There are no answers…only prayers

Canada-Flag-Half-mast-JCA captioned athan Cirillo was laid to rest with full ceremonial honours as Canada said goodbye to one of her sons.

Nathan Cirillo was laid to rest with full ceremonial honours as Canada said goodbye to one of her sons.

On Wednesday last week, something terrible happened in Canada. A young, innocent, noble man’s life was brutally taken by a violent attack as he stood guarding Canada’s national monument to peace and freedom. This murder happened at the war memorial in downtown Ottawa, Canada. In the wake of this horror, we as a nation, are learning some of the details. The murdered, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was a soldier with Canada’s reserve military and also the father of a 5-year-old child he was raising alone.

This is the second murder of military personnel in as many days with the ambush and killing of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, on Monday October 20th, 2014. (When he was struck in a targeted hit and run, in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.) Things have forever changed in Canada as we a nation struggle to understand what has happened as we will never understand why.

Words cannot describe the feelings here in Ottawa and throughout this country. Today, October 28th, 2014 Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was laid to rest with full ceremonial honours as Canada said goodbye to one of her sons.

While the public outrage focuses on the innocent victims, there are two other victims less known, the mothers of both the murdered and the killer. I cannot begin to fathom how either of them must feel. The soldier’s mother, with her hero son, violently and senselessly ripped away from her forever in 30 seconds of horrific brutality. The murderer’s mother, also losing her son as he is swiftly gunned down by federal security authorities.

As some of the background is explored, and the details are filled in, we are learning that mental illness may have played a role in the killing of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. It does not change for a moment that this young man in Canada’s employ had his future mercilessly and cruelly stolen in an instant. Nor, that the nation remains mourning the tragic loss of innocent life, and a little five-year-old has been left an orphan.

The murder’s mother released a statement indicating her anger at her son. She said that the tears she was shedding were for the victims of her son’s outrageous act and not for the loss of her own son.

Any mom that has had to deal with mental illness in a child is aware there is no quick cure and no easy fix. You straddle the path between love and support for your broken child and total abhorrence and shock for the actions of your own flesh. You seek help from mental health experts where you are counselled try to live each day as best you can. The path forward is a maze of opinions, stigma and at best, complete misunderstanding, even from family. You know there are issues. You stand alone with no clear answers. There is no easy solution. Outsiders and family alike judge you, they judge your actions and those of your child as though they are one and the same. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mental illness does not discriminate in choosing its victims. It is not well understood nor are the signs and symptoms that first appear in the teenage years and often ignored as just part of growing up. Parents are left bewildered as no matter what resources are engaged; no one has all the answers.

In the game of life, if we roll back the clocks, both moms were once in a hospital delivery room meeting their babies for the first time. Both the victim and the killer were once just tiny babies, wrapped in hospital blankets. Adorable, new human beings with a lifetime of potential stretching out in front of them.

We need to be sure that each child whom mental illness strikes down has the help they need, when they need it. As a nation we need to continue to advocate better support in the form of mental health research, awareness and access, especially for our teens and their parents.

Soldier-and-Canada-Flag-JCA The murdered, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was a soldier with Canada’s reserve military and also the father of a 5-year-old child he was raising alone. Rest in peace.

Rest in Peace.

Heartbreaking for a mother to watch over a lifetime, her baby grow up through mental illness, his life culminate in being a murderer who brought a country almost to its knees.

When we pray and think of the victims, let us keep a special place in our hearts for the mothers of both the victims and the perpetrators. Many of us parent troubled kids in this game called life without all the answers and enough support …we could use your prayers.

The Garden Goat

 

 

The Six-Year-Old “gets it”… Friends are very Important

In watching the games children play among themselves… I am often reminded how really important friendship can be and should be. How wonderful it is when things are going well and how wretched it feels when things are not. (There is a huge difference between how the girls handle friendships and how the boys do …such a big topic that will have to wait for another post).

Friendship cartoon calvin and hobbes

“True friends are family you choose for yourself. This road called “life” is made much more bearable with these special friends to share your joys and divide your sorrows.”

My six-year-old son stopped in the middle of supper recently to announce an emergency. “Mom I have to go right now and see (so and so)…I miss him I want him to know I am still his friend!” Sure, how about when you have finished supper? He did not have a chance to answer before the other kids (lots of those in the peanut gallery here) chimed in with “THAT is SO NOT an emergency.” Some older (more jaded) siblings added “Isn’t he the guy that got mad at you over that toy?” and “Well I would make him wait if I were you…let’s see how long it takes until he comes to see you! Besides you can always make new friends.” This reaction was met with immediate tears from my six-year old. Between the tears he stammered “But I want him to know I am still his friend no matter what…. and I am thinking of him NOW and I want him to know that!” (Perhaps I should introduce this kid to “immediate” tools such as email…social media? LOL)  I realized that if we understood friendship more like the six-year old does how much happier and less complicated things would be for all of us.

“A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.” (and maintain!) ~Francois de La Rochefoucauld~

Real friendships are precious. Loss of a real friendship is devastating. Many compare the grief from the loss of a best friend to the sadness suffered when one lives through a death or divorce.  Too many of us take our best friendships for granted. These are special bonds we have with other people we  consider will always be there because they are people we care truly about.  Not necessarily so.

True Friend

“A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.”
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Friends are a lot like plants. With care and attention they blossom into untold beauty but when left unattended for too long begin to fade. Eventually withering and dying with no lasting trace of ever existing.

As moms we tend to put ourselves last and with that the attention we would ever give to ourselves by way of indulging in a close friendship. The complete laundry list of other priorities often all but obliterates some of these most important relationships.  We often tell our friends that we are busy and will be in touch as we balance a multitude of ever-changing priorities and hope that perhaps next week our schedule will allow for a few moments to spend on ourselves in time with that friend. Many “next week” promises get deferred to the week after and pretty soon an entire six weeks has passed. Pretty soon months have elapsed and eventually years.

Since almost creation, women have been raised culturally with the notion that once you have children you must sacrifice any “free time” for the good of one’s family. With larger families this is ever more the reality. The list of important things to do is never-ending. I know for me it looks something like this:

Laundry, Groceries, Laundry, Meals, Laundry, General housework, Laundry, errands, more Laundry, cleaning (bathrooms constantly) and then more laundry still. (OK agreed…a little LAUNDRY obsessed over here).

Somehow it is programmed into our heads that having any time to ourselves is an evil to be avoided and worse yet it would be positively diabolical to use such time to visit or have a friend visit. Growing up we are often taught that time with friends is a “privilege” only available to us once all our chores and duties are accomplished for the day. (Like any of one of us with a family would ever have everything accomplished …certainly not all on the same day! I am good …but my cape and tights no longer fit!) Some of us feel so guilty just grabbing a couple of hours to ourselves that we find reasons not to do the things that should matter most. Others of us can get lost in the ever-growing and endless list of chores. In the end… life is busy and can blow past all of us.

I have learned a few hard lessons with friendships. True friends are family you choose for yourself. This road called “life” is made much more bearable with these special friends to share your joys and divide your sorrows. These friendships and their memories are written on your heart forever.  Sadly, I have also learned that friendships are delicate things that can often break for reasons that are not apparent or easily understood. Heartache from a broken friendship is devastating and can last a lifetime.

“These friendships and their memories are written on your heart forever”

In a landmark study by UCLA (The University of California, Los Angeles) “On Friendship Among Women An alternative to fight or fligh” (by Gale Berkowitz©2002) found that friendships among women provide nurturing, perspective, laughter and act as an anchor in sanity protecting our emotional health. UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. By the way, they may do even more.”

I hope that someday I will live long enough to see some very special friendships healed and restored in my life. One very special friend in particular I am so lost without. I believe in tomorrow but only if I am strong enough to change what I do today.  In the meantime I am going to take a leaf out of my six-year-old’s book… tread more softly among my friends, be grateful for the blessings they are in my life, try harder to not take offence easily (nor to their preoccupation with their own lives) and arrange things in such a way that I am not too busy for the very relationships that help to keep me (and others around me) grounded! (Of course… all this while staying on top of the laundry!)

The Garden Goat

Goat washing Laundry

!OK agreed…a little laundry obsessed over here!”