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.

good grief, loss of parent

17 Days

I have to acknowledge this date of February 21st. Exactly a year ago was when my sister called me to tell me my Mom had stage IV pancreatic cancer. Mad Dog and I had returned from getting the boys haircuts and we were out on our lanai when I took the call. I dropped everything and was with my Mom and family by ten o’clock that night. When there was no one else around, my Mom and I stayed up late into the night and talked about life, love and death. She thanked me for being there and I said that I was honored to share this experience with her. It is something I will hold close to me for the rest of my life.

She was gone in 17 days.

I keep thinking of the memories that took place over those days. I comforted her, cared for her and loved her with everything I am. I helped her to be fearless and open to the possibility that what was happening could be beautiful. In very inexplicable ways, it was.

I still miss her every single day.

I love you, Mom.

good grief, loss of parent

The Color of Love

Today we are officially celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. All of my in-laws have safely arrived and we will have our big meal this afternoon. The boys are having the time of their lives with all their cousins (all boys, the wine will be flowing which goes without saying).

I’m not going to lie. I have been struggling with the holiday season as I’m sure you all might have guessed. It’s approaching nine months since my Mom passed and I have managed a good amount of healing but the major holidays bring my grief back into acute focus. This is because of her glaring absence and also the collected memories of holidays past shared with her.

I need to acknowledge Mad Dog’s patience with me during all of this. My intense (and often unpredictable) emotional state has been less than pleasant. I have to come to appreciate that glimmer of fear in his eyes anytime that he interacts with me. He knows even a simple question like, “What are you doing today?” could potentially set me off. Oh, grief, what a strange and complicated process! Thank you for putting up with me.

To honor my Mom today I am doing something out of character (no, I am not taking up pole dancing, sorry Mad Dog). I am painting my lips a bold red. My Mom was not a person to fuss with her outward appearance (regardless, she was extremely beautiful). She didn’t care to shop, dress-up or wear make-up. She was more concerned about college football scores or spending time outside. However, on the rare occasion we could get her to dress-up, she would apply her single tube of stately red lipstick. I hope that the lipsticked kiss I am sending towards the heavens reaches her today and that I find the one she’s sending me with at least some of the color and all of the love intact.

children, eyesight, loss of parent, mommyhood

Bad Aim

I have to take Full Speed for another follow-up at my home away from home (the Children’s Clinic). I must admit my stress level has been through the roof. It is wearing on me to take him to all these appointments. He can sense I’m stressed so he acts out

Regardless, it went well. I should be jumping for joy. Yet, he hasn’t achieved 20/20 vision. I should be counting my blessings that his vision is equal in both eyes (holding steady at 20/60) but part of me wants to scream out in frustration. Enough already! Where’s the 20/20 vision? As a Mom I think I am allowed at least a day or two of disappointment. It’s my child’s vision for goodness sake. I want nothing but the best.

Of course my frame of mind is all off. I talked to my sister, Skee, beforehand and we are futilely attempting to see each other before the year’s end. We have too many constraints with jobs, schools and other extenuating circumstances. We both desperately want to see each other because we are dreading this holiday season like none other. Without our Mom here I think we would both prefer to skip right through to 2010.

Now, I’m at home with both boys as we are at day’s end. I have repeatedly sent them to their rooms because they can’t seem to get along. I think they know Mom is upset so that makes them act all the crazier. It’s a vicious, vicious cycle. Would it be bad if I just left them upstairs until Mad Dog or morning arrives?

I will forge ahead and continue to prepare my gourmet (is Shake ‘n’ Bake gourmet?) dinner and sit down with my two little men to partake. I need to tell them Mommy is having a bad day. I figure if I put my feelings out on the table I can’t possibly make it any worse, right?

green beansSo, we sit down to eat and I say, “Mommy’s having a rough day, she misses Grandma and feels sad.” The response? Full Speed announces he has something in his teeth and T.Puzzle smears mashed potatoes on his head. Not exactly what I was aiming for…..potato head

good grief, self-discovery

The Chainsaw Perspective

It’s Halloween and I’m not feeling it. I’m guessing all the holidays after losing someone you love don’t have the luster they normally have. I didn’t put out any Halloween decorations this year. On the plus side, clean up is already done.

It’s not like my Mom and I hung out together on Halloween or had lavish Halloween traditions. However, she always knew what our plans were and I always shared the experience with her through phone calls and pictures. I don’t like not being able to share those things with her. Therefore, I don’t like holidays that create these sharable moments particularly much this year.

Despite my personal agreement with myself on Halloween morning to be cranky and ambivalent, I started to have some fun. There’s something about putting a Transformers costume on a sweet-faced two year-old that seems so wrong it becomes right. The boys were so passionate about trick-or-treating and their costumes I started to get swept up in their enthusiasm.


pa313466As our evening wound down and we came home, they got even more hyped up to hand out the remainder of our candy. Full Speed would go to the end of our driveway and announce, “Candy for sale, come right up and get your candy!” Then as the stream of costumed neighbors paraded up, he would race back to our green kiddie table and distribute the goods. I would sit back and watch as the two of them would give about fifty-seven pieces of candy to ONE princess (they really dug the princesses) and then I would have to step in and say ‘enough!’. It was pure joy to watch them have so much fun.

I don’t know why, but this cheered me even more. My neighbor dressed in flannel and a scary mask had a chainsaw (with no chain) that he would fire up out of the darkness as the trick-or-treaters approached. The kids were taken off guard and some were genuinely scared. Everyone involved had a good time especially when the kids realized there was no real danger.
The moral of the story is that even if you plan on not having fun, life can surprise you. You will be shocked to find you are having a good time. Sometimes all you need is a man in a scary mask with a chainsaw to put things into perspective (well, you know what I mean).