Everyone has a story to tell and at least one book to write.  I have three, having lived three different lives.  There are two books that I have hidden away in my drawer.  The first book is entitled Eight Weeks and the second, Eight Months, another, a book of poetry, is my third and the only book I attempted to publish.  It is my witness as to how much God loves us, and that we are never alone: though we think we are.  He is there and has been all the time.

Eight Weeks is about how I survived growing up in spite of my parent’s poor parenting skills. My father was an abusive alcoholic who also gambled.  He spent some time in jail, when caught stealing money from the company he worked for; all to cover his gambling debts.  There were times that my sister and I went around with holes in our shoes, having to place cardboard in the soles, so our feet would not scrape the sidewalk.  My mother suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was also an alcoholic.

     On Christmas Day, when I was seventeen, I used a razor blade to cut my hands and my arms up to my elbows in an attempt to cut the pain out of my life.  I was hospitalized for three months for severe depression.  When I got out of the hospital, I moved to Florida and lived with my Aunt Petey, and Uncle Larry. They never had any children so living with them presented its own set of problems.  My Uncle had no patience with a depressed teen especially one who just wanted to sleep most of the time.

     Eight weeks covered the time span from the day my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, until the time he died.  I wrote the book for therapy and a way for me to heal.  I was twenty-nine at the time and he was fifty-seven years old.  By that time, my sister and I liked my dad because we had an adult relationship with him.  We were no longer a responsibility to him and so he appreciated us more; he showed us more love and respect than he ever had when we were kids.  Now, I am fifty-nine years old but I continue to have nightmares and flashbacks of my childhood.

     Children never forget pain or trauma and they carry it with them throughout their lives.  My sister is three years older than me; she was the family care giver.  I became very depressed when she moved out to get married at the age of seventeen because she was pregnant. I did not blame her for wanting to get out of the house, but I was filled with anger and fear, because I was now alone with my parents. I prayed a lot when I was a child, but God never seemed to hear me.  I would pray that my parents would not come home drunk, and if they were drunk, they would not come home.  I prayed they would not fight and beat each other up.  I prayed that if they came home, they would not drag us out of bed, and involve us in their fights.  I made an altar on my nightstand.  I had candles and pictures of Jesus, and I would say the rosary.  I loved God but I never felt he heard my prayers or even loved me.

My father could be a mean drunk, but when he was with his friends he was a happy guy. When he hit our front door, his personality would change to anger. I remember times when my mother wouldn’t go out with my dad on his drinking binges.  I am not sure why, but my guess would be he didn’t want her around, because they didn’t get over the last fight.  On those nights, my mother would wake us up in the middle of the night and tell us that we had to get dressed and get out of the house before my dad came home because he was in a crazy drunken state.  She literally feared for her life and maybe even ours.  When she was sober, she was frightened of him, but when she drank, she lost that fear.  We would go to one of my mother’s friend’s homes that understood the situation because they had the same problem with their husbands.  We missed a lot of school on Mondays and Fridays.

We were raised in the Catholic faith and when they were able to, they woke us up to go to church.  Of course, they never went with us. We took the quarters for the collection plate and went to the candy store, drank cokes and played the jukebox with my sister’s friends.  I didn’t think God would care because I knew he didn’t live in our household.  Growing up into adolescence I became very adept at hiding my pain and true feelings.  I had a good sense of humor and could always get friends by making them laugh.  I missed a lot of school due to my parent’s fighting and just being too tired to get up in the morning.  I also had a learning disorder that no one cared about or even knew about.  The term ADD hadn’t come to light at that time.  I also believe I had a type of dyslexia that was never addressed.  Reading numbers was always difficult for me and I reversed many of my words.  In my junior year of high school I had missed forty-eight days of school, and was failing most of my classes.  So I was politely asked to leave. My sister and I were left alone a lot of the time without food or money.  If it were not for our neighbor Phyllis, and her husband Eddie, we would not have eaten until my parents came home from several days of binging.  They lived across the hall from us in our apartment building.  My mother worked as a waitress and she shopped for food on a day-to-day basis, so there was never a cupboard full of food.  Phyllis was our “Jewish Mother,” and I felt cared she cared for us more than anyone else.  There was always fear and tension in our home.  The neighbors called the police many times because of the fighting and yelling that went on during my parent’s altercations.  My sister and I were dragged out of bed when my parents came home, for various reasons, or we had to get out of bed to stop my father from beating up my mother.  Because of this, my sister and I often wished we had a brother so he could beat up my dad. My parents fighting would go on until the sun came up, or until one of them just wouldn’t respond.

My dad worked as a railroad conductor and he could call off his job anytime he wanted. They both had freedom not to have to get up in the morning when they were on one of their binges.  I spent many nights in bed with the covers over my head, praying they would just shut up, go to bed, or leave the house.  I suffered from anxiety attacks as a child, but I didn’t understand what they were.  Every time it happened, I thought I was dying.  My heart would race and I would have shortness of breath and be in a complete panic.  I slept with my rosary beads under my pillow, and would hold them all night long.  I never told anyone about those moments because I didn’t want anyone to think I was crazy.  I never spoke of my family life to anyone.

We had a sixteen-year-old cat named Patsy, that we all doted on, but when my dad was drunk he would  find reasons to start fights over the cat.  One night he dragged me out of bed and started yelling at me to feed the cat.  This was at two o’clock in the morning.  Our cat would only eat raw liver.  It had to be cut up in little pieces so he could chew it.  I hated doing that because the smell and touch of it made me nausea.  My dad grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and yelled at me to feed him. I started crying because I was tired and I had to get up for school.  My dad hated when my sister or I cried.  It would make his temper worse.  He became really angry and picked up the liver and rubbed it in my face.  I will never forget the smell of it, the feel of it, or the taste. I don’t think I ever hated my father as much as I did that night.  To this day I can’t even look at liver and the odor still makes my stomach turn over.  We did not have a happy household. My mother had more black eyes, swollen lips, black and blue marks, and cried more than I care to remember.  In one fight my dad split her lip down the middle from her nose clear through the upper lip.  When she lit up a cigarette her lip opened up in two different directions. My Jewish family next door took her to the hospital to get stitched up.  My childhood was filled with so many unhappy times.  The holidays were the worst.  I can’t remember a Christmas when the tree wasn’t knocked over in a fight, or a Thanksgiving that didn’t end in a brawl.

That all happened many years ago and in Eight Weeks, I detail why my parents were the way they were.  They, too, had miserable childhoods probably worse than mine.  Coming from alcoholic parents neither one of them had a father to raise them, and were early placed in foster care.  As a result my mother suffered from long term sexual abuse.  My mother met her biological mother when she was twelve years old.  Her mother brought her to the United States from Canada to live with her grandmother.  My father didn’t meet his biological Dad until he was eighteen.  Neither one of them had any parenting skills. They were just trying to survive in life.

One night when my mother left from her waitress work, she hailed down a taxi because it was late.  When the taxi stopped and she opened the door a man suddenly grabbed her and threw her into the cab.  She was taken to an alley and was beaten, raped and sodomized by three men, and left for dead.  Luckily, a restaurant owner while throwing out his trash in the back alley found her.  I was six years old at the time and I remember the fear and confusion. It seemed like she was in the hospital for a very long time.  My dad was never the same after my mother’s attack.  We became a lonely family with a lot of pain inside. Soon after we moved away, however, Satan moved with us.

Eight Months is another book and another lifetime.  It is a compilation of letters that I composed during my married life as a wife, and a mother of two children, whom I love more than life.  It is by the grace of God that my sister and I raised our kids to the best of our abilities. We did not follow in our parent’s footsteps. Therefore, history doesn’t always have to repeat itself.  Eight Months was never completed.   It consisted of an eight-month period of computer letters that went back and forth during one of the most traumatic events of my married life.  There was so much more to add to the story, but my heart hurt so much at the time that I was unable to put it all together into a book.  I just kept all the letters that explained the pain we were all going through, and probably told the story better than I could have at the time.  It is excruciating to return to those events, and I am hard-pressed to even mention it at all, but it is vital to my witness, because that is when I found God, His Son Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  I would have never survived that eight-month period if God did not speak to me and guide me through one day at a time.  I always contended that being a teenager was the hardest time in life.  There are so many conflicts, raging hormones, confusion, and choices to make.  However, when I became a parent of a teenager I knew parenting was much harder.  You never get past the worry, especially if God is not the center of your life.

I met my husband, Dick, when I was eighteen years old shortly after I moved to Florida.  I had to move out of my Aunt and Uncle’s house because there were no job opportunities where they lived; and my Uncle got tired of me sleeping all day.  So, I moved in with my Grandmother and her husband who were alcoholics.  That is where I met my husband.  I was the “girl next door.”  We became best friends, but I still suffered from depression and had an empty hole in my heart the size of Texas.  In spite of loving Dick, depression, caused me to once again to be hospitalized.  This time I had cut my wrists.  After three more months of therapy things finally came together for me. I was very much in love and I knew that Dick was the one person that would love me forever.  I thought he was the most perfect person on the face of the earth, but of course no one is perfect.

Our married life together was a struggle from the start.  We were only married eighteen days and my husband was shipped over seas to Viet Nam.  A year later, when he returned home, we had both changed. We made a lot of bad choices and, being children of the sixties and seventies, we partied and drank too much, and went down too many wrong roads.  We are now married for forty four years, and there are still times we struggle with our different personalities, but we feel blessed everyday that we have each other. In 1992, my mother, attempted suicide by taking all her medication so she wound up on a respirator.  It was touch-and-go for several weeks.  She came to visit us two weeks before she overdosed.  She visited some family in Canada first and then came to visit my sister and my family.  It was her way of saying good-bye and we knew this because she had left a suicide note.  She did survive this, only to try it again a few years later.  We were all angry and felt guilty because we weren’t able to help her, or notice a change in her behavior while she was at our house.  Erica was especially upset and could not understand why my mother would want to end her own life.  My mother had a stroke several years before her first suicide attempt and the truth was she just didn’t want to live anymore.  She felt useless and everything was a struggle because she had no use of her left arm and dragged her left leg.  She suffered depression most of her life, and the stroke caused her paranoia and schizophrenia to worsen.

The next major event happened in 1995 when Erica broke up with her boyfriend.  She found out he was smoking marijuana and he just kept lying about it.  It was the first time Erica was aware of how deceptive people could be.  I could relate to her pain, because the same thing happened to me with my first boyfriend.  Only in my era, the drug of choice was heroin and people died.  My first boyfriend of four years didn’t die but he did go to prison for stealing drugs from the corner drug store.  I could feel her pain because it was the lies that hurt the most.

In 1997, during Erica’s last year of high school, one of the most tragic events of her life, and ours, happened when her favorite cousin and mentor, Michelle, took her own life due to depression.  She was such a happy and beautiful girl.  Like Erica, she was a very popular cheerleader, and always had on a smile on her face.  We never even knew she was depressed. The whole experience shattered Erica and she was never the same happy girl again.  She loved her cousin very much and looked up to her. There is very little one can say about such a sad and emotionally traumatic event.  Our hearts hurt with pain for my husband’s sister Barbara and her husband Harry.  Although we could never feel the depth of their pain or comprehend the emptiness of losing a child, as parents ourselves, we could only empathize and pray for them.  We were all devastated with a deep sadness and pain for what they had to endure.  Erica and I did not attend Michelle’s funeral with my husband. That is something I will always regret.  At the time, I was not emotionally stable enough to travel and I didn’t think Erica could handle Michelle’s funeral.

The first semester of college Erica experienced another death.  It happened on the last day of high school when a lot of her cheerleader friends and their boyfriends skipped school to go to the beach.  They call it “Senior Skip Day.”  The day started out with great plans for fun in the sun, but tragically ended in sadness and tears. One of her friend’s boyfriends drowned at the beach that day.  James was not only the star quarterback of their football team, but he had a full scholarship to the University of Florida.  He was a great kid and everyone liked him.  It was a horrible time for all those who loved James. Erica had not healed from the loss of her cousin, and now had to experience the same emotions that come with mourning all over again.

While in college Erica faced real life and learned how rude and uncaring people can really be.  Up until then she gave people the benefit of the doubt and tried to please everyone.  She was not ready to go away to college.  She had not healed from the death of her cousin.  She had always been responsible and her plan was to graduate college in three years and go into the Air Force for pilot training.  She was committed to having a career and we wanted to give it to her. The first two semesters went great; she did well in her grades and worked two part-time jobs because she wanted to have extra money for clothes and entertainment.  She rented a house with three other girls and everything seemed to be going great but happiness is fleeting.  She started to put on weight and looked bloated like she was retaining fluid.  Then the phone calls started.  She would call the house sometimes at two a.m. crying and telling us she could not sleep and felt stressed. We told her she was pushing herself too hard and to quit one of her jobs and we would give her the extra money she needed.  She did quit one job, but the phone calls and the tears of being stressed continued.  I went over to her house several nights at one a.m. and spent the night with her.  We told her to come home and go to a junior college nearby, but she kept telling us she wanted to stick it out.  We hoped she was just home sick and things would get better.  We never worried about drugs or alcohol because she never liked anyone who was involved in partying.  She did tell us that sex and drugs were rampant in college and she felt left out because her friends thought of her as a good girl and didn’t invite her to the parties.  We thought it was all a matter of adjusting and growing up in the real world, but her depression didn’t get any better.

One day I got a letter in the mail from Erica.  After reading her letter I just sat there and stared into space.  I was shocked and sick to my stomach.  The letter spoke of how much pain she was in and how lonely she felt.  She said she felt ugly and hated her body.  All she wanted to do was sleep the day away.  She cried all the time and didn’t know how she could go on feeling so sad.  In light of the tragedy that happened to Michelle and my own battle with depression I felt overwhelmed.  I called my husband at work and we immediately went to Erica’s apartment.  We took her home and made a doctor’s appointment for the next day.  He prescribed anti-depressants and gave her a complete physical.  The doctor told us he believed the sudden weight gain and depression was caused from a chemical imbalance and we should see a big change in her in two weeks.  Erica insisted on staying in college and we gave in against our better judgment.  I was the type of mother that called my daughter every day, or she would call me.  So I thought I would be able to stay in tune with her emotions.  We did see a change in her.  She told us she was feeling better and she was sleeping well again, and all she wanted was to finish college and get on with her life.  We breathed a little easier hoping this problem was under control.  She was on medication and the channel of communication was open. In fact, she was so focused on her future that she got in touch with her old boy friend, Chris, from high school. After leaving for college they had lost touch and went their separate ways.

Erica called me one day and said she had been talking to Chris over the phone everyday for the last several months.  She expressed how happy she was and they were finally going to get to see each other.  She said it was going to be a serious relationship and she knew he was the guy she was going to marry.  She was elated and told me she had always cared for him in high school, and didn’t understand why they lost touch.  She said what she loved most about Chris, aside from being one of the nicest guys in high school, was how easy he was to talk to.  I was happy for her.  They were finally able to plan to meet the weekend because they were free from school and work commitments.

Well, they never did go on that date because Chris was killed in an accident when his car was hit by a train.  The sadness and loss we all felt was incredible. Although we did not know Chris’s parents at the time we shared their pain as much as if we did. After all, Erica was sure Chris was the guy she was going to marry. There is no way to imagine how his parent’s felt. The loss of a child is the worst thing that anyone could go through. As my brother-in-law stated when Michelle died, “It is a death sentence that you have to live with for the rest of your life.” That pain never goes away. There is no healing; people just go on with half a heart and half the spirit.”

After Chris’ funeral we feared that Erica would not be able to pick up the pieces and go on.  She still had not healed from the loss of Michelle or James.  Now it was Chris.  My heart ached for her.  I was in constant worry and fear of losing her.  She kept getting knocked down right after managing to pick herself up.  She was so much like me when it came to dealing with emotions; we were not good at it.  I was terrified that Erica was not a survivor and it ate at my soul.  I lived my life hanging on the edge knowing I had little will to fight pain or adversity.

When I was in emotional pain, I had a tendency to run away and just give up.  I wanted to get out of my pain at any cost.  I lived my life never really knowing what it would take to make me give up on life.  I always felt that life would get the best of me, not that I may get the best out of life.  I feared my daughter would follow my example and it tormented me.  In reality though, she was a lot stronger person than I ever was.

The whole next year was a bad dream.  There was constant worry and tears.  Every time the phone rang my heart skipped a beat.  Erica finally had to drop out of a college for a semester, but she didn’t want to come home.  She wanted to stay near her girl friends and we thought it may be for the best since they were all so close and knew each other since grade school.  They all watched out for each other.  She continued to work as a waitress, and we continued to pay her for her apartment.  After six months and professional counseling she decided it was time to go back to school and get on with her life.  She changed her major and went to the University of North Florida.  Of course, we agonized over that because she would be almost three hours away and we felt she was still not unstable.  She assured us she would tell us whenever she felt she couldn’t handle things. We gave in because she would be rooming with one of her best friends from high school.

Forgive me for this rather long testimony, but I had to give you a history so you could understand where we were all coming from. This is where my testimony begins.  The first week at school was going great.  Erica told us she liked all her classes, and she found a job as a gymnastics coach. I spoke with her on a daily basis because I was somewhat neurotic and I feared for her safety every minute of every day.  She also told me she had met a guy at the gym and he was so nice and she really liked him.  His name was Shane and he was also a gymnastics coach, handsome, smart, and she loved talking to him.  He was also a Christian.  When I asked if he went to church she said he had stopped for a long time, but recently went back to the Mormon Church.  I was happy for her, but I didn’t like that he was a Mormon.  After Chris died, Erica only wanted to meet a Christian guy who put God first in his life and held the same beliefs.  She was willing to wait no matter how long it took for the man the Lord would send her to replace Chris. She was so happy that I didn’t want to say anything negative.  At that point, I was happy for her and thankful she felt at peace.  The second week she told me that she was in love with Shane and they were going to get married a year from that day so I needed to start making plans for a wedding.  She asked me if her dad and I would come up over the weekend to meet Shane.

I am a hospice nurse and I had to work that weekend, as did my husband who worked as an air traffic controller.  I went through nursing school when I was forty-eight years old.  I was preparing myself for the empty nest syndrome and saving for my husband’s retirement.  I wanted to be a nurse since I was a child, so I went for it.  At any rate, I told her maybe we would get up there next weekend.  I was excited that she was so much in love. But the more she told me about Shane the more I came to realize that he was not what he claimed to be, especially when she told me that he told her it was Chris that brought them together.

I don’t want to get into the specifics of their relationship because it is much too painful.  I will tell you that before we met Shane we disliked him.  We found him to be a liar.  To give you just one case in point, he told Erica that he was on dialysis for severe kidney stones, and his left kidney was weakened due to the kidney stones.  He told her it was a temporary situation. He said he took off work every Thursday to go for treatments, but that was a lie.  He did take off of work, but we found out later he really went to the beach.  When I tried to ask my daughter specifics, such as where was his shunt?  Did she understand how serious a failing kidney was?  What kind of medication did he take?  She told me that he didn’t like to talk about it.  She trusted him completely.  I am sure if he hadn’t already told this lie to everyone at work he wouldn’t have made that particular lie up knowing the girl he wanted to marry had a mother who was a nurse.  He was perfect in my daughter’s eyes.  She told us that Chris brought him to her and they would be soul mates.  That’s when I realized she was just replacing Chris with Shane; Shane was just a stand in for Chris. When I was finally able to go to Jacksonville to meet Shane I was still not impressed.  I wanted my husband to go with me, but he didn’t want to meet him.  He had already made up his mind that he didn’t like him.  So, I went up there alone and took them out to dinner.  I could tell almost immediately that he was a manipulator.  He was cocky and he seemed to mock me.  I sensed he knew that I knew he was lying about being on dialysis.  It was like a game with him.   It felt he was silently saying to me, “I know you know I am lying because you are a nurse, but your daughter will not believe a word you have to say.”  In reality, he was right.  He did have a way of making everyone think he was charming.  Only, I could see through that.  He told me how he was going to take Erica to Texas to meet his whole family.  I spent the night at her apartment feeling sick and went to bed early because I could not stand being around him.

The next morning when I got up, Erica and I sat around talking about school and catching up on what her girl friends were doing.  We talked about the usual stuff mothers and daughters talk about.  I didn’t bring up her new boyfriend.  I figured, in time, she would come to know the truth about him and realize they were not “soul mates.”  Right before I walked out the door to go back home, my daughter said, “Mom we need to talk.”  Oh, those dreaded words!  Of course I feared she was going to tell me she was pregnant, but she told me she and Shane were going to move into together.  She knew we did not approve of that and I told her that was not going to happen.  But then she blurted out as if it was nothing, “It’s OK mom because we are married.”  Apparently they had eloped while visiting with Erica’s best friend that lived in Tennessee.  I felt a stab in my heart and thought I would literally have a heart attack.  I was unable to speak so I just took my purse and ran out of the house as fast as I could.

My husband and I were in agony over their elopement.  Erica just assumed they could get re-married in our church and she did nothing wrong.  However, our church would not marry them because Shane was a Mormon and he would not through the marriage classes.  That was the icing on the cake for us.  Our anger was surreal, and our hearts were broken.  I became so distraught and frustrated that I took too many tranquilizers and over dosed by accident; at least that is what I told myself.  I just wanted to sleep and escape the anger I felt inside.  My husband realized what happened when he couldn’t wake me up. There is no way to explain the mental anguish and anger my husband and I felt.  The absolute helplessness of knowing our daughter made the biggest mistake of her life.  But if we thought that was bad it was only a flicker of what was to come.

Three months later Shane had an accident at the gym and he broke his neck.  I think everyone has an innate fear they will receive a phone call that will be more than they can bear.  I’ve had my fair share of frightening phone calls, but this was a paralyzing phone call.  And that is exactly what happened to our new son-in-law; only he broke the part of the neck that rendered him a quadriplegic.  At this point, they had only known each other less than four months and Erica never really knew him at all. They eloped after three weeks of dating and three months later this tragic accident happened.

This was the story of Eight months.  The Lord certainly does work in mysterious ways.  We wound up taking care of our emotionally sick daughter and a son-in-law who we disliked, but was now rendered helpless by a horrible accident that happened at the gym.  He performed a running back flip and in a split second he broke his neck.  It was unimaginable!  We were all an emotional wreck, and my husband was still so hurt and angry that Erica eloped that he was no comfort to me.  We were all lost in our own pain and fear of the future.  I always tried to be the best mother I could be because of my upbringing; however, I felt like such a failure.  Our son lived in Alaska, he always said when he turned eighteen; he was going to move out on his own, and he did.  I took it personally.  He enlisted in the Air Force and became an air traffic controller. Later he was hired with the FAA and got married.  I cried buckets that he lived so far away and we could only see him once a year.  Erica and Michael are six years apart so when he left home she was only twelve years old. With him being so far away, I really felt alone. Two weeks before Shane’s accident I was invited to go to a retreat by a friend from my Church.  I was never one to get deeply involved with the church, but I went every Sunday.  I always felt like I was on the outside looking in.  I never felt that God really loved me because I was not a good enough person. While I was at the retreat I had a conversation with my friend Cheryl about me serving in the church and joining a women’s Bible study.  I told her I didn’t feel comfortable in a Bible group.  She told me in a loving way that God does not want us to be lukewarm Christians.  I said there were certain things in my personality that I was not able to change.  Then she gave me the Bible and opened up to (Revelation 3:15-16) I know yourdeeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other.  So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” After, I read that scripture, a very odd thing happened.  It was like nothing I ever experienced before.  I sat quietly staring at the scripture and the inside of my body was filled with a peace from my feet up to my head, then I heard a sound that filled my whole being.  It was like a voice I can’t explain.  It encompassed my whole being. The voice said, “Do not be afraid.” Time seemed to stand still, but I knew at that moment God had spoken to me and it was not a schizophrenic episode.

A couple of weeks after Shane’s accident I reflected on God’s message and took great comfort in it.  This is not to say that I never cried again or that I did not feel upset at times.  However, I did have peace and a strength that I never felt before.  I had peace that passes all understanding and a true love for the Lord.  It was the first time in my life I realized the Lord loved me and I felt His presence.  I knew I would get through whatever happened, and my faith would carry me through it.  After eight months of my daughter taking care of Shane’ personal needs, going to school, and working at the gym, she had a nervous breakdown.  Shane would only allow me to feed him.  I did the cooking, cleaning, and laundry.  One day while I was back in Jacksonville, I was unable to reach Erica by phone, I called the gym and they said she didn’t show up for work.  My husband was out of town and Shane was in the hospital for an infection.  I was already in the car when her friend called me and said she had called the paramedics and they were transporting her to the hospital.  My first question was is she breathing?  She had over dosed on Tylenol PM and could have done serious damage to her liver.  She later told me she was just so tired and needed to sleep for awhile.  I phoned Shane’s parents and told them it was time to take Shane home to Texas.  A year later he filed for divorce and he enrolled in college.  He majored in psychology.

In 1979, the year Erica was born, I had asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and come into my heart and guide me.  I said the sinner’s prayer with Pat Robertson through the 700 Club by placing my hands on the television screen.  I felt I was saved because I felt a warmth and joy I never experienced before.  I even called my family and told them I was born again.  But like Paul in Romans 7:15-25, I still struggled with my old nature and still held so much pain from my past that I back slid more times than I care to remember.  I was still not ready to give my all.  I know now that I never felt God’s love because of my battle with depression and fear.  I was not able to fully trust Him even though I needed Him so much.  However, the main reason I couldn’t fully trust God, was the lack of knowledge of His Word, and my refusal to give myself completely over to Him.  I could never understand how life could be so cruel if God really loved us.  In my search to understand God, I researched many books on psychics, Karma, and different religions.  None of them had the answers.

I will never forget that women’s retreat when God spoke to me.  I finally understood that I had to give my whole heart to Jesus and I could no longer make excuses for being a lukewarm Christian. I wanted to follow God and wherever He would lead me I was willing to go.  I no longer run away from fears or stress.  Now I run to the Lord.  My whole family is saved and they have given their heart and life to Jesus.  My daughter is re-married and we have a wonderful granddaughter, Bryce Michelle, named after her cousin Michelle.  My son and his family live in Birmingham, Alabama and we get to visit often.  We give all the glory to our Savior Jesus Christ.

On one final note, I prayed the Lord would give me a gift where I could glorify His name, and be a witness of His great mercy and love. I hope my gift of simplistic poetry inspires, uplifts and encourages people, giving them hope and knowledge in, His Word, the Bible.  He was there all the time, He is there all the time and He is the Word.  Praise God!

 “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22)


My book was published in 2002, and the revised edition published in 2013.  I have lived a full life, indeed, but just when you think that your major battles and hardships are over, you’re once again cast into the fire. I don’t know how people get through life without faith I know I couldn’t. In August 2010 I had major brain surgery that has a very big name.  It is called a Craniotomy Micro-Vascular Decompression.  It was for Trigeminal Neuralgia pain.  If you can imagine a hot poker being thrust in the side of your head every sixty seconds, then you can imagine the pain I was in.  It is referred to as “Suicide Pain.”  The pain was caused from a major blood vessel that had dropped down inside my head causing pressure on the trigeminal nerve.  The surgery was very complex and there are not many hospitals that do it.  We had to travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I praise God and my Surgeon that my surgery was a success. Once the pressure was removed from the nerve, the “shocking pain” went away.  They do this procedure by placing Teflon pads between the trigeminal nerve and the blood vessel.  I won’t go into details about the surgery, it is complicated, and the details would be frightening.  However, although my surgery was a success, everything that could go wrong did go wrong.  So I still have a lot of medical issues that I have to deal with.  The Trigeminal Nerve is the largest nerve in your brain and has a direct effect on the eyes, ears, sinus, face, teeth, tongue, and jaw.  So the entire right side of my head was affected.  The three months prior to the surgery was a nightmare.  I was lost in a maze on pain and agony.  The healing process was long and painful.

After my brain surgery, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy. This is a very rare brain disorder and can be fatal if not treated.  I was treated with (IVIG) Intravenous Immunoglobulin treatments for six months, and it helped me be able to think clearer.  However, there is a possibility that I may need treatment again. The purpose of the treatment is to replace the bad antibodies that are destroying your brain with good antibodies.  It is very complicated, and the truth is, no one can really explain how it works.  For the last three years, I have been in pain every day.  My brain and physical energy have been challenged.  As of this writing, I am hopeful I will see an end to this nightmare.  God has once again given me the desire to write. He has provided me with caring doctors to prescribe medication to help my migraines, ear ache, jaw pain, and painful teeth.  Although, I have sustained nerve damage from the surgery, I once again have energy to enjoy my life. All glory to God!

UPDATE:  On October 2nd 2016 I had a cardiomyopathy from a thunderclap headache.  The pain was unbearable which actually caused my heart attack.  I was in the hospital for five days.  Once again God was there for me and saw me through that too. Without the Lord and my husband and kids I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been.

I pray when you read my poems you will look up the Scriptures and hear God talk to you.

*I am sad to say that Shane Downey passed away in 2010.  He was only thirty-five years old.

  “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

 If you would like to know more about Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) you can go to this website.

 Estelle P. Shrum – Author, He Is The Word