Tuesday, October 22, 2013

8 Years

Grief is hard. It's a neverending process. There are moments when you are okay, happy even, and then something happens to remind you of what was lost. It's confusing. The "what might have been's" silently creep into your mind and your ability to focus on the present is clouded.  

Grief catches you off guard. You can be so thankful for the life you have, but always missing a little (or big) something. You feel guilty for surviving, for living, but really there isn't another suitable option. 

Grief is there. It is always there. Regardless of the smile on your face, there is still hurt in your heart. Just because everyone else has moved on doesn't mean that you are able to. Life happens, you are living it, but there are times you feel like a casual observer to your own life. 

Grief doesn't end. No matter how many times you wish it away or pray for it to be leave, it's still there. The missing, longing, loving and heartbreak is there. 

They say "it gets easier". I guess it does. Sort of. It doesn't take my breath away as often anymore. I've stopped reaching for the phone to call them when I need advice or an ear to listen to my mindless rants (sorry Jenny, that's all you now). I've learned how to go on in a world that is absent of them. 

What doesn't get easier are the lost hopes and dreams. Everything that you pictured life would be, isn't. When I was little and I imagined life, they were always there. They were meeting my children, they were celebrating milestones, achievements and holidays, they were creating memories and they were present. 

Alex has asked more questions about them this year. It both heals and hurts my heart. I love talking about them and reminding him how much they love them (him and Jax). I love sharing stories and history. I like laughing about them. But it hurts to know that they will never know them. The stories, my words and the laughter will never convey how much they would have loved them and doted on them. These two boys would have been their heart and happiness.  

I'm healing. I really am. I know these yearly posts may not be very convincing of that. For me, today is a day that I allow myself to grieve. I allow myself to hurt. I allow my heartache to be okay. 

I miss them. I miss him. I miss her. I miss me. I miss our family, the three of us and then four. I miss the phone calls. I miss the advice. I miss the long talks. I miss her food. I miss his humor. I miss the dinners and breakfasts. I miss the "I love you's" and "see you tomorrow's". I miss their voices and laughs. I miss their pride and encouragement. I miss the unconditional love. I miss the memories. I miss feeling whole. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Seven Years...

I don’t know why I don’t write more.  Well, I know why I don’t write – there seems to be no time lately with an active 5 year old and his equally active 19-month-old brother. 

I like to write.  I always have.  It is my release.  Writing helps my thoughts make sense. 

Seven years.  Seven – how can that be?  Just writing that makes me feel like it was SO long ago.  There are some days that I feel like seven years has crawled by and there are other times when it feels like just yesterday. 

When I searched for the words that I wanted to write here today, I kept thinking "wow, I wish I would have known that seven years ago" or "why didn't someone tell me that".   So, seven years later I wrote myself something that I wish I would have had.  

Life will change in bigger ways than you can ever imagine.  In the blink of an eye, it will all be gone and your worst nightmare will come true.  You will have to learn how to start over.  You can’t rebuild your entire life in a week and it will take time to feel whole again, try to remember that. 

You will find strength that you never knew you had.  Some days feels like you have to dig to the deepest part of your soul for your strength, but know that it is there.  There will be days that you don’t feel strong and you want to give up – don’t!  You are so much stronger than you look and feel, you MUST hold on to it!

Cherish every single moment, especially the small ones.  In your darkest hours, the small memories will get you through.  And much later in life, it will be the small memories that will allow your children to be a part of your past.  The small memories will help them to know the angels they never got to meet.

Grief is funny.  We all go through the same experience, but process it completely different.  Some will lash out in anger, some will withdraw and some will need to escape.  It’s okay.  There really isn’t a rule book for what you are going to go through.  You are allowed to be angry, sad, confused, scared and different – and so is everyone else.  Don’t let grief be the defining moment in relationships.

It is inevitable that you will change.  There are days you won’t recognize yourself.  You will be angry and you aren’t an angry person and you won’t like who that anger will make you become.  Let it go.  You can’t change what happens.  The day you release the anger, you will feel so much lighter.  Forgiveness will be an important word in your life.  Not only is it okay to forgive but it is essential, it will be the only way you can move on. 

People will continue to amaze you.  The generosity, kindness, love and compassion the people in your life show you will be mind blowing.  People will encourage you and lift you up.  People want to be there for you, let them.  I know you have a hard time asking for help, but do it.  You can’t do this on your own, let the people that love you in.  Having your loved ones around you will be only way you can survive this.  Learn to speak the words “I need you” and you will be surprised in all the ways people will be there for you. 

It’s okay to cry.  It’s a release.  Crying isn’t a sign of weakness.  Learn to do it more.  Perhaps if you cried more often and released it, seven years later you wouldn’t feel like you could break down at any moment.

Talk about them.  When someone dies, they become a taboo subject.  People think that by not mentioning them it will hurt you less, the reality is it will hurt you more.  Memories will only live on for as long as you let them.  Your children will NEED to hear the funny stories, the sad stories and the every day stories.  Continue to talk to people as though they were alive, encourage communication, recall stories, celebrate their life. 

Love is so powerful.  You will find love in the most unexpected places.  You will find love from family, friends, strangers and people that will surprise you.  Hold on to that love.  Know that they love they feel for you isn't because of pity, but because they care.  The love you will find, both old and new, in the next seven years will be your lifeline.

In your children, you will see the best of them.  There will be a smile, a look or a laugh and the memories will come flooding back.  You will see the heart of your mom and the mind of your father.  You will hold them and know that they handpicked each of them for you.  They filled them will love and life, long before they sent them to you.  

I am a mess of emotions today.  In one moment I feel like I am holding it together and in another moments I am just a girl that misses her Mom and Dad.  

I know that I will get through today.  I know that looking at my boys and loving them will help.  I know that the love, prayers and thoughts I feel from all of my friends will sustain me.  

I love you, Mom and Dad and miss you in ways that I never imagined possible.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Six Years

Dear Mom and Dad,

Today marks 6 years since you have been gone.  There are times when it feels like the past six years have flown by in the blink of an eye and there are times when it feels like an eternity has passed.  I just can’t believe 6 years have come and gone without you here.

There are days that I wake up and it still seems unreal to me that you aren’t here.  I know you see me reach for the phone to call you when something exciting happens or when something sad happens.  And I know that you see the disappointment in my eyes when I realize I can’t call you to share the news.  Those moments are becoming less frequent, but each time they happen it takes my breath away.

This year has been full of so many highs and lows.  I would have given anything to have you by my side through it all.  There were so many moments where I needed a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen to me or just a nod of reassurance.  I know you hear me and I know you are still guiding me in the right direction, but it isn’t the same as having you here in person.

Your second grandson made his appearance this year, but you already knew that.  I know you spent time with him before you sent him to Larry and I.  Jaxon is a joy – one of the happiest babies you will ever meet.  When he smiles, his whole face lights up and the crinkle in his nose melts my heart every time I see it.  He made quite an entrance into the world.  He scared us for the first few hours of his life – I was a ball of nerves, praying to God and the both of you, to make sure my baby was okay.  In the moments of uncertainty, I had a sense of calmness about me – I know that was the two of you.  I know you held him in your arms the whole time he was in the NICU.  I know you sat by his bed every moment he was away from me, guarding and protecting him.  You watched him get stronger and gave me the strength that I needed. 

Alex is growing like a weed.  He is changing everyday and becoming such a good kid.  He has a tender heart and such an eagerness to learn.  He is athletic and smart and Larry and I are so blessed.  Of course, he isn’t perfect.  We have our trying moments as well.  It is in those moments, that I laugh and think of the smile you are getting on your faces watching me deal with him!  There are so many qualities of the two of you I see in him.  His “attention to detail” that he gets from you, Dad!  And his compassion and empathy that he gets from you, Mom!  He knows all about the two of you.  He knows how you lived, how you loved, who you were and how much you love him.  We talk about you all the time and remind him that even though you aren’t here on Earth, you are in Heaven watching him.  Please keep guiding him and protecting him, Lord knows he needs it!

We lost Larry, Jr. this year.  I know he is with you two and he is watching over us as well, but it was so unexpected and it completely rocked our world.  I wonder if the two of you were just as shocked to see him walk into Heaven, as we were to lose him?  I know that there are reasons for everything, but I still am not sure why God keeps taking the people we love.  My heart breaks for Larry because this road is all too familiar and it is such an unpleasant road to travel.  He is hurting and the hurt goes much deeper than anyone can see.  I wish that I could take his pain away, but I know that isn’t possible.  I pray that you were with Larry Jr. in his final moments and that you were there to welcome him into heaven. I pray that you were with my Larry in those moments of fear when he first learned that Larry Jr. had died and I pray that you both are with him everyday when he hurts and needs you. 

Mom, there are so many times in the last six years that I have needed you.  I have had questions that have gone unanswered and experiences that I wanted you to share with me.   No one will ever understand how difficult it is to become a good wife and mother without having your own mother to guide you.  I know I have many faults, but I hope that you are proud of me and the woman I have become.

Dad, you have no idea how much I miss you each and every time Alex has an “OCD” moment.  I know it is you that is laughing while he has to have his animals “just right” before going to bed.  You would love these boys more than you ever thought possible.  They have a way of wrapping you around their finger with just a smile and a giggle.  I never understood just how much you loved me until I gave birth to Alex (and Jax) – it is an incredible, unexplainable love.  Thank you for loving me in that special way and for teaching me how to love my boys in the same way.

There are moments when my heart physically aches for the fact that you never got to hold your grandsons.  You never got to kiss their chubby cheeks and tickle their tiny feet.  I cry knowing that they will grow up never having been read a story by either of you or will never feel your warm embrace.  Those are the moments when this all seems so unfair.  Those are the moments when I cry to God and ask Him “why”.  And those are the moments I trust in Him that there was a reason for this and a plan that only He can comprehend.

Mom and Dad, I know it is you holding my hand and comforting me when I am crying so hard that it hurts to breathe.  When I am alone and hiding from the world, you are there, aren’t you?  I always hear how strong I am and how much people admire me, but the reality is I am weak and I hurt more than anyone knows.  I am strong because I don’t have a choice, breaking down every minute of every day just isn’t an option.  My world changed forever on October 22, 2005.  Nothing is how it was “supposed” to be.  Prior to that date, I could never have imagined my life without you - now living without you is my reality. 

I know you watch me from Heaven.  You give me strength on my weak days, you give me fight when I am being bullied and you have shaped me into the person that I am.  Thank you for continuing to guide me and protect me.  It is with your strength and guidance that I am able to live without you.

I love you both more than you will ever know.  I love you for who you were and who you continue to be.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Jax's 6 Month Pictures

Jax had another great picture session by a greenfield photography.

We had his 6 month pictures taken on his half-birthday (September 24).  We were blessed with incredible weather and a happy boy.

Kim posted a sneak peek of the pictures on her blog and I couldn't be happier with the way they turned out.  I am so anxious to see the rest of them!

Here is the preview on her blog:  Jax | 6 Months of Cuteness


Friday, August 19, 2011

Jaxon's New Seat

When Alex was a baby, he loved sitting in his Bumbo seat.  He would sit there for long stretches of time and watch me as I got stuff done around the house.

Unfortunately, Jax has not liked the Bumbo nearly as much.  He would sit there for about two minutes and then commence yelling at me.  At first I thought it was because it was something new and eventually he would get used to it.  After several days and one agitated child, I finally figured out what the problem was. It was pinching his chunky thighs and making him uncomfortable.

The other day, we went to Babies R Us and found a new seat for Jax.  We discovered the Summer Infant 3-Stage Super Seat.  Big enough to fit his chunky thighs and plenty of stuff to keep him occupied while I cook dinner - a winner for both of us.  Now, if only they had something in Alex's size :)

Here are a few pictures of Jax in his new seat:

Stick Family

Saw this cute little stick family on another blog - thought we needed one for ours :)

My Stick Family from WiddlyTinks.com

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First Day of Preschool

Alex had his first day of preschool today!  He was so excited to go!  I love that I have a child that is excited for things like this - it makes dropping him off so much easier :)

He has a new teacher this year.  Her name is Mrs. Butler (often times he calls her Mrs. Butter).  She seems like a wonderful, loving woman and I am so happy that Alex is in her class.  She also has two aides in her class.  Mrs. Corning helps out on Tuesday and Thursday and Mrs. Chaplin (Amy - his teacher from last year) helps out on Wednesday.  We are so glad that Amy is in his class.  Alex absolutely adores her and it is so nice to have a familiar face around :)

When I dropped Alex off at school this morning, he walked right in and put his bag on the hook and lunch bag on the floor.  He acted like he owned the place - of course that is nothing out of the ordinary for Alex!  After he sat down, he asked Mrs. Butler where the bathroom was.  She pointed it out (it is in the classroom) and asked him if he needed to go.  He told her "no, I was just checking for when I will need to use it later"!  Ha - always prepared!

In his classroom this year, they are all about independence.  He carries his own bag, goes to the bathroom when he needs to, cleans up toys, plays independently (as well as in the group) and he is even able to do car pool (no need for me to drag Jax in and out of the car to drop off and pick up Alex).  I love that they are teaching him these things, but also a little sad because it means that my little man isn't so little anymore!  He is growing up and I can't stop it!

He also will have chapel this year on Wednesdays.  They will get to go into the church sanctuary, learn about Jesus and learn to pray.  I am so excited for this.  He has such love in his heart for Jesus and loves learning about Him.

I went in to pick him up today (this morning he told me to come in and pick him up because he was "just not ready for the car pool line") and Mrs. Butler told me that he was a wonderful little boy and that he cleaned up after himself without even being asked to.  She said that they really enjoyed him.  Apparently he is quite the social butterfly too.

When we got in the car today, he told me all about his day.  He was so proud of the handprints he made, told me all about eating his lunch, playing with his friends and he told me about hanging out with all his friends from last year on the playground!  He even told me that he thinks that he is ready to try the carpool tomorrow because he is a "big boy" now :)

I am so happy he enjoyed his first day and I am so hopeful that he will be this excited the rest of the year!

Here are a few pictures that we took this morning before we left for school:

Ready for school:

Mommy and Alex:


Love that they are holding hands in this picture :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Soccer Star

Alex is finally able to play soccer this year with the YMCA.  He has been looking forward to this for awhile....so have I (I am secretly hoping that he will get some of his energy out and sleep really well on the nights he has soccer practice).

Alex had his first practice today and loved it.  He thinks he is going to be the "winner" of his team.  I keep trying to explain to him that they are a team and they work together.  Apparently, I am not getting through to him - after one of the goals that he kicked he turned around to the rest of his team and yelled out "woohoo, I'm the winner!"  Yep, that was my kid...never a dull moment!

The coach is teaching them the basics and it is pretty funny to watch these three year olds run around and learn soccer.  You have kids who are really into it, kids who are just there because their parents are making them and other kids who are just running around the field without a care in the world.  I can't wait for games :)

Here are a few pictures for his first practice:

Yep...that is my little superstar posing:

On the field:


Taking time out from practice to give a little wave to his fans:

Team huddle:

Speaking of fans, apparently Alex thinks he is running in a parade waving as he is running around the field.  This kid cracks me up:

And of course, a picture of the cutest little brother I know:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Soccer Practice, Double Rainbow and Captain America

Soccer Practice:

In preparation for Alex's upcoming Soccer season, we got him a soccer ball, cleats, shin guards and socks.  Well, of course he had to try them all out.  We suited him up and let him loose in the backyard to "practice" his soccer skills.  Fortunately for us, we discovered that he isn't all that bad.  Of course, he does have my gracefulness and falls down pretty frequently, but if we can get that under control, the boy  actually isn't too bad at soccer.  He kicks the ball pretty well and even dribbles it better than I expected :)

Here are a few pictures:

Such a crazy kid:

Kicking it around the yard:

Super Star:

Had to take a break to cry about how far away the soccer ball was:

Pretty good form, right?

I think Daddy and Alex were practicing hitting it off his head.  Not really a requirement for soccer, but something Larry thoroughly enjoyed:

Double Rainbow:

After practicing soccer, we went out front to play in the driveway.  While we were sitting there, we noticed a double rainbow.  It was absolutely beautiful - my pictures do not do it justice!

I love seeing reminders of God like this.  He surely has fulfilled His promise of bringing me a rainbow (my boys) after the storm (the death of my parents).

Captain America:

Larry said it best "Who needs to go to the movies to see Captain America when we have our own Captain America living with us?"

Little Brother:

And because I can't leave Little Brother out:


Jax is finally laughing!  He makes us work for it, but it is so worth it!  Tonight, he was in an especially giggly mood, so we took advantage of it and got it on video and on pictures.

I love these laughs.  The kind where they surprise themselves and get a shocked look on their faces after laughing.  The kind where their whole body shakes when they laugh.  The kind where you can't help but smile along.  These are the moments that I live for as a Mommy :)

Here are some cute pictures of our little man:

My favorite:

Getting all serious:

Buckwheat and Jax (love the look on Jax's face):

Kisses for Daddy:

And here is the video (I'm not sure how to turn them around...sorry):

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Jaxon's 3 Month Photobook

Here is the photobook that I made with Jaxon's 3 month pictures:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to my Best Friend!

Today is Aunt Jenny's birthday!

Happy Birthday Aunt Jenny!!

I have always believed that God brings the people into your life that you need.  God knew that I would never have a sister...instead, He gave me someone better.   One day almost 20 years ago, God gave me Jenny!

Jenny is my children's Godmother, my should to cry on, my first phone call when I need to talk to someone (other than Larry), my sounding board, my advice giver, someone who celebrates happy moments with me and grieves in sad moments, my number 2 on speed dial (number 1 is reserved for Larry), my favorite Target shopping buddy, the mother of three of my favorite kids in the world (besides my own), the person who I can be myself around, the person who loves me for me, the person who knows me better than most and most importantly, my best friend.

Jenny is intertwined in most of my childhood memories.  Meeting outside her house the summer we both turned 12 years old.  We shared countless hours on the phone.  We spent so much time at each other's house that we considered each set our second parents.  We had pool parties and sleepovers.   We learned how to drive together - me in my parent's Mitsubishi Eclipse and her in her dad's Izuzu Truck (both parents thought it was important to learn how to drive a manual car).  We watched as each other went through high school relationships and comforted each other when those relationships failed!  We went to homecoming and prom together.  We cheered each other on as we graduated high school.  And we watched as acceptance letters came in from different colleges.  We watched each other grow from little girls into young women.

Our friendship doesn't end with childhood memories and it didn't end with graduation from High School.  Today, Jenny is just as much a part of my every day life.  She is there for me on days that I am missing my parents - knowing that she doesn't need to say anything, just knowing that I need her to be there for me.  She flew to Alabama the day after Jaxon was born and watched with me as he lay in the NICU.  We talk or text daily.  She is involved in my life and the lives of my children.  They know her and they love her - something that is so precious and important to me.  We are navigating our lives through motherhood and adulthood...together!

And our future is already planned.  Girls trips to escape the stress of everyday life.  Laughing as our kids go to school, sharing our worries when they begin driving and watching with pride as they all graduate high school.

I am so thankful that God gave me this friendship.  I am glad that He knew that I would need someone like Jenny by my side, not just through the good times, but also through the bad times.  He knew that our lives would be rocky, but our friendship would help us through those difficult times.  He knew that our laughter would be great together and our memories would be treasured.  He knew that instead of giving me a sister, He would give me a best friend!  And for all of that, I thank Him!

Jenny - Happy 32nd Birthday!  We love you and we are so lucky you are in our lives!  Thank you for being a part of my past, my present and my futures.  Thank you for loving my boys just as much as I do. Thank you for giving me two beautiful nephews and one gorgeous niece!  Thank you for being there for me and for knowing me the way you do.  You are the best friend a girl could ask for :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bowling and Heaven

Today we took Alex bowling for the first time.  He had a great time!  Not only did he love rolling the ball down the lane, but he really loved running back to see the animation on the tv screen about the pins.  Jax had a great time as well, he slept for the first half and then woke up and watched us bowl.

A funny little story about it - ever since the tornadoes that went through Alabama, Alex has been terrified of bad weather.  In an effort to ease his fears, we have been telling him that thunder is just God and his angels bowling.  We even try to incorporate our angels into it.  For instance, we tell him on a really loud boom that Pa Larry must have got a strike because it was really loud or when it is just a little rumbling in the distance, we tell him that Grandma Kathy probably threw a gutter ball.  He loves that :)  Well, when I first mentioned going bowling he kept telling me that he did not want to go.   I wasn't sure why - he had never been so he had no idea whether he would like it or not.  Eventually he told me that he did not want to go bowling because he was not ready to go to heaven.  He said when you go to heaven you don't come back and he did NOT want to go bowling there.  Poor kid :(  I explained to him that we were going bowling near Daddy's work and that they have bowling places here on Earth as well as in heaven.  I felt so bad for him for being so worried.  My poor little guy!

Here are a few pictures from our adventure:

Getting ready to bowl:

This kid knows how to rock the bowling shoes!  How cute does he look?

Putting Alex in the computer:

Sleepy Jax:

Picking out a bowling ball:

Bowling with Daddy for the first time ever:

It took awhile to finally get down there :)

The next time bowling...he tried it "granny style"!  Worked much better:

Thank goodness for bumpers:

Love this one:

High-five for Daddy:

Happy Jax:

Sarah and Larry: