Tag Archives: death

Traversing A Tornado – When Life Seems Like A Whirlwind

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This past week, I cannot count the number of times I heard that it just felt like we were being caught up in a whirlwind. I can relate. 

You see, my big brother died last week. There are still more questions than there are answers. The pain associated with his death seems unbearable some moments.

 

When I look at this picture, and one I’ll share in a few moments, I’m a mixture of emotions. I smile, and I cry. You see, he was just 40 years old. He’s supposed to still be here. My big brother. 

I wrote, and had the honor of reading a eulogy at his funeral. It was not without tears, but it was also not without giggles. Fitting for the dichotomy that walks alongside losing someone you love. The following words are my hearts voice: 

Steven was a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, he was my big brother. He is a son, a grandchild, a nephew, husband, daddy, an uncle, and a friend. He was my friend. 

If you knew him, you’d know he wasn’t any cookie cutter mold of what society thinks of as normal. But, that’s what made him, well, him. He could be out there at times, but he was passionate. He had such a tremendous heart. He loved his family deeply, and he valued himself as a protector. He would do just about anything for those he loved. 

I know that many of us feel like this is a nightmare, one we wish we could simply wake up from. It feels so surreal, and it’s hard to even believe at this point. 

In his honor and memory, I would like to ask and challenge each person here to live life on purpose. Be intentional with your time. Love people like tomorrow isn’t promised. Tell them you love them. Make sure you know what they mean to you. Treat people with compassion and kindness, and make sure people know their value. 

None of us know how much we mean to others. But when I looked around the room last night at the visitation, and I look around the room right now, I see love. I see people who my big brother touched in some way, shape or form. He had a tremendous impact on this earth, and his absence this side of Heaven leaves a giant Steven shaped hole in a lot of hearts. Nothing can or ever will take his place. And it shouldn’t. 

One of the last things I want to leave you with is a reminder. It’s okay to not always be okay. It’s okay to hurt, and to mourn a loss of someone pretty incredible. Just don’t stay in that place forever. Connect with other people, and connect with hope. Celebrate that he lived, don’t only mourn that he died. 

Please, do not ever forget my big brother. Let’s always strive to remember all the good, or even downright amusing moments that bring joy and make us smile or laugh. Those same moments may also bring tears at times, and that’s okay. 

Heaven welcomed an incredible person, and I’m proud to be his little sis. I know we’ll all miss him greatly, but we’ll be okay somehow, because we have each other, and none of us will carry his loss alone. Thank you.

I meant every word. Though miles apart, we knew love. He often joked that I was his little big sister, because he was able to come to me with “some really big shit” and he knew I would be honest, and I would help him in any way I could. He also knew he could trust me to tell him the truth, even if he didn’t really want to hear it. 

That’s what love is. Love does. It’s an action word. My brother walked through hell on earth, but he wasn’t alone as he traversed his tornados. Even literal tornados – just ask me about his treehouse one day. 

Just as he wasn’t alone, none of us traverse life’s most difficult whirlwinds alone. 

I won’t lie though; right now, life feels really heavy. It hurts. I think of Heaven, and I long for the reunion(s) that will one day happen there. But, reality then sets in, the here and now reminds me that life isn’t always fair, fun, or even good – and sometimes I’m just sad, really sad. And, I know that’s okay too. 

I will echo something I’ve said a lot of times. I firmly believe we were created as community people. To know others, and to be known. To love, and to be loved. The key here is: not alone. I’ve been reminded a great deal very recently – it’s okay to not always be okay. 

Grief needs to happen, and what grief looks like is very individual. If you’re sad, know that it’s okay. If you’re hurting, know that the pain won’t always feel as intense as it does in these moments. I’m there. I get it. These words are as much for me as the next person reading this. 

With that all in mind, let me share an open invitation: please walk with me. Don’t greet my pain with silence. Give my heart a voice, even if that voice may be a little shaky. I need you. 

And let me offer that same hand of friendship – If you need someone who won’t ever give up on you, and who will simply sit with you in your pain- allow me that honor. 

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When Missing My Baby Turns Into A Conversation On Faith, And Includes God Being Called An Asshole

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This piece appeared just moments ago on my daughters prayer and support (Facebook) page.

This post is going to be one of my birthday gifts to myself. I give myself the strength that surrounds not walking alone – the strength of community. So, I can guess this will probably be a bit long. (What’s new, right!?)  But, today is my birthday (the 24th of August) and this will be an attempt to be real, but also infuse joy. 
Wow. So, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to post. For a chunk of the time, I was sick. But, the rest is the time I was a combination of brokenhearted and simply trying to survive. I know each of you understand, to a degree, that this is the most crazy difficult thing I’ve ever walked through. Excruciating may begin to describe it. 
This last month or so, I’ve been hurting, but also finding myself again. I’m not going to lie – it’s been tough. Watching her take her final breath here on earth was so hard, but it’s the living without her physically here that’s killing me. 😢 
Yes, the good thing is that she had an incrediblly beautiful and special seven years of a life, well lived. She truly leaves a legacy of love – surrounded by incredible joy – hugs and smiles. #RememberTheLove 
I shared so many photo collages because they are beautiful. She is beautiful. These are a small fraction of the memories I fondly remember. In time, I will share more. Many more. 
She may not be here in the flesh, but she is EVERYWHERE. I see her at every turn. As we do things as a family, or I do things she and I used to do – I pause, remembering fondly, those things — but also with a shattered heart, because no parent should have to utter the words “she would have liked this… we had so much fun, etc.” Past tense. That just sucks. No real better way to explain it. 
Oh, I have to say something while it’s on my heart and mind. Let me put a theory to rest. Some people feel like they shouldn’t talk about Janet, reminisce about her life, even talk about her death, or share the thoughts, curiosities, etc with me.  THIS COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!  PLEASE don’t EVER stop. I may be sad, bit you talking about my baby didn’t make me that way. Her dying wins that trophy. So, please – if you’re sad and miss her, tell me. I’d you are curious how tall she’d be, or how she’d be doing in school, share that with me. If you want too smile and laugh, remembering beautiful moments, do that with me too. I guess all I’m saying is that anything related to my daughter – don’t EVER hesitate to bring up. 
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been on a “me finding” journey. This also includes my faith. If you’ve followed me, or this page for any length of time, then you know that my faith has been my rock – a source of strength when it seems The World is falling apart. Well, that hasn’t changed. It’s more like its evolved. 
About me faith, I found I had the need to own my faith – for it to be able to stand on its own two feet. I knew my faith, and what I believed – but if asked why on certain topics, I realized I had no idea. Why did I believe the way I did? Your guess was as good as mine. When I realized this, I decided this needed to change. So, I’ve been digging deeper, and seeking answers. No longer am I able to follow faith blindly. 
While this is all going on, I’ve been evaluating my feelings and thoughts on faith in general, but also specifically on God. I’m not going to lie here either. There are days I’d kinda rather punch Him in the face. I’ve seen Him as an asshole at times too. Don’t get me wrong. He’s still good. He’s still in control. He’s truly a good, good Father – even when it doesn’t feel like it. See, the “I don’t like God thing” is a personal thing. It happens when I feel like His inaction spoke more volumes than His action did. NO, I do NOT think God GAVE her cancer, or couldn’t be bothered to lift a finger as she fought and then died – but He didn’t. 
What I want you to hear is that I still had the faith I always did, but parts have evolved. Other parts I’m human enough to say I feel were flawed theology. I’m also transparent enough to say I don’t always like God, I do question Him, BUT THAT’S OKAY.  I’ve learned that it’s vital that I FEEL these things. I have to feel them before I can move past them, or whatever the situation dictates. See, I often feel like I disappoint God. However, this is false. This happens when we try to attach human emotions to a God that isn’t human. 
Thankfully, His love for each and every one of us is never ending, and unfailing. 
So, as you can see, I’ve been talking since combination of baby steps mixed with leaps and jumps towards finding myself again, and establishing who I am as a wife, mom, friend, and Christ follower. It’s kinda like a roller coaster. So many ups, downs, twists, turns, hands up in the air screaming – but with hint of joy etched on most faces – or perhaps hidden a little deeper. 
Right now, I hurt but I love. I cry but I smile. My heart is shattered, but the fractured and broken places are where healing is happening, and more light can shine through. I fall, but I pick myself back up – often with the help of friends. I miss my baby girl, but I had 7 incredible years with her here by my side. I often don’t know who I am, or where to turn – but my God doesn’t need a roadmap to find me. Janet us physically gone, but she is everywhere. 
Dear goodness, apologies on the length this has become! I just miss you guys so much. I won’t guarantee that I’ll post every day or any of that, but I will tell you that I’m happy that I feel strong enough to BE back. Thank you for loving Janet, me  and our whole family. For better or worse, we’re figuring out how to do life in the midst of great pain. 
So, for those of you still reading, thank you. Sincerely, my heart has so much gratitude. Please and thank you in advance for continued love, support and prayer. I’m beyond grateful. 

A Time And A Season For All Things

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This picture is one I haven’t always as freely shared. It, however, is a beautiful moment in time. A moment that I have come to cherish so much more than words could ever explain. This little girl blessed lives, mine especially, in tremendous ways. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t miss her smile, hey love, and her “squeezy hugs” she so lovingly shared. I shared the following on her page, and I’d like to share it here as well. I feel these words are important enough that ALL people need to hear them.

I haven’t been silent here on Janet’s page because I wanted to – more because I needed to. Life just kept happening in a way that I had to take a step back, reflect, and just be. I know this is an incredibly beautiful community. A place fill of so much love. You all understand the concept of what #RememberTheLove really means.

Friends, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of brokenness also as to why the absence. As you can imagine, life isn’t ever again going to be what it once was – full of her bright, love-giving smiles and hugs. This, alone, breaks my heart. But, that’s not to say that life doesn’t hold incredibly precious moments.

I will say this also. Both Janet’s life and also her death have taught me powerful lessons on life and love.

You see, I’ve often mentioned the value of another person’s time and the true gift that it’s friendship. It is simply irreplaceable.

I’d like to share a “case in point” example of this scenario in action. What I want to showcase is that – though there is pain attached to these memories and events – there is also an incredible amount of comforting love.

In the months and even years leading up to her death,  so many people surrounded us in love. As those years turned to months, and the months then turned to weeks – a different kind of people, new and deepening friendships emerged. The last two weeks were beautiful in so many ways. People we never expected became close, like family. They were welcomed with open arms. Desperately needed in those final moments. And, they were there.

In the weeks, now months since Janet passed away,  there has become yet another shift. I have come to realize that some of those friendships were built for just a season. That season, and sadly nothing more – whereas, some of these same friendships have stood the tests of time – and also including death and grief.

There have been many who uttered words that I’ve found myself only wishing they meant – I’ll be here for you – any time, day or night. But, even in those times, I sit back and breathed it all in. I take those (sometimes painful) moments, and I remember whatever season someone said this to me in – thankful again for whatever part they played in our story.

I will tell you this – it is for these reasons that I don’t as often say these words to people. When I do, you can rest, assured that I mean what u say. That kind of offer won’t ever come with an expiration date. Perhaps this is because I know the intense pain of needing someone who once filled a very special place – it maybe just because I love people and see the inherent value of human life.

Whatever the case may be – I want to thank you for the part you’ve played in our journey – before or after Janet passed away — even if you are one who (consciously or otherwise) walked away when you didn’t know how to handle things. This (inaction) doesn’t define the purposeful and special times we did share.

You be you. There’s no-one more qualified to play your part. Just also allow me to be me – learning and growing, grieving and loving. That, after all, is what so much of life is about. To live and be loved.

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And, friends, I meant every word – both there, and here. It is with sincere gratitude I say thank you for sharing and walking through this life with me. I cannot do it alone.

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A Time And A Season For All Things

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This picture is one I haven’t always as freely shared. It, however, is a beautiful moment in time. A moment that I have come to cherish so much more than words could ever explain. This little girl blessed lives, mine especially, in tremendous ways. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t miss her smile, hey love, and her “squeezy hugs” she so lovingly shared. I shared the following on her page, and I’d like to share it here as well. I feel these words are important enough that ALL people need to hear them.

I haven’t been silent here on Janet’s page because I wanted to – more because I needed to. Life just kept happening in a way that I had to take a step back, reflect, and just be. I know this is an incredibly beautiful community. A place fill of so much love. You all understand the concept of what #RememberTheLove really means.

Friends, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of brokenness also as to why the absence. As you can imagine, life isn’t ever again going to be what it once was – full of her bright, love-giving smiles and hugs. This, alone, breaks my heart. But, that’s not to say that life doesn’t hold incredibly precious moments.

I will say this also. Both Janet’s life and also her death have taught me powerful lessons on life and love.

You see, I’ve often mentioned the value of another person’s time and the true gift that it’s friendship. It is simply irreplaceable.

I’d like to share a “case in point” example of this scenario in action. What I want to showcase is that – though there is pain attached to these memories and events – there is also an incredible amount of comforting love.

In the months and even years leading up to her death,  so many people surrounded us in love. As those years turned to months, and the months then turned to weeks – a different kind of people, new and deepening friendships emerged. The last two weeks were beautiful in so many ways. People we never expected became close, like family. They were welcomed with open arms. Desperately needed in those final moments. And, they were there.

In the weeks, now months since Janet passed away,  there has become yet another shift. I have come to realize that some of those friendships were built for just a season. That season, and sadly nothing more – whereas, some of these same friendships have stood the tests of time – and also including death and grief.

There have been many who uttered words that I’ve found myself only wishing they meant – I’ll be here for you – any time, day or night. But, even in those times, I sit back and breathed it all in. I take those (sometimes painful) moments, and I remember whatever season someone said this to me in – thankful again for whatever part they played in our story.

I will tell you this – it is for these reasons that I don’t as often say these words to people. When I do, you can rest, assured that I mean what u say. That kind of offer won’t ever come with an expiration date. Perhaps this is because I know the intense pain of needing someone who once filled a very special place – it maybe just because I love people and see the inherent value of human life.

Whatever the case may be – I want to thank you for the part you’ve played in our journey – before or after Janet passed away — even if you are one who (consciously or otherwise) walked away when you didn’t know how to handle things. This (inaction) doesn’t define the purposeful and special times we did share.

You be you. There’s no-one more qualified to play your part. Just also allow me to be me – learning and growing, grieving and loving. That, after all, is what so much of life is about. To live and be loved.

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And, friends, I meant every word – both there, and here. It is with sincere gratitude I say thank you for sharing and walking through this life with me. I cannot do it alone.

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What My Broken Heart Wants You To Know This Mother’s Day

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As the mother of four children, I say Happy Mother’s Day. To those of you scratching your head, wondering if I can do math, let me explain.

I have four children. I have two boys who I’m incredibly proud of. Two boys with so much to offer the world. Two boys that keep me going. Then I have a little girl we never got to see take a breath this side of Heaven. Many don’t consider a baby lost during pregnancy to be a child. But, from the moment that little baby started growing inside me – from the moment that heart started beating, I was mama to her – even if we didn’t know her outside my body. I was no less a mother. Then I have a beautiful princess – now residing in Heaven. For those new to my blog, my 7 year old little girl fight brain cancer for three years before taking her final breath this side of Heaven in February, 2016. She’s not here, and I miss her like crazy.

I am eternally grateful for the kids I’ve been blessed with. Those here on earth, and those whose home is Heaven. There is, however, a hole in my heart that is impossible to fill with anything else. Ever. I am going to let my heart have a voice today. Let my heart share a few things.

As shattered as my heart is, it still loves. It still beats – though it often feels like I need to remind it to beat again some days. But, even though there is a love so passionate, there is a counterpart called pain. My heart hurts. It aches.

Let me talk to you a bit about what Mother’s Day is to me. This day is as excruciating as it is beautiful. There is nothing that denies the incredible love. That cannot be erased. But to deny the existence of a broken heart is just unfair.

Mother’s Day does make me think fondly on the gift that motherhood is. I’m blessed to be given the honor of being trusted with the title of Mama. It also, however, reminds me of the empty space that those residing in Heaven used to fill. Though I love them greatly, I ache at merely the thought of the rest of this lifetime without them. I try not to dwell on it, but it’s impossible not to. Especially with all the memories and life moments that surround me each and every day.

Focusing on the little girl who we had seven years of a well lived life with, this is what I need you to know.

I need you to remember her. Not just that, but I need you tell me. I like to hear people reminisce about happy memories with her. No amount of you talking about her will bring me pain. I will not miss her any more than I already do. You talking about her won’t remind me that she’s gone – it will remind me that you remember her life – that she lived — not just that she died.

Tell me you miss her. That you hurt too. Tell me you’ll never forget her. If you never actually knew her, that’s okay. Remind me she was real, and so very loved. She was and always will be loved.

I need you to also just know that I hurt. Please don’t try to fix me. No amount of reminding me how grateful I should be because I still have the boys will ever change the fact that my heart is shattered. Yes, there is strength in those reminders – but they don’t stay pain. It isn’t possible for you to take away my pain.

What can you do?

You can offer to just sit with me in the pain. Acknowledge that it’s okay to not always be okay – and just know that I might not be feeling very okay any given moment. I might be – but might not be. Just sit with me. Allow me to just BE. Allow me the freedom to feel. To feel whatever I feel in that moment. Sometimes I feel love, hope, compassion and grace – while other times I feel quite the opposite.

I should note that sitting with me doesn’t just mean physically. It means online. Offline. Wherever.

Take the time to talk to me. Ask how I’m doing – but care enough really listen. If I tell you flippantly that “I’m good” that might be the truth, or it may be me begging you to dig deeper. I may mean it when I say I’m fine, or I may just find that easier than explaining how much I hurt and watching you squirm – not knowing how to handle me.

Another thing I need you to hear.

I know that you don’t know what to say. Truth be told, I’m glad you don’t know the pain associated with losing a child. I don’t expect you to have the perfect thing to say. Note – there isn’t magical or perfect thing anyone can say. And that’s okay. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is nothing. Just tell me you’re with me. Tell me you care. Just allow your presence to be a friend.

Oh, and I know I may step on toes here, and I promise that is not my intent. But you need to understand that no loss you know (a parent, grandparents, cats or dogs, birds or fish – even a child) will equate to mine. I don’t pretend that you don’t hurt – but it’s not the same. It can’t be. My pain is not worse than yours. It’s just different. To tell me that you know how I feel because your dog died simply doesn’t compute. Don’t get me wrong. I totally validate your pain and know it’s very real. I only stipulate it isn’t mine. It’s yours. You don’t get it, and I’m glad.

So, on this day, as all days – these are just a few things I want you to remember. But especially on Mother’s Day, remember that if I’m not full of joy – there are valid reasons and explanations. If I am okay, let’s celebrate that together cause it may not be that way long. But it may be. 

Just – you be you. I’ll be me. We can be broken together.

#RememberTheLove

Denial – That Land That Leads To Hurting And Hope

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Recently, I have had much time to thing. Ponder things. One such thing includes the much sought after question – WHY!?

The other day, I was having a particularly emotional day. I talked with several people – just because I have found the value in both connecting as well as asking for help. The help, in this case, was pretty much in the form of prayer. Nothing would change the exact scenario at hand, but prayer would bring the peace and courage to face it.

As I was chatting with a friend, I was speaking about my daughter. A friend of ours is also young (she’s 10) and fighting a battle with cancer. She is losing that battle, and has only been given a short time of life left this side of Heaven. That was particularly hard for me. I looked at the similarities with my daughter’s cancer and it got to me. My heart was broken, realizing the possibility that lies ahead with us. As I was chatting with my friend, it was noted that when I spoke about this, I simply could not talk about the possibility of her dying. I would mention it and say that “things might not go how we want” or “if one day she doesn’t make it” but it was pointed out that I didn’t seem able to face it head on and talk about it. My friend asked what I thought would help to get to the point where I could look at her situation, see similarities in other situations that might not be going well, and not get upset. How could I watch a friend with a daughter who is dying, and not let it bring me down to the point that it’s depressing because I liken it to our own situation.

It was a hard thing to ponder, much less identify. I did come to the realization that I was attempting to live in a land of denial. In my head, I realized that the cancer she is dealing with does not hold a good prognosis. She may or may not live and have the opportunity to grow up. However, I never have really dwelt on that. Nor had I ever allowed it go to from my head to my heart. I only saw it as a possibility. What I did not see it as was a possible reality. I had some pretty in depth conversations. Just looking at the facts, and realizing there is a possibility she could die was extremely hard. However, it has been helpful in that way to not live in denial. To not think and dwell on it to a point it brings me down is hard, but necessary. Well, it’s not necessary to dwell, so much as realize the possibility.

One huge thing for me to realize – even though I knew it – was that just because another child is dying (or even that seven or more children die every single day) as a result of childhood cancer, does not mean that will be the end of our story. Yes, my four year old daughter could die. However, having cancer is NOT an automatic death sentence.

The hardest part is to realize that death is a possibility. It is hard to fathom, and impossible to understand. However, just because it is possible doesn’t make it probable. We will pray for God’s will. I seriously hope His will includes her being completely healed – from the inside out. I hope His will includes her living, not dying – and going on to grow up and live a long life. I will not, however, live in fear and dread of the opposite. If, for whatever reason, my daughter does not “win” this battle with cancer the way we want to see it won, it does not mean God isn’t in control. My faith and prayer is for her healing. I pray that healing takes place while she is on earth. If not, my joy will come from knowing she beat me to Heaven, and will be able to spend time and be in the arms of Jesus. That’s actually a sweet and heartwarming thought. No, I don’t want it to happen, and I’m certainly not rushing to get there myself. It’s just a beautiful thought when you are able to look at death as not the final goodbye, and instead as the next segment of a beautiful journey in a different place.

If you are facing this, or any other similar medical diagnosis and just don’t know how to handle it, please feel free to connect with me. I have, by no means, got this all figured out. What I do have is peace. I have peace knowing that the outcome isn’t guaranteed – good or bad. I have peace knowing that my life, the life of every member of my family, is in His hands. The maker of the entire universe has us in His hands.

Regardless of your situation, I pray you can come to know the same peace. May the God of all creation hold you today.

365 Moments Of Gratitude – Thankful To Have Known Him

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Here is a fair warning to those of you reading. Today’s post will be personal in nature, and not bright and cheery. It is, however, life. Life is unpredictable, and life carries no guarantees. Today I got a very sad telephone call, and it has caused much reflection on my part.

You see, my best friend (spanning decades now) sent me a message to let me know that they had bad shocking news, and that I needed to call. I know her well enough to know this was bad. My heart was heavy. So, I picked up the phone and called, and learned that my lifelong friend – that her brother unexpectedly passed away this morning.

While there is no part of me thankful for his passing, I AM ever so grateful to have known him. George was a unique soul. He was fun, twisted even. He had such a warped sense of humor. He was one those people who always had some new or ingenious way of putting a smile on your face. Growing up, we very much enjoyed picking on him, playing jokes, and just generally being silly. He was a silly human being, turned into a daddy, and also a husband. He knew the meaning of love, and loved his family like no tomorrow. While he always enjoyed being unique, there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for his family and friends. His passing away took everyone by total and complete surprise. He had just celebrated his 42nd birthday. My heart breaks with my best friend, and her entire family. Today we said goodbye far too soon to a friend, a brother, a daddy, a husband, and a son – an amazing person we all knew as George.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my friend today. As I mentioned, it breaks my heart that he is gone, but definitely thankful to have known him.

For those of you reading, if you have lost someone close to you – know that my heart goes out to you. I’d love the opportunity to pray for you, or to talk about your loved one. Please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message via my “contact me” page. I look forward to connecting with you.

Also, I’d like to take this moment to encourage you to do something I hope you already do regularly. Hug your loved ones. Tell them how much you care and love them. Never go to bed angry, and love like there is no tomorrow. For some, that is all too true. Tomorrow isn’t a guarantee. Live and love.