Why you won’t see me judging anybody

On social media, you won’t see me posting about mass shootings. Mothers killing their children. Fathers killing their kids. People committing suicide. You know why? First of all, I don’t know what anybody’s mindset is. Second and lastly, I CANNOT JUDGE ANYBODY!!!! The bible says,

1 Peter 3: Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brother and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.”

Now, lets be clear, I do not condone any of it. It broke my heart when I HEARD(I did not watch. You have to be careful about the things you allow into your mind. That image will forever be there) about the video of the elderly man in Cleveland that was killed today. Like, always, I wondered what he was thinking when that situation was unfolding. I’m praying that his relationship with God is on point. But at this point, Heaven is so much better than this cruel world.

What I want to say is, MENTAL ILLNESS is real!!! And like I always say, you cannot see it from the outside. You know how I know? I battle with this daily. Severe depression. Post traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety. All triggered from things that I go through daily. ONE traumatic situation caused a series of mental illnesses. Again, I struggle daily! I’m just blessed with an awesome support system. My family and friends LISTEN to me when I’m having rough spells. They don’t understand but they don’t blow me off. All it takes is a few moments to listen to someone when they’re expressing themselves. Just listen.

Do you know how many people suffer in silence because of shame and embarrassment? Do you think it’s easy to admit to someone that you have a mental illness? Do you know the stigmas attached? Do you know that it’s by the grace of God that you’re not suffering? It’s free to be there for someone. But do you know that a few minutes of being there for a friend or family can save people a lot of heartache. It can deter some tragic situations. Example, what happened in Cleveland today. I didn’t watch the video of the man being killed. But I did watch the video of Stevie Steve talking to a friend and one thing that stood out to me was him saying, “I snapped. And when I try to talk to ya’ll, you blow me off like I’m just talking..” No one listened. Now, 14 people are dead. Likely 15 when the police catch him or if he commits suicide. No one took his pain seriously.

That’s just like when Shanynthia Gardner murdered her children last July. The first thing people did was condemn her to hell. They wanted her to be stabbed to death like her children were. They wanted her gone. But when I heard that story, my heart immediately asked questions. Why didn’t anyone see the signs? Why wasn’t she being treated for mental issues? Was she overwhelmed? Why did she snap? I didn’t judge her because I’m not God. I wish more people would look around at their friends, family and coworkers to see if they’re really ok.

And why is it so hard for people to understand that black people suffer from mental illnesses? Why are we exempt? When tragic situations like these happen, people automatically say, “black people don’t do that!”. Well, we snap like any other race. Why do you have to pretend that you’re ok? It’s ok to not be ok! We are killing ourselves mentally because we don’t want people to look at us funny. But guess what? When you snap, they’re going to talk about you anyway. So get the help you need.

My friends, when you ask someone how they’re doing, don’t accept the “I’m fines” or  the “everything is goods”. They’re not. Take five minutes out of your day and genuinely listen. Be sincerely concerned. Don’t run back and tell their business. That’s why people suffer in silence. We’re afraid that you’re going to tell everybody you know that I told you that I’m having problems. Don’t revel in someone’s misery. Don’t be giddy to spread a private conversation. Encourage the people that you love to seek the help they need. Prayer is great. God is a healer and He is faithful. However, I feel that he wants you to utilize the resources that are available.

I know people are going to rip me apart for this blog because I’m writing this from a different perspective. But at this point, I’m just writing what I feel led to share. I’m unashamed to say that I suffer. I won’t suffer in silence anymore.

You won’t see me judging anyone for their actions. I may not agree with them, but I won’t speak about what someone else is going through. We are all one situation from something tragic happening. I will attach some scriptures. I hope that people read and study these with open minds and hearts.

Romans 14:13 “So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall”

Luke 6: 27 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.

1 Timothy 5:24 “Remember the sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment. But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later.

Love each other. Be compassionate towards each other. Pray for each other. Pray for peace of your mind daily!!!!

Keisha

Dear Chance 

Chance…

It’s been five years since I’ve seen you. Since I’ve held you. Heard you say Mama, Mommy, Brannon, Daddy, Shishard or Memo. Since I heard you ask for a Thomas the train toy or seen you dance in the back seat to “Love on Top”. Five long years since you ran to the door to greet Barney. Or wake TeeTee Erika up while she was trying to sleep. Or punked me when it was time to go to your God-Mommy Lynn’s house by crying until you got five inches down the street then laughing like you were going to Disneyland. It’s been 1,825 days since you kicked me while we were sleeping or cried when Granny tried to comb your hair. I haven’t had one of your wet kisses in 43,800 hours.  But I’ve missed everything about you in the 15,678,000 seconds that you’ve been gone. I’ve felt your absence and I haven’t been the same since. I’ve come to realize that I will never be. Not having you here has changed everything for me. (here come the tears I was trying to keep at bay…)


When I was pregnant with you, I knew you were special. I knew you were a mess when I had to walk around with an IV because you wouldn’t let me eat or drink anything. I was off from work my entire pregnancy. Now I realize that we were developing a deep bond. When I found out you were a girl, the name Chance immediately came to me. People tried so hard to talk me out of naming you that. But the name stuck with me. I relented and put Sydney as the first name. When I saw you, I knew I made the right decision. I wouldn’t realize until later what “Chance” really meant.

You came into this world with so much personality. I knew that you would give Brandon and I a run for our money. While, he wasn’t that excited to know that you weren’t going back to the hospital when you came home, his words were, “When is that baby going back?” In time you two developed a bond that was so unique and strong. He talks about you everyday now. And he finds a piece of you in everything. When you left, some of him did too. It’s so obvious. He doesn’t laugh as hard. Or smile as much as he did when you were here. We try to spoil him with all the love and attention that we can but he misses you. You are his sister and your energy and spunk gave him spunk and energy. He will be fine though. We will all make sure of it. So don’t worry about your big brother. He’s going to grow up and invent something that will make you very proud.


Mommy still can’t watch a video of you. It’s weird to me because most of the videos we made have you saying her name in them. It’s been hard on her. She tries so hard to be strong for all of us Chance. We sometimes forget that she has emotions and feelings too. She loves you like she birthed you. And I know you knew that. She made it apparent in the way she cared for you. Like, when we went into TJ Maxx and you wanted these sippy cups and the princess costume. I said no but Mommy made sure you had it. And when we got home, you had to put it on. Whatever you wanted, she made sure you had it. I can’t wait for the day that she will actually be able to sit and watch a video of you with me. I know it will make her sad at first but I know that sadness will dissipate when she can see your love for her.


And Daddy misses you too. I’m so glad I was able to record you two washing the truck. Or you saying his name. The Christmas videos we have are you are in his possession and I know that he watches them on his own. I think he’s still mad about that yogurt you half ate of his. Lol! He allows me to call and cry when I’m having a bad day because I’m missing you. I’m sure he would have had you bowling or fishing by now.


Shisard(Darrick) and Memo, I can’t even describe the way they feel. Darrick honors you in everything he does. He’s really coming into his own. He took pictures a couple of months ago and he saw this butterfly mural and he took the most beautiful picture in front of it. The first thing he said is, “I have to take this for Chance”. I cried of course.  The ABC’s will never be the same for me. Darrick sang it to you so beautifully. And Memo, he had a tree planted in your honor in Osceola. His school had an entire ceremony, just for you. His wife Tassha even carried your picture around her wedding bouquet. Memo, has pictures of you everywhere. And I watch the video of you all often when you were in the hot tub and the Embassy Suites. You all were having so much fun like you always did. I’m almost sure that we will have a baby named after you at some point. They love you that much.


TeeTee Erika misses you. That woman will call me out of the blue and just tell me about things you two did that I never knew about. She has a video of you eating a cupcake when she let you skip daycare one day. And I have so many videos of you and her arguing back and forth that keep me laughing. She loves you so much that her son Scatman knows you. He never even met you. That’s unconditional love right there.


Your God-Mommy Lynn would have had you all over the country by now. She loves you so much that you’re an honorary Girl Scout. People from all over the country bought cookies in your name. She still has you as her cover picture on Facebook. She misses you too. And again, she has shared many pictures of you that I never saw. You punked her and her family too. They miss their “Candy”.


Your spirit is always around Granny/Aunt Linda It’s nothing for her to call me and tell me about a butterfly that came up to her in the dead of winter. Or when she’s in her yard doing lawn work how you will send her a breeze to cool her off. She has a wall for you in her house. And every Christmas, your tree is put out before any other tree at her house. Paw Paw has a hard time talking about you but he wore a wristband for almost three years from your walk everyday until it broke. He actually never took it off. They miss you.


Poor Barney. You left this earth on his birthday. I have pictures of you sitting in his lap watching cartoons. And I remember how you would run to the door and say his name whenever he would come into the house. He was the best father figure for you. I think you had his heart before I did. The bond you two formed will never be broken. He misses you more than anyone will ever realize.


You have a host of family and friends who have lots of great memories with you. People all over the world know you. You’ve saved so many children, Chance. So many. That’s why, no matter how hard it is, I tell your story. I don’t turn down any interviews or articles that people ask me to do. I have to keep going.  And I won’t pretend like I don’t have bad days. I’ve had plenty of them since you’ve been gone. But I always get a push from you to keep going. And I try everyday.


I ask myself often, “Why did God take my baby?” I’ve asked other people to ask Him for me, because I didn’t think he heard me. I felt like you didn’t do anything wrong that it must have been something that I did to make you have to leave. I wonder what I did. For five years I’ve asked myself what I’m supposed to do now. You are my baby. I carried you for nine months. You were so beautiful. I wonder if you knew that I loved you? I did. I love you so much. I held you when you were born and I held you when you took your last breath. I hope you knew that I was the best mother to you that I knew how to be. I had so many plans for you. But God had other plans. His plans are always best even when we don’t understand them.

Five years since I’ve lost my baby. What’s going to happen to me? I don’t know but I know that losing you is something I’ll never get over. I’ll just continue to learn how to deal with it.

Just remember the last song I sang to you. “Chance it’s you. You’re the one I love. You’re the one I need. You’re the only one I see. Baby, its you. You’re the one that gives your all. You’re the one I always call. When I need you baby everything stops. Finally, you put my love on top”

I love you Sydney Chance Bowles. Save us all a seat in heaven with you. I can’t wait until we’re all together again.

Love,

Your Mom.

 

 

 

 

 

Open letter to perfect parents

I try sooooo hard to keep my mouth shut when people get on social media and become cyber bullies. I can almost promise you that those same “internet thugs” would never say those cruel things to my face. They feel protected behind their computers, smart phones and tablets. It’s such a sad thing…

So here’s a quick overview: kid goes on vacation with his parents and sister. Family goes outside of the resort to watch a movie. Kid goes to shallow edge of water. Alligator pops out and snatches the kid. Kids father unsuccessfully tries to get his kid from the animal. Animal drags kid into water. Kid is regretfully found the next day. 

The next day. “they should have been watching their kid!!” “The parents are the worst because they shouldn’t have been in the water” or my favorite “my child would have never gotten in that water” *sigh*

Now I’m pissed. People are so cruel. People are so heartless. People have no compassion. People are so mean and nasty. People are so judgmental. People are so “perfect”. Right!!
For the past four years I’ve blamed myself for Chance’s accident. Knowing that I couldn’t watch her 24 hours a day. Knowing that there was nothing I could do to keep life from happening. Knowing that I would never intentionally let my child get hurt. But I was shamed by the media. I was called negligent. Lazy. I was told that it was my fault that I didn’t watch her better. So, I wasn’t allowed to use the restroom, cook dinner, do laundry, etc.  wow…

Let me tell you what’s happens when your child is just that-a child. They behave as children. Let me tell you what happens when your child suddenly has an accident.

First, you see your child in a position you never thought you would. In my case, she was pinned under a dresser. You know what you think? Please be ok!! Please wake up!! I’m so sorry!! Please baby!! I’m so sorry. Then you call 911 and you have to explain what happened while cradling your child and trying to get a response from them. Next, the ambulance comes and they try just as hard to get a response out of your child. When they realize that they can’t, the call Life Medics and they put your child into a helicopter while you’re watching from the window. Then you arrive at the hospital and police are there waiting for you to make a statement. At this point, they’re trying to make sure that you didn’t do this on purpose. Your situation makes the local news and now people are questioning your parenting. I mean, you can’t do anything if your child is not within reach. Lastly, doctors tell you that there’s nothing they can do so you have to make the decision to remove your child from life support. You go home without your child. It’s the hardest thing to ever go through. 

This family from Nebraska will leave Florida a family of three instead of the family of four they came as. This mother has to pack her sons clothes knowing that he’ll never put them on again. She will sniff and smell his clothes praying that his scent is still in them. Now the parents have to go a funeral home, pick a casket. Find an outfit for their son. Make funeral arrangements all while being judged by people that don’t know the story. People that could have been in their shoes. 

How many times has your child fallen out of bed when you were both asleep? She could have broken her neck. Hasn’t your child fallen off of a bike? He could have hit his head and suffered severe brain trauma. Haven’t you told your teenager to not text and drive? But even though you’ve told them not to do something, they hit a parked car instead of driving into traffic killing themselves and other people. You’re such a bad parent though. 

You see, things happen that we can’t control. But let’s try to be understanding and compassionate instead of cruel and judgmental. Because let’s face it, one day it could be you. And you’d want the public to get your side of the story before chasing you into seclusion. 

As grieving parents, we have more than enough guilt to live with. We ask millions of “what ifs”. Don’t add to our already difficult struggle. Let’s not compare tragedies. Let’s love and pray for one another. Give a grieving parent a hug and a kind word. Or spew those words of hate into our faces instead of behind your computer screen. 

After the hype about our stories go down, once you’ve moved on to the next tragedy; we’re still grieving. Now we have to factor in your judgments. Your harsh words. Your condemnation. While you’re sleeping peacefully and saying how terrible of a parent we are, we’re still dealing with the loss of our children. 

Again, you could be in our shoes one day…how would you want to be treated? 

I’m praying for the Graves family. I hope you are too…