Wednesday, November 19

Elephant On My Chest

It's approaching the one year mark. January 10th...the dreaded day. The day I hope to avoid and erase off the calendar. Before that I have to endure the holidays without her. While some want to crawl in bed and not wake up till things are over, my coping method is to make myself so busy I don't realize it's a certain day until it's over. Bring on pinterest and marth stewart like creations... I don't want to feel just do. It's easier when I'm so busy I don't realize. One of the many reasons we'll be doing something completely different for xmas this year. I don't want any familiarity. NONE! I have this huge internal struggle going on right now... My son's Christmas and first birthday was overshadowed in many ways by my mom being sick. I made things simple and easy because I couldn't handle much more. This year I want to make it special and yet I find myself fighting the dark cloud over my head. Trying to look at the good things, the fun things, the brighter things. Today it's just hard. I keep thinking how cool it is that my brother and I both have our first sons, first kids born in January. My mom's birthday is also in January. This year I think we'll try and celebrate them together on her birthday. Make it special, make it brighter. Meanwhile I have this elephant sitting on my chest, making me feel like it's going to cave in...the elephant's name is grief and I'm ready to shoot it, drag it off my and toss it away!

Saturday, October 11

They'll never know her alone...

My kids will never know their Nana without my memories and my stories. They'll never have moments and experiences with her. They'll never know her without me. When the tears do come now it's in moments like this morning where I woke up crying, I woke up thinking about her. I woke up grieving her. Not because of the years I lost with her but because every picture that she's in my son doesn't know. He can pick grandma and grandpa out, he knows them and loves them and is creating memories with them. He doesn't know who my mom is in pictures. We have to stand there and tell him about her, we have to pick her out for him. He will only ever remember her through me. He had just turned one eight, 8 days before she left us. He won't remember and I didn't get pictures. It was too stressful and she was so sick looking. I don't want to remember her sick. I don't want to remember how her olive skin was turning gray. I don't want to remember how she could barely move without flinching. I don't want to remember how she didn't remember so many conversations we had close to the end so we'd have them over and over because of all the pain meds she was on. I don't want to remember how I didn't get to say goodbye one last time. I don't want to remember the last kiss was on an ever growing cold check cause she was already gone. I'm so tired of remembering those things and him not knowing anything. I so wish he could know her not just through me. Most days I'm okay and the good can shine through the pain and bad and it doesn't affect me and then there are moments like now. Where the pain in my chest is so great it feels like it's going to collapse and the tears come without any sign of slowing. This morning it's on the surface, it's raw again, and it's painful. I miss her hugs, I miss how in the moments I was upset I'd lay my head on her lap and she'd trace circles around my ear and play with my hair. It had an immediate calming effect on me. I so miss her! I so wish she'd come back to me. It was a cancer she never should have had, one she had way to young. One that is still a death sentence with very little hope of relief. I want her back.

Tuesday, September 30

What will you really regret?

There has been more than one occasion I have started a post since my mom died of how loosing her has changed me. Each time I stop mid way through and delete it because it seems to cliche, to unbelievable. The changes have been subtle and started deep down, taking time as they emerge in various situations. I've seen a lot of posts about babies with sickness, moms asking for help. I've experienced frustration in my job. I've been overwhelmed at home due to our recent move.

When it comes to the end of the day I ask myself what will I really regret? Are two incomes so we can afford more material things but have less time with our son worth it? No, which is why we've chosen for my hubby to be a stay at home dad. My heart aches for mamas that have to take their kids to day care. The time hubby has with our son is something we'll never get back. It's also one thing I will never regret nor do I ever wish it to change. My work while I enjoy it is often times frustrating. Decisions are made I can't control or change, that in my head don't always make sense. I'm pretty sure this happens to everyone at some point in time in their work situation about something, even the small stuff. On the ride home every night I realize the frustration, and stress aren't worth it. I'll do my best, follow direction, give advice and recommendations but at the end of the day everything that has happened this week isn't worth it. A garage full of boxes, things in disarray around the house, finding new ways to organize. While it can be overwhelming I have a choice to make. I can say it doesn't matter, I can choose to not let it affect me. When it gets done, it gets done. We enjoy one day at a time together as a family. No matter what happens it's the time and experiences that matter the most. It's the words we share with each other, it's the laughs we encounter and the memories we make. Right now my husband is having the time of his life watching one of the MLB playoff game. Sports is his passion and after four years of not having cable because it was an extra we couldn't easily afford he is able to watch it again in his living room in our house. With my mom's death came a lot of sadness but even more then that it made real so many things God has tried to get across to me for the last 20 years. Things, stuff it all doesn't matter in the grand scheme of life. The only things I regret from losing my mom too soon are the moments I didn't make happen. She wanted to take our 6 month old to the zoo. I thought it was silly knowing he'd sleep for most of it. I didn't make it happen. It wasn't necessarily about him, it was about a moment for her. Life isn't about how many things we have, how big our savings is, or even the things that frustrate us and keep us making to do lists in our head late at night. Life is about the time we spend with the people we love most. After a frustrating day at work, I come home and enjoy my family. I attempt to keep the venting to a minimum. If we don't accomplish everything we hoped or planned I let it go. Our house is clean although it may be cluttered so who cares. Last night we held a dance party thanks to the many music channels our tv has. Tonight I dozed on the couch while my little boy woke me up climbing all over me and cuddling with me. My husband sitting next to me laughing and keeping an eye on things. We'll all remember the cuddles and time. We will never remember the laundry or dishes that had to be done. We live day by day as best we can enjoying each moment as God intended. In the end what will you really regret, the laundry left unfolded or the memories wasted? 

Monday, July 28

There Is NO Checklist!

There is no checklist!

At some point, unspoken expectations became a part of our Christian lives, a part of our churches, and a part of how we function. The odd thing is, I don't ever recall someone speaking from the pulpit about them or a person standing at the back of the church handing out flyers listing them. I've been racking my brain to find out why it is that so many us feel we have to live up to these rules that we believe exist. The conclusion I've come to is that we don't understand the true meaning of grace.
Grace hasn't been fully discussed, preached and defined to us. This all came about in a recent discussion with a close friend. She felt like being a stay at home mom wasn't enough, she wasn't doing anything big enough to be counted for God's kingdom, what she was doing was worthless.
I DON'T THINK SO! God gave me the words to speak to her, and I felt the need to share them with any of you that struggle with similar things. When you get to the gates of heaven at the end of your life there isn't a big white board with a checklist on it or ticker tape listing how many people you "won" for Jesus. He won't be looking at you going, "Welp, if you'd only saved five more people I'd let you in," or "If you'd missed less church in your life I wouldn't have to turn you away." Thats not how God works. The Bible says God is love, which means to me that His arms are constantly open to me. He always has and always will desire a relationship with me, and the only thing that truly matters is that I have faith in Him and have a relationship with him.

What stay at home parents do MATTERS! It counts. It's one of the hardest jobs on the planet. My mom was a stay at home mom for 13 years. I don't believe when she got to heaven God looked at her and said well raising two kids and teaching them about Me wasn't enough, you should of been doing more and adding more to My kingdom. I think He gave her a hug and said "great job, I love you and I'm glad you're here." What Jesus did for us covered any mistakes she made, any sins she had. When judgment happened - when God recounted her life - Jesus was holding her hand looking at their Father and saying, "Dad (a.k.a. GOD) I covered that for her, she is redeemed, she is saved, she is washed clean by what I did."

My husband is a stay at home dad - and a great one! What he does everyday counts. He's raising our son to be a Godly man. That counts! We have cast aside modern day gender roles, especially in Christian circles, and done things differently. We both have our own moments of not feeling like we're doing enough for God. The thing is: that's all in our head. We've made up a definition of "doing enough" somewhere along the way that is far from what the Grace of God is. God loves you and continually extends His grace to us all. That is all that matters!

Stop allowing the unwritten rules to exist in churches and christian circles, because they don't exist with God! To God every sin is the same, He doesn't categorize them like we do. Because every sin is the same, He sent Jesus to cover those sins. Judgement - even of ourselves - shouldn't be the loudest voice in our lives. The only voice that matters, the only one that truly matters, is God's. The loudest message that God wants us to hear is how much He loves us and wants a relationship with us. Think about it, He sent His only son so He could have relationship with us. He loved us so much He sent His son. As a parent that hits home. I know how deep my love for James goes and I know I don't have the strength to do what God did just so I could be in relationship with other people. Judgement in the end isn't the answer, Love is. You can disagree with someone, and yet still have the love you have for them be the loudest thing they hear.

Is Love louder than your judgement in your life? If not, it should be!

Sunday, July 13

It Won't End

It won't end, the list of things to do after my mom died. The ends to wrap up that keep going that hurt. The things I can't bring myself to give away or go through because it's too hard. The elephant in the room every time I walk in because there is a Rubbermaid container of things of hers that I packed the week after she died that I can't bring myself to sort, find spots for and put away. I have to call on bills again so we can begin the process of closing out the estate, her estate. I need to do this then at least they'll be done but at the same time then they'll be done. It will be over, it will be like she wasn't here on paper. I'm too young to do this. You shouldn't have to do this for your parents until you're in your 50's at the very earliest. I'm 28 in a month. She won't be here to celebrate with me. Birthday's where always a big deal because she made them a big deal and yet as it gets closer I just want to run and hide. I have to start going through stuff and letting some of it go at least but it's so hard. I've given myself until Jan., until the year mark but I need to do it now so it's not hanging over my head anymore but I don't want to. It comes in these rolling hills of pain, the grief. It's less frequent now but something will trigger it and even against my best attempts it comes out. It's gone from crying everyday to maybe once or twice a month but I'm so sick of it. I pulled out Gilmore Girls to watch months ago and James liked it so now it's the show we go to when he's upset or needs to calm down before bed. It was the show I shared with her. People used to refer to us, me and her as the Gilmore Girls at one time. I miss her and I hate that this has to happen, I hate all the emotion and crud we have to sort through now. I hate that I can't protect my little brother from this pain. I hate the US Congress because they wouldn't outlaw the horrible stuff that caused her to get terminal cancer. I hate the executives that choose to use the crap because it would make them a profit and the risk was worth it. I hate that she left us so quickly after she was diagnosed. I hate that I wasn't there to hold her hand as she took her last breath on this earth and her first in heaven. I hate that I was only 27 when she died and not 50 or 60. I hate that James won't know his Nana. I hate that I can't call her when he gets sick and get her to reassure me that he'll be okay. I hate that she left me before I was ready to say goodbye. I hate being strong and faith filled even though I know it's the right thing to do. I hate that she's gone. I hate the days when the sadness overtakes me or I let it overtake me which ever you want to say and my test gets tight and I cry an ugly cry until I can't cry anymore. I hate that she's gone before I was ready to say good bye. I have to go face the bin of bills and paperwork now and another bin of random things I packed up not knowing what to do with. I need to at least do one or two things. I wish I could allow myself to hide it in the back of the closet far away and forget but I can't, that's not me. That's not who she raised me to be.

Saturday, May 24

Weekend Randoms

So many things I've had on my mind the last week I've wanted to write about. The experiences I've had with God, the things I've shared with only my husband, the toddler that now invades our apartment, all the things I want to do.

I want to be that mom who has her house together, crafts prepared for my guys to do while I'm at work, wearing well put together outfits, make-up on and hair done. The fact is I'm not. Most days I get up 30 minutes before work, brush my teeth, hair, wash my face and change into something simple that doesn't have little boy spills written all over it. I come home at night worn out, sitting on the floor in leggings and a tank top playing with my little boy, catching up with my hubby while he figures out dinner. Dinner's seem rushed and usually involve eating as quickly as possible so we can get James into a bath, pjs and then bed. At this point we both crash on the couch, barely picking up his toys scattered across the living room floor and watch some show before crawling into bed. This photo is a

perfect example of the pile of dirty dishes in the background. You see we don't have a dish washer so if we don't do dishes every night...this happens. This is the first time in I don't know how long I've gotten a chance to write. To be random and search the internet for nonsense. I spent last night in my little boys bed soothing him in between coughing fits. At 8am I tapped out, my hubby took over and I crawled in bed until noon. He's napping now, I'm on my second cup of coffee, the 20 oz cup kind not the 12 oz.

Cleaning has to happen at some point, the dishes need to be tamed, the laundry under control (currently overflowing from two huge baskets) oh and the large pile of clean clothes on our bed. The bathroom is in bath time chaos. Yet, it's a Saturday and quality time with our little boy is most important. We'll do chores in between train tracks and book readings. At the end of the day I've learned it's not how your house looks, how crafty you are but how much time you've spent playing and creating giggles. After all when he's older he won't remember the stack of dishes, he'll remember the road trips, park trips, and box fort in the living room. Losing mom and reflecting on all the memories I have of her to share with James it's not the clean house it's how she let us decorate our room, the sand candles camping, the special birthday cookie cause we didn't like cake. It's the things she made special even if they where dirt poor.

Slowly we are getting his big boy bedroom together...at least he's napping right, even if it is on the floor and not his bed...oops.

I'll try and get back to write about the God things this weekend. 

Tuesday, April 8

Holidays Approach

The first of many is coming up and today I find my mind drifting to what those days will look like without her. I'm taking a minute now while writing this to let myself feel those things before I have to move on, move forward and stop letting myself stand still in the pain.

One more thing I've learned in all this, there is letting yourself feel, letting yourself have a moment and then there is no good letting yourself be overwhelmed by the emotion and sadness. So I take a deep breath, say a silent prayer God will shine His light on that place in my heart today and smile regardless of how I feel. Moving forward sometimes means faking it a little until your thoughts creep back into light, back into hope, back into the future with my family and less of what is lacking.

First Easter, First Mother's Day...the firsts begin...

Wednesday, April 2

He Celebrates and He Grieves At The Same Time

"Jesus loves us right now, just as we are. He isn't standing aloof, yelling at us to climb out of our pits and clean ourselves up so we can be worthy of him. He is wading waist-deep into the muck of life, weeping with the broken, rescuing the lost, and healing the sick."  - Judah Smith  Jesus Is...

God is celebrating having my mom in heaven with Him. Each person that walks through those gates is welcomed. I can only imagine the amount of joy not only in that person's heart but also in God's. The Bible states several times how much God celebrates us, with us, and for us. So to be welcoming another son or daughter home, to be able to open His arms I know there is a whole lotta joy in that time.

On the complete other end of the spectrum he grieves with those left behind. He feels our pain, our hurt, our dissapointment of knowing we won't share certain moments with them while in the moment. He feels both extreme feelings at the same time. He knows everything that our heart is going through and He never leaves our side.

While I continue to have my tearfilled moments and continue to have certain things that put knots in my throat there are two things that bring comfort and joy in the midst of the saddness.

1. Thinking of how many cool people my mom is getting to meet and get to know. Abraham, Sara, Ruth, and so many other people. Thinking about how cool it is to be at the feet of Jesus learning from Him, understanding everything in the Bible she's read through her life exactly as He meant it. When I think on this it makes me so excited for her. Honestly so excited for the time (very long from now I hope) when I'll get to do the same but this time by her side.

2. Thinking on how He knows exactly what I am feeling but also truely understands what I'm thinking. He feels it too. He's with us going through it with us. He gets it even when people in our life don't.

I am so grateful I know God, not sure I'd be able to get through this without Him.

 

Friday, February 21

The Sinking In

The last week has been hard. My little boy was sick and I couldn't call her to tell me everything was going to be okay. 
I missed her. 
I was sick and I couldn't call her and hear her voice telling me to drink more fluids, take more vitamins.
 I missed her. 
We didn't talk every week. We'd txt but not always call. I miss hearing the sound of her voice or being able to pick up my phone and txt her the recent pic of my little boy being his usual adorable self. 
I miss her. 

I miss the sound of her voice and way she smelled. I miss being able to go back to my childhood house and always know she'll be there. I miss those moments that only we shared. I miss the way her hand felt in mine, so slender yet so strong. I brought some of her clothes home with me, they are starting to loose her smell. I knew it would happen. She didn't wear perfume often it was just the smell of her deodorant mixed with laundry soap and a little hint of her shampoo I guess. It's just the way she smelled. I know it probably sounds silly but the fact that I won't be able to smell that years from now makes me sad. I don't know where the family videos went, I don't know if we have her voice anywhere on tape. I'm praying we find it somewhere because it already feels like I'm forgetting that piece of her. I've saved journals of hers so I'll always have her handwriting, a fun mix of cursive and print...her own unique combination. I still can't stomach to say that I'm momless out loud. I can say that she died, I can explain to people all the circumstances. I can talk about her but to think that just hurts. I know I'll see her again but it's just so far away. To not be able to walk into my childhood home and find her on the couch ready to hug my little boy brings me to my knees on bad days. I'll always remember the last time I laid my head on her and she wrapped her arms around me. The last time I held her hand as we both teared up and I told her it would be okay. Those moments hurt and help at the same time. This week was tough. I know next week will probably be better, tomorrow won't be filled with as many tears. The effort it takes to move through a rough day, move through a rough week I think that's why the bug I caught is holding on so long. The emotional exhaustion of pushing forward slogging through the rough days to make it to the better ones has my body down or at least that's what it feels like. So grateful today is almost over and tomorrow will bring laughs and hugs with my family. How I miss her hugs!
 

Friday, February 14

The Joy He Brings

The Bible tells us that if we believe in Him we grieve differently than the world. We have hope and faith that we'll see our loved one again, that this end is not our forever end.

In the past several weeks I have understood that to a whole new end. I have also forgotten that at times. I have learned in my walk with God that every day I must constantly remind myself of His promises, His plan for my life, His faithfulness. To that same end I've learned in this to I have to remind myself, to cleave to God and not let go or I begin to grieve like the world. I'm not saying I don't cry because I do but if I am constantly reminding myself of the promises of God, if I am in the presence of the Lord as often as I should be the ache and pain of loosing my mom is not felt. God removes the pain, He takes away the bad, and softens the memories of how hard it was the week after she passed and opens up my heart to remember the happy. He has given me the gift of smiles and laughter so soon after loosing her by truly taking the sting of death away. Its only when I forget His promises and let the devil have his way with my thoughts that it becomes painful and the ache of death goes too deep.

I know I still have a journey on this road called grief, I know the first year and all the first events will be hard to not have here there. I know the tears will come as they have so often in the last few weeks. The difference when you have God is that while tears come you are not hopeless. Depression from an event like this has no hold on you when you focus on God. I have felt that first hand, even though I am sad I can't bring myself to cry for hours or crawl under the covers and stay in bed for hours. God has given me the gift of hope in the depths of my heart and because of that, death has no power over me! I'm so grateful for God and all that He's done for me so I can claim that power, that promise, that hope! If you're grieving a loved one and you haven't given your life over to the Lord, find Him today, reach out and begin to follow Him and I can promise the sting of death will be removed because there is Hope in Him! I will see her again and I can't stop praising Him for that promise!

I wrote that a week or two ago now and I've had to revisit it often to remind myself that He is with me. I have a tub of paperwork sitting next to me to tend to. Bills that have come in and have to be dealt with, things that have to be sent of. I have to repeat the story over and over again. It's hard to be happy when the task that lies ahead of you is so sad. It's hard to find happiness after you finish a day of making those calls and doing that paperwork. I've been asked "How I do it, how I move forward?" It isn't easy but you put one foot in front of the other and do it because you need to, because she wouldn't want me to be sad, because where my strength is no longer His takes over. Praise God for His strength, I couldn't do it without Him! 

Thursday, January 23

Seeing Through The Fog

I feel as if I'm finally seeing clearly, still a little slow but clearer now. Through this whole horrible thing God has provided continual blessings, relief exactly when I needed and peace above all. It's amazing how people have blessed me through out this time, blessed my whole family. So many people to thank! God didn't give my mom cancer or take her before her time, that is a fallen sinful world where bad stuff happens to good people. God has however continued to show Himself throughout this time. He's provided for us, cared for us and hugged us through this whole thing. I wanted to share a few stories, this by no means is a full list of what all was/is being done for us but just a glimpse.

1. One of my high school teachers who I haven't seen in five plus years reached out to help. She put together the program and dropped off printed copies to our house so we didn't have to worry about it.

2. A college friend who drove over an hour in rush hour traffic just to give me a hug and tell me she is here for me at my mom's memorial service. I haven't seen her in over a year but as soon as she saw the news she reached out.

3. One of the girls from the group I led two years ago at our church paid for my grocery's today because she hadn't brought us a meal. Right there in the middle of Safeway I was on the verge of tears for how sweet and simple of an action that was that touched me down to my toes.

4. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law driving an hour plus in traffic and being there to support us. A total surprise again, totally unexpected and totally a blessing! 

5. This doesn't even begin to mention how my brother's best friend's mom (can you follow that) and my sister-in-law's mom decorated the church, organized the food with several ladies from the church that knew my mom and came over countless times to check on us kids.

I've had people ask me how I can get out of bed in the morning, how I can move forward. First and foremost, God. He's given me the strength to see through the fog, to crawl out of bed in the morning, to move even when I don't want to. Second my family. My little boy and hubby. Their smiles and my hubby's encouragement makes me smile in the times i want to cry and reminds me that she's in a better place when the darkness tries to take over. My younger brother (probably shouldn't call him little anymore now that he is a daddy) and his soon to be wife and days old little boy. I'm so blessed to have the three of them in my life and so blessed to know my brother has such an amazing woman in his life. She has left me speechless on more than one occasion. Her strength and determination throughout everything there are no words to describe how lucky I am to have her as a sister! Third, all the moments and actions of people that have stepped into my life during this time and blessed me in ways I never imagined. I have learned countless things through this whole experience. I'm sure I'll share most of them here. Most of all isn't what I've learned but of what has finally set in, hit home and truly settled into my heart and that is the Faithfulness of God. Even in the worst imaginable situation you can go through, God is with you. He NEVER leaves you! 

Saturday, January 11

She Walked Through The Gates Of Heaven

I was driving on the express lanes yesterday at 8am when I got the call. She was no longer on this earth with us. I had just finished listening to the song Praise You Through This Storm. God has been faithful to my family. His peace, love, joy and mercy are being showed to us like I have never felt before. She taught me how to be a mommy, how to nurture and love. I was so blessed to have her as my mommy for 27 years. We were all so blessed to have her with us for 52 years. My faith is strong, I will see her again. Praise Jesus for His promises, for a hope and a future.
And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
 I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth
I'll see you again mama. I love you soo very much!
1/16/1961 to 1/10/2014