Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Begin Again

I panicked when I woke up this morning and realized it's been 6 months since I turned 40. I'm already half a year in to this significant year and what do I have to show for it? What of all those good intentions to get healthy and be a better me? Will I always be stuck in good intentions that never go anywhere?
Time is rolling away from me and I can't catch up. It takes my breath away when I think about it. I need to begin, today, right now, I need to begin again.
So this morning, after I dropped the kids off to school, I laced up my running shoes and drove to my parents cemetery. It is one of my favorite places to be. Rolling hills tucked within old towering trees. Huge old historic monuments. A paved road weaving through the sprawling grounds. The morning is gray and it's drizzling but it's warm for February. Winter isn't over yet but there's been a reprieve from the cold and the snow this past week.
I can't remember the last time I ran. I don't even think I CAN run but here I am, running, or more like shuffling, but it's a start. It’s so peaceful and quiet. I can only hear my breath, my footsteps, and some squirrels playing in the trees. My legs are tired but I'm coming back to me; I'm coming back to life. I’m determined to be as alive as I can these days.
I turn a bend near my parents monuments and there right in front of me are three deer, munching on grass. I stop and watch them and feel the wild life within me grow. I had no idea how dead I have felt for so long.
It doesn’t matter how many times I have to begin again. It's ok. I can begin again and again.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Apple of My Eye

Not only is it my brother's birthday today but it is also my dad's. I've always thought it was so cool they shared a birthday. My dad would have been 79 this year. April will be 15 yrs that he's been gone. He died only 4 short months after his Glioblastoma diagnosis. The Christmas before he died, he wrote me a note. I was in Seattle at the time in grad school and received his note in the mail. At this point, due to his illness, writing was very laborious for him and his once beautiful handwriting was now chicken scratch. But I could still read, "You are still the apple of my eye." At the time, I didn't really know what it meant but through the years, I've looked into the meaning and discovered: "treasured, protected, precious, able to withstand much hardship and difficulty and still be preserved." I didn't know he was dying when I got this note. I didn't know this would not only be the last thing he ever wrote to me but also the best Christmas gift he had ever given me.

I love this watercolor painting by artist Angela Moulton. It's not perfect; it's messy. Like relationships. Like my relationship with my dad. We were not close in the years before his death. That was both his fault and my own. I deeply regret our distance but am so grateful for the healing we were able to find during those 4 months before his death and how it has continued for me, even after his death. I love this apple. This is me. This is my dad. This is our relationship. And still I'm the apple of his eye.
Happy birthday, dad. Pie and ice cream must be amazing in heaven.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Making Things Right

Last night was a bit of a rough evening for my son and me. He went to bed and I was still angry and found it hard to let go. I don't like ending the day like that but sometimes it takes time to sort it all out and I’m realizing that's okay. It's been important to my husband and me to teach our kids the concept of “making things right” when they have done something hurtful or unkind. I used to believe that had to look a certain way - mainly a genuine spoken “I’m sorry.” But that's certainly not something we can force if we want it to come from the heart. And I am learning that it may not be how my children will most genuinely express themselves. My children have taught me that there is more than one way – more than just my way - of doing things. And I need to give them time and space and freedom to find their own way.

Just before we left for school this morning, my son was finishing his breakfast and out of the blue says, "You're a good mom." And I realized, in that moment, in his own way, he was apologizing and seeking to make it right between us. This morning I could have lectured him about the night before. I could have insisted he apologize. But I realized how important it is to let our kids make things right in their own way and in their own time. They can take as long as they need to get to true repentance. There are consequences in the meantime – broken trust and hurt feelings lead to disconnection and that takes time to rebuild. But I don't need to rush it or insist it look a certain way. I wasn't ready to forgive last night. He wasn't ready to seek forgiveness.  And then he was. He opened his heart and offered it to me - so simply and so true to himself. And I opened my heart and forgave.  I’m so glad I couldn’t control how my son chose to make things right with me. If I could, I would have missed out on his heart – and what a precious, creative and loving heart he has.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hand On My Heart

I wrote this for my mom on her last Mother's Day, a month before her death. After she read it, she told me she wished she could take it with her, when she goes. I wish now, I had thought to put it in her casket.

My 4 year old daughter cries out for me in the middle of the night, yet again, and I go in to lay down next to her, the only way she'll go back to sleep these days. And I don't really mind. This stage will pass by all too quickly, just like all the ones before. There will come a time when she no longer wants me to lay down next to her. (And yet, maybe it won't. After all, as you like to tease me, “I'm pushing 40” and I still like to lie down next to you, especially with a pile of children's books.)

For as long as this will last, I will go to my daughter when she cries out for me. I want her to know without a doubt that I will always be here for her. And I know where that comes from... You were always here for me. Always. When I was sick, when I was sad. Countless times I cried out at night and you came in and sat with me in the dark. With a cold washcloth, with a cool hand upon my face. With comforting words or just your comforting presence. In my successes and through my failures. In my joy and in my sorrows. Whether I was across the hall, across town or across the country, I could always call you and you were there. Even in this, your death, just last week, you told me, “I don't want you to feel like you need to hide your sadness from me.” Still being here for me.

I've been pretty numb these days. But tonight, I'm starting to feel. This afternoon, you asked the nurse, “this left sided weakness, what's the worse it's going to progress? Am I going to be bedridden?” “Yes,” the nurse said, “it will most likely progress to that.” And I could see that hit you in the face. What's to come. I know you are ready to go. It's the getting there that you are not looking forward to.
It hurts to think of what they predict will come. I don't want that for you. All we can do is hold on to the Hope that the suffering you have to go through now is nothing compared to the joy to come. I pray for God's peace and comfort and ever presence upon you. He is your Shepherd and will lead you through this, to lie down in green pastures and besides still waters – such peaceful and restful images.
Keep your eyes on Jesus. Like a mother with her child, He will always be here for you.

There will come a time when you can't physically be here any more. What an emptiness and sadness that will leave. And yet, something happens between a child and their mother. With or without you, you are always with me. Inside me, just as Jesus is in my heart. Like I tell my kids, when they are away from me and missing me, I tell them I am always with them, even when I can't be; to put their hand on their heart and that's where I am. And you. You will always be with me in my heart. I can already see myself, my hand on my heart.  

I didn't know we'd only have a month left. I realize now, I was saying goodbye. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

4th Birthday

It was my daughter's 4th birthday and I had the flu. I had already been in bed for 2 days and it didn't look like it was finished with me yet. Those who know me know how much I love throwing parties for my kids and celebrating them. It's like my thing.

And this year, it was the night before her birthday and I could barely get out of bed. We had canceled her party for the following day and I asked my husband, hot tears on my cheeks, can't we just cancel her birthday too? I mean, just postpone it til I am feeling better? She won't know it's her actual birthday. She's only four, she barely knows the days of the week. And her seven year old brother, well, he doesn't really know the exact date of her birthday, right? I had so much planned that was undone... decorating her bedroom door for her to wake up to, making a special birthday breakfast, presents that weren't wrapped yet.

My husband just put the cold washcloth back on my forehead and ask if he could get me anything before he turned out the light and left me with my fever-delirious thoughts of canceling my daughter's birthday.

Before I fell in a fitful sleep, I set my alarm for 2:00 a.m. My daughter's time of birth. Every year, on my children's birthdays, I take a “time of birth” picture. Though I was sick, I was determined not to miss out on this tradition. But by 1 a.m. I had barely slept. I was exhausted, my body ached and my head was pounding. There would be no "time of birth" picture this year. I turned off my alarm, rolled over and fell asleep.

My body violently jerked awake and I could feel her being pulled out of my belly. I looked at the clock and it read 2:00 a.m. It was then I realized, I can't just pretend it's not her birthday. My body will never forget. And I realized, gratefully, my daughter's birthday is so much more than just her mommy celebrating her. She also has a daddy and a brother and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends and neighbors who want to love on her and bring her flowers and gifts and sing her happy birthday. Why would I want to postpone this for my daughter?

So my daughter celebrated her birthday weekend without her mommy. And she was just fine. She was actually more than fine. She went sledding at her G & Pop Pop's, her daddy bought her pink tulips and they went out for birthday donuts. When I can't take over my daughter's birthday, her Daddy gets to celebrate her, in his own way. Which meant, when his birthday cake came out lopsided, he turned it into a mountain for Elsa and Anna to snowboard down. Her brother helped decorate it and the birthday girl loved it!

While I was sad to miss my daughter's birthday, I'm also grateful for all the people in her life to love on her and not only celebrate her, but celebrate her so well, in each their own ways.  

Happy 4 baby girl! You are so loved.