Thinking of You

Our 2013 Christmas Card

Our 2013 Christmas Card

It’s 5:24am on Christmas morning. We’ve put the final touches on Christmas and now Donnie and I just wait until the kid’s wake up. This is how Christmas works when Mom and Dad wake up before 5am on a normal morning.

I’m taking this quiet time to think of all of my friends who have lost loved ones this year. I have three friends who lost their Moms in 2013 and I’m trying my best to send them warmth this Christmas morning to try to dull the ache of loss that will outline the day for them. If you know anyone who lost someone close this year, maybe you can join me. The holidays are hard for anyone who has lost someone, but if you’ve lost a parent, the first Christmas without them feels incredibly off. If you’re one of those people who lost someone dear to them this year, and you have to reshape your Christmas without them, please know you are in my thoughts today. I am thinking of you now, before the chaos of the day hits my home, and remembering my first Christmas without my Dad. I’m trying to share with you some of the peace I’ve earned in the 5 years since, in hopes that it will soften the pain you will feel today.

Peace and Love to all of you today, but especially to those of you who have to smile through the sadness. You are in my heart.

Photo taken at Santa's Village by Jeff White

Photo taken at Santa’s Village by Jeff White

The dessert he chose at Dessert Theatre last night.

What Should Have Been

The dessert he chose at Dessert Theatre last night.

The dessert he chose at Dessert Theatre last night.

Tonight is Dessert Theatre at E’s school. It’s a fun and casual performance done while eating baked goods and ice cream. I love it – it’s always the funniest show of the year. But this year? It’s tainted a bit for me. Because I shouldn’t be there.

Over the summer, when I found out I was pregnant and they gave me my due date, I remember looking at the calendar and thinking…doubt I’ll feel up for dessert theatre since I’ll have just had a baby. I sat there with Wes last night and felt a bit sad that I wasn’t home with his newborn sibling.

When you have as many miscarriages as I’ve had, every month has some sort of depressing day in it. Maybe it’s the anniversary of a D&C, or of a bathroom-floor miscarriage. Maybe it’s a lost due date. Maybe it’s the day you found out there was no heartbeat. Maybe it’s the day you took the positive pregnancy test that was supposed to lead to a joyful birth.

I don’t fret over them all. I rarely fret over any of them anymore. My heart is cold and bitter about my pregnancy losses. We’re considering giving up, burning the crap out of my innards so I can finally have some relief from endometriosis, but forever deleting our chances of future pregnancies. So, now the sadness is mostly replaced with bitterness. I’m mostly just pissed off now. Pissed off that I have this shitty system that causes me pain. And while – of course – I’m blessed to have the children I have…I also had to recently run into a store with my purse over my rear, buy a pair of sweatpants, and change out of my bloody clothes in the back of my van. All of this was done relatively easily because every month I keep emergency garbage bags and paper towels in the back of my van. I typically keep clothes too but that day I didn’t have any because I had already used my backup clothes the DAY BEFORE.

So…yeah. When you suffer as greatly as I do certain times a month? It’s easy to hate my body more than loving it for the gifts it’s given me.

But this week? I should have a baby this week. And that was probably the last pregnancy I’ll ever “enjoy”. The nurse said to me at my D&C, “You’ll try again, right? I always hate to see people end on a loss.” I understood her point completely, you don’t want to end your reproductive history on a loss if you can avoid it. But I also don’t have a lot of strength left, so chances are I’ll be ending mine in just that way…a loss.

So…I’m sad and a bit bitter right now. Also angry. Angry that I don’t have that last baby in my arms, keeping me from my oldest son’s performance. I envisioned taking that baby to E’s graduation and the pride at holding my newborn child while watching my firstborn get his diploma. That won’t be happening either. I imagined all of the family being able to meet the new baby when they came into town for E’s graduation – and how perfectly that was going to work out. I imagined the pictures I’d take of my child and my brother’s child – and how happy I was that they were going to grow up together.

And all of that is lost, and it’s hitting me a bit harder that most of these painful dates do.

But I’ll be fine. I’m certain it’s the lack of sleep this week (don’t ask) combined with feeling poorly (don’t ask) and sadness over impending graduation of my oldest child which has my heart torn into a million pieces anyway right now. I know my anger and sadness will pass…I just needed to release those feelings into the blogverse in hopes for a bit of the healing power that has always been here for me before.

I'm certain you would have stolen this off my fridge to hang in your office at work.

Dear Dad,

I'm certain you would have stolen this off my fridge to hang in your office at work.

I’m certain you would have stolen this off my fridge to hang in your office at work.

I’ve been really tired for over a week now, and that makes me super-emotional and weepy. Sad things are happening all over the place, which doesn’t help at all because I tend to feel what the world around me feels. So, my choice of sad topics predominant in my life are:

1) Missing You
2) My baby going off to college next year

I’ve decided to focus on missing you, Dad. Because I’m still in denial about E leaving me.

I spent some time in December with your new grandson. I so wish you could have met him. And of course – C is as amazing of a Dad as we knew he’d be. He’s already putting you and I both to shame as parents. But we expected that, didn’t we?

I wish you could have met his wife. She’s one of those type of people we always talked about admiring so much. You could put her in a room with 10 strangers from 10 different walks of life, and after 30 minutes they would all leave with smiles on their faces from having found a new life-long BFF.

E is about to open his first non-school play in which he has a lead role. When you died, he hadn’t even started performing yet, something that always makes me sad. You would be so impressed with him. His face is on posters around town now, which I find so hysterical. Watching him perform blows my mind because he’s so laid-back about it. He doesn’t seem to have any of the Speaking In Public fears that you and I had.

I have been sticking with running now for almost two years. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been that long because I’ve made so many huge achievements in that time. 2 marathons, 2 50Ks, and so many other races I don’t even keep track anymore. But Saturday? Is a new first: A 12-Hour Run. I start at 6am and I don’t stop until 6pm. It’s 1-mile loops at a state park and my goal is to hit 40. Anything more will be cake. I know you’d think this was crazy because you thought C’s Ironman in 2005 was crazy. You respected these bizarro amibtions of ours, but never pretended to understand them.

Donnie is coaching a triathlon class now. He’s been competing for 3+ years, I guess, and he’s getting faster and more fit every day that passes. He did his first official sub-20 minute 5K a couple of weeks ago. I thought I was going to cry, I was so proud. I remember when you did that 5K with us in 2006 and you beat us both at about 25 minutes! We were both adequately ashamed of that.

I’m tired and weepy and I just miss you so much. I know many people have faith that allows them to believe their loved ones still watch over them, and I sometimes get violently jealous of that. The finality of death for the faithless is a bit depressing at times.

So I carry your memory and tell your stories. I keep you alive by building a love for space and sciene in my children (there are SO MANY YouTube channels that you would LOVE), or memories of hikes in the woods. I told Wes on his first hike that you would have been so proud to see how much he loved it, since I tended to be a whiny brat at that age. We play with the weirdo gadgets you left behind and look at your collection of dirt. We bundle up in the winter and I tell stories of us fighting over the coil heater in our home.

And I miss you every day. But no more than when I’m tired and needing a pick-me-up phone call to you.

I love you, Dad.


Missing Out

charlieblogI’ll be honest – sometimes I make mistakes that I am VERY glad my Dad is not alive to see. Like that one time I backed into the brick retainer wall lining my driveway. Or the time I almost got the utilities cut off because I forgot the pay the utility bill while we were in the middle of a show at E’s school.

Yeah. Those things? Completely fine with him never knowing about.

However – MAN – I wish he could see my oldest child rock the stage these next few months. I’ve always wished he could see E perform, the shows themselves would be amazing enough to wow him. But this year he has lead rolls! I really wish he could see those.

First up, next month? He’s Charlie Bucket in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”! How cool is that? A LEAD! His name IN THE TITLE!

He’s all cool and nonchalant about it – just going to rehearsals and learning his lines and his blocking – like…NBD. Whereas, every day I’m like, “HOW DID IT GO? ARE YOU HAVING FUN? WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY? WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART? HOW ARE THE COSTUMES? DO YOU NEED ME TO READ LINES WITH YOU?”

I…am NOT reserved. Obviously. I’m just screaming, “MY KID IS CHARLIE! AS IN – AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY!” from the rooftops. I’m the most embarrassing theatre Mom ever. Seriously. If you don’t believe me? Ask about my screaming being on the recording of a performance last year. After EVERY SONG you could hear me screaming in the audience. “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

I’m not saying my Dad would be that enthusiastic, but his mind would be blown.

And then…THEN…in March? He’s playing “Young George” in “Our Town” with Theatre Huntsville. His first non-school play! And another good part! I can’t wait for that one either. Although, I’m not a volunteer for that production so I doubt I’ll have the opportunity to embarrass him like I do at the school shows.

I would love for my Dad to see BOTH shows. He wouldn’t embarrass E at all. It would be a good counterbalance to his screaming Mom in the audience every night.

Of course – I’d also love for my Dad to meet his new grandchild, born in November. I’m grateful my kids all got to at least meet him, although Was doesn’t have any memories of him, being 10 months old when he died. But I’m glad I have pictures of them together – and I’m grateful for that, even when I’m simultaneously sad for the other things he’s missing.

That’s just part of life after death, the things we continue doing that the dead can’t see.

But YOU can see it all! If you’re local, come to the shows! Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is next weekend and “Our Town” in March!

(Sorry to end the blog plugging my kid’s shows. Had to lighten things up a bit around here!)


In Lieu of Prayer


I spent my lunch going over the news coming out of Newton, CT and I saw many tweets and Facebook statuses offering prayers to the victim’s families. I love that idea, that we can put out those kind of thoughts into cyberspace. I truly believe there is value to that.

But I don’t really pray like that, so those words coming from me would ring false. And they would carry a meaning I don’t intend.

So I stared at a Twitter box and a Facebook window wondering what to say. How do I convey my thoughts to the universe in hopes that they’ll reach the epicenter of tragedy in some small way.

I vow to spread joy and love in my own community today, and hope the ripples reach those in Connecticut that will need it in the days/weeks/months/years to come. I will not honk at the slow driver or scowl at the confused cashier. I won’t complain about a stranger or gossip about a friend. I vow to promote love and joy in a world darkened by tragedy today. And I will hug my children tight tonight, and count my many blessings.

I ended up writing the above statement on Facebook. (Corrected a typo before putting it here.)

I often feel at a loss without some sort of religious standard to lean on during times of grief. I have a hard time conveying my love and support to friends and family who need and want the soothing prayers of their loved ones. I want them to know I’m thinking about them, and that my heart is with them in their sadness, but the words, “I’m praying for you,” always carry a different (and often false) meaning than I intend. I feel like it’s dishonest and I want nothing but sincerity to go towards the people I’m trying to comfort.

Am I alone in this? I know many of you connected with me over your Spiritual-but-not-Religious status. When you want to send your sympathy, what do you say?

I fell back on my standard. The only thing I ever know to do when I want to say something like, “I’m praying for you.” I told the universe I’d hug my kids tight and be good to my neighbor and hope that the positive energy I create in the process someday reaches them when they need it most.

It’s all I know to do.

And I hope my words don’t ring empty. I hope I can keep them in my heart on my most stressful days. I hope I can think of the parents of the dead children in Connecticut and continue sending love and comfort into my community in hopes that the ripples of joy will some day reach them and warm their hearts a bit.

I’ll smile at the cashier. I’ll wave at the crossing guard. I’ll thank the teachers at my children’s schools and I’ll hug my friends when I see them next. I’ll put up the buggies at the grocery store and throw away the trash on the sidewalk. I’ll buy flowers for a friend and cook dinner for my family. I’ll donate food to the food bank and drop off jackets at the homeless shelter. I’ll do all of these things in the name of the hearts broken in Newtown.

Because – while I don’t have a prayer to offer – I still have a heart filled with love to light the darkness of those entrenched in grief and sadness.