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.