grief, motherhood

Decade (Without You)

Dear Mom,

This Mother’s Day 2019 is my tenth one without you.

I miss you.

Since you died I have to be honest, Mother’s Day has not felt right to me.  Without you, I don’t know how to be on this day.  For thirty-four years I knew, and then for the last ten, I don’t.

It isn’t for lack of having awesome kids of my own.  How I wish you could know them as they are now.  I imagine the scope of sports stats you would discuss with Full Speed would know no bounds.  T.Puzzle would crack you up.  A lot.

I didn’t exactly follow your parenting paradigm, but my boys were paradigm busters. They were/are firecrackers.  I made it up as we went along.  I had to.  I didn’t have you to ask for advice.

I made mistakes.  A lot of mistakes.  So many mistakes.  What I didn’t account for was the natural resilience of both my boys.

There really isn’t much I can do to mess that up.  My best course of action is no action at all.  

I’d like to think that some of your best qualities are reflected in both of them.  Full Speed has your practical logic locked down.  He has an uncanny ability to throw reason at me when I am hooked into an emotional arc of uncertainty.  T.Puzzle’s quick wit often reminds me of you.

You always made me laugh.

I miss laughing with you.

If I could talk to you I’d like you to know that Mad Dog loves me for exactly who I am.  You and I suspected he did, but time and living a life together has proven this as fact.

I’d want you to know that the Cubs finally won the World Series.  My heart still aches that I couldn’t share that experience with you.

I was at game three and game five at Wrigley.

For real.

Not too shabby for a girl growing up in the cornfields of Illinois.

Sometimes I wonder who your current favorite player would be.  My guess changes from season to season.  I know you would love Javy but he’s a bit of a loose cannon.  Maybe Schwarber for his gritty comeback?  Maybe Zo with his MVP World Series run and his cool demeanor on the field and at the plate?

I wish I could talk baseball with you.

I wish I could tell you that I am a writer now.  I have always been but now I sometimes get published.  And sometimes the letters I configure on a page help others remember they are loved and moves them towards healing.

To me, that is grace.

To me, that is everything.

I would tell you that I love you.  That you shaped me into the woman that I am.  That because of you I love birds, baseball and the color blue.

I know that you sometimes couldn’t understand why I wore my heart on my sleeve but it’s okay, you are not alone in this.  Now that I am older I realize my emotionality isn’t a choice, it is a way of being.  It hurts me more to hide it, so I hide it less and less.

Either way, you’d love me.  Either way, you loved me.

I still carry your voice in my heart and your love in my soul.

In many ways, you never left me.

I wish I could take you to the mountains.  I wish I could sit next to you on a porch and listen to the birds calling each other home.  I wish I could take your hand in mine, look you in your clear blue eyes and tell you what is true.

I love you, Mom.

Always have, always will.

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

grief, motherhood

The Story of a girl and her White Fluffy Dog

A wise person had once told the girl, “The road to true love is never easy.”  And, they were right.  It hadn’t been easy.  The girl didn’t mind because she was happily in love with her Buckeye.  Their relationship was finally everything she knew it could be and then some.  They had moved in together and lived across from Wrigley Field.  Pure magic.

Sometimes, at night, as the girl waited for her handsome Buckeye to come home after a long day’s work and an even longer commute, she would get a little bit lonely.  She thought about how to remedy this and knowing her Buckeye’s career path was only gearing up, she decided to get a dog.  She had never had a dog in her whole life.  The great thing about being a grown-up is that if you want a dog, you get to have a dog.  The girl was not impulsive in nature so she researched and pondered and then researched and pondered some more.  Eventually she decided she wanted a Bichon Frise because small, white and fluffy seemed like perfection to her.  On the day she drove to a suburb to meet a slew of Bichons, she felt very confident ‘her dog’ would find her.  And, she did.

At first the girl thought she wanted a boy and that’s all she focused on.  She started to get frustrated with how energetic and bitey they all were and wondered if she would leave empty-handed.  Instead, she opened up her expectations and picked up the first female she could find.

It was love at first sight.

The girl couldn’t explain it but this sweet little Bichon-Poodle was meant to be hers.  She was gentle and loving.  She weighed a whopping 3.2 pounds.  She was perfect.

image


The girl brought her home and their adventure began.  It wasn’t always easy or smooth, but the girl quickly forgave her White Fluffy Dog because, well, she was white and fluffy.  She was magic.

Five months after the White Fluffy Dog came into her life, the girl had to go out of town.  She left for a few days and put the White Fluffy Dog’s care into the hands of her Buckeye.  She didn’t think twice about it before she left but she should have.  Once she returned she realized something had changed.  Her White Fluffy Dog still loved her, but now, she loved the Buckeye even more.  At times this would frustrate the girl because she wanted to be loved best, but she got over it.  This dramatic shift in loyalty helped a lot when the girl became a mom.  She was so focused on raising her young Buckeyes, she was grateful that the White Fluffy Dog had the Buckeye to look out for her.  It also helped that the White Fluffy Dog adored the little Buckeyes.  She loved babies, pacifiers, bottles and diapers.  She was always gentle with the little Buckeyes and over the years, tolerated a lot of hands-on rough and tumble play with them.  She adjusted to being a big sister with great aplomb.

 

Life changed drastically when the Littlest Buckeye turned 18 months old.  At this time the girl learned he was severely allergic to the White Fluffy Dog.  As much as the girl loved her White Fluffy Dog, she did what she had to.  The White Fluffy Dog went to live with her Buckeye’s parents.  The White Fluffy Dog lived with them for five long years (extremely long if you ask the Buckeye’s father).

As the LB grew and changed so did his immune system.  On a whim when he was seven, the girl decided to have him tested yet again for his dog allergy.  She almost didn’t believe the results.  Her White Fluffy Dog could come home.  It was magic all over again.

Having her White Fluffy Dog again brought wholeness to the girl’s heart.  The girl could handle all of her White Fluffy Dog’s quirks because of this wholeness.  Yes, the White Fluffy Dog had entered her golden years and was certainly set in her ways, but she was still magic.  She still was that same dog that ran towards you when you were hurting, sick or broken.  If the girl was sad, her White Fluffy Dog would lay down next to her.  The White Fluffy Dog never ran when faced with distress, rather this is when she shined.  There are no words to convey what this meant to the girl.  ‘Everything’ is a good one to start with.  It pretty much meant everything to the girl.

The girl had more time for her White Fluffy Dog as her little Buckeyes weren’t so little.  She walked her every day.  The girl loved these walks.  The girl fed her, brushed her and made sure she had her medicine.  While the White Fluffy Dog still loved the Buckeye the best, she appreciated all the love and care the girl showed her.  She followed the girl everywhere.  The magic continued…until it didn’t.

The White Fluffy Dog had lived 13.5 well-loved years when her body finally started to give out.  The girl was heartbroken.  The day came that the girl and her family had to say goodbye to the White Fluffy Dog.  She had cancer and was bleeding internally.  The White Fluffy Dog was ready to go.  When the White Fluffy Dog’s last moments arrived, the girl bravely held her in her arms.  The girl reasoned they had started out together, that it was only fitting that they were together when it ended.

The space the White Fluffy Dog has left in the girl’s home is enormous.  It is quiet in a way that is unsettling.  The girl now walks around with a White Fluffy hole in her heart.  Her only comfort is knowing that love eventually prevails.

After all, she learned this lesson from the best…

 

image

 

motherhood

The Story of a girl and her Buckeye (the Prequel)

Now you know the girl had a happy ending.  She found true love and had two, awesome little Buckeyes.  But, there’s more to the story.

Before there was the Buckeye, there was just the girl.  She was a quiet girl.  She grew up tucked away in the cornfields of Illinois in an unassuming one-story house on an unassuming tree-lined street.  This quiet girl loved her Mom dearly.   When the girl would arrive home from school she would find her Mom watching the Cubs on WGN.  At first the girl didn’t think much of baseball, but she thought much of her Mom.  Over time, she was slowly indoctrinated with a die-hard love of the Cubs.  It was in her genes passed all the way down from her Grandmother.  You can’t fight genes.

The girl’s bond with her Mother, and remember, they already were quite close, grew stronger over a shared love of the Cubs.  The Cubs were often uninspiring to watch and even though the girl and her Mom cringed each time Harry Caray slurred his way through a seventh inning stretch, they were faithful to their team.  Of course, there were moments of glory.  The ’84 Cubs stirred hope in their hearts and while this season brought great joy and this amazing song-  Men in Blue – it ended in heartbreak as practically every Cubs’ season does since the dawn of time (boo Padres!).

So, how exactly does the Buckeye factor into all of this?  Turns out, he was not much of baseball guy (growing up, soccer was more his thing), but attending college on the far, far north side of Chicago lends an easy transition to Cub fandom.  The girl suspected initially his fandom was less about the baseball and more about the ever-available and free-flowing beer of the Friendly Confines’ bleachers.  No matter, he was a Buckeye who grew to appreciate the Cubs.

And, that’s how they met. The girl, her Mom, her Aunt and Cousin all travelled to Navy Pier to go on a Cubs’ charity dinner cruise.  There, they got to meet their favorite players (yes, the girl still has a soft spot for Mark Grace), and there, the Buckeye was.  He was seated at the table next to them.  He was with friends and the girl didn’t notice him at first. However, SEVERAL other girls noticed the Buckeye (the girl didn’t find this out ’til much, much later).

The Mom, the girl, the Aunt and the Cousin on that fateful night
The Mom, the girl, the Aunt and the Cousin on that fateful night

To her credit, the Cousin recognized the Buckeye appeared to be without a date.  Being that she knew the girl was very, very single, encouraged the girl to talk to him.  Initially, the girl did not agree to talk to the Buckeye as she was skeptical of all men, but since she was giddy at having schmoozed with so many handsome Cub players, she reluctantly agreed.  He offered to take her to Wrigley Field and watch a game from the bleachers.  She had never watched a game from the bleachers and as a die-hard fan, this offer was extremely tempting.

It took a couple weeks, but eventually, the girl and the Buckeye set up a date.  The girl wasn’t very nervous as she had all but given up on love.  She was just happy to get a free ticket to watch her Cubbies in person (she was also extremely poor at the time).  She took the bus from her northside neighborhood and met the Buckeye at his apartment on Sheffield.  Yes!  He actually lived across the street from Wrigley.  Wow!  Maybe this Buckeye was something special.

the charming Buckeye grilling on the deck of his Sheffield apartment
the charming Buckeye grilling on the deck of his Sheffield apartment

The girl didn’t know it, but she pretty much fell in love with the Buckeye right off the bat.  As we know, the Buckeye was a lot slower in this regard. A. LOT.  So began their up and down romantic history which included countless bleacher games at Wrigley Field.  It wasn’t always a fairy tale, but it turned out amazing in the end (the relationship, NOT the Cubs’ season).

Once they were married and raising their boys Buckeye, they still followed the Cubs closely.  However, soon after starting their family, tragedy struck.  The girl’s Mom got sick and passed away so suddenly, it crumbled the girl’s world completely.

The girl’s heart was shattered into a million pieces.  She didn’t understand how just when her little Buckeyes were getting more awesome every day, that her Mom wouldn’t see them grow up.  She wouldn’t be there to call when the girl didn’t know if she was mothering them correctly.  She wouldn’t be there to laugh with, or cry with.

The girl was lost.

Six years later, the girl was still a little bit lost without her Mom to anchor her.  And, during those six years of grief, the girl couldn’t bear to watch the Cubs and not just because they were terrible (as they usually were), but because watching them without her Mom was too deeply painful.  It hurt her soul to watch them.

The girl was pretty sure she would never love baseball again.  She focused on her little Buckeye family and let the Cubs drift slowly away from her.

Somehow, the Buckeye sensed under all her hurt, that the girl still loved baseball.  This baseball season he made a decision.  He would get the girl access to all the Cubs’ games on TV and download an MLB app on her phone (which is awesomely addicting).  The girl doesn’t know how he knew she was ready, but she was.  The brokeness of her heart, while not quite fully healed, had scarred over enough that it made watching the Cubs bearable.  Actually, she had healed enough that she was excited to watch them play.  Hearing the crack of the bat, watching a perfectly executed double play and hearing the fans of Wrigley cheer made her happy once again.  She couldn’t believe it.  And, to add to her happiness, her two little Buckeyes have shown the beginnings of their own Cubs’ genes emerging.  Finally, she could share something with them that was unique to her.  It was amazing-ness.

Two Buckeyes showing their Cubbie pride

Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds, but it makes it possible to live life anew.  While the girl will never share a Cubs’ World Series victory with her Mom (or with anyone for that matter given the Cubs’ history), she can at least remember she really does love baseball.   She really does love her Buckeye and she really does love her boys.

And, she really was the most blessed daughter to have had a Mom as special as the one she was given.

im1.shutterfly-4

Love you always, Mom.

children, grief, kids, life in pictures, loss of parent, marriage, mommyhood, motherhood, parenting, self-discovery

Love & Birthdays

 

Happy 6th birthday, Full Speed!

 

I am having many mixed feelings about Full Speed’s sixth birthday today.  I am excited for him and happy his remarkable growth and change are being marked in such a celebratory way.  The challenge is not having my Mom here to help me celebrate or to share in all the wonderful milestones Full Speed has achieved in the past year.

It was hard enough that she wasn’t here to offer support and guidance when he started kindergarten.  Now, with each passing year, Full Speed is growing into who he is meant to be and she won’t be able to see it.   I wish she could because this kid is only getting better with age.

As the distance grows from the last point in which my Mom was in my life, it is ever more shocking to my system that she really isn’t coming back.

I’d also like to apologize to Mad Dog for my extra crazy, unpredictible moods as of late.  I am in the last stages of processing my Mom’s absence and while I will never fully let her go, I will move forward in a more even-handed manner.  I promise.

All I can do is my absolute best.  I will celebrate the good times in my present and honor the sadness as it floats up from my past.

I am grateful for the time that I had with my Mom.  I believe the joy I have managed to create in my own little corner of the world is possible through her choices and example.   I watched and I learned.  I made some different choices of my own.  Most importantly, I was loved.

Thanks, Mom.

grief, loss of parent, mommyhood

Mom

Grandma and Grandpa with Full Speed, T.Puzzle and all the gang (minus Baby D who would join the world in three months) at Disney World December of 2008.

My ‘vacation’ is officially over and a semi-quiet has settled over my house. It is in this quietude that I can reflect back on all the fun and a little bit of the sad. It has been well over a year since my Mom’s passing and I can honestly say that the grief process has gotten better. In my everyday life I’m adjusting more and more to her absence, but when big or interesting events like this recent vacation pop up, the sting of her loss still gets me.

Mad Dog and I were married at Disney World in December of 2003. Since that time we have made several trips back there and up until her death, my Mom was always with us. This last trip without her had a lot of great moments but also had some moments we wished my Mom could be with us. Our kids only slightly picked up on our random bouts of sadness or so I thought. As my sister and her family were leaving for home yesterday, we got very emotional as we said goodbye. There was no dialogue about missing our Mom, but the emotion exchanged in the air between us was palpable.

Once my sister’s family was gone and I was left with the boys and my sad thoughts, Full Speed looks at me and says, “I miss Grandma.”

“I miss her, too and so does Aunt Skee. That’s why we seemed sad today.”

“Mom, don’t be sad. Aunt Skee has her kids to keep her happy and you have me and little T.Puzzle to keep you happy.”

My heart was warmed by his perceptive compassion but I couldn’t help but wish my Mom was right there in that moment to see it.

Miss you, Mom.