Life lived Seperate

This week my daughters went with their dad on an adventure of a lifetime, at least a lifetime thus far. They flew out on Tuesday and will be home in a little bit. I loved getting little updates, a picture of Ireland in Epcot- since they know our Irish heritage, a sign on the water warning of snakes and alligators- since they know I am terrified of snakes… and finally some shots of them enjoying the bits and pieces of their trip with their dad. I looked forward to those pictures every day, but never wanted to interrupt their adventure. I was excited to see the last picture this morning of them enjoying breakfast at the airport… soon they will be home.

I thought I would miss them terrible… but it was different than that. I felt many times a day a wonder of what they were doing right then, reminded my brain that they would tell me all about it today and got on with my day. I went about my normal evenings- meetings, faith formation, running errands and finally a date night with Mr. Rick. It was a good few days… but it was weird to do it all without them. I didn’t spend a million minutes just missing them, but I spent many wondering what kinds of adventures they were on, or if they were bringing Madeline down Splash Mountain.

The thing is… divorce is hard. It is hard even long after the separation and hurt and healing. It is hard. It is a life lived separate for the children… nothing I had ever thought would happen. I love life today, separate and full of so many other pieces now. I don’t crave a life together instead of divorce. I just feel pain when this life lived separate means I am missing a milestone.

The tooth fairy visited for the first time on July 4, 2015. I missed it. I remember Amelia calling to tell me and I told her I was so excited for her, to send me a picture. I hung up and I cried. I sat in my car for a long time and cried… sad to not be the tooth fairy, sad that Madeline never lost a tooth, sad that my life was now lived separately- some of the time. Missed milestones are hard…

It has taken time, but for the most part Matthew and I co-parent well. We are flexible, we accommodate family or traditions. Rick and I watch baseball games or go to recitals, and Matthew is there. I am happy for my girls when their father takes them on adventures and he is happy when they enjoy things with me and my clan. We don’t put one another down to the children. We have gotten pretty good at conversing about and coming to conclusions when there are issues with the girls. It was hard, but I know at least on my side, that we are doing this separate living pretty well. I have seen many different dynamics of divorce in other families… and so many punish their ex with their children, or compete with gifts… it is not helpful or healthy.

So… this week was hard, but not in the way that I thought. I thought I would be all bummed and miss the girls. It was a different feeling all together… it was more like a longing- a sad longing to be with them when they were experiencing something new and amazing- an adventure I have never ventured on. I felt a sadness for me, and excitement for them. I imagine that is how parenting in this life lived separately should go— a tinge of sad for me, a pile of excitement for them.

Divorce is hard. Life lived separate is hard. It is work… work to heal and grow and build and create. It is hard work. It is worth the hard work… I want my girls to enjoy this world with me and without. I love them like crazy- and I trust Matthew with them. I love them and I am glad they love their dad… he is half their DNA. If I told those girls I hated their dad, they would think that half their DNA is crap… and that is just not true. God made them with my DNA and their dad’s… my job is to love and build those DNA sequences into some rockin’ good adults who live well- and never feel like they lived life separately.

Divorce is hard. Co-parenting is hard. Life lived separate is hard. Life is hard. Birth is hard. Parenting is hard. Working is hard. It is all hard… and beautiful and broken and lovely and terrible. Life is hard… but we can do hard things. Do them… do this life better. Co-parent, divorce, marry, parent…. Do it all better…

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A Super Hero was Stolen Today…

We lost him. He was supposed to be first.

I stood in the classroom I work in, in the midst of some crazy moments, I peaked on my phone to use a timer and I saw it. I immediately felt the 500 pound person on my shoulders, the one that makes it impossible to move. I told that person, that grief, to leave me alone right now. I can’t do this part here, so I put it away. I can do that now…

Today Devin Suau left us here on Earth, some might say he lost his battle with DIPG… but I know the truth. DIPG stole him. DIPG broke into his body and stole him- stole his smile, his running legs, his body and this morning DIPG stole his last breath and last heartbeat. DIPG stole Devin, just as it stole my Madeline. He lost nothing, it was stolen.

I know exactly what today feels like to Christine, Devin’s mom. I remember the lack of understanding… how CAN the world still be working. How did people get up today and do normal… I wanted to shout it everywhere. I left the hospital with an empty car seat, feeling like I failed at parenting her. I should never only have 2 car seats, I was worried that the nurses might lose her pearl earring. We drove away from Albany Med, and I don’t think we spoke. Amelia had a major meltdown because Madeline was not in her car seat. We got home and Matthew and I just laid in the living room on the floor. Other people took care of the girls, or at least I assume they did. There were tasks to complete, that kept me busy. The world made no sense… I literally could not understand how we all didn’t cease to exist in those moments that she passed. I had to shop, I remember for the first time ever I had money in my pocket to buy whatever I wanted, and I wanted nothing to do with buying clothes. I still see that dress, it was tiny. I lost so much weight in those days… I hardly recognize myself in the pictures. I remember very quickly my brain became numb, like very numb. I felt nothing. I stood at calling hours, right next to my Madeline who was dressed in her favorite outfit with her prized twinkle toes… I hugged people and reassured them that we would be okay. I was floating above myself back then. I couldn’t possibly feel the feelings at that time, I might have imploded. I remember still the children from her Kindergarten class who came to say goodbye… they are now in 6th grade… and she is not.

I know what today feels like for Christine, and I hoped like crazy that he would be first- that DIPG would be halted and stop taking him away.

For all who wonder what to do… pray. Pray for Devin’s family. Take care of them. NEVER, ever forget Devin, remind them that you carry him, you love him, you miss him. Let his family do it their way, just the way they need to. Support them when they honor him, always. Be kind to Devin’s clan… they need love and support and privacy and peace… they need time. Talk about him… bring him along. Take this story and journey and ACT… raise funds and awareness for DIPG research.

I remember a wise mother who lost her daughter just after Madeline, her daughter Ila Jean had been sick for a long time. She told me in all the time that Ila was sick she memorized her. Ila is in her brain, she can tap into Ila’s smell, heartbeat or the way her skin felt. She memorized her lovely. I texted that to Christine, I hope she memorized her baby. I didn’t know to do that with Madeline… and there wasn’t time. Memorize your kids…

I miss my lovely, I hate that DIPG stole her. I know what that missing feels like… and I know what the pain feels like. Send love and prayers… take your sadness and use it as fuel to change this for others. Today the world and future lost a super hero, a boy who should have grown to a man…

Fly High Devin… you are one loved angel. I hope my angel greeted you with your grandma and you see all the splendor of heaven. Save us a good spot up there, and a few calorie free cupcakes…

This one’s for you Devin, one for your momma… you are her star.  Guide her well.  She will do your work, she will live life and bring you along… DIPG might have stolen your heartbeat and breath, but we are gonna change this world for you… your momma will do the big and hard things for you… you are our star.

To teach is to learn…

I quite like teaching… I didn’t mean to, it just happened. I meant to be a doctor or a nurse, I loved science and the labs and people. I felt like every time we did an experiment it was like an adventure. Every time I researched and wrote a paper there was tons of interesting things I wrote about that I didn’t know before. What are the odds that when I returned to work after raising my girls to school age- I would work in Special Education, coach Odyssey of the Mind or teach Faith Formation? I guess I quite like teaching…

This year when school started and Faith Formation paperwork was past due, I felt a little drawn to teach faith. I knew they were in need of Catechists and honestly felt a little guilty that during that 5-6pm time slot on Thursday nights I usually took a nap in the parking lot at the church. I had no good reason ‘not’ to teach and felt a little pull to teach. So I said yes…

I know I have high expectations, but I hope to share my experiences and connection to God and help those kids form a great relationship too. I am sure I have high expectations, but I will try. I remember at the 3rd grade level I hated church school, except that I could chat on the bus over and try on other classmate’s glasses. I don’t remember having a real relationship with God, or really getting it. I remember being sternly looked at when I ask how it was possible that Mary was a human that never sinned, yet never knew she was special and would carry Jesus. Sister Norah was NOT a fan of curious kids… and I still don’t necessarily understand that today. What if I can do it better, and some active and chatty 3rd graders can leave on Thursday nights a little more connected to The Big Guy?

I am only a few weeks in, but I am trying. I am trying to remind those kids of how easy it is to have a relationship with God, how loving He is and how He wants to have that bond with us. I want them to be interested and learn… last week we talked about prayer. How it is just a conversation with God, how easy it is and how they need to remember that as they grow. I told them that most adults are scared and put off prayer and connecting to God. They are scared they will do it wrong, or mess it up… but He doesn’t actually care. He craves conversation, connection… it is what we are made for.

This week we tackled Saints, since All Saints Day is coming. It was good conversation… I learned a lot researching for the class. Imagine getting to be the person who tells a bunch of 3rd graders what a Miracle is… or the cool stories that go along with Saints. I got a lot of interest when I told those kiddos that there is a Saint who SUPER loves animals, he is the patron saint of animal wellness- he is also the reason that there is sometimes bring your pet to church day for blessings. I got to talk about Joan of Arc and how a person can become a saint (if you don’t know you should definitely Google it). It was a really good class, we finished it off with a 10 minute game of Head Bands.

I heard some kids talk about when they die and become saints… it just got me thinking about how it all works. To a child we see a good person as a saint… but I know that a saint is WAY more than that. I got to explain that… a saint is a person who gives their life for Christ- not in a ‘I am baptized’ kind of way… but in a I will definitely stand up and proclaim that I know Jesus and love Him- even if you can be killed for it. A saint goes into Leper Towns and cleans the sick people’s sores, loves them and cares for them- at the cost of their health, in the name of Jesus. A saint is a human, they sin, but they do the hard work, in hard circumstances, with high costs such as their life.

One child asked me what saints look like… I started going through the book to find pictures. Then I realized that the truth is they look like us, people… only most were born and did their work in a different time so their clothes are different and they are usually represented as a statue or painting… cameras are newer to history. Here I was thinking all complicated- looking for pictures and paintings… but the truth was simple. They look like us. The cool part is that to become a saint… they have to be dead for 5 years, they need to basically be a hero of sorts and they need to have VERIFIED miracles. BOOM… pretty cool.

I talked about miracles tonight… I think I was the first to deeply talk to those kids about what they really are. Miracles are unbelievable things that really happen. Madeline is my miracle; her life was unbelievable… her sufferless death a miracle.

I am enjoying this season of my life, this teaching season. I know it is a piece of my life that I will forever learn from. I am missing my Thursday night naps… but I guess I have lessons to share…

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So far from ‘old’ me…

 

I am just not that person anymore.

I made apple crisp yesterday. My house smelled like apples and cinnamon and fall. The Musto Mountain of Laundry was put away. The pumpkins were all ready to be carved. We were excited to have a pizza/pumpkin night.

I had a thought as I stood cutting apples with the girls… I am not the person I was back when these things were the normal. I used to cook for people every.single.weekend. I used to theme out taco nights and invite friends to cut pumpkins with the girls. I would make a pot of sauce and host… I used to be that person.

I felt, not in a terrible bad way, so far from that person. I started to think of all the things that have changed since then, back when I hosted and cooked and committed to events. I thought about when the girls were little carving pumpkins. I thought about family dinners that weren’t just the 3 of us. Three is such a small number… I know I am just not the same person anymore.

So many things have changed since then, many really great things. All these things life has brought to me have made me a really different ‘me’ than then. I miss her… I miss old me. I don’t wish to be ‘her’… but I miss how she had a slight naïve piece in her, how she loved to commit and plan better. I miss how she cooked and kept up on all the holiday decorating and thoughtful gifts and important events. I looked back at ‘her’ while I cut apples with my girls. I just felt far away from her, but a little nostalgic too.

My world looks so different now, I am not surprised that I am different ‘me’ now than then. I was much younger and I seemed to find time to run with friends and move more. I had a schedule that included naps for my girls. I loved hosting friends for dinner and events… trick or treating and holidays. I see now that many of those ‘friends’ weren’t really friends… but this different me has some of the best people. Back then I had a husband, but never felt loved enough or accepted enough- different me has a boyfriend who loves her always and anyway. I now work full time, run a foundation, parents my girls, cheer them at baseball and more, teach faith formation… and I fail often at keeping my house in order or getting a good workout in.

This me has lived 100 lifetimes in only a few years… I like to think I am ageing well (minus the extra pounds). I have felt and been immersed in great pain… I have been lifted and carried… I have seen and felt great Joy right in the midst of it all. I know I have some extra wrinkles, some extra baggage… but I quite like this different me. What if I were still that me…

Maybe I will work in a little more apple crisp making, hosting more dinners and squishing into my little house. It felt good yesterday… soul filling. Maybe I saw ‘old’ Erin for a few minutes yesterday to remind me of where I am now, and maybe last night reminded me that I need that. I need to squish people in, carve pumpkins, feed them lots and watch movies… it really felt good.

Today I am sitting with my girls, watching Phineas and Ferb, and thinking about it all. I’m sitting in the same living room, with the same red curtains and the same TV… feeling pretty good about where I am right now. I might miss bits of old me, but I love this me. It’s hard to explain. I wish always that there were 3 girls snuggled up with me, but it is what it is. I am who I am- 35 years old, but at least 52 years old in life experiences.

Do you ever look back and think about not just how different life is now, but how different you are? How life’s big piles of amazing and crap built you to be different? … or is it just me…

Dear Hate.

I hate the hate in this world. I hate it. I can’t fix IT… but I can change it. In my own little niche I can. I know my niche is small, but what if we all cover our niches? What if we send hate on a journey a little farther from our world today- we can’t get rid of it, but we could change it. We could alter the world we live in… even if it is only in our niches.

I vow, I promise, I swear I will do my best. I will raise my people to be good, kind and filled with love. I can’t banish hate- but I can build a solid wall of love. I vow, I promise, I swear I will treat those kids I come into contact with in life, in my niche, with love. I will give them love in case no one else builds that bit of them. I will give them safety and love and handfuls of love. I vow, I promise, I swear to treat ALL of the adults and families I come into contact with dignity and respect and love. Love all the way, in every.single.niche.

Today my heart hurts and my soul feels heavy. I just don’t get it, how did we get to this point? How does one person take the lives of so many others? How does one hate enough to try to hurt so many? How can one person, any person, choose to hurt another- let alone 58 or more? I can’t wrap my brain around it, but my heart and soul feel heavy, I hurt. I can feel it. Grief, grief for people I have never met. I hurt for those who saw it all, who felt it all there. I hurt for those police officers and EMTS who had to jump in and stay calm in chaos. I hurt for the babies who lost their mommas and dads… their aunts and cousins… I hurt for the parents who lost their kids and friends or spouses who had to sit today and let it sink into their life that they lost their lovely. I have felt this heavy all of today.

I managed to get through the day and not break down, but it was a struggle. It was a hard day…

I keep scouring the news to hear the stories, the ones about the saviors, the helpers. I want to hear the stories of those who left our world last night. I want to carry them along with me… to fill my niche with love in honor of those souls. I can only imagine the bravery and fear so many felt. I pray for comfort… I know that won’t help much right now.

I can’t change the reactions, the behaviors of others. I can change me… and my reaction and behaviors. I am mad, so mad. I am not going to respond to the mad- only acknowledge it and help build my niche better. I am going to remember those who died last night and the broken of their families. I am going to carry them… bring them along. I am going to watch for the stories of those who showed their brave side, who fought the hate. They cared and loved in the midst of hate.

The thing is… love rides right next to hate. In those moments of EXTREME HATE… Love always rides right there. We just need to see it, we need to feel it. Let the love impact us more than the hate… otherwise hate wins that battle. Fuck Hate. Send that battle off… maybe we need to host an H-Day… and send hate to hell.

I wish I could help every.single.one of those people impacted in some way by this attack in Vegas… but truth is it is all of us. We are all sitting dumbstruck that there seems to be no reason, no foundation for this hate. It is like a new hate in our world. Hate for no particular reason… or so it seems.

I am going to vow to build love, life, light, content, faithful, kind, easy, funny, beautiful people with life skills and tools to ride next to hate, and knock it out. I am going to do the best I can in my niche, what about you? How will you honor those, and create a different world for their kids- for our kids? How will you do better? How can we not wake up broken AGAIN to hate?