"You are a warrior. Warriors don't give up and they don't back down. Pick up your sword and shield and fight."
- Unknown Author
My eldest son had an assist at his game this weekend. I missed the assist because I was with the youngest on his own soccer field at his last game of the year. This is how life rolls for our “terrific trio.”
I have spent the last three years telling our stories, sharing our pain and our triumphs and trying to bring awareness to something that most people don’t deal with in their entire lifetimes and definitely not when they are 30.
Life itself has not gotten any easier. In many areas things have gotten more difficult. Cognitive levels of the boys have increased. The understanding that he’s not coming back is real. Growing up fatherless does really happen.
I can safely say at this point though that we have adapted to a new way of life. We have adapted to single parenting. We have adapted to half the attention a typical child receives. We have adapted to being by ourselves at times when we should be surrounded by others. We have adapted to the looks, the stares, the questions and the wonder we receive everywhere we go with just our mom. We have adapted to events specific to “fathers”, to events specific to families, and to events specific to grief. While most kids were at basketball or music camp throughout the summer months, we attended Camp Healing Hearts for those who have suffered loss.
We are warriors. We will wield our shields and swords and we fight. Together. The three of us.
Daily challenges for each of us come in different forms. We continue to deal with those that feel there is a grieving period and that all three of us should have moved on by now. We should be able to cope. We should be able to concentrate at school. We should no longer be crying they say.
We deal with the students in class that want to know where our dad is when they insist on having events centered around having a dad present. We deal with the kids that say we are lying when we tell them our dad died. We deal with the people who don’t understand us. We deal with a mom who still cries and a mom who tries to wear both hats and do it all. We deal. We fight. Why? Because as I often tell people, there is no other choice.
There continues to be a feeling of injustice. A sense of unfairness and a layer of heaviness that surrounds the three of us. It is difficult to watch the boys mature and grow without their dad. It is difficult to hear that they don’t remember him. It is difficult to hear their anger and their sadness. It is difficult to listen to their anxiety that I will not live forever. It is difficult to listen to their fears. It is difficult for me to deal with my own anxiety and fear while being in the midst of theirs.
What they have however gained is an inordinate amount of resiliency. These two boys know how to adapt to any situation. They know the horrors and reality of life and they know the permanency of death. They may be invisible but I promise they carry their swords and they hold them high.
To try to quantify my growth over the past three years is impossible. The loss of my husband made my already hardened heart both harder and softer at the same time. It assisted me in sharing how I feel and expressing my deepest thoughts with others. It expanded my beliefs and thoughts of others. It increased my empathy and opened my eyes.
It made me appreciate the gift of time; the gift of life.
The three of us are so very thankful for the support, love and encouragement you have provided. I appreciate each person who took the time to follow us on our journey, who picked us up and took time to comment and send us emails. I have decided after much back and forth that it is time to end our family blog. The time simply feels right.
I hope you smile when you see someone driving down the road with something hanging from their car door.
Offer to help the person on the beach lugging two small children on their own.
Be present. Don't be the help that disappears.
Hold on to those you love a little tighter.
Dance in your living room to loud music.
And as my husband said, "Focus on what you do everyday. Give a damn about what you're doing. Stay positive. and remember that you always think there will be more time. There rarely is."
We are so very appreciative of the support. Daniel said in one of his earliest videos that he is fighting and he will continue to fight. Our family that went from four to three, like Daniel, are fighting and we continue to fight. We are warriors. Warriors don't give up and they don't back down. We pick up our swords and shields and fight everyday. We survive. And more importantly we live.
For some reason, sometime over the past few months I have lost my voice. I have written several posts only to be discouraged by my own words, thus not allowing myself to share my thoughts. I could provide several reasons for this. Sometimes, life simply beats you down. I know in my heart it is time for things to turn.
My heart, my head and my body are all screaming that three years is enough and that I have to find a way to move forward. The grief however, does not come to an end. My children are reminders each and every morning. Their thoughts, their feelings and their sorrows lead me to a daily mental struggle. I am not embarrassed to admit that sometimes I feel that it is all too much. Sometimes, I feel that I cannot continue on at this pace.
But then these two amazing creatures that Daniel and I created together sing off key in the car, dance through the living room with wild abandon and crawl into my bed at night to provide comfort. Their laughter and their joy are constant reminders that they are the reason I carry on each day.
I believe good things are coming. I have to. Sometimes, when it’s dark, I simply need some small reminders. Small reminders, and possibly, a bit of compassion.
“I don’t remember daddy’s voice anymore,” Lucas said on the way home from school about two weeks ago. “Do you want to hear Daddy’s voice? I have it.” “Yeah, I do.”
Riding home from school we jump from jamming to the Cupid Shuffle to searching for “Daniel Shomate” on YouTube. His voice fills the car. Tears spring to my eyes. I feel Lucas staring at me from his booster seat that is quickly getting too small. Where is the time going I wonder as I stare at his long legs. The exact replicas of his fathers. Tears pour from my cheeks.
“Is that Daddy,” he asks?
“Yes, these are videos Daddy left for us.”
“Can I see your phone?”
“Is that daddy too?”
“Yes, these are pictures of us and of Daddy when he was little. We can watch these together too.”
“I want to go to heaven,” chimes Reed.
“I don’t want to go to heaven states Lucas. I just want Daddy to come back here.”
“Me too Lucas, me too.”
Cognitively, my six year old is coming to many realizations about the permanency of our situation. Literature regarding his developmental stage in relation to his understanding of death states that he is “able to understand the finality of death and that he may have numerous questions.” We have moved from the stage of this being temporary or reversible to recognizing and understanding the finality.
Lucas understands the finality all too well. He understands that his dad is absent when 11 teammates line up on the baseball field and 10 dads are present.
Reed understands his dad’s absence when his baseball coach makes a loud announcement inviting fathers to come out and help on the field.
Lucas feels his dad’s absence to his core when his school holds a “Donuts with Dad” event during the school day. Yes, I would just skip the event if it were after school, however as we all know life is not that simple. He feels the absence at school each and every morning this event is announced on the school news leading up to the event.
They both understand the absence of their father at all family events and each and every day in seeing all the other kids at school and on the fields and in the community interacting with their fathers. They understand. And honestly, so do all the other kids.
We as a society must embrace that families are changing. The traditional family structure in the United States that has been considered the “nuclear” family consists of two parent and two kid households. However, this two-parent, nuclear family is becoming less and less prevalent, and alternative family forms are becoming more and more common. Over time, divorce, single-parent families, teenage pregnancy, same- sex marriage, and increased interest in adoption has changed the once traditional structure. Over 25% of children are currently being raised by single parents.
“Is Daddy coming back from heaven?”
“No Reed, Daddy is not coming back. People can’t come back from heaven.”
“But some people do.”
“No, baby, people don’t come back from heaven.”
The three of us get up every day. We go to school. We go to work. We smile. We play. We contribute, because that is who we are. We are a unit. We ask that you please just think. And not just about us but think about the person next to you at the grocery. The neighbor. The person sitting next to you at church. The mom who’s kid is wearing pajamas in public. Think and be aware.
We are all fighting our own internal battles. Think beyond yourself.
A little compassion goes a very long way.
Ten weeks of reruns begin this Friday. Anniversaries of bad news after bad news. The beginning and sometimes what I feel like was the end. I know and understand logically that I am still here on Earth. That I am still breathing and participating in life. What I know at the same time however is that part of my soul was taken almost three years ago. A part of me died that day too.
I started this blog post several weeks ago and it was so negative that I didn’t feel like I could post it. So I have patiently waited and waited for everything to fall into place. Waited for things to align.
“You are so weird.” A colleague referred to me this week after asking about a part of my life that has become uncomfortable and difficult. I find no offense in the comment. In fact I responded “I know.”
I know that all of you extroverts out there find my “private nature” to be odd or weird as I was referred to this week. As a general rule I’m an extremely private person and yes, I realize this is contradictory to what this blog presents. I’m stunted in my verbal communication abilities and thus writing works for me. I am a better listener than a talker and when asked a question I am direct and straight forward.
I remember walking into a classroom not that long ago and making an off hand comment about my children driving me crazy. It was not necessarily negative, simply indicative of the morning we had. Who knows now what happened that particular day. It could have been spilled milk as we were walking out the door or it could have been the ultimate throw down over pants with buttons. (Yes, the struggle is real. They simply do not like pants with buttons.)
Anyhow, the point is that as I complained about my amazing children, the teacher in front of me simply smiled. Little did I know she and her husband had been trying for some time to have children. My one simple comment that I didn’t think twice about probably made her cringe. The same way that the person who told me a few days ago that it was easier to deal with her kids when her husband wasn’t around. That she wishes he just stayed away made me inhale sharply.
Last week I met with my grandmother at a McDonald’s to say hi as I passed through her town while traveling home from Kentucky. An older man (87 to be exact) approached our table and asked her how long she’d been married. She responded with 30 years. “Huh,” he huffed. “My wife and I have been married 64.” He turns to me, “These the only two you have? “Yes.” “Huh,” he replies again.
Like me, my grandmother is widowed as well. I’m sure she would have liked to say she was married 60 years however life doesn’t always give us the choice. Sometimes things happen outside of our control. Would I have had more children? I’m not sure. I’d like to think maybe, but that was not a choice I was given.
I always circle back to the friend who told me right after Daniel died that only I could handle this. I often wonder what she saw in me that I am missing right now. I have suffered through as many “I miss daddy’s” as my heart can handle. I have fought as many battles on my own as I can. I am trying my damndest to “handle this” but I can admit that I am not doing it with grace. I am doing it by then skin of my teeth.
“Suck it up buttercup,” comes to mind from another friend. She doesn't use it with me but I can hear her voice now. I agree. I gain nothing from wallowing. I will get up tomorrow, put on my heels and find this strength that others believe I have. I will continue to move forward. I will persevere.
“It’s the lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself.” Muhammad Ali
That’s what I’ve been on this week. A lot of “back woods roads.” For those of you who’ve spent your life in the city and don’t know what these are, I apologize. Growing up in Kentucky, you learn to drive on back woods roads. You cross town to visit friends’ homes and you travel these curvy winding roads full of hair pin turns. You think; I could get there in about a quarter of the time if the engineers would have just straightened these out. Roads that are lacking full pavement. Roads that are often dark, possibly a bit scary and occasionally may cause your skin to crawl. No I don’t want to be out here alone, but that’s how it’s felt this week. I’ve been stuck on these back woods roads.
“Do you want to get in it?” “No, thanks. I’m good.” A blank stare, a bit of a challenge. “Well, maybe I do. Sure, I will.” “You never know when you might want photos with you in them.”
Oh lady, if you only knew who you were talking to. I do in fact know that I should be in the photos with my kids. I know to move out from behind the camera. I know how important each of these memories is to record, because following her line of thinking; yes I in fact do know that in the blink of an eye one of us may be absent in the future.
Driving home from the Riverbanks Zoo I scan the photo of the three of us and I’m glad I jumped in. I’m glad I was present and active. After a week in which I’ve felt I’ve been lost on those back wood roads all alone this simple night out brought everything up in one quick moment.
Tis the season for flying elves, gingerbread houses, presents, Rudolph, magic and difficult days and nights for many. Several “you look tired” comments have flown my way. Yes, as I’ve said before I see my own lines each morning. I know when I cry myself to sleep that I age ten years over night. I’ve got it folks, but feel free to keep pointing it out. If you look closer you can even see the tracks of my tears.
Why the angst? Why the difficulty? Why now? Talk to me, don’t shut me out. It’s not that simple friends. Do you ever talk to someone about work? About your kids? About your family your interests, your own trauma and angst? Do you ever share something with someone and you think they just don’t get it? They can’t possibly understand? I’m glad you don’t understand, I’m ecstatic but it doesn’t change fact and fact is I’m in these back woods alone. I am lost on these roads turning left and right and squeezing the steering until my knuckles are white and my palms red.
I left my in-laws; I guess they are still my in-laws, home this week after celebrating Christmas together. We had a great visit, couldn’t have gone better. The boys are so fun and bring such light to any and all situations. There’s simply heaviness in the air. The absence is so prominent. It’s no one’s fault. It really was a great night, but on the drive home my mind just spins and won’t stop.
Your mom gave me this photo of you and my heart melted. This would have been right around the time we met fifteen years ago. I drove home and early memories flooded. I cried. I listened to the Rod Stewart CD you bought me a million years ago and I yearned to share with you, to laugh, to annoy you with my off key singing. To get on you about your erratic driving that your grandma and I talked about tonight. To reminisce. To process. To love.
I’m on these back wood roads Daniel and I need a little help getting off.
Whack, whack, whack.... whack, whack, whack... whack, whack, whack
Driving my usual way, like a bat out of hell, quizzing Lucas for his sight word test, and feeding Reed his breakfast, we squeal up to the curb in front of the elementary school this morning with mere minutes to spare.
“Have a great day, I love you, nail those words, and go!” I frantically yell.
He flings open the door and jumps from the car. The guidance counselor is standing at the curb to greet him as she usually does in the mornings. She looks at me, smiles and says, “Hey Rachel, you have a charger cord hanging out your car door.”
I look down and instantaneously burst out laughing- “THAT.” I holler through the back seat, “is my life right now.” My manic laughter sends the boys into giggles as well. They don’t know what they are laughing at; they just know that mommy thinks something is hilarious so it must be hilarious.
"Whack, whack, whack" mirrors the hamster wheel we are caught on. Frantically running from one thing to the next, not really sure whether any of us are accomplishing anything. Not really sure whether or not we are moving forward, just that we are moving.
Am I running from something? Probably. Am I running to something? Doubtful. I’m just running.
Lucas brought home a drawing from school today that said “My family. I love you. I am sorry that dad died. Together we will be okay.”
Wow, I thought. Maybe I am doing something right.
Whack, whack, whack. That’s us. And that’s ok. It’s more than ok because according to Lucas “Together we will be ok.”
When you see a woman driving down the road like a bat out of hell, with some inanimate object hanging from her door, beating the heck out of her car, simply smile. Grab the laugh where you can. I’m not embarrassed in the least. I’m human. And frankly, the three of us will always have something hanging out our car doors.
“Your memories from this week four years ago” came across my email today. I saw the headline in my inbox and knew better than to look at it at that moment. A day filled with high emotions, hardships and a few of my own stressors, I knew immediately this needed to be viewed later while in private. I didn’t know exactly what would be there but a pretty good assumption was that Daniel would be front and center.
Already feeling as though I may not survive the afternoon, I waited until I got home. I allowed the boys to have some iPad time because frankly I needed some me time. I sat down and hesitantly opened the email. The top photo was Daniel with Lucas, then almost 2, and newborn Reed on a hay ride. That day marked the first time we visited this Charlotte area farm that has now become an annual tradition. Seeing him doesn’t always make me cry but damn did I need him today, and that very thing is what opens the flood gates. A void that cannot be filled by someone else, an alcoholic beverage or even a long run.
This is simply part of life. I know. I know. I KNOW.
Some days I just want to quit. Don’t ask me what that looks like. I don’t even know. I simply know that this is hard.
I do recognize that I am not alone. I live other people’s traumas every day. I listen to the parent who feels at the end of their rope with their child’s behavior. I empathize because I am right there with you. I listen to the woman who can’t get pregnant and can’t understand why. I can’t empathize with your situation but I promise I know what unfairness in life feels like. I listen to the friend who says her marriage is over. I can’t empathize with you but I know loss. I listen to the friend who's parent was just diagnosed with cancer. I empathize with you because I know cancer. I listen to my son as he asks a stranger if he will be his dad. I can’t possibly empathize but I know more than anything how desperately we both yearn for the same person to return to our lives.
What do you say? What the hell was I supposed to say when a man we’ve known for a short period of time as a coach simply stares back at me? I said nothing. For someone who usually has a comeback for everything, I was once again speechless. I hung my head and climbed in the car.
I am plagued with daily morning questions: Where is dad? Does he have a headstone? Was he a good driver? Did he like this song? Can we send him this flower? It’s constant right now from not one but from both. I love talking about their dad but sometimes it is so hard.
I’m telling you. If you want to quit, I empathize. I know how it feels to be drowning. I know how it feels to muddle through quicksand. I know how it feels when the weight compressing your chest won’t let up. I promise I know how it feels when you think it will never get better. I can’t promise you it will. What I can promise you is that you must keep going. You have to keep getting up and pushing through. There will be a time that you look back and think “wow, I made it.” I don’t know when it will happen, but it has to. And it will.
That question was posed to me today by an acquaintance. What a question. A pretty typical question for someone who hasn’t experienced loss. Am I over it? What is it exactly? What exactly do you believe I should be getting over? His death? Absence of the person? Hurt? Anger? Feelings of injustice? Daily loneliness? The recognition that I’m chasing someone and something I can never have? That sometimes I feel his presence? That sometimes I still reach for him at night?
And what does over mean? A sense of moving on? Forgetfulness? Pushing forward? No longer curling up in the fetal position in the back of my closet? No longer feeling like I can’t possibly breathe one more day? No longer feeling like I’m drowning? I ask myself time and time again how can it be that I am breathing but don’t feel as though I am living?
No. I am NOT OVER IT.
Sometime over the course of the last week I wrote the darkest blog I have thus far. I chose not to share it then but will share some of it today. I woke in the middle of the night because sleepless nights have resurrected themselves again. I awoke with a start and realized I was crying. I’m not exactly sure what prompted this bout, but I knew I needed to get these feelings off my chest. I grabbed my phone and began vomiting these words of hurt and injustice and sorrow. Crying and shaking, finding my voice, releasing the loss, the hurt, the struggle.
My husband died two years ago and part of me died too. I can't get that part of me back. I live through my kids. I run them from point a to point b and I don't stop. I have no me. They are me. I am their mom. Period. I meet someone and I feel so guilty. I make unfair comparisons. I can't imagine life with them because I can't imagine life without Daniel. I feel like I'm crazy. I'm no longer the counselor but the client. I try to do things for me and someone refers to me as being self-centered. My breath catches, I want to scream the most profane thing I can think of at them, but I can’t because they have kicked me when I am down. They have stolen my breath.
I get up every day. I work my ass off to function every day. I keep it together when my kid tells me he wants to take the last family picture we have to school to show his friends his dad. I hold it together day in and day out when my kids ask me about spirits being in heaven and what their dad is doing when he’s there. I hold it together when all they want is to share something with him and him alone. I hold it together when our youngest climbs into bed and unprompted says I love you daddy.
I hold IT together.
All I want is a day where I can feel normal again. I want me back. I want to find myself. I want to move forward but my feet are stuck in cement. Life does that sometimes. We get stuck. We all have our own shit. We all struggle for breath at times. We go through phases where our faith is tested, periods of internment with our spouse, days when our feelings get stripped by our loved ones, times when the person on the other end of the phone is rude, times when we feel unbalanced, struggles that we don't understand, times when we want to give up. I know that the cement is not permanent. I know that I am simply leaving an impression. I may even leave my cutest pair of high heels in that cement but one day the light will shine again and one day I will no longer be in those shoes. I will look back and sigh with relief. I will recognize that the cement was part of the bigger picture. I will get through this. I will use my strength to continue to hold IT together and so will you.
I recently read a chapter on secondary trauma. This occurs when professionals experience stress or symptoms of trauma when working with traumatized children and families. I experience this often as a therapist, and today I experienced it as a friend.
A very good friend of mine's family member is dying. She is currently at the same hospital that Daniel received his hernia surgery in. Today I sported Kentucky blue high heels instead of the black and white stripes that I wore the morning I was told my husband was dying. I passed the waiting room and ominously glanced toward the chair that I sat in that morning, slowly watching the clock continue to tick past the time I was promised he would be done. I rode in the large elevator silently upstairs to the fifth floor instead of the fourth. The fifth floor does in fact however mirror the fourth. I passed the chair in that lobby where I curled up and called his boss. Where I called my boss and struggled to get the words out.
The smells that assaulted my nostrils were the same. Nurses continuously went in and out to check the vitals and administer the medications, not allowing her to rest. This was the very same way we spent our night together on the fourth floor before being released into the next ten weeks of trauma. I offered a suggestion for hospice as the nurse for palliative care entered the room. I held my tears at bay knowing instinctively that tears would not help this situation, as they rarely do.
I left this afternoon holding onto every ounce of strength I possessed and walked past the very chairs where I sat with my friend who brought me dinner and clothes that first fateful night. I remember her questions. I remember her blank expression. I remember stating that things were "not good." What an understatement. Little did I know at the time, that evening would begin a tornado that I often still feel trapped inside of.
Secondary trauma shook my shoulders today. I teleported back to that life altering day and the weeks following. The emotions claimed my mood and my physical being. The same thing happened earlier this week as I met a new widow. Her husband died 30 years ago at the age of 26. I asked her if she remembered the details. She said of course, just like it was yesterday. She said she still feels the anger inside. Anger for herself and for her three children. We stared at each other longingly, not with pity but with awe. We were bonded together by our loss. Neither of us chose this.
Today was important for me on so many levels. It was about giving back. It was about being vulnerable. It was about sharing, connecting. It was about recognizing someone else's pain and suffering and acknowledging the continuation of my own. It was about telling myself it is ok to still feel sad. It is ok to still miss the father of my children. It is ok.
I was not asked to come to the hospital and honestly I don't think I spoke ten words while there. That shouldn't surprise most. Sometimes we have to do the uncomfortable. We support those around us because that's who we are. We do what we know is right. This will be a long road for this family, and their course will never be the same. My own personal feelings and emotions, a swirling mess inside me came back full force. But it is ok. We will all come together and lift each other up. That is simply what we do.
I’m curled up in the corner of my couch. Earbuds in my ears, music turned up loud mentally reviewing the past few weeks. Celebrating the successes. Worrying about the failures. Stressing with self-doubt. Doubting some of my choices. Doubting if I’m enough. Preparing for change. Telling myself to let go. Encouraging myself to not be so judgmental; not of others but of myself. To stop self-doubting and over thinking. Just be.
What a simple demand, but yet so difficult for me personally. I have come across this one word a lot lately in conversation. In what I’ve been reading. On people’s social media accounts and even in a course I’m currently tackling. Today I was reminded to use this very word myself when a man walked up to me and stated very directly, “I met your husband this week. He was so nice.” I was simply stupefied for a moment before stating my husband was deceased. The stupefied expression quickly transferred from my face to his. A stammer of apology followed and an explanation of whom he thought I was. Its fine I assured him. A statement that I often use without even thinking about it. How many of us say we aren’t “fine” when asked?
We are all one in the same. None of us set out to offend others. No one sets out to ruin people’s days. No one sets out to fail as parents. To fail in our marriages or with our partners. To make choices that may look differently that very next day or even a week later. To slack at work. To be a crappy friend. To let our family members down. I don’t believe any of us wake up each morning and say, “Yes, today my goal is to fail. Today my goal is to make someone else feel bad. Actually, I just want to disappoint myself.” No, none of us do that but we are all plagued by these feelings.
I’ve been feeling a little down. I’ve been working on several things lately that just don’t seem to be coming together as smoothly as I hoped. I have no one to blame but myself. The big part of that though is why lay blame at all? How about cutting yourself some slack? Letting go. So easy to type yet so difficult for me to feel and do. So, here I am curled in the corner of this couch and am thinking about this word that keeps gracing my presence. I have cycled through my usual “writing” songs through my earbuds and this word just keeps hanging out there waiting for me to reach out, acknowledge and grab it.
Definitions from Merriam-Webster:
· unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
· a virtue coming from God
· approval, favor stayed in his good graces
· mercy, pardon
· a special favor
· disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
· a temporary exemption : reprieve
Per usual, Webster has given us an abundance of definitions for this one word, and honestly I didn’t even include statutes 3-8 as I felt one and two were plenty. I know that other people have shown me personally as well as my family an abundance of Grace over the past two years. I am so very grateful. I look at this word and really try to determine what it means. Its fine to list the definition here but different to use it. To live it. I could have easily felt offended today. I assure you it did take my breath away. As he described the man he met I did think you could be describing my husband. You would have enjoyed a conversation with him as well. However, it wasn’t and I said nothing. I tried to provide a little grace to this man that was obviously embarrassed and made an honest mistake.
Showing others kindness even if they don’t deserve it is giving grace. Letting go of those idiosyncrasies that your spouse engages in that drives you absolutely crazy. Having a little extra patience with your children even when they are talking back or throwing tantrums. Having a little extra patience with your aging parents. Assisting your co-worker, even though you feel that they don’t pull their own weight. Reaching out to others. Being present. Offering forgiveness and forgiving others.
Now I would gently say, provide some to you. Show and give to others but also provide a little grace to yourself now and again. Give yourself a break. Recognize that it’s ok to doubt. It’s ok to get bogged down but know that you are worth it. That you are more than you even realize. That these feelings are temporary. And that this too will pass.
Thank you for providing us with Grace. And showing us the meaning behind it.
I am fortunate to have a friend that resides with her family in D.C. We have been friends now for 30 years. We don't talk weekly or even monthly but we pick up each time we get together right where we left off.
The boys and I were fortunate enough to get to visit her and her family this past week. The week was full of so many rich experiences.
I didn't anticipate what the city would entail for Lucas or how much he would quickly fall in love with the history. Every day he exhibits more and more of his dad. At every Smithsonian he wanted me to read every plaque. If you've been to a Smithsonian you know that is simply not possible. I strolled along with him laughing inside my head. The last time I was in D.C. was with Daniel and I can remember dragging him onward. He wanted to read everything! Enthusiasm is great but come on?!
We walked over to the Lincoln memorial and Lucas wanted to know why Abraham Lincoln was a statue. I thought, not for the first time, your dad would be so much better at answering these questions than I am. I stumbled through an answer about the 16th president and his role with the Civil War and then proceeded to explain that we would read the plaques! The question following was why doesn't daddy have a statue if he’s dead too? People who are statues have done really important things for America. Hmm- really, that's what I came up with?
Our first stop on our last day in D.C. was to Arlington. This was an interesting experience for the boys but one that I believed was important. I always enjoy going and wanted to share that with them. The conversation generated from that trip however was one of graves and markers and the newly introduced topic of cremation. Lucas and Reed have seen Daniel’s urn. They have asked what’s in the beautifully carves box however I have glossed over the topic feeling that we weren’t ready to address it. This week however was a different story as Daniel chose to be cremated. I answered Lucas’s questions as directly as I could. It was another of those moments when I thought, Am I adding more traumas to them? Was this the right decision?
I over analyze myself and my actions so much I drive myself a little crazy. It’s unnecessary. "Only you know what you can handle," was advice given to me recently.
Sometimes generic thoughts such as these frustrate the hell out of me. Do I really know what I can handle? I believe that implies that you have hit the mother lode, that at some point you have broken down and all of a sudden you know you can't take anymore.
While I teeter on that edge much more often than not, I'm not sure that I am aware of that limit. I continue to add to my plate as though I have not eaten in weeks.
What's the alternative? To say no? What if I like saying yes? What if I enjoy taking it on? What does it say about me if I like to pile it on? That I cannot relax? That I’ve forgotten to enjoy things?
Possibly, more likely, probably.
Life is a series of choices as my mother would say. And she's correct- it's all about choices. A series of choices and actions that are often guided by a desire to do well, progress and provide but with little direction. I frequently read the signs but are they suggestions provided to us or are they factual?
I think we are all driven by these like minded goals. Trying to make choices for ourselves and our families and trying to achieve goals. Sometimes, and yes I’m talking to myself, we need to take a breath. We need to stop chasing what is in front of us and enjoy the moment.
Hit the reset button.
I am. I'm releasing my mommy guilt. I’m releasing my I ate chocolate chip cookies last night guilt. I am releasing the I work too much guilt. Thank you for the advice of me only knowing what I can handle. You are right. And life is all about choices. I think the important thing here is that even when you make the wrong choices or feel as though you are lead astray hit the reset button.
I do and I am.
Meet the Author (me)
Driven by a need to help others. I have known from a young age that this is what I wanted to do. This is my very real, somewhat sarcastic, look into my newfound widowhood. I hope this site will help you as much as it helps me.