Today moving is very hard, smiling is killing me… Halloween with only two trick-or-treaters really sucks. It hurts to prepare, I am numb to the fun and I generally just feel sad and sick and icky. This is the part… when I am sad, I am sick. Apparently grief can mimic illness… never would have thought or believed if you had told me that before.
What I know is that Amelia and Lucy will have a fun night and enjoy trick-or-treating and singing and running and giggling… the song ‘trick or treat smell my feet’ will be sung 100 times and met with smiles… and inside my heart will be wishing it were bedtime, that I could just be done.
I guess the blessing is that I get a dimply angel with real feather wings, a Captain America Superhero and a real true angel watching over us… so I guess I have a lot of super powers and grace watching out for me tonight. I guess I better go move, walk, smile, take pictures and get ready for bed… for tomorrow will come soon enough.
Sometimes, I feel like life is taking forever and other moments I feel like my 30 years have flown by…
What I have learned and keep relearning is that life is a gift, a very expensive gift… time is expensive. The more we work and work and work to get to the gift- the less of the gift we get. Every single minute has a cost, and if we are always working for the big, special future minutes we will have ‘spent a lot’ of time. Even after all that has happened to our family and our life we still need reminders and help to find the time to be ‘us’ and not always think “next week it all slows down, we can enjoy ‘us’ then”. I wish very much so that my husband could be home more, to just be here… not to pay bills, mow the lawn, answer an email, have a conference call… just be. I fear sometimes that we take time for granted. This all being said, I find it hard lately to find a balance of time… I need to be busy (it must be part of my grieving)… I need to move… but I think I need to slow down… who knows.
I know that I am constantly in search of the proper amount of crazy busy and ‘us’… maybe the work involved in finding that is really part of my process… I am unsure. I do know that my daughters birthday’s and Halloween’s are crazy difficult right now. I know that it is killing my heart to do these things with out Maddie… but I really must. I must make a Captain America costume for Lucy and have some of Amelia’s friends over for a birthday (with crafts, snack and lots of presents)… I have to go to the Halloween parties and sing Happy Birthday to my lovely… Tell her how 5 is going to be a great year… All this because I know that the cost later of ruining or wasting that time is far to expensive. They deserve the very best use of life and time… even if it is breaking my heart. Someday my heart will break a little less when they grow a little more… but for now I will keep moving in the direction I feel is right- move through the unbelievably hard, tramp over the numb and jump through hoops to not waste my little lovelies time.
My mother in law has always joked with Matthew and I about how busy we always are… graduating college, moving, buying a house, planning a wedding, having a Maddie… and VERY soon after a Meme and Lucy… life has always been fast and crazy for us. Sometimes I wonder if we know any other way… if slow could ever work for us. In all of these circumstances we have had to rework our relationship, reconfigure our roles and try to take care of all that life would bring and our marriage. Sometimes, in our exhausted and busy state of mind, marriage was not the first thing, let’s be honest, was not the tenth thing that we were focused on.
Recently the importance and idea of what marriage really is, I think, hit me. In all of the uncertainty and sadness in our life right now, in all of the heavy and hard… now I find myself having to work the hardest ever to ‘find our marriage’. Many think a simple date will do the trick, some think a little get a way to figure out why we liked each other in the first place would help- me I am not so sure. We are trying to find our marriage in the busy and messy and happy and sad and living… trying to define, reconfigure and determine our roles in this grieving process, in parenting, as friends, as soulmates… just as us.
At the end of the day… I look back and wonder if I ever thought it would all be this hard. I wonder if I ever paid attention to the people who were happy and married for 50 years… if I will get to be one of those… no one gets to know what the grand plan for our lives is, what I am learning is that change is inevitable and going to happen all the time… if we want a partner in this journey to forever it will be work even when it’s happy.
My littler family had the opportunity to go to Burlington, Vermont for a wedding this past weekend. At first it was meant to be a get-a-way for my husband and I, but plans changed and we had a littler family vacation. It was one of those perfect, sunny, warm and bright fall days that sneak into October and once in a while November. We had no plans, beyond the wedding Friday night, so we went off to find an adventure.
Our journey brought us to Lake Champlain and the picturesque bike path… we had the great idea of taking a nice walk to a playground we saw on the map… comically the walk turned into one FAR too long for little feet and my sore toes and riding boots… when we finally happened upon the playground (with kids to tired to play, blood blisters on my toes and no snacks or water) it was located on an awesome beach. A beach with barely anyone on it.
So we took off our shoes, rolled up our pants and searched for perfect rocks to add to our collections… some to bring to Maddie and some orange ones for another mom whose son is an angel who loved orange. It was a really great little surprise… this beach. What are the odds that in late October you will get to take your shoes off, walk in the sand, wade in the water and be surrounded by the most amazing fall leaves and mountains?
So… I officially apologized to my husband for being annoyed that this little adventure was killing my feet and taking too long… and thanked him for finding this beach. It was a really great little adventure… and we stopped for ice cream and water on our walk back…
Moral of the story: Simple acts of finding a beach, searching for rocks and watching the waves can bring much joy- simple joy.
It’s always weird to me how perspective changes… when you are young you think you are invinsible until you get older and realize that life has limits and danger… when you are dating you think that marriage will be easy and filled with butterflies – with no work… when you get married you think it will be easy to get to the dream pair of Adirondack chairs next to the lake – then you learn and hard comes, difficulties and differences come. I am not putting down these feelings and assumptions, just addressing how much the perspective changes in these situations when life hits… when the hard stuff comes.
Most of my life I looked at cemetaries as scary places for dead people… they were definitely haunted and bad places to be at night. In this past year I have learned the sacredness of these places, the peace they provide and in a way I understand the importance of them. In this place I go, there is sunshine, when you may have none in your heart, there is peace when you brain is crazy with thoughts and fears… there is a place to go to know that your person is there. My perspective has been supremely altered in a good way. I love to go there, I love the beauty of Maddie’s spot, I love the history there. I often wonder about the people who came there before us, not just today or yesterday but a hundred years ago. So much life there… to most it is the opposite. So many people visiting them often, coming for peace and closure, sharing their day, thoughts and prayers… feeling the peace of a defined spot just for their person, their lovely.
I love my time with Maddie. I love the place we chose, it is her. It is perfect. It is exactly the kind of place I would have my dream home, and eventually it will be my home. It is hilly and filled with trees, it is old and full of character, it is full of heroes and moms and babies and fathers and grandparents… great stories… I am always sad to know that we had to buy a plot, that we are choosing a stone and that Madeline will never sleep in her bed here… but I feel great comfort knowing she is there and that her spot is so perfect.
I am sure life has lots more perspective to change in my life… for now I think I get a break.
Many of my days are a blur, a blur of emotion, exhaustion… just a blur. Several months ago, when Maddie passed, so much of the world helped us- send food, cards and gifts. I remember one day my cousin sent me a really nice card and a beautiful jar filled with little rolled up quotes, wrapped in ribbon. I set it on the counter and kind of forgot for a while. When I started ‘nesting’ and getting the house back to a new state of normal I happened upon the jar again. I took out a piece of paper and read it. It was a smart quote about living a happy and joy filled life. Since then, when I am having a hard day, I take a little rolled up, ribbon wrapped piece of paper and open it. Many days it is a set of words I needed to hear- in those cases I always tape them to my cupboards and reread often.
This one is one of my favorites. I think it sums me up… and kind of my perspective through all of this. That on the days that are bright, and you can summon energy and see good you focus and remember and move and live… and on the very hardest days you hope, you remember, you feel the pain, you know that tomorrow you can move and laugh and live but today you must hope and survive…
Words in a jar… have been one of the most simple and thoughtful gifts I have ever received… it has helped me focus when the day is good and hope when the day is dark… some days we just need to see what we already know.
Lately my husband has taken our girls on daddy/daughter dates… and I have had the first regular set of hours (preschool) that I am alone and sometimes without expectations, plans or people to hang out with. What a strange feeling… I am so not used to being alone… alone in my house, alone in my car… seriously alone ANYWHERE.
So on a night that my sister took my lovelies for a ‘kids only’ slumber party and my husband had to work… I was alone and had nothing to do. I, like any other free mother of three, did just exactly what we know best- I went to Target to walk around and check out the clearance end caps… then I took myself to Starbucks for a tea and went home to bed at 10pm (I thought I would be crazy with time when I got it…). As I was driving to Starbucks I was thinking of how lonely I felt… and how much I wished I had someone to hang out with then. Then it dawned on me **lightbulb!!!** that maybe I am not lonely, but maybe I don’t know how to be alone. My entire life I have had a person bugging me, hugging me, talking to me… etc. I was one of five kids, had lots of friends, met Matthew young and were together all the time, moved and had a job full of people, had kids who never left my side… you get the picture… never alone. So in my, I guess moment of clarity, I thought maybe I need to learn to be alone. I mean who on earth doesn’t know how to be alone? I guess I am going to challenge myself to learn to enjoy it, like I enjoy a good glass of wine with friends or one of those amazing ‘soul connecting, I remember why I love you’ talks with my spouse… I will learn to like to be just with me.
So here I am challenging myself to start enjoying being alone and figuring out ‘just me’… I will keep you posted on my journey and will accept babysitters to help me make more time for ‘just me’ to figure out herself…