Monday, December 29, 2008

7 years

7 whole years.
I look at this picture and realize that I don't even know those people anymore.
So many things have happened.
So much has changed.

Someone should have grabbed me aside that day I walked down the aisle and warned me that I was about to go on the adventure of a lifetime....the kind that you can't even dream of. Because looking back, sometimes I am still shocked at everything we've done, everything we've overcome. With all the things that have happened...all the places we've lived...the places we've traveled...the people we've met...it truly has been an amazing journey so far.

And I can't imagine going through that with anyone else.
Then again maybe we were just too young and dumb to know any different.

Now, what are some things I have learned in the last 7 years?
1. Never have serious conversations after 10 p.m. ~ it turns ugly.
2. Hire someone to paint. Its worth the money to save the marriage.
3. Never hang pictures together. Hanging pictures = Fight.
4. And finally...don't bother asking him if you can buy something you don't need. We already know the answer...so just buy it anyways and hide the evidence.
5. And then of course. A sense of humor is a must. For both laughing at yourself...and then of course laughing at your husband when he does something stupid.

*I'm blessed because I get to laugh a lot.

Because as I sit here and look at pictures and remember stupid things that have happened. All I can do is shake my head in disbelief...and laugh.

We were so young and dumb.
I guess you could say we still are...but I keep telling myself, through it all, we must have gotten a little wiser.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas weekend






Alright.
This year wasn't exactly Christmas bliss...but we survived.
And boy, do we have some stories.
Would you expect anything less from us?
I think not...

So, here is the quick version. The basic low down of our Christmas weekend that we had been dreading since July. And quite frankly, we had every reason to.

Christmas Eve:
Took Tim to work in the morning so I could run errands in the Jeep. It rained...and then, of course, it froze. The rest of the afternoon I couldn't figure out what it was doing outside, all I know is that driving was less than thrilling. The trip to church was treacherous (and I won't lie, we were really dreading going before all this happened anyways) but we finally drug our butts out to the 10 p.m. service. Okay, I don't want to beat around the bush. The service was totally lame. I swear it was an exact repeat of last year. The whole truth is, that this was the first time since Will's death that we have been able to actually attend church in person, its just been too emotional. And then the whole "sleep in heavenly peace" singing bit really threw Tim and I into the deep end. So, we left the church crying...exhausted...and praying that God would forgive us for sitting there and making fun of things while we were sitting in church. Yes, that was our way of totally not losing it in front of a bunch of strangers. Glad to get home safely, we crashed into bed once we got there. So thankful to make it through the day.

Christmas:
We woke up in our own bed on Christmas morning for the first time in...well, for the first time ever since we were married. Loved that. Loved that we didn't have to drive anywhere. It was great having my parents and brother come over here. And just when we didn't think the day could get any more exciting, we all fell asleep in various areas of the house. Talk about exciting. Best part of the day? We got a present "To Mommy & Daddy with love from Will"...

We wrapped up the day by watching nearly the entire boxed DVD set of Generation Kill that I got for Tim. Want the truth? If you really want to know about Tim's Marine experience and all the stories I got to hear about...watch these. They are awesome. The Marines are hilarious...and it is so accurate that we were left invigorated.

Finally.
Someone got it right in Hollywood.
Even down to the amount of swearing.
And yes, you just might be appalled...but its the real deal.
So if you get offended by potty-mouth: don't watch it.

Dec. 26
Tim had off from work. YAY. We lounged around and had a major deer sighting out our back window. 12 deer. Seriously, they were all clumped together and walked along the back of our yard, it was pretty cool to see. The picture above was taken too late but you can see lines in the snow that were their tracks. After that excitement, we had a special visit from our friends with their new puppy. Too much fun. We had a great time watching Tanner terrorize Sophie. Right down to her biting Soph's tail and watching Soph tuck her rear and tail under and run to her "safe spot"....her bed in the laundry room.

That night we met Tim's parents for some dinner and went to see "Marley & Me"... We got home and had Christmas with them. Tim went to open our gift and as he opened the box he jumped back. I looked and he had blood on his finger. First I thought "what in the world?" then I thought...well, I'm glad he opened it. So, we got a brand new set of steak knives and Tim assured me that they are sharp. Spent the rest of the night scrubbing blood off random areas that Tim had touched around the house, not realizing that he was still bleeding. Cutting yourself on a new gift? That has to be bad luck or something...I don't think we'll be having steak for awhile.

So after we did another Christmas this weekend, we drove back home Sunday night only to be greeted with our last present. There was a wind storm on Sunday and one of our beautiful trees in the front yard snapped in half about 4 feet up, landing in our yard. Thankfully, falling away from our house. Well, that tree will be hanging out for awhile. Its big and too heavy to move without cutting it up. The good news? At least most of the 2 feet of snow melted due to the rain and 60 degree weather on Saturday.

Even when we think our life is boring. It really isn't. Because with us...there is always something. And all I can say about Christmas this year, is that I am just thankful its over. There are always Christmases that are less than magical, and this was one of them. So my outlook is that I am glad to get one of them out of the way and look forward to some awesome Christmas days in our future.

And really...right now I feel like I should be boarding a plane back to CA or something. This whole thing still seems weird. So for right now, I'm taking it easy, because this is all so new and it will just take time. I had dreams and hopes for so long about how this Christmas would be...maybe next year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Endless snow

No need to dream of a white Christmas here...
The snow, well, its been relentless.

I have lost count how many times my car has gotten stuck or how many times I have shoveled the driveway in the last week. All I know, is that I am so over this. Attempting to go to church tonight has already been altered due to weather. I'm surprised the mailman was able to deliver our mail today. I wish he hadn't. The only thing in there?

Will's birth and death certificate.
On Christmas Eve?
You've got to be kidding me.
I'm not even going to question that timing. I'm ignoring it...

If we're not planning our lives around the traffic in Orange County...we're planning it around the weather here. In my book that means they pretty much cancel each other out. I am just extremely grateful to be by family and not stuck in some airport. And tomorrow, we get to wake up in our own house on Christmas day for the first time in 7 years. Awesome.

As I sit here and look out the back windows I just realized something. The first time we went through this house was last Christmas Eve. We decided to look at some houses for fun, while we were home. And as we drove to this house it was snowing like crazy and I thought we were insane for looking at houses in such crap weather...I don't remember much about that day, but I do remember stepping into this house for the first time. It took my breath away...and it was perfect, I feel blessed that this is one dream that did come true.

And despite everything...I know we are meant to be here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Truth

Well, here it is.
Tonight I am going to write without stopping, without proof-reading...
from the heart, as I would say to my students.
No need to go back and fix things that I write, I'm just going to spill it all out...and its going to be the truth.

So, this won't exactly be some Christmas miracle blog tonight.
This is just my reality.
Right now...and totally real.

This month has been horrible.
They weren't lying when they said the holidays are a peak time...and if I'm not crying, then Tim is. We're like the blind leading the blind, stuffing our grief for short periods just to help the other one out. And when we both feel bad? Then it surfaces in the form of a fight over something really stupid...like how we need a snow-blower, or if we should risk our lives to go and drive to Starbucks.

And yes. There really is that much snow.
Go figure.
Our first winter here and there are two big snowstorms in less than a week. So much for breaking us in easy...I have been a prisoner in my house for the last few days, which I know, is probably the worst possible thing. But the snow is so high on our street, my car would look like it had no wheels. My front bumper would be a makeshift snow-plow.

While it is pretty, it is easy to forget just what a pain it really is. Unless, if one is prepared...which, we are not. So while I can handle hanging out at home for a day or so, even that has its limits.

And really, that isn't what is the problem. Its so many things....weather, lack of communication, grief. And then there are times when I do go out and the truth is: I am so disappointed in people. And it doesn't matter if its CA or MI, people are just so cold, so clueless. Even people that aren't strangers. And that is when I think to myself...maybe I should just lock myself away, because this whole thing is hard enough to deal with...and adding to the pile of "feel bad" feelings just isn't an option for me anymore.

And so I withdraw. Because when someone is hurting already, its kind of stupid to put yourself out there just to be hurt even more...especially when we're all supposed to be helping each other out in this journey.

Because if I have learned anything...I know relationships are my greatest assest. And at the end of the day, its my friends and family that reach down and grab me...as I claw to get out of that deep, dark hole I struggle with every day.

And there are days...when I never do make it out.
And then there are days, when someone I love...either knowingly or unknowingly says something that pushes me right back in.

So this month, with all the magic and hopefullness, isn't exactly what Tim and I were praying for. Numbness has crept into our thoughts...our hearts. Perhaps the mind protects itself from trauma, or from things that we are not yet able to deal with. And as the snow falls heavily outside, and our house is decorated...it doesn't feel anything like Christmas. There is no magic...no holy feeling. Just a big, empy hole... and the question of why. And I am actually surprised at this, because I have been waiting for this Christmas for so many years...

And now that it is finally here.
I wish it wasn't.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow day

Today we got so much snow...I still can't believe it.
So, instead of subbing and trying to control a bunch of kids right before the long break, I got to stay home and reflect about this day and five months ago.

July 19th seems so far away as I look out over the snow drifting across our front yard. But the emotions are still raw, even more painful today.

Things have been harder than ever this month. I don't know what it is about kids and Christmas, it just gets me. And hearing the kids sing this week in school, well it took all I had not to completely lose it. And I'm missing the fun stuff I got to do with my students the last two years. Maybe if I had that...I'd be doing better. But for some reason, things are the way they are.

And there are just so many other things that have really made the tears come very easily lately. I don't get the timing. I even got so depressed as to think that I must be a really bad person...how could God let me feel so bad otherwise?

Nothing has changed. Will was alive right now, 5 months ago being baptized...as we were told he wouldn't be with us long. And now, I feel like I am here in body but not spirit. Something has been broken since that day in July.
Maybe forever.

I don't know about anything anymore. Although, before this year, I was truly unaware just how bad it was possible to feel.
Ingorance is bliss.
I know this from experience.
But, I'm starting to run out of experiences to be ingorant about.
Therefore, any sort of bliss would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Enough.

Its 12 degrees outside.
You've got to be kidding.
That factor, combined with gray skies isn't exactly helping to lift the depression.


Today, I subbed...and as I sat there thinking about how I miss being a part of all those staff lounge discussions, I also realized there are a ton of things I miss. And honestly, there is not much I can really do about it. Its the feeling of helplessness...uncertainty.


A teacher called me on Friday and asked me to teach this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The last 3 days before break...and I don't know what I was thinking to say yes. First of all, the kids are crazy...and I get to do all the work (especially the chaos of a party) and no one really gives a crap that I am there. And its hard to be around all the holiday festivities. Then I realized that those days will mark exactly 5 months.


5 Months.
How could that be?
And how can Christmas be next week?
All these things just don't seem possible...

I'm thinking that my transition back to Michigan hasn't been what I hoped it to be. Not even close. And then I have to keep reminding myself that just one of my factors (new house, new move, quiting a job I loved, husband working a new job with insane hours...and then, of course, Will) would drive anyone to the edge. And what gets me worked up the most? That I lived here one week before my world fell apart in ways I never imagined.

And now?
I live in a place, where the only memories I have...are intensely sad.

And I honestly don't know how I am hanging on. And some days...I don't. Like today...I write because it is the only thing that makes me feel a tiny bit better. To get it out of my head and my heart and release some pressure in there. There are always those days when I walk around the house in a fog, not caring about a thing. And then there are the days I force myself to teach...not caring there either. And I just wonder how long this can go on for...this heart wrenching, suffocating feeling. It feels I have been sad ever since we moved here.

Today is one of those days, where my grief is so intense...I just want to pick up something and throw it as hard as I can to watch it shatter into a million pieces.

But instead, I just sit and cry...liquid love is what the support group leader called...
Well then, my cup runneth over.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

more pictures







I've been a real slacker lately and realized I never downloaded any pictures of wine tasting...and lots of other things. I even failed to put up any pictures of our "new" house for all my CA friends. Sorry.

Here are a few pics from wine tasting (I decided to leave out the picture of the dead deer hanging from a tree...which happened to be the first thing I saw when I woke up at the Bed&Breakfast and looked out the window). Anywas, wine tasting-it was so much fun. In fact, I just ordered another 4 bottles of my favorite from the company's website...guess I should have stocked up while I was there. Oh well, Merry Christmas to me. I think I'll save them for those days I tell Tim I got a sub job...and then just sit at home and drink Bubbly Nouveau:)

And then, of course, there are a few more pictures of the snow for those of you that are hanging out in the beautiful 75 degree weather...Anytime you need affirmation on why you still live in Orange County, just come and see me for a visit sometime before April...I love it...but I am COLD. On the other hand, Sophie doesn't seem to mind and can't get enough of it. And apparently she can't eat enough snow either.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Winterwonderland


It has been snowing here for at least a week non-stop...and I'm still not used to this at all. Right now, I should be getting bundled up to go to yoga. However, its freezing and slick out and I really don't feel like leaving tonight.
I know that the one thing I need is exercise, so I compromised and went out and shoveled part of our driveway for at least the 12th time in the last 5 days. And yes, I know, its only the beginning.
2008 has been full of "shocks." In fact, last time around this year we decided that "Things for us were going to be great in '08!" And I'm sitting here feeling pretty darn stupid thinking back at our naive optimism. Now, I am just eager for a new beginning. Even if it is only in the form of a calendar that reads January 1, 2009. Although we might try, the events of 2008 will never be far from our immediate thoughts.
And aside from just a daily survival mode, I have decided that I will set goals for myself to get through this first...hard winter. And it is hard, because I have realized that my rose-colored glasses of Michigan have been forever shattered. There is something to be said about not having to dig out of snow or rake leaves for hours on end. And while it sounds fun, after the first hour I'm pretty much over it and convinced that my time would be better spent doing something else.
This weekend I had a Christmas open house for Tastefully Simple. And thanks again to the snow, it was a lot of work with minimal results. While it was fun (and I am especially grateful to those that did make it-THANK YOU) the weather kept many people away. I cannot compete with mother nature...So, this may be my first month that I don't meet my goals since August. And that is pretty sad, considering it is supposedly the biggest sales month of the year. Regardless, this little business venture of mine has managed to awaken me from the dead and given me something positive to distract myself with. When I started it, I didn't care about anything...and now I look back and can see how far I have come.
Which is why I need to keep writing. I haven't lately because there wasn't anything good or happy to say. But that is part of it too...the good with the bad. So in dealing with this awful feeling that has been intensifying with each day, I have been reading the book a friend gave to me while in Cali. The Shack. Its interesting, and thought provoking. And sadly, I can very much relate with the main character and all of his anger, frustration...and his Great Sadness. There is are so many things in that book that just take my breath away, and I wasn't ready to read it until now.
But I am thankful I am reading it now.
It came at the perfect time.
Just when I though I couldn't handle all the anger and bitterness...
There was intervention. And the little reminder...
Always in God's time, never ours.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thanksgiving night.

*Its actually December now...I was just sitting down to write again and saw that I forgot to ever post this...just another example of my grief-provoked forgetfulness and complete disorientation...

I'm sitting here with bloodshot eyes, beyond tired...
and a huge glass of wine.
First of all, we survived Thanksgiving and all the bittersweet blessings and hurts that came along with the day.

But that stuff is boring and depressing.

Instead, I will share a funny story. Something that I have always wanted to do, but never had the nerve to follow through with...First of all, I love shopping. Not spending a ton of money but finding insanely good deals. So when I found out that Birch Run (an awesome outlet mall 2 hours from here) was opening at midnight Thanksgiving day...well, I thought...Why not?

So, at 10 p.m. I picked up my mom and we drove an uneventful 2 hours to the east side of the state. Well, once we were on the road it was uneventful. First, I had to get gas. So I was filling up the Jeep and had it going by itself then looked down because it sounded funny.

There was gas spraying out of my car, down the side...and then puddling underneath.

I about had a heart attack and all I could think about was how I was going to blow us up just to find some good deals. And that I truly was an idiot...Well, until I spoke to the guy behind the counter. Then I reevaluated my first decision and decided he was the idiot. When I ran in to ask what I should do (because there was gas everywhere) he told me just to take the pump out and not worry about the gas on the ground. And my car with gas everywhere??? Oh, it should be okay, he said.

So I walked back to my car and did what any other semi-intelligent person would do. I took the window washer out of their bin and washed the side of my car with it, making sure to dilute all the gas with as much dirty water as possible. Disaster averted. And then we were officially on our way.

But I couldn't help but wonder if that was some sign that we were supposed to be at home sleeping instead of going shopping. As we got closer, the roads were empty. Then about 5 miles away I said out loud,
"Mom do you see all those brake lights up there? Uh, I'm getting nervous..."

We had good reason to be. Every single person on that side of the state must have wanted to go shopping too. I have never seen so many cars lined up in one lane for so long. Not even in California. Not even smack in the middle of L.A. on a holiday weekend. I was beyond shocked and as we drove mile after mile all my mom could do was laugh and all I could do was stare in disbelief...and we both uttered a few choice words. Because, after all, we thought we were the only crazy people to drive and shop in the middle of the night.

I refused to get in line. So we drove to the next exit, turned around and finally got off a different way. That was only the first battle. As we pulled into the parking lot, there was not one single parking space to be found. People were parking on the grass, and anywhere else they could find. We lucked out and found a spot way in the back and a good hike from everywhere we wanted to go. But at that point I would have taken anything. All I know is that people that drive in the middle of the night to get the best deals are a little extreme...more like hardcore. Since I could have cared less, I stayed far away from those people. But they were fun to watch.

The rest of the time was a blast. The mood of the place was fun and you would never have known it was the middle of the night. I assumed we would get home around 4 in the morning. We were having too much fun and didn't get home until 6:00 a.m. Friday morning. The stores had awesome deals and I couldn't even get into Coach. Insane. But totally worth the trip and we decided this would be a new tradition.

Because after all, this is what is hard about this holiday season. Establishing new traditions. Accepting that certain things we were looking forward to starting will just have to wait. I never would have imagined my Thanksgiving to be like this...but some things we can't change. So in the meantime, I'm happy with this new tradition. Let's just hope we can pull it off again next year, only maybe we skip the gas spraying out of the car.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Winter

I've written several blogs, none of which I am happy with.
Since Thanksgiving things have been really...hard I guess. Honestly, I don't know how to describe this feeling. It is past the point of frustration, to where there are moments I could just freak out. And I no longer judge those who do. I think that if I were still teaching, things would be different. I would be busy and have a purpose to get up each day...but without that, I am left kind of wandering. Lost without directions.

With Christmas approaching, there is a new...bigger wave of grief. The type I had not really experienced yet. Where little things send me into crying fits and the expectations we had for this holiday season...are just too painful to think about.

Its funny how many around us are still concerned with all the normal things, especially gifts. I could literally care less if presents rained from the sky. And it seems so insignificant. And you realize just how much we have that we could live without. So instead of buying each other gifts this year, Tim & I went out and bought a piece of furniture.

Its not just any piece of furniture. It has become the most important thing in our house. We finally found a perfect table (it kind of looks like a small dresser) that we call Will's table. It is perfect. It was made for this exact spot, and in the exact striped colors. And his framed picture looks absolutely beautiful on it.

So when it comes to the rest of it. I'm trying. Trying really hard in fact. But things like Christmas cards and the holiday spirit just aren't in me right now. And if the constant reminder of little kids and babies isn't all around me...I get to go to church and sing about the birth of a special baby boy...

And its just too much.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Home again



What a whirlwind.
My trip last week was much needed.
I wanted to post some pictures, then I realized I only took 3.
Not so awesome...

But, as the plane took off from OC on Friday night I couldn't help but look down at all the lights. They seemed to go on forever, just the sheer number of people there is unfathomable at times. This was a picture I wished I could have taken.

But instead its imprinted in my mind. So many lights, so much business. As the plane circled out over the Pacific before heading back east, I could see PCH and the route along the ocean I had driven so many times. Only this time I was not driving it, I was only watching everyone else from far above...and they didn't even know it.

I have been trying to navigate a new road since Will's death. And it sure isn't as pretty as PCH. Not even close. This road was not taken by my own choosing, so I am doing the best I can.
But I am thankful that for 4 days, this new road took me back out to California. I had such a great time and owe thanks to many people. Bottom line is that I didn't have enough time, not even close. I arrived late Tuesday and left on Friday afternoon. But I crammed in as much as possible without completely losing my mind.

To go from here to there is going to extremes. You cannot get any more different. No wonder it messes with my head. There? I get to look at the mountains, tons of traffic/people, the ocean...and hot young Marines in camouflage.

Here? I get to look at the woods, open land...and old fat dudes strutting around in their hunting gear. Gross. Which leads me to ask...just how many different patterns and colors of camouflage can one person wear? And isn't this some fashion crime...even for hunters' standards?

Whatever. It keeps me entertained.
But nonetheless, back to reality now.
I came home feeling refreshed, with some sense of hope restored...even if it was only a small bit. From here? I have no idea. We're just focusing on getting through this holiday season being grateful and not giving into the temptation to lie in the corner on the floor and cry until its all over with...but something tells me that the holidays are bittersweet for many people.
Not just us.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

SoCal

I made it...
Being in SoCal has been great.

And Tim was worried that I wouldn't come home.
I won't lie...the thought crossed my mind to skip the flight home. However, it feels more like summer to me than the week before Thanksgiving. And without him here, well, I miss him nagging me to go work out and do all those active things we can't really do in the ARCTIC TUNDRA we moved to.

Don't get me wrong~I really do love Michigan, but I am realizing that somewhere along the way of me hating Orange County...I grew to love things out here too. And as much as I hate to admit it, after being in MI, I am realizing that there are many things the OC instilled in me whether I like it or not. So I will just say that I feel at home both places. And that is okay.

Yesterday I got more hugs in one day than many get in a lifetime. Visiting A.V. was unbelievable and seeing my old students, the parents, and staff of that school made me more happy than I have been in a super long time.

Thank you.
I loved seeing every single one of you.
And I feel so amazingly blessed to have been a part of that school, which allowed me to gain so many friendships and recieve so much love. Both of which have kept me going when I thought it was no longer possible.

As I said before. Its hard to be depressed when its 80 degrees and sunny outside. I still cried with some friends, but this trip has been sort of a closure for me. As I visited with some of my 5th graders, one saw my necklace with WILL engraved on the front and said,
"You should have engraved BEAN on the back"
Yes...Bean.
The nickname we gave Will when he was the size of a coffee bean, but already very present in our lives. And it is comments like that...well, they just make me smile. Because he was here and in many ways his spirit and memory are spread so vastly over many miles. Therefore, he lives on in the memory of so many.

And then as I stood in a circle of my old students, in the typical fashion of them getting as close to me as possible...they started talking over each other, yelling questions at me about totally random things, which then led to them bickering over who knows what. I started repeating myself very loudly,

"You guys! You don't have to yell...I am right here. RIGHT HERE."
And as my head started to pound with the kind of headache I hadn't gotten since...oh, I don't know...March? I thought to myself...Seriously?! Some things never change. I'm in a timewarp.
But then I realized...
I needed this right now, loved this right now....
and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lake Effect


It is 12:15 a.m.
I was supposed to be in Chicago by now.
My surprise flight out to Orange County officially leaves in less than six hours.

I will not be on it.
Because once again, God has a different plan from the one I had.
See that nice, big band of pink along the western part of Michigan?
That nice big band dropped at least 6 inches of snow while I was attempting to drive...and it happened in less than half an hour.

The sky is clear here.
Of course, now that I am home.
Got about 20 miles outside of Grand Rapids and there was a ton of snow.
Everyone was going about 15 mph...thought I could keep going.
Totally thought wrong.

Lake effect snow, thanks a lot.

I should have taken a picture, because I couldn't even believe my own eyes.
It was so deep, you could not see the curb, everything was covered.
I stopped at a rest area to decide what to do and couldn't even see the road.
When trucks pull over too...that is when you know its bad.

As much as it bothered me greatly, even I know when its just not worth it.
So, after leaving just after 9:00 I had to turn around 40 minutes later...and didn't get home until midnight. I'm too tired to be mad right now. Driving in that stuff is not fun, its downright scary...
So to all my SoCal friends...I was so, so, so looking forward to seeing all of you.
And what is even more impressive? That I actually kept my mouth shut and didn't blab my surprise to everyone...it was harder than you think.
So while all of you inhale smoke from the wildfires and are smothered in 90 degree heat...Its 23 degrees here and I still can't feel my toes from walking through the deep snow.
Talk about two extremes.
All I know is that...I was EXTREMELY looking forward to eating some In-n-Out...and hanging out in some warm weather with my friends.

Monday, November 17, 2008

4 months

Four months ago right now...I was crying in recovery before being wheeled down to see Will.

Now? Still crying...and going to be recovering for many years to come. And in another 4 months, we will have been in Michigan a year already. Where in the world did the last 8 months go? This whole thing has been so bizarre, such a time warp. Its a feeling like we've stood still and the rest of the world just kept going. Sooner or later, I am going to have to jump back on.

This weekend was good to get away. Good to try and forget about so many things. Wine tasting was fun and we were with really fun people. I'll post some pictures soon. But right now its snowing, and its cold...so cold that I think I need to get some sunshine soon. Its hard to be sad and be freezing your butt off at the same time.

I hear its 90 there in SoCal...must be nice:) Back when Tim was gone in Iraq and I was alone...I used to think that it was hard to be depressed when it was beautiful and 80 degrees out.
Turns out, I was onto something.

Friday, November 14, 2008

results

Ah.
I can breathe easy tonight.
Not only are we going up north, wine tasting with friends...
but I just found out ~

I passed every single one of my teaching tests I took last month.
Which means that my CA teaching credential that I worked extremely hard for...now directly transfers over to a MI certificate.

Nothing but extreme gratefulness for this answered prayer.
I figure, if I am supposed to teach here, then I will be led to wherever I need to be.
But I least I have it, in case I need it!

Now I'm off to drink some wine. I might have to drink a lot...just to keep from freezing to death up north by Traverse City:)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Passing notes

This week, I have been subbing in the local school district at a school that I have been at frequently since Sept. Today was my 5th day in the last two weeks in the same 5th grade classroom. We've been having fun together and its been a great experience...which is a welcome change.

Today before leaving, one of the girls hands me two folded up notes. So they crowded around as I opened the first one...a piece of lined paper with every one's name signed and the words:
U R the best sub!!!
Too cute. I was so surprised and asked them when they did this (assuming they were passing it around at recess)...
"We passed it around while you were walking around reading aloud to us."
Uh, yeah.
That's great.
Here they are passing notes around the entire classroom and I failed to even notice...and I really don't know how that could have happened:)
It makes me wonder what else I just happened to not notice while being in my usual foggy haze.
Whatever.
I couldn't help but laugh...
Its little notes like this that help remind me how much I love teaching.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Plan B


Sometimes I wish life were like a car lease....
when you sick of yours or don't like the way its running, you can trade it in for a new and better one.

I came across this picture and realized its importance. Because it was the last great night...The last time I would be driving my dream car. The car that had everything I could have ever wanted, and more importantly...I had an open road in front of me.
*****Back to reality*****
Today, I subbed in a middle school history class and the teacher asked me to speak about Veteran's Day with the kids. She knew part of my background and was excited to have me share. So, as I began each class I shared with them my experience. I have never had such well-behaved classes....And as I stood there and answered their questions and told them stories that I haven't told in years...it became apparent just how unique our story is.


How crazy it is.

And as I watched their faces as I told them about being in California and sending a husband off to war, they were hanging on my every word. Especially when I told them the story of Tim getting wounded. They had tons of questions, and I actually had the answers. I know they appreciated hearing about it, they told me. And I left there today feeling like at least a new generation just might have a little more respect for what others go through. But the one question that stuck in my mind was from a girl more wise beyond her years,

Student: How did you deal with it? I mean, how could you do it...what did you do?

...When you are put into that situation, you do it...because you just have to. There is no other option. And so many other people, from so many different time periods have had to endure the same, if not worse, circumstance.

And so it goes. An explanation for not only dealing with war. But also in dealing with the death of a child.

Thoughts of Iraq and the specific life changing events that happened in the Marines no longer consume my thoughts. Those have been replaced by something new. And I have entered survival mode. And we have been here before.

And I guess that's it. Not only do I feel alone in my life experiences, I'm still searching for that one person who has gone through it all...that one person who can truly relate. And for all those who haven't and who think I am doing "better" and its getting easier:

I've gotten really good at lying.
And I've gotten really good at stuffing down what I really want to say and saying what people want to hear...what they can handle hearing...Because this will never get better.
This isn't like some sickness that can be healed.
My son died and that will never change.
We held him as he tried to breath and watched him die.
And there was not one thing we could do about it.
The only thing that will change is people's attitudes towards me and how they think I should be coping...or how much better they think I really should be doing.

Screw that. No one sees the whole picture. And to everyone else it was almost four months ago.
To me? It seems like yesterday.

Its one thing to lose a newborn. Its actually the worst thing. But for me, when I think back over this year that is only part of the struggle. I was talking with a family member over the weekend and it finally came into words...from someone other than me. From someplace other than in my own thoughts.

You and Tim have been through so many things; the war, seeing that woman get killed, being so far away from family & friends during important times. I finally felt your life was going to be everything you deserved. You moved across the country to start over, bought a new house...everything you had ever wanted and worked hard for was finally starting to happen. And then, the unthinkable happened.

And in your mind, there was never a Plan B.

No plan B.
Didn't think I needed one.
Sure didn't see this coming as we loaded the moving van on a sunny day in March...
But life isn't fair, and no one promised it would be.
Some people hardly have to endure any...
and then others are consumed by it their entire life.

I have to believe that some day, all of the wrongs of this world will be made right. But right now I carry something with me that will never go away. And there will not be one single day for the rest of my life that I won't wonder what could have been.
Wonder what my life would have been like.
Wonder if I could have done anything differently.
Wonder who Will would have grown up to be...

And wonder why its going so great for everyone else...and while I want to be happy...I just can't...and that hurts just as much as all the baby talk, the baby clothes, seeing moms everywhere...hearing everyone talk about their kids and so many other heartwrenching things.
And I just have to sit there and be polite.
While I secretly want to throw up.
Because that's just it...most people don't have a clue that what they are saying...feels like a thousand pin pricks all over my body.

Just like when my mom and I went into the gap before I went to the hospital. I wrote a blog about it and never posted it back in May...

We never found a blanket, but grandma bought him his first little outfit. It was the smallest we could find and it might still be too big…but I felt we were supposed to get it. My mom was in tears as she paid for it and we both tried to keep it together as we left BabyGap. It is sad. And its not fair. Seeing all the pregnant moms excitedly buying clothes for their babies to live in…and I was buying an outfit for my son to die in.
Every day I continue to pray for a miracle. I am realistic, yet hopeful, yet guarded. How does one prepare? You don’t. And you really can’t.
Life has a way of stinging lately. Everyone has those days. I got home and heard from my friend that one of our best friends had her baby…I can’t help it, its like pouring salt in a wound.

And still, six months later...
I'm still waiting for life to stop stinging...for the salt to no longer be poured.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sunrise

This morning, as I stepped out with Sophie...
we saw a beautiful sunrise.

This picture does not do justice to what I witnessed this morning. A picture cannot capture what the stillness of the air felt like, you cannot hear the utter silence, and there is not a trace to the scent of fallen leaves. It all just made me stop and take it all in.
Its moments like this, where I can still feel Will.

Its safe to assume that if I don't post anything for a few days, my thoughts are scary and I'm keeping them to myself. Just because I think that I am going crazy...doesn't mean I have to prove it on paper..(or on a computer screen).

This week was rough. And this morning is still hard.
Enough said.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Go State




We survived Halloween.
A holiday that was surprisingly hard.

So we made an attempt to distract ourselves by going to the Michigan St. vs. Wisconsin game on Saturday. It was awesome and the weather was perfect despite it being November. It was the kind of day we always dreamed about while living in California. The game actually starting after 12 pm so we could tailgate. It just felt strange eating a bowl of cereal and watching the game right after waking up back west.

I am a Michigan fan...However, once they lost to University of Toledo all bets were off. Since I don't own one piece of State apparel, I decided to sport my awesome furry green vest.
Disaster averted.

The game itself was insane, with all the action happening at the end of the 4th quarter. Before that, I got kind of bored...then it was half time and it was fun watching the band dance the Thriller. They were pretty good and I was thinking that would be the best part of the game. Hah. Then I saw it: The cotton candy dude.

I love cotton candy.
I don't know why...
And when I was diabetic and in the hospital, every time I went for a wheelchair ride we went past the cafeteria and I would see these tubs of the stuff and secretly curse in my head that I couldn't eat any. So, as soon as I saw the guy coming up the stands towards us I made sure Tim waved him down.

After is was all said and done we walked back to our car (which seemed like 5 miles away) and I was pretty sure whatever calories I consumed had been burned off and then some. It was funny to wake up and be sore. From what? Our seats were at the top of the stadium, so I went up all 65 rows at least 3 times. Sucking air the entire way. Between that and the walking, we got a great workout.


A pretty good day we decided...but to us, things still just don't feel right.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween.


This one actually made me laugh...we could all use a little more of that. If someone could have taken my thoughts and put them into a cartoon for this craptacular day~well, here ya go.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Freezing.

Today I was in need of little kid hugs.
Bad.
But there was one problem...all of the kiddies that I wanted hugs from were 2000 miles away.
If there is one huge thing I miss about teaching, its that a little hug can go a huge way.

So as I ate my words spoken to a friend last night (that I had turned a corner in this whole grief thing), I answered back to this brutal day with much indifference...and by refusing to get out of my bathrobe until 2:00. And as I did meaningless tasks around the house I wondered if it is quite possible to have a midlife crisis before you turn 30.

I think in my case...you could grant an exception.
I also think that this whole downward spiral of today was set off by attending support group last night. And it just kind of spilled over.

So instead of little kid hugs, I face planted myself (more like flung my entire body in utter disgust) on the bed and sobbed. Sophie provided some comfort and let me hug her until I think she finally became disgusted with me too...and left. Apparently, her smelly bed on the laundry room floor was more appealing than listening to me wail at God.

Whatever.
I know this too shall pass. I'm just too impatient with the whole process...and as it gets to be freezing cold (my eyes bugged out of my head when I looked out the window and saw flurries this morning) I'm starting to miss the warm sunshine. So look out Cali friends, I'm determined to make a visit out there before I turn into an icicle. And I'm also pretty sure this is the palest I have been in 6 years...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Time

How can it already be a new week?? Not complaining...but this whole life in fast forward thing is getting a bit old. I keep waiting for the day when I suddenly wake up and I'm 80. As I try to recall what I have spent my time doing, that is where I have the problem.

I can't remember.

All I know is that I subbed a couple times, had three Tastefully Simple parties last week (those were the highlight), have been dealing with Tim's little fender bender, and somewhere in there went to the dentist for the first time out here.

Ah. The dentist.

Super nice office people here. Told me I had great teeth (do they say this to everyone???) and then the dentist told me that I must grind or clench at night.
Yucky.
I was actually shocked...and
I was mortified.

And if you know me...you know that there is a story behind why I feel this way. Because Tim grinds his teeth at night. Hard. And when he came back from Iraq, it was SO bad. I told him to either find a mouthguard or find a new wife. Seriously. It would wake me out of a dead sleep, and he didn't realize he wasn't sleeping well at all either because of it. So, he listened and problem solved. Who would have known that a mouthguard could save a marriage?!

Well, now I guess I have the problem.
Including headaches when I wake up.
No doubtedly, brought on by stress.
Shocker.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Back to the dentist.
The assistance was super nice. Talked to me for awhile. Due to filling out the new paperwork with being a new patient, I had to give my history...meds I was on...all the fun stuff.

So of course, she asked about the baby.
I had to tell her.
And of course...she started to cry.


And she looked at me and just said,
"I know there is nothing I can say...but just know that I am so sorry."

And as I think back, it made me remember something else. Because I had said the exact same thing to someone not so long ago...Standing in the kitchen with a Marine wife, whose husband had just been killed. On her fridge was a little kids picture...a countdown calendar...

87 days until daddy comes home!

The family had just found out...the countdown had remained untouched. The answering machine unchanged. And as I stood there talking to her, she said something I understood even back then.
"There is nothing anyone can do for me..."

She was just saying something that anyone who has ever lost someone close has felt, it wasn't mean, she was just being honest. And I knew she was right. Nothing anyone does or says can make it magically disappear. And I cried, because I felt helpless and wanted to help, but knew that I couldn't. And as I looked at her little kids, I would have done anything to try and make it disappear. But I couldn't. I also knew the one thing NOT to say..."I understand." Because the truth was, I really didn't. My husband was still alive. There weren't any kids I had to make understand why their dad wasn't coming home.

And at the time, when I brought her over food. It had felt so inadequate. So besides the food, I have made a point to pray for that family, and remember that Marine...every single day. Because you don't want others to forget someone you loved...or love...or still remember every single day when other people go humming about their lives.

Why am I writing about all of this? I have just felt compelled to share with everyone, that I know how much people must fret over saying the right things, or what to do, when something like this happens.
I've been there.

But now, after having gone through this...still going through this...I wanted to share just how much I am grateful for all the things so many people have done. And all the things people continue to do. What has been a light in this endless black hole. I have truly appreciated the thoughts and prayers. The cards and notes, even months later, probably...honestly...I need even more now. Because life gets "insane" and busy...and people seem to forget.

But we never do...and when people do remember...it just means a lot.

This weekend, I came across an awesome website. It is from Focus on the Family and the topic is "What NOT to say..."
Its great.
It speaks in relevance to miscarriage...but I think it can be applied to so much more. I especially like the "God has a purpose" bit.

Words can play such a crucial role in grieving. Actions speak even louder. When a long time friend stopped by out of the blue with bags of groceries from our favorite store just a day after we came home, I was so touched it brought tears to my eyes. And it was the most perfect thing for so many reasons.

Because Tim and I have a weakness. And that is asking for anything...especially help. So when people say, "Let us know if we can do anything...Or, let us know if you need anything"
We don't.
Even though there was a ton of things we had to do but just couldn't.
Like go to the store.
Or cut the grass.
Or even walk Sophie because we weren't ready to face the world outside of the walls of our house.

And I know people want to help.
They want to know what to do.
They want to know what to say or how to make it better.
And the truth is, even if its only the words that the dental assistant spoke...it is better than saying nothing.

And honestly, what she said was perfect.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I don't get it.

So, just when we're getting life back together.
Just when I am starting to feel better...almost optimistic that life will start to be okay.

I thought it was against the rules to get punched in the face when you were already down in the ring...oh yeah...
In life, there are no rules.

Tim (who works 6 days a week from 7-9 nearly every day) left for work this morning at 8. Yes, we actually decided to sleep in an hour since its Saturday and all...you could say we were living it up.

Someone runs a red light in a desolate intersection.
Tim slams on the brakes...fishtails out of control.
Avoids the other car...
Doesn't avoid the curb.
Curb saves him from rolling over in the ditch in his Jeep.
Other car keeps going...never stops.
The Jeep is towed, back wheel is nearly falling off because he hit the curb so hard.

I've gotten enough bad calls to last me a lifetime.
Didn't need one more, "I've been in an accident."
At least it wasn't from the state police though...

Tim is pretty shook up now. Hard to imagine. As he stood there in the rain and talked to the police I couldn't help but laugh at the different experience levels. Tim is amazing. Always keeps his cool, never freaks out, and is standing there laughing with the cop. I can tell they are talking about the Marines...probably about snipers.
That always seems to come up when they see the stickers on the back windows...

But I'm done.
We're frustrated.
Someone else is an idiot and we get stuck with the $500 deductible and scrambling to find a rental car. Oh yeah, and our insurance company sucks.
We went through Costco thinking they would be with someone good.
Hardly.
I plan on using my writing skills to light up Ameriprise in a very colorful letter to Costco.

But in the meantime...I'm frustrated, sad, pissed off. All the emotions I was finally starting to overcome. So now I just have to wonder,
What is God trying to do anyway?
And does he really have a purpose for these things happening?
I really don't think so...I think he's up there just as sad as we are.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Check it out!

Okay. So its Friday night...I'm finishing my blog that I started earlier and got distracted...
No shocker there.
However-
I found something insanely cool.
And I had to share it with all of those I love:)

Check out this site:
http://www.unclaimed.org/

I have to warn you, its addicting. And your significant other may walk into the room several times and bother you to watch a movie as you search for your family members...your friends...and anyone else you can think of.

If you find something...Wahoo!
And if you find a fortune,
you know where to find me:)

Whoever said money can't buy happiness obviously didn't have any...just joking:)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Whew! That's done...

There are many things for which I am thanking God today.
First, is that yesterday is over.
Second, is that I am finished with those ridiculous tests. And I don't know what the heck flossing has to do with elementary education, but there was a question on the test about it...maybe its the fact that now teachers have to literally teach everything from math to personal hygiene...

It doesn't matter, all I care about is that I am done with it. And hopefully for good. Thank you for all who thought about me and prayed today. I went there this morning with a sense of peace, which was a huge blessing.

Tonight we are goint to attempt to go hear Rob Bell speak about his new book. Super excited, but preparing myself for complete chaos. I'm guessing everyone else will be there too. Since Saturday nights are soooo exciting in Grand Rapids (just a hint of sarcasm there).

Just another attempt to keep moving forward...but even as I type, I'm remembering Will.
Its 5:51 pm on a Saturday night...
Only this time...
I've actually lost count over exactly how many weeks its been.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Three months

Seriously, there are no words today.
The memories are like it happened yesterday...and so are the tears.

I didn't know it was possible to miss someone so much.

Tomorrow I take the Michigan tests that I have to pass in order to transfer my credential over to this state. I pray that my brain goes back to normal for just the day...so I can do what I need to do and pass. I don't know if the added stress from the test is wearing on me or what.
But this is the hardest day I have had in a really long time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

National Day of Remembrance


Its so cold out today...a typical fall day in Michigan.
So this morning, I broke down and finally turned on the heat.
After a little while, something seemed different...
Sophie was MIA. Usually she is glued to my side while I'm home.
After some searching, I found her curled up tightly on her bed in the laundry room.
Then I laughed...she had shoved her bed and was sleeping directly under the heating duct that is positioned about a foot above the floor on the wall.

Our California dog is going to have a rough winter ahead.
And as I knelt down to pet her (and she was very warm!) I thought about how I was going to miss never watching her and Will together.

A little boy and his dog.
There is just something about that...especially when you have a dog as sweet and loving as ours.

And then I remembered what day it is....so today I am remembering Will.
And I am picturing him in heaven with our first baby. Its strange to think that Will would have never been in our lives if the first pregnancy would have gone the way we all thought it would.

But in a large sense, I believe it worked out.
Because we love Will more than we ever dreamed possible. Even if he is only with us now is spirit. This was always according to God's plan, even if it was never considered in ours.

I've been remembering more about those 52 hours with him. Like what we said to him, how I held his little hands...and how grateful I remember feeling that I was able to be there with him. After the c-section, I was so terribly out of it. I thank God every night that he allowed Will to hang on until I could really mentally be there to take in how perfect he was. I was able to stand next to his bed and laugh as I ran my finger across the bottom of his tiny foot. He jerked it away so quick~extremely ticklish just like his dad. And although I never heard him make a cry or any noise, I saw how his eyes opened slightly and took in what a beautiful shade of blue they were. He laid with his little shades over his eyes because of the lights, but his hands were up by his head...how I sometimes sleep. Tim was head over heals in love with him, just as I knew he would be. The role of daddy...one that he had worried so much about...had come so naturally to him. It took him by surprise, but not me...He was a little piece of us all...Will had Tim's skinny legs and cute chin. He had my mouth and nose, along with my Opa & Dad's beautiful distinct blue eyes. His toes were a surprise, they looked my mom's side of the family. How could you not fall in love with him?

Its hard to believe that its been 3 months since we held him last. But we've survived those first three months, we've made it through the toughest. And our faith, although tested beyond belief, managed to grow and become stronger through the suffering.

And so it goes. Just like so many of the things I read while stuck in that tiny room. The one place where I had no distractions, no opportunity to leave...only time to reconsider how strong I had thought my faith was. And so I learned that suffering is God's testing room of faith.

"It is so much easier to trust when the sun is shining than when the storm is raging."

Monday, October 13, 2008

I hate good-byes

I spoke to a friend today. The kind of person that totally understands. Even though he is not yet married and doesn't have any kids. He has suffered through loss in a tremendous sense.

He is leaving for Iraq tomorrow for the 3rd?...no, I am pretty sure 4th time.
He is someone both Tim and I miss a lot.
And although we have said good-bye to him numerous times...
It always puts a pit in my stomach.
Talking to someone before they go to the sandbox (our term for Iraq) is hard no matter if it is your husband, friend, or neighbor.

You fear for them all the same.

Our conversation was what it normally is...discussing what is happening over there in Iraq and Afghanistan (no, I do not watch the news. I prefer to hear what is really happening from someone who actually knows)...this crazy election, and how Pendleton is yet again burning down (another routine event every fall and the range/bullets seems to ignite fires daily). We laughed about who he's dating now, and how I was trying to get back in shape with yoga...he is one of those people who scares me with how physically fit he is.

Then he asked how I was.
Really asked...
And I told him the truth.
Better.
And I knew he believed me. He understands those conditions in which crappy things happen, yet you just deal. Because that is reality of it, you either deal or you don't. He is again, one of those people that has every single right to complain...but he doesn't.

And I admire that.

So as I hung up the phone, something tugged at my heart again.
I hate good-byes.
I've said enough of them to last a lifetime.
But I know he is in good hands...and this tour he'll have a little angel watching over him.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Some of what I missed...



These pictures are for all my Cali friends...especially the ones that thought I was completely insane for wanting to move back to Michigan.

Well, today was the perfect fall day. The kind of day that I moved home for.
The colors are starting to pop out and it is more beautiful than I remember...

There are so many things I love about this season: its cooler, the leaves are changing, its football time...and the apple orchards are the place to be on weekends. Gotta love that.
The last few days, I have been at peace. And really, at this moment, I am not wanting anything more. Its easy to chase after so many things that you think will make you feel better. If I have learned anything from this, its that I take one day at a time and concentrate on being happy no matter what that day brings.
There is good in every single day.
We just have to be open to seeing it.
Even if its only the changing leaves of a tree.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Contentment

I'm sitting here drinking my toffee hot chocolate on a cold and gloomy day.
Its pouring rain and therefore, I felt it unnecessary to get out of my bathrobe.
At least not yet.
There is a battle going on in my heart and in my head.
Content. I am trying to be content. To thank God in all circumstances.

But on days like today...when its dark and rainy, I don't have a sub job lined up, or a Tastefully Simple party to plan for tonight...and so I am just left here in an empty house to think about everything...
Its really hard.
And I know its hard for Tim too.

Our life has gone back to yo-yo mode.
We get up, go to work, come home exhausted...and do it all again the next day.
And as we lay in bed at the end of the day, we can't help but wonder why we do it. I am determined to survive this though...and not come out of it some broken-down distraught person.

On Monday, the county nurse stopped by again to do that study with me on my pregnancy and Will. It was helpful. I enjoy talking about him, and she told me to continue to do so.
No matter what other people say.
She also said that right now, we are climbing a mountain. Every day things may seem a tiny bit better or at least we aren't as bad as right after he died. But then she said, at the 6th month mark we will plummet emotionally.
Uh, good to know I guess.
Then I started figuring out when that would be: January.
Well, that totally sucks. I already dread January...no need to add to that list.

So back to square one, I guess. Right now I am just still trying to function through a normal day. I use to be this highly organized person. The type of person who never found money in a pocket, that had long ago been forgotten. I always knew where everything was...all the time. Now? Forget it. For example: How much is my memory/thought process off? Earlier today I was separating laundry into piles and heard this noise. Confused, I started walking around the house. I had totally forgotten that I was cooking something on the stove. The lid was rattling, that is how hot it had gotten. My sauteed mushrooms looked like little black peas.
Nice.
So while I try to NOT burn down the house...at least I have successfully filled the gas tank of my car recently. We're making progress people.

The cup is half full.
But the house? If I burned that down...then we'd have REAL problems.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Walk to Remember

Today I sent balloons up to heaven.
And just that one thing, letting go of a balloon filled with love and messages for Will...
was in some ways just as hard as letting him go the first time.



As I stood there in the freezing morning air with my mom, I held two balloons. One white for the first baby we would have had this April, and then a blue balloon for Will. And as his name was read aloud by the speaker and I let those balloons go...

I could only cry and pray,
Please God, don't have us add any more balloons to these two I am already holding.

As I watched my balloons float up into the sky (which 0f course was that perfect shade of blue) I became aware of just how many other little souls were up there with Will. And how many other people were taking this same heart-wrenching walk. Those hundreds of balloons, spots in the huge blue sky, is not an image I will soon forget. It was overwhelming and my pictures do not do it justice.

Some, like my mom and I, had fresh tears of a new loss.
Some cried as they held their young children or a new baby, remembering the one they had lost before...
and then there were others, much older, that were finally able to acknowledge their child after so many years of silence. One couple was there wearing a shirt from the first walk~22 years ago.
That is not something I can imagine just yet...although I know that I will think of and miss Will every single day for the rest of my life.

I know that I will be back here each year. It is something I will always do for Will and it is such a beautiful tribute to his short life. And as time progresses, there is hope that maybe one year I can return to that park and release those balloons with a son or daughter. And we can tell them all about their big brother and how he watches over us from heaven.

As I looked up at the sky, I pictured him, and gave thanks for our blessings. We got to meet him, hold him, and have hope that he would be healed.
And I am so grateful to release a balloon, and actually be able to picture exactly who I am doing it for.
But oh, how my heart still aches.
A baby represents so many things; dreams, possibilities, and hope for the future. That is why the loss of a child is so devastating...and these weeks without Will have pushed us further than we ever imagined...and our biggest battle has been not to lose hope...and to continue thanking God in all circumstances.
But today brought new meaning to...hope floats.
Because today it did.
And today I do give thanks for so many things...
including that I have a beautiful baby just waiting to jump into my arms the day I truly go home.
And I will get to hold his little hand...instead of the string attached to a small, blue balloon.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pulaski '08



Who knew Michelob Ultra came in a can?
I for one...did not.
Until tonight.
It was also the first time I drank beer from a can in...forever.
Good times at Pulaski days. It was so much fun.
Culture shock? Oh yeah...
I saw things tonight that I'm pretty sure I haven't seen since the 80's...
teased and then sprayed bangs, black panty hose with red heels, etc.
I'm also pretty sure I inhaled enough 2nd hand smoke to turn my lungs gray.

Welcome back to the Midwest.

When I was admitted to the hospital months ago, I never imagined I'd be hanging out and partying with the same nurses that were taking care of me. Not to mention they have seen me in the worst of times...and they still want to hang out:) And more importantly, they are now helping me get adjusted to life back in Michigan and are showing me the finer things in Grand Rapids...

Like the numerous Polish halls of the west side. Thanks, Jilaine!!
A few things were learned tonight...
I should continue to stay away from beer in a can,
I need to brush up on my Polka moves...

And it is possible to laugh again.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Another Thursday

Yoga is a life saver for me.
Today was crappy, cold, and rainy.
I was in a mood to match and just couldn't shake it.
Then I went to yoga tonight...
and balanced my chi again:)

Earlier I had written out a whole blog, and then the usual happened; I just couldn't post it. That has been happening a lot lately. The words come out as more of a ranting, like some crazy person. That is part of it, I am unable to make sense of things, unable to say what I really mean.
It drives me crazy.
Because I hate being in a sad mood all the time, and unlike other situations...this can't be talked out of. Meaning, its gonna take a whole lot more than a personal pep talk to get me through this. What it comes down to, is it physically makes me sick to my stomach. That gut wrenching feeling you get when something is wrong. And mine just won't go away. Because I can't help but feel that everything I am doing now or that has happened is just that~
Wrong.
But here I am...and doing all of these things I never pictured myself doing. And then it occurred to me, I always get really down on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Its like subconsciously my body is programed to be sad on the three days he was alive.

But I'm hoping this weekend is a deposit in my emotional bank account.

This weekend is going to be either really good, or I am going to pay emotionally and physically.
Friday night I am venturing out with all the nurses and new friends I made while in the hospital. We are going to a little something called Pulaski weekend.
I can assure you one thing: I will be in severe culture shock.
And thanks to the fine state of Michigan being slightly behind in the times...I am sure to pass out from smoke inhalation long before the alcohol hits me.
All I know is that we will be drinking in various Polish tents or bars or whatever they refer to it out here...and I really think its going to be a ton of fun.
Stay tuned for pictures.

Saturday morning is the opposite end of the spectrum. I am going to an event called "A Walk to Remember" that is a memorial/remembrance service to honor babies who died due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death. There will be a balloon release and short walk through a park.
I will be releasing two balloons that day...and I am kind of dreading going. But I am kind of forcing myself, because in order to keep healing...I need to bring the difficult stuff to the surface. And then maybe that awful sick feeling will begin to go away.

And things like that are kind of like yoga.
I really don't want to do it, but once I get there and go...
I feel better and am so thankful I did.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Letter

Its a cold, rainy...finally feeling a lot like fall...day.
Tim is working late and I am sitting here trying to do the same.
Only this time, my work is way harder than his (even if the market did hit rock bottom today).

I'm sitting here trying to type up a letter to be attached to Will's blankets.
A letter that tells why and how these blankets came to be.
And I have no words.

That night we were with him, the hospital gave us so many things.
A lot of those things, came with letters.
I'll be honest. Many of those letters went directly in the trash.
And now I feel terrible about it.

Why? Because those letters were from parents who wanted to reach out to me. And in my frustration and extreme sorrow, I just couldn't handle any more sad stories.
Hell, I couldn't even handle my own.
So that night, I took my anger out on the one thing I could~by throwing those letters out.
I didn't want to hear about any more babies dying.
Because in my idea of a perfect world, that should never be allowed to happen.
And I'd had enough.

And now, just like so many people have said, I feel differently.
A sign that my grief is changing?
Perhaps.
Or maybe, this is how I am dealing with my own loss, by trying to reach out to others in need.
Even if they are like me, and don't want it.

It could go a number of ways: writing the letter could be a small step of healing for me. Reading the letter could help someone else...Throwing away the letter could help someone else.
Either way I don't care what they do with it.
I just want peace of mind that I did it.
That I attempted to tell people why they are now holding these blankets.

But as I sit in front of this computer, I have turned dumb.
Because I don't know how to or even know what I actually want to say.
Or what would even matter.
Because I know the truth, nothing I write can even touch that pain. And it is devastating to even think of another couple going through it. And it seems so inadequate a gesture.

I guess what I would want to hear...is that someone out there was thinking of us.
In my darkest hour, seeing compassion from a complete stranger...who now is no longer a stranger because we share the most heart-wrenching bond.

God will take that letter to who needs it.
I just have to write it...
like those who wrote one for me.
And I have found some, tucked away in Will's memory box. How they got there is a mystery. Why was this one saved and the other thrown away?

So many questions and too few answers. This seems to be the constant in our life.
But we are getting better at living without those answers.
We have to.
Survival instinct is a strange thing. Because even when you don't want to carry on...or can't seem to...it takes over.

As much as things have been so hard, and continue to be, there have been more bright spots lately. Driving home the other night from Indiana (Tim's mom hosted a Tastefully Simple party for me) I realized that for the first time in who knows how long ~ I was content.
Not jumping for joy or giddy with excitement...just content for a moment. Not wanting anything else. Of course, I still want Will here. But for a moment I accepted what has happened...and didn't wrack my brain the whole way home just wondering why.

And I found hope in having that feeling. Because even if it was for only a moment, I remembered what it felt like. And I have to keep believing that things will get better...
even if it is only moment by moment.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall

Red leaves litter our front lawn.
Just one more reason I love being back...this is my favorite season.
But...you won't catch me outside with a rake.
Not until every last single leaf has fallen from the tree.
Which buys me enough time to make it to November.
But...it could always snow first.

I've made several promises to Cali friends that I would take some pictures of the awesome colors. But I am waiting for that perfect, sunny day when the view from our back patio is stunning. A few more weeks and we should be there.

This last week or so, I have been too busy to think.
Too busy to write on this blog.
Too busy to grieve.
Definitely not a good thing.
And yet, if someone were to ask me what I have been busy doing...

I don't have a clue.
Everything is still a blur without him...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sick

Time keeps going so fast.
Monday night we went to our 2nd support group at the hospital/my old home.
Tim came with me this time, and I was glad for that.
The nurse we had the night Will died was there.

At the beginning of the meeting, she began to speak and the tears instantly came.
That voice.
Hearing it brings back memories and feelings and something oddly familiar...
and Tim and I are still having one of our more difficult weeks even days later.

But I am so thankful that they have this once a month. Because for one hour I don't feel alone. And I can say whatever I want to say, and be mad, and cry, and say things that may sound crazy to others not in our situation....but everyone there nods their heads and agrees. So either all of those crazy emotions for us are normal or we are all a little crazy.

I don't know how we can go through this and not be, actually.
My favorite phrase from a couple that talked that night,
"We won the s**t lottery."
It was good to laugh out loud. Because every couple sitting at that table, felt the same.

Because for people like us, the reminders are constant and overwhelming.
Pregnant women everywhere.
Babies everywhere.
Kids everywhere.
And feeling like you are the only one having problems having a baby...everywhere.

And for us...with our empty arms and broken hearts...we feel as if we have gotten...nowhere.

After group, we were asked by our nurse if we would like to be involved in a group of parents that will be put together to help the NICU address more of our needs, but for future parents.
Absolutely.
We talked about that night with her. And it has been awhile, so I really had to think.
The trauma of it leaves much blurry. But I remember specific things, like scenes from a movie.

And still the hardest concept to grasp, is that we are parents...but yet we aren't because he isn't here with us. The question comes up all the time, "Do you have any kids?"

Well, the other day when I was subbing in a 4th grade classroom, a student asked me just that.
And I answered,
"Yes, but he came a little early this summer so he isn't here anymore. But the blessing is that I get to teach you guys now, and I love to teach."

Then what happens? The teacher calls me last night, because I am supposed to teach 3 more days in her room this week and next,...and tells me that she isn't upset but a parent complained that I was inappropriate telling the kids that. And then she asked that I don't mention him again.

As if I wasn't hurting enough already.
A parent complaining about me? I felt as if whatever living part of me was left, was just snuffed out.
Tears. Again. Overwhelming me. Feeling like I had done something wrong, when all I did was speak of my son. All I did was answer a question. Nothing more.
If someones child died, would they lie that they ever existed?
Every time I answer no, I feel as though Will is looking down on me and thinks I am ashamed to speak of him.

And it kills me.

But I guess that is what I will have to do, in order not to be judged.
In order not to have people tell me that I cannot talk of my child. And in my heart, I know I did nothing wrong. No details were given...
I simply acknowledged that he had lived.
Because that is all I can do.
And now I am left today with anxiety, extreme sadness, and feeling like someone just punched me in the gut...like he just died all over again.
The tears I had managed to stop over the last few days, now flow relentlessly.
And then there is anger mixed in with that sadness,
At how stupid some people really are.

So a decent day yesterday, and then one phone call set me back nearly all the progress I had made in the last week. And I am trying so hard. So, so hard. I really can't try any more.
And now I am just pleading with God...

Please... just make something good come from this. Because I need it more than ever.

Monday, September 22, 2008

GVSU



Nothing like a busy weekend to get out of a rut. Well, almost.

Saturday I woke up convinced to have a good day. The sun was shining, I had a Tastefully Simple party during the day and that night we were going to a football game with my dad.

Things were on track until I was driving to the party and there it was: another stupid thing happening to me (if you are confused, please refer back to the previous post)


I went straight to nervous breakdown mode.
What could possibly put me over the edge?
A closed exit on the freeway.
A closed exit, with no detour...which led me to the 'hood.
Normally, I wouldn't care.
But driving around in my Audi with Cali plates in an area I had no idea about...in my mindset...was not a priority on my "to-do" list.

Because I honestly pity anyone that would try to do anything.
There's no telling what 6 months of pent-up rage might cause me to do.
Good thing for Tim. He talked me through the tears and frustration. And he looked on Mapquest. Why was I so frustrated? I'm allowed to get lost in California where the streets are windy and go all which ways...not in Michigan: where I grew up and the streets are planned in a grid lock pattern. So...I was late too. Another thing that I hate. But what gets me the most is this is how grief works, and its horrible. Getting infuriated over small things is not me at all.
But the party was fun. Met lots of great people, who shocked me by saying they read this blog. Again, proof that this whole thing is so beyond my ability to fully understand just how many lives have been touched by Will.

I got home feeling like I had at least accomplished something. Unlike when I came home from subbing on Thursday and immediately poured a glass of wine and grabbed a carton of Ben & Jerry's.
Enough said.

The rest of the day proceeded without incident.
That night we put on our GVSU shirts and headed to the first football game we have been to as alumni...not students.
Wow. How things have changed.
Not just the school. But us too.
The last football field I was on....was USC's.
Grand Valley's field looked like some high school, and I was shocked.

Just another moment for me when I realized...for as much as I hated so many things about California...being out there shattered my rose colored glasses. And whether I like it or not, living in Orange County has left a permanent mark on me.

I'm still deciding if that is a good or bad thing. Probably both.
And that goes hand in hand with the question we get asked the most...
"Why did you move from California to Michigan?"
Our answer has never changed, only our circumstance: to raise a family...
Now we are just left with more questions that have no answers.
But today I can look up to the heavens and say something that I couldn't bring myself to say before and actually mean it:
I trust you.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

White flag

After my last blog I posted on Wednesday, I had a few days of sheer meltdown...things were really rough. So rough that Friday I did not leave the house.
I think I cried more in those three days than in the entire last month combined.
Which pretty much means that I was crying constantly. Crying while I walked to take Sophie outside, while I cleaned the house, while I mowed the lawn.
Not sure what brought it on, but it doesn't matter: I couldn't get a grip.
So...I just let it come.

Maybe it was the two month anniversary, or a sudden surge of hormones, or working again, or just getting overly tired...
But whatever it was,
I was waving my white flag.

But what got me really down were small things mounting on top of this one big thing.
I'm not so sure I believe in luck, whether its good or bad. But whatever we have here in life, whether its God's purpose, with a little combination or luck or fate or chance...
I just happen to have stupid crap happen to me.
And it about drives me over the edge.
Its like my friend said,
"Julie, you would win the lottery and then the ticket would get lost."

Exactly.

My experiences lately have been frustrating. More frustrating than usual because I'm not in the usual sort of mindset to deal with it as I have in the past. Because in the past I would usually laugh or make fun of it and then shrug it off.

Its been like driving through a mall parking lot during the holidays. No parking spots, the tension and frustration mount. Then three rows over you see a spot. The sun shines again.
There is hope that you will now be able to park the car and move onto the next step...which is what you have been waiting for~shopping.
Then, out of nowhere someone takes that spot.
But you saw it first.
And you decided that because you saw it, and could see yourself parking there...it was yours.
But that spot was never yours....

And un-beknownst to you, it was never meant to be.
It was only your parking spot in your head.
And now you are back to square one. Or so you think...
because all you can dwell on is what would've happened if you had gotten that parking spot.

I know...crazy. I have officially gone crazy. Or so I thought I had, for a few days anyways.
Because so many little, stupid things happened and I just couldn't handle it on top of what I am already dealing with. And I won't go into what all happened. Because they are stupid...and maybe even a little funny now that they are in the past. But what's important is how annoyed I was, even angy, when they happened.
So lately, when I really don't know what to pray for anymore...because sometimes I feel that I don't pray for the right thing anyways...

I simply pray for the strength to take something good away from all of this...
and for the ability to conquer all those little stupid things life dishes out...and to just let it go.