Fixable Hot Mess…

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I have no excuses, I only have a million of them. I am too busy. I am too tired. I don’t want to go get my laptop. I can just watch one more show. I need to check things off my never-ending to-do list. Once I get the lawn mowed and the back yard done I will write. I might as well get the house clean too… and the garage. I will set aside time this weekend, after travelling.

Like I said I have no real excuses, no real reasons to not write, I just keep putting if off. I know I have avoidance syndrome, I jokingly call it fear of commitment. I usually laugh and follow it up with marriage jokes and BAM! I avoided the task and paved my escape route with humor. It’s a gift, or maybe a bad habit. I have had plenty of serious and funny things to write and think out… but here I am making myself do the job I love to do most… making my ‘self’ stop avoiding.

Who knows why I am avoiding, I am sure it would all come to the surface in a couple hours with my counsellor. I figured I should just get writing and stop avoiding. Today I tackled a task I have avoided like the plague- I am resurfacing my claw foot tub. I followed all the directions and even set up proper ventilation. It feels really good to have it done and ready for my dad to hook up plumbing. I didn’t even pass out from fumes. It feels pretty good to do a task that I have long put off, that I have avoided and kind of dreaded. It is done. Maybe it is one of those things hanging above my head that makes me not write lately. Who knows…

I miss the clarity that writing brings my brain and soul. I need to start sifting and creating times to seek that clarity and order. I have so many things to say… so man candid moments and lessons… pieces of this crazy life to jot down and share and organize. I look back at this year and I realize I didn’t do the work… the work to reach what I dream about. I just avoided and pushed it away… I filled my time with work and stress and Netflix. I need to redirect. I know what I want in this life, well as much as I can control. I want to share, speak- faith and lessons, laughs and tears. I want to meet a million people and take pieces of their energy and feel that forever. I want to write a book, a dream I have had since 3rd grade. I want to stand in women’s groups, grief groups, church groups and audiences and share the hot mess that God created to be my story- how much I love this blessed hot mess. I want to share the funny pieces of this life along the painful- we can’t feel one without the other. Joy rides next to pain…

That is my dream… I need to refocus and catch that Erin, my ‘self’ again. I need to fill my time with builders and laughers, workers and creators. I need more of that in my life… I need to stop avoiding and start building me again. I am sure it will feel even better than refinishing a claw foot tub that has waited 6 years… a fixable hot mess that is now shiny and porcelain again (well epoxy porcelain)…

I better start working on my ‘self’… this fixable hot mess.

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She would be…

Nowadays I have to start many sentences with “She would be…” depending on the conversation I have to think of where she would be, not see where she is.

She would be 12. She would be on the cusp of becoming a teen. She would be entering 7th grade in the fall. She would be 6 ½ years older than when she died, but alas she died. She didn’t get to live to be here today…

I normally am okay, I wander and get through life on the better side of okay. Times like today are almost completely predictable… it hits like a Mac-Truck right when the world gets quiet. Grief is a funny bit of life, it often doesn’t look like what others think grief looks like. Today was a mix… but amongst people I looked ok and fine. I looked, and maybe even felt happy. I was, I get energy from others, I surrounded myself with others and felt light. Then the world is quiet…

It isn’t a bad thing, it is just how it is. Grief will never not be there, it has to be felt. If I don’t feel it now, I will carry it, and it will compound. I felt the energy change inside me as we drove home. I thought about getting friends to go to dinner and avoiding it all, but I know better. Avoidance is okay- sometimes. I felt like today I need to just sit in it. I need to sit in the missing…

Today Madeline should be blowing out candles and just now coming in to shower and go to bed. She would have celebrated her birthday with cake and cousins, her favorite things. She would have loved the simple moments, she wasn’t the crazy plan kind of girl. I think Madeline would be 12 and glad to have a mellow summer planned, Summer of the Musto Chicks. She was simple like that…

Today I had to take off from work, I couldn’t be there. I knew that June 25, will never be a day that I can learn new things about a job or build myself different professionally. June 25 is a forever different kind of day, important to my soul and to the process of missing Madeline.

I remember 12 years ago the day before I met Madeline, I was so young. I had no plan to be a mom so soon, she was a lovely not-not planned surprise. Her dad and I had all of these plans… the future we thought of looked so different. Madeline came into this world after a traumatic labor, and it took time to really know and love her. I know I struggled back then, I still do, to find my place as a mom and as me.

I loved her so much, after months of not understanding that love. Madeline was happy and silly and content. She had dimples, and then best part in her hair. Her giggle was one that if you heard you always carry, I wish God gifted me a good giggle. I think Madeline understood me, understood our adventures- I think my lovely old soul ‘got it’. I miss her…

I miss her always… but today I celebrate her with her old friends and our family. Even when the world is crazy we have cupcakes at her spot, today it looked like one of our old-school picnics. Up there on Maddie’s Spot we let go balloons, in her favorite colors. The kids laid on the blankets and played cards or chatted. For a few hours many of Madeline’s people came to her spot to just be together. It wasn’t morbid or terrible, it wasn’t laden with sadness. I saw some of the ladies that Madeline went to Preschool together, they were her peeps. They were giggly and tall and made butterflies on their hands. They might move on and keep growing BUT they talk about her, they bring her along. For that I am grateful… I am honored. I am so blessed to not know it any other way… I pray that those girls keep on carrying her, that they chose lives of nurturing and compassion because of the way this changed them….

Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday lovely… I wish I got to give you 12 spanks + a pinch to grow an inch. I know who you are as an angel, I wish I got to know you as a 7th grader. Your sister’s and I miss you like a fish on a plate misses water… we freakin’ miss you. We can do this world without, but wish you were here with us. I can only imagine… where you are today… what your days look like…

I do know that God loves birthday’s and I bet you ate some cake and juice… I hope you are enjoying the time wherever you are- and that other’s follow suite. 6 ½ years of life reminders and lessons…

Happy Birthday Madeline Elizabeth Musto. You are forever my inspiration and guidance…Cheers to 12 years since meeting Madeline.

The days go slow but the years go fast…

I remember clearly many times that older people made comments about back when their kids were young. I remember standing in lines at Target, going for walks through the neighborhood and hearing my aunts and uncles talk- all said enjoy this time, it will go fast. I didn’t necessarily believe them, I thought that maybe God made them forget how hard it all was. I was in the middle of the first chunk of rough- the sleepless crazy time. I remember days that I didn’t shower, and yet I miss it. The girls grew and still I would hear- enjoy this time, it will go fast. I was super busy chasing and modeling kind behavior. I was handling meltdowns and chaos. I could not believe that I would ever miss that time, it was so hard. Once the girls entered Preschool, I would pick them up and ask them about their day and hear “We had goldfish for snack.” Way back in the time of high Goldfish consumption, I would hear others as the girls and shopped- enjoy this time, it will go fast. I envisioned how great it would be when I could shop and not maintain a Musto Train of girls with hands on cart. I imagined no one could miss that…

Then came Kindergarten, and I missed the girls from lunch on. I hated 6 hours away… but I trusted their teacher. I trusted that they were enjoying their time, I reminded them it goes so fast. There were days they missed me, especially Madeline, and I assured her that I loved her so much, and to enjoy her time, it would go by fast. I guess I knew it and always talked myself out of it…

So… as the saying goes the days go slow but the years go fast… it is true. It seems like only moments ago I sent Amelia on the bus to Kindergarten, yet I saw pictures the other day and it has been so many moments since she began her journey through the grades. I enjoyed many moments, I cried some, I laughed a lot, I yelled a bit, I dreamt of a time when I could sleep though the night, I hoped for the day they could ride bikes and I could read and not really watch… welcome to that time. Time went fast…

I never look back and regret, I never look back and think ‘I should have done it different’… it just really does go by fast. Those folks were right, they didn’t forget the tired, they didn’t wish away the tantrums, they didn’t forget the shopping trips and stress… they can look back in miss that hard right alongside of the great. I get it now…

Today my Amelia graduated from Elementary School, she walked out of that colorful and short school never to return again as a student there. She is now an official middle schooler. Amelia is a product of those slow-moving days and fast moving years… in only moments she went from big cheeks with dimples and devilish eyes, to a lovely set of dimples and eyes that laugh.

I mostly kept my eyes dry, there were no sunglasses to hide the little drops that always pop out. I had those thoughts about Madeline and how proud she must be of Amelia right next to the feelings of missing her like crazy. That is part of our forever life here at the Musto Estate, missing and loving, pain and joy.

I helped Amelia get ready, I crimped her hair and watched her put on a tiny bit of mascara. She got her dress on and finally pronounced the crimped hair was just right. I got her gift ready to put on, I bought it with Madeline in mind. I found pearl earrings and necklace on Amazon and she wore her Maddie bracelet. I told her, as I put in her earrings, how badly Madeline wanted pearl earrings when she entered kindergarten. I was so excited when I found a set from Avon and ordered with my cousin Su-z. Those earrings were her pride and joy. I remember Madeline opening the red gift box and being so excited. I think it may have been the best $5 spent ever. Amelia’s were a little different and lacked the red box, but she was excited to wear those pearls. When Amelia was ready and it was time to go, I had her go over in front of our big tree. We take most pictures there. I looked at her with her big smile, her pearls and her floral dress, along with her lipstick and personality, and reflected on how we, Musto Chicks, might grow and change but we will always be lovely, flower laden girls with pearls and smiles… under our tree. It is in us…

So as time keeps moving and days are so slow… and years are so fast- we keep growing together, we keep building together. Madeline isn’t here to rock her pearls and dimple, but we carry her with us. Amelia moved up, graduated from Elementary in her big flowers and little pearls. Lucy is excited for her adventures in 4th grade. Time keeps moving… and boy do I miss those times way back when. What I wouldn’t give for my girls hands on the cart in the grocery store, or the work to go into public restrooms…

 

 

PS Meme we are so freaking proud of you. I have watched you grow and prepare to soar, and I believe God has a plan for you to soar. Be gritty, be strong and be kind lovely…

 

Loved anyway…

When life is hard, when it hurts the most and when it feels like the hard just won’t stop- it is so hard to remember that He is right there with us. He is carrying, guiding, loving, waiting for you… patiently waiting for you.

This week was a hard week. It could be the beginning of a bunch of hard weeks, I don’t get to know. You don’t get to know, we just get to live and breathe and move and react… cry, laugh, enjoy, break. Sometimes the hard stuff just compounds, maybe it comes in 3’s, maybe 15’s. I try really hard to stand in these hard times and remind myself of the beautiful adventures, the funny stories, the good stuff. It still sucks, these hard times. They suck.

I hear songs in these moments and often they are like a little Gospel delivered to my soul, and I guess I get to give the Homily to that gifted Gospel. The other morning, I was driving home and the song “You Love Me Anyway” came on KLOVE, and I know it was for me. I sat in the driveway and finished the song, then texted myself the name of the song so I could listen to it later. What if it was not just for me…

I think of the way that Jesus loves us, even when we are the worst version of ourselves. He loves us bigger, better and more patiently than we can even understand. He is right there for all of it.

“I am the thorn in your crown, but you love me anyway. I am the sweat from your brow, but you love me anyway. I am the nail in your wrist, but you love me anyway. I am Judis’ kiss, but you love me anyway. I am the man who yelled out from the crowd, for your blood to be spilled on this Earthshaking round. I turned away with a smile on my face with this sin in my heart, tried to bury your grace… so ashamed of my life, my life- but you loved me anyway”.

He loves you anyway.

He loves us in our failures, our triumphs. He loves the broken, the angry, the addicts, the thieves, the atheists, the weak, the powerful. He loves you when you are uncertain in your faith. He loves you when you are so angry at Him.

I can only imagine how many times I have hurt Jesus, yet He loves me anyway. The times I was unkind… the times I did not stand up for Him. I remember many moments like that, I carry them with me. He loves me anyway.

Right now, my life feels hard… I don’t understand it all. Right now, some things just suck. Right next to the loss, is good change… right next to the pain is some of that grace and love that He gifts. I know this… I see it. I don’t falter in faith, I just need reminders and little Gospel gifts to trudge through the hard stuff. Maybe you needed this today… maybe this song is for you too. I needed that ‘always and anyway’ reminder… maybe others do to.

A Meme Memoir

A memoir is a personal story with many details based on knowing yourself.  Memoirs are intimate and written based on facts an experiences.  A few weeks ago Amelia mentioned she was working on a memoir, she talked about how she helped another boy in her class write his memoir.  She said ‘Mom he was only writing one detail, so I helped him add pieces to his big story’.  She kind of schooled me in memoirs.  I am public school educated but have yet to write a memoir- I remember writing my own obituary and inviting Harrison Ford.  I also remember my teacher letting me know that I could not invite people to my funeral, it wasn’t like that.  All the things we learn… all the things our kids learn before us…

Amelia worked hard this year, and it was visible.  She really matured and is started to fill BIG life and feelings she is blessed and cursed with.  My girls are a reminder daily of embracing the pile and the hard stuff… and living the best you can.  They are the first to help friends- whether it is picking up dropped items, helping others stay safe or rescuing and caring for people who need it.  They are the extraordinary product of a life laced with pain and grief.  I know the challenges that this pain and grief have laid upon those girls, but I see the amazing work God is doing in them along side that pain and grief.  I am grateful every.single.day.

I wanted to share this and Amelia was onboard.  I want to share how God and life build people for a purpose.  I have always known that the most amazing caregivers have a purpose in the care and love.  I know it is true… Amelia’s work reminded me of that.  I always tell my girls you can be anything, anything you work for and anything you desire.  All I ask is that you do it well with kindness… if you are a garbage collector, I am proud, but be a kind one- go out of your way to take care of people on your route.  If you are a teacher, be a good one, go out of your way to build better.  If you are a hairdresser, be a good one, go out of your way to remind people of their beauty.  If you are a police officer, be a good one, go out of your way to treat people well, get the jerks off the streets and build communities better.  I just want them to be ‘a good one’.

Amelia shared her memoir with me… I had a deep feeling that she is going to be ‘a good one’.  No one will leave her care and feel that they weren’t loved and cared for, in fact she plans to take it further and advocate for a cure and for time.  I love how God is using her…

So… finally here is Amelia Musto’s 5th Grade Memoir

I Want To Make A Change

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Amelia Musto                          6/4/18

Have you ever been asked, what do you want to be when you grow up?  I have and until this year I’ve wanted to be a hairstylist, a teacher, a singer, and an artist. But now I know that I want to be a nurse. And I would love to work at Albany Med.

If you are wondering why I want to become a nurse is because I experienced something that opened a door to wanting to help people more.

The  experience that had opened a door is when I was 4 years old my older sister who was 5 at the time passed away. Her name is Madeline. I want to help people enjoy a better life. Until my sister was diagnosed she had a normal life except for she was dizzy and some other complications. When she was diagnosed she had under 2 weeks. I want to change that for other patients.

 I remember we went to a huge cottage with our whole family after she was diagnosed. At the cottage  we decided to go in the hot tub when it was snowing, and my uncle Travis put ice cubes in our bathing suits! I realize now we went to the cottage to spend more time together with our family.

In the future I want to help doctors diagnose patients sooner so the doctors, nurses, and I can help before. And so they can live longer. My sister Madeline had a brain tumor known as D.I.P.G. a cancer they have not yet found out how to cure.

    I also remember the night Madeline passed away how kind the nurses were, they put on scooby doo and brought Lucy and I in a different room to watch scooby doo. My mom wanted fingerprints so, the nurses brought clay to get the fingerprints. The nurses even had them made into a necklace.

    That is why I want to be a nurse. I want the family’s I help to feel special. And help people feel and be better.

Read.  Enjoy.  Comment.  Share.  Think about what made you to be who you are…

Like a cheetah, lovely.

ameliaToday was Amelia’s last field day… next year she is off to Middle School. Damn time, just keeps chugging along. I guess I keep forgetting that it does that. Every day I look at her and I see her older and more capable, more responsible, more independent. Every once in a while, she looks at me and I see those pudgy cheeks and huge dimples- those bright blue eyes… that little giggle she had. It is hard to believe so many years have passed since she was new to this world…

Today’s events were different than years past, today was more like a track meet. The 5th graders trained for the events they chose to compete in. Amelia has been itching to do more track since she did an early morning running program last fall. She found something she really enjoys, and I love watching her while she runs.

The morning started with all of the kids on the bleachers in their classroom color shirts chatting and hanging until the moment they have waited weeks and beyond for. As Amelia headed over to her station I told her- try your best butthead and give it ALL of it, don’t save any, give it all. I actually prayed that my girl would win, I wanted her to feel that rush and the confidence along with it. To revel in doing something strong all.by.herself. I could not make her run faster; her teacher could not demand she run fast… it was all her.

This event did not disappoint. It was like 15 seconds of adrenaline. I know I want my daughter to be proud of others for winning, a high five and a smile. I want her to want to win, but be okay when she doesn’t.  I want her to remember it is a little deal and if she wants a win badly to keep working and trying. I really wanted to see her win today- for her. I wanted her to succeed in something that involved anyone else, that was just hers. I wanted her to feel proud of herself and confident that she is one strong lovely.

I saw it in her face. She wanted it. I am grateful for the polarized sunglasses on my face… there are perks to having super sensitive blue eyes. She wanted that win, she pushed with her all. It was perfect. She was so proud. She got 1st. I have seen her struggle so many times to find her place, to find where she belongs… and today I saw a piece of her I rarely see. She was confident and proud, in the right ways. I felt proud to be her mom today… I always am, but today I own a 1st place 50M Dash winner chick. Her dimples were the brightest light…

She finished and came running up to me and her other family. She was so happy. Amelia posed for pictures with her ribbon and she just smiled… I was holding it together, just barely. I was thankful for those sunglasses…

… Then Amelia’s Grandfather said “You ran fast like a cheetah.” She did. Madeline loved running. She would just run circles with her friend in Kindergarten. She was my biggest fan when I ran. She would run and jump in the leaves saying ‘Mommy I can run faster than a cheetah’… those words threw me into the hard. She did. She ran so fast, with a look of determination. She ran like a cheetah… like Madeline liked to run.

All of the sudden I started to think of how this is my first 5th grade field day, but it shouldn’t be. I should have known the good spots to sit and where I could see Amelia best. This should not have been my first 5th grade field day. I realized that I was missing my 1st cheetah, Madeline. I saw how big those kids had gotten, and how tall some were. I thought about what Madeline would look like cheering her sister on. I also thought of what Madeline looked like, today, cheering her sister on.

I bet Madeline was super proud of her lil’ cheetah, her Meme. I bet Mads was right there, helping to fuel her determination. I bet Madeline was glad to hear her Grandpa describe Amelia’s event that way. I was. I hurt, but I was so glad he said what I thought.

I miss my cheetah. I love my runner, my Meme. I love my lil’ baseball chick, my Lucy. I miss my Madeline… she was my arrow. I miss that Amelia has to be the grown up, mature sister. Death sucks. Like is hard. Wins are amazing. Loss is necessary. Running is good for the soul, and a piece of her soul. It is a piece of my Amelia’s soul.

So… a 50M win might be a little deal to some, it is a big deal to us. It is a builder. It is a moment of connection. It is determination and commitment I have never seen in my girl. It is a big deal here at the Musto Estate.

Thank you God for the answer, for the cheetahs. I love them all… I miss my lovely.  Help me build up my Meme to be strong, kind and fast…

An Abundance of Thyme.

 

I have an abundance of thyme, unfortunately it grows right over Madeline. It is an ironic little fact that my brain has thought about over and over… where there is no more time, there is thyme.

You would think that I would associate the savory smell of thyme in a negative way, it reminds me of Madeline’s resting spot. It would make sense if the smell and taste of thyme made a meal unenjoyable.

The thing is the thyme I have I love. I love its smell and taste. I love how it covers the ground in a low soft carpet, in places that grass doesn’t grow easily. I have spent hours laying on her sunny spot, with the sun on me and the breeze blowing… laying right on that thyme. Breathing in thyme where there is no more time. It has been a long time since I have laid on that thyme and just soaked up the quiet and peace that the place with no time holds.

We wander the cemetery and read stones. We take notice of how old some headstones in the cemetery are, some stones are early 1800’s, some maybe earlier. The stories of those stones are profound… you can read history in that place with no time. There are family plots with 4 small marble headstones each with a lamb on top- the marble is too broken down to read. That family buried 4 children, I wonder how that mother went on, how she could survive that loss. In that place with no time there are 1000’s of spots for those with no more time here. History is tangible- you can see the fallout of the flu epidemics, WW1, WW2, Vietnam- the Civil War. Hardship and heroes, and everything in between all laying in the place with no time.

Prospect Hill Cemetery has an amazing and grand memorial on top of the hill- it was placed there to honor all of the soldiers that died in the Civil War from Guilderland. All though the cemetery you will see stones with flags, markings of military duty- some who died in battle, and others who were gifted the life they were fighting for. It is a very beautiful resting place, and every time I walk or drive around the cemetery I think of those families. I think of the moms who had to go on, the daughters who never got to say a proper goodbye to their first love… the stones tell the stories for the ones with no more time.

I wonder as I wander through how that family brought their lovely along, what stories did they share so the world KNEW their missing one? I wonder how they got through it all… I wonder if they loved the thyme when they visited or laid down in the peaceful, breezy place that holds our lovelies.

Today we popped up to Madeline’s Spot, we pulled some of the thyme near her friendship rocks and we dusted of her stone. I sat and smelled the thyme and thought about how I miss her. I thought about her time here and I enjoyed her thyme. We drove around the whole cemetery and thought about those resting ones… and the ones who miss them.

Every year I think about a family friend, a young mom who lost her beloved husband, who never got the ‘proper goodbye’… I think about her story and the way she honors and shares him today. We could not live as we do today if not for all of those who serve.

Those stones tell a story… a story of a place with an abundance of thyme but no time. Share your story, let’s collect stories of thyme and stones and history… of missing. Who do you visit, who do you honor?