We Keep Breathing

Dear Hazel,

Goodness, it’s been a while, hasn’t it, darling? Certainly not for lack of content, because we are BUSY. I could fill an entire book with all your developments and passions; and perhaps someday I will.

For now, however…

Recently it came to my attention that this month is #mentalawarenessmonth, which feels so completely kismet that I cannot help but tap this vein and speak what is on my heart presently.

All across the world, people are coming together to sing in unison, to remind others and themselves that it IS in fact okay not to be okay.

While there is still so much to learn about the creation you are and still becoming, your temperament tells me that we have a big-feeling journey ahead of us, something that both exhilarates and terrifies me.

I think that’s due to the fact that I know firsthand how isolating, suffocating, and debilitating those feelings can be – most especially in a world that seeks to suppress what is honest and real in favor of fuzzy polaroid’s.

One of the things I am MOST proud of teaching you is to how to use deep breathing to calm yourself down. It’s taken months of practice, but 9 times out 10 you will do this on your own amid a meltdown and it makes my heart collapse with gratitude.

Not because you are loud and because I’ve lost hearing in my right ear, but because this is a LIFE(line)skill you will use for the rest of your life. To breathe. In the hurt.


In addition to chronic illness, your Mama also has a severe hormonal imbalance. It’s something we are working on with some success, and something that leaves me feeling not okay about half of each month. That seems like a lot, and it is, but I am hopeful.

Right now, however, it means I cry, sometimes for no reason at all, or, in less than a moment’s notice, can descend into a fit of rage, black fury - which thankfully seems to abate when I am with you. …. God’s grace is all I have for that one.

It means I feel, quite frankly, like an insane person. Like I cannot trust this person with whom I must live and feel. She takes my oxygen.

She shoves my head below the water.

She steps on my head and forces me to see the world through the rippled lens of the water’s surface.

She thinks things, dark, horrible things. She looks at her life and she sees nothing good; only pain and suffering and endless dead-ends.

There are days when I want to strangle her, end this power she has to take my hope and light; to end it for us both. And there also days when I want nothing more to save her, to bring her to grace, where she belongs.

I have discovered, after more episodes than I can count that it is neither my job nor my responsibility to change her. You see, she’s not really mine… I’m her sister and her mother, but she does not belong to me.

I cannot save or end her – I can only BE with her. I can only offer Truth and Beauty as it is revealed to me.

I think, my sweet, what I want most for you to know as you go about this business of being human is it’s okay to fall apart.

Not ONLY okay, but BEAUTIFUL and normal, and almost always the precursor to redemption.

Yes, I said beautiful.

Though some may disagree, I believe one of the most beautiful abilities God gave to us is the ability and necessity to move our insides outside. They are not meant to stay inside where dark lingers, but intended to be brought forth to the Light where they can be read and weighed and SHARED with others who are walking similar journeys of despair.

Hazel, do you see what word lives inside “despair”? It’s the word “pair,” meaning more than one, meaning we are NOT alone, even when we are. God put that hope-word inside a pain-word so that we would know He is with us, always always. That even as one, we are a pair. (This insight came to me just now as I was writing; evidence that it’s not even really me speaking to you right now.)

It’s Him. Your Lover, your Father.

You and Jesus, forever bound to each other. A pair. Never alone, darling. NEVER.


Hazel, I don’t know if you will encounter similar feelings one day, and these words I write to you now will not be fresh when you read them for the first time. You will grow up (eye-rolling, I’m sure) listening to me tell you how loved and accepted you are, over and over again, the mess and the masterpiece.

Furthermore, you will know you are not walking fresh terrain. You travel inside my footprints. I have walked this, lived this, which gives me complete authority and license to PROMISE you will indeed get THROUGH this.

There is love here and there is love there. Though you may feel unlovable, be reminded that you are not only loved, but composed of love. It’s how your bones were shaped, the joints fused. Love, love, love. It is your character, your marrow.

I also don’t want you tricked into believing you must first un-feel your feelings before DOING something.

It IS okay to walk blindly.

Baby, life is ROUGH. It’s going to wound you seven ways from Sunday, and there is little I’ll be able to do prevent it. But I CAN educate you. I can make sure Truth is already there, layers and layers written on your soul, so that when you meet Lie, you can tell him, Sorry, Bro, I’ve read this book and I already know we win. Peace, sucka!

Hear me, love.

As you travel your story, the most beautiful important thing you can do for Hazel is give her space to be the version of whoever she is at the moment. Let her be Hazel, all of Hazel, without expectation or condition.

For me, the other day, in the midst of unrelenting despair, that looked like putting on my workout clothes and going to the gym.

I acknowledged the pain, but then I made it make room for something Good. Illustrating this point: I brought my weak, malnourished carcass to the table and I put stew in front of her.

I did not force her to drink, but I gave her the option to nourish herself.

In real life, I took my weary, broken heart and put her on a treadmill.

She walked, then she ran. And soon enough, she remembered there are Good things, so many of them, more than we can count.

Every once and while, I cried. People saw. And I was okay with that. Yes, it was awkward, but not any less awkward than me with a noose around my neck or a razor at my wrist or floating on the bottom of some ravine.

People being human is not awkward. People deceived into thinking normal has one generic face is awkward.

If you are sad, BE sad. If you are in pain, FEEL it. Move WITH it, with her, toward the next right decision. No need to plan ahead, just exist.

Keep existing, baby. Keep breathing. Keep living.


Eventually I purged those tears until I was clumsy with dehydration (side note; drink lots of water, sweetest - your organs and skin will thank you as you age.)

Then I spent the next 90 minutes at the gym not being okay, and it was beautiful.

In closing, yes, it is okay to not be okay; and it is also okay to take your not-okayness and go about your life. Your story is yours to write. You get to decide what you put upon those pages. But remember something, will you? Remember that the pen with which you write is filled with only grace. Organic, non-GMO, Grade-effing-A Grace.

Got that?

That part you cannot change or alter.

It was there, Before. Long Before, and it is how you are seen and known.

With grace and abundant, no-conditions love.

God how I love you, my darling girl.


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