Moving forward… weddings are no longer dreaded

Last year I was really extremely glad that I had to weddings to attend or be in. I probably would have found a way out anyway. Weddings, to a person going through a divorce, are a little like attending birthdays for children who are as old as your child who died should be. It stings and feels like something is missing. In the wedding situation it also feels like a way to listen to all that you failed at doing. The words and vows that are spoken by the pastor are words and vows I took with my ex-husband. Those promises were made then, and are now broken and legally corrected to the new state of life – divorce.

Do not get me wrong, I like this new state. There is not a molecule in me that wants to go back, not even a little. I like my life and my freedom. I like my friendships and connections… and I love my lessons in this. Weddings, though, are still hard… or I guess they would have been very hard a short time ago. I am glad that I can feel the happy and excitement over the feeling of loss in those vows. Marriage is a big deal. I still see married people and respect their bond and trust and love. I see their friendship. I love it. I love seeing people share each other like that. This is a big step from the Erin of last year. That one didn’t want to see those things in life or relationships. Who knows, maybe I couldn’t see them. Maybe, just maybe it would have broken me to open and feel that then. I don’t know.

In recent weeks I have been to two weddings, two awesome and simple and real weddings. I have loved all the minutes and moments in each. Those weddings were both so different, yet were full of people who loved being there to surround a couple who is going to rock forever. In early May I was privileged to attend a wedding for a new friend who is light and kind and amazing, and also has given me much hope and love for the life to come. She married her second husband… and it was awesome. They just are so light and honest and respectful… they are so happy. I loved it. She gives me laughs and hope and friendship… her experiences have helped me understand and move and live and chug through some really hard stuff. It was an awesome night and…. There was a martini bar. My feet hurt for a long time after that night and my smile never faded…

This weekend my girls and friend and I attended a wedding for Madeline’s Godmother. It was not only a pristine place to be married, on a spectacular day… but it was refreshing to feel the forever in two people. For a long time I heard love songs and was bitter about them… but seeing this connection helps me to know that the part that hurt is softer now. It was a special day. I was extremely honored to be the Maid of Honor and tried to really do my job, right down to fixing the bustle at the last second and hopefully helping the bride with details. I was also pretty stoked to be back to a Maid of Honor… this one time a long time ago I was a Matron of Honor… <3. The bride and groom were nervous, but I know it was not for the marriage but instead the details of the wedding. I think it can possibly be stressful to feed over 225 people. I felt a lot of relief when I saw them just dance and enjoy their moments together. I felt a real solid happy for them, for their future. I love that feeling. Sometimes I feel that with my girls, a real solid piece of happy. It is almost a tangible feeling.

So, I guess weddings are not so dreaded… but instead I am starting to love seeing love. I am starting to feel happier with my now, for my future. Marriage is a big deal… I have known and believed that for a long time. I am starting to believe again, to know that real and honest exists. I look forward to the next wedding, maybe a cousin or cool friend could go all destination wedding… come on????


1000 plus days and a Groundhog…

So the brain has settled down some… and I am thinking about the coming days. Anniversaries always make us do that, good or bad. Today is Groundhog Day… and it really feels that way inside me. It repeats as the last day ever that I did not know my daughter would die, before she was a high schooler, a mom, an aunt… jeesh before she lost her first tooth. These days are a blur to me to think back and remember. I have to really focus and think of the order of time back then, three years ago. Sometimes I want to and sometimes I don’t want to delve into those thoughts and memories.

I think about the sitting and the fear in the hospital, the team that Matt and I were… and how I will share none of this with him again. We won’t talk about her, remember her together… we are no longer that. We are just people who parent our girls that are still here, not people who talk about the one who isn’t. I think back to those days and the solid person he was and how he made me feel safe. How only a tiny bit of time later there is nothing in the now that makes me feel safe… it makes me sad. It hurts. Groundhog Day replays and replays in my brain today.

I can remember the feeling of Madeline… holding her and sitting with her. Playing tick tack toe in the hallway at Albany Med and her drawing Arthur and making little notes. I remember during her MRI sliding down the wall telling my sister Molly she needed to come home. I remember all of the friends and family who sat with us there… and then my heart hurts for what some of them have done to our family since. I remember maybe drinking a coffee, but really holding it for hours and not drinking it. I remember walking into the recovery room while Madeline was sleeping and the priest who was visiting weirdly walked in and told us “She is going to save your marriage”… and being mad at him for wasting this moment to say that. Later looking back and thinking it was a sign… and this is what it all looks like now. I remember sleeping next to Madeline on the bed in the Nuero PICU room, very squashed and hearing beeps and noises all night. I remember waking up to a big group of doctors, who had most likely been up for a long time talking about this MRI… knowing that this is not what they wanted to have to tell us. It was the weirdest day of my life… at least for about 5 days… then the day we drove home from the hospital with an empty car seat came. I kept thinking how hard it was to be a mom and leave my daughter to someone else… it was supposed to be my job. I worried that they got her little pearl earrings in and hoped she got to her next destination safely… I left my lovely with someone else. I felt empty and cold and like a robot. I still can feel that when I go back to those moments. I remember coming home and plunking it down in the middle of my living room with Matthew knowing that there was no one else that should be right there next to me for this.

Some of the today and the Groundhogness and repeating is about seeing all that is different today from then… recognizing what I miss and how much I miss her and my family. It is also about reflecting on what has come into this life… good and bad. What else was lost, what else was gained…

How can it be three years have gone by? How though can that life that was then feel like a whole lifetime ago??? Time is different, or maybe I just feel it and see it differently. Who knows, I am sure minutes are still minutes and hours still hours… but they don’t pass and feel the same as they did. I can’t believe that it has been over a 1000 days since my skin has touched her skin, that I got kiss her or hear her heartbeat. 1000 days. I wonder what it will all look like in another 1000 days…

Who is it that said ‘Three words I have learned about life- it goes on’… maybe Frost… but it does. Life goes on and on and on. In a way Madeline’s life still goes on… I share her, I feel her, I think about her… I just don’t get to touch her or parent her the same anymore. I don’t get to see her grow into a tween or adult or get old and wise… but I know she was wise then. She knew what all of this was… I just never knew to ask her. I was told by a medium if I ever asked Madeline she would have told me she would not live to be old. She knew all along her job was short… some might think that is crazy. I know it is true. She was more ready for this than we were… she is good and well and happy. She shows me.

I wish for 1000 more days with her, but will get through the next 1000 without her hand to hold or cheeks to nibble. I will get through… sometimes I will even thrive. For today I will just chug and breathe, remember and think, cry some and laugh… I will live in my Groundhog Day.

The missing.

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Once upon a time, in a land that seems so far away… there were a pile of Musto’s that all lived under the same roof, celebrated holidays and birthdays together and ate dinner in our dining room.  Wow does it look different now.  The pile has gotten much smaller only 3 out of 5 of us live under this roof… 2 of those 3 head out to another roof to be a split up separate family there.  Those moments are ever more visible and tangible in the holidays… memories and traditions bring back vivid pictures and thoughts and hurting… alongside smiles and warmth.  It is very clear that something is missing this holiday season… something big.

Last year there was hope for ‘we’ in our marriage, so Christmas was full and still looked mildly similar to other years.  This year I have no hope for a marriage, but excitement for some new normal.  It feels good not to be in a limbo… maybe even a game, I don’t know.  It feels fresh to just start over this year.  I am trying to do what feels good for me and the girls and make sure we bring bits of old in, with our new family-under-our-roof.  I am trying to be supportive and positive about the new in their family-under-the-other-roof.  I want them to find a new normal with Matthew.  Nothing looks the same… but for the first time since Madeline is gone and Matthew has moved on I am excited and ready and taking in all of this.  We set out to get our tree… a tradition that I melded to work into our smaller clan.  Traditionally we have a photo of Matthew walking with the tree and first year Madeline, then Madeline and Amelia… then Lucy.  It was a big tradition, I always felt so proud to share.  I am proud this year… though it stings a bit.

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This year there will be no cards, I am still not there yet.  There is no grand holiday letter to share and photos that I am ready to be put up on your cabinets.  I did make a big jump, I feel, in the taking pictures department.  I actually signed up to have my girls pictures taken.  I have not had the girls pictures taken since Madeline was alive, professionally.  I didn’t want to.  I couldn’t figure out how to pull Madeline into them, and not feel like she was missing.  She is missing.  Amelia and Lucy are still growing.  Amelia and Lucy need to have their growth and changes documented.  Someday I will want to look back and see those things that are different from then to now… those things that have changed.  For now… it feels like a big freakin’ hole of missing.  Sometimes it feels just fine, but for some reason pictures of the girls feel like they are missing something- an awkward and smiling 8 year old.  I feel like I made a big jump even though it was scary.  So one night I jumped on a spontaneous mini session with my lovely Kidography.  She was funny and easy… and assured the girls that she could edit out the big knee of mud that Lucy managed to get… I loved the pictures.  I love the JOY… I felt like that was a bright addition to photos missing someone.  How did I pull Madeline into this one… I couldn’t find a good thought for an outfit.  I didn’t want to go all Christmas with PJ’s and traditional holiday.  I didn’t want fancy, fancy dresses.  I wanted simple and ‘Musto’.  I remembered a set of Land’s End fair isle sweaters that I ordered for Madeline and Amelia.  I meant for them to wear them for holiday things the year before Madeline passed.  Madeline was a pain in the butt about clothes.  I feared her throwing a fit about the sweater being itchy or something so… I bought a set of dresses and went that route.  I still have these sweaters  in the girls closet.  I couldn’t seem to put them away.  I had hopes that Amelia and Lucy would wear them.  I had forgotten about those two sweaters… until then.  Though they were a little too small we compromised and got under clothes to show off the sweaters as shirts… not tunics :).  So in a way a bit of Madeline, Madeline’s sweater,  was in those pictures… and they came out awesome.  I am thankful for this help in documenting life right now.  As hard as it is to see the missing… it is important to bring this into the future too.

Even in the missing, there is joy and warmth and love and people and life and adventures.  Even in the dark we find light… in the missing we keep moving and growing.

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Damn you Pandora.

Damn you Pandora.  You have done it again… a simple morning of trying to clean turned into the reflective morning I have probably been avoiding for a long time.  Seriously… song after song sending me a message.  I am going to stay in it today… not going to swap stations to Jason Aldean Radio and get my work done in a different mood.   Even when we don’t want to listen to them message and the feelings He will find a way to make us listen, tis a fact.

So here I am jotting down (well typing) the thoughts and depth of this morning.  This weekend I felt as though, and voiced it several times, that I am a rollercoaster right now.  I no reason to be really, but my insides are a jumble of messed up.  Feelings don’t feel the way they should, hurt doesn’t register all the time, happy is a big up and then later I am in a confused fog.  I don’t really know what the triggers are right now, usually I am good at nailing it down.  I think it is a lot.  I think in a way as I was working hard to get stronger and find me- I didn’t give enough of my heart and brain to my loss, or what I thought I was losing.  I was losing a future and I don’t think I let myself get sad about it… I just functioned and moved and found fun and happy to distract me and build me.  So this morning was just that… a little roundabout back to some pain I need to feel.  What a complicated pile of life this has been…

So Pink, Christina Perri, Great Big World, Evanescence, Bruno Mars… and more have put me in this very spot.  I guess I will make the beds and vacuum while thinking about all of this.  Then again, it made me sad making Lucy’s bed and putting her sheets on wondering how long Lucy will still like the rubber alligator (ali ‘n  jack) and her hulk doll on her bed.   Damn you Pandora.  Damn you.


Miss you darling.  More than any words I can write- I freakin’ miss you.

How is it that I am a single mom?????

Thank you Everyday Windshield for helping me share my journey… I am honored and proud that many help me write and share.  It is my therapy, my security… and at the same time it renders me naked in a way.  I guess getting naked it good every once and a while right???  Please check it out and visit…


PS  thank you for Climbing up my crazy polka dot tree.

… clicking shoes to get back home.

Sometimes, instead of travelling the Yellow Brick Road and finding adventure and fulfillment… we just need to click our heels and head back to Kansas.  In my case, Brownville… I don’t get to Kansas too much.  There is something about home, a familiarity… a feeling.  I don’t know what it is, a safe I guess.

Life is freakin’ crazy, always is… probably always will be, until I kick the bucket.  I am in no hurry to do that, but know that the first time I really slow down will be the day I am buried next to Mads.  I think I like this nutty and busy life, and still enjoys lots of it.  I do need a break sometimes, well maybe more often, but I do TAKE a break sometimes.  This past weekend I headed home.  I needed home, my girls needed home… my dog needed home.  Did I mention we needed home???

So home we went, all three plus hours of it (really 2.75, but gas stops, pee stops and Boonville Burger King stops… add up).  The ride home I felt Madeline.  I felt the sun on my shoulder going home… and it made me warm and happy.  Inside me I know it was her… telling me to bring her sisters home.  We had some normal nutty and bad tantrums on Tug Hill… but mostly I loved the girls talking and playing and rocking out to Taylor Swift and Jason Aldean.  It felt like we were our own little family.  The comfort and warmth from the sun, alongside a feeling that this was in fact Madeline, made me know we were headed where we needed to be.  The whole weekend was like that, just easy.  My girls played and hung out with my parents and their cousins.  We got pumpkins and had a great afternoon.  Weirdly everywhere we went on Saturday and Sunday there was one Monarch butterfly.  Only one… it is October… those are supposed to be en route to Mexico.  Those butterflies felt like little bits of Madeline telling me “I love you mom, keep chuggin’… I love my family.”

I don’t often get all sappy and symbolic about my trips and the sun and butterflies… but I am telling you it was her.  In me I know it… she is here guiding and maybe gifting us life and living.  I don’t know how to explain… but I just know in me.

Madeline loved being home, loved her family.  She was a connected and thoughtful daughter… I believe she brings that through now too.  This weekend was so easy… nothing difficult in it.  My girls saw all of their cousins and connected.  They celebrated and swung in the new hammocks on the new porch. They laughed from deep in their gut because Lucy wore two different shoes for the weekend… thankfully they were two pink CROCs.  I got to snuggle and stare at my new nephew… talk to my sister about his eating and sleeping.  I got to change itty bitty baby boy diapers- and managed to not get peed on (score).  The girls met Reaner and loved him up… assessing his toes and hands and faces.  I got to see old friends and have a few beers after a BIG, crazy and tasty dinner.  I didn’t get a run in this past weekend, but I slept well and felt good all weekend.  I felt Maddie when I was home.

Sometimes we need to just click our heels and don our red shoes and go home… I believe this is absolutely necessary for a healthy heart, mind and soul.  Home can look different than where you grew up, but it is a place that you are safe and welcome and loved.  Madeline, Amelia and Lucy are my home… I am home when I am with them.  It has taken a long time to feel ‘home’ with no Madeline, and now no Matthew.  I am finally starting to get that feeling, that ‘home sweet home’ feeling.  You pessimists or nonbelievers think that is just me getting over those losses… but really it is those losses becoming a part of me… becoming a part of ‘home’.  I need a trip home to renew and see my family, feel my ‘home’ and breathe my lake air.

Here I am back in my life as I know it… working at the girl’s school, loving it… trying to balance it all… feeling a little bit more me- just from that trip home.  That bit of comfort keeps me chuggin’ when the days are long and sad… keeps me focused when life is nuts and crazy and confusing.  That taste of home will keep me ‘Erin’ for a while longer.

Words to live by…

What are the odds that in one day 3 people will reach out to you with important and powerful words for your heart, mind and soul?  I have learned to not take those types of messages for granted.  Those are the ways God makes sure we know He is there.  I guess you could totally chalk it up to chance, but seriously

“And you can not be my disciple if you do not carry your cross and follow me.  But don’t begin until you count the cost”  (Luke 14:27)

My little sister Molly sent this to me on Sunday morning.  I read it and reread it.  She noted that I often say that we all have a ‘cross’ to carry, we don’t get to choose the ‘cross’ but it is ours to carry and survive.  Often times people look at me and say “You are so strong” or “I couldn’t handle all of this”… things of that nature.  I believe inside of me that we are all faced with big blessings and really hard stuff… we all have our ‘cross’ to carry.  I think a gift in this is following God… He  keeps the light on, so I always know I can hold on and get through it.  I have a big freakin’ cross to carry, each of us does.  Mixed into those ‘crosses’ and bard things and heavy life experiences is strength, support, miracles, life, joy and sometimes someone else carrying that heavy cross for you.  Those are all part of the knowing God in this… calling on Him to help you get up the hill with your heavy cross.  Another part of this is no one’s cross looks the same … we cant really compare them.  The loss of Madeline is mixed with the life of Madeline and my divorce is darn heavy… but I pray and work out and stay healthy in many ways to carry this big hunka life that I was gifted.

I remember receiving the “whatever is lovely” bracelet and thinking how awesome it was that this phrase I use is backed up in the bible… and Molly thought it was cool that words I talk about and use are backed up in the bible.  I honestly feel like it was a little way to remind me that this fact is true.  That we all have a cross, they are all different.  I actually take this message as another push to start a bible study and know the words that are inside of me already.

quoteI received that text from Molly and my brain thought of a few people who NEEDED to see it.  I called Kathi and was on my way to see her and old her she had to see this quote… then she told me that she had a word for me.  It is a super strange word since it is Hebrew… but it is a definition of the feeling that I talk about so often.  That feeling inside that makes you know you must… pray, move, live, carry, support, share… whatever it is.  This is a LONG word for the feeling inside of us that pulls us to action- be it a special prayer or thought laid on your heart, an action or knowledge, a goal that is placed into your thoughts.  I know that God speaks in these feelings and pulls… I guess I didn’t know there was a fancy and official and VERY long way to define that feeling.  I know I have felt it many times, especially since Madeline died.  I know others have as well, or had tendencies to pray for something at just.the.right.moment.  Sometimes it is little, like dropping milk or groceries off because they had a feeling… not knowing that a heavy and sad Erin just couldn’t pull together dinner- or even cereal for dinner because we lacked milk.  I also see this in people veering toward a new goal or changing their perspective since Madeline died… like Nathan being pulled to nursing after Madeline died.  That pull and that feeling inside that makes you take action.  I loved knowing that there is a word for that, I don’t think I can pronounce it to really be able to share it- writing it is the best you are all going to get.  Just knowing it is there is reassurance for me though.

I got home Sunday and had a text from a friend, followed up by Namaste, in true Wendi form…

“The pain was necessary to know the truth but you don’t have to keep the pain alive to keep the truth alive”

This really touched all the points of the last couple years… more specifically the breakdown of my marriage.  I am letting go of the pain and standing in the truth.  I can’t change it.  I can’t move it.  I can’t get rid of it… it is just what it is- the truth.  I am very glad it doesn’t hurt so much.  I am lighter.  Most days I am really loving this ‘me’ that is less angry and more content with now.  It is good to put that anger and pain and put it somewhere… other than inside of me.  I do also know that the pain of losing Madeline has a purpose… it helps me know the Truth.  I also know that if there wasn’t so much pain and hurt involved in the ending of my marriage- I wouldn’t know the Truth.  I might still be holding on to a hope or a fantasy… while people weren’t true and weren’t good.  The pain of those events helped me create real and solid boundaries that keep me safe and keep me more content, more able to be a better me.  Those boundaries are easier to maintain because of the pain… and the truth.

I ended Sunday pretty darn tired, as I do everyday pretty much.  I had a kid sleeping on my laundry pile and one in the chair… and we all crashed.  My brain thought in those quiet moments about these words and the significance of them being shared in one day.  Each of them would have been welcome and profound separately, but because they were shared in one afternoon I felt it was a way to feel and see and ponder a lot of things that are in me already.  Who knows… maybe I am crazy???  I think I am pretty stable though :)… I am still thinking of those moments and words and carrying them.

Do they help you or will you carry them???