Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Growing up my home parish for my adolescence was Our Lady of Lourdes in Raleigh, NC. While very modern in design, it was very traditional in liturgy and unlike other churches I’ve been to, the tabernacle was on the altar where it should be. I was confirmed there. Two of my brothers were as well. Two of my brothers also made their First Confessions and First Holy Communions there. My mother was active in the scola as well as a cantor. I was active in youth group. The first chapel for Perpetual Adoration was established at this parish during our tenure there. My mother was an assigned adorer from 3-4 AM (or maybe 2-3 AM) every Tuesday morning for years. My parents were also catechists there briefly.

We had holy priests and the parish came to be known for the “Dream Team” of seminarians and associate pastors that came through its doors in the mid-late 90s. One is my current pastor and my daughter’s Godfather. Recently a former associate who had been a Franciscan friar before deciding to become a Diocesan priest was named Monsignor. He’s also now the pastor of the largest parish in the diocese.

With all that, you’d think I’d have developed a special devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes and St Bernadette. But I never really did. I have no doubt of her intercession on the behalf of many who did and still do spend time in Eucharastic Adoration there. I know my mother’s prayers for a man shot at a local gas station and critically injured in a robbery contributed to his recovery (she also put in a prayer request card for him in the chapel which led to many others’ prayers as well) and that the Blessed Mother interceded for him. I know that it was miraculous to have this kind of parish available to myself and my family during a time of great turbulence for us spirtually as we left the parish my parents had helped to found and in some ways fled to this parish. My parents allowed us a small say in the decision to switch as to which parish we would like, I was in love with the local Cathedral but a small voice told me we belonged under the mantle of the Blessed Mother and so when I was asked which parish, I chose Lourdes, as it was affectionately known.

Even so, I never developed the devotion one would expect. And this in spite of the fact that as a small child I loved St Bernadette and was fascinated by her.

Healing. That’s what happens at the grotto in Lourdes. That was what Our Lady had Bernadette establish there. And honestly, that is what that parish provided for our family at that time. And maybe that’s why it’s hitting me today. Last night, as Ash Wednesday, I was in church #3 of 3 in our options. Honestly it was because of proximity and mass time. This parish reminds me in many, many ways of the parish my parents helped found. The one we left to come to Lourdes. The music, the people, the design…so much of it brought back very stark memories of my childhood. Memories that are sometimes painful.

After receiving the Eucharist and praying, I felt the lightness that I at first attributed to my fasting and then, rightly, realized was the reality of the True Presence there inside of me and my turning toward Him. I also felt like something had been released, let go of, in my heart.

This morning I prayed the closing prayer for the novena to Our Lady when that place name zapped me: Lourdes. Healing. I never had truly felt wounded but I realize now what my parents realized in some way when they switched parishes. We were wounded, our souls were crying out for something more. We were crying out for more authentic communion with Jesus. We were crying out for God and He sent His mother to shelter us and guide us and heal what was broken in us, before we truly understood what that was or even that it had happened.

It was not an easy or light decision my parents made in switching parishes. Everything we knew was wrapped up in that place. But once moved on, things started to happen. Good things. Another family from our old parish we began seeing in the pews. They had a daughter my age I had been friendly with at our old parish. Together she and I were active in youth group. Now her younger sister and I are busy raising our kids in a crazy world. I’m friends with a lot of my old youth group friends again. I am thankful to that parish and Our Lady for that.

In truth, I’ve begun to understand just how much I owe to this particular Marian appearance. Without me asking or her acknowledging, Our Lady of Lourdes has quietly worked behind the scenes to mend what seemed (in hindsight) irreparably broken. I literally owe the fact that I am still Catholic today and not Episcopalian or Lutheran or Methodist to her. She was the lifeline that the Father sent to bring us closer into the fold. And I’m sure that as I prayed the Anima Christi last night, she looked to her Son and agreed, “it’s time.” It was time for me to understand just how much she changed my life and how this image of her in front of a young girl in a grotto in France was literally me praying and staring up at her, even though I had no idea.

Now that that curtain has been raised…it can never go back down. I had no particular devotion that was aware of to Our Lady of Lourdes, but yet I was in some way always consecrated to her. And now, the devotion lives in me consciously.

Fasting and Praying and Ashtags…oh my!

Blessed Ash Wednesday!

I have to say over the years this has become one of my favorite masses and this year did not disappoint.

But first…

the day began with breakfast…aka a cup of coffee and five grapes. And then I took the kids to school because I had a conference with Joseph’s teacher. It was called because of concerns which we are jointly addressing and have a plan of action on.

I came home and set to house cleaning and praying and not eating nor breaking my other fasts :). I managed some online Eucharistic Adoration as well as several different reflections a full Rosary and Rosary of Seven Sorrows.

Just before the kids came home from school I also got in a Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 pm.

William came home and went straight to bed so Joseph and I headed out to Mass. We decided to go to parish #3 of 3 which is actually the closest. Not a fan of the music there nor the lack of pews and kneelers (it’s impossible to kneel the way the seats are). But a huge fan of the priest. It was standing room only including a very large military contingent. For reasons I don’t really know Joseph’s never made it with me to an Ash Wednesday Mass so he was very interested in getting ashes.

These readings are some of my favorite, in particular the first reading from Joel. It’s one of those that hits me in all the feels. In a great big way.

The homily at Mass included the priest admitting he hates Lent and hates how it reminds us both of our sinful nature and our mortality. It was a really hard hitting homily that even the kids understood. (This is the priest who last year gave me one of the best penance’s I’ve ever had at the Lenten Penance Service at our parish.)

After Communion I found myself sitting with my eyes closed praying the Anima Christi and feeling the strange mix of joy and repentance that define Lent. I began to wonder if fasting was really getting in my head but it wasn’t. It was Jesus. There in the Body and Blood. It was feeling how it feels to turn toward Him despite everything the world wants us to believe that we can do it by ourselves.

We came home to find the rest of the house mostly in bed (except Shelby who would stay up all night if allowed). And I promised Joseph we’d commemorate his first Ash Wednesday Mass (seriously, how did I never have him with me in previous years!) the way he asked… #ashtag

 

#ashtag #ashtagdor #dor #AshWednesday #Lent #herrettashtagfabulous #waitedalldayforthispic

A photo posted by @recoveringpeoplepleaser on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:31pm PST

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The Obligatory “What are you giving up” Post

Fat Tuesday was phat…

So, I happened to be off work (I work Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Valentine’s Day weekend..). This morning after getting three kiddos on the bus I headed out to the Dollar Store to get Valentine’s Day supplies for the kids’ card exchanges at school. I was pleased to find some cute stuff for St Patrick’s Day. Then I headed to the grocery store for our Mardi Gras necessities.

 

King cake and pączki…not homemade, as I’m sure you can tell.

So after dinner (taco Tuesday, the one dinner everyone actually eats), this was dessert.

So, what are we giving up? Well, the kids are, as always complicated.

William: getting new toys (this happens an embarrassing amount of time with his dad) and asking for them, youtube and treats at school (he earns “money” he can buy treats with)

Joseph: originally it was going to be electronics but that was going to be next to impossible, especially since he often has homework assignments that include some kind of online ability. So he’s also giving up youtube.

Kristen: I am giving up my personal facebook account and secular music. I’m going all K-Love or Catholic radio (when I can get the signal in my car and online). Also I’m trying to snack healthier and try to avoid meat whenever possible. Fridays for sure, but Joseph is helping me find alternatives for some of our other standard meals.

It’s less than three hours til midnight…let’s do this.

Losing Doesn’t Make Losers

Last night there was a football game. Maybe you heard about it.

I live in the heart of Panther Country. That is, North Carolina. It’s been a rough couple of weeks because I’m a Manning Girl trapped here in Panther Country.

For me, there is my team, the woeful Cleveland Browns, and then there are a few players I am solid fans of: Peyton and Eli Manning (of the Broncos and Giants respectively), Eddy Lacy (of the Green Bay Packers), Philip Rivers (of the San Diego Chargers) and DeAngelo Williams (of the Pittsburgh Steelers, formerly of the Carolina Panthers). I never root against these guys. The Manning Brothers vs each other is one of my most difficult things.

Technically the Panthers are the hometeam but again, never rooting against a Manning.

BUT, since the Panthers are on a winning streak this year there have been lots of “new” fans in these here parts. Fans who never much cared but now were caught up in the fanfare and add them to the die-hards and well, I’m outnumbered. So for the last couple of weeks my facebook feed has looked like this:

 

That last shot is a real road sign in NC.

Anyway, I’ve taken it in stride the way a lot of Panthers fans have ribbed on Manning and how the Panthers’ quarterback, Cam Newton, has been a firebrand that has created strange bedfellows. I’ve seen friends who loudly decry “Black Lives Matter” and the “entitlement of minorities” join the Rainbow Coalition in saying Cam doesn’t get a fair shake because he’s Black. Strange bedfellows indeed.

The real showdown happened last night and the Broncos defense soundly defeated the Panthers 24-10. And after the game, this happened.

To say Cam was disappointed, well, duh. To say he could have handled it better, that’s an understatement.

Fans are disappointed too, but the lashing out I’ve witnessed from Panther fans takes it a step too far.

Yes, Cam is young. He’s 26, however, he’s still a man. It is not too much to expect him to behave like one. Dan Marino was on that stage at 24 and he didn’t walk off nor give mono-syllabic answers. Today, we don’t talk about Dan Marino never winning a Super Bowl, in fact, many mistakenly think he did win one.

Today we refer to former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly as “Kelly-strong” after his defeat of cancer and his work on behalf of his late son. Rarely does someone mention his four consecutive Super Bowl losses as the starting QB for the Bills.

Cam is young, so hopefully, he still has time to learn.

In the post-game analysis, former players Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin and Marshall Faulk discussed Cam’s interview. Faulk tried to defend Newton by saying that no one whose never been on that stage can be critical. Really? Like many of us haven’t had personal or professional defeats before?? That no one can be critical?? Wow.

Then when Sanders put the pressure on by saying this:

“You are the face of our brand right now,” Sanders said. “You can’t do that. I understand the emotions of losing. You can’t do that. A Manning, a Brady, all of those guys who have been prototypical [guys] would never do that.

“You can’t be dabbin’, smiling, styling and profiling when you win, so this is how you go out when you lose?”

Faulk responded by accusing Sanders (known for his own antics during his playing time) and Irvin and others of wanting Newton to be himself in triumph but be like “them” (Manning and Brady) in defeat.

Hold up. Wait a second. I don’t think Faulk thought that one out completely. He intimated that what we saw last night, the two-year-old going home with his toys, is who Cam Newton really is. If that’s so, congratulations NFL, you can my make my six-year-old your MVP next year.

Cam, buddy, I’m ten years older than you so let me tell you a little bit about the real world where people don’t get endorsements when they lose the highlight (to that point) of their career.

First of all, disappointment and broken dreams, they happen. Yesterday while you lost the Super Bowl, my dear friend Pat lost her husband. Another friend got news yesterday that the last-attempt treatment for her child’s illness, failed, she is watching her little one die slowly now. But life doesn’t stop or end when a dream is deferred, we move on and tackle the next mountain.

Second, life isn’t fair. You went into yesterday’s game knowing there would be a winner and loser. You ended up second best. When people say they don’t want their kids to get participation trophies, your performance off the field yesterday is part of the reason why. You are a father now, you have a son that looks up to you. He deserves to know his dad did his best and that his dad knows that his entire worth isn’t wrapped up in a Lombardi trophy. That old-guy you lost to…he’s lost twice before. That guy who got booed when the MVPs came out…he’s lost twice before too. You are younger than them and will have other chances. Think about those guys who came into the league with such promise and never got to play in a Super Bowl…life wasn’t fair to them either. Show your son in the future that losing with grace can happen.

Third, losing can teach you a lot more than winning can. You will never truly understand how strong you are or how sweet victory is until you have tasted the bitterest defeat. “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” You know who said that? The guy whose trophy the other team held up…Vince Lombardi. A lot of eyes were watching you last night. A lot of people are choosing now to remember the season you had instead of what they saw in that interview. A lot of people want to believe you’re a better player and man than what they saw last night and that you have the capability to learn from your mistakes on and off the field and can be and do better.

Look, losing doesn’t make you a loser. Bad behavior, poor sportsmanship, those things make you a loser. A lot of us are hoping you prove us wrong and that last night was a one-off. All eyes are on you Cam–your move.

The Unexpected Week of Vacation

After my kiddos went back to school on the fourth, they were in school for two weeks before this week.

The week of MLK Day (the third Monday in January in states that honor the federal holiday) also coincides with the end of the grading period here so after everyone is off Monday for the holiday, teachers go back for two teacher workdays and then the kids come back for an abbreviated week Thursday and Friday. This year it turned out to be only Thursday, but we’ll get to that in minute.

Friday evening I had to work but my mom drove in take the boys back to her house til Monday. I brought home sushi for her and I to eat for dinner and she spent the night here. The next morning after treating us all to breakfast at the 24/7/365 Denny’s a few miles down the road, she headed north with the boys and Jeff, Shelby and I went home.

The rest of the day Saturday Jeff had a few errands to run and Shelby and I chilled out and watched movies.

Up in Durhamland it was 65 degrees and since the next day was going to be in the 20s, my parents took the boys to the Museum of Life and Science which is around the corner from their house and they have a membership to.

They dug for fossils, visited lemurs and lamas (among other animals, I just heard about a miniature donkey), “drove” the wind power boats, visited the dinosaurs and snakes, the butterfly house (no pics, my mom was in a concessions line for that), had ice cream and soft pretzels, and played in a giant nest and treehouse (a new feature). They ran around for a few hours until the museum closed.

 

Then, because Mama had a total brain fart, they went to Big Box Mart to get new jackets, gloves and tooth brushes, and spend gift cards they got for Christmas.

Meanwhile around here we stopped by a local “winterfest” they missed real winter temps and weather by a week. There wasn’t much to interest Shelby so we took her out for dinner. She was a little bit fussy but upon entering, she heard a familiar song (one of my faves by my all-time favorite band) and she perked right up.

This smile brought to you by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Zaxby’s Chicken.Shelby Zaxby's

This smile brought to you by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Zaxby’s Chicken.

 

The next morning I went to mass here and the boys went with my parents. After mass, we had a quiet afternoon at home here but the boys went with their grandparents to see The Force Awakens. They woke up to 25 degree temps so it was definitely a good choice. Afterward, Uncle Matt, made them light sabers, they are Jedi in training, after all.

 

And the next day, the museum was closed for the holiday, so before heading home, they decided to build their own in my parents’ back yard.

Finally it was time to come home so we met at an exit about half way between our houses with a dinner at Wendy’s.

Tuesday Jeff had to go to work so the kids and I decided to have just a quiet day at home. But it was also the anniversary of Joseph’s baptism. I liked the idea that Kendra at Catholic All Year had about three special days per kid each year (baptism, patron saint feast and birthday) . I managed to find all three kids baptism candles so for a dinner of Joseph’s choice (he decided to stick with Taco Tuesday, our regular fare) before eating we lit his baptism candle and renewed our baptism vows, which was suggested to me by both Katherine of Having Left the Altar and Melanie of The Wine Dark Sea.

Joseph baptism vows

This is a new tradition we’ve started in our first year in our new home and I’m really excited that we started it the same week that Joseph would have another significant step in his spiritual life, which we’ll get to in a minute.

Wednesday was our last teacher workday (or so we thought). And I had to take Joseph in for a dental appointment. Jeff was at work so I had to take all three kids. I’ve switched dentists for the boys since our move to a family dentist and we couldn’t be happier. Since they don’t need the specialized dental care Shelby does, it makes all the sense in the world for them to go to an office with more availability and less wait time. Also, their previous dentist (who is still Shelby’s dentist as there is a second office in our new area)’s office had upset us because a baby tooth Joseph had for almost two years after the permanent tooth erupted behind it fully, they refused to pull. Now, I’m all for waiting for nature to take it’s course within reason, but I knew this was extreme and was already causing orthodontic issues which would only get worse in time. And the laissez-faire attitude of the pediatric dentist’s office was a no-go at this point for me.

Two weeks ago the boys went in for their regular cleanings and this appointment was with the exact purpose of removing this rogue tooth. The dentist and dental assistant who took care of him were outstanding and it took two different tools (after numbing) to get it out. And once it was out, we found out there was good reason why that tooth never even got loose.

Joe's tooth

That long skinny part, that’s an intact root that should have disappeared almost two years ago. Now here’s to hoping that we’ve minimized the orthodontic issues.

I had gotten a sub for my Faith Formation class as our director wanted to make sure if there were any complications I would be readily available to Joseph (can I tell you how much I love a) being Catholic b) my parish and c) our director of Faith Formation!) and there was a Little Caesar’s pizza in the same plaza as the dentist office. Joseph asked if we could get a hot and ready pizza to reheat closer to dinner time and some crazy bread and sauce. Especially since Shelby and William were amazing at the dentist’s office waiting, I agreed. And Shelby got to choose the two liter of soda that came with our meal. She chose root beer, of course.

Thursday the kids went back to school. Their school is a PBIS school and Joseph’s grade had a celebration to celebrate the kids’ who had great behavior the previous nine weeks on Thursday (because they had all their special classes scheduled for Friday). They watched Ice Age and got popcorn and other treats. Shelby’s bus broke down on it’s way to pick her up so I drove her in that morning. I went to work at 1 and dreaded the impending doom of snow in the south…especially on the coast. You see, I work in a grocery store, so…

milk sandwiches

that is often my reality when a winter storm or hurricane shows up. In the winter it’s the locals who want milk sandwiches and during a hurricane it’s the carpet baggers.

I was blessed, people were kind and although a few were worried, most were getting comfort foods and beer. Lots ‘o’ beer. Anyway, I got a text from William’s teacher about an hour before shift end that said there would be a two hour delay the next day.

I came home and shortly after going to bed, the school system called again to say they would be cancelling school with an optional teacher workday. I still had to work on Friday but it made life much easier knowing Jeff could be home with the kiddos.

Friday morning Jeff did go in for a few hours before I had to head in for Milk Sandwiches Part II. And I was thrilled that although we were busy, it wasn’t crazy and well worth coming in! As it turned out there was no bad weather on Friday at any point so it was kind of a wasted day off but the kids had fun with Jeff and that boded well for today.

Today was Joseph’s first Reconciliation. He’s been preparing and was so ready!

Joseph reconciliation morning

He got dressed up and was ready for some grace! Prior to the beginning of the hearing of Confessions, our pastor spoke to the children about the sacrament running through what would happen one last time and telling them the importance of the sacrament. He used the parable of the Prodigal Son with the focus being on the father’s embrace.

Joseph was one of the first kiddos in and came to do his penance in the sanctuary. The plan was to stay til all the kids were done but 45 minutes after we really needed to get going. But we did take one pic with St Mark with a clean soul before going.

Joseph St Mark

We came home where after lunch, Joseph got to pick our movie to watch (The Empire Strikes Back) and enjoy some popcorn and snacks.

Currently it’s bitterly cold here with no precipitation, and I’m praying that precipitation stays away so we can make it to Mass with no drama tomorrow. So this week will hopefully be mostly back to normal (except that Joseph has one more dental appointment, to get sealants on which couldn’t be done until he had that tooth pulled). And then tomorrow is the feast day of William’s patron, Blessed William Ireland…so lots to start this week off right!

 

When Politics and Friendship Collide

I dislike politics. I operate on the belief that when someone enters the political arena, they do have to make certain compromises and sometimes, they make too many and all the wrong ones.

I posted something on facebook today about Sarah Palin and her recent woes (son arrested, daughter challenging her daughter’s father as to rights to a child) and her recent endorsement of Donald Trump.

As usual, it got very little response.

Until a friend said she would say something if her family was perfect. Ah glass houses, and what not.

Except…this is a person who takes to very vocal complaining about her teenagers on a regular basis. This is a person who call often profane names at complete strangers and newscasters she doesn’t agree with and politicians alike. This is a person who has a lot of guilt at how her own life turned out, especially after the death of a parent. By her logic, we should never point out the short-comings of others because of our own except…

When I pointed this out as nicely as I could and Palin’s own admitted failings (in particular in her first book when she acknowledges she handed her kids over to a relative when her daughter became pregnant out of wedlock the first time and that if she had been more involved this might not have happened) she shot back that bad kids come from good parents and that she lived in her glass house and left stones on the ground.

Except…

Let one thing be certain, politically, my friend and I are two apples from the same tree. Except when it comes to BS. Because that BS I don’t tolerate from anyone and she selectively accepts it. I don’t like calling friends out but sometimes we just have to speak our piece and move on.

The truth in this case is that like many someone thrust their family into the spotlight while trying to proclaim they were one way only for them to turn out very much another way and from there it just got ugly. Sadly, when you expose your faults to the world wrapped in layers of double-talk and BS, it upsets people.

It is why I choose carefully what politics I just throw out there for public consumption, because words matter. I once was a huge Palin fan. Circa 2008. I also accepted at face value the explanations I was given then. I can no longer, in good conscience just accept the platitudes and glossing over. And I chose to put that out there which friends from both political sides agreed on for the most part. And most chose not to attack me or my family when they engaged in.

I never said my house was in perfect order, but I did mention that for someone embroiled in so much personal chaos, perhaps running into the political front and center wasn’t the right task. It looks more like running away than dealing with it.

Someone, a friend, who didn’t like what I said, took aim and fired. At me. And that’s okay, because she’s still my friend and I still love her because I realize her response comes from sources I have seen first hand and have the utmost sympathy and empathy for. And she’s made the mistake of viewing the whole world through her own lens and thinking everything is a shot at her (I once got an angry DM about a status that posted from twitter in response to something going on there that she was SURE was directed at her because of something she had just posted that I hadn’t even seen…) a few times before.

I have to say, having a heart of flesh vs stone has made these kinds of things pretty difficult to live through. I’ve had to expose myself more and make myself more open to these kinds of incidences. And I’ve had to have mercy and forgive more as well.

Can friendship and politics live together? The jury is still out as I do not know her response yet in full, but I’m not going to sweat losing friends or friends who attack from their own wounded places. I realize now it’s one of the things I was chosen for. Lord, have mercy.

The Grief Olympics

Over at Aleteia, Simcha Fisher has written about the jerkwads who come out staunchly indifferent to a particular current event and mock those who care about them. 

If you don’t care about David Bowie or France or the Super Bowl, well then, let’s give it up for you.

Dwight Slow Clap gif.gif

But even more annoying, more childish, than the people bragging about their ignorance or indifference, are the ones claiming that someone else deserves your mourning more.

I call it, “The Grief Olympics,” and it goes a little something like this:

  1. A celebrity dies or their is a tragedy in the world.
  2. People react in grief.
  3. Other people react to first people’s reaction not just with derision but by proclaiming that some other celebrity or tragedy is more tragic and it must be racism, classism etc that is causing people not to notice.

Let’s take, for example, the Paris night club bombing. The same day, earlier the same day, a bombing took place in Lebanon that ISIS took responsibility for. There was a small outcry from people who said that it was shoved under the rug. In fairness to them, because of both things happening the same day and the comparative lack of free journalism out of Lebanon and the news cycle here in the US…there probably was some truth to that. Several of my friends admit that the earlier bombing (which occurred while most Americans were at work) they hadn’t heard about it and were equally upset by it when they did find out.

More egregious, however, were the people who began posting this story in outrage. First of all, the attack referenced happened months before, so we’re not even talking something recent. Second, all of my “friends” on facebook who posted this, never acknowledged these events when they happened either. So, evidently, they are only responsible for news they get off of social media and it’s up to social media who gets attention and there’s no way they could start a trend. Nope no way at all. The injustice being manufactured was disgusting, to say the least. Why? Because the flag overlay wasn’t available yet from facebook itself when the atrocities in Kenya occurred??? And people can’t be sad about France because of what happened months before in Kenya?

First of all, if facebook doesn’t give you a free over-lay, you can do it yourself for free on picmonkey. Second, why do we need to feel like some grief should outweigh others? It simply does not make sense.

This whole incident made it abundantly clear that the giant internet hand of spanking does in fact still exist.

It should be no surprise to anyone that one’s out-pouring of grief is directly proportional to the impact the tragedy or loss of life had on that particular person. That’s a “duh”moment right there. If my family member died the same day as David Bowie, obviously I’m going to be more upset about my family member’s death than Bowie’s but that doesn’t give me the right to shoot my mouth off to everyone in social media or the real world that my tragedy is so much more tragic!!!!

And it’s even more obnoxious when we are arguing over which celebrity gets the most grief. I have been mildly impressed that I did not see a single “Why everyone so sad about Bowie? Where was y’all when Natalie Cole died?” post. I’m not saying they don’t exist, but my friends seemed to keep it in check. Even more remarkable was when I saw a local reggae dj sending out respect and friends who really didn’t know the music sending prayers to the family.

We can appreciate each other’s grief without trying to make ours seem bigger. We can simply allow people to mourn and express grief without trampling all over them with how there are more things in this world to be upset about. Respect people. Just have respect and the manners will follow suit.