Thursday, November 11, 2010

a rough night

November 3, 2010
Dear Brian,

I pray that heaven is as I describe it to the boyz. I do not understand it, but I have heard it described as a place void of and incapable of having any sadness, longing, jealousy, anger, or any negative emotions. And if it isn't, I pray you do not have the omniscience I inquired about last post.

Tonight, as I was putting away some of Grant's laundry, I noticed his looking at the photo collage of you and him on his wall. I peeked up at him sitting on his bed looking off into the distance and asked what he was looking at, knowing full well what he was doing. He said, "My daddy pictures". I noticed his voice cracked and he immediately looked down. I asked if he was okay, which of course he answered that he was. So, I asked if he wanted me to lay with him for a while and cry.

For the next hour and a half, he cried inconsolably. The only other time I have heard him or any child cry like that for a JUST CAUSE was March 17, 2009 when I had to tell our boyz who had been away for a couple days that Daddy had died that morning. That task is another one of those events that brings about certain tears when I relive it. To even write the words is horrific: I had to tell my 6 and 7 year old boyz that their daddy died while they were away. While seemingly handling the news okay, within an hour, Grant came running to me in a panic and cried inconsolably for a sold hour that day. It was the worst cry I have ever witnessed because it was so pure, so genuine and so justified. There were no words. No answers. All I could do was hold him and tell him, "I know" over and over again. In my mind I prayed I never heard such a cry again.

Tonight, I heard the cry again. I pray that either you can't hear it or you can't feel the emotions it stirs to those of us on earth. To hear your child moan in anguish over something you can never give them or fix for them is beyond heart breaking. I heard it for a solid hour and a half realizing there are no words that can ease the pain.

I heard him moan:
Daddy, I miss you just so so so much.
Daddy, I love you.
This isn't fair to me.
I wish life didn't have to be this way. I miss my Daddy.
I'm gonna go to your grave tomorrow and spend hours and hours there just praying.
I might keep crying all night. I have so many tears to get out and i think I have a million more. I may never be able to stop crying.
I can't get him out of my head. I keep thinking about everything with him.
That cup makes me think of him.
That song you are singing makes me think of him.

He apologized to me for making me cry and for getting me wet with his tears until he finally passed out from exhaustion on the floor next to my bed.

November 4, 2010
Dear Brian,

As promised, I picked up Grant and Gavin from school today to let Grant go to your grave. My co-worker wouldn't let me pay for my lunch today and insisted I use the money to buy the boyz an ice cream tonight instead. We stopped and got milkshakes.

Grant wrote you notes at school today. I snapped some shots of what he wrote. They reiterate what he lamented last night.

One thought that came to my mind last night as he was crying was over the new man in my life. He is amazing and he loves me deeply and it is obvious to me and must be to the boyz. I believe my reciprocated feelings for him are also obvious. He spends more and more time with us as a family and is becoming an important part of all of our lives. Grant is quite taken by him and is very "all-in" as I had stated in my last post with his emotions. It is quite obvious to anyone that watches them interact that Grant loves him. (BTW, to my guy, sorry for referring to you as a pronoun. Don't wanna reveal your name on the blog unless we have talked about it first.) I had thought perhaps Grant's feelings for him were making him feel guilty or confused as he mourned you, and perhaps that was causing some of his outbreak. So, I spoke to him briefly about it being okay to love someone else and still be sad for you. That I feel the same way, but that you wanted all of us to find someone in our lives that could make us happy and vice versa. He assured me it was not the case for his tears, but then I saw this letter he wrote to you:

We went to the cemetery. Grant began his uncontrollable sobs again. He sat on my lap on the ground crying over you and how much he misses you. It was cold outside. Cold and windy. I sat with him a while. Gavin watched us both and stated. "I wonder why I'm not crying." I told him it was okay to be sad and okay not to be sad, that we all feel things at different times. Gavin went to the car to warm up. Grant cried for about 30 minutes as hard as he did the night before. He said to me, as he traced the letters of your name with his finger on your tombstone, "I wish so bad we could just pull this up." I asked him, "Why?" He said, "So I could see daddy again." OH HOW I REMEMBER THAT FEELING. It was months before I could go to the cemetery because I could not handle the thought of your body in the earth. It was all I had to resist the urge to dig. Yes, it is strange, but I wanted to see you or save your body or somehow realize it was all a mistake or something. I assured him it was just your body and not you there anymore. He yelled at me, "I JUST WANNA SEE HIM ONE MORE TIME SO BAD, MOM!" So, I hugged him tighter and cried with him knowing and understanding.

Eventually, the cold got to me. I gave him my gloves, I did not have a hat. I saw Gavin getting antsy. Gavin asked me if he could kick around his soccer ball. My instinct was to say no thinking it was disrespectful at a cemetery. We were the only ones there. I had just told him it was okay for him not to be sad. It is a grassy area. So, I said, "sure." It was very interesting to watch their contrasting emotions and coping mechanisms. Gavin smiling and kicking a soccer ball and Grant on his knees sobbing and occasionally burying his face in the grass.

I felt odd doing it, but I snapped some shots thinking that some day they may want to remember how they felt those days when they are happy and wonder if they were ever sad over your death or when they are sad and wonder if they were ever happy despite your death.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

it's in the air

Dear Brian,

Today you would have been 38. You didn't see 37 on this earth. Are there birthdays in heaven? Since you are no longer in your body, I have assumed there are not. I have often wondered what age you are in heaven. How will I recognize you? Will I be old and gray and you will be forever 36? Do you even see other heavenly souls as they appeared on earth at all or is there an entirely different realm of recognition that we on earth cannot comprehend because we are limited to the senses we use in this earthly body? Do you gain an omniscience in heaven? Can you see us on earth?

If so, then you would know the struggles I have been having lately.

I do not love this time of year. It isn't fair to the boyz for me to have this demeanor right now. This is a fun time for them. They love Halloween and I squelch their excitement becoming Scrooge-like regarding all the stimulation, candy and costumes. Some of my apathy may be warranted - additional candy in the boyz' sugar-filled world and the agonizing costume decision-making process, yet I remember my own enthusiasm as a child for particular events and occasions. Pure unadulterated excitement. The boyz have that excitement but I get so involved in my own struggles regarding this time of year I am not only missing it, I am discouraging it.

This time of year reminds me so much of you and I get very wrapped up in thoughts of you - thoughts that cause me much confusion. Fall was YOUR time. You loved the cooler weather. You loved the crisp air and the preparations for the winter nesting season ahead. You cleaned and organized the garage. You prepared the cars with a good coat of wax for the winter. This is football season and you would sometimes veg out on that couch for hours watching your favorite teams. This is hockey season and you personified hockey for me. You loved Halloween - dressing up, taking the boyz trick or treating, carving pumpkins and eating pumpkin seeds. We did carve pumpkins this year again. The boyz love it, too. This year they even helped with removing the insides of the pumpkin. However, I did not save a single pumpkin seed. As each one was tossed, I thought of you and how you would squeeze through all the pumpkin guts to extract the seeds. I was ever so thankful to have less mess as none of us desired to ingest a nicely roasted pumpkin seed later. I know you would have sighed and shook your head at that, but I am REALLY okay with that.

Additionally, this time of year reminds me of all the struggles of 2 years ago when life took the more certain steps towards your death. When I took the first steps to call hospice as you took a sudden turn for the worse. When you ended up in the hospital again with another surgery. When Gavin ended up in the hospital just a few hours after you were released. I get overwhelmed sometimes at the thoughts of what my life was like, of what our boyz witnessed, of the constant turmoil we lived in the midst of and I simply break down. I don't understand it because I am going about life just fine now and in the midst of that turmoil, we had peace and joy and we loved life. However, remembering it all, it is almost as if I actually FEEL the chaos and trauma that we SHOULD have felt at the time. I guess at the time, God's spirit took control to help us not only survive, but ENJOY the time. Today, God's spirit is with me in THIS present time but I am overcome with emotion at what we lived through.

Also, today is your birthday.

I get sad.
I get angry.
I get bitter.
Mostly, though, I get confused.

Confused because I have all these thoughts and emotions regarding you right now. I know the boyz do to. Confused because life is going really well for all of us. Confused because you are flooding my mind with the past despite that someone else is filling my present. I think it is fair to say that confused can best describe what anyone would feel mourning a past that will never be while they are falling in love with someone else wondering what the future holds for them.

Confused because I can't seem to let myself just let go and enjoy life and the good things that are in it. I find something wrong with every situation. If I can't find something wrong with the situation or with someone else, I find something wrong with myself. I'm not spending enough time with the boyz. I'm helping them too much with their homework. I'm not helping them enough with their school work. I have them in too many activities. I don't have them in enough activities. I have too much to do around the house that I never get to. I need to do more projects around the house. That takes time away from the boyz. I need to work out more. I need to work out less because it takes too much time. Things with my guy are going swimmingly. Things with my guy are going TOO swimmingly for how long we have known each other so something must be wrong. You get the idea.

I continue to sabotage my own happiness. It is as if I have become so guarded in my life and what I have endured that I cannot just allow good things to enter my life for fear of losing that good thing. If I stay guarded and wait for the shoe to drop, when it does, I will be ready. I will stay strong and I will overcome.

Because that is what has defined me for so long - I cope, I overcome, I keep my faith, I move on. It is difficult to change my thought pattern to accepting blessings as things that may STAY. Changing to such a way of thinking opens me up to vulnerability. Living like that means I am no longer afraid of losing.

I see it in every one of us - me, Gavin and Grant.

I see that Grant has changed. He is living for the blessing of today assuming it will still be here tomorrow. And he is happy. Happier than I have seen him in years. It is a beautiful thing to witness.

Gavin is guarded. He is cautious. He finds wrongs in every right. Maybe it is his age and that he is also afraid of accepting the blessings of today for fear they will be gone tomorrow. Gavin is me.

I know what you wanted for me and for the boyz. We talked about it several times. My prayer right now is that we can all move forward with receiving the good times, the good people, the good blessings that are bestowed upon us with the same assumption that they will continue to be here tomorrow that the rest of the world lives by.

I pray this "difficult" time of year and your birthday can transform into the milestone marking the time that Angie and the boyz began living assuming the present can evolve into a beautiful and blessed future.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

mowing the lawn

I was mowing the lawn the other day. In doing so, I stopped the mower no less than a dozen times to pluck out of the yard, 3 practice golf balls, a tennis racket, Nerf darts, a batman cape, 1-1/2 pairs of socks, a shovel, a football, 2 plastic cups, and a dismembered Power Ranger. And I was growing increasingly frustrated each time I had to stop the lawn mower to pick up the next item in my way. Until I realized that in just a few years, when I mow the lawn, there will no longer be 3 practice golf balls, a tennis racket, Nerf darts, a batman cape, 1-1/2 pairs of socks, a shovel, a football, 2 plastic cups, and a dismembered Power Ranger in my yard to pick up.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

how far we've come... & the job

I was perusing through some of my old blog posts today as I was feeling rather nostalgic for some reason. Today, I was sitting at church and I realized that I was sitting alone, clapping singing and praising along and feeling completely and totally comfortable. A year ago, it PAINED me to sit at church alone. I remember the first time I did it and how I continually wiped the involuntary tears that kept dripping from my eyes. It was a constant reminder of my new found and unwanted relationship status (aka. the box you check on forms like single, divorced, widowed, separated).

 I cannot even believe how far I have come in less than a year and a half from the fear, anxiety and overwhelming heavy sadness that plagued me at the thought of school and routine last year. It breaks my heart to read about the pain we were all enduring this time last year...

But, also makes me feel triumphant at the progress we all have made.

Also, I  noticed I lost weight and toned myself considerably compared to last year's summer photos. So, that is just an added bonus.

Irrelevant photo to ease transition to next topic:

Anyway, I wanted to share a little about my job I briefly mentioned in the last blog post.

I have been praying, seeking God's guidance, in the area of my life related to how I spend my time. I was in a pretty selfish comfort zone right now during school time spending a couple hours at the gym working out and socializing with my friends several times a week.  I was also volunteering some at church a couple times a month and once a week in the school library. Still, my afternoons were spent shopping and wasting countless hours on the Internet or whatever else was relatively unproductive. I knew this is not honoring to God. I knew that I needed to do something to become a more contributing member of society whether it be volunteering more or becoming gainfully employed.

In God's perfect timing, a job literally fell into my lap. I was speaking to a friend about a position she just received at a local grade school as an admin assistant working only hours the kids are in school and part time. I said the next time she found out about a job like that to send it my way. She sent me an email that night showing me reqs for all the schools in my district. So, I inquired and received a request for an interview the same day. After the interview, I was offered the job a couple hours later if I wanted it. They were going to cancel the interviews they had the next week if I was interested. So, I prayed about it and called my mom to ask her opinion. The job should be low stress and perfect hours for my situation. However, it is very VERY low pay and will do little to supplement our financial situation. It may extend my 5 year plan to keep going status quo to a 6 year plan (I am 1 year into the plan now). My mom told me that if I didn't NEED the money right now, she thought I would be crazy to pass it up for the hours and for the possibility of what else could come from it in the future within the school district or within the community through connections I may make. I hadn't really thought of it that way. I just looked at it as something that wasn't worth disrupting my very comfortable status quo for very little money. I thought my mom would tell me I was crazy for taking a job like that when my degree and experience qualified me for something much more challenging with much better pay. I liked her perspective and felt it was a very God-honoring one, so I took the job.

I have a couple training and introductory sessions that I will attend the next couple weeks until I start more officially on the first day of school - August 18th. I am becoming more excited about it. At first I resented it as another inevitable step towards being a single parent who also has to work (realizing, of course, that I am BEYOND BLESSED I have not had to and don't HAVE to for a while). But, as Brian always did, I realize my response to this is a choice. I CHOOSE to enter this job excited about the possibility of the lives God will have me impact and of the lives that can impact mine. I CHOOSE to honor God and do the best I can possibly do as if I am serving HIM. Honoring and serving my employer with the same joy and dedication that I would serve Him is His command for us.

Colossions 3:23: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men...

3/23 is my birthday, so I consider this MY verse. I just didn't know how relevant it would be until this past month. I love how God works like that.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

getting mad at the dead

So, I've been getting mad at Brian the last couple days. I freely admit this because I realize it is normal and doesn't make me an evil person with terrible thoughts. It doesn't discount the relationship I had with Brian and it doesn't show him disrespect.

I received news recently that a lady I know through friends, who has this really cool business (that's her family in the pic) recently moved to Singapore. While back in the states this summer with her family, Joe, her husband who works for Cat, tragically, suddenly and unexpectedly died in the presence of some of his family while preparing to run a 5K in Florida. Very young, late 30s, healthy man. Heart attack. All their belongings are in Singapore. They have no home and no car in the states. They have 4 children ages 5 to  9. Their families are all from Ohio. They have lived in Peoria for years prior to moving to Singapore.

And I could SOOO totally relate, but then not at all. I had time to prepare for Brian's death. He was sick and it was coming and we were warned about it. She had no warning. I can relate to all your belongings being in another country and having no home and no car. We were living in Canada when Brian went in for surgery, yet came out never performing many of the basic functions of life normally again. All our belongings were in another country. Brian never returned. I can relate to having no home and no car and relying completely on those around you just to help you do basic life duties, but not to the degree that she is experiencing this right now. Not even a fraction.

So my first reaction is immediate empathy for this woman and her kids and what I know they are about to endure. And all the life-changing huge decisions that will need to be made and some of them quickly. And all the uncertainty when just trying to hard to hold it together for the sake of the kids. And just trying to determine where home is on top of it all. And my experiences in all these events are a fraction of what she is about to endure. But, I can relate and I want to just hold her hand and help her, but it isn't for me to do.

My second reaction was anger at Joe. Yes, you read that correctly. I was mad because how dare he die like that when they had a plan. They have a good life and a plan for their future. Now what?

And then I got mad at Brian for the same reasons. We had a plan. We were very financially responsible and had a plan for college and retirement and had mutually agreed-upon goals and lifestyles. We HAD A PLAN! And after living for the past year like nothing has really happened except handling grief and making room in my heart for a potential new relationship and clearing up the emotional air, things are starting to change. I am going to work part time this fall. I am going to have to re-prioritize my gym and work out time and life in general. Grant and Gavin are playing separate fall sports and will require oodles of running here and there. This was not part of the plan. Angie staying home was the plan. A mom and a dad to split the parenting was part of the plan. It makes me kinda mad. How dare Brian die in the middle of the plan?!

And the garage is a mess. I got mad at Brian the other day because I don't want to deal with the garage mess. I don't want to deal with the expired fertilizers and 15 bottles of nearly empty oil and bug killers, etc. That was never my job. I don't want the garage to be added to my already too big pile of crap to do. I DON'T WANT IT! Yes, I realize I sound like a 2 year old. I'm okay with that. I don't want to remember when the stupid van needs an oil change. I don't want to HAVE to mow the lawn because no one else is here to do it especially when I am packing and preparing for a 5 day trip, yet knowing it needs to be done before we leave for that 5-day trip. Life wasn't designed for one person to handle everything. This wasn't the plan. And for some reason the last few days, probably accentuated by the recent news of the family above, I have been getting resentful of my situation and mentally throwing a temper tantrum instead of just handling it like I began doing even before Brian died. I'm mad.

I guess grief still comes up and haunts you at unexpected times even when you seem to be doing really well. I should know that.

So today, I went to the cemetery for a spell. I threw my mental and emotional temper tantrum and told Brian and the air and the ground that I was mad. I cried and talked out loud a bit saying, "This isn't the life I signed up for. This wasn't part of the plan!" Then, I wiped my face and drove home.

Later, I'll mow the lawn.

Because, in the end, this is my life. I have to live it.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

acceptable dad substitutes

Okay. So, per my very wise mother-in-law's suggestion, I did not make a big deal about or even mention the break up with the boyfriend to the boyz. She suggested to let them lead. Wait to see if and when they mentioned him and then casually mention that we are making time for new friends and haven't had a lot of time to see each other anymore because of that. If I make a big deal about it, I have created another loss for them.

Let me preface this by telling you one of the reasons for my timing of breaking up was that I thought I was witnessing a bond forming and I realized that if I was having this many doubts, then I needed to stop before the bond developed further and my children started to identify with him as a potential father figure. Although, as my and their counselors have told me, even the mention of a date to them will subconsciously begin that kind of an identification to two little boyz who don't have a dad. It is a tough position to be in as far as dating goes, but it is what it is and that is our life. I handle it the best I know how.

Okay, so nearly 3 weeks went by without the boyz having any contact with the boyfriend and mommy mentioning him at all. Nearly 3 weeks, and they never once mentioned him either. So the bond that I thought was digging roots deep into the ground was really more surface level than I had understood. I was very glad to see that and I learned a lesson about ensuring my feelings a bit more before I introduced someone into their life. However, in my situation, it is difficult to see if the entire dynamic will work without introducting them into the mix SOME. They are part of the entire Angie package. They do not go away every other weekend and on Thursdays. They are with me 100% of the time. You can't love ALL THIS without loving ALL THAT, too. Again, it is what it is. And I realize it is a lot.

Then they finally asked. I played it off exactly as I intended to very casually and VERY calmly and very vaguely. But, they are smart little cookies and I knew them well enough to expect more questions. They asked many questions about if I was EVER going to go out with him again or ever going to see him again and if I was going to marry him. I said, "No boyz, mommy isn't going to marry him." We talked a bit about what dating is and how you get to know someone and determine if and when you want to keep dating this person to possibly marry some day and if and when you stop because you realize you don't.

Grant finally said, "Well, you have to get married to SOMEONE."

Thinking he was insulting my ability to continue to do it all, I said, "No I don't. We are doing just fine. We are getting by and having a good time. We are doing good just the 3 of us. Why do you say that?"

"Because I WANT A DADDY."

I'm sorry, excuse me, ooops, sorry. I 'm just gonna bend down and pick that up. I just found a few more pieces of my shattered heart. It keeps shattering every time I mentally repeat that.

He said it a few more times almost like a temper-tantrum-throwing toddler.

I teared up, looked at him and said, " I know you do, Buddy. I love you. Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?"

"Nothing really. I just want a Daddy."

"I know, Buddy. But maybe there is something that you are remembering that you did with daddy or something that you see other dads do that you wish I would do."

He looked out the window  (we were in the car by now) and said, "Well, I think I would feel better if you let me have my next birthday party at Rainbow Playsystems." (Yes, we were driving by Rainbow Playsystems' display area at the time.)

I laughed and said that was a long way away. We would see.

He paused, sighed and said, "And, there is one thing you could do that you never do. You could take us to Chuck E. Cheese."

Smart kid.

I told him I wasn't falling for any of it, though.

I'll just keep trying out my best kung fu and watching more Star Wars.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

I took another step towards becoming crazy cat lady this week...

So, you may remember from last summer and fall that I struggled with certain things relating to moving on in my tangible world after Brian’s death. One of those things was purging his items and taking over that space.

Taking over his space has remained an issue for me for a variety of reasons, none of which have anything to do with guilt associated with moving on. (Oh what wonders time and God have done for relieving me of guilt associated with moving forward with life!)

One reason I have for not wanting to take over Brian’s living quarters is that I don’t want to accept that I have a problem. That problem being a surge in my wardrobe, thus requiring more space. Facts are facts, though and suddenly my bras and panties do not fit in one drawer as they used to. My shorts are overflowing and constantly wrinkled being shoved into the allotted space they used to occupy. My jewelry will no longer allow the door on the mirror/box to close effectively. Call it retail therapy. Call it a desire to change and update my look. Call it whatever you want. I’m busting at the seams and I need more room.

Another reason I have not wanted to invade drawers and closets that have remained empty for the last several months is that if I admit I take up this much room, how am I ever going to have enough space for someone else in my life? And this is what I know: I want someone else in my life. I want it to be the right person and I am trusting God to provide in this context, but I really want to share my life again someday. If I continue like this, I’ll have to add on unless they come bearing only one carryon and one checked bag. (I won’t even charge for it.)

Finally, to invade Brian’s space means succumbing to both the above facts and facing that I am single that much longer. I know that some people that have been single and not accountable to another adult for extended durations of time can become… well… strange. They develop strange standards for living and home life. Bizarre habits can form. They get irritable and intolerable and easily annoyed. They just get a little odd. I don’t want to admit that I could become that person the longer I am single.

Still, with the breakup of the boyfriend I am nowhere near sharing my life and space with someone, and with the expanding wardrobe and overflowing accessory arsenal, I could use some extra space. I HAVE the space. I just didn’t want to admit I needed to use it. So, I took over two empty drawers this week with my personal belongings.

I guess I will just have to trust in the efficacy of Space Bags if I ever do find love again.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

soo... it's been a while...

Wow. May 17th was the last time I wrote. Really??  Kinda hard to believe considering this was such a staple in my life a year ago.

So many people from so many different areas of my life read this blog – Brian’s family, the boyfriend, my family, my friends, Brian’s coworkers, his friends, etc. Moving on with life and trying to be sensitive to so many different people’s feelings, grief and concerns makes finding a topic to write about difficult at best.

I will tell you some things that have been going on in the last two months.

Grant’s tube surgery went fine, but he currently has an ear infection. It is draining out the ear which is what the tube is designed to do, but it is keeping us out of the pool during this very hot week. I talked with Grant’s teacher at the end of school. She said he finally started to come out of his shell and talk more openly in class including talking about Brian. Grant does not AT ALL like to be singled out for being different. Having a daddy that is dead makes him very different. She said that many of the children asked questions about his daddy in heaven and he told them he died from surgery. She interjected that it was cancer and he said surgery and cancer were the same thing. This makes me so sad – no wonder he was so afraid of the surgery.

Grant is like a different kid since school has been out. Admittedly, I have not been encouraging much time spent on academic or learning activities like flashcards and reading. We have been at the pool, watching TV, playing Wii and at baseball. He really just hates school. I am having him evaluated soon to determine if he has some sort of attention issue or other factor contributing to his dislike of all things school related. I just want to help him and learn how to better keep my cool given his attitude.

The boyfriend is no longer my boyfriend. I have no doubt that someday he will make someone very happy, but we are just wrong for each other in the way we handle, approach and respond to life, adversity, and relationships. Not to say that either of us is wrong or right, but just different and for the long term – incompatible and probably a recipe for resentment. That’s all I have to say about that.

Gavin has declared he is skipping high school. Upon further investigation into this declaration, it stems from a discussion we had in recent weeks in which I told him that in high school you will take showers in front of other guys after P.E. I told him this in an effort to get him to stop freaking out so much about his brother or a friend that spends the night seeing his privates for a brief second. It completely backfired and now he is petrified of high school. I told him by the time that comes around he won’t care anymore and he will WANT to take a shower because he will like girls again by then and girls like boys that smell good.

I defrosted my deep freeze today for the first time in 2-1/2 years. It was all frosted up, but it still worked. It was my sister who explained it could break if I didn’t get the ice off the coils that finally led me to defrost it. It wasn’t even that much of a pain in the butt. Only mildly. I have to put the seafood and chicken back in it now. My hands got cold after handling the beef.

That's it for now!


Monday, May 17, 2010

dr. kevorkian??

Grant gets his tubes for his consistently clogged ears on Wednesday.

Saturday morning, after we went to the hospital for the pre-surgery lab draw (that was actually supposed to happen on May 5th, but I completely spaced it out due to constant pre-occupations in my head), Grant asked me this:

Grant: Mom, will my doctor have to cut my ears?
Me: Yes, he makes a tiny hole in the ear and places the tube in the hole.
Grant: Will I bleed?
Me: I'm not sure. It goes so quickly. The whole surgery only lasts about 15 minutes.
Grant: How will I be put to sleep?
Me: I'm not sure. They may put a mask over your mouth and you breath in this special stuff you can't see, called gas, to make you sleep. I don't know if that is what they will use or not, though.
Grant: What if I don't wake up?
Me: You will. It happens really quickly and we will come home a little bit after the surgery.
Grant: What if I die?
Me: Oh, buddy. You aren't gonna die from this. It is really quick and easy.
Grant: What if my doctor kills me?
Me: He does this all the time. He just did some of these surgeries this week. He isn't going to mess up and kill you.
Grant: What if he decides to kill me?
Me: Ummmmm. What?!?!
Grant: What if my doctor decides to kill me?
Me: He CAN'T and he WON'T. It's against the law. Why would you think your doctor would kill you?
Grant: Mom, you know Michael Jackson's doctors killed him?
Me: What? How did you know that? Where did you hear that? I'm not sure if that's true or not.
Grant: No, Mom, it IS true. Dominic told me and said his doctors were arrested yesterday for killing him.
Me: OK. Well, Michael Jackson was a very weird man who did very strange things to his body. He asked doctors to help him do these things. He found some doctors who were willing to do them, but they should have known better. They knew those things would hurt him and helped him do them anyway just because he is famous. Your doctor doesn't want anyone to do anything to themselves that would hurt them no matter how famous they are. You don't have to worry.

I think he is more at ease with the thought of the surgery now, but we will see how apprehensive he is on Wednesday. I think I may tell his doc to give him a word of encouragement just before he goes under.


Friday, May 7, 2010

future x-gamers

For those of you that don't see me on facebook, I thought I would give you a glimpse into what Spring brings out in my boyz.

Still need to get some video of 4-wheeler driving, BMX biking and trampoline jumping.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

random bits of life

It's been a while, so I thought I would write a few things about life around here.

I didn't realize how long it had been until I had someone a day or two ago tell me they hoped all was well with Grant's finger. I realized that the last post I wrote left everyone hanging on a thread regarding our spring break and Grant's bone trauma. I am sure you have all lost tremendous sleep over this.

1) Grant's finger issue was pretty minor. We got in to the see the ortho before we left for our trip. Ashamedly, I cried a bit when they told us it would be a couple day wait, and I asked if it was okay if we just waited 5 days til we returned. They got us in that afternoon. The probably thought they should see the kid whose crack mom didn't believe he broke the finger in the first place and is now prioritizing their trip over his appointment. The P.A. who saw Grant said he couldn't even see the break from the first x-ray. The side view showed it, but it was so minor. Literally, he took a piece of latex, surgical, first-aid type tape and taped it to the finger next to it. He told us to do that for 3 weeks. We don't even need to follow up. Thank the Lord we got in before our trip or it would have been a long 5 days of keeping that finger clean and dry in that splint.

2) Our trip was only delayed a couple hours. We drove through a major thunderstorm system for about half of our 5 hour trip dropping torrential amounts of rain on us. We made it, though. We spent a couple days in Kentucky visiting my brother and his family. Then we went to my mom’s for a couple days, doing things like this:

3) The boyz were ALL ABOUT the youth sized 4-wheeler this time. My dad had it running really well. It was starting on the first try and it seemed like 1 of the 2 of the boyz was on it at all times. They put some serious miles on that thing Friday and Saturday UNTIL... Gavin rolled it into their lake. FOR REALS. FREAKED ME THE EFF OUT! It was in shallow water and he totally could have been pinned if he had reacted differently. I still get shivers down my spine to think of what could have happened. Gavin went for a little swim, I guess, as he was drenched from his helmet to his Heely's. I have never experienced two such broad spectrums of emotions simultaneously - pure relief he was okay and pure anger that was so careless.

4) My dad got the 4-wheeler running again a few days after we left. That man can fix anything. Always has been able to. We have always loved that about our dad!

5) Still dating the same dude. He's nuts about me and thinks I'm awesome and hello? of course he's right. And he's met my boyz - seen Grant as his near worst and tolerated Gavin's know-it-all-ness and "you-guys-should-just-get-married” comments - yet he continues to stick around, so I think he's pretty awesome, too.

6) Gavin had a trash-is-in fashion show to celebrate earth day today. He wore a newspaper hat and a bunch of snack food boxes all over his body. He looked like an idiot compared to some kids whose parents taped and fastened gift bags and newspaper and grocery sacks and boxes to resemble shirts, dresses, pants, belts and accessories. His mom must not love him as much. Or his mom just gets burned out on homework. Take your pick. Technically speaking, though, they all looked like idiots. They were wearing garbage for clothes.

7) Grant's hearing issue continues. He is getting tubes May 19th. He was very excited at first because he heard the scheduler tell me it would probably be a good idea to let him eat late on May 18th because he can't have anything after midnight. He heard, "Keep Grant up til Midnight and let him have a midnight snack." I told you his hearing is messed up. I humored him and told him that yes he could have a midnight snack on May 18th. He bragged about this to Gavin when Gavin got home from school that day. The next morning, the reality of the SURGERY part of the equation hit him, and he cried and had a tummy ache because he doesn't want to get tubes in his head. I think he is over his fear for now.

8) What would have been my wedding anniversary came and went with absolutely no fuss and almost no mention whatsoever this week. That was pretty nice.

9) There is a major detour on the main road leading to my neighborhood. The road is closed for several months about 1/4 mile before my street and reopens about 1/8 mile before my street. I have to drive over 3 miles out of my way through several stoplights and stopsigns to get into my neighborhood. That closed road is the road to school, the gym and my main route into town thus causing me much pain-in-the-butt-edness. I'm OVER it and it has been closed for all of 10 days.

10) 5 weeks of school remain from TODAY!  I consider this a good thing.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dr. Mom strikes again

In the spirit of the what-else-can-come-our-way lifestyle that seems to plague my boyz and me, Tuesday evening brought more trouble our way.

Grant and Gavin were at a friend’s house playing and Grant came running home screaming and crying. He had fallen and bent a finger backwards. He was in terrible agony, but was able to move his fingers some. He can be quite dramatic at times, too, especially at the sight of blood. However, there was no blood. Because he could move his fingers some and the finger did not look out of alignment, I knew he had strained or sprained it and some time would minimize his pain. I googled ‘broken and dislocated fingers’ to confirm my theory and felt quite comfortable with my diagnosis.

Naturally, this all happened on a night when I had a babysitter line up due to plans w my bf and on the eve of a trip to see family in Kentucky and Missouri for a few days.

Because of our impending trip, I decided to take him to prompt care to have it looked at because he was quite relentless with his insistence that he could not move it without pain.

While at prompt care, he was able to regain some motion in the finger (his right hand ring finger) and started talking a lot about “if it’s broken, can I call Mommo as soon as we get home and tell her.” Or “if it’s broken, I bet Gavin won’t even believe it.” I began to get the impression that he WANTED a broken bone – as if it would be some sort of bragging right or some sort of kid-rite-of-passage into coolness. So, I explained to him that he did not WANT this to be broken and listed all kinds of things that would become a pain in the butt if in fact it WAS broken, not the least of which was our mini spring break vacation that may not happen. I was convinced as his range of motion continued to increase and his pain level continued to decrease that the finger had been strained and was getting better with time just as I had suspected.

I declared to Grant a few times in the waiting room that if his finger was better and it really wasn’t hurt, this was a waste of time and money. I told him that there was no way he would be able to keep moving his finger like that if it was broken or dislocated. I was increasingly convinced he WANTED a broken bone. When we were finally called back to the exam room an hour later, the nurse asked what we were there for. I retorted, “We are here to waste your time.” Yes, I really said that. The doc came in a few minutes later, pushed on and rotated the finger. It seemed to cause no discomfort to Grant until he pushed just below the first knuckle.

He ordered an x-ray. I knew after the x-ray that it was not broken because when Grant was demonstrating the poses he had to do with his hand and finger, he did them with the wrong finger. I quite sarcastically pointed out that he was holding the wrong finger. He said he keeps forgetting which finger. I knew it wasn’t broken or dislocated for sure then, as only a mom can know.

In fact, I KNEW it wasn’t broken or dislocated as only a mom can know until the doctor came in and said, “Well, he broke it.”


(deep breath)

(proverbial tail between my legs, head hung very low)

“Grant, I am SO VERY SORRY for not thinking it was broken,” I said, hugging him.

Grant looked kind of panicked then and said, “So it IS broken?”

“Yup. It sure is, Bud.”

“What’s gonna happen?”

“They are going to wrap it up and we will have to see a special bone doctor to get it looked at again and they can tell us how to take best care of it.”

He got kind of excited about entering the elite club of those plagued with broken bones asking me if he could call Mommo when he got home now and once again declaring that he bet Gavin would NOT EVEN BELIEVE it when he showed him. Having been a member of the elite club of those plagued with broken bones as an adult, I knew it was not a club of which you want to be a member. The glory wears off quickly, but the inconvenience continues for weeks.

This doctor mom realized her track record for diagnosing broken bones is NOT A GOOD ONE. And even though I vowed to stop practicing medicine and making home diagnosis that day, I did not learn from my own mistakes.

Today, I am awaiting call backs (over 2 hours later) from the pediatrician because our insurance situation requires a referral from the primary physician even though they did not even see Grant. Alas, we are slave to the system, so we impatiently await the return phone calls now. Our trip is inevitably delayed, but we do not know to what extent until we receive the appointment time.

My family's track record of broken bones always falls on dates when events are planned. Gavin broke his wrist on my anniversary. I broke my foot on home leave from Canada the day we were heading from Peoria to Perryville to celebrate Gavin's 5th birthday. Grant broke his finger the day before we were leaving for Spring Break vacation.

Today, Grant is also learning that a broken bone is not exactly as glamorous as he had originally thought and the litany of reasons I gave him in the waiting room (which I naturally regret) as to why he would NOT want a broken bone are all, in fact, true. Today I am working with a very grumpy 7 year old to have a better attitude about his situation because we have to make the best of it for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time. Still, a 7-year old who just realized he cannot easily feed himself or open the milk, and worse yet, operate the Wii remote control with his fingers, is a difficult audience to convince. I don’t blame him one bit, but we are all continually developing our patience and our come-what-may response and attitude.

Ironically, just 24 hours prior to said incident causing the broken bone (which was nothing more than running in a neighbor’s yard), he and his brother were doing this for the first time ever. They walked away from this without a scratch.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Finding Balance

Finding the balance of moving on with life and being the link to the past and a good mom to 2 little boyz who don’t have a daddy is becoming increasingly difficult.

After the first year anniversary of Brian’s death, I felt an odd sense of freedom. I felt as if perhaps I was no longer under what I perceived was the watchful eye of many on-lookers awaiting my response and reaction to each “first.” And while I had been moving on with life and trying to help the boyz move on with life, I still felt an expectation was upon me to handle each situation with a certain degree of emotion even if I wasn’t feeling much of anything.

Now, I feel the expectations are perhaps dissipating. I am forming new relationships and friendships that didn’t know me as Brian’s wife. I have people in my life that wouldn’t even know I am a widow if I didn’t tell them. They know me as this girl, Angie, not this “you are so strong, you have been through so much yet look at you” 38 year old widow. I can’t tell you how liberating that is. Because I spent so much of the first 6 months embracing the role of grieving widow, reaching a point of wanting to live life again was conflicting to say the least.

In order to reach a point of wanting to seek a possible intimate relationship again, I had to ensure myself I was not in love with Brian anymore. This was especially difficult because I was very much in love with Brian when he died. And because I embraced the role of grieving widow for so many months, I was still fostering that love. Then I started to feel stirrings to advance with this part of my life. I knew I couldn’t give my heart to anyone else if I was still holding it for Brian. So I had to fall out of love with Brian. It was a very guilt-ridden process to allow myself to fall out of love with a dead man that did nothing to me except die.

Today I am very okay with that. I know this is so painful for so many of you that read this blog to hear, but I am no longer in love with Brian. I love and value what we had. I cherish him as I do anyone that I loved or cared for that has passed on before me. But, in order for me to love again and be loved again, I can’t be in love with Brian anymore.

The only difficult part about not being in love with Brian is the pain I know it causes so many others. I know for Brian’s family, friends and many of my family, I am the link that instantly reminds them of him. I know they look at me and expect him to shuffle in behind me at times. I know to watch me move on is a painful reminder of his permanent absence.

So, it is hard to be me. It is hard to be excited about the next chapters of my life when I am with people that realize they experienced the last chapter of that part of their life just by my presence. The book is over. They cannot have another Christmas with their son or watch their brother celebrate another birthday. They will not experience another backyard barbeque or card game with their friend/relative. And they are incredibly sad about it as I concurrently have been able to let go of that and become excited about the possibility of holidays and special occasions with someone else someday.

It is also hard to be me in the sense that talking & reminiscing a lot about Brian can, depending on the situation, hold me in the past. It can cause me heartache and keep me reliving past moments instead of looking towards the future. I feel like I have a lot of future ahead of me. I am 38. I hope and pray I have as much life to live ahead as I’ve already lived behind.

The largest conflict is the boyz. Oh my, the boyz! It is a constant struggle to find a healthy balance of healthy grieving and acceptance. One day there may be a brief mention of Daddy’s ability to play hockey, then there are several days with no mention of Daddy at all, then there are days when they hold tightly to every piece of memorabilia they have and refer to him as if he may walk through the door at any moment. I realize that is grief – it comes in waves and it is unpredictable and illogical. But, the most difficult aspect of helping them handle their grief is knowing that I have come so far in my acceptance and am even eager about what lies ahead while they just want Daddy. I can almost sense that they know I have let go of Brian so much, so they purposefully hold on to try to force me to.

I will always keep Brian’s memory alive for them as much as I can. However, the healthy balance between keeping his memory alive and living in a past life is difficult to find. I want them to have pride about their daddy. I want them to remember the activities they did together. I want them to know about the type of man he was. I want them to know as much about their daddy as possible. However, I also know that they were 6 and 7-1/2 when he died. I know they will likely have spotty recollections from this time of their life at best. Knowing that, for the last year I spent so much effort drilling those memories into them so they will have more vivid recollections, I am no longer sure if I have done them a favor or a disservice.

This is all not even mentioning that they both handle and process life and its issues in polar opposite of each other and the challenges associated with that.

Regarding Brian, so often the boyz seem to live in the past. I want them to have a healthy outlook on what lies ahead of them. I want them to feel empowered and strong. I want them to feel capable and sure of themselves. And Brian isn’t here to help me do it. It’s all me. So, I have started to change my focus from our former family of 4 to our current family dynamic trio. I am more intentional in the role of encourager and cheer-leader and leader instead of saying things like “your daddy would be so proud.” And he would be. I just don’t know the best way to handle having them accept his death, yet want to know he WOULD be proud and also know that we have to live with our current circumstances and use what we currently have to forge ahead in life. I want the memories of Brian to be healthy and to be just that – memories, not what drives them in life, not what they are looking to as their present circumstance.

As I do this, I notice them holding on and grieving all over again. I don’t know if it is good or bad. I am mixed and conflicted. They are reminiscing a ton about Dad. They are sad and I am here for them. If they have questions about Brian, I answer them. If they feel like they need to cry, I give my shoulder. I kind of feel like maybe this is good to an extent, that we have been living in the past to such a large degree that they haven’t really processed as much as I had thought they had. I wonder if their nostalgia and sadness is a step forward.

I don’t know. I just know it is hard. WAY HARDER THAN I THOUGHT. It is complicated to know how to manage and handle it all.

Mostly, though, it is very difficult to find the right balance.

I imagine it will get easier in time, but it’s all gonna be about balance.

our current balance


Thursday, March 25, 2010

higher education

When discussing the importance of school now for jobs later with Grant the other day, Gavin jumped into the conversation:

Gavin: No, Grant, you just have to get married.
Me: What do you mean?
Gavin: Yeah, I'm gonna get married some day and make my wife go to work.
Me: Really?
Gavin: Yup, we're gonna have kids and I'm gonna stay home with the kids.
Me: Don't you think maybe you'll want to go to college to get a job so you can make money so your WIFE can stay home with the kids?
Gavin: No. And I don't have to go to college. I already know everything.
Me: Whatever. And you DO NOT know everything.
Gavin: Yes, I do. I don't need to go to college cuz I already know so much.
Me: You don't know how to do surgery.
Gavin: They do surgery in college?
Me: No, but you have to go to a lot of college to learn how to do surgery and you don't know how to do surgery, so you don't know everything.
Gavin: I'll marry someone who does.
Me: (under my breath) If you marry a surgeon, you can stay at home with the kids. Well done.



I'm thinking it might be time for me to think about going back to work some to show my boyz I'm educated and set an example that school is important in the life ahead of them.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A tribute to Brian - March 17, 2010, 1 year later

Brian Edward O’Neill

November 2, 1972 – March 17, 2009

I have struggled for many weeks about this post's focus on the 1-year anniversary of Brian’s death. I decided to have it be completely and totally about BRIAN. Not about how the boyz and I are doing. Not about how his family is doing. Not about life in general.


Son, Brother, Friend, Employee, Husband, Father


Brian was the son of Ed and Jan O’Neill, born in Hong Kong while on international assignment. Brian was an adventurous and inquisitive child giving Ed and Jan many scares. He nearly drowned twice while jumping into a swimming pool before he could adequately swim to save himself. He stuck his finger in an electrical socket as a toddler warranting a trip to the ER and adorning himself with a lifetime scar on this thumb. He always flirted with danger with his love of all things extreme – skateboarding down mountainous terrain at the age of 4, climbing walls and hills with cliffs beckoning on the other side and choosing ice hockey and BMX racing as his two favorite sporting activities. Ed and Jan spent countless hours and many years of vacation money to keep Brian involved in those activities. Brian was excellent in hockey with his small team of only two lines consistently winning over opponents with twice the budget, matching warm ups, and 2 times the line up. His team won State his junior year. His senior year, he made the all Illinois team. When asked, Ed and Jan have no regrets about the sacrifices they made to allow Brian to play. He loved it and they loved watching his talent. It was their life at the time.

As a son, Brian was always compassionate and empathetic to the family’s issues, but also gave them a run for their money - breaking windows, coming home with gaping wounds and occasionally staggering in after a late night.

Even though Brian is their son, Ed and Jan continually learned from him. Watching him gracefully handle life in his health and his illness, they, in turn, learned to handle life with the same grace. (Truth be told, though, Brian learned to handle adversity through the example of grace exhibited by his Mom and Dad.) Brian was a continuous source of pride for Ed and Jan from birth through death.



Brian was the 5-year younger brother of Sean. Brian and Sean were some of the best of pals despite their age gap. While living in Asia, it was Sean that pulled Brian from the swimming pools TWICE when he couldn’t swim enough to save himself. It was often Sean that was showing Brian the ropes on how to teeter on the edge of danger and certain injury on those skateboards and bikes. Brian was Sean’s best man.

Brian was the 8-year older brother to Michael. Brian was Michael’s mentor and example. Michael admired Brian and longed to spend time being like him and being near him. Brian and Sean both tormented Michael to an extent as big brothers are supposed to do, like smashing his invisible friend, manipulating him into making milkshakes and hanging him on doorknobs. Despite their age gap, Brian and Michael grew a strong brotherly bond and a great friendship. Brian always joked about Michael being his little brother then his “bigger” little brother. Brian was the shortest of the 3.

The 3 O’Neill brothers shared a wonderful reciprocated respect for each other. They enjoyed each other’s company whether it included listening to countless hours of music discovering new bands, attending concerts together (once Michael was finally old enough to tag along), playing Euchre, camping, fishing, shooting guns or discovering a new microbrew. They were GUY’S GUYS and were very good at it. They were constantly there for each other urging the other to try new things and covering the other’s back when push came to shove.

The last time Brian fell in March of 2009, Michael picked him up. The last time Brian needed to be moved but was unable to stand or walk, Sean held him up. It was just as it always had been, but not so metaphorically this time.



Brian was ALWAYS surrounded by many friends. This was no accident. So many friends surrounded Brian because Brian was easy to be friends with. He was the guy that didn’t idly wait to be invited to a party or drive around to find the party. He WAS the party. He was the guy who would make the first few phone calls to get people motivated to get something started. He ALWAYS got something started. And if something was already planned and started, he motivated everyone around him to be excited to have a good time at it. He was loyal and funny and fun. Everyone loved being around Brian.


Brian worked for Caterpillar for his entire post-college career. He had several different positions within Caterpillar. Brian was well respected in the workforce. He worked hard, but made time for relationships. He tried his best and always followed through. He was dedicated and thorough. He was willing to learn and took all forms of criticism well. As he grew sicker and lost his ability to speak fluently and use the right side of his body, he continued to work. While the job was not as demanding as some of his other assignments, Brian took it just as seriously and dedicated just enough of himself to it to perform well and still allow his body time to recuperate and heal. In doing this, Brian gained even more respect in the workforce. While his speech failed him, he learned to patiently listen to what others had to say because he could no longer interject. He gained new perspective on when it was worthwhile to talk and how to be concise. In his illness, he showed what dedication and effort truly encompass in merely showing up each day with his continuous positive attitude and outlook.


Brian was faithful, romantic, real, complimentary, supportive, and loving. He made sure I knew he loved me but didn’t overdo it. He constantly encouraged me and instilled confidence within me. I don’t know how to put this adequately into words. I have had many people over many years tell me that most people in a lifetime do not reach the level of intimacy and love in a marriage that Brian and I had even early on. And we only grew from there. I could not tell you anyone on this earth that I would have rather spent time with than Brian. He made me laugh, cry, think, dream, reminisce, plan, and smile all in the same day. We had a good life together. He helped me learn to enjoy the moment and believe in the good of life. He personified optimism. I may have brought him to his faith in Christ, as he told me, but he helped me grow in my faith.


From the moment we decided to try to have children, the best word I can think to describe Brian’s perspective on the entire process and parenting would be patient. He was patient and trusting of God’s provision during inseminations. He was patient during both rounds of in-vitro. He was patient during the adoption processes. He was patient and calm during the 72-hour waiting period till the first waivers and papers were signed. As a daddy, he was patient and calm with almost all discipline issues and temper tantrums. He was the teacher and the leader of the boyz way more than I was. He obtained the highest level of respect and admiration from them. They adore(d) their daddy.

While they have little memory of Brian prior to his recurrence and his resulting problems, what he instilled in them prior to that and what he exemplified in how he handled his illness is powerful. On more than one occasion, when I have tried to get the boysz to stop doing something dangerous for fear of losing a limb, they have retorted to me how “yes, you can tie your shoes (or button your shirt or play catch or, or, or…) with only one hand” . When they respond with such comebacks, I have no choice but to knowingly smile and nod knowing Brian did exactly that (while praying they do not actually have to live life with the loss of a limb to prove it). He showed them that you do not pity yourself, but you use what God has allowed you to have and you use it to the best of your abilities.


Brian was truly a great man. He was remarkable in childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and into his death. He was witty, dignified, hard-working, dedicated, intelligent, thought provoking, enjoyable, inspirational, athletic, patient, and eternally optimistic. His mark on the world is obvious. Heaven’s gain is the earth’s loss in that I can only imagine what else Brian could have taught us had he continued to live. However, in his death and memory, Brian continues to inspire us today.

Looking back on his life, as trite as this may sound, I mentally repeat this phrase that I have heard uttered by SOOO many when referring to Brian, “Man, THAT guy was absolutely amazing.”

 I will tell you that he loved the Lord. Without that, he would have been less amazing.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

firsts and lasts

When my children were born, I remember vividly the first time I held them. In fact, that entire first year, I spent countless hours documenting and savoring all those “firsts.” I remember the first bottle, but I don’t remember the last. I remember the first diaper I changed, but I don’t remember the last. I remember the first time they crawled and the first steps they took. I remember their first teeth. I remember the first time I fed them baby food. So many wonderful "firsts."

I wish we would carry over that savoring of the precious moments into adulthood. Some of the firsts and lasts.

Today, I have been thinking so much of the first and lasts of my relationship with Brian.

I remember vividly our first kiss. I do not remember our last.

I remember the first time he told me he loved me. I also remember the last.

I do not remember the first or last time we held hands, but I can recall the countless times in between.

I remember the last night we slept in our bed together.

I do not remember the first words Brian spoke to me. I DO remember the last.

I remember the first time we had sex. I do not remember the last.

I remember the first time we flew together.

I can’t stop thinking about the last day of Brian’s life today. To me, he died on the 16th of March. That is the day his body started seizing uncontrollably and he lost the ability to communicate with us. It is THE ABSOLUTE SINGLE worst day I can recollect. I am trying really hard not to recall it over and over today(Brian would hate it if I dwelt on something like that. He'd call it a waste of time and energy), but if I stop for even 5 minutes I am flooded. I am forced to face that day and the entire last week of Brian’s life again. I was numb last year. I would like to remain numb forever.

If I would have known it was Brian’s last week of life, I would not have gone out to dinner with friends on Friday night just a couple days before he would breathe his last. If I had known it was his last night, I would have stayed up all night singing to him and gently talking to him telling him how much he has meant to me. I would have held his hand and stroked his hair. I would have gazed into his eyes and mentally recorded every single square inch of him that I could.

If I had known it was the last time the boyz would see him alive, I would have at least taken a picture. For ALL THAT IS HOLY, the last picture I have of them together is a few weeks before he died. WHY? I sent my boyz away for the weekend. They left and it was the last time they would see his body when it was not lying in a casket. I do not remember the last thing he said to them. I think it was along the lines of “give me a hug, buddy. I love you. Bye bye. Have fun.” But I DO NOT REMEMBER!

Thing is, I should have known. I knew he was dying. I just didn’t know when would be the last. We were told he would drift to sleep and sleep more and more til he didn’t wake. Brian did exactly the opposite. He stayed awake for nearly 4 days on end. His eyes would wander around the room looking for non-existent noises. He spoke to people who were not here. He was dying and we all knew it. How did I not treat every single solitary second like it could have been the last? I was so petrified of being tired and therefore being a bad mom to my boyz that I gave so many duties to our family and friends – including staying up at night with him.

I was ready for the sleep. I was ready to sit next to him and watch him peacefully drift out of this world. I was prepared to hold his hand, stroke his hair, sing him songs and pray with him as his soul left this world.

It didn’t happen like that.

I don’t know why.

I don’t know if I will ever overcome the regret of how I spent those last few days.

I think I will.

I have to.

I don’t remember the first words I said to Brian. I do remember the last.

I told him I loved him. I told him that I was a better person for having known him. I told him the impact he had on my life and so many others is immeasurable. I told him it was okay to go. I told him that Jesus was waiting for him. It was okay to go now because the boyz and I were going to be just fine thanks to how he has shaped us. I told him I loved him.

I don’t remember the first words Brian said to me. I do remember the last.

He said, “Yeah, I love you too.”

Those were the last words Brian ever spoke.

He loved me.

He loved me.

He loved me.

I loved him.

I loved him.

I loved him.

If we could all be so intentional in words and actions as though they could be our last, the world would be a better place.

Our first photo together. February 1993

Last photo we took together, February 14, 2009. An entire month before he died.


I apologize for this post being all over the place. I lost my original. I have been so BUSY today intentionally. If I stop, I am overwhelmed. I stopped just long enough to write this. Now, I am off to being intentionally busy again.