Her hair

so white, long and wiry

but she sees it as

exquisitely blonde and


Her skin

once smooth and supple,

is covered in crevices

and deepened paths that


her years of existence.

Her pants,

no longer securely

wrapped around her body,

displaying her fit curves

and desired shape,

loosely drags on the floor

and collects the dirt and


Her head

always twists sideways,

directing the sound waves  

into her “good ear”

to hear the spoken words.

Her hands

formerly strong and


trembles as she holds the

compact mirror in one

and the lipstick in the


She lifts the lipstick with

her shaking hand and

glides it over her chapped


She rolls her lips together,

trying to smooth the color

only causing it to clump

within the cracks.

She takes a final look with

her eyes that are

cloudy with cataracts,

into the compact mirror

and she sees exactly

what her memory allows.

She sees the girl she feels

within her heart.

The girl with the smooth

skin, luscious hair and

strong hands.

The girl that once was

and is no longer.


I Want More

June 2018

My daughter is graduating from high school this week and all I can think about is how I want more…

I want the swaddling days and the warmth of her precious body snuggled in my arms.

I want to smell the sweet breath from a toothless mouth after a bedtime nursing.

I want to see the face that lights up with the happiest of smiles when I reach down into her crib.

I want the rocking to sleep, singing her a lullaby and watching her eyelids ever so slowly close when her body finally gives in to release the dreams.

I want the baby scooting on the floor, dragging her stuffed animal and blanket.

I want the warm bath splashes, rubber duckies floating and bubble play.

I want the smell of baby shampoo and combing her thin wispy hair.

I want to wrap her wet naked body in a hooded towel and rub her back to warm her up.

I want to give zerberts on her belly and watch her roly little body jiggle with laughter.

I want to hear the sound of her giggles when the Mother Goose rounds the See and Say toy.

I want bedtime stories, forever tuckins and being asked to, “lay down with me”.

I want the stick figure drawings and the bodies with no neck illustrations.

I want the 3 year old tantrums when things don’t go so easily.

I want the obsessive and specific Blue Clues shirt wearing days, where no other shirt would suffice.

I want the clay art projects from school and the handprint Mother’s day cards.

I want the tiny soft hand cupping my ear as she attempts to whisper a secret.

I want the Santa Claus Christmas list and the carrots left out for the Easter Bunny.

I want the sundresses, sand shovels, arm floats and the lathering of sunblock as she fights to pull away.

I want to see the sleeping baby in my rear view mirror after a hard day of building sand castles.

I want the little party dresses with the shiny new black shoes and the vinyl purse to carry her giant pretend lipstick.

I want her little hands to touch my cheek when she speaks

my favorite word, “Mama”.

I want dance recitals with sequin costumes and forgotten steps.

I want choir and band concerts and the sound of the saxophone trumpeting so loudly that it scares away the dog.

I want messy partner based science projects and evenings booked for the school science fair.

I want the little girl picking flowers during soccer games and seeing the giant helmet on her head fall down and cover her eyes as she swings and misses the softball.

I want the blanket fort building, American girl tea parties and the matching My Twin dolls.

I want color coordinated headbands, side ponytails and tiny braids held together with colorful plastic barrettes.

I want to visit Sesame Place and feel her grip on my leg because she knows I will protect her from the giant fuzzy Elmo approaching us.

I want Barbie doll birthday cakes and Build a Bear parties with some serious eye squeezing and wish thinking, while blowing out the candles.

I want to watch High School Musical, The Big Comfy Couch, House of Anubis and Lizzy McGuire shows repeatedly.

I want the squeeze around my neck from her arms holding on so tightly.

I want butterfly kisses, tickle backs and glow in the dark, peel and stick stars on her ceiling.

I want…

I want…

I want…

So, this sadness that comes with knowing my child is about to graduate High School doesn’t occur because I am sad about the future. It simply occurs because I find myself mourning the past.

I am forced to say goodbye to a life that will never be again.

And with the mourning, comes a lifetime of memories filled with

the awareness of what I did right,

and what I did wrong.

It’s knowing that even though I am certain I did my best,

I will always want more for my child than I could give.

It’s knowing I can never go back to the past and redo any mistakes.

And even though I have heard for years how childhood goes by so quickly, I never could have prepared myself for what I would feel today. The emotions can only be felt first hand when it is your personal turn to mourn.

And now that my time is here, all I truly know and all I really want is…


More of the past and more of the childhood.

I. want. more.

But, because it is impossible to go backwards, I will hold onto my memories for as long as my mind allows me to and I will continue to smile and cry simultaneously over the childhood memories that we have shared.

So, I find myself brought back to 18 years ago to the song I would sing to her as a little infant in my arms, each and every night. As I hear the words repeating over and over again in my head, I know that I am left with no other choice but to continue to pray for her happiness and thank her for being my light for the past 18 years. It is time for me to step back, watch her ignite her future and allow her to show the world, what I have seen for all of these years, and just let her shine.

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” Harry Dixon Loes

~Heather Lyn Freda

22 Years Ago: A Teacher’s Perspective

pexels-photo-265076.jpeg22 Years Ago….

22 years ago when I began my career as a teacher, we didn’t have active shooter drills.
We had fire drills.
Or maybe we had to stay inside because there was a bear in the field. The students used to be terrified thinking about the bear outside.
The idea of a killer on the loose, didn’t exist.
We never heard those ominous words on the loudspeaker alerting us that we were in danger.
22 years ago, it never happened.
In the past several years, every practice we have I tell myself, it’s a drill….it’s just a drill. And then when it takes a bit longer than I think a drill should take, or I hear an odd sound in the hallway, I think, what if it’s not, just a drill? What if this is the real deal? I have 24 little lives depending on me. I look around my room and I know there is nowhere to go. There is no extra large closet to hide in. I look at my cabinets, knowing I can’t fit 24 children into them, and I know I can’t choose who goes in and who doesn’t…never would I choose.
There is no bathroom in the room with an additional locked door.

So, when we have a drill and I think it is a just a drill it never seems to fail…
The tempo of my heart speeds up and my breathing gets heavier. I look at my students faces. For most, it is out of their realm of understanding the potential danger. They are used to this practice. It is just that, a practice. Some look over at my face to see my reaction, just like I would do to the airline attendants when we hit turbulence. If the airline attendant smiles, I feel better. So, I smile. My students should feel better.
I share a smile that reassures them that all is ok. They are eight years old. I do my best to show I am not concerned, that I am not frightened and that I know we are all safe. Of course we are safe. But at the same time, I have to let them know it is a serious drill. I need them to take this seriously. It is a rehearsal… a rehearsal for the real event. A rehearsal for an event where I pray I would have the strength to continue to reassure them and give them a smile.

22 years ago, I didn’t have to silence 24 students until we got word it was all clear.
I never had to run around the classroom, close the windows, lock the door, shut it tightly, close the blinds, turn the lights off and make the room appear empty.
I never needed to have my students sit with their backs against the wall so they couldn’t be seen.
I never needed to shush them when they let out a sniffle or a sneeze.
I never needed to put my finger to my mouth, so they knew they needed to be silent.
I never felt frustrated when they giggled, for fear of being found.
I never needed to give my serious teacher look to the student whose leg accidently hit the file cabinet, making a metallic thud sound.
I never had to try to stop them from a sneeze because it would make a potentially dangerous sound.
I didn’t have to look in their little 8 year old eyes and tell them “we have to take this seriously”.
You have to be silent. Silent. We don’t want to be heard.
And then a cough. The dreaded cough. The cough that is clear to anyone outside the room, we are in here. We are in the dark, with our backs against the walls… we are here. Trying to hide, but now you heard us… you can hear us. You know we are here.

And if you want to come in this room, if this is the room where you choose to ignite, you will come in. And I know there is nothing I can do.
Windows and doors aren’t bulletproof.
I have nothing that can protect anyone. Absolutely nothing.

I fear for my students. The panic they would feel.
Their parents heart wrenching pain.

I worry about my own girls. The anguish they would endure.
How would they hear the news? Who would be the one to comfort them? Who would help them through it all? Did I say I love you today? I know they know I love them, but did I say it…today?

What if this drill is the real deal?
Seconds tick by…painfully slowly.
I can hear footsteps outside but all is eerily silent in an otherwise building filled with sounds of laughter, movement, chairs sliding on the floor, pencils dropping, keyboards clicking and student chatter. It is all silent.

The door handle jingles…someone is trying to come in. They say nothing, they just turn the knob. A few students gasp, fearing the worst. Most are unphased, for they are used to this part of the drill. It is someone on our side, checking the door is locked. We know this. We are safe. We hope. They are making sure I did my part to keep everyone safe.
The door must be locked. We aren’t safe if the door isn’t locked.
But I know the truth. A locked door would not stop anyone from entering. If the door was locked, they would find a way in.

And maybe for a moment, I would see the face that was there to hurt us. Just maybe I would have a second to look into the eyes of the one who was filled with rage and plead not to harm the children. Maybe, I would beg for their lives, beg for my life, beg for my girls that need me as a mother. Maybe, I would have a second to make a difference. Maybe, I would be able to do something that could change the premeditated outcomes of that day.
But more likely, there would be nothing I could do.
There probably wouldn’t be a second to do anything.
Once the door is open it comes down to the luck of your crouching location. There is nothing that could be done.

So MAYBE the only hope is to stop the shooter before the shooter enters the building. Make it much more difficult to enter the building. Have a guard at the door, metal detectors between the doors, bullet proof doors… something!

For all too many, these drills become a living nightmare. Something no child should ever have to experience. Children are dying because they are at school. School. The idea should be unimaginable. But instead it is a brutal reality.

I pray each time these drills we practice remain just that, a drill. I hope we one day won’t need to have these rehearsals anymore and these horrors cease to exist. Something has to change, now.

I long for the days that the loudspeaker calls for a lockdown because we have a bear outside.
I am confident I can keep my students safe from a bear if we hide behind a locked door.
I am not confident otherwise.