‘I’m sorry, but this is an unsurvivable injury.’ Those were the words of the surgeon, around 2:00 am, on October 24, 2013. The words I laughed at and wouldn’t believe. The words I fought against with every ounce of my might. That one short phrase has replayed over and over again in my mind, since last October; and, even more-so these past few weeks. A phrase that we we were convinced was a lie from the deepest pit of hell, has instead, become the coldest and hardest truth; one that we’re still trying to accept. The surgeon went on to explain that Christiano had sustained severe injuries and had bleeding on both sides of his brain. He said if it had been just one side, they could have tried surgery, but because there was significant injury to both sides of his brain, he could  never survive the surgery. Of course, I told him that he was mistaken because our son was going to live. I told him to perform the surgery and to do whatever he needed to do to keep our boy alive. He kept telling me that I didn’t understand, yet I wouldn’t back down; I would not relent. I told him he better do the surgery immediately. He didn’t hide his puzzled look, the one that showed me that he thought I was crazy, but I couldn’t give up – I could not lose hope.   

The night went on for what seemed like forever. We prayed, we worshipped God, and we stood firm in our faith. We fought the good fight, and we never quit. Yet still, against every particle of our own wills, our son didn’t survive the trauma to his brain. And, three hundred and sixty three days ago, after many attempts to resuscitate his lifeless body, Christiano Tré Barbosa died his physical death. 

Christiano isn’t the only one who sustained unsurvivable injuries that early morning in October. Because, that morning I became very broken, too. The person I was, the mother I was, so much of her died in that hospital room. Her constant optimism, her open trust, her child-like faith, her unwavering hope, her pure heart – all of that, and more, seemed to die. There were times I actually thought I would die from a broken heart; the pain and sorrow – just too unbearable. Yet, somehow, I’m still here. In my brokenness, I remain. And, although so much of me did not survive that night, there are parts of me that are being reborn. Slowly, I’m trusting again and opening my heart in a new way. 

However, I am convinced that much of me needed to die that night. For, God would never want me to come through this the same. We are changed in His presence, and, this past year, into His presence is the only place I could go.  Even when I wanted to run away from Him, He relentlessly pursued me. Moses was changed in the presence of The Lord; Jacob was changed while wrestling with The Lord; Paul was changed after being knocked down off of a horse by the Lord. The presence of the Lord is the place that changes people. And, He goes with me through this dark valley. Even when I’ve wanted to hide my face from Him, He has not hidden His, and He has sustained me when I couldn’t stand. However, I’m not the same person that I was a year ago. As I said, much of me died with Christiano and parts of me, too, were deemed unsurvivable – never to be resurrected. 

The biggest part of me that died was the 6 foot 9 inch section of my heart. Some say that God can restore all that’s been taken from me, but that is just not possible. Not while I’m here on this earth. You see, Christiano is irreplaceable, and, until I’m reunited with Him, I can never be whole. Paul asked the Lord to remove the thorn from his side. We don’t know what that thorn was, but we know that God said, ‘No. My grace is sufficient for you.’ Sometimes God says no. His answer was no when I asked for my son to live, and his answer was no when I wanted to go with him. Imagine how hard it must be for God to know that in one instant He could give us what we want and make all of our pain disappear. But, because He sees the future and knows what is best for us, He will not say yes. He will not change his mind, and He will never waiver. But, His grace truly is sufficient. 

In what has felt like a slow process,  some of the things in me that died are being reborn. And, they’re even stronger now; built on a REAL, solid ground. My faith isn’t in my faith or my prayer, but it’s built on the measure that GOD has given me. It’s not just words or make believe. Also, I’m seeing beauty again – mostly in the little things. I’m pursuing God instead of a platform, and I’m loving my kids the way Christ has loved me. I’m more aware of my need for a Savior than I ever was before, and I’m ok with missing the mark. What I have with God is more real than it ever was before. I’ve been tested and tried, but God hasn’t moved from me. He endures it all with me, and He is making me new. I’m not who I was, but I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. I hate how the change has come. I hate that my son is gone, and I hate that our family has gone through this. But, I’m grateful that God hasn’t allowed me to quit. I’m grateful that he won’t let me fail, even when I fall. 

Fake It ‘Til You Make It?

‘Fake it til you make it.’ We’ve all heard this catchphrase, and we’ve all, at one time or another, made our best attempt to follow it. Some of us are still trying to live out this flawed command – the command that warrants plastered smiles, positive speech, and optimistic thoughts. The phrase that tells us to say no to any real exposure and yes to hiding it all within the painful walls of our heart. The issue I have with this ‘idea’ or ‘philosophy’ is that it stifles our God given freedom and right to feel. It also diminishes the TRUE joy and the TRUE peace that God Himself gives to us. It’s like an artificial sweetener; it tricks us into thinking it is the real deal, but the side affects actually leave us feeling more empty and craving the real thing.

God made us to have feelings; and we see that in our perfect High Priest, Jesus. He is not a religious High Priest, but one who has experienced real suffering, cried real tears, and shed real blood. Jesus, our beautiful example, has never been one for faking it. In fact, we see just the opposite – Jesus was, is and will always be the real deal. He had a real confidence knowing that, no matter what came His way, God had a perfect plan. And, unto death, He trusted that plan. 

That’s where I want to be. I want to trust God and His plan for my life and the life of those I love. I desire TRUE peace and TRUE joy that only comes from Him. And, that is why I will never ever fake it. Not because I have some sort of great wisdom on the subject, because, believe me, I’ve partaken in faking it before. I’ve plastered a smile and said that all was well – even though inside I was so overwhelmed with my life. I’ve yelled at my kids the entire way to church then put my best foot forward when walking into the building. And, I’ve gotten mad at my husband over a molehill matter, while extending all the mountain size grace in the world to everybody else. But, I’m so done with that life. My REAL God deserves a REAL child – one who is aware of who she isn’t without Him, but knows who He has made her; one who doesn’t want to do it in her own strength, but leans fully on her Father; one who isn’t closed off and too afraid to be exposed. And, above all, He deserves a child who let’s her Daddy in – no holds barred.

My chains are gone, and I’ve been set free. So, why on earth would I rebuild the walls that Jesus gave His very life to tear down. I’m a real mom who’s experiencing real grief, and I won’t ever apologize for it. My God is bigger than my pain, but he doesn’t ask me to pretend. He wants all of me; the messy, broken, scared and confused me. And, it is the real me that He shall have. For, I am His and He is mine.

‘Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.’ Philippians 3:12



Our Final Goodbye

Last Columbus Day Weekend, we had such a beautiful time together as a family. All six of us laughed, played, ate, and talked about anything and everything. It was your first overnight back home since you had left for school in August, and I couldn’t have been happier to have all four of my children under one roof. Sunday night, you fell asleep on the couch. I woke you up so you could sleep in a real bed… I knew those college dorm beds had to be so uncomfortable. I guided you down the stairs and helped you into bed. I tucked you in, and you smiled from ear to ear with your eyes still closed. I kissed you about six times all over you face and you let out a giggle. Within about five seconds, you were fast asleep again.

The next day – Columbus Day, we made the most out of every minute we had together. I made you a breakfast consisting of all your favorites. Throughout the day, you kept coming up to me just to hug me and tell me just how much you loved me. You asked me how to get the funny smell out of your sponges, and you even thanked me for all I’d done for you over the years. You played street football with your siblings, and had deep chats with your dad about sports, music and life. I made you a feast, very thanksgiving-like, but with a whole chicken instead of a turkey. You loved every second of your time here and mentioned that you wished you could stay.

When it was time for me to bring you ‘home,’ you asked your Dad if he would come for the ride. It seemed out of the ordinary since I did most of the transporting from here to Bryant. But, I could tell it meant a lot to you, and so could Dad. Of course, he happily agreed to come along. When you said goodbye to your siblings, I felt sad. It still seemed so ‘off’ at home without you. Our family was always together, and I don’t think any of us had quite adjusted yet to your absence.

The ride to campus was wonderful. We talked about your classes, C.S. Lewis, Christiany, your future plans, your friends and, of course, volleyball. You were doing SO well, and I just had such a peace about where you were headed. When we arrived to Bryant, we sat outside in the parking lot for a bit and continued to chat. You had a slight cold that weekend, and Dad asked if he could pray for you. You said, ‘Absolutely. I’d like that.’ Dad prayed for your cold, for wisdom, for peace in your mind, and for your relationship with The Lord. Towards the end of the prayer, Dad thanked God for you and asked him to protect and guide you. As my hand laid gently on your knee, I will never forget the end of that prayer. ‘God, we give this child to you. Please have your way with him. We release him into your care.’ As Dad, spoke those final words, I began to cry. Not because I didn’t want that, but because I knew Dad was right, and that it was time for us to let you grow up. (So hard for a mommy.) I wanted to KEEP you from so much. I wanted you home with me, all day, every day. But, the hard truth I’ve come to know is that you were never mine. I was just the one who God chose to love and care for you for eighteen years. Oh, how I wish it was more.

How could I know that one the evening of Columbus Day, 2013, we would be saying goodbye for the last time? I couldn’t. But God knew… And, I thank Him for making that weekend so special for us. I miss you so much. I can barely get through writing this to you, as the tears blur my eyes and soak my face. This is not the life I want, but it is the life I’ve been given. And, if avoiding the pain means that I would never have had you, then I’d still opt for the pain. Christiano, people truly have no idea how special you are, but God does. Your existence CHANGED me, and I will never be the same because of your love. I know our last goodbye was the final one because when I see you again – it will be forever. And, my mommy heart who wanted you with her all day, every day will one day be fully satisfied.