A little lipstick

Here we are on the cusp of another new year!

I woke up, cared for the kids, did my hair, and put on some makeup over nap time! Feeling confident with a shade of lipstick I’ve never worn before just for new beginnings.

There’s so much excitement wrapped around new beginnings. This is when everyone sets new goals and often those goals and aspirations trickle off by the end of January when life’s to-do lists overtake our mind. However, I can assure you, if you really take the time to put your goals first, it can be done. This is not to say hard days won’t surface, because they will; they always do. Keeping your head up isn’t always easy when drowning in grief but I’m learning to swim harder day by day.

2018 was a year of learning to live with grief, and self growth. That learning continued to follow me well into 2019 as I began a new adventures having a second child!

My goals for 2019 were to begin stepping outside of my comfort zone and begin to do things I’ve always wanted to do while making time for the kids and time for myself.

  • I managed to keep not one, but TWO children happy and growing! It’s hard to believe Gabriel will be a year old in just a few short days.
  • I maintained straight A’s in college and am now just a mere 4 classes from completion.
  • I lost 20 pounds and am now halfway to my goal!
  • I started piano and voice lessons- something I have always wanted to do.
  • I opened my heart and home to a relationship that inevitability failed and that’s ok. From that failure I grew even more and will not make the same mistakes again.
  • I started organizing my craft room and doing crafts in my spare time.
  • I started going out more with friends and even on my own which is a stretch but has proved to be worth it.
  • I even had the confidence to ask a guy to dinner which I NEVER do. Nothing to report on this front but the act of actually asking was a HUGE deal for me.
  • I began a project that that will hopefully aid in making my 2020 the brightest one yet….those that have known me, know my strong passion for singing. With my vocal coach and the help of a few friends, I am working toward another bucket list item.
  • I already have a trip planned in 2020 and I am in a good place. It’s been a long time since I have felt this good but it refreshing and motivating.

I am ready for 2020 and the continued growth, learning, and adventures it has in store for me. I will not let 2019’s failures hold me back from opening my mind or my heart from opportunity and I refuse to let my self doubt hold me back from the things I desire most.

I woke up today knowing it was the last day of 2019 and looking forward to my first ever New Year’s Eve party. It’s taken 32 years to celebrate a new year outside of the home and I figured it was a good time to reflect on my accomplishments, places for improvements and remind myself that a little lipstick goes a long way.

Here’s to 2020! May you all be blessed with the best!

Grandma’s Favorite

This past week has brought hell for me with tragedy stirring up my PTSD, stresses of life, and the overwhelming feeling of being alone. I think people underestimate the depths of loneliness that comes from widowhood. I could be in a room full of people who love and care for me and still feel alone. It’s no surprise that when I struggle, the loneliness amplifies because there is no-one there to sit with me. It doesn’t take much really, to be there for someone. It really only takes wanting to be there. No words are perfect, no actions can take away the grief but pure presence and maybe a hug or two can lighten the load.

It was all compounded by the already mix of emotions from Josh’s birthday and upcoming Christmas season. Holidays are still hard but we manage. Heck, everyday is still tough, but here we are, rocking it out.

My mom recently saw a post on my facebook and could tell I needed a little inspiration….now if you know my mother and I, you can just about imagine what this inspirational gesture could have been. While what I received was not at all what I figured it could have been, it was so much more than I could have ever imagined.

I was recently asked who the most influential person was in my life, while I have two, my Grandmother ranked #1. For so many reasons she is and always will be my #1. This is not to take away from my mother whom I also look up to but there’s a special bond with my grandmother that no-one, not even she would deny. I will always be Grandma’s favorite. My grandmother was beautiful, patient, kind and loving. She was wise and genuine. She was my biggest fan, best friend and always believed I would do much with my life. She has had such a huge impact on who I am today and I am forever grateful

Grandma Hattie passed away just weeks before I lost Josh. I still remember the call, walking back into Josh’s room in the ICU and Josh mustering up enough strength to lift his arm so I could come in for a hug. I didn’t even have to say she was gone because he could see it in my eyes. Losing two of my favorite people within a few weeks was heart shattering. It definitely turned the page to new chapters I never thought I’d have to write.

Which leads me to a song I stumbled upon entitled “Chapters” by Brett Young and Gavin Degraw. The bridge goes :

” Truth is that we all got stories
Gotta fail on your way to glory
Takes time tryna get it right
But every future has a past
And right now I can hear God laughin’
Guess he must have heard my plans
And my odes, thought it was a joke
Gave me more than I could ask
And I wish I knew back then, oh”

In this song they sing about every page you turn being a lesson learned and my how many lessons I have learned whether I wanted to or not. I know there are some chapters I want to write but the timing isn’t right yet. We always wonder what will happen next and if you’re anything like me, you try to plan and know what’s around the corner but how can we?

I find it no coincidence that just days after I discovered this song, my mother mailed me a card and as I mentioned, it wasn’t just any card. It was a card my grandmother wrote out before her death and told my mother to give to me when I needed an extra boost. The card, marked with many underlined portions for me to pay attention to, tells me to “stay strong” and “have hope”. To be “patient”, “inspired”, “gentle”, “optimistic” and to always believe in “happy endings”. I am the author of my own story and I choose to be strong, optimistic, hopeful and give it all I’ve got. Above all, I will continue to believe in happy endings. I always have, and always will.

She left me with a note that I will hold dearest to my heart:

To my favorite granddaughter,

Follow your dreams and never give up.

I’ll always be there for you.

Be happy and loving to everyone.

She really was a saint that woman. We spent so much time together and thats when I first realized the value of time. Not many people get as many years with their grandparents as I did with mine and I am ever so grateful. She was the best and I was grandma’s favorite.

My mother could not have picked a more perfect time to finally send this to me. I have felt like I’ve held things together pretty well since Josh died but sometimes I begin to come unglued and it’s a really dark place that’s hard to crawl out of. Change is scary and not knowing what is to come is scary too. The Lord says not to worry but I find myself in a constant state of just that. I want to be good at all things and I want to be loved beyond this grief. There is so much left unwritten in these chapters but sometimes it’s difficult not knowing how the page will end up.

It’s hard to live in a life you didn’t plan. We all have our wants list of where we want to be by when and I can assure you, “widow at 29” was never on my life goals. However, I can still hope for a happy ending and pray that one day someone will love me through this pain because it never will go away, nothing will make it better, but just because I am grieving, doesn’t mean I am not lovable. Just because I have weak moments, doesn’t mean I am not strong. And just because I cry sometimes doesn’t mean I don’t believe that a happy ending is yet to come.

I will always take each page as it comes and take a deep breath when I feel frustration rising. I will lean not on my own understanding but on God’s plan. I will live by my grandmothers advice and rest knowing that not only am I God’s child, but I am always Grandma’s favorite.

Happy Birthday in Heaven

It’s been three years that we’ve been celebrating you from so very far away and it seems surreal.

We all came together for lunch again and to decorate your tree on the porch. Amelia picked out a “HUNT” ornament because it had a black lab on it. Gabriel…well, I’m slacking this year and need to find one from him. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe I have two children because this time last year, we were all anxiously awaiting his arrival!

It’s always something unexplainable when your family and I get together in honor of you. We do it mostly for the kids but for ourselves too. We all put on our brave face in hopes to not be the first one to break down. We see the pain in each others eyes and just simply know and hurt for eachother.

I tend to get quiet when I’m struggling and frustration comes to the forefront. Today, I gave up on an outlet cover. Simple twist of a screw but when the screw dropped, I walked away. I later saw your dad pick it up and put it back for me so I know, they see me struggling. I hope they know how much I appreciate them. I tell them all the time but it runs so deep there aren’t enough words.

Grief is really the conflicting group of human emotions caused by an end to or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.

How familiar I had grown to being your wife and biggest supporter. Someone to shower you with love and encourage you in all aspects of life. Now here I am with all this love to give but instead of spending it on someone, I hold it close and fear noone will see past my pain to reach it.

There continues to be rollercoasters as we keep your memory alive. Most days are good but today was tough.

Our last family photo with you before diagnosis

Nothing will ever fix grief and we have to take responsibility in our efforts to recover from it even though it will never go away. It’s all about taking small steps in order to process and work within your grief. So we will continue to celebrate you every year in hopes to teach ourselves and the kids that it’s ok to grieve and celebrate simultaneously.

I’ve always focused on the little things because they are truly what matter in the end and I hope the kids grow up knowing that you are a person worth celebrating. While our time with you wasn’t nearly long enough, it was long enough for us all to experience a deep level of love we may have missed had you never been born.

I hope doing all these “little things” that allow us to speak your name freely, will be the big things that they remember you by. They wont have hugs, inside jokes, or hand written cards but they will have the memories of celebrations and stories from those of us who were blessed to have you.

Happy Birthday in Heaven Josh. We miss you and love you.