OK, not OK
July 21, 2021

A friend asked me how I was doing the other day and I didn’t know how to answer her.  I mean, I’m healthy, the kids are healthy, the grandbaby is just friggin awesome, I have a home that I love and I’m surrounded by the Ozark Mountains, which to me is God’s country, so considering that so many prayers have been answered, my response should have flowed from my lips as swiftly as the water in the Buffalo River, but it didn’t.   My reply was a little lame.  I told her “I’m ok, but no ok”.  Once you make a statement like that, you have to be prepared to explain yourself, but my “not ok” is still new to me.  It’s exhausting trying to put into words emotions that make no sense, and most of the time my “not ok” is difficult for me to comprehend, and even more difficult to articulate.  It’s also worth noting that having to explain the complexity of those emotions makes me face those emotions, and I’m just not a fan of digging that deep. 

In a perfect world, things are black and white and how you are can be explained simply.  Happy.  Sad.  Angry.  O.K.

But I don’t live in that world anymore and haven’t for over two years, so my answer to that question is usually the easiest possible response.  I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable and I do NOT want to have to have to identify which part of my soul is taking its toll on me, so “I’m good” and “I’m ok” OR turning the conversation away from me are my go to responses.   Most days, I am good and fully aware of how blessed I am, and at the very least I am ok.  But some days, with no warning, I’m neither. 

I.  Hate.  Those.  Days. 

Up yours grief. 

And screw you death.  I hate your lies.

Because I was honest with this friend, I had to explain to her what “ok, not ok” meant so she wouldn’t worry.  There was no way for me to tell her what exactly was going on in me, because I had been fighting to understand it myself, and she doesn’t have children yet, so she really had no way of understanding even if I could explain.  I didn’t even try to tell her specifically what I was feeling.  Instead I tried to paint a picture for her.   I gave her a simple metaphor using a buoy.  Since our conversation, I’ve thought about what I said to her, and realized there was so much more to it, and it’s helped me to understand what has been going on in me.  I’ve figured out my not ok. 

Some days, I feel like a buoy somewhere at sea, that on calm days glistens in the sun, and moves rhythmically to the ebb and flow of the endless waters surrounding it.  The wind may pick up and the waves may become higher and more frequent causing me to sway side to side, but the sun is still shining and the sea is still beautiful.

I’m ok. 

But some days, the stormy days, the winds and rains and waves are so fierce, the rhythm is gone and in its place is darkness and chaos, and I’m tossed too and fro.  I’m upended and sometimes I sink, and just when I think the seas won’t calm, and the next wave will be the last, I resurface. 

I’m ok, but not ok. 

I’ve survived, but surviving took its toll. 

I realized that those sunny peaceful rhythmic days are the days I pour myself into doing what I believe wholeheartedly I’ve been called to do.  Be the Hands and Feet.  Love my family.  Focus on what’s ahead of me.  Comfort  others.  Take advantage of the opportunities given to me to help bring about changes that are so desperately need to save lives.  That’s my happy place, but I can’t think about the enormity of my loss to stay there.  I can’t think about the light that I lost.  I can’t allow myself to think about how incredible my son was or what he’s missing or how damn much I miss him. 

Missing him is part of my DNA.  The memories I have of him play on a loop with no pause.  He is everywhere.  All of the time.  Telling someone, or allowing myself to focus on, the greatness that he had in him tears me apart and that calm sea and that sunshine becomes a storm. 

It’s easier on my heart to try to help others.  It’s easier on my heart to work towards making sure no other mother feels this.  It’s easier on my heart to focus on what took him than it is to focus on what was taken from me.  It’s easier on my heart to fight.  

Fighting is exhausting.   Even the most seasoned warriors have to rest.  And they have to remember why they are fighting and what they are fighting for.  Remembering why I fight leads to the storms, but I won’t let the storms win, so…

I’m fighting because my 23rd birthday present, my first glimpse into what pure unconditional love is, my precious, loving, loyal, too bright for this world baby boy  is no longer with me.  His name is Hagen Elijah and my arms ache to hold him. 

I’m fighting for the other Hagen’s and the other Staci’s.  I’m fighting and I won’t stop until it’s time for me to go Home.  And until that time, I’m a buoy. 

I’m ok. 

And I’m ok but not ok. 

Many of you won’t understand this, but maybe some of you other buoys will.  We may get tossed about, but we will not sink.  And when we discover why the storms unexpectedly come, we can endure them knowing they will pass.

I’m so glad that my friend asked how I was.  I didn’t know then. But I do now.  And now I face it. 



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