Adventures far from home, with some bits of home.

For any who know me, they know that I am a spontaneous traveler.  I joke about having ‘commitment issues’, but honestly I have them.  I think it may be more of a ‘fear of what tomorrow will bring’ problem.  I am sure many who have lost children have this, imagine in one day, or maybe five, your entire future of plans and ideas is gone.  You are left here to build a new future and plan new plans and create new ideas…. Or you can be me and pack lightly, jump in the car and head off to find some fun adventure.  I know sometimes there are many more trips to Target for things forgotten, or plans that don’t go the way I planned.  Honestly, I don’t think I would want to or could do it differently. 

I love adventures, as I always call them.  To most they would be unorganized bouts with chaos, but it is my way.  I tend to drag my girls into it, we are known for packing up, even when there were diaper bags, and meeting people an hour away for a spontaneous dinner.  I think it keeps us young, others would think we were nuts.  This week is my week off and my niece happens to be hanging with us.

I had no time to plan any events or plans for the week, and think the weather would have kicked any plans to the curb.  In my natural way, I decided we play the week by ear… sleep in, do nothing mixed with something.  I wanted to check out things I put off until work was done and also honor Lucy’s demand to sleep in this summer (listen don’t poke a Lucy, she may not bite but she stings).  So we set out on adventures.

We checked out Jumpin’ Jacks, a Waterski Show, pizza night, Indian Ladder hike and then visiting our friends at Indian Ladder Farm.  We have been rockin’ a week of fun and simple.  Today we thought we would head to the aquarium, but I thought about how sunny it would be.  I woke the girls and told them they had an hour… we were going to the zoo.  I had found a cool Groupon for a zoo in Catskill, south of Albany.  I packed a fancy picnic of left over pizza and pb&j sandwiches on leftover hotdog buns… and the girls prepped.  I jumped in the shower and we were off…

I love driving that way, the roads are different than up north.  It is windy and so green, the whole area surrounding Woodstock and Hudson and Catskill is different than here in Albany.  I am sure many say that when they visit back home, on Lake Ontario.  Today we blared the radio, sang the songs and I let my hair blow everywhere.  I didn’t even get pulled over.

We got off the thruway and wove our way through Catskill, a town I had only been in a couple of times.  Google Maps told me to take a right on to 32, and I followed directions.  I saw the most peculiar thing… a piece of home. 

David Lane died while working in Catskill as a NYS Trooper.  He was killed in a car accident.

I never really knew where David passed, or where they continued to honor him, beyond home.  His family shares and celebrates him in the best way.  I immediately looked in my rear view and forward and U-Turned (it was safe I promise).  I went back and just looked, a piece of home left for heaven right here.  Most northerners would never happen upon this sacred spot.  I did.  I saw his face, in his Trooper picture.  I remember others talking about him, some who dated him long ago.  I thought about his unfinished life, his fiancé.  I felt it.  I sat for a few and told the car full of girls about him.   We drove on.

A few moments later I saw his marker on the side of the highway, back a way in a business’s yard, near a wooded area.  I turned around (again) and went back to really look.  It was well maintained and had a NYS Trooper tie and a beanie baby.  I just peeked and went back to the car… I thought about another time…

I was training for my Marathon several summers back and I went out for my long run one day of vacation.  It just so happened that Pillar Point was 21ish miles from my cottage back to my cottage, a nice long loop.  I started very early and it was still dark.  Several miles in I saw a memorial, Brittany’s spot… a place where a lovely left this Earth and headed to Heaven.  I stopped and said a prayer, for that beautiful dimpled girl and her parents who missed her so.  I remember Brittany from when she was little, her mom was a hair dresser and she had this smile that could win awards- flanked with dimples.  I kept running that day, but after crying could never get my breathing back to a good, controlled breathe.  I knew I would fail that long run and I called Matt to come pick me up 17 miles into that 21 miler.  I felt it.

Today’s adventure, I felt like, was an opportunity to bring him along.  I thought about David the whole day, not in a sad and terrible way.  I know what it feels like to have a child in heaven, I felt like I brought David along today.  He was my bit of home in an adventure far from home…

I think he enjoyed the zoo today… I really do.  We did.  We laughed at the ugliness of the turkeys, how did God make them to look that way… we reveled in the beauty of the peacocks and noted their shyness (I am sure in the wind it is a bad thing to be gorgeous and stand out)… we fed the llamas and snuck carrots to the camels.  We chuckled at the pigs and I told the girls not to pick on them… no judgement here.  Lucy growled at the tigers and one came out to see if we would be tasty.  I am sure I looked to hard to catch, I think Amelia looked tasty.

I splurged and let all the girls (Hayle too), ride a horse and enjoy a little extra.  I loved today, and yesterday… and pretty much all adventures.  We headed back to my house and took the long way home.  Part of the adventure is the journey… I am sure Hayle will never forget 8675309… or a the Matthew West song I belted with a nice deep tone.  That is a good day… a spontaneously best day.  A Best Day Ever…

I am grateful to have happened upon another family’s spot for their son, one from back home.  I feel like I got a to bring a bit of him along today.  I hope he enjoyed . 

For tonight we all rest… no one knows what tomorrow will bring here at the Musto Residence.  I see another adventure….

All that she misses…

Life is fast.  One day you are nursing your baby and encouraging them to roll or walk; only a few blinks later they are graduating preschool and starting Kindergarten.  Time is funny, when we live it can feel so freaking slow… but in retrospect it rushes and rolls on by.  Since Madeline died time is hard for me to grasp, I see my lovely as a 5-year-old, but I see her old friends become 11 year old’s.  Time doesn’t make sense in my brain, I don’t know if that will ever change. 

Madeline would have graduated from 5th grade today.  She would have come home all fancy from graduation and been crazy excited to be a Middle Schooler.  I know all the things she would be excited/nervous about- mastering locker opening, a new lunch room and a totally different class schedule.  I would be nervous for all the parts of Middle School that hurt and are hard.  I would be praying she was a good friend and took care of others.  I would be preparing for the hurt that will come with all that High School and Middle School…

The world keeps spinning… and today Madeline’s friends moved onward and upward.  She will forever be only a Bradt Elementary kiddo.  That is her journey…


Today my Lucy exited Bradt Elementary for the last time as a student there… she graduated to 3rd grade.  I have had a child at Bradt for almost 6 years.  It is our home.  I left with her and felt a sadness for her next year… a bit of sad that she is growing and God just keeps giving her one more day but also that she keeps outgrowing all that Madeline touched.  I can’t believe time has moved this far from her… but alas it always does.

I decided, if Madeline and my girls weren’t at Bradt, then I best just join the family.  I accepted a position at Bradt within their Special Ed department.  I will continue to wander and run in those hallways for the time being.  I know how much she loved that school, with the bright colors and the amazing teaching team.  I hope she runs and wanders with me…

To top our last day of school off Lucy had a Championship game tonight.  We had a great pep talk “Lucy enjoy the game, do your best”… “Okay”… “I love you if you win or lose, but Bubba it will be fun to win tonight”.  So… Team Maddie’s Mark won.  I felt it, like I won.  Imagine watching your daughter do what she loves, on her sister’s field… in purple shirts, on the team her sister’s legacy sponsors.  Lucy doesn’t have to wonder if her sister, Madeline, worked her magic.  Madeline was propped on my shoulder, like Lucy always tells me, watching and cheering.  Today was a Best DAY Ever…

Life moves fast…

It always has and always will. 

I laughed tonight when some pictures from 2010 popped onto my feed, you know that Time Hop gift.  I was working to upload pictures of Lucy and her team… and look what popped into my feed.

Madeline played soccer for a few seasons.  As many other kids ran and chased the ball Madeline somehow always seemed to care about how her socks were bugging her or be chatting with a friend.  I watched her then and knew she was never made to be a sports star, in a way I was right way back then.  God had much bigger plans than putting too much competitiveness or soccer feet on her.  Such a different Musto Chick than her sisters. 

Eleven years ago today I was hanging out at St. Peter’s waiting to meet my Madeline.  Today I started summer vacation with my girls, Amelia will enter 5th grade in the fall… only one more step until Middle School.  For today we enjoy, we celebrate and we wake up late and watch Phineas and Ferb.  I know the drill time will keep moving, just as it always does.  I will blink and be getting semiformal dresses and talking about permits and….

Hopping back in time…

The thing is… I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook flashbacks.  I love them so much, but they hurt so much.  I sat outside in the sun skimming through people status and beyond… and I time hopped.  My shoulders were enjoying the sunlight, my ears were rocking out to Mumford and Son’s Pandora and I was loosely watching my girls play baseball together.  Did you know on this day 7 years ago…

I didn’t.

What a confusing gift going back in time is.  The pride and love and excitement of that moment, way back when.  I can remember what we were wearing and carrying my camera and a Lucy for these events.  So long ago…

Somedays I just skim past those memories, others I check them out and smile… today I saw where I was only 7 years ago and my heart hurt and my eyes let go of some pent up tears.  This is the time of year, the crazy time… field days, concerts, recitals, baseball, travelling, weddings and family parties… it is the best crazy time of year.  We watch our children grow and see them succeed and advance.  It is a good and exhausting time for parents.  I love it.  It hurts.  So is life…

I imagined my life as one with 3 girls, maybe even more.  I only have 2 Musto Chicks to build now… and I am mostly here doing my job and loving what I have.  Mostly. 

7 years ago Madeline was graduating from MOPS and Preschool… I remember those milestones and the  days they happened.  They don’t seem so far away… but look at my life.  Those moments are a million moments from this very spot.  I can still see her smiling as I took her picture, with her folder and her black and white dress.  She was so proud.  I remember Madeline being so excited to grow and get to the next step…. She was, honestly, 15 years beyond her age.  My lovely was an old soul. 


Tonight that Facebook Time hop poked me in the heart and knocked me back to a mom missing her lovely.  I miss the days of having lots of girls who needed me to guide them and build them… and feed them.  I miss making cool snacks and doing little crafts… the days of toddler’s are gone from here.  I miss her… I miss it all.  I don’t regret the crazy or the tired or the exhausted, I don’t regret wishing some of it away…. But I look back at my three girls snuggled in one bed, my Madeline pretending to drive her sisters on the couch and I can still hear her voice as she sang to her sisters.  I miss 7 years ago today. 

If it could ever happen, I would return to this day back then.  I would go through it all the same, but keep my eyes open and take it in better.  I would memorize it.

A mom I met after Madeline was sick told me this… her daughter had been sick for years and she journeyed with her.  Jenny told me that in the time her Ila was sick she memorized her.  I only wish I had been better at memorizing her.  Jenny has every piece of skin and look of Ila, every smile and her voice are in her brain.

I have a love/hate relationship with Time hop. 

What were you doing 7 years ago today????

Watching Baseball….

What does it feel like to watch me play baseball, mom?

Lucy asked me this the other day before her game.  We were rushing and rushing to get her uniform on and get to baseball on timeish… and I smiled and said I love it. 

I thought more about it as the game and time has gone by.  I love the way that Lucy thinks, she is so different and often she has such profound thoughts and ideas.  She is wise beyond her 8 years.  Lucy’s words and writing usually grounds me, she brings me back to where I should be as a mom, a leader, a teacher and beyond.  What a profound wonder she had, “what does it feel like to watch me play baseball, mom?”

She has heard me for years send her out the field and tell her to have fun, enjoy and be safe.  She has run off the field for years now with a smile, excited for a free popsicle, giving me details of the game.  I see the light in her eyes when I tell her I loved how she hit in the beginning or how she ran fast in the play with so and so.  She is so glad when she knows I saw it, and I miss things as any mom or dad does.  I never really thought to answer a question like she asked.  I wish I had a better answer on that day… but someday I hope she reads this.

“Watching you makes me feel so proud.  I love seeing you cheer on your friends and work hard… my favorite is seeing you when you miss a good pitch and your step to the side to test your swing.  I love that you look so ‘in control’ of the bat in that moment.  I watch and I feel like it is a glimpse of grown Lucy, you look so mature out there.  I love that you do it… even when you had so many things to do that day you put your purple on and grab your cleats… you get your bag and you tell me to move so you aren’t late.  You hate to be late.  I love to watch you run to meet your team on the field.  Lucy I think it is awesome to see you follow the rules and participate as a team, you encourage the ones who need it and bust out in a big cheer to keep the team moral going.  Lucy, most of all, I want to tell you that seeing you do something you love is one of my most favorite things.  I can’t believe how self-sufficient and happy you are, I don’t remember being like you when I was 8.  Bubba- you know mommy likes to talk a lot… this most- you are one special girl.  I thank God every day that He picked me to help build you, and thank Madeline all the time for all she builds in you.  I am proud, but I know she is so proud.  I know that Madeline is a part of every run you get, every hit you hit and all of the smiles that you enjoy doing your thing.  Thank you Bubba for reminding me to think deeper, and acknowledge bigger.”

Maybe we should all think out more of the ‘how does it make you feel to…’  I am sure we would be more present and content in this crazy journey called life.