The butterfly…

I’m sitting here at work and I’m a little down today because it seems like the things that I really want in my life seem to pass me by and go on to others. I sometimes think, “Dang, don’t I deserve SOME of the things I pray and ask for?” And today while I’m ALL in my feelings I started reading on the internet and I came across this.

Quick little story…

A man found the cocoon of a butterfly. One day, a small opening appeared. The man sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force it’s body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and that it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small shriveled wings.The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected at any moment the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body which would contract in time. Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly. What the man, in kindness did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it could and would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly.
When you ask God for strength, He gives you difficulties to make you strong. When you ask for wisdom, God will give you problems to solve. If you ask for prosperity, He will give you a brain and will to work. Ask for courage and He will give you dangers to overcome. You can ask for love and He will give you troubled people to help. Ask for favor and you will get opportunities you weren’t qualified for. You may not receive everything you want, how YOU wanted but you will get everything you NEED.
So basically (and this is what I’ve always known) everybody won’t run the race at that the same pace. Some may come in first. Some come in third. Some come in last. But at the end of the day, the goal is to cross the finish line.
A few weeks ago, I dropped Brandon off in Brinkley but on the way back  I said to myself, “I’m taking the back way home.” It was raining and I know that traffic can back up any time on Hwy 70. So as I was driving I can still see Hwy 55. Well, I drove at a good pace. Enjoying the scenery and I look over at Hwy 55. The traffic is slowing down. And I’m just cruising along listening to my music. Minding my business. Lol. Then I look over again and traffic is at a stand still. I’m thinking, what happened? They were just moving. I drive up and I see that there’s a car accident. But while their lane has stopped, mine is still moving. So I speed up and I pass the car accident but then I’M stuck! Other cars and trucks decided to take a shortcut and it stopped me! By now, I’ve passed the car accident on 55 but their lane is moving and I’m stuck. Then it hit me. We’re all going the same direction but our trips will not be the same. Those that know me KNOW that I got emotional. We were all going in the same direction. 
 With all of that being said. Trust your journey. You may see other’s getting married, getting promotions, having babies, buying houses and traveling while you’re wondering when you will be blessed with these things but GOD knows. You don’t know what they’ve gone through to get to that point. You will get there too. Your journey isn’t theirs and theirs isn’t yours.
So I will TRY to be patient and know that God is getting me ready and when I’m blessed with the things I desire, I’ll be able to appreciate them.
Remember your journey is YOURS! What I’ve been through could have killed you. What you’ve been through, could have harmed me. Learn the lessons so you can pass the tests.
You’ve got this!
Be blessed.

Going up…

Brandon and I were driving home tonight and I had my music playing from my phone. Now, I have some of everything in my library from Evanescence to Beyonce to Tupac to John P Kee, lol. I love music and if I can get meaning out of it, even better. 

Well, it’s quite ironic that this song I grew up hearing came on. I haven’t heard it in a while but it’s so befitting right now. So many people are suffering from painful, life threatening, difficult illnesses. They want to get better and they try so hard to hold on. Or they are involved in freak accidents that leave them on ventilators and leaving family members with the heartbreaking tasks of removing them from life support. (My family and I have been there with Chance). A couple of months ago, I lost a relative to a motorcycle accident. He fought for a few days. Until he couldn’t anymore. (Another blog for another time)

Anyway, we want for them to make it out of these situations. For us. But they are going through so much. It’s almost unbearable for them. They hold on in pain and agony for us. Because they know how hard their leaving will be on us. They love us that much that they’ll go through the chemos, the therapy, the surgeries, etc just to be here for us. But they’d rather be free from the suffering. 

Back to our ride home. This song came on that most people in my age group( I know my brother Zrano knows it because our parents played it ALL the time) and older know. It’s called “Going up Yonder” by Walter Hawkins and the Love Center Choir. Now, when you’re a kid, you can’t really understand the meanings behind these songs. But when you get older and you experience some things, these words can speak to your heart like nothing else. The part in the song that completely broke me down tonight’s says, 

I can take the pain

The heartaches they bring

The comfort in knowing

I’ll soon be gone
As God gives me grace

I’ll run this race

Until I see my Savior

Face to face

So to me, what this says is, our loved ones can endure the pain of their illnesses. They will take on the hurt but they find comfort in knowing that once it’s over, they’ll be safe in the arms of Jesus. They know that God gives them the strength to gracefully enter His Kingdom. Once the temporary suffering is over, they’ll be face to face with Him. 

Let me tell you that Brandon had to ask me if I was ok because I cried like a baby. I told him I was great because as long as we have breath, we have another “chance” to get our lives together. 

So for those that are facing illness and possibly death. Those who have lost family members. Those who have family members that are in pain and facing some difficult situations, pray for peace for them while their transitioning. For those family members that have gone on, they’ve gone up yonder and we wouldn’t want them here in the state they were in. God has made them whole and new. They are soooooo happy. Be thankful for that. 

I’m going to leave the song here for those who’ve never heard it. I promise, it will bless you. 

K. Bowles 

Open letter to perfect parents

I try sooooo hard to keep my mouth shut when people get on social media and become cyber bullies. I can almost promise you that those same “internet thugs” would never say those cruel things to my face. They feel protected behind their computers, smart phones and tablets. It’s such a sad thing…

So here’s a quick overview: kid goes on vacation with his parents and sister. Family goes outside of the resort to watch a movie. Kid goes to shallow edge of water. Alligator pops out and snatches the kid. Kids father unsuccessfully tries to get his kid from the animal. Animal drags kid into water. Kid is regretfully found the next day. 

The next day. “they should have been watching their kid!!” “The parents are the worst because they shouldn’t have been in the water” or my favorite “my child would have never gotten in that water” *sigh*

Now I’m pissed. People are so cruel. People are so heartless. People have no compassion. People are so mean and nasty. People are so judgmental. People are so “perfect”. Right!!
For the past four years I’ve blamed myself for Chance’s accident. Knowing that I couldn’t watch her 24 hours a day. Knowing that there was nothing I could do to keep life from happening. Knowing that I would never intentionally let my child get hurt. But I was shamed by the media. I was called negligent. Lazy. I was told that it was my fault that I didn’t watch her better. So, I wasn’t allowed to use the restroom, cook dinner, do laundry, etc.  wow…

Let me tell you what’s happens when your child is just that-a child. They behave as children. Let me tell you what happens when your child suddenly has an accident.

First, you see your child in a position you never thought you would. In my case, she was pinned under a dresser. You know what you think? Please be ok!! Please wake up!! I’m so sorry!! Please baby!! I’m so sorry. Then you call 911 and you have to explain what happened while cradling your child and trying to get a response from them. Next, the ambulance comes and they try just as hard to get a response out of your child. When they realize that they can’t, the call Life Medics and they put your child into a helicopter while you’re watching from the window. Then you get to the hospital and police are there waiting for you to make a statement. At this point, they’re trying to make sure that you didn’t do this on purpose. Your situation makes the local news and now people are questioning your parenting. I mean, you can’t do anything if your child is not within reach. Lastly, doctors tell you that there’s nothing they can do so you have to make the decision to remove your child from life support. You go home without your child. It’s the hardest thing to ever go through. 

This family from Nebraska will leave Florida a family of three instead of the family of four they came as. This mother has to pack her sons clothes knowing that he’ll never put them on again. She will sniff and smell his clothes praying that his scent is still in them. Now the parents have to go a funeral home, pick a casket. Find an outfit for their son. Make funeral arrangements all while being judged by people that don’t know the story. People that could have been in their shoes. 

How many times has your child fell out of bed? When you were both asleep? She could have broken her neck. Hasn’t your child fell off of a bike? He could have hit his head and suffered severe brain trauma. Haven’t you told your teenager to not text and drive? But even though you’ve told them not to do something, they hit a parked car instead of driving into traffic killing themselves and other people. You’re such a bad parent though. 

You see, things happen that we can’t control. But let’s try to be understanding and compassionate instead of cruel and judgmental. Because let’s face it, one day it could be you. And you’d want the public to get your side of the story before chasing you into seclusion. 

As grieving parents, we have more than enough guilt to live with. We ask millions of “what ifs”. Don’t add to our already difficult struggle. Let’s not compare tragedies. Let’s love and pray for one another. Give a grieving parent a hug and a kind word. Or spew those words of hate into our faces instead of behind your computer screen. 

After the hype about our stories go down, once you’ve moved on to the next tragedy; we’re still grieving. Now we have to factor in your judgments. Your harsh words. Your condemnation. While you’re sleeping peacefully and saying how terrible of a parent we are, we’re still dealing with the loss of our children. 

Again, you could be in our shoes one day…how would you want to be treated? 

I’m praying for the Graves family. I hope you are too…

Chance’s 4th angelversary

1460 days

35054 hours

2103264 minutes

126195855 seconds

This is how long it’s been since my baby has been gone. By far, this has been the hardest one for me. Reality has set in and I know that no matter how much I cry, how I beg God, how sick I get, my body aching from missing her so much, that she isn’t coming back. And that’s eating me up inside. 

I’m not going to say too much this time because there are no words to express the pain I’m in. 

I miss you Chance. I wonder how you’d be. If you’d still be the singer. If you’d still love Beyoncé. Maybe you’d like the same cartoons that Da’sia and Krys like. Would you and Brandon be like Dylan and Da? I saw them last week playing and I thought about you and Brandon. I’m sure you and Mommy would be getting your nails done every two weeks. Daddy would probably have you fishing by now. Memo would still be wrapped around your finger. And Darrick would have you singing, dancing and probably playing golf. I’m sure you’d still be around Erika and Shamari would be crazy about you. And with Granny every time school is out.  There were so many plans for you. 

Well I’m getting emotional again so I’m going to end this. Here is the blog from 2013. Please share it. I don’t want another family to go through this. 

Hopefully I can make it through another year….

On this day last year, my life changed forever. Actually, my life changed on April 3,2012 at 7:15 pm. Literally, my life changed within a matter of minutes.
April 3, 2012 started off like a regular day for us. Brandon, Chance and I got up and got ready for school and work. But for some reason on that morning, she was really quiet. Normally she would be running around the apartment and not letting me comb her hair but on this morning, she was chillin. I asked her what was wrong and she said “Nothing…”She wanted to wear her favorite outfit. It was something I bought for her birthday. A purple peplum shirt with black and white stripped pants. And she had on her YELLOW flip flops that she insisted on wearing. I told her they didn’t match but as usual she did what she wanted Well, we dropped Brandon off at school and I was taking her to daycare. Normally, we would be singing and laughing but on this morning she was just looking out of the window. I call my Mom every morning and Chance would talk to her but again on this morning Chance didn’t want to talk. So I dropped her off and I went to work.

While I was at work, I was on edge all day. Literally. Everything anyone said or did ticked me off!! I didn’t know what was going on. Well that day for some reason I felt that I needed to make amends with someone. And I did. I hadn’t talked to this person in about a year and a half. So that made me feel like I was making progress. My friend Erica and I planned to eat dinner at her house after work so I went to pick the kids up. When I got there, as usual, her hair looked like I never did anything to it. Lol. She ran up to me and hugged me like she did everyday and Brandon moseyed on to the car. This time on the way home she was singing and dancing like her normal self.

When we got home it was around 5:15. So I made the last minute decision to stay home and cook dinner. While I was cooking she was playing with Brandon and they were watching Netflix off and on. When I was done we sat down and ate. And she was super greedy but this night she ate everything on her plate. I said, “Were you hungry Chance?” and she just looked up and smiled at me. Brandon was picking at his food and I knew that he would want something else later. So I went to my room and I decided to wash my sheets because she slept with me that night and she had an accident in the bed and I knew that she wouldn’t sleep on them again unless they were clean.

After I put the sheets in the washer I went to the bathroom. While I was in the bathroom they went into Brandon’s room to watch TV. Well she was running in and out of my room. And I would say, “Chance get out of here” and she would laugh and run away. When she ran out the last time, I hid by my dresser knowing that she would come back in and I was right. She came back in and I said, “what are you doing Chance?” we were both laughing and she said, “I love you Mama’. I said, ” I love you too Chance”. I went back into the bathroom.

Three minutes later, Brandon runs into my room crying. I said, “What’s wrong Brandon?” He says, “The TV fell!!!” I’m thinking to myself, “Ok, why is he crying because the TV fell?” But I look in his face and I know something isn’t right. I run in there and I see something that will haunt me forever. I see my Chance underneath the dresser and she’s unconscious. I don’t know where my strength came from but I picked that dresser up and threw it and picked up my baby. I scream her name and she doesn’t respond to me. I run out of my apartment holding her screaming for help. The neighborhood kids come and they see me holding her and they start crying. I call 911. I’m still screaming and my neighbor Robin comes downstairs and calls my mom and tells her that she needs to get to Little Rock. The paramedics came and they couldn’t get her to respond. She starts vomiting because she’d just eaten. Still they couldn’t get her to respond. So they call Arkansas Children’s hospital and they airlift her. I couldn’t ride with her so Robin and her Fiance drive me to Little Rock. While on the road, my Aunt Carolyn calls me and tells me that everything will be fine and that nothing can get Chance down. Honestly, I didn’t believe her. Not for one minute. I’m crying and blaming myself the entire time. So when I get to the hospital, she hasn’t made it there. But my cousins have. I’m shaking and wondering what is going on. Then a Dr. comes in and tells me that, Chance has arrived but that it doesn’t look good. I jump up and I say, “What the hell do you mean it doesn’t look good? That’s my baby! What are you saying?” He says that her lung was collapsed and that she has severe head trauma. I told him that the dresser didn’t hit her head, that it was on her chest. He then asks what was on the dresser. I said, the TV was. Then I remember that the TV was on the other side of her when I got in the room. He said, “well the TV must’ve hit her…” My parents and brothers got there in record time and when they got there my Mom asked what was going on. I told her that they said it didn’t look good. She was in a daze and she like me, was saying, “what do mean?”…. By this time more of my family makes it and they give us a big conference room to accommodate everyone. About an hour later the Dr’s come in and tell us that it doesn’t look good and that the damage was too severe. I know that they were supposed to say that. They don’t give us any hope at all. We’re finally able to see her and when we do, oh my God, she looks nothing like herself. She’s swollen and still unconscious. I break down and cry. My mom is crying because this is not our baby. This is not the same baby that was singing and playing with me. I don’t stay in the room long because I couldn’t take seeing her like that. My Uncle Milton goes in the room and see’s her and he says, “She’ll be fine. She’ll be just fine…” I go into a room and I start saying, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…” That’s all I can say. The doctors tell us that we need to make some decisions. My Daddy says that we’re going to let God heal her. So the Dr’s say that at Midnight they will run more tests and they’ll check and see if she has any activity in her brain. Well Midnight comes around and they say they did a test and they detected some activity. So at 6 am they would do a scan on her to see if she’s getting better. Well that time comes and passes and they can’t do it. She has a stroke overnight. They say she’s stabilized and that at 10 am they will test again. This is by far the longest day of my life. Well she doesn’t get better and so they come in and tell us that we need to start making decisions. They say that she will never be the same. So I made the hardest decision that I’m sure I’ll ever have to make. I made the decision to remove her from the life support. I went in her room and I held her for the last time. I sang “Love on Top” to her. I remember singing, ” Chance it’s you. You’re the one I love, you’re the one I need, you’re the only one I see. You’re the one that gives your all. You’re the one I’ll always call. When I need you, you make everything stop…You put my love on top…” While I’m holding her, she feels so heavy. And it seems like she grew overnight.

Everyone takes their turns holding her and at 4:44 pm on April 4, 2012, Sydney Chance Bowles, my baby girl, went to heaven. I’ve never experienced pain and heartache like that. I could not believe that I would be leaving the hospital without her. But I know that she’s better off but I’ll always wish that she was with me.

This year has been extremely hard. But I made it through. I never thought that I would. I didn’t think I would be able to live without her. And there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. I remember the good times because those are the only times we had. There were never bad days with Chance. She was a character. She’s the funniest child I’ve ever met. The prettiest little girl I’ll ever see.

I told this story to let you all know that life is not promised. I never realized how true that was until this happened. You won’t understand until something happens to you. It ticks me off when people know my story and they still act like what happened to us won’t happen to them. You’re not exempt. We weren’t.

God makes no mistakes and everything that we go through is for a purpose. Even when we don’t know the reasons. I think about the story of Joseph. He was sold by his brothers into slavery. He was accused of rape. He was put in prison. But through it all, it was for a reason. His brothers thought that they were hurting him but God. God allowed it all to happen and in the end Joseph was the one that helped his brothers. When they finally saw Joseph years after selling him, they were afraid. But Joseph told them, don’t be afraid. God allowed this to happen so I could help you all! He kept them from starving during the famine. His brothers meant it for bad but God knew that it was for their good.

Now I’m not comparing Chance to Joseph but since this has happened, she has saved lives. A lot of people never really thought about the dangers of falling furniture. But because God allowed it to happen to us, we’ve been able to open up the eyes of others. Now do I think it could’ve been done with her still being here, yes. But does God know best, yes! My baby doesn’t have to suffer. She doesn’t have to live in this crazy world. She’s able to sing and dance in Heaven. What more could I ask for? Do I miss her? Yes. But I know that she wouldn’t come back. I wouldn’t want her to. I always wanted her to be happy and now I know without a shadow of a doubt that she is….

I want to thank my Family. You all have really stepped up for me during this year. My parents and my brothers, you stepped in for Brandon and I when I stepped out. When I wasn’t able to take care of Brandon, You all did. I love you all more than you will ever know. My Aunt Lynn, Shun, Leslie and Erika, I don’t know what I would’ve done without you all. I love all of yall and those babies!!! My Aunt Carolyn…I love you and I know you’ve been going through but I thank God for you everyday! My Aunt Shirley, I know you weren’t around Chance much but I thank you and your daughters for everything you’ve done for us! I love you all. My Uncles Sonny, Rickey and Ronnie and your wives, yall are the quiet ones but after Chance passed you came in, took over and you’ve been doing for me every since. I can never question the love yall have for me and I love you all! All 100 of my cousins. Yall have been here for me and I know yall love me just like I love yall. I wish everyone had the kind of family that I have. My cousins Bri and Arielle, there’s not a day that goes by that one of you doesn’t check on me. And if I need you, you’re always there. Even if it’s just for laughs. I love you all too. My friends, Keshia and Erica, yall have only been in my life for a year but I feel like I’ve known yall forever. I was blessed when you came into my life and I will never trade the true friendship that I have with you. I love yall squanches too. Barney, you stepped in and you’ve been there for me from day one. There’s nothing that you haven’t and wouldn’t do for us. I wouldn’t trade you for ANYTHING!!! And I’m glad that we’re friends. You mean the world to me! Tassha, girl, you are the best. You’ve done so much and you’ve always been there. I love you Chick. My HP family, even though I’m not there, I feel and felt the love that you all have and I’m thankful for you all too. True Holiness…I love yall. Enough said! Ms Jeannie and Ms Deborah, I love yall for what you did for Chance and Brandon. If I could put you in every daycare in the world I would. Twin, I love you and I couldn’t have picked a better Godmother for Chance. You treated her like she was yours, since day one!!! I love you much. SafeKids Worldwide, thank you for allowing us to tell our story and for making Chance face of that division. I know this was all God’s doing. My Earle Class of 99, I grew up with yall and when tragedy struck my life, I realized the how much yall love me and how much I love yall. I’m so thankful for yall. Macho, I love you. Enough said. God is really working in your life and you’re going to be a testimony soon!!

If I forgot anyone, charge it to my head and not my heart. I thank everyone for everything and I appreciate the love and support you’ve shown and given my family during this difficult year.


Life and death..

Life and death. It’s inevitable that eventually we have to die and spend eternity in either heaven or hell. Most of us hope for heaven. People that are close to me know that I don’t deal with death well. And it got worse after I loss Chance. I try so hard to rationalize and make sense of death but I just can’t. No matter how hard I try, most times, I simply can’t. Maybe one day but I seriously doubt it. 

Well on Thursday night, one of my church members was killed. And when I heard about it, I was absolutely broken. Not because I was close to him. I wasn’t. But he was someone I knew and I knew only good things about him. And when I found out how he died, I was even more hurt because it just didn’t make sense. His name is Ronny. And whenever I would make it to church, he’d be standing in the vestibule smiling and cracking jokes. He was a man of few words but I always felt that he had a great spirit. 

This is the question, what will people say about you when you die? Now like I said, I don’t know much about his life outside of church. I know people can live different lives. And I’m not here to speculate or gossip about what he did. I can only go by what I saw. Ronny hadn’t always been saved. I know a lot of people feel that they walk around with a halo on their heads 24/7 and that they’re just so upstanding and righteous but Ronny never put on airs like he was perfect. But….from what I saw, he was trying to be better for himself and his family. When he started coming to church a few years ago, he would sit in the back of the church. Then he started sitting in the middle. Eventually he ended up on the front row as a deacon AND an usher. A lot of us that grew up in church only go to say we went and because that’s what we’re “supposed” to do. 

Ronny was faithful to his pastor. He was faithful to his church. He tried his best to not do the things he used to do. And again, this is where I get flustered. It seems to me that when you try to turn your life around you’re met with many obstacles. Many tests and trials. You’re attacked spiritually. But to whom much is given, much is required. Ronny was trying to live the best way he knew how. And from my understanding of him from bystanders, He used to be in the streets. And I’m sure that he thought he should have been gone a long time ago because of how he used to live. But God…He took him when He was ready for him. When He allowed Ronny to get to know Him for himself. When He allowed Him to feel His grace and Mercy. To feel His love. How great is our God? God is going to get His glory anyhow. 

When you’re a believer, you have to know that God has the best and the final say. And we have to pray for His will to be done in our lives. We have to understand that just because we believe in Him doesn’t mean that we’re exempt from trials. From hurt and pain. That just means that we have to know that what He’s allowing is for our good. And that his purpose for our lives have to be fulfilled. Even when we don’t understand. And you have to go through things. Life works in God’s time, not ours. 

“I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭9:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

 So Ronny, I’ll miss seeing your smile at church. I’ll miss seeing you standing there looking serious. I hate that I didn’t get to know the great man that I’ve heard you were. But I thank God for your life. I thank Him for allowing you to grow in Him. I’m thankful that He didn’t take you when you didn’t know Him. I hope that one day I’ll see you again in that perfect place we all want to go to. I believe that you were good. If I was able to say where you were because of the fruits of your labor and from what I saw, I’d say you were in heaven and that I’m envious because being there is so much better than being here. You’re good. People have said so many good things about you. You’d be happy from the genuine love that has been expressed. People really love you. Your light definitely shined here. You will definitely be missed. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. 

To those of you reading this, it’s not too late for you to give your life to God. He’s waiting. We all need the right foundation to stand on when life takes us on the confusing twists and turns. You have a choice. And remember that you want to be remembered by your good deeds. Not because of messiness and being a hard person to get along with. It’s not too late to turn your life around. Love each other. Help each other. Don’t think that you have tomorrow to get yourself together. Repent of your sins and give your life to the One that gave it to you. Like a thief in the night God is going to return for you. Remember that you’re not promised tomorrow. But you can be promised a wonderful eternity. He’ll welcome you. He’s waiting. Don’t let your opportunity pass you by. 

Be blessed. 

Remember, the race is not given to the swift. Nor to the strong. But to the one that endurith until the end. There will be problems. And sometimes you may have to walk alone. But I know that things will work out for the good of them that love the Lord…

What will your legacy be? Think about that. 

Please pray for all of the families involved in this tragedy. They need prayers as well.   
Photo: Linda Nicks-Mahan, Facebook 

1/17/16-Commercial Appeal Article 

I’ll be watching the Super Bowl at my family’s annual party in West Memphis, and like many viewers, I’ll be watching for the commercials.
Last year, one particular commercial was by far my favorite — the Nationwide “make safe happen” ad in which a young boy laments all the adventures he won’t experience, “because I died from an accident.”

The commercial brought attention to home accident dangers, such as television tip-overs, but was panned on social media as being too depressing for Super Bowl viewers.
I loved the ad because it brought much-needed attention to furniture and television tip-overs — an issue I care deeply about. That’s because this will be our family’s fourth Super Bowl party without my daughter, Chance, whom we lost to a television tip-over accident in our home.
While about 100 million Americans will be watching the Super Bowl, it’s estimated that thousands more will have purchased new televisions for the occasion. Experts say the two weeks before the Super Bowl make up one of the most popular times for TV purchases, as fans buy new flat screen televisions and relegate their heavier, older sets to a bedroom, often on top of a dresser or table.
Many parents don’t realize they need to anchor those televisions, and their new flat screens, too.
When I purchased my flat screen, I remember having reservations about a possible tip-over, so I had it anchored to the wall. I never realized that the older television I had moved to my child’s bedroom posed the same risk.
So many aspects of the day that I lost Chance are burned into my memory. How that morning she insisted on wearing her favorite outfit — complete with yellow flip-flops. How unusually quiet she was as I drove her to day care — not singing and laughing as usual, but instead just staring out the window pensively.
And how that night she gave me a beautiful little smile when I applauded her for cleaning her dinner plate.

I also remember her brother, Brandon, running into my room that night, crying about what he had witnessed. In the three minutes since I’d last seen her, Chance had tried to climb up a dresser to get to the television set, toppling the dresser and TV on top of her.

I found her under the dresser, unresponsive. I’ve never experienced pain and heartache like that. I know Chance would want me to keep other parents from experiencing it, too.
I’ve dedicated myself to talking to parents about furniture tip-over dangers. I’ve become an advocate for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Anchor It! Campaign, which outlines tip-over dangers in the home and explains how to safely and easily secure TVs and furniture.
According to the CPSC, every 24 minutes a child goes to the emergency room from these tip-over incidents.
So if you’re among the thousands of Americans buying a TV ahead of the Super Bowl (and even if you’re not), know that televisions should only be placed on stands designed to hold them.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions to properly secure TVs. Anchor existing furniture with inexpensive anti-tip brackets available at hardware or electronics stores, and install anti-tip brackets that come with new furniture right away.
Always remove items from the top of televisions and furniture that might tempt kids to climb, such as toys or remote controls. Visit to learn more.
Take time to enjoy the big game (and the commercials) with your family and friends, but if little ones are in your home, also take time to ensure you follow the safety steps to protect them from television and furniture tip-overs.
Keisha Bowles lives in Marion, Arkansas, with her 10-year-old son, Brandon.

11/27/15 decisions..

This was featured in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette today. Just in time for Black Friday!

I’ve found that parenting is a constant series of decisions, from the mundane–chicken fingers or mac-and-cheese?–to the critically important–deciding to instill in your children a set of values, deciding on their education, and how best to keep them safe.

On the important choices, we parents are the decision-makers, but on the momentary selections of life–as with my 2-year-old daughter Chance–the child sets the agenda.

Need to get up and dance to that Beyoncé song? Go right ahead, girl. This moment in the grocery store line is when you need to give me one of your sloppy wet kisses? Why, thank you. Decided to pair your bright yellow flip-flops with your black-and-white-striped pants and purple shirt? On you, baby, it just works.

Then there are hardest decisions a parent will ever have to make. Decisions that no parent ever wants. April 4th, 2012, was the day I had to decide to take my Chance off life support.

Just 24 hours earlier in our home in Conway, Chance and I were laughing and playing in my bedroom. I remember she decided to give me one of her trademark impromptu announcements of affection: “I love you, Momma.”

“I love you too, Chance,” were my last words to her. Chance then joined her brother Brandon in his room to watch TV.

Three minutes later, Brandon ran in crying. I run to Chance. She’s under the dresser, the TV to her side. I remember throwing the dresser aside. I remember picking her up and screaming my baby’s name. She didn’t respond. Neighbors come into the house. We dialed 911. Paramedics had her airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. A whirlwind of family and doctors ensued. And then came the decision.

The doctors told me that she would never be the same. I held my daughter for one last time, sang our song to her, and said goodbye.

Then I made another decision.

I would do everything I can to share Chance’s story. To talk about the dangers of furniture tip-overs in the home. To let parents know that among all the decisions that make up parenting, they have another important decision to make–to install furniture anchors where television and furniture tip-over risks exist.

In response, I’ve become an advocate for the Anchor It! Campaign, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s national public education effort. The campaign outlines the dangers of tip-overs in the home and explains how to prevent these tragedies by safely and easily securing TVs and furniture.

One of the most important times of the year for me to talk to parents about tip-over prevention is the Black Friday holiday shopping weekend. According to the Consumer Technology Association, this weekend’s mega-deals make it the most popular weekend of the year for new television purchases. Studies shows that consumers who purchase new flat-screens typically then relegate their old tube televisions to a bedroom, often on top of a dresser or table.

If they don’t anchor those televisions, and their new flat-screens too, they are unknowingly bringing into their home a serious injury risk for their children.

If you buy a new TV this weekend, or any time of the year, remember that televisions should only be placed on television stands or media centers designed to hold a television. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly secure TVs. Anchor existing furniture with inexpensive anti-tip brackets available at home, hardware or electronics stores, and make sure anti-tip brackets that now come with new furniture are installed right away. Always remove items from the top of TVs and furniture that might tempt kids to climb, such as toys or remote controls. Visit to learn more.

It’s been more than three years, but I think about Chance every single day.

I wonder what she’d be like–would she still like to dance? Would she be sassy like her mom? And I wonder if she’d want me to become an advocate on tip-over prevention, and talk about our story so much.

Knowing her, I think she’d be pushing me to do this and more, to get some attention, so it makes me feel like it’s definitely the right decision. Because she always did get her way.


Keisha Bowles is a mother who now lives with her family and her 10-year-old son Brandon in Marion.

Editorial on 11/27/2015