Tuesday, May 31, 2011

going out on a limb

Two weeks ago, on my trip home from the airport, the driver and I were making small talk.


At some point, I mentioned that we recently moved to Virginia from California and after he shared with me that he has four small children at home, I mentioned that I, too, have four small children at home. He said it must be very difficult to work full-time and I told him that it was.

Or rather, it is.

But thankfully, I'm married to a wonderful man who is home with our children. Even though Charlie makes it look glamorous, I know it's not always rainbows and unicorns being primarily responsible for the well being of four little lives.


The driver told me the story about a woman he drove to the airport for an international trip earlier in the month. He said that when he picked her up at 6:00 in the morning, she opened the front door and was holding a baby in her arms. She handed the baby over to her husband and then slowly walked down the stairs to the car. As he loaded her suitcase in the trunk and climbed in behind the driver seat, he noticed that his passenger had broken down in to tears. He wasn't sure what to do, so he looked at her in the mirror and said, "Miss, I'm sorry that you are so upset. Is there something I can do to help you?"

She shook her head no, but then continued to cry the entire drive to the airport. When they were pulling up to the terminal, she finally opened up and told him that her baby was celebrating his one-year birthday while she would be away on her trip and she was going to miss it. Then she added that she is the primary breadwinner in her family and she desperately wants to succeed in her career, and her presence has been requested at this meeting and really, what option did she have but to say that YES she'd be there?

I let out a deep, sad sigh.

What option does she have?

Let me see...

She has the option to say NO.


She has the option to say, "I'm very sorry but this 'birthday' has been on my calendar for a year and I'm not going to miss it." She has the option to travel the week before, or the week after, but she is not going to travel the week of and miss this monumental event.

Because it is monumental.

And maybe some people wouldn't think so, but then again, those people probably wouldn't cry the entire drive to the airport over missing such an event in the first place.

Therein lies the challenge of the working mother. More specifically, the working mother who is also trying to climb a steep and at times, slippery and rigid corporate ladder. Responses may vary, but the question is always present...

Just what are you willing to sacrifice, to climb a wee bit higher?

One of my friends is struggling with a work situation that required her to move to a foreign country on assignment, just before her oldest child graduates from high school in the United States. She is currently living overseas and has missed the last two months with her son and will also miss this entire summer with him at home, before he moves away to college. She is equal parts devastated and frustrated over what she feels is a mothering defeat. And I am heartbroken for her, because I know that she'll never get this time back.

Very recently, I found myself in a situation that would have left me feeling a very similar kind of mothering defeat.

In a few weeks, our six-year-old triplets will be making their debut on the big stage. But it just so happens that the date of their play coincided with what was gearing up to be an important meeting at work. Immediately recognizing the conflict, I made it clear that I wouldn't be available the morning of the yet-to-be-scheduled big meeting, because my attendance was required elsewhere.

My announcement was met with a blank stare.


After happily explaining that my children's Kindergarten class was putting on a production, it was suggested that it would be in my "best interest" if I not attend the production and instead, participate in the meeting.

Before I go any further, I think it's important to note that I am the primary breadwinner in our family. It is therefore my responsibility to ensure that we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet and all the necessary medical benefits.

But it's also important to note that I am a mother.

And if there's one thing I've learned during this mothering tenure, it's that if something doesn't feel right, it generally isn't. For me, this moment was critical because to miss my children's kindergarten performance ... however trite some might think it is ... would be a crushing blow to my mothering soul.

Yes, a roof over our heads is important. So is food on the table, clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet and the ability to go see a doctor and dentist. But there's something more important than any of that, and that's my mental health and the mental health of my children who would have been devastated if I missed their show.

I have a choice.

So I took a moment to compose myself before very carefully choosing the words, "If you would like to keep me in this role, it would be in your best interest to never attempt putting my work responsibilities before my children. Because while I am a team player that will put in 18-hour work days and will pack up and move my family 3,000-miles cross-country on less than two months notice, in the midst of an ectopic pregnancy, the day that I would willingly miss something as important as this event, is the day that my priorities as a mother are officially out of whack and I need to immediately resign from this position."

Ultimately, the meeting was pushed back. And I feel empowered to share this story because although I might soon be moved to the basement with my Red Swingline stapler, I've met so many working parents that are far too intimidated to stand up for things that are important them. I know it isn't easy because not everyone will have the same focus that you do, but please, don't ever lose your focus.

This is your life and you only get one shot at it.

It's critical that you recognize what is important to you and your family and you defend it, because all too easily, your priorities can be replaced with someone else's. Each and every day, I recognize the enormous responsibility that rests upon my shoulder's to support my family. But I also recognize that nothing is as important as my mental health. When my mental health fails, my physical health fails and it's just a matter of time before I'm calling out MAY DAY!


It is for that reason, I've always been a proponent of asking the question, "What will matter more to me and my family a year from now?" and then advocating a solution that works best for me. Inevitably whatever will work best for me, will work best for my family because of the FOOL PROOF equation: When I'm happy = they're happy.

More commonly shown as:

:) Mom = :) Family

Currently, the solution that will work best for me is getting back in to a home-office arrangement post-haste. It's been almost a year since I've transitioned in to this "high-profile" role and I can say that without a doubt, even though I have a "short" commute by relative standards in the D.C. area, the time that I spend each day on the road is sucking the very life out of me. That is my confession: As a mother to small children, I cannot do this much longer.

I will not do this much longer.

I know my limits and I've nearly reached them.

(Edited to add: less than two weeks after I first published this post, I was hospitalized for four days with a severe case of pneumonia and what has been preliminarily identified as adrenal failure possibly as a direct result of stress. Foreshadowing: the phenomena wherein one eerily predicts the upper end of their limits and then surpasses them and experiences a system failure. May Day!)

If only I could get back those 10 hours each week I spend commuting, I doubt I'd feel so far behind. I'd feel like I once again have a somewhat manageable work-life balance. I'd play with our children a lot more. I'd get caught up on sleep. I'd take more pictures and read and knit and write and exercise and watch movies. I'd answer e-mail and send birthday cards and order school photographs. I'd fold laundry and methodically put it away as opposed to throwing it in to whatever I assume is the correct drawer.

Just tonight Carolyn came out wearing my bra wondering how it got in to her dresser and I had the fleeting image of her as a teenager...


I just know that those days will be here much sooner than I'd like and I don't want to miss a minute more than I absolutely must between now and then.

Life's just too darn short.

Monday, May 30, 2011

memorial day

Eileen and I spoke this morning and Emily was brought to the ER early yesterday morning. That is where they recognized that her potassium levels were low and they began treatment. Very quickly they determined that she would need more concentrated care, so she was transferred to the ICU where it is expected she will remain for the next several days.

During our discussion, Eileen clarified that when Emily had her accident last Saturday, the first person to arrive on the scene wasn't just one doctor. It was two. There was an emergency room doctor and a trauma specialist doctor and they worked, in tandem, on stabilizing Emily for the solid hour it took for an ambulance to arrive.

(Remote location + poor cell phone coverage = slow emergency response.)

My sister told me that sometimes, life moves so fast. But in a situation like the one she is in the midst of currently, life has come to a standstill. The condition of her daughter is of utmost importance as she sits by her bedside, holding her hand and praying.

Today, our thoughts are on my young niece, Emily, as she faces a long journey of recovery. But our thoughts are also on the millions of people, young and old, who have served, are serving, or who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy in this country.


Today, on this beautiful May Monday that finds me at home playing with my husband and children, while contemplating a mid-afternoon cookout ...


Our military (and their families) are solidly in our hearts.

Memorial Day 2 5.29.06

(Thanks Cathy for the cartoons.)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

calling all prayer warriors...

I received a text message tonight from Eileen that Emily has taken a turn for the worse. Her blood sodium levels are very low and she has mild swelling on the brain. She was admitted this afternoon to the neurology unit and tonight, was returned to the ICU.

My prayer is that she is exactly where she needs to be to make a full recovery and that the people who are caring for her have competent and gentle hands.

Although I posted this picture last night, I'm posting it again, tonight.


Your healing thoughts and prayers for my niece and sister are sincerely appreciated.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

a week in review

After my two weeks of whirlwind business travel, Charlie flew back to California for a business trip, this week. My goal was to not take any vacation time and instead, work from the house and squeeze in time in the early morning and at night. I also intended to recruit neighborhood girls to watch the children so I could make conference calls during the day.

Instead, my cousin Margaret and her two boys, Brian and Alexander, made the drive up from South Carolina for the week to help out. We had a great time and it was, in my opinion, the height of hilarity when the children greeted Margaret and were so overcome with excitement that they ran in to her arms, squealing. After exchanging hugs and kisses and great big, ear-to-ear smiles, Carolyn ran back to me and in a whisper asked, "Now, who is that again?"

This morning, after being with us for the past five days, Elizabeth sat on Margaret's lap and pleaded, "Please don't go. Please don't leave. We love you so much!" So I asked my daughter, "What is her name? Do you remember?" And Elizabeth said, "Of course I remember! Her name is Auntie Eileen!" Which Margaret appreciated a whole lot more than Henry, who insisted on calling her "grandmother" all week.

Ever since we ran (and I use the term "we" and "ran" very loosely since Margaret actually did run it while I mostly hobbled along hoping that the ambulance wouldn't pick me up before I got to the finish line) our marathon together in 2009, Margaret is a lean and mean running machine.

Her goal on this trip, was to get me back on the bandwagon of running and she spouted off a lot of things about upcoming races and how she had every intention, we'd do them together.

When they arrived, late on Tuesday night, Margaret quickly went to bed so that she could wake up early Wednesday morning and get in a run before the sunrise. She succeeded. However, that would be her only running success during the week because on Wednesday night, Thursday night, and Friday night we were up talking until at least 1 AM.

Last night, in addition to staying up until past midnight, talking, I whipped up a batch of double chocolate fudge brownies which I smothered in hot fudge and topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. As Margaret savored her brownie, I told her, "Welcome, my friend, to the dark side where the brownies are hot and the ice cream is sweet..."

Charlie and I are planning to resume P90X this weekend (no, seriously, I mean it this time!) because as much delicious fun as the dark side is, after almost two months of very abbreviated exercise, even my socks are starting to get a little snug.

While I didn't commit to participating in any of the race events with Margaret, one never knows what kind of insanity will grip my aging mind once I start seeing some results and my endurance increases. But there is no way I'm doing the "Goofy Challenge" with her at Disney next January. In my opinion, running 13.1 miles one day and 26.2 'tis a bit goofy.

In other outstanding news, my niece was released from the hospital earlier this week. Last Saturday night she was in the ICU. But this Saturday night, she is recovering at home with her family. Here's a message to our sweet Emily Rose from her cousins...


We're very happy that she is home again.

Thank you, again, for all of your prayers and well wishes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

the word of the day: THANKFUL

I am so thankful to all of you that left kind words, thoughts and prayers in response to my post on Saturday night regarding my niece, Emily. I've been trading text messages with my sister, Eileen, for the past two days and Emily is thankfully on the mend.

(Emily and I doing our trademark "cheek-to-cheek" circa 1993.)

Scan 2

Considering she was descending the hill at close to 37 miles per hour when another cyclist swerved in to her path (not car as I had originally reported) and she flipped over the handle bars and landed on her face and head, it is nothing short of a miracle that her injuries were not worse and most importantly - that she is still with us.

We are extremely thankful.

Yesterday, she was transferred from the ICU to Pediatrics, which was fantastic news that her critical condition had been so quickly downgraded.

(Emily and our beloved Monty dog in 1995.)

Scan 1

Today, she had to undergo surgery on her knee in order to remove gravel and dirt that was embedded from the fall. Her doctor indicated that because of the depth that they had to incise to remove the gravel, her recovery time could take six months (or more). The doctor also told Eileen that with any head injury the long-term prognosis is not known. So Emily will be routinely following up with neurologists to confirm that she did not sustain a (more significant) brain injury.

As my cousin Bob pointed out, with our strong Coleman genes and the vast number of devout Catholics in the family that have been praying round-the-clock, the chances are excellent that Emily will make a full and complete recovery.

It's important to note here that a few years ago (alright, it's been 18, where does the time go?) Charlie was involved in a zero mile per hour bike crash. He was at a standstill, balancing on his pedals when his bike slipped off a curb and he smacked his head, suffering a concussion. Yes, he was wearing a helmet. And like Emily, it's a DARN good thing he was because if not, he very easily could have been killed.

If you are on a bicycle: WEAR A HELMET.

Although, I'd also like to add that I know far too many people who are injured when riding on roads that are shared with cars ... so I'd also suggest that if you are riding a bike, go on a TRAIL. Cars + Bikes = Dangerous Combination. Take it from someone who has been hit by a car while on a bike not once, but twice.

(Emily and the man who would become her Uncle Charlie, circa June 1992.)

Scan 3

When I spoke with Eileen today, she told me that on Saturday night - she left her hotel and returned to the hospital. She climbed in to bed with her daughter and stayed there all night, praying. As she lay there, she said that she could feel God's presence as surely as she could feel Emily next to her.

I have no doubt.

While there might not be a rhyme or reason to why things happen, I always try to look for the positive. I always try to seek out "God's Fingerprints" in even the most seemingly unholy situations. And what I think - and told Eileen this afternoon - is that Emily is at a formidable stage in her growth. She is on the brink of adulthood trying to determine what to do with the rest of her life. (It's really no easy task growing up.)


To be involved in an accident as severe as this, at this juncture in her life, I'm certain there will be long-term ramifications. Hopefully, in a very positive way. It is my wish that as Emily recovers, she is called to use this experience for the good.

I told Eileen, "You never know, Em might decide to pursue a career in Sports Medicine as a trauma specialist, that enjoys spending her spare time driving up and down remote roads in northern Michigan looking for someone in need!"

That's when Eileen reminded me that her husband, Clark, was critically injured on a bicycle when he was a teenager. He was hit by a semi-truck, pinned beneath the tires, and spent three months in the hospital, recovering. Despite all odds, he did recover. And drawing upon that experience, Clark pursued a career in medicine and is now a doctor.

So, in summary, my takeaways from all of this:

1) You are an amazing group of people and I am so thankful for each of you.

2) Life is fragile and precious. Treasure it and shower the people you love with love.

3) If you are going to ride a bike: WEAR A HELMET THAT FITS. (Preferably on a TRAIL, sans automobiles.) There is no question, Emily would not be walking out of a hospital less than a week after her accident if she didn't have a helmet on.

4) In this day and age, the internet is an incredibly powerful tool and social networking is the bomb diggity. Within hours of Emily's accident, there were hundreds (more likely thousands) of people lifting my niece up in prayer. By virtue of my large family's 1000's of friends on Facebook, Twitter and blogging ... the word was out and Emily was added to prayer circles, the world over.

5) When there is nothing to do but pray, the fact that so many people were holding my sister and my niece in their hearts made our hearts so much lighter. Positive thinking and prayers really DO work.


At least I certainly think so... because although her road to recovery will be long, the chances are looking very good that Emily, who was knocked unconscious on Saturday, suffered a fractured skull, face, collarbone, brain bleed and endured surgery today - will be released from the hospital, possibly as soon as tomorrow. This isn't solely a function of insurance moving patients quickly. This is a function of youth and miraculous healing.


There really is no other word to describe it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

our beautiful emily rose

This is a picture of my sister, Eileen, and my beautiful niece, Emily Rose.


Eileen is my older sister and she is, and always has been, a role model for me. My sister is the reason I pursued a degree in science. She is the reason I pursued a career in the environmental industry. She is the reason I moved to California, where I ultimately met my husband. She is the reason I have done a lot of things ... including attend church regularly and cease any consumption of tequila. (Not exactly in that order.)

Eileen's daughter Emily is brilliant, beautiful and athletic. Last year, she turned down several golf scholarships and instead, accepted an academic scholarship for a top notch university in California. Last week Emily turned 19-years old and a few days later, she completed her freshman year.

My sister will often slip up and call Emily "Jen" because she says that her daughter reminds her so much of me. And yes, I can maybe see the resemblance ... if I was six inches taller, 30 pounds lighter and had absolutely perfect skin, hair, teeth and nails.

Emily Rose is beautiful.

Not only on the outside, but on the inside.

I know this, because for the first few months of Emily's life ... I was her nanny. And I know for a fact that my life would not be the life that it is, if not for that beautiful girl.

In the Summer of 1991, I moved to California for what was supposed to be a one semester exchange. But in the Fall of 1991, right about the time I met Charlie - my sister told me that she was expecting. I'll never forget the moment she held up her pregnancy test and said, "Do you want to see the first picture of my baby?" as she showed me the + sign.

I had just met the man who would become my husband and was certainly not ready to derail my future plans for a guy I hardly knew. But I was ecstatic over my sister's news and promptly decided that there was NO WAY I could move to Idaho to complete my second semester exchange, when my sister who was living in Northern California, and was the sole reason I decided to move to Northern California in the first place, was expecting her first baby.

So I stayed.

And soon thereafter, Charlie and I fell head over heels in love.

Emily Rose arrived in to this world on May 9, 1992. That summer, I lived with my sister when she returned to work and for three months, I had the privilege of taking care of my precious niece. One night, when Emily was particularly fussy, I scooped her out of her crib before she could wake up the rest of the house. After I gave her a bottle, we retreated to a dark living room where I powered on the radio, turned the volume down low, and slow danced with her in my arms to Madonna.

Just as I was starting to feel smug proud about my ability to keep a tiny newborn quiet and get her back down again without any assistance, she projectile vomited all over my neck and shoulders and I had no choice but to wake my sleeping sister so I could take a shower and start a load of laundry.

Ah, the memories...


Tonight, I received a phone call from my sister, Beth.

Eileen and Emily embarked on a 56-mile bike ride today, around the northern part of Michigan. At some point during the ride, Emily was descending a steep hill when a car cut in front of her. She lost control of the bike, flipped over the handle bars and landed on the road. Her bike helmet was cracked in two and she was critically injured.

I spoke with Eileen tonight and in my 40-years of life, my big sister - who has always been a pillar of strength for me - is completely broken.

Her first born daughter is in the Intensive Care Unit at a northern Michigan hospital. Her skull and collar bone are fractured, along with several bones in her face. Although she is stable, she is slipping in and out of consciousness and the full extent of her recovery path is not yet known.

Every so often, I find myself questioning the purpose of life and whether or not there really is a higher power behind it all. As a scientist, I see the strides that science is making in disproving so many religiously founded concepts. And it's hard not to wonder whether or not there really is a reason we are here walking around and consuming energy.

During my conversation tonight with Eileen, she told me that when the car who cut Emily off and caused her horrific accident continued on their way ... the first person who just so happened to be driving past at that exact moment in time and stopped to help, was none other than an Emergency Room trauma doctor who knew exactly what to do to stabilize my injured niece until the ambulance arrived.

Coincidence or Guardian Angels in our midst?

Tonight, while Emily is in the ICU, my sister Eileen is on her knees praying for her daughter's recovery. And I am on my knees, praying for the beautiful baby who has grown in to a beautiful woman.


If you are of the praying sort, I do hope that you'll send one up for my sweet niece and for my dear sister, who is absolutely heartbroken over this ordeal.

My family sure would appreciate it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

my deere family


Now that we've registered our lawnmower, we're anxiously awaiting our official John Deere hat to arrive in the mail. And then our transition to the country life will be complete.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

a six-year-old boy's prayer

Word for word, this was my son's prayer tonight at bedtime:

Dear God,

Please help me stop being so funny. When I talk at school, my friends laugh so hard they stop breathing. I am really afraid they are going to die and I don't want that to happen because then I'll have to make new friends. Also, thank you for my Mommy coming back. I'm very happy that she is home again because I love her and the house was starting to get messy.


The children greeted me tonight in the driveway, with bouquets of flowers and handmade signs as I stepped out of the car that drove me home from the airport. I'm certain that the feeling of adoration that swept over me was compounded by the fact that I've been out of town for the better part of two weeks. Charlie, on the other hand, who has been holding down the fort on his own is undoubtedly ready for a two-month vacation.

In addition to hosting a Girl Scout meeting (in my absence), he has volunteered, cleaned, cooked, laundered and kept our children healthy and happy. There's not a word in the English language to conjure the admiration I have for the man who is truly my better half...

So, I guess I'll just say that I'm incredibly lucky.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

saturday: in pictures

In between a week-long business trip last week ... and another week-long business trip that will begin tomorrow morning, today we embarked upon some yard work.

This is the scene, in photos...

We have a tremendous amount of yard debris that we are burning in our little fire ring. This pile represents approximately 1/100000th of the total amount.


Not all the pieces of wood are small enough to burn, so we need to cut them up in to pieces that will fit within the ring. Here's Henry in his uniform. This is what he wears during all waking hours. Red footie pajamas and a super hero cape. He calls it his "Super Suit."


I love our fire ring. It almost makes like yard work feel like a camping adventure. The roasting of marshmallows undoubtedly contributes to that sensation...


Why cook two when you can cook three?


We didn't burn all of the branches. Some of them we fashioned in to walking sticks. Every so often, I'll come up with an artsy idea like hand painting branches and for a brief second, I feel so dang crafty.



We interrupted our painting party for a discovery in the debris pile...


The children immediately swung in to rescue mode.


Much like they expect that by holding out a finger and whistling a song, they'll summon a bird to perch ... they were expecting that the little frog would just HOP in to the bucket when they whispered, "Here froggy, froggy, frog!"


Alas, with a little nudge, that's exactly what he did.


I'd suggested they name him Jeremiah, but the kids opted for Freddy.


"... and we will call him FREDDY. Freddy the Frog."


They sprinted down to the creek for Operation Freddy Release...


The sprint turned in to a walk when he almost flopped out of the bucket.


They carefully navigated the steep bank...


And then questioned, "If we kiss him, will he turn in to a Prince?"


Very carefully, they flipped the bucket over...


Gave it a little shake...


Filled it with a bit of water ...


And poured Freddy to freedom.


High - Five!


We retreated back to our house. In between washing what felt like 15 loads of laundry, we burned more wood. We cleaned out the garage. We swept and shoveled and folded. I thought about the things I'd need to pack for my upcoming business trip. Charlie thought about all the things we need to do around the house.

Instead of doing any of the things we felt like we needed to do, we sat down and mentally prepared ourselves for everything on our Master List of Things To Do.


This is us, mentally preparing.

Friday, May 06, 2011

what this world needs: more lightness and more love

Years ago, our children received the book "The Man Who Walked Between The Towers" as a gift.


We have really enjoyed this book. Not only because it has fantastic illustrations, but because the true story of a man walking on a tightrope stretched 140 feet between two buildings ... 1,340 feet in the air ... is a real page turner.


The man's name was Philippe Petit.


He was a street performer who loved to juggle and ride a unicycle ... but most of all, he liked to walk on a rope he tied between two trees.


Philippe had dreams, though.

He dreamed of tying a rope between the two towers and walking across the air in the space between. So, he pulled together a team of friends and they put his plan in to action.


It wasn't easy carrying 440 pound reel of steel cable up 180 stairs to a roof.

Nor was it easy shooting an arrow across a 140 foot expanse to secure the line.

It took several hours to get the cable in place.

But once they did, Philippe stepped out in to thin air, over New York City on the morning of August 7, 1974.


Very soon, people a quarter of a mile below, noticed something far in the sky above them...


Could it be?

Was it possible?

Someone was WALKING on a tightrope between the towers?


The police were summoned.

But they had to wait for almost an hour, while Philippe walked, danced, ran, knelt and laid down upon the line, staring up at the sky above, while the city bustled about, beneath him.


Eventually, Philippe surrendered and was arrested.


The judge sentenced him to community service, by performing for the children of the City.

I'm not sure if it's more unfathomable that someone would have it within themselves to formulate a plan to walk between the two towers ... or that someone would have it within themselves to formulate a plan to knock the two towers down.



I thought it was interesting that out of the blue, with no prompting from me, the children selected this story to read one night this week before bed time. As I concluded the story, the children wanted to know, "Why aren't the towers there anymore?"

"Because they were knocked down," I told them.

In the past whenever I've read that story, I'm certain that was enough of an explanation. But my children are growing up and becoming more inquisitive by the day, so this week, they needed to know more.

"WHY were the towers knocked down?" they begged to know.

So, I tried to explain it in a way that they would understand.

But the truth is, I don't really understand.

How do you explain hatred to an innocent mind?

I am extremely proud of our military. We have several friends that are in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. I extremely proud of every single one of them, who have possessed the dedication, commitment and resolve to never give up their search or desire to protect our country from terrorism.

But I am also struck with an extreme sadness that anyone has died because of hatred.

Virtually every single day since March 20, 2003.

There is even a part of me that mourns this past Monday, hiding in a compound in Pakistan, the culprit of the attacks above, died. From all accounts, he was cloaked in hatred until the very bitter end.

I know that I'm not a political expert by any means. I know that I'm not even remotely aware of how many enemies my country has ... or why.

But just imagine for a moment, the possibility that instead of inflicting pain and suffering on this world, the life that perished on Monday from a single gunshot wound to the head which would be celebrated the world over, instead brought the exact inverse of goodness and love to this planet.

Imagine. That.

Imagine the sadness that would be flooding the streets, instead of the joy that would be punctuated around the globe, because someone died.

Dr. Martin Luther King said it best, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Tonight, I tucked my precious children in to bed and then I sat down to read the newspaper. On the front page was the story of a 23-year old man who lived five miles from us. He was killed in an Afghani combat earlier this week. My heart aches for him and for his family ... and quite frankly - for all of us.

So I close my eyes and I say a prayer for a world with more lightness.

And more love.