Connecting Connections…

I think often about the amazing threads God has woven in, around and through my life and everyone else’s.  The connections that he creates, most likely were woven into this fabric of being a human before I was born, before Madeline was.  He is constantly creating the most beautiful fabric…

Today was special I got to see more threads get woven into my fabric, Madeline’s fabric and many others.  It is one of my favorite gifts, when I get to see the weaving take place.  I think it will be an amazing gift when I die and I get to see the amazing fabric that was my life… I imagine it woven and somehow woven with infinite others. 

I was invited the North Country Council of Social Agencies Educational Series “Foundation Spotlight”.  It was, as per normal, a whirlwind trip up north.  We squeezed dinner to celebrate my niece, nephew and mom’s birthdays, and then quickly to bed so we would be on time.  This series started at 8am!!!!  I was terrified to be late, but the girls and I rocked it with our mediocre time management skills.  I felt all tech savy with my thumbdrive (I don’t know if that is what they are called anymore)…

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I prepared a short slideshow to share Madeline with that room, many who have never heard her name uttered.  My favorite slide was the one filled with her dimple… I miss that chick.  I was reminded of all we have done in the two areas of New York Maddie’s Mark works hard.  Sharing Best Day Ever’s from 4 years ago and the playground back home for a lovely in heaven- Kendall’s Playground… reminded me how Maddie makes her mark.  I felt confident and comfortable, a far cry from the speaker and leader I used to be.  I think Madeline would be proud.  Amelia said I did well and I didn’t say ‘UMmmm’ a lot. 

The best part of this educational series though was sitting and hearing others share their missions, their purpose.  I got to see some extremely inspirational people share the purpose and work they do… through their grief and hard… right along with it. 

That’s the thing, the passion of our purpose is rooted in pain.  I talk about pain riding next to joy so often, but purpose is part of it.  We can’t know our purpose without understanding life more… understanding that joy/pain line.  I stood and spoke today with 2 others who experienced great loss and kept sharing to change it all.  The foundations I see that grow and maintain over time are often rooted in loss… legacy and memory.  We don’t have the gift of more time with our lovelies… so we carry their legacy on this way.  We fuel the work and change we need to make with the pain and joy. 

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I listened as my friend talked about the day her son, Madden, died at only 8 months old.  His babysitter didn’t practice safe sleep… he is in heaven and his family works to educate, raise awareness and change the laws in place for day cares.  Madden isn’t here, but the pain of his loss and the joy of his smile fuel Heartbeats to change this for others.

I met and listened to a representative from the Garrett Loomis Foundation.  He not only talked about what their hard work tries to change and improve- but he shared his friend with us.  I had heard about Garrett from some of his old friends, but today I knew him.  I remember the day that Garrett, a firefighter, died at a silo fire.  I remember in 2010, my first feeling was for his mom.  I can’t imagine never saying goodbye and not knowing what those last moments felt like.  His family uses his character and love and smile to work really freakin’ hard to change this for the next firefighter.  They educate and prepare our Hero’s for the scary and dangerous battle of saving and stopping fires…

20170119_091648Today was a great day. 

I love these days… sharing and learning.  I got to hold Madden’s baby brother… who is a less chunky version of him.  When Madden died some of our ‘herd’ got his finger and footprints.  Today I saw Madden’s clay foot print and I saw his baby brother touch it and we compared it to his foot.  I saw the perfect little set of blue flip flops that Madden wore of his chunky feet… It is a mix.

I am constantly reminded that in loss we are carried, we have an opportunity to make a choice.  Today I met great people who had lost amazing people, and carried on… shared, built, changed, laughed, cried, broke, grew and got tired… but they kept going, sharing and changing.

Please check out:

Heartbeats for Madden and The Garrett Loomis Foundation

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The Monday after… crazy, tired, blessed, content…

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Is sitting on my couch all burrowed in my new quilt… I have a Lucy who needs a bath on my left and a Meme with a stomach bug on the chair next to me.  It feels like one of those ‘God made me slow down days’ that I usually get after a crazy, busy time.  It is sunny, I have a nice cup of coffee and the puke from last night is all clean.  The house is dusty and there is still much to be unpacked, but hey I only got a couple hours of sleep last night and want to sit on my butt today.  My only big hope is that Lucy and I are spared the bug- but I am ready either way.  I haven’t weighed in this week, even though it was my first week of Weight Watchers, and this past weekend it was a huge struggle to even find healthy food.  This weekend was a run, drive, dip, work, set up, talk, prepare and enjoy weekend.  There was very little time to make food, so I failed.  I will work harder and be home more this week.  So… if I end up with a stomach bug I will definitely head to WW the next day and weigh in ;).

The girls and I got home late last night, I was so tired but couldn’t go to bed.  It was an invigorating, fun, full, happy, busy and crazy week.  I think it was a good week to throw into February.  We spent lots of time with friends, family and our ‘herd’.  We took adventures, met new baby twins (Miracles), watched Frozen again, played with cousins, Polar Plunged into the COLD, COLD St Lawrence River, attended (helped and enjoyed) the 2nd Annual Maddie’s Mark Carnival- Maui for Maddie.

Almost every part of the week was positive.  I tried to keep my head focused on the positive and not the hard, boundary filled world of Matt and I.  It was hard, but I did it.  It was awesome to see so many come out and smile and enjoy Madeline.  To see so many support us in our Mission- providing space, services, time, help… volunteering, sharing, making Elephants, setting up games, baking, making food… everything.  I love sharing her.  I can not imagine a day that I don’t do this.  In some ways it has gotten easier, the cost isn’t so high.  Often I come back from this kind of amazing, powerful and happy weekend of people, busy and Madeline- and I crash.  I haven’t crashed.  I don’t feel the crash coming on today.  I just feel the slow down.  I think that is an improvement.  I don’t want to not feel that heavy and sad, but maybe it will be different from now on.  I will take it.  I see it as a change in the right direction.  I know that there is a cost but to not feel that after in a way is a gift.  There are so many gifts…

The Polar Bear Dip was cold, BAM and invigorating.  Some might wonder ‘why on earth would you jump into a cold, almost frozen river?’… my answer might surprise them.  I will do anything to share Madeline, that is very true and evident.  I will take risks and challenge myself to step into situations and bring Madeline’s light and spirit and share her.  I think this is best explained in a different way though- I will take adventures, I will fill my life list and I will try new things until the day I head off to heaven.  Would Madeline have ever jumped into the St Lawrence and froze her lil fish tail off?  I don’t know.  I don’t get to know that.  I think she loved home, she loved the water and she loved to challenge herself and try new things.  I don’t know if she would have taken the plunge.  I will though.  I will do many of those things that we never get to know if Madeline would.  I will do them for her.  I will jump into the river.  I will run another Marathon (or 50).  I will sky dive.  I will travel to Europe and Africa.  I will sit on a beach and smell the ocean.  I will take my girls on adventures.  I will learn new skills and set new goals.  I will go scuba diving.  I will do things I am scared of and don’t really want to do.  I will speak to big groups and feel the scared and shaking inside of me, and do it anyway.  I will be brave and bold and strong and surge on… I will climb a mountain, learn to sail, do missionary work, go back to school… and hopefully a million other things.  Life is really amazing and full, I plan to fill mine with things that I can bring Madeline along on.  She is not here to laugh, enjoy, run, breath, jump, play or live- so I will do that for her.  So I will jump in the river and get my body as cold as it could be and still be alive… every.single.year.  I will bring along other crazy people on adventures, as well as the kids that are in heaven with Madeline.  I know it’s important to know that your child is off discovering, creating, challenging and getting a little uncomfortable in this life- so I will bring Madeline and her heaven clan with me.  I hope other’s bring her with them…

So today is Monday.  It is sunny, shiny and we are pretty content sitting around the house resting ourselves for life, adventures and just regular old life.  I am loving the gifts in the weekend- the time as well as the thoughtful gestures… did I tell you that on top of the amazing handmade quilt that my lovely aunt made to raffle (that was given to me by the winner)… a family I had never met brought me flowers and a card with a very kind and powerful message in it, a friend who drove an hour to come volunteer brought me a bracelet with an elephant on it, I got back to a package on my doorstep from a friend who used to take care of my girls and moved- it was a cork board that said “Best Day Ever”, I have a pile of drawings from some amazing girls who carry Madeline in their hearts, mind and words to bring up to Madeline’s spot and a valentine from Madeline’s cousin who spent his one money on it… we are surrounded by families who love us, carry us… friends who take care of us and our families… gifts from strangers, friends and family.  We are blessed.  We are stuck in a crazy, whirlwind of a life- but we are blessed.  My whole family is blessed… my girls, my dog and Matthew.  Even with all the complications and mess in this life of boundaries and hardship- we are blessed.  God is guiding us in a direction to have the best.future.possible.  I am sure of that.  It is hard for me to not bend on these boundaries, I am sure that the strength to stand and not fall is part of the gift.  I have very much faith that life will look very different in the future- maybe in the near future.  I have faith that the strength and guidance is from the Big Guy.  I have faith that he is sending us in the direction to be, see, do and live the best…

Thank you everyone.  Thank you all.

Miss you darling… but I know you are all good- I know you are there.

boundaries. boundaries. boundaries.

Who would think that establishing and maintaining boundaries in an almost 14 year relationship would be so hard <insert sarcasm>.  This weekend I kind of decided to be stronger, harder and build those fences around my space, heart and brain.  I have been connected, and will be forever because of the girls, to Matthew for 14 years this month… our first real date was March 3, 2001.  I had such a crush on him.  He was tall, skinny, cute, funny, smart and really attentive.  I would barely use any of those words to describe him anymore… I remember what it felt like to hold hands and now I remember what it feels like for him to never hold hands.  I guess it will feel better as soon as my brain can stay inside it’s fence and stop reminiscing to when it was good and start shifting to finding good today, in the present.  It doesn’t feel as weird to miss him, I think that is my normal anyway.  It doesn’t feel as weird to eat dinner with just my girls… that’s a normal now too.  Maybe him leaving was the best thing for this current state we are in.

It’s hard to have to open my door for Matthew, set up times for pick up and drop off, never eat dinner as a family, never share movies and eat popcorn together… to have him ask if its ok to go in the garage and grab his snow shoes… I wonder if it gets better when I get all of those types of things out of my house.  I don’t know.  I hope so.  I cant wait to be organized and feel somewhat less chaotic.  I need that soon.  I am going crazy in this messy, piled up house… I need to do crazy reorg and get some new cushions and rugs… I need to make my bed and stop sleeping with Amelia.  I need to start feeling some normalcy.  It’s overwhelming to be here in this house without my girls often, and then always with out Matt.  It can feel like a person sitting on my lap keeping me from moving… stuck to the couch.  It is extremely evident on those days all that is lost… Maddie, Marriage, normal, regular time with my girls, a sad dog and a stupid house that I use as a stopping point when they aren’t here.  I am sure that someday it will feel ok, people go through this all of the time and if they work, feel and move in a good direction they have a good life later… the girls will be good, they are surrounded and we are working with a new counsellor.  I believe that they will be happy, content and well rounded grown ups- if we work on communicating and take great care of them.  We are working on it.  What will it look like down the road?  What does this new normal feel like?  I cant imagine feeling much other than what it feels like right now, which negates all of the time that I know that Matt and I loved each other.  Its hard to believe still at.this.moment that we aren’t we.  Its hard to know sometimes that Madeline is gone.  Its hard to do all of this with out the other 1/2 that made her… but we will be okay.  As per most of life, it isn’t how I planned it.  I need to keep letting the damn plan go, and listening… for now I will run, breathe, laugh, cry, hurt, shop, cook, walk, share and live…. even if it just feels like I am surviving.

Stinking Saturday…

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Saturday and Sunday mornings are usually my favorite… we don’t have to rush and run and dress and get on the bus… get to preschool, run, run, run… today I got up and the house was quiet.  The girls are with Matt this weekend and I am thankful that Valentine’s Day was a snow day and I didn’t lose them all day to life.  So we spent the day together yesterday making cookies, cutting hearts, cleaning up messes from those… making clay sculptures of Olaf (Snowman from Frozen)… just kind of kicking at home.  I felt kind of bad that I didn’t take the time before to get them something special, but they seemed ok with it.  I was pretty off yesterday… I was really sad and blah.  I was glad to be home, but didn’t feel happy and good.  So we filled the day up with things so that I didn’t quit and give up and stay on the couch.  I knew I would have all weekend to do that.

I hate saying goodbye to them.  It isn’t like before Matt left and I would get a night out with friends… now it means I come home to an empty quiet house.  It really sucks.  I miss them this morning.  I got up and no one yelled at me or was cranky, so I guess that is a plus.  I turned on the TV and it was Curious George… and now the The Cat and the Hat… So I am sitting here writing and watching those shows- with no Musto Chicks to snuggle with.  I am trying to figure out the weekend for me and when I will get the girls back into our home… since they have family dinner planned tomorrow and Monday night I have plans… It’s weird.  There are lots of new little issues and confusion and miscommunication.  If Matt and I fail to correctly communicate the girls are the ones who pay- with a sloppy schedule.  We are so immature and in some ways it felt safer to not be ‘all set in stone’… it made it not feel real, like we are not really headed to divorce.  I still sit and think what a weird future it will be to not be ‘Matt and Erin’… In fact many times it doesn’t feel like we aren’t ‘Matt and Erin’ right now and that is confusing!  This is all very confusing.  I can’t sort a lot of this because our lives are so layered and include each other so much.  I have come to the conclusion this week especially that I need better boundaries.  I keep trying to keep Matt involved and here and then end up hurt because he runs away or turns cold, then I am left fixing and trying to organize thoughts, emotions and where we end… So I am going to be stronger and set and maintain boundaries.  Some might think I have given up, but it isn’t true.  I am going forward in a direction that keeps me safe and keeps my girls safe and happy.  They love me.  They love Matt.  They need stable and steady and even.  I think I do to.  I will miss all the boundaries that we crossed… I miss Matt.  I don’t miss the unsure, run-away, mad and anxious one.  The one he is when he creates boundaries… or realizes he felt something.

I miss my family.  I miss Saturday mornings that I always got to be with my girls… or Valentine’s days that I didn’t have to go find something to do because it wasn’t my night with them… or trying to figure out who is taking the girls to swimming at the Y tomorrow… or missing fun events because it isn’t my day.  I hate it.  Someday I am sure I won’t hate it so much… maybe it won’t hurt so much… I don’t know what that will look like.

floating by the funeral…

Two years ago today we said our last goodbye to physical Madeline.  Her calling hours were the night before, the last time I saw her body, touched her hair and rearranged her things.  Madeline will forever be in my mind as a vibrant and lovely little girl- who smiled lots, cried, laughed, followed the rules, broke the rules and giggled like… a version of Lucy.  In those days though my brain has recollections of her then.  She wasn’t my Madeline, really, she looked different, felt different and wasn’t full of spirit and soul.  Two years ago today it was Madeline’s funeral… and it was a weird and special day.  I felt like I was watching it from another place.  There was an Erin there, dressed and clean and there… but she wasn’t me.  I was floating, confused and watching from a distance.  She watched and listened to the songs and readings… she heard the foot steps as Madeline’s tiny coffin was carried down the aisle and everyone watched… she saw the sun shine very brightly and blind people during moments and songs… she wrote words but couldn’t speak them… what a surreal and weird day it was.  It went- perfectly.  I know that sounds crazy.  That my daughter’s funeral and wake were perfect and lovely.  Stupid sounding actually.  I remember so much of that day…

Imagine saying goodbye and shifting your daughter’s bear and a box full of lovely things her sister’s wanted to send with her.  Imagine looking at your lovely and beautiful daughter and she looks and feels so different.  I hate remembering her skin then.  Her eyes weren’t the same… her cornea’s were donated (someone else has her eyes…) and it made her face look so different.  Her outfit was so Madeline.  Her favorite blue sweater with ruffles and the horse shirt that she earned for filling her bucket… her little Gymboree jeans with snowflakes and her twinkle toes… her pearl earrings… her Hello Kitty headband… all the bits of Madeline.  All the things I can never touch again… I can only visit her spot and enjoy quiet or loud or picnics or naps…

Her funeral was so her… songs, words and people… her readings were just regular readings… her eulogy was personal and real.  It was perfect.  I loved that when I wondered and needed music thoughts- it came to me to go to what Madeline loved.  Which made those songs bittersweet and full of different meaning… Twinkle, Twinkle little star… and You are my Sunshine… the Tangled song… all Madeline.  Her wake was full of friends, family members and person touches… it was like the wedding reception she will never have.  It was lovely.  I miss her.  I miss those days before February 8… I miss it all.  I miss the order in our house.  I miss wanting to do certain things… I miss having three car seats.  I miss life before.  I know that what I have right now is blessed and good and full… but I miss before…

Elizabeth Mitchell – You are my Sunshine.

 

Tangled- Now I see.

 

 

Love you darling.  Miss you every minute… I’m where I’m meant to be… and at last I see the light… and it’s like the fog has lifted… and it’s warm and real and bright and the world has somehow shifted… all at once everything looks different now that I see you…

Being a child and Living with loss…

I love having the opportunity to share Madeline, her life, our journey and all that I have learned thus far… Thank you A Nation of Moms for helping me share Madeline, our journey and lessons on living and grieving.  I am blessed to write and share… it is a big part of this journey and staying healthy.  Please visit the link, leave some love and share away… <3.

 

Being a Child and Living with loss…