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Dear Long Lost Friend

Dear Long Lost Friend & Those I Have Loved,

If I take the time to look back over my life, I see moments and people swirling, never stopping. It always keeps moving. Life doesn’t stop.

But I am sorry I haven’t paused to thank you for being one of those swirling faces. Each one is special. Each one helped make me who I am today. Some encouraged me and gave me hope. Some broke me down so I had to build myself back up, stronger. Some tested my moral fortitude. And some held me and let me cry.

I see pieces of laughter and inspirations to be better. There are adventures and quiet moments.  Fear. Wonder. Loyalty. Love.

Each person in my life helped mold or chisel a piece of me. All are part, though some more so than others, of the masterpiece that I am, or hope to be. Because that’s how it works. “We’re all in this together,” and wow, isn’t that the truth!

You never know the words you say that will forever stick with another, so please, choose them wisely.

 

Forever Yours,

Terri Klaes Harper

 

A Girl Gets on a Bus…

Or

Tales of How Our Choices Effect Others, Part I

Or

All the Bananas in the World Cannot Fix Crazy

Once upon a time a girl got on a bus. Why and how she got there is really only the beginning of the story though.

She was an unhappy girl, and had been for some time, presumably even before she had her first baby at too young an age and suffered postpartum depression, which she denied and refused help for. Instead, she made threats of awful things she could do to the baby, and had a second one by a different father two years later, a pregnancy she attempted to hide for five months, even though it was obvious.

Her unhappiness and clear resentment of the children and herself lead to her yelling at them and neglecting them for hours in the mornings, because she felt it unfair she could not stay up and out all night and sleep the morning away. Why did they have to wake up? Why did they have to eat? Couldn’t everyone just leave her alone? She only truly lived at night. And the girl’s grandparents, who had taken her in when she had nowhere else to go were treated to fits of anger and screaming for their attempts to help care for the children who were still too young to care for themselves. They did not respect the way she was choosing to raise her children. It was none of their business if the baby girl cried from hunger pangs through the morning hours while she slept. How dare they try to overstep her parenting! After all, they were her children- her things. So instead of being grateful for their help and caring, she disrespected her grandparents and was cruel to them every chance she had.

One day, the girl moved in with her boyfriend, not the father of either child, and took the children with her…at least for a few months, until it got hard. She requested the grandparents take the older, harder to deal with child, the boy. She had always liked him less anyway and made no attempts to hide it. The boyfriend seemed to need someone he felt he could fix, and the girl was in need of fixing, and so it was a perfectly unhealthy combination for a codependent relationship.

It occurred to the young girl while she was launching and breaking items around her boyfriend’s father’s house as the couple fought one day, that she’d had enough. Yes, she was done. It was time to “minimalize” her life. Everybody expected her to have a job, to take care of her children, and to be a responsible, like an adult. Who needed that? It just wasn’t fair! And so, with nothing except the clothes she was wearing, her wallet, and a pair of sunglasses, she took her boyfriend’s deceased mother’s bicycle and peddled herself under the hot Florida summer sun at least 30 miles to a bus station. There she purchased a one-way ticket that would take her 3,000 miles away. She couldn’t take the crazy demands of everyone. Too much was expected of her. They were sapping away her free spirit, so she let it loose, like a bird, like the homeless people whom she had always admired, with their carefree lives.

The problem? Both children were in the home that day, as even the boy had been allowed to visit with his mother for the summer, even if he couldn’t have ice cream when his little sister did. Now they were simply left behind at the young girl’s now ex-boyfriend’s (who was neither child’s father) father’s house. She had simply disappeared, making no arrangement for them whatsoever. The distraught ex-boyfriend quickly contacted the much resented grandparents, not knowing what else to do, and not having been given any instructions from the mother, whom he was afraid was going to kill herself.

But she didn’t. Instead…she simply got on a bus and left everyone else to pick up the pieces of the abandoned children, which is where the story really lies. Maybe if everyone had just left her alone and let her sleep when she had wanted…

Stay tuned for more possible stories. Any similarities of these tales to real life will be denied, chalked up to paranoia, and called a piece of fiction, as nobody would believe such an awful person existed anyway.

Throw Away Children

In the last couple months, I’ve been questioned as to why I haven’t been, and urged to begin again, to write. It is something I love to do, so why has it been so hard?

I finally figured it out. Writing is my release of feelings, and I’ve been keeping some in for far too long. The result, my constipated writing. Why should I hold back any longer? If I want to write again, I think I need to let this go.

Throw Away Children

I pray daily that I can forgive you for what you've done,
but so far that battle has not easily been won.
Did your advisors tell you a new one would "validate" tossing the others
 aside?
Are you hoping maybe you can actually do this one right? Yeah, right!
In raising your sweet little girl, according to her, I became her mother.
And with my parents raising your son, does that make him my brother?
The kids don't need or ask of you now and probably won't even past twenty,
So if you love them at all, leave them alone as the damage you've 
 inflicted is plenty
You should try to walk sometime in someone else's shoes,
though it's clear the only ones that concern you belong to you.
You affect concern and dole out unwarranted, nonsense advice,
but they haven't even seen you in Christmases thrice.
You thought they'd think your not wanting them, yet starting over with 
 another would be good news?
An obvious piece of evidence of the good your exit from their lives now
 proves.
Some things, believe it or not, are more important than eating bananas
Or the price of avocados in Florida.

dsc_0453Terri Klaes Harper 2017

Oh, and congratulations on being so tolerant, you know, except when it 
came to raising your own kids.

My Christmas Prayer 2016

My house is quiet this morning. The dogs followed me out of the bedroom but collapsed while I made my coffee. My husband softly snores yet with the cat. There are no excited children to open gifts. It is just me and thoughts.

Whether today is the true date of Jesus’ birth or not,  I am thankful that he agreed to come here and be born as a little baby who would suffer the trials of mankind, growing in communion and fellowship with so many imperfect people. These were the people who were looking for him, yet refused to see him.

Even as a baby he was born to die. He was a sacrifice. Imagine growing up knowing that. Then imagine him surrounded by the hatred and cruelty of mankind (not so different than it is today), and deciding to die for us anyway, Jew and gentile alike. In fact, he died for anyone and everyone who would choose him.

This Christmas, I am thankful for the greatest gift ever, God’s son. So many are lost, hurting, and confused. If I read the news, it brings me to tears more often than not. How can we believe in good when we are surrounded by so much evil? But I pray for this to be a day that gives hope. I pray everyone would have a small moment in their busy days to look past the commercialism and truly appreciate what Christmas represents. There is hope, if we only look. I pray we may all focus on the good and what we do have. I pray for hurting people to find peace. And I pray my little girl would always continue to love God and believe with her childlike faith.

john-1

Merry Christmas!

O Christmas Tree

The tree stood a mere 32 inches off the floor. She reflected on the tree from the Christmas prior and figured she should be thankful. That one had been a literal sapling, meant to be planted outdoors after the passing of the holiday, but it had deteriorated and died before Christmas day had even come. It was just as well anyway as living in an apartment didn’t afford much of a place for them to plant the bitty tree.

She tried not to see the parallels in the trees and her own lack of thriving. The positive side was that one strand of lights made this the brightest little tree she had ever seen. And after scanning the living room portion of their one-room studio apartment, she could see that shifting the items from the small corner table to the desk by the bed would provide a better vantage point for the tree and give it the appearance of a being taller.

After placing the tree in its new home atop the table, she decided it was best to be thankful for what she had and placed their small star on top. With a feeling of contentedness, she settled down on the love seat with a cup of hot cocoa. Unexpectedly, her husband arrived home from work, emerging through the door with a six foot tree he had won at his company Christmas party.

 

Hope Changes Everything

A few Christmases ago, I discovered we somehow had this amazingly beautiful song in our collection of 2 days of Christmas music. As it played I realized I had never heard it before, so I paused my holiday scurrying long enough to listen. And then I hit the repeat button and listened again. Something about this song reached my heart like few other Christmas songs ever had and it became an immediate favorite.

Then my world changed. I am not going to say I am like Mary or anything, but last year I came to understand her more through this song, and by reflection, I understood the sacrifice of God to give us His son.

I’ve blogged this before, but in case you missed it, the short story is that my husband and I, intentionally childless, were asked in the summer of 2014 to take in a little girl. We were unprepared and felt we were not worthy of such an important task as helping to raise a child. But we knew we needed to do it, so we said yes. It was hard. Our lives had to completely change to fit her into our world, but we grew as a family and the bond of love became something I could never had imagined, I could never have planned.

She became our daughter… a child entrusted to us, of all people.

Then last winter, right before Thanksgiving, we found out we were going to lose her. No, she isn’t deceased. She just lives with her biological father now.

So when I heard this song last year, the meaning changed for me. I definitely felt the uncertainty of Mary, being chosen to not only give birth to Jesus, but having the honor of raising him. She knew he was the savior, but she did not know how he was to save mankind, that he would have to be sacrificed. She had nothing of certainty except that she had been chosen for the task.

It isn’t easy to give up your loved ones who have become part of your heart and your being. Trusting God’s plan when it makes no sense hurts like nothing I can describe. How must Mary have felt when she beheld Jesus, torn and beaten, hanging on the cross 32 years later, remembering when she had held him in her arms? She had to have felt broken and confused. Maybe even angry. Why had she been given such a wonderful gift only to have him taken from her in such a brutal way?

But he was God’s gift to give, and though Mary could not see it in the midst of her pain, salvation came from Jesus’ death. And no one suffered as God did in that moment when He could not even look upon His own son. He knew what the sacrifice meant for mankind, but in that moment, He hurt and He wept.

I love Christmas decorations, the baking, the parties, the smells, the music, but I remind myself those good feelings of Christmas are meant to remind us of the greatest gift ever given. It’s wonderful when, in the midst of the commercialism, people are able to appreciate the general warmth of the holiday, the love and peace,  but it needs to be more than just that. Let’s remember where Love really originates and who gave it to us.

There is always a plan. It doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes it hurts, but we have been given the gift of Hope.

Hurricane Harper

On the last day of school of my first year as a teacher (so long ago now), while moving desks back in place after the final exam, I saw “Hurricane Harper”scribbled on a desk in pencil, and a swirl representative of said force of nature doodled next to the words. It amused me. I must have made some sort of impact on that student’s life.

It’s old news now, but about a month and a half ago a little storm named Matthew interrupted life as we know it and did some real damage close to home here in Florida. He threatened to come in as a category 4, and some tracks even showed him plowing across the peninsula, and making a loop back over the state again. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and he even took a little, much needed wobble to the east.

We evacuated. Well, we had already planned a long vacation weekend, so we just renamed it our EVACation. Anyway, watching from a distance, not knowing if we would even have a house to come home to was scary. Meteorologists can only predict so much. There is an unpredictability to the extent of the damage that will come with a storm such as Matthew…

…or Hurricane Harper.

matthew-rainbowI wouldn’t say I am the dangerous or unpredictable one, but my life has been a storm for the last few years, and it keeps doubling back over itself. I guess I’m just getting tired of all this spinning.

It makes me dizzy.

However, eventually Matthew did lose strength and speed, so I have to believe this storm will too.  A few days after we were back I saw a rainbow while I was out running. A rainbow always gives me hope.