mourning, but with all the hope

I know that I am not the only one crying and screaming on the inside what the actual fuck right now.

Baton Rouge…Alton Sterling…”he should have just complied”…Falcon Heights…Philando Castile…”but he complied; he followed the officer’s orders”…Black Lives Matter…Dallas…Dallas PD…Ballwin…Ballwin PD…Blue Lives Matter…“All Lives Matter”…

I can’t. I just can’t.

Moments that words don’t reach; suffering too terrible to name. And in these moments this week I just want to hold the ones I love the most as tight as I can and push away the unimaginable. All of it. But I can’t. I just can’t.

I am at work and I distract myself with work. I walk into the break room and one of the news channels is on. It’s not Fox News…THANK YOU…but I just can’t. I distract myself with work, with my patients’ conditions and parents’ bedside vigils because I just can’t imagine.

Coffee is delivered by my current favorite child, and I give thanks for the happy distraction it brings.

It’s the little things. Acts of kindness. Warm hugs. Parents holding their precious new babies as close as they can taking in all the promises of future hope that they represent. Moments that words don’t reach; grace too powerful to understand. My heart hurts right now. The hearts of most everyone else I know hurt right now. Sad, mad, all the outrage, all the helplessness, all the tears and fears are happening right now and I know that I am not alone. But through the night at work last night there was for me a promise of hope that no matter how small is potentially powerful enough to rise above the unimaginable. I’m keeping that hope close to my heart and last night, all night, and today, right now I am happy for the tiny warmth it radiates deep within my broken heart.

A baby is god’s opinion that the world should go on.

Carl Sandburg

#saytheirnames

They are more than a list of names. They are people who loved and were loved. ~ Anderson Cooper

Say their names…THEIR names…let their murderer’s name become dust as he will be.

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

Luis S. Velma, 22 years old

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Mercedes Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

This list of names could very well change but for now THESE are the names we should be saying and imprinting into our minds and sharing everywhere. These are the names we must remember if we are to engage in any rhetoric in the aftermath of the murder of these sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, friends and lovers. These are the names we must say out loud and remember.

photo credit: Thalia, daughter of Liz Gumbinner

 

life doesn’t discriminate

Every nurse has their favorites. Every NICU nurse has their favorite patients whom they never forget. The babies, their mommas, dads, grandparents, siblings touch us in some way that they are a part of our heart forever regardless of the outcome.

I have mine.

Last night I learned that one of my favorites passed away suddenly earlier this week. Nicholas was 21 years old. Born 21 years ago, Nick was premature with a host of medical problems. He spent more than ten months in the NICU. I was privileged to be one of his primary nurses during those months. I loved Nicholas. I grew to love his parents and respect their unconditional passion for their son even if it sometimes exhausted me. I won’t lie, I grew to absolutely hate Kenny Loggins’ Return to Pooh Corner cd as it literally was the only thing to soothe baby Nicholas during some of his more difficult nights in the NICU. I hated it but I was more than willing to play it on a continuous loop because it was all about this tiny mighty human, Nicholas. He never spoke, he never went to school, never dated or got a license or any other number of so called life events. But his was a full life, filled with love for others, and loved in return. He taught all of us who were privileged to know him the gift of the spirit that comes from forgetting one’s self and serving others truly in need. His presence made us more selfless, more compassionate and more kind. Above all, Nick and his family showed us all the value of fighting for those we love. Because of Nick’s indomitable will and his parents willingness to sacrifice so much and put faith in God, the baby who was supposed to die in five days was a blessing to our lives for over 2 decades. Nicholas death was unexpected and sudden but his mother told me it was peaceful, at home and in the arms of his father.

My heart was broken last night and I cried and I let my son hug me in the comforting way that only he can.

Then this morning I woke to the news from Orlando, as we all have. An act of terror, an act of hate, an act at the hand of an American citizen who, thanks to his blessed Second Amendment right, took away the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of many in a crowded nightclub. At this moment fifty are dead and at least fifty are injured. The President and media are calling it an act of terror and an act of hate…BECAUSE ANY MASS SHOOTING REGARDLESS OF THE MOTIVE AND THE SHOOTER AND THE VICTIMS IS AN ACT OF TERROR AND AN ACT OF HATE! Early this morning fifty sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, lovers, spouses and friends died in an act of terror and an act of hate at the hand of a person filled with hatred armed with a hand gun and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is, therefore, a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or in a house of worship or a movie theater or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.

And my heart shatters. As the President speaks for the FIFTEENTH time in the aftermath of yet another mass shooting, I hug my son in a way where I want to protect him from this kind of hate, this kind of terror, this kind of violence.

Life doesn’t discriminate

Between the sinners and the saints

It takes and it takes and it takes

And we keep living anyway

We rise and we fall and we break

And we make our mistakes

And if there’s a reason I’m still alive

When so many have died

Then I’m willing to

Wait for it.

~ Wait For It, Hamilton ~ Lin Manuel Miranda

 

doves cry today

I was dreaming’ when I wrote this, forgive me if I go astray. Today started out so good in spite of the massive allergies induced headache that has lasted for days because of all the pollen and dust in Manteca triggering all the histamines in my body, and then the skies felt like they were all purple and…

and…then the moment where more of the music that has been a part of my heart, my mind, my soul and shaped the thinking, feeling, loving, living person I am today, more of that music has died suddenly, without warning today along with Lemmy and Bowie and Mic Gillette and Glenn Frey and Paul Kantner and Maurice White and Dan Hicks and it’s only April and suddenly I want someone to check on Bruce Springsteen and Bono and Madonna and so many other icons, who I never really known, but dammit, they helped me to know myself so much better and I want to make sure that they are okay. Someone, please check on all the music icons of the 70s and 80s and 90s please! Doves are crying right now y’all and I make no apology for the massive run-on sentence that I just now wrote. No apologies because life is just a party, and parties weren’t meant 2 lastDearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life…without Prince.

Where exactly do we start?

And just as the day began to wind down…

This.

Greg was a dear, sweet friend. An old friend. A friend who shared so much music…so much amazing music filled with all the life and love and passion and joy that is part of life.

Yes, more tears. So honored, so blessed to say that I got to sing with this guy on stage sometimes. Remembering most of Solid Rock’s (the group of talented musicians, vocalists and me) rehearsals like that one time he created an amazing song about my moody three year old, Abigael and the time where he shared his excitement that my seven year old Hollie declared how much she hated jazz because she recognized jazz when she heard it as he was vamping jazz chords on the piano.

And you know what? I think I just want today to be over…over right now because I just can’t bear to hear the sound when doves cry.

Hug the ones you love y’all. Play all the music that touches the deepest parts of your soul for them too.

Eilene Whitt Jessup

I remember the first time I saw my daughter Hollie sing in public. It wasn’t the first time I had heard her warble like a baby song bird because, like her mama, she sang all the time…while playing with her toys, in the bathtub, walking to the park, in the backseat of that old Pontiac to the radio which were likely totally inappropriate songs for a small child to be listening to. She had a beautiful voice I used to proudly tell myself which was no surprise because DNA. Then one Sunday evening, standing in front of an audience with her Bible School choir, at the encouragement of her teacher, little Hollie stepped up to a microphone and sang the sweetest little chorus ALL BY HERSELF!!!

When I am afraid I will TRUST in You

I will TRUST in You

I will TRUST in You

When I am afraid I will TRUST in You

In Your Word I praise…

And I literally burst into tears because…MY BABY GIRL!!! And OMG I had no idea she was going to sing a solo!!! And MY BABY GIRL!!!

I will never forget that moment, as mothers do.

I will also not soon forget the wonderful woman who gave Hollie the wink and nod as she encouraged her to sing the song that she taught her. I met Eilene shortly before Hollie was born. Her calming presence coupled with her quick wit was something I couldn’t help be drawn to. As time passed, most of our time together was spent with music…so much music because we both loved music. But beyond the music there was Eilene encouraging, mentoring all with positive kindness. When I thanked Eilene for the wonderful surprise that was Hollie’s solo, she smiled and told me that she couldn’t imagine anyone else who could emphasize that we must TRUST the way that little Hollie did.

Eilene was the kind of person who led, taught, loved, encouraged by example. Always patient. Always kind.

When I was a young mother trying to balance marriage, mommy-life and career, Eilene was an example to me as a woman who successfully balanced her life as wife, mom, grandmother (which all who knew her knew she was overjoyed adding that title) and business woman. She had a busy travel agency. in San Jose…back in the day before we all could research, plan and book our own travel thanks to the interwebs. When I planned MY very first trip to Disneyland…and Hollie’s and Zoë’s…Eilene was who I turned to. She offered all kinds of advice and options that would work for our little family while we vacationed with our kindergartener and 9 month old and she created what was the most wonderful first real family vacation package for us at Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, San Diego Wild Animal Park and a few other points of interest along the way. The cherry on top was the lovely, welcome to our vacation card from her waiting for us at the front desk of the hotel where we stayed during our juggling away from home adventure. Upon our return, when I thanked her for helping to plan such  wonderful family memories she smiled and thanked me back saying she just wanted it to be something special for us.

Earlier this week, after a life well lived, Eilene passed away. Naturally with someone as special as she, the tributes literally flooded my social media stream. With someone as special as she this was no surprise. I have read them all so far and have found myself even more fond of someone who truly was an example for anyone on how to live a life and truly succeed.

Blessing and love, Eilene! Thank you for your inspiration, guidance and, always, your love.

Eilene Whitt Jessup, May 16, 1936 – January 25, 2016