as always.

to my daughter,

immunity is a powerful concept and a hard won reality.  we chase it in all arenas it seems.  it is seen time and time again throughout history and stories, which you will learn.  the fountain of life, vaccines, some immunity is fiction and some is reality.

let me be clear, there will be some who say you can win immunity for your heart, this is a lie. your heart can never be immune, for you will always love.  for years, i thought i had won that immunity.  the cost was high, but i thought, finally i've put in my time with suffering and have won.  i have earned the right to love without fear of abandonment or hurt.  i have won immunity.  this, this was a mirage.  immunity cannot be gained.

and so the pendulum will swing, you will discover that immunity is a lie and so you will say, i will shield, i will block, i will armor.  this too baby, is a lie.  there is no defense that does not first injure you.  there is no armor that will let love flow without the risk of injury.  i don't know why it is so, i only know it to be truth.

and at times you might hurt so much that breath escapes your lungs.  you might love so much that your stomach cramps and tears sting your pillow and you wish for escape.  although i hope you never know pain, i do hope you know great love and great pain usually accompanies great love.  i pray that you will be strong enough to pay the toll to know great love.  because i can stand here and say, it is worth it.  in those moments, grab hold, grab hold of those around you with the strength to stand and let them hold you while you hurt.  let your heart be cradled by soft hands and gentle spirits.

and this is the most important part my love.  when your heart starts to heal you will start to look for safety or armor again.  you know they are lies, but your mind says "seek them."  go back to your lessons child, know that as long as you love - you can be hurt.  LOVE anyway.  seek it in all forms but do not be careless.  know that the cost to love is tremendously high.  be jealous with your energy, be jealous with your love.  guard it, but do not put it away forever.  no matter what losses you face, as long as there is breath in your lungs, there is hope and there is love.

and know, know that no matter what comes your way, you are fiercely loved by your family.  our energy never dies.  and your mom and your dad and your brother and sister are over the moon about you.  your love and joy have been hard won baby girl.  hard won, indeed.  you have earned the right to know deep deep love.

and so forever mine is yours,
your mom

how i've surived and how you can too.

it's funny, there are hundreds of women that are thrust into this role every day, the widow role.  maybe becoming a single mom, maybe just marked by the death of a spouse.  and somehow i have found myself already eight months out from it.  i look back and think "how did i survive?" even though, in all honesty, i have a very clear idea of how it was done.  i've been wanting to write this for a while (because i know you haven't heard from me much recently and are just WAITING for more posts - ha!)
because although i have done this with the grace of jackie kennedy i know there are so many women out there who are just waiting for my sage advice on this subject matter.

so in no particular order, here are my top steps for surviving as a widow written entirely from my perspective and bias

(1) focus on the immediate moment.  immediate moments can be your saving grace.  my life is pretty much still really freaking hard, but i pull myself back.  right now i am sitting in starbucks, listening to music, i've got my kids christmas presents wrapped (PTL) and you know what, it's kosher.

(2) do what you can to get yourself proper sleep.  some days i was able to just meditate and have a cup of tea and calmly lull myself to sleep, some days i slammed four beers or a bottle of wine and passed out.  it just depends on how i am doing.  not all of my habits are healthy right now, and some of them will continually be evaluated down the line, but right now, just cut yourself some slack.

(3) remember there is no right way to grieve and no right way to be a widow.  this one is hard, because your mind can be your own worst enemy.  i have found myself at times feeling relief, happiness, and excruciating pain.  don't be hard on yourself for your feelings or stuff them away telling yourself they are wrong.  death is a complicated thing, something we do not entirely understand.  when i lean into my feelings and allow them to be expressed fully within myself, it is then i discover the freedom to release them.

(4) be kind to yourself.  in all matters.  if you don't want to talk to people, don't talk to them, if you want a cupcake for dinner, do it.  i pay for convenience in all forms now, precut vegetables, juice boxes, frozen meals, more takeout.  it's just reality for now.  i do whatever i can to make my job easier, because in all reality, my job is still really freaking hard and i am still really wounded.

(5) when you are ready, challenge yourself.  i recently took my kids on a disney cruise by myself.  it was something i just had to do.  i had to prove to myself i could still give them happy memories.  i had to prove to myself i could still travel.  i had to prove to myself i could do something really hard still.  and i had to prove to myself that who i was before everything was still there.  i am an all in type of person, sure an overnight trip to the beach would have been easier but that's not me.  i take every challenge to the highest level possible, and that girl was still there.

(6) find something that grounds you and do it.  my personal recommendation is some time of exercise because the benefits are just HUGE.  for me it's running, but anything works.  pottery, music, poetry, find it and HANG ONTO it.  when you are down and depressed, do your thing.  there were moments i was like forest, i just had to put on my shoes and run until i felt connected to the earth.  one day it took four miles before i even felt like i was on this planet.  

(7) your timelines is your timeline.  you wanna go on a date, do it.  you wanna flirt and talk to guys and make sure you aren't totally repulsive to the opposite sex, do it.  those parts of you didn't die just because your husband did.  you aren't ready and you wanna hole up with ice cream in your pajamas- that's cool too.  you do you girlfriend.

(8) find those people that let you do you and HANG ONTO THEM FOR DEAR LIFE

know that you can come out of the other side of this.  we all got scars girl, we all got them.  but keep pushing, you can do it.

much love.

if you're looking for a way (a way to restart) you don't want the keys to my heart.

there is only so much distracting one can do, i suppose.  it has become a valve, which for the most part, i can shut off, i actually have trouble turning it on.  99% of the time i can look at pictures, videos, of us, they almost don't mean anything.  the meaning has been sucked from them, a color photograph faded in the sunshine.  but when they do mean something, when i feel it, i feel it to my bone marrow.  i feel it in every cell, the pain the hurt the hell.  it is then i have trouble breathing, it is then my chest hurts with a physical pain i have never experienced before.

what i had (RIPPED away).  and there is this fine line i walk right?  i crave what i had while not ever being able to get burned like that again.  i have read some advice would be a loose way to say it of women who have loved again after tragedy and the consensus is, no right way to do it, just know it takes someone special, especially then kids are involved.

i have had to rework (and continue) to rework my entire being.  my life rotated around my family.  now i am cast out into space again, the earth without the sun, orbiting, orbiting, but what?  a vacuum?  I am getting sucked in.

what am i orbiting?
what will i orbit?
who are you?
why do i let you in?

jim.jim.jim.jim.  i miss you.  as always, wish you were here.  remember when i took that pregnancy test last year, the night before my birthday?  i didn't even tell you.  i just went upstairs and tested.  she was such a surprise.  such a beautiful, beautiful surprise.  i came down the steps crying and said "i'm pregnant!" you said "shut up!" followed immediately by "i KNEW it" we called it the best birthday present we could have been given.

i remember the night before i gave birth... we were so excited.  our last child, our last pregnancy, the first in our house... we didn't know the sex and were so excited to find out for sure although i had pulled out every tub of baby girl clothes.  as always, i had to go sleep with addy part of the night, nerves getting the best of me, as always, you passed out no problem.  i couldn't even eat more than a JoJo because she had squeezed all of my stomach.  i had no room.  my heartburn had been terrible for weeks.  i just laid around in the recliner, watching you eat pizza, jealous as hell.

and then, that morning, she was born.  and it was so perfect, all of it was perfect.  except of course the three tries they took with my spinal block.  i came so close to be asking to be put under.  but then all of a sudden, they got it, and i was laid down and you came in.
they cut
she was lifted
we heard her
and i knew
you knew
we had our girl
ellery ann

the doctor remarked "she has some opinions already, this one"
i wish i knew what they were, i wish she was here to tell me them.  i wish you were here to hold me.  i wish i didn't go to sleep alone every night.  right after you died i had to sleep with one of these huge bears that someone sent the kids.  i did that for weeks, my physical body unaccustomed to sleeping alone and thrown into shock.  the first couple weeks alone, it took me hours to settle myself down to sleep.  i had this routine, tea, melatonin, crying, phone call, more crying, writing, sleep.

the dogs sleep with me now, i know that would make you happy.  most nights i bring cookie up too.  she sleeps near my head, mostly.  it seems quiet with the two of them, i know they used to move around a lot but not anymore.  it's all quiet here.  this morning both kids piled into bed with me and i had this glimpse of what we had.  the kids laughing and squirming and kicking.

remember those mornings?  me nursing while lane and addy rolled around and we put on a tv show?
remember when lane was born and we ate thousands of red vines and watched property brothers?  that was the first time i told you we could have at tv in the bedroom, lol.
you are a good dad, we miss you.  i miss you.  i miss you in a way that is indefinable.  i miss you in a way that will always escape me.  it is the moment between breaths.  it is the in between, that is what I miss.  before in my in between i always had security, now it is is emptiness.

my breaths escape me love, wish you were here.
you're getting halfway up the mountain and you just keep jumping off cliffs.  they don't exist but you put them there.  then you wonder why it feels so rocky when you land.  you are refusing to climb higher, instead you keep burying.

girl watchchu doing to yourself.
own worst enemy
bringing it down
down on yourself

stop reaching, hand slapped down.  you can't have it, you aren't worth it, stop stop stop.  just jump.  just stop.  the noise is loud, it's too loud, the lights are bright, they're too bright, it's haunting.  a loop you can't stop, you can't ever stop it.

I wanna stop these nightmares
I just wanna touch your face
All you see is all my feats 
All I see is all my flaws
All I hear is all my demons
Even through your applause
All you see is all my flights
Well all I see is all my falls
All you see is all my rights
All I see is all my wrongs

shhh.  don't admit your faith is weak.
CUT the scene, that's a wrap.


i watched a video that my iPhone made, a video of 2016.  and it had just all of these beautiful and painful moments just wrapped into this four minute video.

the depth of my pain this year has been, at times, unbearable to the point where i wished for death.

but i saw so much smiling in those videos.  so many sweet moments and so many memories that happened when i was in a fog that felt all encompassing.

this year i felt the church's love in a way i have never before felt
this year i was able to take my kids on a disney cruise because of my co-workers at carters and the fundraiser they did for me
this year i was able to move because people came and packed and loaded me and helped with the cost of moving
this year my kids had a play set built for them while they were in another state
this year we imposed on people over and over again with our loud, yelling and crying little family of three
this year my daughter made beautiful friendships because people weren't afraid to reach out
this year i have accomplished more of my own dreams than i did ever before
this year i have hurt people intentionally and unintentionally and i am still loved to my core by so many
this year someone paid for the last month of tuition of addy's dance
this year people have thought of me and my family across cities and states, holding us in their prayers and hearts
this year i had people who were brave enough to say goodbye to me because they knew it was what i needed
this year i had people celebrate even when i didn't feel like it
this year i had money stuck in my mailbox and meals dropped off on my porch and  cell phone numbers given to me
this year i had a job given to me no strings attached

this year i had people fight and fight and fight for me.  fight for me when my heart was too heavy to lift.  fight for me when i needed it most.

pain, pain is so hard.  but in my pain i have experienced a deeper and more authentic beauty than i have ever seen before in my life.  the human condition is flawed and broken.  it is difficult, at times, to lift our heads above the muck.

but it is there.  and so from the bottom of my heart, i want to say thank you.  thank you to each and every single person.  thank you to the people that loved, thank you to the people that cut me off in traffic and reminded me that i'm still a normal person and not separate from society, thank you thank you thank you.

2016.... it's been real.

in the in between.

it seems to me that the biggest struggle is wanting what i don't have.  alayne and i have always had opposite dating lives, ha.  when i was engaged and married she was out doing alayne, living her life, she bought her own place, she's made huge career advancements.  and at times it felt like i was just stuck you know.  my life didn't feel like it was advancing because my life wasn't really, our lives were advancing.

my personal advancements were slow and few.  they happened, of course.  i was discussing with my counselor how, of course, when i compare the personal growth i've had in the past eight months to the personal growth i had in five years of marriage, it can be skewed.  i've had nothing but time, nothing to do but grow.  in the last year of my marriage i was pregnant, started working again and took care of three additional people beyond myself and my own pregnancy.

anywayyyys.  this is a very roundabout post about how i struggle in the in between.  especially.  i mean, being honest, what i like best is being married.  i'm good at it, i'm comfortable in it, i fought so hard for that middle ground in my marriage, to keep growing together to stay happy.  and now it's not an option for me and in all reality, it probably won't be an option for a while.  you only have so much energy right?  and i have dreams and plans and just plain reality that need to be figured out in a very practical and realistic way before anything else happens.  and i can sit here and just think man, i have years and years and years before i get what i want.  which in all honesty, is where i've been the past couple days/week/whatever.  and it feels lonely, it feels scary, it feels uncomfortable.

or i can switch it around and say this is what i'm going to get instead.  this is what's going to come my way, having enough energy for my kids, healing myself emotionally, trying to go back to school, finding a career path that i enjoy, meeting new people, investing in new friendships, maybe buying my own place, getting a new car.

some things are trite right?  some aren't important but there are a lot of things on there that are.  jim loved me so so incredibly well, and i was so lucky to have that love in my life, to have him in my life, especially at a young age.  he taught me incredible things about myself and i have learned even more in the absence.

YES.NOW.SLOW.  repeat.


to be known is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world.

to be heard, seen, understood, to make an impact, to connect, to reach.  life is lived in those moments, the moments where we are known.

if you find that in your marriage, then you are lucky indeed.  we sum up events with single words: birth, death, widow, divorce, marriage.  a single word, as if that accurately describes the shifting sand of the days and months of those events.  as if a single word gives insight into what it feels like when you see your baby's face for the first time, the moment when you walk down the aisle to him.

the moment where you stand there in a viewing room in twinsburg, ohio and say goodbye to your lover.

i walked in with them, addy grasping my hand tightly, lane on my hip, wearing my dress from elly's service.  a week and a half after i did the same walk up to my daughter.  that moment he died, that moment we ceased to be, it almost swallowed me whole.

i walked up to him losing a part of myself in every step.  i walked up to him sobbing.  i walked up to him and i knew it would be different, it would be cold, it would be unlike anything i had ever experienced with him in our lifetime together.

i was known with him.  the gravity of what i lost, the absolute depth of pure, unending love i had for that man, to stand on this side and know that no shadow of it will ever satisfy.  it is a lonely place.  an uncomfortable place.  a place where i have to put my arms around myself and tell the little girl inside that it's ok.  a place where i have to continually self-reflect because i do not have the luxury of someone understanding me for me.  it is a hard, hard place.


we had a good weekend, the kids and i.  you would be so proud of tank, he is - first of all- gigantic.  and he is a stinker.  today, he was drinking water and addy asked him for some and he did this little shake while he got an idea, he stopped drinking, walked away from her and poured the water on the carpet rather than share with his sister.  he is the first to go to her when she is crying, never caring it's for the sixth time in that hour.  i spent the night away from them and when i got home this morning he lit up, smothering me with cuddles and kisses.  i've been so nervous about being a boy mom, i think i've been holding back, feeling largely inadequate since you left.  i don't know... i realized it though and am working on it.  already i can feel him again in my soul, his spirit once again with mine.

addy missed you a lot today.  she had this unique look on her face when she was going to bed and i asked her what she was thinking about, it was about you and elly of course.  she had a lot of trouble getting to sleep.  but we got there.  she's tough, she'll make it, but her scars run deep.  she is still healing.  you would be so proud of her too though, i'll tell you what.  she is brilliant and cunning to her core.  she is so kind though, always telling me "i believe in you mommy!" she's been one of my biggest cheerleaders since i lost you.

i miss that too.  you cheering me on, never doubting for a second what i was capable of.  i guess that's part of what got us into this mess, right?  you knew me better than i knew me.  and so now i am left, charged with the task of getting to know myself, my energy no longer divided.  my soul hurts babe, i miss you so badly.  i miss our house together, i miss you always slinging your jacket on the kitchen chair instead of hanging it up, i miss you coming home on your lunch to see us, i miss you texting me, i miss your grumpy ass in the morning, i miss the way you would kiss me, i miss buying you pizza rolls and mountain dew, i miss thinking about what christmas presents to get you, i miss watching tv shows together, i miss the way we fit, i miss you.

god i miss you.
as always,
wish you were here. here with me.
mentally i've been placing myself at about six months out from everything.  in my head i think, "six months ago you were jim's wife, six months ago you had your family" but the truth is we've somehow crept up to eight months.  it doesn't feel oddly significant in any way like six months did, it's just that somehow i feel stuck at that half year mark.

i am a living dichotomy right now.  my emotions are level but my actions can swing.  "it's ok!" "it's not ok" round and round back and forth.  it is a constant pulling myself back, reigning myself in.  it's not something i've ever been good at.

and just there, i've done it again.  constantly undermining myself and my actions.  i give so many things a broad sweep, but when it comes to myself, the same doesn't hold true.  the broad brush i paint others in becomes a fountain pen with no room for error.

i want to look at myself and say "it's ok"
i want to look at my kids and say "it's ok"
i want to look at my world and say "it's ok"

and i'm working on it right.  i strive for balance but it is rarely achieved.  the acquisition of sweetness is rarely tasted without the precursor of bitter.  i am constantly pulling myself back, reset, reset, reset.

when i was married, every once in a while we would just have this awesome weekend.  where everyone just got along and the vibe was flowing and it felt timeless.  looking back those were successful not because no one had a meltdown (although they were overall avoided) it's because i had that person to help me reset.  when i started to tense or melt, someone was there to pull me back.

a while ago i looked at my kids and realized, as lovely and precious at they are, they don't really help me reset.
losing my partner didn't make my job twice as hard, it made it a million times harder.  to forge up the strength in every moment "reset, reset" to not breakdown with them, to realize that acting out is normal under the best of circumstances.

i hope the most, out of anything, i hope i am not denying them the love they are so desperately in need of.

and then i have moments where addy lays right next to me and says "i'll lay right here momma, so you aren't scared"
and i have those moments where lane is getting ready to drift off and he points to his pillow "here" or "momma" and i lay back down when i had been getting ready to leave.

the moments are coming, the connections are coming, we continue to build.


the shadows are swirling a bit.  my mind has been consumed by them, lethargy and indifference rearing their ugly heads the past 24 hours.  it rained all day today, at least the sky seemed to say, it's ok, i get it.

i remember you pure and warm
in the belly of a midnight sun
you were playing on those dark clouds
but they didn't come 

you, you, you.  do you get why i had to trade our life in for my own?  i know all these widows who are like "well i would just think to myself what would so and so do and then i would take that into account" and i'm over here just thinking "mmm.... that doesn't sound like what i do"

you, you, you.  i remember it was shortly after it happened, jumper came on the radio and i almost lost control of the car.  all of my connecting points with you have gone out.  the only surviving remains of me are ones that were untouched by you.

being without you has numbed me to the joy of still being here.  being without you has broken me down.  being without you has marked me.  being without you here, the sharp realization of you, of us fading, fading, fading.  i miss getting cut on your edges.

and if it don't hurt you, then girl, it aint love.

sometimes i take stock of my life and think holy fuck, i'm not even thirty.  i mean leaving your credit card open at a bar is still somewhat acceptable at this stage and i'm over here on the other side of so many lessons.

i know so many people have experiences of loved ones who have passed being with them, glimpses of them in innocent moments.  i wish i did.  i wish i caught glimpses of my daughter and my mom and my husband.  in all honesty, i don't.  i have to fight to even feel connected to elly.  i don't know if anything i'm doing is honoring them, all i can do is fight to be myself.  she is so so different than who i thought, than who i was, than who i've glimpsed.

our children aren't really ours.  there is this continual letting go.  i had addy on the cruise ship last week and i was trying to talk her into wearing something and she goes "mom, can't i just wear what i feel comfortable in?" i was looking at her tonight and thinking about that statement.  she's not a mannequin, she's not a doll, she is this person living and breathing next to me.  i gotta let her be addy, she's not mine.

elly, you aren't mine either.  i'm not sure you ever were.  not a minute goes by that i don't wish you were though.  it seems cruel that something that is such an intimate part of me does not truly belong to me.  it is my largest sacrifice.

for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death. 
Oliver Sacks

we don't truly belong to anyone but ourselves.


to the girl i was six years ago,

oh sweetheart.  you poor, naive, little girl.  i know, i know you knew enough that when you stood up there you were cognizant of the fact that you really had no idea what you were getting into with marriage.  i know that you were mostly excited, but a little bit scared if you could actually fulfill that role of someone's wife.  i know that you had no idea what it would be like that first winter, that first year, living with him.

i know you felt incredible love and a strong sense of unity, which was to be continually eclipsed throughout the next five and a half years.  i know that you felt sure you were looking into the face of your eternal rock.

i wish i could give you advice, i wish i could give you some words of wisdom to help you navigate.  navigate the rocky first year while you struggled with depression and adjusting to marriage to someone who in all honesty, you didn't know that well.  words of wisdom for when adelynn entered the picture and you felt you had all but lost yourself.  words of wisdom for the ups and downs and the in betweens, the times of incredible joy and happiness and the times where it felt stagnant.  sadly though, i have none, even standing on the other side of six years.

i have no words for words are not what you need.  just embrace.  and to the girl i am now, the girl on the other side of six years, remember, remember what the past six years have taught you.

know that times of no noticeable growth are not necessarily what they seem
know that you only have a certain amount of energy available, remember to continue to choose wisely about what consumes it
know that there is always the opportunity for your life to change, sometimes in beautiful and glorious way, sometimes in ways of incredible pain and darkness

above all, know that nothing stays the same.  everything - every day is changing, your children, your mind, your world.
and remember girl, above all, when you feel unrooted, go to the earth, get your feet on that soil, take a deep breath, you are a part of this earth, you are connected

bria, six years later

and to you,

i honestly don't have much to say.  the day, in relation to us, seems void, because of course, there is no us anymore.
wishers just keep on wishing but it never gets to fruition 
and so i have no words of hope, no words of wishing, no words of love.

but i will say thank you, thank you for the time you gave, thank you for the energy you poured into us, thank you for our kids, thank you for teaching me what it felt like to be loved in totality, thank you for sharing your mind and your heart and your soul with me for those five years.

it is only within facing ourselves that we can process external stimuli.  it doesn't take much to cloud my mirror quickly.  a couple days without journaling, a couple decisions without much thought... very quickly in our world of things can i lose sight of myself.

“A man’s ignorance sometimes is not only useful, but beautiful, while his knowledge, so called, is oftentimes worse than useless beside being ugly. Which is the best man to deal with, he who knows nothing about a subject, and what is extremely rare, knows that he knows nothing, — or he who really knows something about it, but thinks that he knows all?” 
― Henry David ThoreauWalking

this day, set aside for quiet reflection and thanks and also now shopping, is a mixed bag for me.  in the years past i was always thankful for my family, right? my family and husband and house, etc.

this year i am thankful for myself.  for a self that has kept the fight for over six months.  for a self who refuses to allow a family to break.  for a self that will carry her daughter's legacy alone although it is the heaviest burden.  for a self that is doing her damnedest to give her children both roots and wings.  my happiness this year, my thankfulness this year, is not found in my external stimuli, although in 2016 i have yet experienced unbelievable beauty in the times of unbelievable pain, it is found within myself.

and so to myself, i say, you can, you can, you can.  tilt your head to the sun child, it is still warm.  drink the water, it is still cool, rest your feet on the ground child, it is still steady.  the world moves on but you are in it, it moves with you, it moves in you.  you feel unmoored but you will not always feel this way, sink some - but swim more.  fall, but do not stay down.  lift your head child, you can, you can, you can.  lift your head lift your head lift!

for my prayer has always been love
I should have known better
Nothing can be changed

The past is still the past
The bridge to nowhere

I should have wrote a letter
Explaining what I feel, that empty feeling

Don’t back down, concentrate on seeing
The breakers in the barthe neighbor’s greeting
My brother had a daughter
The beauty that she brings, illumination

thank god for sufjan.  this season is so confusing, so many feelings, so little time.  up and down, in and out.  we spin around but we aren't moving at all.

there is still a large part of me that wants to refuse to participate in life since i can't do it perfectly.  i wish i could, i wish i was perfect.  i want guarantees, i want concrete examples of how i will be taken care of forever and ever.  it doesn't work that way - i suppose.  what i want and what i experience are so drastically different.  sometimes i feel it is so difficult to lean into the true beauty i am still experiencing, because true beauty is messy, it's not airbrushed.  true beauty is the thunder of a falls and the scorching heat of a desert, it's not the comfortable 68 degrees Fahrenheit you have your house set to, it's not the thunder of your SUV as you fill it up at the gas station.  

this thanksgiving a year ago i was pregnant.
this thanksgiving a year ago i was with my friends in ohio.
this thanksgiving a year ago... a year ago... a year ago.
elly was a whisper of a dream that is no longer here.  

and so in this season of thankfulness, i take stock, of everything that has been lost to me and everything that remains and has been added.  does noticing the additions defeat the loss?  i struggle, at times, with it.  i mean in all honesty, compared to most of my widow friends, i don't struggle that much with guilt because i'm a damn boss and i know logically, i know i didn't choose this road.

i'm not sure if i'm thankful yet.
i'm not sure what christmas will feel like without them.
i'm not sure.

dear elly,

you would be eight months old at your first thanksgiving.  to be honest, i can't even remember what you are allowed to eat at eight months, but god knows i'd be slipping you some food, corn bread at least.  we miss you, addy misses you terribly.  i miss your eyes, i miss holding you close, i miss the fire of knowing what it felt like to be your mom, to be elly's mom.  i'm in less pain now but it comes at a cost.  all healing comes at a cost.  your essence of being continues to slip from my grasp.  i've now lived who knows how many weeks without you as opposed to the five i had with you.  those five weeks baby, i had the world when i had you.

should i tear my heart out now
everything i feel,
returns to you somehow

i wish i was with you elly.  i wish i was resting with you.
my breath is tired, my arms are weak,
someone let me rest.
i have
  (no anchor)
i float .a.w.a.y.

the grasp (always out of reach)
  goodbye i say, goodbye
wish you well, you say,
wish you well

up here i drift
 am i safe again?
there are no ties,
try to teach me a lesson?
i lash

the theme, the theme they cry!
it is forever being
never uncovered

remain hidden
in the clouds
in the clouds

goodbye, i say,
i remember first reading the giver when i was probably eleven or twelve.  it made a mark on me, being a voracious reader, i probably read hundreds of books throughout middle/high school, but i remember that one.

i was running on the trail the other day, just thinking about it.  the task of holding pain, the task of holding memory.  most who have seen my level of loss are in their seventies and eighties, and it doesn't seem so bad at that point to see all these pages being ripped from your book, because you know that your story is getting ready to come to a close.  the chapters are almost done and although the cross is getting quite heavy, it is almost time to put it down.  that is what seems so much, the weight of this cross for my expected lifetime... it seems insane.

and of course, none of us are promised days, and while i could die tomorrow, a 29 year old caucasian female non-smoker, runner... i would say the odds are in my favor.

it would seem to me that although people would say that i could expect it to change or get easier, in a large way my life only gets increasingly difficult.  the weight of the yoke is not getting lighter.  and it is so so difficult for me to have any compassion towards those who i feel only increase its weight.  and that's on me, right?  my pain does not diminish the pain of those around me, simply because i am in more does not mean that other's don't hurt.

where's the damn remote?  i want to fast forward my life.
your daughter (our) is the one to hold me through my tears.  it is getting harder and harder to cry.  there is still so much numb.  it's like looking at pictures of a different family, a different girl.  sometimes i wish i had physical scars from what i went through, just so i could see it.  so much changed and yet nothing (everything) looks the same.

it should be your arms holding me, your voice whispering that we are ok that i am ok, that it wasn't our fault (my), your kisses bringing me back down to sanity.

from the moment i met you i felt safe.  i had been through so much in the past year in relation to guys and then all of a sudden, you popped up, and no matter what i said or did or how i acted, you just stayed and stayed and stayed, you proved yourself over and over in the beginning.  and i felt safe.

i gave you my heart for safekeeping - only letting it out when we had children, each of whom have a piece tucked inside of them.  and now, now i only have two pieces remaining.  the rest torn asunder.  how could i have been so foolish, so naive.  why is there no safety zone?

in my hour of darkest need, you disappeared, the biggest storm, you did not weather.  choosing instead, to leave it to me.  do you know how jealous i get sometimes?  the very real thought that if i had any inkling to your actions, i would have beaten you to the punch on it.  we NEEDED you, i NEED you now.  i miss your voice, your touch, your humor, i miss talking to you and hearing you bitch, i miss our communication and being known so intimately that no words are needed, my home, my soul's home, disappeared right along with you.

you were supposed to be my future.  i remember one time driving back home from baltimore we saw an old couple at mcdonalds, eating breakfast together.  i don't even remember if i mentioned it to you, but i knew that would be us.  i (we) had put so much effort and time and energy into us, into our future.  and we had it, this brilliant, glittering realization of effort, the five of us.  and then... and then... and then..

now you are my past, something to be explained and processed and defended.  now you remain a mystery that i can never solve, addy keeps asking me when we are going to die like you and elly.  wish i knew, wish i had the words to explain to her, wish you wouldn't have folded up your sails.

do you know how much i want to fold into the current, how badly i want to put down my oar and rest, how HARD this is for me.  i have tasted the bitter, is the sweet ruined forever?  everything now seems to be rotting.

there is no good, there is no good, there is no good.
one memory pops up quite a bit, it really is more of a mash of our time together.  laying on our bed, me on your chest, windows open.  looking out into the world, knowing i was safe, knowing i was home.
i am forever undone.
this has been a weird year.  i am sad today, regardless of the outcome, i would have been sad.  this election has been brutal... like most of my 2016.  i just keep picking myself up off the floor.  because addy needs me.

a mom who can face loss, day in day out.  and still smile at her, still laugh with her, still tickle her.  the hits just keep on coming.  it is difficult right now to smile and to keep pushing forward in my life. yes, i've faced personal loss but there is also the future to think about, my kids future to think about.  our country, our climate... it's been a rough ride, a very rough ride.

today though, we mourn.  we mourn, because regardless of who you voted for, this was not a character driven election, we mourn because right now we are sad, and divided, and scared.  today we mourn.

but in my mourning i remind myself that he does not speak for me, or my house, or my kids.  that he has no personal influence on how i treat people on a daily basis.  that regardless of who is president the world would be a better place if we all just let people in during heavy traffic.  that the president cannot and will not influence how i treat my neighbors, my friends, and my enemies.

it starts with me, my volunteering, my example to addy.  it starts with a single mom who is confident of herself and her children, who will protect and set an example, who loves everyone even the people spewing hate, but one who will not be walked on, who will stand up for values and women and the marginalized.  it starts with me.

i will not rest and let the government be the change, i am the change.  it starts with me.

8 months.


remember when you were alive and i could take a picture of you whenever i wanted to?  i had no idea what a gift that was... remember when you were alive and i could snuggle you close and listen to your breath?  i did know that was a gift.  recently it seems the breath of your siblings is what is keeping me going.

i am distraught without you here this season baby.  the summer i could handle, the autumn i could handle, but christmas?  christmas without my last baby?  why did i get you just to lose you?  why did i get to see you and smell you and touch you and love you just to have you ripped out of my grasp?  out of my life?

how can we ever celebrate without you?  did you get to dress up for halloween?  addy asked me what you were in heaven, we decided you were a lamb and daddy was a pumpkin.  i hope you did baby, even though let's be honest your mom didn't have the greatest track record dressing up her babies for their first halloween... both of your siblings went uncostumed.

out of everything, your loss remains the cruelest in my heart.  to live unending years without you by my side, the one who captured my soul, who completed the puzzle, who fit me in a way no one else can touch, that is the cruelest pain i have ever known.

i've been getting lots of tattoos recently, looking for an outward expression of my pain, i haven't been able to get yours yet though... i am sorry.  i should have the strength to bear the loss, to remind myself daily of what is not mine, but i can't.  not yet.

i don't know if it is more sad to buy gifts for you and know they won't be opened or not buy anything and just pretend it isn't so.

what am i going to do without you...


today you are missed.  like every day precious girl, like every day.  but today especially.  i am sitting in starbucks, thinking about you, crying.

what is it that destroys our spirit?  or are we born with it?  an awareness that no one makes it out of this game alive?

She tips her head to the side and it all falls out.  Everything she has been hiding.  Everything she has been keeping secret.  It is there, sitting in her lap.  And it’s nothing special really.  It’s the same fears and hopes and dreams that everyone carries.  She is not special, she knows this.  There is nothing rare about her.  She floats around in her life wasting it.  We all waste it, what makes a worthwhile life?  What makes an admirable goal?  Happiness?  It is a facade, a mirage in the desert.  There is no happiness, there is only a salivation for more.  There is no contentment to be found, just a fueling passion for better.  There is no saving, there is only dying amongst the wreckage, a brittle pot cast on the stones, a clay figure stomped under foot.

We all pull back the curtain eventually, my time came sooner than most. Hi, Mr. OZ, it's nice to meet you.

the holidays

well they are sweeping in like a hurricane, right?  so many specific dates, so many memories.  this season last year was probably the most exciting time in my life.  i was pregnant, working, i treated buying gifts for my family like a part time job.  i had started shopping in october for addy.  we spent thanksgiving with our friends and then i worked all night at carters.  i loved it, the excitement, all the shoppers, the endless lines.  christmas was magical, as it always had been since 2010 when jim and i planned our wedding for 12/4.

alayne came up and visited us in november.  we talked and watched millionaire matchmaker, jim ran out and got us mcdonalds "you know what sounds good" she came and saw me at work.  we talked about life and what the past ten years had held for us, ten years, ten years of our life had held surprises and hard times but we were happy.  both of us were happy.  she was interviewing for a new job and i remember being so proud of her.  our lives had taken such different paths, but she was down in north carolina with her place and her friends and a good career, kicking ass, taking names.

that was the last time she saw us together, whole.  the next time everything had changed.  and in that moment we just sat there, i sat there in my room and talked with her about our lives unfolding and what we wanted to see change, but overall how content we were.

sometimes i don't know why we take pictures.  they are so insignificant compared to flesh.  the sharp lines of a photo never truly doing justice to the softness of your baby's skin.  the shadows never truly highlighting what their eyes look like when they meet your gaze.  the smile of your husband's mouth never truly matching what it felt like when he caught the corner of your eye.

i wear out my pictures, flipping through the ones of elly, trying to feel the fire but feeling detached.  trying to engage the pain but left numb.  there are only so many i have, she was only five weeks.  and i stare at her face and try to feel what if felt like to hold her close, to hear her breath in the bassinet next to me, and it escapes me, it escapes me after six months.  and i package it up and i put it away like a box.  like a box not to be opened, but even when i try to open it- it eludes me.

and now, now i trudge through the holiday season and the onslaught of memories that accompanies it.  five years of memories and one year of "if only."  damn i miss my family.

let it flow

it is the cusp of autumn here in the south.  i know some places up north have already faced snow, meanwhile we are trucking in at 85 degrees still.  the leaves are changing though, and falling, crunching under our feet as we run out the door and getting tracked into the house as we come in.

we are starting to settle.  the dust is starting to clear, numb is wearing off.  and i am faced with life, the reality of life, and for the first time in this, i feel ready.  ready for a job, ready to interact with people again and not have them know every detail about the situation, ready to cook for my family, ready to be emotionally available to my kids so they can process their grief.  

when everything first happened, i felt so apart from society, so marked and scarred.  it was crazy to me that i could be walking around doing normal things and these people around me didn't know what happened.  you almost have this compulsion to spill it to everyone, to tell them what's going on, to explain to them how fire came and swept through your life and you didn't see it coming.  

it's remarkable how everything heals.  the capacity of a human to endure pain is amazing to me.  i honestly wasn't sure how anyone could survive what i have been through before i underwent it.  and looking back i still question, was that me?  how did i not break?  where did this flexibility for pain come from?  

we just bounce back right?  and even more than that we ascribe meaning and significance to the pain, with the realization and understanding that great things are born from it.  webster's defines great as "of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average" 

above average, what we all strive for.  born from pain.  it is a puzzle i turn in my mind a dozen times a day.  and there are no answers.

but to bring us to today, to bring us to the ringside moment.  the rope goes up and i am back in the ring.  broken but undefeated.  bring it, i am READY.

on having your own identity.

we train ourselves to always look for the positive in situations.  this is a skill that's honed, a professional development over a lifetime.  you know when this gets awkward?  when it relates to death.  for some reason we think our brain shouldn't go there.  it should have the boundaries of knowing that nothing good can come from death.

my brain is such a muddled place recently, it is a ball of yarn that will most likely never completely unravel.  i still spend a lot of time just in thought, thinking about why i did what i did, the impact it's had on my life.

when a marriage ends, there is this very real part of you that sheds that part of you like a coat that doesn't fit anymore.  and it doesn't really matter how/why it ends.  i failed for a large portion of our relationship to carve out an identity for myself outside of being jim's wife and my children's mother.  and the reality of that is that deficit started when i met him.

our love story so unique and palpable - a whirlwind of five months from meeting to married, was entirely dependent on a very unique world perspective at the time.  i was so unhappy and being with him made me so happy, i bounced on my old life.  which, at the time, seemed positive.  i had a lot of unhealthy habits that it wasn't necessarily a bad thing to get rid of everything.  but i went from being lost by myself to lost in a relationship.  i'm honestly not sure what a healthy marriage looks like, i had a great one, but was it healthy?  is anyone's healthy?  does forcing ourselves to belong to one person for the entirety of our lives, the length of which is ever expanding, lead to personal development or does it stifle it?

i was talking to my counselor who said that some sociologists are looking into whether marriage is antiquated with the lengthening life span.  if you asked me today, i would say i don't really believe in the idea right now.  i'm more into creating family.  i don't think you necessarily need marriage to do that.  i also think forcing a coat on that has long since shrunk can be stifling and unnecessary.

ok.  i'll end here and even though i hate them, i am throwing out a PSA on this post, if you are married and in my life this is not about you.  i promise.  just put that idea out of your head.  my paintbrush is broad here, referring to all of society and the evolution of our construct.

dating in 2016, also huge LOL at even posting this.

Half of me can’t even believe I am writing this post.  Dating is gruesome, isn’t it?  Like most of life, I suppose.

The weekend that Jim died I was standing there, a wreck, while my phone was blowing up.  Alayne goes “who is texting you so much?”

I respond “oh those are just my tinder matches” 

and I know that not everybody gets the hilarity and all I can say is until you are in the fire, you don’t see the need for a respite from getting burned.

anyways, i was talking to my therapist about dating and i commented “single, widowed mom, sole custody of two kids… it’s a tough sell” and it is.  

i have this story that literally leaves people speechless.  most people when they hear it don’t even really know how to interact with me much less get involved romantically.  and i know eventually it won’t be such a big part of my identity, this widowed, grieving mom, but right now it is and if i want anything to do with the person then it’s like they have to know it.  

again, it’s a tough sell. 

i remember when alayne was dating and i was in the “smug married” camp and i would literally be listening to her dating stories while secretly thinking to myself “thank GOD you don’t have to do that, dating with the internet sounds horrible” well jokes on me, not only am i internet dating but i also have my entire story on basically every social media outlet, including this blog.

here are common openers from online dating that literally lead to a dead end for me:
“what brought you to raleigh?”
“what do you do for work?”
“what’s your IG?”

the first date i went on, God bless this guy.  i picked that poor soul because i knew i didn’t like him and i just wanted to get what would most likely be an extremely awkward date out of the way so if i actually did like someone in the future, i would be chill, the opposite of myself normally.

do you know how hard it is to date if you don’t want them to know anything about you?  i sat there at coffee for an hour and gave no info about myself, he didn’t know i had kids, didn’t know i was married, nothing.  i sat there and silently shredded a napkin into my lap and was AWKWARD, gave him a hug goodbye, hopped in my minivan and drove away.

i can only imagine that he got out of that experience thinking “what the hell”

and then the time comes when you do start to like people again, and it’s hard and messy and difficult and my requirements right now are crazy.  i want all of the benefits of a relationship with none of the responsibility.  and then i can only imagine what most guys think about my situation, i would say half want to take advantage of what they perceive as my emotional vulnerability (nice try buddy!) and the other half are like “hmm…. no thank you” and i get it, i totally get it.  thank god i stayed skinny through all those pregnancies so at least i still look good otherwise this would be bordering impossible.  

and this is the tricky part too right?  everyone liked me when i am in pain because i needed help and it’s like seeing a puppy out in the rain, everyone wants to adopt it.  but then you bring the puppy in and it starts chewing up your shoes and you think “oh no puppy, oh no this is not how you act”

that’s why it’s so great to be down here.  no one to say “oh no, oh no bria, this is not how being a widow is done” by the way 100% of those people are not widowed because anyone who is will just tell you “do what you want, hall pass for the first year AT LEAST”

and so what do we do?  right, there is nothing to do but keep trying.  keep meeting people, keep making connections, keep throwing out lines.  if you have breath, then you want to be loved, if you want to be loved you gotta love too.


remember that britney spears song "overprotected" no, just me? because yeah i still listen to britney spears.

there is this tendency in all of us, to protect what matters of course.  i do it with my children, my dogs, my friends.  sometimes feeling helpless is worse than taking the pain personally.  usually it is, unless you are in a really extreme example.  God knows i'm going to go ape shit on the first guy that ever tried to mess around with addy.  sometimes i think about the road she is going to walk, with mean girls and bully, unrequited love and heartache... it's so hard to even imagine.  ultimately though, i know that in order for her to be her best i am going to have to release that grip.  that grip of trying to make everything perfect for her and instead just stand there in the paint with her, allow her to get hurt.

truly we can't really protect other people can we?  all we can do is struggle ourselves.  people spend too much time overthinking circumstances- at the end of the day it is what it is.  choose A or B, ultimately it doesn't really matter.  at this point there are two circumstances that could probably break me and none of them are in my control.  people spend so much time trying not to break me, underestimating my strength and looking only at my fragility that remains.  and ultimately too, that is another fallacy- overestimating our own importance.  we do this all the time with work right?  i used to manage all these pump files at my old job and i was not wrapped up when my water suddenly broke over the weekend two weeks early.  i ended up not returning after my maternity leave and you know what?  they survived, they managed all my pump files, shipped all my pumps.

it's this dichotomy again because every human being is unique and not one of us can be replaced, but in the same vein, all of us can be replaced.  miss one there's fifteen more coming 
is there anything i can offer the world that no one else would be able to come up with?  are we really unique or is there a futility in striving to make our stamp on the world?
dear jim,

we tried to do our family pictures today.  lane sucked his thumb the whole time and refused to be put down and addy was throwing a tantrum.  there were lots of family's there doing fall pics and i had to laugh when i saw one dad in his tucked in button down and styled hair just swear under his breath and go "and i'm done" and literally walk away from his two year old.  we all have those moments right?  being done.  it wasn't as hard as i thought it would be, probably because it didn't actually happen.  the photographer was like "well... if you want to come back and do another mini session.... i don't think i got much today"

I wish you were here to talk to.  I miss having my friend here.  It's so difficult babe.  The other night I couldn't sleep and I just thought about how if you were here it wouldn't be that big of a deal because you'd stay up and talk with me.  Remember that one night in our Streetsboro apartment where we were up at 3 in the morning making sandwiches after our fight?  Those times stick out to me.  There was one night in our Aurora house too, after we had fallen asleep on the couch that we stayed up in the family room and talked.  Those times were so special, the two of us, in our quiet house, kids asleep, the outside world felt so far away in those times.  It was more of a cocoon.

I think you'd like Raleigh if you gave it a chance.  It's hard to describe here.  I'm not completely at home yet, but I'm slipping into it a little bit.  Addy is doing well, really well actually.  You'd be so proud of her, Lane is Lane man.  That kid is a stinker, he is hitting me a lot but he also has the absolute sweetest voice when he just babbles to himself.  That's when he's my favorite, I'll be holding him or in the car or something and he'll just be staring off into space talking to himself.  His voice is so sweet.

We miss you and our sissy though.  God I miss you both.  There is still a feeling of life being an eternally long time before I get to see you both again.  I wish you were here, I hope you are happy.  We love you so much,
always and forever,

can't stop.

someone once asked me if everything that happened played like a movie in my head.  normally, the answer is no.  i would never sleep, never function if it did.  having a child die is beyond horrific.  knowing i'll never get to kiss her again, never see her eyes light up in a smile, never have an elly/mommy date.

i can't sleep tonight.  my thoughts go continuously to jim and elly.  every time my body relaxes into sleep, i am jerked awake.  my head is pounding and not even addy's breaths are lulling me to sleep.

people set off fireworks tonight, why on a thursday i'm not sure.  little did they know, the sounds of them caused a 29 year old single mom to go into a panic attack and hyperventilation state.  each one sounded like a gun shot and i could not snap out of it.  it went on for close to thirty minutes.

and that's the thing right, i walk around and look like i'm fine and look happy.  no one knows.  today i was at a kid's museum and there is a pretend ambulance with a pretend baby in it.  this sight of this always gives me great anxiety to the point where i really try to avoid even looking at it.  and i wondered, i thought, how many other people in this room have a trigger in here right now?

anger is only a secondary emotion.  and this week i have been angry.  raging at what was taken from me, angry at the world for not suffering with me, angry at people that are having babies and announcing pregnancy, angry at people who post that "love your spouse" shit on Facebook, angry at people-just because they're alive and my daughter isn't.  and it hurts right.  it still fucking hurts.  i still hurt.

it wasn't just jim that screwed me over, it's this whole cosmos.  i got a raw deal and i want to know why.  why are we here, why do we suffer, WHAT IS THE POINT?

i don't often share details about my kids and their grief process.  their journey is their own and i respect it.  lane's hasn't even started yet, i imagine i'll be dealing with that mostly in high school.  addy though, addy busted this one out the other day
"God let daddy die...  (long pause) it's God's fault"

today on the playground i saw three brothers playing.  two were playing together and the third one was alone.  the two playing together kept saying "michael, come on over bud, come play with us" as soon as the kid would get close they would leave him in the dust.

giving, just to take away.
having, just to lose.

we all play our roles.  ours seems to be ants, running around trying not to get recognized lest we be stepped on.  God, God seems to be a sadist.  giving just to take

let's stop covering up the bruises shall we.  i am not ok, we are not ok. 

to my daughter

dear a,

oh addy.  you turned four yesterday, you turned four and i failed you so badly on your birthday.  yesterday i had this moment when i was just yelling and being angry and you came up to me with this sad look on your face and just grabbed my hand.  you understand so much more than you let on baby.  i know you feel it too.  my relationship with you is so special, you take so much more of the load than you should.

to you who held my head when i was sobbing hysterically and patted my hair, "don't worry mommy, you're not alone"
to you who has literally saved my life with just your breathe when i've been close to the edge
to you who drapes your lanky body around mine just perfectly and nuzzles into my neck
to you who grabs my face and looks into my eyes when i'm angry and upset, searching for understanding

to you my daughter, i hope one day, when you have kids of your own you know how much i tried and how special you are to me.  i hope you know that i literally would not be here if not for your love.  i hope you know that no matter what you do with your life at 4 you have already saved mine and that is more than enough, i hope you know that our love is forever and ever and ever, i hope you know no matter who comes in and our of our lives we will always be that family of five, it might look different than other people's families, but that's ok, i hope you know that you can feel however you want to feel and look however you want to look and be whoever you want to be and THAT IS OK.

color inside the lines and i will love you
color outside the lines and i will love you

be a rule follower or breaker, live close or live far, travel or stay home, succeed or fail- I WILL LOVE YOU.

these days are not promised to us baby, let's take them for what they are.
to my love,

i reeked of self-doubt today.  there is a large part of me that blames you for this today.  all of me wants to blame you.  my steps were false, my figure was halting, my frustration was always present.

your beautiful little angel turned four today.  do you remember that day four years ago?  my water breaking at our stow house?  i've never seen you happier than in that moment.  jesus babe, she missed you so much today.  you couldn't find it in you to stick around for that?  we talked about it constantly, you and elly missing from our "party," half of her family not even around when she turns four, to be four and have lost half of your family already.  and then i'm yelling because i'm frustrated and sad and tired and i miss you too and i miss my daughter.  and it's all a mess.

even in my new reality there is still disbelief.  not as much as in ohio for sure, but a part.  a part of me still whispers (he can't have.that'snothim)

it wasn't you right?

today is not a day of thankfulness, today is not a day of #newblessings.  today is a day of wistfulness - to the girl i was even before we met.  today i am mad.  today i hate.  today i am frustrated and angry and not doing my best and not being my best.

beating my fists against an iron door, never to have it open.

it's a zero sum game and we've already lost.
dear elly,

friday is sissy's birthday.  you would have been seven months old.  always into numbers, your dad and i were so excited that your birthday was 3/7 the combination of the birthdays of your siblings.  i woke up thinking about you today baby, your warm body cradled into mine the last time i held you.  your peach fuzz of dark hair against your scalp.  how is it that i barely knew you and yet i miss you terribly, missing the soul that knew mine so well.

i remember on daddy's birthday i was holding you and drinking half a glass of wine and your brother and sister were just going nuts playing "playground" on our couch.  they were (rarely) completely occupying themselves and you and i were just hanging and i thought to myself "this is the most chill baby i have ever seen" part of me wishes i knew in that moment what was coming ten days later.

i woke up thinking about you today.  i haven't really been crying since i moved and i needed it today, which is partly why you are getting this letter.  i am sorry that i am using thoughts to you as an emotional release for me.  i hope you know how special you were to me, i am so sorry i wasn't a better mom, i'm sorry i failed.

you sit on my dresser, in this beautiful blue urn, it's probably the size of a teacup.  that small, diminutive nature of it breaks my heart open when i look at it.  today, it is not enough.  today, i want to hold you.  today, i am raging at what i lost when you left this world.  today, i want my baby.

ellybean, your sissy misses you.  she always pretends that i'm her sister now.  "mom, we are sisters, the two of us mom, you're my sister."  your brother misses you, it breaks my heart when i see him with another baby, i know he misses you.  oh elly, would i to have suffered a thousand deaths in your place i would do it.

there was a part of me that had a hard time grieving you after your daddy died.  i mean, truth be told, it shut me down for a while, then i could only look at your death as this bizarre catalyst for the hell i endured, and now it is finally separate again.  the death of my daughter once again, the burning scar it should be.

elly, i wish i was holding you today.  i wish the bittersweet pain of seeing you grow up was mine to bear.  i wish your dimpled thighs were against mine in our bed as i snuggled you in the morning, aghast that seven months with this chubby little monster have slipped by already.  i wish i was getting ready to dress you for your first halloween and that when i buy you something it doesn't feel so empty when it gets here to serve as a reminder of you.  i wish addy had her real sissy here, i wish you were ours elly.

love you baby, please give your daddy a kiss from all of us and give my mommy a hug from me because today i really miss her too.
love your mommy.  xoxoxxxx.


homes are interesting.  in america we put so much emphasis, even turning into a job title "homemaker."  and it's not a bad thing.  for me it immediately draws the opposite correlation of people in other countries whose homes are huts and what it means to them.  but that is neither here nor there and not what i was intending for tonight.

tomorrow marks five weeks since we started packing our stuff up and almost three weeks that we've been down here without the majority of our belongings.  tomorrow i will unpack.  my coffee mugs, my coffee maker, my blankets and pillows and throws.  my kids toys and stuffs, our pots and pans.  for me, being without the majority of my stuff in combination with also not having a home has been... more trying than i expected.  this is the first time in my life i have experienced homelessness.*

my house in ohio is packed up and ready to sell.  the rooms are empty, i imagine them forlorn, i'm not sure if that's the case.  i hope whoever buys it sees more happiness than we did.  the door gets literally and figuratively closed on the future i used to have.

when i visited NC before we actually went longer without having the majority of our possessions - but we knew where they were, at home, the safety blanket (or suffocating) waiting for us.  this attachment that we have to our possessions, to our things is so bizarre to me.  we don't take any of it with us.  that's part of the reason it was so difficult for me to look around and deal with all of jim's things, it just was this constant reminder of what we leave with.  why do we attach ourselves to things?

i heard this quote when i was in my early twenties and it has forever guided the way i strive to live my life

things are for use, people are to love 

i fail at that so often.  we treat our houses, our cars, our sofas on pedestals.  we freak out of it the kids scratch the floor or spill juice on the rug, remember the days of putting PLASTIC over the furniture folks?  when i experienced all of this it forever changed my perspective on things, ask me to name one thing i wouldn't give up without a second of hesitation to see my daughter's face one more time.  somehow when you've had a child die the thought of a kid scratching your car doesn't send you into hysterics.

yet still i find myself, wishing for my favorite coffee mug.  feeling very unmoored by the lack of my belongings.  my kids feel it too, tonight was pretty much our breaking point as a family.  and so #allthehardthings so that #allthegoodthings can come.

*please understand that i am in now way suggesting that my plight is the same of the souls that live every day on the streets, we have always had a house and a bed, i am merely speaking to the same connectedness i feel in my hearts to those that lose their homes, their refuges, their places of safety

live in the same building, but we got different views.

in the peaks of community isolation exists.

you know what i do when i see a homeless person standing by the side of the road?  I ignore it, stare straight ahead, pretend I don't see them.  I DON'T ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR PAIN.  this has been on my mind a lot recently, probably because i know what it feels like when others refuse to acknowledge the scars you have and it blows.  

i saw a post on Facebook about putting together bags, just a glad ziploc with socks, soap, toothbrush, maybe a granola bar and a bottled water.  keep 4-5 in your car and when you see a person on the side of the road, hand them a bag.  you're prepared, you know they need the items, and it probably cost you like five bucks.  i plan on doing this tomorrow.  just getting the items, having them ready.  knowing that it's not ok to ignore pain.  

i share that not to say look at what i'm doing but more so, look at how ignorant we can be even in the midst of great suffering.  if you aren't suffering at all, i can guarantee you are throwing down some ignorance right now.  it is only in the midst of pain that we look around to see if others are being shot by the same arrows.  to see if the wounds that are marking us have other targets as well.  

our human experience is so unique and fragile.  your mindset is developed and honed and it is only yours to bear.  we can connect and come together and feel each other's pain and joy, but we must acknowledge that we are the only ones who see with our eyes.  others eyes see differently and that is ok.  

there is so much pain right now.  it seems the whole world is aching, with injustice, with pride, with rebellion.  my heart and mind are in turmoil for the future, for the present.  i do my best to stay in the immediate moment.  if it's not happening right at this second then i strive not to worry about it, your strength for the moments come as you experience them.  but even in the everyday moments i am met with pain, pain for others, pain for myself, pain for my children.

my heart is so very, very heavy tonight for our world.  
and so when there are no words, with my silence, i pray.