Words in Muddy Water

I like to think that every writer has a period of time when they believe that every word they’ve ever put down on the page is the wrong word, that everything they’ve ever written or will write is actually crap, and that anyone who has told them it’s worthwhile is just being kind to their feelings. I have to think that every writer goes through this because it somehow normalizes my own experience. It makes it okay that I don’t like what I’ve written and okay that I keep writing anyway.

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In the Darkest Hour, Science Doesn’t Matter

On the day of Zack’s memorial service, the sun was shining. I barely noticed as more than one hundred people gathered at the church. Some of them I knew, many I did not. There was a deep fog all around me that made it hard to breathe and hard to see. A fog that the sun could not cut through.

We’d planned almost every second of the service. It would be filled with music because that’s what Zack would love. Because we knew that Zack would rather have us celebrate his life and his laughter than gather his friends and family to weep. I was too numb to cry and my heart was too heavy to handle laughter.

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We’re Sorry, Your Browser Is Not Compatible with This Website

…or The Worst Question in the World

People are not unlike the web development software that we call “What You See Is What You Get.” In WYSWYG software, you enter your text and pictures into a dialogue box and supposedly, what the person looking at the page will see is exactly what you’ve entered. Much of the time, it works. But every now and then, you look at the page and the font you chose is different in one sentence, there are five too many spaces between two paragraphs, or punctuation from some other language sits in the middle of every other word. Some bit of phantom code has embedded itself in the back end.

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The Fluidity of Faith

I generally avoid talking about religion/spirituality/faith/etc. I avoid it with approximately the same vehemence as I avoid meals with a high probability of giving me food poisoning and for some of the same reasons. Not only can it leave me with a very bad taste in my mouth and a nauseous lump in my throat, but there’s really just no way for it to end well. Mostly, though, I avoid it because spirituality is a very personal subject. Not personal in an “I’m menstruating today” taboo kind of way, but personal in the sense that my relationship with God is my own and I don’t feel that there is a right way to believe (although I do believe that there are wrong ways – like calling oneself a Christian and subsequently saying that God doesn’t love those people).

Yet, there is nothing like great tragedy to get you thinking about faith and what you really believe. As we close on the one-year mark of Zack’s death, I’m starting to hear questions about whether or not this experience has shaken my faith. Since I’ve asked myself this question many times over the last few months, I suppose it’s a fair question.

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Miracles and Mixed Feelings

I used to tell the story of Zack’s birth often. It was a long answer to the question, “How did your son get cerebral palsy?” – a question we heard in a hundred variations, most of them spoken in soft tones of sympathy. Young children were the most likely to ask and they would ask in the most straightforward ways while their parents gnawed on fingernails in embarrassment. “What’s wrong with him?” they would ask.

“Well,” I would say, “when Zachary was born, he didn’t get enough air to his brain. That made it so that his muscles don’t work quite like ours do. He uses a wheelchair the way we use legs.”

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