And Now We Know His ABC’s…

This is a project Christiano had to do for Tenth Grade English Class.  It is called an Alphabetical Biography. My husband found it and gave it to me for my birthday. It offered me a closer glimpse of how Christiano saw himself, and I thought you would like to get to know him a little better, also. Enjoy!

 A – Actor

Acting is a hobby that has been going on since…I would imagine the beginning of time. It is a time when you can forget about everything in the outside world and just focus on your character. The reason I love to act is because it makes me feel as though I am entertaining people, but not as Chris Barbosa, as someone totally unfamiliar to me. I enjoy acting, and I hope I can do it for a long time. 
B – Bed
I love to sleep. But, who doesn’t? Sleep is something I like to do that replenishes me and makes me feel…well, awake. I would stay in bed all day if I could. 
C – Christian
Now don’t look at this word and say that I am religious. I am not. Now, I could write a whole essay on this, but I am restricted to only five sentences. All I can say is that by saying that I am a Christian is not to say that I am religious, but to say that I have a relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
D – Daring
Now you could say that I’m daring. But, it may depend on your definition of what daring is. No, I will not jump off of a twenty story building for your entertainment. On the other hand, yeah, I’ll ride on a roller coaster. Why, what’s the worst that can happen? 
E – Exuberant 
I put this because it means to be full of joy. This is what I am for every day. I try to be as happy and as joyful as I can because I want my happiness to rub off on everyone around me. 
F – Funny 
I have been told that I’m pretty funny. Now I am not saying this to brag or to ‘toot my own horn,” as some may say. I am just simply stating what others have said about me. I love to make people laugh and I guess I do an okay job. 
G – Growth 
This word means a lot to me. People would probably think this refers to my height. This is obviously the most obvious outlook on things. Well that is only half of what this word means to me. The other half is that I always try to grow, or progress, in everything that I do, so that I can always get better at what I do.
H – Happy
What can I say about this? I mean…I’m happy. At least I try my best to be. 
I – Irish
This is my nationality. Well, not my only nationality, but my strongest. I am also Cape Verdean as well as a lot of other things. I was the result of a United Nations after party gone wrong. 
J – Joyful
Now, this is not the same thing as happiness. Happiness is defined as temporary while joy is permanent. Joyfulness is a heart attitude. I am a joyful person. 
K – Kind
Kindness is sometimes a hard thing to follow through on. I’m not claiming that I’m always kind to everyone at all times but it is something that I try to make a conscious effort to do. You want people to be kind to you? You need to be kind to other people. 
L – Love
What is love? Some people have trouble answering this question. I have no trouble. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures. I try I to love at all times. 
M – Malevolent 
No I am not really evil. I just like the word. That’s really all I have to say about this one. 
N – Nintendo<3
Okay…I love Nintendo. I love the games. I love the music. I love everything. When I see the logo, I get excited. I sound like such a loser, but I don’t care. I love it. 
O – Obelisk
An obelisk is a talk pillar like structure. Look at me. Do I not resemble an obelisk?
P – Playful 
There is a time for work and a time for play. Well, when is the time for work and when is the time for play? I say that it is always time for play. And even when it is time for work, you can still have fun doing it. 
Q – Quick Thinking
Some people are quick on their feet. They can think of something and just do it in .000001 second flat. See, I just think fast but I’m not too light on my feet do it’s hard for me do anything fast. But, seriously my quick thinking skills help me in a lot of things. One major thing that it helps me with is my improv acting for drama. 
R – Relaxed
I try to stay as relaxed as possible. My philosophy on life is not to stress over things and just to take them as they come. Stressing out over something is only going to lower your performance. You have to be easy-going and just go with the flow. This is what I do and it helps me to enjoy life everyday. 
S – Sportcenter
Out of all these words, this one is by far the one that I have invested the most time in. I wake up and watch Sportcenter. I get home from school, Sportcenter. I go to bed, Sportcenter. I love sports and with this amazing program I can follow them all day. 
T – Talkative
Ms. Pasquarelli, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this one. I love to talk. It is one of my favorite things. No matter how hard I try, it is very hard for me to keep my mouth shut.
U – Unique
Everyone is unique. No one is created exactly the same as someone else. I try to always be my own person and not who everyone else is.
V – Veracious
Veracious means to be truthful or honest. The truth will set you free. Honesty is the best policy. There are so many things that revolve around the word truth, but the key word is integrity. You are only worth what your word is worth. 
W – Witty
This goes a little bit with quick thinking. I usually am able to think of a smart reply very quickly. Maybe I should cut down on this though. After all, it does get me into a little bit of trouble.  
X – X-iting
This was just a desperate attempt at the letter X. I couldn’t really come up with anything good so I used this. I think the fact that I used this instead of some boring old word like xylophone or X-ray, makes me pretty exciting. 
Y – Young
I am 15 years old. This may seem old to some people (well to six year olds…). I realize that I have a lot more time ahead of me. In this time I will try to make the most out of everyday. 
Z – Zany
To be zany is to be comical in an extravagantly ludicrous manner. Although, this type of comedy is not my forte, I could pull it off if needed. Besides, this fits me better than all the other adjectives that start with Z. 

Where Do I Fit?

One of the things that have been hard for me over the past few months is meeting new people. Adding a meet and greet to grief is like adding ammonia to bleach; it doesn’t mix and it can cause some bad reactions. I just don’t have any desire, at this point, to answer questions about my family, especially the  dreaded, most common one; ‘How many children do you have?’ Of course, I know that I will always have four, so that seems easy enough, right? Not exactly. The question hardly ever stops there. It is usually accompanied by, ‘What are their ages?’ And, see, this is where it can get tricky. ‘Well, you see, my son was one age when he passed away, but he would’ve been another age  now…’ It’s hard to say that. I did  hear one grieving mom say that sometimes she says four and other times five, depending on her mood or what she feels like sharing on that particular day. But, that won’t work for me. I could never say three. Never, ever. 

Friends who know of your situation will most likely try and be more careful. For the most part, they are purposeful with their dialogue. Although it is somewhat unreal how many times people use death in a joking context. Like the dramatic friend who says, ‘I almost died,’ or the joking wife who says ‘I just wanted to kill my husband,’ or, the one that hits closest to home, the  exhausted mother who has had some rough nights and proclaims, ‘Well, everyone survived the day. I didn’t kill any kids.’ I know these are all meant in good fun, but boy can they hurt. What I would give to have Christiano causing some ruckus around here again. 
But still, it is meeting new people that is the biggest challenge. Meeting new people forces me to tread on unknown territory. It feels very unsafe, like walking the tight rope with no experience. (And, believe me, I  have lousy balance.) I just never know what’s going to come out of their mouths. For example, I was at an engagement recently, and there was a couple I had never met before at our table. They were nice, nice people. But, somehow the topic of pets came up, and my husband and I began to share our pet stories, also known as our pet disasters. We shared about the unexpected death of our cats, our hamster, our fish, and our lizards. Everyone was laughing, and I thought, ‘This is great. No kid talk.’ Well, that was until the gentlemen came out with this doozie, ‘Oh, boy! You haven’t killed any kids yet, have you?’ I reacted way too quickly and said, ‘Why, yes. Yes, I’ve done that, too.’ They just laughed nervously; I think they thought I was joking. I wish it was a joke. I felt bad immediately after because it was an awful reply, and they were very nice people who meant nothing by what they said. But, again, when treading in unknown territory anything can happen. I’m walking in a place unfamiliar to me and so are the people around us. The grace of God is there to carry us, but it is still difficult; for me, especially. Partly because I don’t want to run into comments like that, partly because sometimes I’m not up for sharing Christiano in an up close and personal way with others just yet, and partly because I feel like an outcast in each new place I go. And, sometimes, I even feel like an outcast among my closest friends. 
This is a new feeling for me, altogether. I’ve never cared about fitting in, but by Gods grace, I  have never had trouble making friends. I have always been the ‘friends with everyone’ type; not tied down to a particular group or type. If you were a person, (and if you’re reading this, I’m assuming you are) I was gonna love on you, and that was that. I am just a lover of people – newborns, infants, children, tweens, teens, young adults, grown-ups – just people of any age. To go from being extremely in love with people to a sort of protective isolation has been traumatizing for me, in and of itself. There are many times I don’t feel like I fit anywhere anymore, and that’s so different for me. I’m not saying I was ever the most popular person – popularity doesn’t even appeal to me – but I could fit anywhere before. If friends of mine felt like they couldn’t fit I always just told them to put themselves out there. So cliche, right.  But, now I see that it’s not always that easy. I’ve learned a lot in that way. So many preachers say things like, ‘If you want to be happy, just BE happy.’ I wish it were that simple. 
The positive side of not fitting in with people is that I’m finding myself in Christ. Just as I’ve had to find who God is during this time of grief, I’ve also had to allow Him to find me. No more hiding behind a fake smile, or phoning a friend before going to Him.  And, He has been there to define both, Himself and me. My prayer is that I can learn to fit again, but by his shaping and molding, not my own and not anyone else’s. 
Picture a fisher-price shape sorter. It’s a cube with all different shapes cut out of it; squares, circles, ovals, triangles and stars. The toddlers job is to fit the blocks into the right spots. So many times, I’ve seen a little two year old, trying to fit a square block inside the circle cut out. But, it just doesn’t fit. And, so often, that is us. Trying to conform to the pattern or shape that wasn’t made for us. Trying to walk like someone else, trying to act, talk or be like someone that God never called for us to be. As I write this now, I wish I wasn’t a grieving mother, that losing a child wasn’t part of my identity. But, it is. What is that thing you wish you weren’t? Or, maybe it’s something you wish you were. The best people we can be is exactly who God made us; to let Him be our shape sorter; to let Him make us fit. 

Little Big

Lately the little things have been getting to me. Little reminders, little triggers, little memories. I wonder if I miss the little things most of all. The way he said my name, or put his hand on my shoulder when I was stressed; the way he laughed with food in his mouth – his chin bobbing and head rolling, almost as if he had to catch the food that might potentially leave his mouth; the way he forgot EVERYTHING – keys, cell phone, jacket, books; the way he’d nap on the couch through all the noise we would make; the way he would say just the right thing to encourage me when I was down. The little things.

One of the lessons I’ve learned on this journey is that sometimes the little things matter the most. When a friend sends a card on that really tough day or sends a text that says ‘thinking about you.’ When your husband brings home chocolate or the kids give an unexpected hug. When the youth director at church spends time with your boys or a friend reaches out to your daughter. When you’ve just run out of milk and somebody calls and says, ‘what do you need at the grocery store?’ When a sister in Christ says, ‘let me pray for you.’ When a close friend needs a shopping day just as bad as you do and you’re able to forget that you’re sad for a short time. When a picture or a post on Facebook is posted in memory of your son who you miss terribly. When you’re talking and laughing with a friend and within seconds you’re both in tears. When you’re thought about, prayed for, loved on – it’s not little. It’s big. 
And, most of the time, that’s just it – the little things ARE the big things. 
Just today, I got numerous text messages from friends that were just thinking about me. I got a call from my husband on his lunch break, and we were able to talk about Christiano and pray together. Just an hour ago, I received a letter in the mail from the school that two of my children attend. They wanted to let me know that they prayed specifically for our children and our family.  The letter was heartfelt, and it was signed by each staff member. I cried reading it. We are so loved, and we are so very thankful for the little things that people like you allow God to use you for. Chances are if you’re reading this – you are one of them. I can almost envision Christiano and God just chatting it up about how blessed they are watching it all happen. We are Christiano’s family, but we are all God’s children, and he delights in us loving one another. Thank you for allowing God to use you in the little things that bless us in such a BIG way. 
* It is so funny. After I wrote this blog, I realized that Christiano’s Youth Director, who he loved very much, called him ‘Little Big,’ because, although he is named after my husband and should be ‘little Chris,’ he was much, much bigger. I never realized until now how that went with his personality. Christiano always did little things to show his love and the little things meant so much to him. A box of Frosted Flakes, a card, a kind word, a ride to work, dinner on the table, a listening ear… All of those little things were so big to my boy. 💙

Through The Valley

This morning, I remembered an old elementary song we used to sing in gym class. It was called ‘Going on a Bear Hunt,’ and it went like this:

We’re going on a bear hunt.
We’re on our way.
We’re going to find a lost one.
We’ll find him today.
Uh-oh, grass!
Long, wavy grass.
Can’t go over it.
Can’t go under it.
We’ve got to go through it.
We’re going on a bear hunt.
We’re on our way.
We’re going to find a lost one.
We’ll find him today.
Uh-oh, a river!
A deep, cold river.
Can’t go over it.
Can’t go under it.
We’ve got to go through it.
Oh, how the grieving look for a way to escape the flames and the hurt, to avoid the agony of loss; a pass through without any pain; a shortcut, or a way around it. Jesus asked for there to be another way; for a pass.  But, there was no other way and the cup could not be passed. There was only one way, and He was it.  Similarly, there is only one way for the griever, and it is through. There are no shortcuts provided, no magic doors to pass through. Grieving is a harsh road and it comes with an abundance of uncertainty. There are sure to be dead ends, one ways, and broken roads. It is dark and it gets lonely, for many are afraid to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. However, there may be a few who are brave enough to walk alongside. 
In this moment, I think about Jesus’ traveling partners through death valley. Of course, He had his mother, Mary. She had to walk the road of despair, as she watched her son be beaten and crucified. And then there were John and Mary. Unlike Jesus’ mother, John and Mary had a choice: walk alongside Jesus and His mother, or walk away. And, they chose to be right there by her side the entire time; to be right there at Jesus’ feet, while other disciples and friends scattered. When Jesus felt alone and forsaken by God, he had those three to turn to. This ministers to me now more than ever, and it makes me ask myself where I would have been. Would I have been an onlooker? Or, would I have been at the feet of my Savior? 
Death is uncomfortable and unpredictable. There will be many detours and obstacles to face on this journey, but I do take some comfort in knowing that God has gone before me, just as He had for Jesus.

“The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
These words bring me relief. Of course, it doesn’t make the action of walking it out any easier, but it does provide a peace that I can’t access anywhere else. To know that God is walking ahead of me, enables me to go down this winding road that appeals to no one. It’s a harsh reality, but it’s my reality. And, if I want to come out of this, I have to go through it. ‘I can’t go over it, can’t go under it, I’ve got to go through it.’ 
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4