Friday, April 22, 2011

Prose: Contemplations for Easter

Nineteen-year-old author Jesse Anna Longshore shares her thoughts on life and loss. 

Beauty Amongst the Broken

For those that don’t know, my mom is sick. She isn’t just unhealthy, she is disease-ridden. Yet she is still the best mom I could ever ask for. I was having a hard day the other day; I needed her to be my mom, as selfish as that sounds. I went and wept on her. I was finally able to suck it up and put everything out of my mind, to try and enjoy the beautiful moment that God had allowed. I made a joke, saying ‘she could have given me some motherly advice,’ and as I started to smile to indicate that I was joking, she looked so deep into my eyes, I am sure she saw my heart stop beating. She spoke so softly as to keep from coughing and said, “I wish someone would give me advice.” Well, there went my efforts to stop crying. As I lay back down, I felt her praying. She mustered the strength to lift my chin up and tell me, “Jesse, always remember there is God in the good and the bad. You have to be thankful for the time you have.”

I felt a ribbon of goose bumps creep across my body, as I held her hands in mine. I prayed, I prayed so hard for the words to comfort her and the words that came out of my mouth were not my own. I looked at her with my tear-stained face and I told her that “everything will be okay here. We will be okay. We have each other.” Not until I said those words to the person who needed to hear them most, did I truly believe them.

All we have is each other in this small world. We have family and friends and nothing more. Never take for granted those that have given you something in your life. Never take for granted the love surrounding you, because I can tell you from firsthand experience that when it comes time to say good-bye, all you have to think about is all the things that you never said or the things you did and want to take back.

There are moments you want to hold on to, but you can’t. All we have as humans are the memories; memories of the love that has touched our hearts. It’s amazing how the smell of the cookies in the oven can bring back the night that you and your mom solved world peace in the kitchen. Or even a song, that you sang on the way to the beach, when your hearts were full of happiness, can play on the radio and you never will hear it without feeling that same happiness.

Sometimes I go running at night. Just to inhale the smokey air deep into my lungs. I breathe in the moisture and I feel the wind blowing my hair. I fill every ounce of my lungs until they are filled to their tidal volume. I do this for the people that are not equipped to do this. I think of those who have been hit by a drunk driver and can’t get out of bed without help or tools. I think of the beautiful children who have never known what it is like beyond the hospital walls. I hold my arms out for the ones that have never known what it is to be free. I do that for the people who won’t ever know the feeling of wind blowing their hair. And I breathe, I breathe for my mom. I breathe a breath that she can’t.

Because I have seen someone looking at life from the outside and not be able to take part in the parts that were built for them, I refuse to take life for granted. I refuse to take the ones I love for granted. This is a beautiful life and this life was meant to be lived. To live means to love, because as much as I wish I could make my heart turn to stone to save myself from pain, I would never take back the happiness that was felt, because in those moments there was beauty. A glimpse of beauty in this broken world~

Stopping Time

Everyone has asked for a countdown for something in their life, whether it is to get out of bed, to jump into water knowing it is cold, or making one important phone call. When someone says, “Three, two, one,” you immediately have a feeling for each number. With three, you know you have two more seconds to let the breath you just inhaled, out. At two, you know you have to let it out, because whatever it is you are resisting, is coming. At this point your heart beats a little faster, whether it is from fear or excitement. At the moment the word “one” is formed, you let your breath out and you jump in with two feet.

From the time you come out of the womb, you are counting down for something. Parents count down for the baby to come. They count down for the first word...and then the first steps. When you grow older, you are counting down to things that involve you, like getting boobs or your first kiss. The biggest one is getting your driver’s license. The only thing that is not appropriate to countdown is for Mondays. I have never heard anyone say, “Man, I cannot wait for Monday to get here.”

Nana has an old stopwatch that sits by momma’s bed. Nana uses it to see the time when she gives mom her medication, as to not lose track. I walk in there and amongst the heavy breathing, I hear the stopwatch ticking. The sound of time passing makes me want to turn back the time. To me, that watch is counting down. With every tick of the hands, I am losing time. I have been sitting in that room, a room that I can describe to a tee. I can tell you that there are gold sheets on the bed. The comforter is pulled to one side. There are seven pillows and a pad underneath her. I can tell you there is a treadmill in the corner and cards spread around the room in baskets that are overflowing. There is a mirror with a picture of Jamie and me taped to the right side. There are buckets on either side of the pillows and the peace of God is ever so present in there.

Sitting in this room makes me think of the ever so apparent future. I picture changes within my life and I am self-consciously counting down for things in my life. As I sit in this room, the ticking of that stopwatch is unending and I sometimes count the seconds until the hand moves all the way around.

But the truth is that whether we get the countdown or not, the future is going to come. Whether we force a child to walk or wait patiently, they are going to take those steps. Whether we force love to receive a kiss we long for, or you wait until love comes to you, the kiss will come. Whether you live life on the edge with no concern about death or you are careful with each step, you are going to die.

We cannot change the future. We cannot stop the inevitable countdown. This world is so caught up in the future, that we cannot appreciate the present. I can’t count the times I have been spending with someone and through the text, have been planning my next move. A harsh reality says that I am at fault. I drive fast so that I get to where I am going as fast as I can so I don’t miss out on anything...but really, in driving as fast as I can, only watching the tracks of the car in front of me, I am missing God’s creation. It becomes a blur beside me. My priorities are just wrong. I sit in the room and cannot stop focusing on what I cannot fix, that I may miss out on a smile or an expression of love. I hear the ticking and I am reminded of what is about to happen.

People are in and out of my house all the time. The smiles are plastered on the faces of those that come, as to bring a sense of hope, but beyond the smiles are the eyes. Sometimes even windows to the soul can’t be shut and we get to see in. We see the pain and the reality sets in.

Tonight I decided to go in her room, kind of escape the murmur of words that hurt. I put the stopwatch in the drawer of her nightstand. I stopped time. I held her hand and she squeezed mine back. Through the pain medicine and the pain, I know that she was praying just as hard for me as I was for her. The prayers weren’t out loud and they weren’t bringing tears, but they were powerful. I didn’t pray for anything but the present, as she prayed for the future. She doesn’t have a future here; she has now. I have a future on this pain-ridden, beautiful earth...I still have things to countdown for. When it was time to let her sleep, I gave a countdown, and at “one”, I let her hand go and time picked up where I left off.

What we as a society need to do is to become one with time. Cling to it like it is running away. Embrace the now with all we have. We can’t change the future, so why not hold on to those seconds instead of trying to outrun them. We have the power to stop time.


  1. Yes, thank you so much, Jesse.

  2. Jesse, your words are some of the most beautiful things I have ever read. God bless you and your mother & the rest of your family. Thank you for sharing your story.