Tag Archives: death of parent

There’s No One to be Proud of Me Anymore

7 Sep

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Since my mother’s death, I’ve felt creatively blocked.  I thought it was grief or depression, but as time went on, I became more and more frustrated.  Maybe writing isn’t my calling, I thought.  I mean, who ever heard of a wordless writer?  

It came on suddenly—this realization that there was no one to be proud of me anymore, at least not in the way my mother would glow at my achievements.  I said it out loud but never connected it to my success as a writer.  Any future achievements won’t have her nodding head of approval.

I recently went to a writer’s conference where I sat in lectures with feelings of anxiety welling up inside of me.  How am I supposed to establish a platform, a core message, and write an ebook by October when I don’t know who I am anymore?  And even if I did do all that, who would read it?

See, my mom read every blog post and edited every college and grad school paper.  She kept every college newspaper I published and even make a scrapbook of my childhood awards (because that good citizenship award from third grade is a keeper.). She was at every school concert or play, cheered me on when I sang solos at church, and showed up even when it was embarrassing.  I was definitely her celebrated child.

Before she died, I desperately wanted my mom to tell me that she was proud of me.  Instead she told me she told me she loved me over and over again.  “But, Mom, are you proud of me?” It was an urgent question to which I desperately needed an answer.  She told me I did the best with what life handed me and that she was sorry life handed me so much.  

I never got to hear those words.  And I never will hear them from her again, at least on this side of life.

It all rushed back to me one day as I was sitting on a wooden bench in my gym’s locker room. Openly sobbing in a wet bathing suit I realized there was no one who would be proud of me.  No one who would really celebrate my achievements the way my mom once did.

As Credence Clearwater Revival’s  “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” played on the speaker overhead, God voice cut through the music straight to my battered heart: I will be proud of you.  I will always be proud of you.

It seemed sacrilegious to equate God with pride because pride always comes before the fall.  But it’s not a haughty type of proud, more like pleased with me, delighted in me, celebrating with me.  Yes, God is the God who would celebrate me, His Beloved daughter. (Zephaniah 3:17)

And suddenly, I became unchained.  God, who is always faithful, delighted in every little thing I did.  Not only did He also see every concert, every award, every solo, He saw every time I held the door in His name or returned a shopping cart or just started loudly praising Him in song as I drove along Route 309.The very God who created me to do and create and be was watching and reveling in my acts of worship.  Suddenly, very normal kindness seems like very holy business.

It doesn’t mean it won’t ache when I publish a book my mom won’t read or become a YouTube celebrity without her watching (haha!).  Losing a mom is a mother load of loss, one I’m still processing in these months since her physical death.

But I can move forward as I accept the reality that I don’t just create to make my mother proud, but to communicate God’s love, truth and beauty to a world that desperately needs all three.  Instead of earthly praise, I’m looking for something far, far better.

High School: Confidential; Allyson, Kim, & Sarah

1 Apr

By Amy Sondova It’s all the drama, but none of the personal turmoil–it’s high school relived from freshman to senior year through the lives of 12 girls from Northwest High School in Overland Park, KS. It’s called “High School: Confidential” and the show is a new 8-part documentary airing Monday nights at 10 PM on the WE Network. The girls were filmed from 2002-2006.

The latest installment of the show featured three girls—Allyson, Kim, and Sarah—with very distinct personalities.

Allyson is the show’s first black girl, who is deeply devoted to her faith saying, “It’s one of those things I’m gonna do for the rest of my life.” Coming from a two parent household with an older sister, Allyson has a stable family unit, which is tested when she becomes pregnant her sophomore year. Allyson, with her mother’s support, decides to get an abortion, which she says is a traumatic experience. Her mother says that while the abortion is against the Bible, she didn’t know what else to do. Allyson recovers well physically and emotionally from the experience and in her senior year dates a guy who has a son (interestingly enough). She says that the last week of March, the time the baby was due to be born, was the hardest for her.

After her pregnancy and abortion, Allyson’s relationship with her father becomes more solidified. Though he admits struggling with his feelings, he says he received much help from his friend at AME Church the family attends. Tragically, Allyson’s father dies suddenly from a heart attack the spring of her senior year, to which Allyson’s mother weeps, “I would like for my happily ever after to be longer, but it wasn’t.” At her mother’s side during the funeral, Allyson also has a close friend die from a brain aneurysm her sophomore year. Strong and beautiful, Allyson announces that she will be just fine.

Kim is a classic overachiever who juggles advanced courses, theater, music, student government, and soccer during her high school years. In almost every scene, Kim has a look of extreme distress of her face as she rushes from class to theater to soccer, and constantly feels like she is letting her parents down when she gets anything but an A. Too busy for her boyfriend, Kim even likes her relationships in the fast lane, saying, “I think it should go from kissing to something further, like sex.”

By her junior year, Kim admits, “I just don’t sleep anymore at night.” Unable to deal with the weight of her jam-packed schedule, Kim decides to drop out of soccer and take the lead in the school play her senior year—a decision she says “was harder than even choosing what college to go to.” After being nominated for Sweetheart Queen and losing the crown to another, Kim finally learns how much her parents and older brother appreciate and treasure her causing her to burst into tears. Yet Kim’s hard work pays off as she earns lots of scholarships and gains self-confidence she seemed to lack when she entered high school.

Perhaps the most amusing girl yet to be featured on the show is Sarah, a quiet girl with a flair for the artistic. Seemingly uninteresting at first glance, Sarah is less than loquacious, yet possesses a certain charm as she speaks her mind, “I don’t want to be a cheerleader; I’d rather die.” After joining band her freshman year, Sarah decides that she doesn’t want to spend 12 hour days marching around at band camp so she tries her hand at art. By her junior year, Sarah’s artistic talent develops dramatically and she is elected vice-president of the National Art Honor Society. While she never finds a boyfriend, she shyly says, “I think I’m a little more confident in who I am,” and then adds, “The only way to not conform is to be yourself.”

While her story seems passé, almost normal, it’s nice to know that awkward, insecure girls still merge into semi-confident young women. Sarah’s parents, like the other parents in this episode, are very supportive of their daughter and encourage her to follow her dreams noting her artistic prowess. While she doesn’t say a lot, when she speaks, Sarah is worth hearing. In closing she says, “My story is the story of a girl who stood by herself and found her voice.”

Print copy of recap.

All photographs courtesy of WE TV.

Catch up with the other girls–Lauren G. & Cappie; Courtney; Jessi; Crystle, Sara N. & Caitlin, and Cate, Beth, & Lauren B.

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