing they do will help her in the least? she knew how many doctors and medicines and tests and procedures i have had many, many let downs. and i am still not whole! i am "managing", but each day is a task. i am a prisoner to this disabled body... and she is free. if anything, i somehow envy her.

but far more than envy, i mourn her 16 years of torment and her tragic end, and i ask God why he didn't come through for her?

the tormented can often grow bitter toward those who are whole in their bodies, those who are painless and complain and scream about the most trivial matters: a scratch on their car, an insult, always offended and always proud and judging others, criticizing others, having a damn absurd opinion about everything... and never ever ever suffering but for the occasional headache. they are about as shallow as a toilet. and they are everywhere, bombarding the sick and disabled with their perfect lives and bodies, their abilities to do walk... taken for granted. and we who are suffering often envy them.. often despise them... especially when they invalidate our suffering..
tell us to "just pray" or give us scripture verses to "claim" as "God's promises".

i mourn this as well. the lost, shallow souls. the hurt they inflict.

i pray for help to love and forgive...

i pray for help...

i pray

and pray

and grieve before my God.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gretchen, my dear friend, is gone.

I knew something wasn't right when forty-eight hours had passed and there was still no reply from Gretchen to the last e-mail I sent her.

In my last e-mail, written on Saturday, I told her how proud I was of her and how pretty I thought she looked in the just-published Tampa Bay Times online article and video, which she so bravely agreed to be in to share her story of suffering with Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD) for the past sixteen years. It was right after I watched the video I wrote her, "I can't tell you how moving it was for me to be able to see and hear you! I felt like we were in the same room, and I just wanted to hug you so badly and cry with you."

That was Saturday, and by Monday night I was worried and praying, "Lord, please be with Gretchen. This isn't like her to not write me back after two days." My gut twisted up as I wondered if she had been Baker-Acted again. Can the Florida police arrest her for admitting in the interview to three recent suicide attempts? "Oh Lord," I moaned, "If the police took her, please please give her your peace in her heart, her mind and especially her body."

Tuesday, when I checked my e-mail, I hoped to see "from Gretchen" in my inbox. There wasn't an e-mail from her, but there was an e-mail with the subject line "Gretchen" from the leader of the PGAD Support Group. My breath caught in my throat when I opened the e-mail and it began, "It is with a heavy heart..." with a link to a
new article in the Tampa Bay Times.

Gretchen was gone.

Her last attempt at suicide was completed. She didn't write me an e-mail beforehand to say goodbye like she had done several times over the past year, and I was unable to write her back or call her, to tell her not to do it, to tell her that she is my dear friend and I love her, that God loves her, to just hang in there because God is going to make a way for her suffering to be reduced. I couldn't tell her again how Jeremy and I are willing to help in any way we can, to remind her that we would pay for her to come up to our home so she could see my doctor who specializes in pudendal nerve damage.

No. All such chances were gone, because Gretchen was gone.

After crying to Jeremy and then my Mom, I called a woman who Gretchen said was like an aunt to her, and lives just down the street from Gretchen's house. Gretchen had given me her "aunt's" phone number months ago in one of her goodbye e-mails to me, asking that I contact her to tell her Gretchen was dead. After reading that e-mail I didn't call Gretchen's aunt, I called Gretchen. Her phone rang and rang, but she did not pick up her phone. I left a message, hung up and then called her aunt, asking if she'd please go check on Gretchen to see if she was okay. Gretchen was okay that time. The sleeping aid she took made her fall into a deep sleep before she could go through with anything.

This call to Gretchen's aunt was different, and too late. Her aunt told me that this time she found Gretchen dead inside her home, and she had been dead for two days. Two entire days passed before anyone missed Gretchen. My heart shattered. No wonder Gretchen always told me how alone she felt, how she had little friends or family to love and support her.

Gretchen's aunt then explained that Gretchen died with no money, not even a cent to put towards her being cremated, to have a memorial, or to ship her remains to Wisconsin to be buried next to her parents on their family plot. She said she was hoping the county would be able to pay for Gretchen's cremation, because she herself has no money to help.

I knew then what I wanted to do. After I hung up the phone, I got online again and created a fundraiser, titled "Memorial Fundraiser for Gretchen". Thinking along the same lines, the leader of the PGAD Support Group had her daughter create an event on Facebook event
for Gretchen, and used the link to the fundraiser.

I am hoping this will honor Gretchen. I miss her terribly and keep finding myself looking for an e-mail from her in my inbox. My only comfort is knowing she is no longer being tormented by the PGAD "beast" as she called it, and that she no longer feels alone, having reunited with her parents,
and lovingly held in the arms of God.

If you would like to donate, please go here:
Memorial for Gretchen