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Praise Him for He is good, His love endures forever

there were so many sundays that i sat in church and heard about how God will bring us through the darkest of times.

there were so many moments that i was out figuratively in the wilderness, wondering if and when i would break through to the other side.

i would sit and believe in my heart that the dead would raise and that life would come back but never in a million years did i think it would be quite like this.

that i would know the joy of sitting in a church service and listening to a sermon "life conquers death" and hear "all suffering is temporary" and know in my heart that i had been delivered successfully out of my suffering.

two years ago i typed: never in my life has the gospel made so much and so little sense to me 

and now two years later i am a living manifestation of the gospel of the love of God.  a God who saw me in a very, very dark place and chose to let me continue to a place with no hope to display His hope to me.  a God who in His MERCY allowed me to suffer that I might know the full and deep joy that comes after when one chooses to follow Him.

I can't explain it logically to you all, I can't give an algorithm as to why it's true.  I know only the eternal hope that lives in my heart.  I know the beating heart that transplanted the heart of stone that existed before.  I know the grace and mercy that follow me in each and every interaction with my children. 

and ya'll, for the first time in my life, I get the joy.  I understand and feel the true JOY that comes from Him. 

May this day stand as a testament to future days when I don't feel it.  May this stone never cease to worship the consistency and faithfulness of our Father in Heaven.  and may my Hope in Him be ever on display.  For I have been delivered out of a pit of despair and now sit in a valley of peace.


current morning routine 

making breakfast for addy and lane, getting them to school.  i usually try to drink a glass of water in this time period and may or may not eat.  once they are at school, i usually enjoy the silence for a while, sometimes i journal and fall back asleep, sometimes i use my "computer time" at this point to catch up.  my morning are definitely about easing into my day.

how does this pregnancy differ

this has been my hardest pregnancy physically.  energy wise i was completely depleted at around 30 weeks and have now stopped working and am still enjoying the benefits of full time childcare until the summer.  i never went through pregnancy not working/watching my own children before so that is a lot different.  i've completely taken pressure off myself and am resting so much.  it's been hard to connect with Christian when all i want to do is crash at 9pm and sleep till the morning.  i've definitely had to be gentler with myself so i have energy for kids/man.


typical, pickles, vinegar, spicy, carbs, ice cream has been a huge one.  it's a constant cycle of i'm hungry/i ate too much and have heartburn.

current state of mind

excitement and exhaustion.  when the end is in sight it's a very weird threshold to be anticipating.  in a couple weeks, i'll be holding a baby again.  we'll see the face and how much it looks like or doesn't look like addy/lane.  

looking forward to

holding my baby, a beer, walking without waddling, the burst of energy that comes after the initial healing period, not getting heartburn, holding my baby, breweries, fitting into clothes

on being a blended family 

this is one of the more unique situations that i think you can experience as a family.  obviously with their father being gone i have addy and lane all the time and so we focus a lot of all of us together.  it makes it a lot easier in a lot of ways and adds a layer of complexity that most people don't encounter in typical blended situations.  so far everyone is super supportive and loving which is great.

2 years

hi baby,

when I got home from dropping your siblings off at school today, I went through all the pictures I had of you.  From the video of your birth to the fire station, it took me about an hour.  There's no one I can look at and say, remember when she was born and we held her?  Remember what it was like to look at our daughter for the first time?  It feels empty still, not as bad as last year, but empty nonetheless. 

Last year I went and had my taxes done on your birthday, something I had been putting off, overwhelmed by, and to be honest, frightened of.  This year, my taxes are done already.  Who knows, maybe next year I'll do my taxes myself.  It has been this weird journey, trying to put myself back together, knowing how fragile I am.  Finding pieces of myself that I had forgotten about or didn't know where there.

I don't know if I am quite to celebration yet.  It is hard to remember the beautiful moments we had together without looking at the countdown clock in the background.  Five weeks is not enough time for moments to slip by or memories be forgotten and then recalled.  I remember every moment we had together in visceral detail.  Since then I have lived the 5 weeks, 20 times over, apart from you in every second.  Since then I have lived details and forgotten them, had beautiful, sweet moments with the kids that have already slipped from my memory because I have the privilege of "more." 

I don't try to live our moments together a lot, it hurts too badly, I slip too easily into only remembering that day.  Instead I do my best to stay firmly grounded in the present, but it doesn't mean you weren't important to me and it doesn't mean I don't love you.  I carry my love for you like the roots in the soil, there are so many beautiful things that remain unseen.  That is my love for you.  I carry my love for your like the currents deep in the ocean, like the clouds above our vision.  That is my love for you. 

And so today, Elly, I will make some small goals and accomplish them.  I will pick up fresh flowers and put some on my nightstand.  I will think of you more often than not and I will look forward to when I get to see you again.  Can you believe, we already have two years down?  I am counting down the days till I see you baby.  It is a long time, longer than most have to wait, but I am excited because I know it will happen.  I know you will give me a hug and say you were okay.  That you were safe while we were apart.  That you knew you had my love when I wasn't there to show it.  Ellery, I so badly wish I could celebrate with you today, I so badly wish we were together in person and not just in our hearts.  I wish my love for you was shown every day like it is for Addy and Lane. 

You are loved sweet girl.  Please give your dad and grandma and great grandma a hug and kiss from me and Addy and Lane.  We all miss you all so much.  I know you will have fun celebrating today. 

Till we are together again,
your mom

my experience with anxiety, PTSD, and managing symptoms

i have struggled with anxiety for a long time.  in high school and college, it manifested itself through an eating disorder.  i remember my senior year of college, i would literally spend hours and hours filling out every online application available.  not even taking the time to fill them properly, or check if the job was a good fit, but rather just throw my name out into the universe as if a blanketed approach of my name would guarantee safety and security.

i was in therapy my senior year, i got a roommate to help manage my availability of purging, and eventually i found a job.  anxiety continued to be beneath the surface for me.  many times while we were married, jim would comment on how miserable i could make an entire weekend just by having an issue and not being willing to confront it due to my fear.

throughout the three years of being a stay at home mom, i started learning about alternative methods to handle it, meditation, running, essential oils.  my life seemed to be going pretty well, and i finally let go of the fear of waiting for the other shoe to fall. 

after they died, i most definitely slipped into a state of PTSD.  the sounds of sirens or people screaming would undo me.  i remember Addy would have these screaming fits and i would just be unable to cope.  several times, we would be in the car, she'd be screaming, and i would just count down the minutes till we made it home.  i would run inside the house and start screaming and punching pillows until exhausted and i felt i could safely and effectively parent them again. 

i would regularly have anxiety attacks, crying to the point of hyperventilation, feelings of absolute hopelessness.  but eventually, they subsided... it took probably close to a year for regular ones to stop popping up.  a lot of it, i credit to the stability and calming presence Christian brought to my life, i also stopped drinking for thirty days last may which seemed to help and i continued with self-discovery, internal healing (chiropractic and supplements) and braintap (which i can't recommend enough). 

typing all that to say, when i got pregnant.  i knew that i would eventually have a breakdown.  i didn't know when, i thought maybe it would wait until after i brought the baby home, but i've been waiting, watching the clock tick by on the weeks...  12 weeks and no panic attack, 20 weeks and no panic attack.

this past week, i've been off, i've felt it.  this wave that was building and building.  i've felt like crying most days for no reason, i've been panicky and short.  thursday on my way to work, i drove past a house that was in a crisis.  ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars parked on the lawn - lights blazing, officers in heavy black boots and serious faces stomping in and out of the house.  it almost happened then, but i managed it, texted christian, it took a couple hours but it subsided.

last night i was laying in bed, kids, dogs, and christian all sleeping soundly.  and the reel started playing.  the reel of reality of watching my daughter die, of going to a fire station with her broken body, of never bringing her home, of my husband dying.  and it happened, this overwhelming feeling of "i can't i can't i can't" i can't bring a baby home, what if something happens, what if i make a mistake, what if i can't be a good mom, christian would hate me, our relationship would fall apart.  i can't i can't i can't. 

the fear is very real.  the panic is very real.  a lot of people have wondered, how i'm managing this pregnancy, how i am holding up mentally.  it is no small feat to lose so much and then go through similar motions.  there are so many feelings of not deserving the things i have because i lost so much, an undue feeling of blame and despair. 

but i made it through.  i let the wave crash as terrible as it was.  i eventually slept and eventually woke up today.  i don't know if i will ever not have anxiety as part of my life.  but i manage it now, i see it clearly for what it is when it comes.  it is not a friend, a coping mechanism, or a managing tool.  it is a crippling tool of defeat and slavery. 

it's ok to be honest about having anxiety or PTSD, it's ok to struggle, to wake up in a cold sweat with racing thoughts.  but it's also ok to get better, to seek help when you need it, to be honest about what you need, want or desire in those moments. 

pregnancy after loss and writing when it doesn't hurt

it is so difficult for me to write in the midst of joy, or of normality.  after jim and elly died, i was able to write these compelling and heart-wrenching essays without any thought, or really any effort.  it was more of a compulsion, a need to share. 

what am i in the middle of right now?  freezing temps and a touch of SAD, aligning my actions with what i am deeming to be priority for our family, financial goals and getting financially right after purchasing a house.  re-aligning the structural unit of our family.

it is a pretty common occurrence, that when a parent passes away, the eldest child will normally step into the role, or do their best.  addy did this for me, comforting me in the night when i was sobbing, in the day, i would unconsciously run things past her - not used to no longer having my partner to speak with. she went through the unthinkable with me and out of everyone, bore the brunt of the tragedy with me.

the past six months or so, we have had to re-route her back to childhood as we best know how.  reminding her that she is five, she no longer makes rules, and it is not her job to protect me.  i think that's how everyone in my family feels.  we are all stepping back into or defining new roles.  christian as a step-parent, me as someone's partner, and my children as exactly that- my young children.  when all of my words are used to explain how i feel to my partner, or all my thoughts are used in an untangling of myself and journal entries, i have so little to type out, so little to share.  we are in such a fragile time and as such, are in a protective time, a time of fostering what our family is.

and then there is the babe, the promise of things yet to be.  my pastor asked us to define our 2017 and pick a word for 2018.  2017 was renewal for me, "an instance of resuming an activity or state after an interruption"

i am not sure i have picked 2018 yet.  my emotions flurry around excitement, anxiousness, and just genuine joy.  my goals are small but mighty, 

to rely on internal renewal through the spirit to be more present and more patient for my children.  my own efforts fail in a mighty way but the fruits of the spirit have been renewed and i see so much evidence of that recently.  

to align my actions with my priorities and to stop forcing bricks into the wrong spot, instead allowing things to be presented in their own time.  

2017 held the greatest gifts i have ever received.  for that received after loss, the vulnerability of feeling the cruel, tentative grasp we have on life and allowing love back in is more valuable than the naive, blind understanding that love is ours for the taking.  

we are so far from home, but so happy

as 2017 draws to a close, it is difficult -if not impossible- to take stock of everything that has come my way this year.  after the fire of 2016, i am standing here and am no longer in fields of ruin.  

restoration.  it is an interesting concept.  i myself buy into too many marketing schemes, always keeping an eye out for the new.

one time addy points out a toy to me and i go, "but baby, you already had that toy, we didn't play with it and we gave it away"
she goes, "but this one is new"

and there is truth in that no?  new clothes, new shoes, new skin creams.  and there's not anything wrong with it.  a fresh paint job on my nails and a new essential oil in my diffuser can go a long way in lifting my spirits.  

but restoration... that is a trickier concept.  it's why divorce is often easier than saving a marriage, why cutting people off is easier than navigating difficult relationships.  and there is no one size fits all, no black and white.  

sometimes we make cuts, sometimes we stay in it.  i am working currently at rebuilding my family and what that looks like.  at including all members - even ones we won't see on earth again.  at making sure addy and lane always have ties to their dad that extend past me.  losing a lover is so different than losing a parent or brother or child.  lovers are defined in time periods.  my college boyfriend, my first marriage.  there is an impermanence to the permanent.  

i remember being around 12 or 13 and asking my dad who he loved more, my mom or stepmom.  the question in itself, took a lot of courage for me, half of me was scared of the answer.  he just told me "it's different, i love them differently"  this was way before i had ever had my heart broken or truly loved and i didn't understand.  i know my kids will possibly struggle with that same question - who did i love more?  why could i move on so quickly?  do i still love daddy?

it's different.  

and here i am smack dab in the middle of navigating different.  

these small moments that turn into big moments that are really just moments

when i was probably ten or eleven, my dad had our kitchen redone.  it was a big job of course, i remember the workers coming every day, messing up my tv schedule if i was home from school.  my dad doesn't remember this, but he used to quiz me on the wood. 

i knew all different types of wood and their stains

church pews?  oak with a cherry stain

i remember it being asked, and i distinctly remember getting the answer right.  i brought this story up with him when i visited in april or when he came in july.  this story that has lived on in my mind and has caused me all these years later, to constantly guess what wood is underneath my fingertips, supporting my elbows, or drawing my eyes up.

the silly thing is, he didn't even remember doing this.  it was probably a once or twice off thing to him. 

there are so many things that i don't want to forget.  talking to my grandma about her family life growing up, the green shag carpet in her house, what every room felt like to me, or how she would put the pearls around my neck.  walking to bob evans with her and ordering the popcorn shrimp. 

my grandpa, going up to the non-airconditioned third floor to play tea party.  crammed into a small closet, where i had cut up place mats that served as our dessert.  how he would always let me mess up his crossword puzzle by writing my own answer in, but only in one.  how he would watch NYPD blue at night and never slept more than six hours, his great smile.

my mom, the time i freaked out when she got acupuncture and was screaming and crying and begging her not to do it even though she said it didn't hurt, the time she cut off all her hair after it had started falling out, the time i saw these antique dolls are some sort of resale shop and she told me i couldn't get them but they somehow made it under the tree for christmas, how she helped me cut out christmas cookies, and drank carrot juice. 

the time i was sitting on the steps and my mom was in her hospital bed in the living room and my dad looked at me and said "do you think mommy is going to get better?"
i said "yes of course"
he said no.

the morning i held addy and told her that daddy wasn't coming back.

the casual afternoon she announced to me, "i can't remember daddy's voice anymore"


i have withdrawn from most of social media recently, including my blog.  there are ebbs and flows right?  i got a forty hour job and somewhere in between working and buying a house and raising my kids and loving my boyfriend and all those really really beautiful things i have, i realized i cannot work on anything else right now. 
it takes every ounce of spare energy i have to that, work, kids, boyfriend, keeping myself sane.

somehow i've slipped back into normal life, i'm not drinking to cope, i discuss things like netflix series and basketball games at work, things like traffic and bad weather legitimately stress me out without me thinking, "well it could be worse, someone could be dead".  i don't feel the need to word vomit my story to every stranger i run into.  i'm excited for the holidays.

i'm in a cocoon.  a really comfy, cozy one where i get to relax and be normal and get stressed about silly things, where i don't feel on display for what i went through, where everything has started to scar over and i cover the scars with long sleeves and pants. 

but i struggle with it.  i struggle with wanting to share.  with wanting to tell everyone, this in between phrase where you don't want the past to be too far in the past because that would mean that it's been too long since you've seen them but you also really want to take the shackles off. 

if i slip back into normality, does that mean it was all in vain?  is the ghost of trying to make something of their deaths haunting me, or do i need to be doing more? 

//  in other news, cavs don't look so good and this is us is solid. //