To all of you who have given my family support, financially, emotionally, and spiritually, since the day we lost our home, this post is for you.
I think of the poster of a beach, with one set of footprints in the sand that tells me God isn't walking beside me but has carried me through each day. Was my son on his shoulders? Was my 3yr old in his arms? And, where was Joe? Then, I remember that poster is at sunset, at the end of the day, at the end of the traveling.
I don't think God was carrying any of us, or all of us at the same time; I think he was watching us, asking us to trust him, providing for us all the while, using his most devoted 'earth angels' to bless us when we were close to turning back.
You, every one of you who donated anything to us, you have been who God called to our side, every time you prayed, he granted it, every time you gave to us, he blessed us twice, and every time we dried our eyes and paid another week of hotel stay, he was there to embrace you for listening. I can tell you that I've sat on the floor, with my hands covering my face, asking God out loud for his grace, to have Joe walk around the corner to say that our loved ones Tami Tim Alex Nicole Michelle Loretta Dina Jackie Tanya Michelle Kylee Annette Tracy Sarah Debbie Lewis and others have donated and we can stay out of the halfway houses of today's shelters. Today's shelters require couples who are married with a marriage license and doctor note that says there is an emotional need to shelter together. The Veteran's associations want to shelter Joe, alone and even told him should something happen between the two of us to keep them in mind.
Because of you, we remained together and I can say it kept me alive on our darkest days, trust me this kind of darkness is emotional, is suicidal, and takes every bit of encouragement from anyone who gives it.. Our boys are our heroes, less they need us more than we need them, but more than we need them, we need each other always together, never ever knowing good night kisses from a phone call between us, never watching the other leave for the night, and never waking to wonder where daddy is, or mommy is; no matter the rarity of it in any world, we are THIS close, codependent to a fault, because we've been through a tragic situation together, that has left us to do, or die.
When this started, I can honestly say that I was in complete shock; crying for hours, crying in line at the store, crying, humiliated, and in total disbelief, this was happening. Thank God for masks because behind mine was a shaking jaw, chattering teeth, and runny nose, besides, my mask is cloth, so it soaked the wetness from my face. I would often come to Facebook to empty my heart, where there were several of you who would send me a gift of prayer, a gift of donation, a gift of a stranger's care, and to you I owe the betterment of my attitude throughout this experience. To what is the appropriate repayment for taking someone out of their suffering and into the warmth of acceptance and renewed ambition? All I can do is show you where it takes us. I owe to all of you to step away from this fight, to regain our independence, to step forward, to celebrate life again.
To all of you who hear me, who see me, who know the challenges of raising a family while also fighting foreclosure, fighting eviction, fighting unemployment, fighting a number of the scariest things in life, it is because people learn you're in need and help that you are able to survive mentally, emotionally, and give us what we need to pave the way through all of this. A donation to us is food, shelter, transportation, identification, and the ability to feel loved and cared for. If I have not thanked you, if you do not know the greatness of your gesture, read this please;
To you, it may be money, I assume it is hard earned, best kept, and fully needed, to us it is access to ending our war with life, leaving New York, belonging to the family I haven't seen in 24 years, they will not let this continue. I thought for sure I would have heard from my mother, my sister, my best friends, instead, silence, or worse, to tell me how disappointed they are in me. The thing is, no one can say something to me that I haven't believed about myself throughout my life. I hate to say it but I am my worst critic and worst fan. But this situation..., this is someone else's doing which led to the most important moments of my life, with my back against the wall, with fear in my eyes, trembling with uncertainty, I knew this was not punishment, that God doesn't work in despair. I had to surrender, to pray that prayer, to get out of God's way by trying to revenge the people responsible for this, and instead, let the ground of the past crumble at my heels as I walk forward. And so I have.
I had to believe that when I said to you who read this, :I need your help' that you would reply with help. We buy nothing personal, for the first time in 12 years, we did not buy anything for Christmas for each other. Our boy's Christmas was very small, Silas turned four in the hotel lobby, we did what we could, and we didn't celebrate New Year, or do anything that was not free.
We buy groceries at the store and store them in our room, we are humble, thrifty, and respectful of every single dollar that is given to us. What is so interesting is who shows up, not who doesn't, the people who have gone to the website and given $10 are just as magical as someone who donates more, like the people who donate, again and again, it's the greatest feeling in the world. The effort of caring for us is so valuable, it's life-changing and very beautiful. We have a gift for every single one of you, once we land on our feet. You're not a name and a dollar amount, you're a part of this story, a story that cannot wait to be told. I love to brag about the true beauty in people, you are this entire story, every bit of the good in it.
I am asking for your help to get through this last part, I think if you've been here since the beginning, you can see this is all coming together, the plane tickets are purchased which puts us with our family, out of New York state, but I don't want to arrive in this same situation. We filed our taxes which when they arrive will get us through two months without the need for any help at all. Who knows when they'll be here. We could not leave earlier, this flight was a gift, so we ride this unexpected wave of relying on your generosity to stay here until the 31st. We lack just a few days of stay at $67/each night. Whatever you may give, know it is a celebration our family has together, celebrating that an angel has been sent to our side.
A week ago I was contacting the State attorney General, a civil rights attorney, filling out credit card applications, and being bodyguarded by the police at social service's homeless unit. Today, we have plane tickets for our family to leave to go meet family, we have job offers waiting, we have a tax return that could be here any day, and we have the overwhelming feeling we've hit the sanded area of our fight. I feel God lifting us, I feel his heels sink with the incredible weight of our very heavy bodies, and I feel the smiles all-around at the adventure ahead. Footprints in the sand are at the end of a war that had to fight, that we fought hard in, as brutally as peacemakers can. Whatever test of character, of will, of stamina in this furious battle, God picked us up and is carrying us home. We are so grateful if you'll be there with us as we return back to our family.
Home is not an address, is not four walls, and does not end at the bottom of the driveway, "home" is within, and it cannot be taken. "Home" is what happens when our family and friends give us gifts that remind us we are not alone. "Home" is family movie night, is saying every night what we are thankful for and is the light that shines in us when we hold our boy's hands in the worst places. And home is finding love, forgiveness, laughter, and compassion, even when it is not being given to us. To all of you who give us your friendship, you are what we call our "home".
Our greatest lesson in all of this is simply this"
Friends are how God answers prayers.
With all my love, thank you for showing us what friends are for....
Aubre Joe Liam Silas
To give a gift please visit Www.thewarpaintproject.org
Thank you so much.
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