At the End of the Road With an Empty Bag of Tricks: How Death Seemed So Seductive

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The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  -John 1:5

Beloved Friends,

It’s been almost one month since I’ve written.  I’ve wanted so much to write each and every single day, but certain life circumstances have left me just plain depleted and wholly exhausted.  I suppose my pervasive depression was the driving force that has kept me wrapped tightly in my favorite blanket…in bed.  You see, that’s that majority of what I’ve been doing since I last wrote–sleeping or working.  When I’m not working I’m sleeping and when I’m not sleeping I’m working.  That’s the long and short of it, friends.  I have become a hermit lately with no social life or fellowship to speak of.  As a matter of fact, my hygiene has even suffered a bit!

You see, a few months ago before my gross reduction in income,  I used AG, Biolage, Purology, and Philosophy products to care for my hair and body.  In the realm of make-up I prefer Mac, Two-Faced, Smashbox, and Urban Decay, just to name a few.  Men, this may mean nothing to you, but ladies, you know exactly what I’m talking about!  More than any of my physical traits I love my hair and for years upon years have only allowed the best products to come near it.  I mean, I was using a $55 bottle of conditioner and a $30 glaze to keep my hair from being frizzy, while giving it just the perfect amount of volume and texture to put me in a close 2nd in a  “best hair” contest with Jennifer Aniston herself!

The “BEFORE” photo!

Is this my fate?

My $20 sugar and hemp-infused body scrub and $20 shower gel left my artificially tanned skin as smooth as a baby’s backside and smelling of an organic rhapsody of lavender with subtle hints of warm, toasted vanilla.  After my rejuvenating power showers, I used to like to smooth on some of my deliciously decadent Philosophy body cream ($28) before hitting my pillow which I even misted with a light Bath and Body Work’s fragrance. Now, I buy Pantene products from the Dollar General, and adorn my skin in Wal-Mart’s generic version of Dove’s mildly-exfoliating body soap.  My razor is one that my former reprobate of a roommate left behind accidentally.  It isn’t the sinfully sharp, quadruple-bladed razor that I’m accustomed to; it’s one of those Bic disposable numbers.  So, like I said, my hygiene has suffered a little; I can admit that.  But in my dirty defense, “bath time is no longer a spa-like experience“.  Shoot, as of late,  I’ve been so down that I have even had to remind myself to brush my damn teeth each day.  The loss of my beauty products hurt a little but I’m proud to report that my hair and skin have held up better than expected… and I still have all my teeth (in spite of my recurring nightmare that I’m missing my front one–we’ll talk about that another time).

I suppose that being separated from my elite beauty products aren’t really my biggest issue though right now.  As a matter of fact, although my skin is a bit ashy and my hair is somewhat wiry I must say, I have much bigger fish to fry. 

Surprisingly, money is not now nor has it ever been a great source of pleasure for me.  I mean, sure I like to shop sometimes, but I simply do not love money; never have.  I have dated wealthy men; wasn’t impressed.  Hence, I can say, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I will never marry a man for his money.  I like to have money for reasons related to financial stability.  You know what I mean, friend?  I desperately want to be able to comfortably pay my mortgage, car note, and my other giant mountain of debts.  I want to comfortably be able to give my children lunch money each day and not have to worry about how I’m going to get groceries from week to week.  I want to be able to save my money too like normal people seem to do…  And I want to be able to tithe.  But more than “anything” I want to be able to help others who are in need.  “Especially” single parents and their seemingly indefensible children. 

I often joke with God about Him not ever allowing me to win the blasted lottery.  I mean, my church would receive more than 10%, I would do mission trips to Africa and South America… building educational facilities all along the way, putting shoes on bare, calloused, little feet–and I could certainly ensure that an exorbitant amount of hungry, suffering children never feel the pangs of hunger in their little bellies again.  I could effectively share and spread the Gospel and even put a sizeable dent in the monstrosities that make up the sex trafficking industry.  I could pop a few caps in the asses of some of the cartel too!  In short, I could help so many people.  So why in the world would He not trust me with a bit of money?  It just doesn’t make sense, does it?  Even if he didn’t choose me, He could at least chose someone with a heart like mine!  Ugh!  Money is the root of all evil!  It’s come to a point where I am disgusted by it and what it represents.  I kind of hate it actually.  I hate how it distracts people and keeps them from experiencing face-to-face encounters with God.  You see, if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that poverty causes you to lean on Jesus, which deepens and sweetens your relationship with Him.  In that way, I feel kind of sad for the majority of rich folks.  (Disclaimer: I’m not saying that all rich folks don’t have precious relationships with God!)

But I suppose my theories on money and religion aren’t so important right now.  You see, I have to admit something, friends.  Late Sunday night… early Monday morning, I was in a place of such deep, devastating sorrow that I was, in all sincerity planning my great escape.  I was planning on ending my life.  My pain was so agonizing and unbearable that night and I had cried until my eyes were almost swollen shut.  All the suffering that I had experienced in my life just came together, forming one indescribable but all-consuming ache.  I had a plan and began subtly saying my goodbyes to those that I love in the wee small hours of the night.  Were it not for my beautiful son Jonah who was peacefully sleeping near me, I know that I would be nothing more than a memory right now.  Praise Jesus that I was able to remember back to the night my then, 5-year-old Jeremiah (who was sleeping) and I  drove up on my mother’s house to see why she hadn’t been answering the phone all weekend.  It was on that fateful night that I discovered that my mother had committed suicide. 

I reminisced upon the moments and hours that passed after seeing her lifeless, pale, white body laying in her bed.  She had the saddest expression on her face.  She looked like her heart had been broken.  She had been dead, laying in that bed for three days. 

I also reminisced upon her funeral.  She asked that we play a few songs, namely “Please Remember” by LeAnn Rimes.  It’s a beautiful song, but my heart broke into a thousand pieces when I heard it play at the service.  I vaguely remember that I literally let out a moan so deep and so loud during the song that my precious grandfather had to take his focus off of mourning the death of his child, and focus on consoling me.  It was one of those soul cries…I just couldn’t maintain my composure sitting there looking at her casket.

Then my mind wandered back to the days before her funeral, pre-visitation.  I got my mother ready for her funeral.  With the help of my cousin, who is a physician, we managed to get my mother’s body dressed.  And mind you, we didn’t pull the easy, funeral parlor trick where you merely cut a slit down the back of a shirt or a dress…we literally got her dressed, from head to toe.  She was bloated and had Frankenstein-like stitching all around her head from the autopsy.  Remember, my mom was a cop…  She once had to participate in an autopsy during her training at the police academy and was happy to report that she “got to crack the skull-cap“.  I remember her telling me that the human face is peeled back away from the head and that it simply looks like a mask as it is pulled down and then pulled back up toward the end of the procedure.  Add to that, I was also keenly aware that the deceased’s brain and other organs are taken out and weighed–among other things during an autopsy– and then tossed back into the chest cavity which is then sloppily sewn back up. 

She was so brave when she was a cop, so I had resigned to be brave like her during this sacred time to ensure that it was “me” taking care of her sweet body, ensuring that she was handled with supreme love and dignity.  The Holy Spirit definitely guided me as I prepared her body because I was so much stronger in that moment than you or anyone else could ever imagine.  I felt like she was with me and that God was bringing a much-needed sense of peace and understanding to our relationship.  Still, there were subtle reminders like her sad-faced, lifeless body reeking of formaldehyde, which was literally oozing from her pores and causing her beautiful hair to fall out as I curled and styled it. 

Praise the Maker that was able to successfully get her hair and make-up done.  I had managed to get her ready for her funeral all by myself, except for the help that my sweet cousin gave me in actually dressing her body.  I was proud of my cosmetology skills but what was bothering me was the fact that she had fallen after taking all the medication that she took.  I think she attempted to overdose but discovered that what she had taken did not kill her.  I think she sedated herself heavily and then woke up, disappointed that she was not dead yet.  I believe this is when she dizzily got up to grab for more pills (the ones that really killed her).  When she did she feel into a box fan thus breaking some of her acrylic nails. 

I said to myself right then, “MY mother is not going to see Jesus needing a fill!”  Hastily and with great determination I called a nail salon that was located across the street from the funeral home.  I asked them to please come and help me get my mother’s nails repaired.  Now apparently the Vietnamese culture does not play well with the dead, because a timid but traumatized little Asian voice echoed back at me saying, “D-no, we no do dat foe yew mudda!  We skeead!”   I couldn’t help but chuckle a little bit.

Finally though, my tenaciousness and perseverance had paid off.  With the help of my cousin, we found someone from a local hospital who was willing to give my mother her final fill.  I tell you what, that girl did one heck of a job!  She had my dead mother’s arms all sprawled out with “forms” on every nail.  By the time this gal was finished my mother’s nails looked amazing and the whole damn funeral home smelled not of formaldehyde, but of acetone!  I know it’s not funny, but the entire place smelled like a nail salon!

All this to say, the memories of my mother’s suicide are fresh.  So, the question is how could I do that to my Jeremiah and my Jonah?  How could I do it to my family?  How could I even entertain such thoughts?  Who would have found me?  Would I have had to have had a closed-casket because the left side of my head was missing from the exit of the bullet? 

I know these are maniacally morbid thoughts, but I thought of them all as I weighed out my unspeakable options.  Truth be told, I prayed and prayed for Jesus to come back.  I desperately wanted the Rapture to happen so my kids and I could just fly away from such an ugly, senseless, evil world.  I guess Jesus wasn’t ready to mount His majestic, white horse and ride to my rescue though.   Or maybe it was on account of the Battle of Armageddon hasn’t occurred yet or we haven’t all been asked to receive the mark of the Beast!?!  Either way, we’re all still here and aren’t winged and singing with the Hosts of Heaven.  I apologize if I have offended any of you by prematurely trying to end the world.

But you see, I’m really broke and struggling.  I stand to lose everything.  My home was literally one day from foreclosure.  My attorney met me at 7 am on Labor Day (September 3rd) to allow me to file for bankruptcy; I did.  Shortly thereafter, my boyfriend did some things that were absolutely appalling.  I had to send him away as his addictions and alcoholism were consuming us.  He was also becoming abusive again.  Add to that, I found two condoms in his suitcase… We “rarely” have sex and when we do, we don’t use condoms. 

I remember clearly back to September the 3rd because it was my late grandmother’s birthday that day.  I had been having some problems with dizziness and fainting and that afternoon, I got up too fast I suppose and I fainted.  Jonah was standing next to me when it happened.  I hit my head really, really hard on the closet door behind me.  Jonah screamed “MOMMY” in a tone that affected me to my core; still does today.  He was so scared and was crying.  I’ve never seen him get that upset and lose it like that.  Let’s just say that, in that instant it was painfully clear how much Jonah loved me.  It was also the memory of his cry for me that prevented me from making an irreversible decision the other night, which was the morning of the 24th.

What happened that night?“, you’re probably wondering, that could have taken me to the edge of a cliff like that.  I’ll tell you what happened, I found out that I lost my job.  Friends, I am yet unemployed again and I have to make a mortgage payment soon PLUS my monthly bankruptcy payment to the trustee.  I’ve depleted all of my resources. 

I took this job with the hopes of moving up quickly.  I don’t mind telling you that I went from making $50K a year to a little over $19K a year.  I was literally pulling in $9.53 an hour at the airline I worked for, with all my education and experience.  But you know what?  I loved that job.  I loved the people.  I loved working from home, which was a first for me.  I worked and trained so hard and it was all taken away in a flash. 

So here I am.  I do not know what’s going to happen to me next.  I have never been angry with God before the other night.  However, on that night I felt as if he had completely betrayed me and that all the prayers that I had humbly prayed to him…and I also felt like the time that I had spent on my knees were all in vain or that he was simply choosing to ignore me.  Today, I have decided to put up a little bit of a fight…as much as I can.  But know this friends, I HATE the devil.  He seems to want to devour me and my precious children.   It’s getting hard to take.  Just when I started feeling connected to the Lord again today, I turned on my computer to write on this blog.  I was going to praise God at that time.  As soon as my fingers hit the keyboard, my power went out.  Our electricity was shut off.  I owed $436.  Frightful times….

I am going to be writing a lot more in the coming days.  This is going to be an interesting ride but I invited you all along a while back.  God is going to move in my life.  I just don’t know how right now and I am overcome with grief and fear.  Please pray for me and my two children as we walk through this horrifically perilous time.  I’m running out of tricks, friends.  I’m getting older and I’m running out tricks.  As a matter of fact, this is how I feel (dramatic, but true nonetheless):

I love you all and will be writing again soon.  Sufficed to say, you are loved.  The very fact that you are reading this right now, wherever you are…humbles me in unspeakable ways.  If you only knew how much YOU keep me going!

The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:5).  I can’t understand it right now either…

All my love,

Ava

About Ava Elizabeth Wisdom

Greetings Beloved, I am a 41-year old single mother of two boys. I was a stripper for almost a decade and have lived the kind of life that parallels something you'd see in a movie. I not only partied like a rock star, I literally partied with rock stars. I stopped dancing in 2000 and began college when my oldest was 4. Shortly after turning my life back over to the Lord and beginning my academic career at the university, my precious mother, a former Fort Worth Police officer committed suicide. When I found her, she had been dead for 3 days. I did her hair, make-up, got her dressed, and had her nails filled for her viewing and funeral. In spite of my appearance and way with men, I have never been married. Rejection and abandonment have seemed to define me since conception when my biological father deserted my mother as soon as he found out she was carrying me. I am a recovering co-dependent with a heart so big that I have to be cautious so that I don't exhaust myself in focusing on and giving to others. I was a very angry child who grew up in a violent, dysfunctional home so I haven't always loved others from the depths of my heart. However, after the loss of my loved ones, I learned that time is fleeting and that you never know when you're going to see someone for the last time. So now, I am quick to love others and strive to maximize each second that I have with the ones I love. In spite of my sin and my struggles with men, drugs, and alcohol, my faith defines me. I could never deny Christ because at the times of my life when I had everything stripped away I could literally feel Him with me. I love to write and pray that this blog will inspire you and draw you closer to the heart of God. Ava Elizabeth Wisdom

4 responses »

  1. Ava, may the Lord touch you. Life is funny… sometimes it just hits you square between the eyes. I recently had to admit that I was depressed. Probably harder than anything I haver ever gone through. You see… everyone has a story. Yours my dear is pretty tough though and I have always said to my kids… your hangnail is just as important to you as someone’s cut off hand is to them because it is on you and hurting you right now.. But you my dear have more than a hangnail as do I and I give you all that…. telling you a little about me…. won’t change things and misery doesn’t love company… but sometimes it helps to know that God really is listening and I believe that HE doesn’t cause any of our own problems~ I believe that we live in a fallen world and He allows things but He can take our stuff and turn it into glorifying Him in the end… Which I am counting on!!!! Smile…
    I am praying for you right now that He uses this to become even more real in your life when you go to Him daily. And to kick that stupid devil out of your life who is the author of all lies!!!
    So I had a dad who was a wonderful alcoholic. He was successful and functioning and that in it’s own right was pretty confusing for a kid that made their dad their whole life… As we know all alcoholics die early and he did. When I was 26. A few years before he did… my sister was in an accident and in a coma. She survived and is also functioning but the accident pretty much wiped out the sister I knew, and made up a new one. A month after my dad died, my husband also an alcoholic… back in the day I didn’t know about Adult Children Of Alcoholic Parents, so what did I do? I married one! Anyway, he got us into a Sixty Thousand $$$$$ Gambling debt…. He accepted the Lord through that little incident and later we were absolved from that debt. (God really IS GOOD!!!!) But at the time… just like you… I didn’t know what was going to come next. I was married for 14 years to him… stuff happened… and I have to admit, I don’t think I was the greatest wife. He was willing to go to chuch but I wanted to follow my friends around at their church …. terrible move as I look back but hindsight is 20/20…. I am full of mistakes… in my walk with the Lord… believe me. One day, I walked behind the garage to get the net for our pool because of course I was the pool cleaner too and found pot plants growing the size of small palm trees… well that wasn’t all I found out about drug wise so I took my kids and that was it. He died a few years ago… never really changed… but the last few years we had become friends and he had started driving 4 hours to see all my daughter’s plays… until he died of lung cancer… (life catches up with us all) It was so sad. He apologized and yet I am still so sad I can’t even deal… though I have been married to a wonderful man for almost 20 years since our divorce… My current husband and I had a cute little shop that was so successful and we were so spoiled that got crunched in an earthquake and we lost eveything but our lives! Which now I realize is pretty darn special because I would be telling you a different story…. so because we had become pretty well known in the community… my husband got a job offer to manage a movie theater in our little town and I began waitressing… We were starting OVER….WAAAAY over! Slowly he worked his way up to General Manager making crazzy money… you wouldn’t think a little theater could make and I worked my way up to Event Coordinator… recently due to the economy our company did away with the Events and they kept me but cut my salary and though I get paid more than the kids and other staff, I am a glorified front desk person at our spa. And my husband just got laid off this last spring. We are almost out of severance and if something doesn’t happen, he won’t have insurance next month because he won’t be able to pay the $400 Cobra….
    BUT…. God is good because all of a sudden… his dad’s business that he used to work for, and has been helping him with for free has started reeeeeally rumbling and some deals are looking good where as always God is teaching us how to have FAITH.
    Honey, I am a lot older than you. From your story, you have rewritten your story a few times yourself! But you have many, many more pages of writing to do… and lots of happy chapters in-between. I am praying for my story to turn and I am praying for yours as well. I don’t think God MADE any of the things happen to us, bit like I said… I do think He allows them… it is up to us to get out of bed, take a shower, be a mom, and keep writing our story so when it turns into a MIRACLE (which I believe it will.) You will glorify Him by sharing it!
    Funny, I almost ended this with I love you….
    And you know what… God kind of told me I should anyway.
    We are all surogates for each other and I do love you~ in HIM!!!!
    Keep in touch,
    Diane

    • Diane,

      How absolutely precious you are! Thank you SO much for sharing so much of your story with me. I feel blessed and humbled at the same time… And what an encourager you are.! I know you’re absolutely right about the fact that God doesn’t cause any of our problems. As a matter of fact, I was just telling my friend and prayer warrior, Arlene today that I recognized that God doesn’t give us laws and rules to live by so that He can be a mere buzz-kill. God loves us and He gives us laws and rules to protect us from ourselves.

      On that topic, I was confessing to Arlene today that it sucks that for me to have sex is considered a sin that I “commit inside my own body”. Conversely, when the married people get their freak on it’s seen as an act of worship unto the Lord. I call not fair on that one…always have. For me sex is a beautiful, cosmic, soulful experience that’s rooted in love. And hey, it’s not my fault that I’m not married, right? So I was telling her that God had revealed to me that He meant for each and EVERY part of the Bible to apply to my life. In short, he wasn’t going to let me slide on 1 Corinthians 6…the chapter about sex!

      What I told her that God brought to me in a great epiphany about a year and a half ago was the way Paul starts off talking about sex. At verse 12 he says, “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I shall be mastered by nothing.” I had a light bulb moment! What Paul was saying is that, we have free will and can essentially do as we please. We can do whatever the heck we want, but not everything is good for us. Sometimes the choices we make bring sorrow and suffering. And I believe that there are consequences for every bad decision that we make. I think that God so desperately wants to protect us from ourselves, but as a true Father, He knows that if He removes the consequences that the lesson would be removed as well. All this to say, I fully agree with you.

      So, didn’t you tell me that you were also codependent like me?? If you did, it all makes sense when I hear your story. I am particularly interested in how you felt when you lost your ex. As a matter of fact, I am “incredibly” interested because I’m in a situation that bears a remarkable similarity to yours…only my ex isn’t dead…yet. Why do you think his death has affected you so immensely? Is it because you feel like you weren’t able to save him? I’m sure you tried. Write back when you get a chance. I’d like to pick your brain on the topic, if you’re open.

      We have so much in common. I could go on and on but I’m late in picking up my little one from school now!! I hope to hear from you soon. You are just so sweet!

      God’s best,
      Ava
      xoxoxoxoxo

  2. I’ve always hated money, too. When I see rich people on TV with $250K pedicures, it makes me sick! I can’t believe so many people have to go without while so few get to have so much. It’s just plain wrong.

    • Agreed. I once walked into Saks Fifth Avenue. I saw this awesome garment that totally captivated me. I looked at the price tag; they were only asking for a little over $600 for the piece. What was beautiful to me before I saw the price tag became, in an instant, a whole lot of nothin’ special. I thought of all the things I could do an all the people I could help for the cost of that one garment. I think, no matter how wealthy you are, it’s just plain arrogant and selfish to “waste” money like that.

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