The sky is so dark when storms are brewing. How dark must it have been that fateful night in August when a young mother smothered the breath out of the bodies of her young children? How loud did the thunder crackle when a remote hotel room became the scene of another Orangeburg massacre? I am referring to the tragedy involving Shaquan Duley and her two little boys, but the hurricane at the center of this catastrophic event could have formed a few feet to the left or right of this family and have devastated almost anyone’s life.
I cannot understand Shaquan’s destination but, as a mother, I do understand at least part of her journey. I have felt, even if for a moment, that unspeakable panic you feel when you think you are all alone and except for that little life wholly dependent on you. When everything in your life stacks up in the “con” column you wonder if anything will ever go your way again. That is a place I have only passed through briefly but for such a lonely place, it was awfully crowded. If more parents would be transparent enough to admit that they have hit rock bottom emotionally at some point in their lives, those who are still there may find some hope.
I couldn’t help but think there had to be a way to bridge the valley from such a bad place to a better place. I was in church soon after the tragedy when I heard the words that seemed to lay the first beam of the bridge. To paraphrase my pastor, Eric Freeman – storms are a part of life. They may come and may not go for a very long time. For some of us it seems to never stop raining. But we waste so much energy begging God to let the storm pass that we never take the time to learn to dance in the rain.
Storms in my life have come in many forms – unemployment, divorce, teenage insanity (you know the kind you get from your children). So many problems flooding in at once I thought for sure I would loose my mind before I caught my breath. I have felt like I was drowning before. I have seen myself drifting farther and farther from shore. What kept me from going under? A combination of things really – God, my family, my daughter’s need for me. When I couldn’t change the circumstances, I had to change my perspective. I want more of my sisters and brothers to find that rainbow within.
I don’t pretend to have all of the instructions for how to begin the dance. I do know that you must plug in to something positive. Find something that is healthy and alive and make yourself a part of it. A church, a family, a friendship, a renewing of your own mind through learning – find something that’s going in the direction you want to go.
I am creating a group for parents focused on doing just that. A group called Parenting Solo (what else would it be called) where we will come together and learn dance steps from each other. We will learn to look at the sky and celebrate whatever it brings. After all, blessings shower down on us too and if life has us so exhausted and distracted that all we see is stormy weather then we have will even curse the shower that brings the rainbow. Rain makes living things grow – including us. Stay tuned for more details on when and where the dance lessons will begin.