Home > Death, Idealist, Love, Parenting, Safety > in the arms of love

in the arms of love

This post is going to suck.

It’s going to be sad and meandering and probably not super coherent.

I’m telling you right now so you can not read it, though I feel compelled to write–and post–it regardless.

49 people were murdered in an Orlando gay club over the weekend.

I wrote a poem inspired by that. I debated not mentioning guns, because the point wasn’t guns, although I think the conclusion would’ve been very different without them.

The point was love. If we loved each other well and unabashedly, if we respected each other as neighbors and friends and acquaintances and people who might someday save someone’s life or the world if given the chance, all the guns in the world would be useless. There is, even deeper than guns, a problem with how many restrictions we human beings place on our love.

Part of me wanted to punch someone in the face: “You’re stupid! Your stupid meanness led to this, stupidhead!” But most of me, most of me wanted to reach through time and space and provide a bubble of love and painlessness around each and every person who died, so that I could be assured they left the world in the arms of love.

This morning, my husband told me an alligator nabbed a two-year-old boy out of the shallow waters bordering on an Orlando theme park.

I read a couple of articles pointing out that there were “no swimming” signs posted where the boy had been wading. Like before, I wanted to face-punch anyone who’d point out this sign in the first place–repeatedly, while pointing out how “no swimming” and “don’t go near the water” are two very different messages.

But most of me, most of me wanted to reach through time and space and provide a bubble of love and painlessness around the little boy in his final moments, to sing him his favorite songs, to shield him with my love.

I wanted to teleport myself to Florida and envelope his parents in my arms and heart. I wanted to let them see on my face how deeply I feel for them, how little I need words or explanations or anything apart from the set of my face to show them how much I wish it could be different.

Remonstration accomplishes nothing worth accomplishing. Stringless love can, at least, be a miniscule light.

My younger son–two years old, the same age as the alligator’s victim–has serious food allergies.

I read daily about people grumbling about how they’re inconvenienced by not being able to send certain things in their kids’ lunches.

I read this and I want to punch them in the face. I want to punch them in the face so hard it takes time and energy to walk myself down from the ledge.

How do I help them see that while they’re worried about convenience, I’m worried I might not see my child alive again? How do I help them see these two concerns–food freedom and freedom to breathe–are not equally weighted, and help them have love enough for a stranger’s child that they care more for preserving a stranger child’s life than for the unequivocal freedom to put whatever they want in a lunchbox?

I’ve read over and over how rare is anaphylaxis death. In the United States, “only” a few dozen people die of it annually. Apparently that means it’s not worth worrying about. I mean, numerically “a few dozen” people isn’t that many, right?

How do I even respond to that, apart from to cry out gutturally, without words?

Then yesterday I read Tori Nelson’s post, “Orlando, Please Understand,” and I found words there I couldn’t string together myself:

Please understand that they will wonder why the news focuses so much on numbers, on tallies and death tolls because they’ve come to understand that ONE murder is enough to break the world.

One death is enough to break the world.

This is exactly why I’m pushing back against a school that refuses to administer epinephrine to its severely allergic students, despite the DOJ’s clear direction this is mandatory. While my own son is not enrolled at any of the owners’ schools, other kids’ allergic children are. They are attending schools where the teachers and administration will not administer epinephrine. Where they will sit and wait for an ambulance to arrive despite DOJ instructions.

I do not care less about those children because I did not birth them.

I do not want one single parent to say goodbye unnecessarily.

I do not want any parent to know that their child’s breath stopped, and heart stopped, and life stopped, in part because I knew something was wrong and did nothing because my own son was no longer impacted.

I could scream myself senseless at parents who don’t seem to care about another family’s pain, but what example am I setting then? Am I really exemplifying unconditional love that way? Or do I best exemplify that by doing what I can to protect, to care, to comfort, without all the shouting and the stupid-calling and the face-punching?

I know the answer, but do I have the strength to live it?

I hope so. I’ve wasted too much energy shouting against, when I yearn to live for: for love, for possibility, for more hope and more good for more people.

I want to solve what’s past.

I desperately want to change it; failing that, to wrap an impenetrable bubble of love around … everyone brutalized by it: Kids. Adults. Babies. The elderly. “Saints” and “sinners,” those who share my political beliefs and those who do not. I want to envelope them all–you all–in love, and have that be the one truth each knew and knows upon breathe’s cessation.

I will stand up for what I believe in. I will speak that. But I will do my best, my very best, to do so in a way that almost anyone who listens will understand that my disagreement does not change my love.

I just want to live love, breathe love, sing it, live it, share it,
shine it, do anything and everything I can to magnify it so that
when my own final moment comes, I can depart this world with a smile,
knowing I did what I could to shield it
with my love.

  1. June 15, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    A couple of things to add, since I didn’t want to edit the post itself:

    * When the time was right, I’d love to use that space-time bubble of love to tell those parents–all of them, every parent who has lost her or his child, ever: When you are ready, please tell me about him. Her. I want to know everything you want to share, and I want to hold up that refracted light as long as I can. From so many blogs now, I have read that people who are grieving a loss grieve also that they can’t share memories of their loved ones because others are so awkward about that loss and grief.

    I want to know. I want to know. I want to know. I WANT TO KNOW. Who they were. How they continue. How I can hold them in my heart.

    * My husband wrote this beautiful poem. It’s related.

  2. June 15, 2016 at 3:25 pm


  3. June 15, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Thank you for wanting to be a light in this world, a beacon that may draw kindness and rational thought to and from your fellow beings. This week I’ve just been scared about the violence and sad about horrible things I can’t bring myself to express except with the tears I can’t control. I hope you know how much you’ve been a counter-weight for me today. I’m still sad, but I’m getting closer to hope now instead of just thinking nothing will ever change the crappy way so many things are. ❤

    • June 15, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      I read a few articles about seemingly random violence not far from my home and was struck by how quickly lives can be ended, with no precautions available.

      I wish I could change any of it, all of what’s happened that’s hurt terribly. Since I can’t, I can do my best to give a little bit of bubble before it’s needed and hope it’s remembered if/when the time should come.

      I wish I could deliver it with my own arms, truly … but words, words will have to do it for me, and I am glad for the goodness they can do despite physical distance.

      Big, big hugs from afar in space but not so far at all in heart. ♥

  4. June 15, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    So much yes here. I’m reaching out to envelop you with love, too.

  5. June 15, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    And some random person murdered Christina Grimmie in Orlando last week, I think the whole area needs to be under your bubble right now. I’m only a few hours north of there and I hurt for them. A couple of the Pulse victims were from here. If my son weren’t such a homebody, he could have been there, thankfully, he doesn’t think he knows any of the victims. And that poor baby 😥

    • June 17, 2016 at 5:21 am

      Gah. I read so many news stories of hurt over a short period, including about a 24-hour period involving seven (mostly) separate shootings close to my home and an Oakland fatal shooting at the memorial for two drowned teenagers. I’ve also had this image of a drowned refugee baby in my head the last couple of weeks, wondering … how do others see this and not cry?! Even typing this out, I feel more the sense of love than outrage. I guess, like most things, it’ll take practice. ♥

      (After typing the above, I did a search to find the image in my mind. I found not only that one, sob, but so many others. I wish they could’ve lived. I wish we in the United States could have opened our arms and borders and created safe passages so they could’ve had a real chance at peace. I wish so much that they were alive and I could envelope them all in love, warmth, shelter, food. I wish there weren’t so, so many losses that I feel helpless in the face of them all, but … I will feed love, as best I can.)

  6. June 15, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    I too suffer from severe allergies and throughout my life have had to defend myself to others. Explaining why my life is more important than their ‘snack’. People just don’t get it. I don’t understand the school though. As a teacher we have to take courses on how to administer and spot an allergic reaction. That is not ok that your school will not use life saving tools, what the hell? Use your voice as you wrote, be an advocate. You can do it, stay strong.

    • June 17, 2016 at 5:35 am

      The owner’s stance was that they’re allowed to decline or admit who they’d like (incorrect, where severe food allergies are concerned; this is discrimination) and that, if they admit someone severely allergic, they’re under no obligation to administer (incorrect; also discrimination). I expressed surprise they saw themselves limiting liability by taking this stance, but they didn’t seem to understand that their liability will be enormous if a child dies in their care … all because they failed to administer medicine so easily administered, my then five-year-old was a pro in minutes. In the letter I linked above, I included an image of Li’l D holding the EpiPen with its three simple instructions facing forward.

      Worse than discovering that was one school’s stance was discovering evidence many schools take the same one. Parents are forced to leave their kids at child care centers/preschools who don’t administer epinephrine because so many won’t take their kids in the first place. It’s a horrific situation to put parents–and children–in, hence the passage of the ADA and inclusion of severe food allergies within that to limit this fatal discrimination. It’s disheartening to know that the DOJ made this crystal clear almost two decades ago, and that people still don’t get it.

      Worse still, recent California child care law makes it sound like these business owners get to make this choice, regardless of inconsistency with the ADA and, thus, civil rights.

      I pray to see that changed before any child dies.

      • June 17, 2016 at 11:43 am

        That is horrifying! They even make epipens that speak the directions. So it is the day cares and after school programs that are refusing not the schools? I’m not sure what the law is surrounding that. I would contact Anaphaphlic (sorry spelling) and get them to advocate with you. I have been fighting this battle in Canada all my life. It is worse as an adult surprisingly. Adults don’t want to be asked to and some flat out don’t ‘believe allergies exist’. We have Sabrina’s Law in our schools, do you as well? I had to go so far as filing a human rights complaint to ensure my safety. I guess it is up to you on how far you want to take it…please keep me posted or fee free to ask any questions

      • June 17, 2016 at 12:06 pm

        http://www.allergyaware.ca/ this one is based in Canada I am sure there is one in the states.It will send you updates about products that have allergens in them, a blog for you to write and parent area to seek support and ask questions. Hope this helps

  7. June 15, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    So many aching hearts. Some sucker punched directly, and others caught in the fall-out.
    When will it end?
    When will more of us choose love over destruction…?

    • June 17, 2016 at 5:36 am

      I hope it’s soon. I figure the more we let love shine, the more we’ll take an edge off fear by making clear there’s so much more than fear in the world. ♥

  8. June 15, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Even though we mostly get the negative stories from the media, there is a lot of good and a lot of love. I don’t say that to downplay these tragedies, I say it because your blog inspires love and this post reminds me that there are good people fighting for good things to happen. A boy from my high school just got killed in a hit and run accident. That enraged me. How could you hit someone and leave them, dying on the pavement? How could you run away from someone who so obviously needed help? I would have loved to punch that person in the face, to shake some sense into them, to give them a piece of my mind! But I have to remember that hate breeds hate and violence breeds violence. We will not get Zak’s life back, but his passing brought an entire community together that hadn’t been that way for 5 years. Bad things will continue to happen and we will struggle to cope and understand, but if we can lead with love we help make the world a better place! 💕 Also, I thought this was very coherent and wonderfully written, as always.

    • June 17, 2016 at 6:24 am

      Yesterday, I again read people saying things that were unfathomably cruel to/about parents who’d just lost, and I again felt that face-punching urge. Again, I walked myself down from the ledge, which was easier after reading this particular beautiful piece.

      Anthony would start mornings telling me whatever was the most atrocious piece of news. I asked him to start only presenting bad news if he could also share a bit of good news. Both are out there. I want to be cognizant of those, because I see huge ills both from ignoring the bad and making it everything. As you’ve said, there’s good and bad, and it’s important to knowing where and how to shine light to be mindful of both.

      Thank you for the kind words and the perspective. May we see and share much love today. ♥

  9. June 15, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    This post did not suck. Just saying.

    • June 17, 2016 at 6:26 am

      Thank you. ♥
      (Sometimes it’s good to just sit down and write what I feel, by accepting at the outset it’ll be what it’ll be. Even after all this practice, I’m often surprised it comes out so much more coherent than when it’s all swirling around my head!)

  10. June 16, 2016 at 1:44 am

    A powerful, loving, meaningful, thoughtful piece, caring and kind. My thoughts and prayers are always with you.

  11. June 16, 2016 at 6:37 am

    I am very much the same. There is the resounding ‘what if’ and then the lingering ‘kick yourself’ I keep feeling…but under that is this deep desire/need to hold the mother whose lost her child. Bring just a moment of love back to one whose lost their love, their friend.
    I must have rewritten my post on this subject 7 times, always deleting the last half…because the first half is what matters/resonates. Lives were lost, taken before they could know the impact they had on this world, our country, me.
    I’m glad you worded this the way you did, and one day, hopefully, we will get to hear about these beautiful human beings without stats, without numbers, because their lives ARE worth so much more than the label placed upon their deaths.

    • June 17, 2016 at 6:37 am

      This is one of those times I want to have something meaningful to add, something valuable to add to what you’ve said … but really, what I have to say here is, yes. ♥ Off to read your blog and see what, if anything, you’ve posted following your comment. Big, big hugs.

  12. Paul
    June 16, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Well said Deborah – the only thing I would like to add is please take care of yourself as well – the path you have chosen is fraught with pitfalls. Be sure to do a regular check : “Am OK?” And if the answer is anything other than a resounding Yes, then stop and dig into it to see why.

    • June 17, 2016 at 6:50 am

      For sure–with many thanks for your compassion!

      The last few months have been so illuminating to me, so that I understand now I must invest in myself to have anything left to truly invest elsewhere. This is, of course, easier said than done, but I’m doing the work. 🙂

      The good news is that it takes me less energy to love than be infuriated, so that an hour of love will take out of me what ten seconds of rage do. Often, depending on the circumstances, it can even leave me more invigorated.

      As I type this, I’m thinking of “An abridged history of my hate.”

      My power is choice.

      My choice is love.

      • Paul
        June 17, 2016 at 8:29 am

        Awesome Deborah. What you say is so true.

  13. June 17, 2016 at 7:19 am

    I love how eloquently you express your thoughts, Deb. We can and do disagree with people on all sorts of topics. But different does not mean hate. If we all had respect and love for one another at the core of our beings, what a world it would be.

    • July 9, 2016 at 4:39 am

      Indeed! I wish it came easier (and soooo much quicker), but I definitely notice signs of improvement with practice. 🙂

  14. June 19, 2016 at 6:23 am

    👏🏾👏🏾 Very well said. It’s been heart wrenching and I can’t imagine what these families are going through. The whole world is hurting these days and I wish I knew how to make it stop.

    • July 9, 2016 at 4:40 am

      I can’t imagine, either. I have moments where panic sends me scrambling away from love, but I’m trying to return to it … because good things don’t often come outside its embrace.

  15. June 22, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Sometimes it is hard, to show love, to be a light. Sometimes it is nearly impossible in the face of the terrible and tragic.

    The other day I had to say, there are fifty families mourning. Fifty families forever changed. Fifty families who lost someone they loved. Then I had to try to explain how love doesn’t disappear in the light of terrible acts.

    ❤ ❤ ❤

    • July 9, 2016 at 4:41 am

      It truly doesn’t, though the absence of those hugs and that laughter and that love devastates. Helen Keller’s quote makes my eyes misty every time I read it: “What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, For all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”


  16. July 3, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    “One death is enough to break the world.”


  1. July 7, 2016 at 10:43 pm

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