about the men i love... for the girls that are my world.

Friday, October 25, 2013


I thought I'd have a few more years before the really tough questions came...
Most parents should only have to worry about the dreaded "where do babies come from?" question and etc. I have always been honest with Natalie. If she asks something I tell her the truth. Well, ok, maybe I fudge on a few certain topics, where Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are concerned... but I really do try to be honest with her. Not that she needs all of the details about every aspect of life. But honesty has always been my policy. I want to know the truth, why would I deny that to my kids? 
But what happens when I don't what to say? 
Last night as we were driving home we stopped by the substation before Derek's shift started and talked to him in the parking lot. As we drove away, Natalie says to me "I don't want to be a police officer when I grow up. I want to do a safe job, one where people don't get shot." 
Feeling a bit of a lump in my throat, I try to turn to a positive outlook. I tell her that police officers are very safe and they keep us safe (although, don't get me wrong, that's a career path I'd prefer none of children choose). She starts asking me questions... about what happened to Brian, what happened to Derek.
I try to be as simple and honest as I can, like I said I want to be honest, but she's only 6 years old. The last thing I want to do is scare her. 
Then she says it.
She asks me "Why?" 
"Why would some bad man do that?"
A million thoughts are racing through my head. I want to scream, I want to cry. Why is my first husband dead? Why did someone attempt kill my second husband?
I don't know WHY???
I don't think I ever will.... But my daughter is asking me. Maybe I should have sheltered her more. I want to protect her. I don't want to see her hurt. 
I will never forget when I had to tell her what happened. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I remember where I was, sitting, in an arm-back chair in my parents living room. Thanks be to God (and April) that she spent the day with a great friends, and she had fun. She dressed up, and played. She didn't have any of the pain or hurt that I did. 
I remember it, but I remember it in a fog. She walked into the living room, she'd had a bath and she was wearing Eva's pj's. She ran up to me and she was happy to see me. She was happy we were spending the night at Grandma and Poppas house.
Then I told her.
She cried. 
I sobbed. 
Here we are 4 years later. And she asks me "why?"
I guess I shouldn't be surprised, she is a smart kid. She is so inquisitive, so caring, so giving of herself. I thank God for her everyday. I want to teach her well.
I don't really remember what I said to her last night. But I know I didn't kick and scream like I felt like doing, and I remember her replying back to me "if there are bad people, we should pray for them, then maybe they won't be bad." 
I want to teach her to forgive. To be the bigger person. In all aspects of life. People will hurt you, they will say and do hurtful things. Set a better example. Never lower yourself to their level, rise above it.
But how do I even do that in this situation? I'm not sure I can ever forgive, for a life that was taken away. And a daughter that lost her father at the age of 2. 
So I pray about it. 
All any mother wants for her children is for them to be "ok". I was worried about that last night. Did I say the right thing? Do the right thing?
Then today, when we were driving back to the school after the field trip, we hit a red light at 119th and Kellogg. Natalie looks over to Resthaven and says "Hi Daddy! I love you." 
I look in the rear view mirror. Natalie's friend Mary is looking at her. Natalie tells her about her Daddy. Mary looks over towards Resthaven and says "Hi Natalie's Daddy!" and they start talking about something else. 
She's ok. 
She's proud of him. As she should be, as I want her to be. 
I look back at this last year past. And this last September 28th past. We celebrated life. We celebrated Brian's life. We celebrated Derek's life. 
As any mother, all I want, is what is best for my children. I want them to have the best life possible. 
It's funny, I look at this and realize, my girls are the ones teaching me what life is all about. 


Friday, August 23, 2013

Another first...

Back to school really gets to me. Maybe because it's another time of the year when I realize how much older she's getting. Maybe because fall is quickly approaching. Whatever it is, I'm emotional. I know, it's normal, all moms are emotional about their babies going back to school to all day. I really miss Natalie's bubbly attitude, her helping hands, and her sweet smile around here during the day. And no doubt about it, Kate misses her sissy too. Those two have become quite inseparable. But it's more than that. It's yet another chapter in her life that Brian is missing out on. He doesn't see how excited she is. He doesn't see how independent she has grown to be. I know he sees her, but not in the way he should. 
I am reminded of the first days of school that Brian and I shared together. We started college together at Kansas State University. I think the both of us were afraid to leave home, but neither one wanted to admit it. We had each other though. I remember he was there for me after I finished rush week, and officially joined Alpha Delta Pi sorority. He too, had joined a fraternity, Delta Tau Delta. We were both so excited. And, oh how much fun we had over the next few years in Manhattan. I remember he was there, making faces at me from across the room in our sociology class, after I got in trouble for talking, and called out by our professor during lecture. He was there, to dry my tears when I got my first D on a Chemistry test, after I thought I had done so well. He let me cry and told me it would be ok, while he hid the fact that he did well on the same test. He was always there for me, during so many firsts, happy and sad. 
So much has happened in the past 4 years. So much has changed. One thing hasn't though... And that's the love I have in my heart for Brian. As well as the love I have for Natalie. If nothing else my love for the two of them has grown so much more. The more I love Natalie, the more I love Brian. And I thank God everyday that He chose Brian and I to bring her into this world and be her parents.
I'm so proud of her. Of course I'm biased and if you are reading this you're going to have to listen to be brag; but, she is such a great kid. So kind hearted and thoughtful, so brave and independent, so conscientious of others and their feelings. I know Brian is proud of her too. Even though he isn't here to see her march into her school with her head held high. Not a care in the world. He isn't here to hear the funny things she says. He isn't here to hear her talk about her day, with the excitement in her voice. He isn't physically here. As much as it hurts sometimes, as much as it angers me... I have to remind myself that he is with her. He is right by her side, every step of the way. He is with her for the first days of school, and all the other firsts. Much like he was there for me. 
What an amazing thing, that Brian and I share together. Of course we will always be linked together through the love we have for each other and our marriage. But, we also lucky to have something even beyond that. We have something that binds us together, binds us forever, binds us close whether in heaven or on earth. We have a person that binds us together, a soul. We have Natalie. What a beautiful reminder she is.  A reminder of her father, of my husband, of Brian... to anyone who knew him. And a special way for people that never met or really knew him, to see a part of him. A way for his memory to live on, in this earthly world. I am so blessed to have her, as are Derek and Kate too. And we all know it.
I was upset the other day and she just looked at me, " it's ok Momma, he's right there in your heart." 
Yes, baby, you're right. He is. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Letting go

I'm not always a very spontaneous person, and I don't always have a "go with the flow" attitude. Ok, to be fair and completely honest, I usually like to know the what, when, where, how and who of the happenings in my life. I'm trying to be less controlling, I really am. I'm trying to let go. To let go of what I cannot control. But it's hard.
After Brian was killed I felt like so many things in my life were taken from me. Of course, the obvious, my husband, my best friend, the person I loved more than anything and was my entire world, was gone. I felt like every aspect of my life was changed. Everything I did, it just wasn't the same. I couldn't bear to be in our house, because everything I looked at, reminded me of him. I tried to go back to work, in my mind it was one thing that I could still do. The "pathetic excuse for a human being" that took my husbands life, took almost all of my life too. But he couldn't take from that from me. It was one thing that could stay the same. But guess what, it wasn't. I couldn't stand to work in the same hospital and same building that Brian had died in. I felt like I was completely losing control of my life. I couldn't enjoy things, because if I couldn't enjoy it with him, then it wasn't worth it.
In time I learned to realize that the harder I tried to hold onto things and control them, the worse it was. I became much more deeply rooted in my faith again, and really tried to give my problems over to God. He would take the burden off of me. And He did. But I had to be the one to let it go, to give it up to Him. That's the hard part.
My worry and anxiety sometimes gets the better of me. Because, if I let myself, I will worry about EVERYTHING. I worry about Derek the second he walks out the door. (Especially when he's walking out the door at 8:30 pm with a bulletproof vest velcroed on and a gun on his hip.) I worry about the kids, what if something bad happened to them? I worry about myself. What if I got hurt or sick, and I wasn't able to be here for the ones I love the most? I used to have the ability to be a bit naive and think "what's the worst that could happen?" Well, after you've been in the situation where 'the worst of the worst' really did happen to you and you've lived through your worst nightmare.... You tend to shift your thinking. Instead of thinking "it won't happen to me", you think "it can happen to me, because it did." Sometimes, I worry about the decisions I make, and sometimes I care way too much of what others think.
 I attended Police Week in Washington D.C. for the first time since the year Brian was honored. And what an experience it was. I'm not sure if I thought since it had been 3 1/2 years, that it would be easier, or at least I would be able to control and handle my emotions better? Boy, was I wrong. On the contrary, it was almost the exact opposite. Strange as it seemed, I felt a stronger and more profound impact of the week's events on my heart.  Looking back, I don't think I was able to fully grasp the totality of what was happening the first time around. I can think more clearly now, about what really happened to him, the shock has worn off.
I desperately tried to control my emotions. I don't even know how many times I said to myself under my breath "pull yourself together". I should have just let the feelings come. It was another sign of proof to me that grief comes in waves like the ocean. Sometimes the tide is high. I am learning to let go of trying to control it, and just let it come.
God never fails. He provided just what I needed that week. I was able to spend time with my dear friend Paige, and to make new friends with other women whom I had such a connection with. I was able to help them, and they were able to help me. I also will never forget God placing me exactly where I needed to be during the candlelight vigil, meeting a great group of people from Maryland. Thanks to a Sheriffs Deputy Capatin named Jack, who took a chance teasing me, made me laugh, gave me all of his Kleenex, and ultimately reminded me why I was there. I felt a sense of relief that it's ok to be sad, it's ok to hurt and to cry. They asked me about Brian, and about Derek, about Natalie and Kate. They made me feel normal. I don't think they will ever know how much that meant to me.
This summer we spent time out at the lake, like we always do. It's comforting and a little bit heart wrenching at the same time. I love to be there with my family, to make memories together, the kind of memories that will last the girls a lifetime. I also feel a wealth of memories and emotions when I'm there. Memories I made with Brian, starting about 10 years ago or so, along with new memories with Derek and the girls. Nothing can ever take those memories away, nothing. And, I realized even more, the importance of living. And surrounding myself with the people that love me the most, Derek and the girls, our family and our friends.
Henri Frederic Amiel said "You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: Make use of suffering."
Therefore, I am trying even harder to let go, to let go of my efforts to try to control my every emotion, of trying to be superwoman all of time time, to let go of my (almost constant) people pleasing mentality, and to just live. To live being the best wife to Derek, and best mom to Natalie and Kate that I can be. And by letting go of what brings me down, I will be holding on even stronger to the memories I have. To the memories I have of Brian, and all of the things he taught me; about being a wife and a mother. No one, and nothing can ever take that from me.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Living with Different

Post started last Friday, May 3rd, 2013...

This may be redundant information, that I've already shared, but I've had a tough day and currently it's an even tougher evening. I need to put the thoughts down that are racing through my head.
Today Natalie, my Mom and I attended the State Law Enforcement Memorial in Topeka. It's the fourth one since Brians EOW (end of watch). A good friend asked me a while back "Does it get any easier?" You know, I wish I could say that it does. But the truth is, easier is not the word I would use to describe it. It just gets different.
You learn to live with the "different". Because that's how everything is, it's different. You look at things differently, perceive things in a different way, appreciate things differently. It's not always a bad different, some of it is a good different, because you learn to appreciate life and the ones you love so much more. But YOU are different.
Tomorrow would have been the 12th anniversary of the day we went out on our first date. We drove around after dinner listening to the new Kenny Chesney CD... I've got it playing right now.
Yet, the only thing I've got on my mind is the last time I saw him. I can replay the whole thing in my head like it was yesterday. My mom coming over to get Natalie, he and I walked outside to put her in the car. And then we stood outside in the front yard for awhile, with Diesel. I remember he was wearing a white undershirt, his blue workout shorts from the academy, and black socks. It was the last night we had together. It was just an ordinary day. There was, however, nothing ordinary about the love we had between each other. I had no idea how lucky I was to have that moment in the front yard. An ordinary moment in our lives. Just a day in the life that we had built together, with the family we had made, that was so horrifically torn in two a mere 18 hours later.
The next day everything changed. Everything was different. The man that was the love of my life, that my world revolved around, was gone. I can't even begin to explain the pain when your heart breaks in two.
Now, I'm learning how to balance my grief with my life. It's not always the first thing on my mind, and some days are harder than others. You live. You remember. You laugh and love again. Yet, there are still days like today, when it's been on my mind since the minute I woke up this morning. It doesn't surprise me. I miss him. With Police Week in Washington DC, as well as the local memorial coming up, along with Natalie's birthday this month... my heart is heavy.
Speaking of that, I am so greatful for an understanding husband who gives me his full support and love, without question. I don't always give Derek enough credit, for being my rock, for being able to look at me and without either of us having to say a word, understanding me. I will never be able to thank him enough for that.
I have an impending feeling of anxiety upon me with the events that are coming up this month. The trip to DC will be the first time I've been back since the year Brian was honored. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. The pain, the grief, the sorrow in my heart, missing him, it doesn't go away. Again, it just becomes different. Yet, still, always there. Whoever said time heals all wounds, is a big fat liar. At least it doesn't heal the pain of a lost loved one. It may dull the pain at times, or distract you from it, but it's still there.
Yet, I know that this is all in God's plan, and I am trying to focus on and look forward to the positives; building stronger relationships with others at Police Week and being there to support friends I've met along the way. I am so excited to see my friend Paige again, a friend that was made because of a terrible common bond that ties us together, but a friend that has been such a blessing to me, and I am certain was put in my life by an act of God. I only wish we lived closer... I hope and pray that I will be able to be a source of support and provide encouragement to others and only strengthen our friendships more.
I will honor Brian, forever. I will keep his memory alive. His spirit is with me everyday. It may be emotionally tough and wearing, but I'm thankful that I can attend these memorials. It's such a wonderful honor to him... and another way to show Natalie about the hero that her father was, still is, and always will be.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Memories of Love

It's been awhile... not that I haven't tried, I've got about 8 drafts of posts that I have been working on. However, I've discovered a 13 month old running around, is not conducive to sitting and typing on the computer for an hour or so.  But today, I need to write, it's good for my soul (and Kate is napping). So here it goes...
What a month...as I sit here looking out the window, at the dreary overcast sky, I find myself taken back. Taken back to February of 2010. When it seemed that everyone else had gone on with their lives, and there I was left to live with this horrific grief, left to raise our child alone, left to try to find a way to live.....but to live a life that was completely different and one that I didn't want. And even now it's so strange, anything can trigger those feelings, a song, geese flying over my house and honking, or Natalie says something that I swear is straight from Brian's mouth.
Of course, today is Valentines Day. It's true that it's just another day, no different from any other. But it is. I am overcome with a wealth of emotions. I have such joy in my life, Derek, the girls, my family and friends. I am ever so thankful for the abundant blessings that God has provided to me. I do believe that after such tragedy, your outlook changes... after the darkest storm, the sun shines brighter and the grass is greener. I give thanks to God everyday for a loving, supportive husband who goes above and beyond for our family; and for two beautiful, happy, healthy girls that bring such love into my heart. I am truly happy.
But nothing will ever fill a hole that I have in my heart. And I don't ever want anything to. It will always be there for Brian, it was his to begin with. He always made Valentines Day such a special day. He would always write to me, not just buy a card and sign his name, but write a letter. He would write from his heart and made me feel like I was the luckiest girl in the world. It was so genuine. I have such wonderful memories of Valentines Day, memories of love. That is what I focus on today, those memories and also the love that I have in my life now.
The other day I was in my closet looking for something, and a paper bag fell off the top shelf hitting me in the head. I opened it up realizing it was the bag of letters I had saved. Every letter or card Brian had ever given to me. I cried as I sat there and read through them, and then laughed that the bag had smacked me in the head on its way down.... reminded me how Brian would ever so lovingly "pat" me on the back of the head...he told me my head had a perfect flat spot for it.
It's been a emotional month, I've got times like that, and this just happens to be one. However in the midst of all of missing and reminiscing, God has continued to show me his love and provide for me. A few months ago  some great people and wonderful friends asked me to join their amazing cause. If you're reading this and you don't already know about Final Call Quilts, check it out... www.finalcallquilts.org. Rob and Alayna Kempf will never know how much of a blessing they are to me. In becoming part of the organization, I have felt such a sense of fulfillment. What a great way to keep his memory alive and honor my husband, a man I am so proud of.
For the first time last week I traveled with them to deliver quilts to the family of a fallen deputy in Texas. What an experience. I had no idea the impact it would leave on me. I met some amazing people, it felt so good to able to give back, to be a sense of comfort to others in a time of tragedy. I also felt such a sense of pride in honoring Brian's memory. And I too, felt comforted by these new friends that I had met. It felt to good to talk to other widows, to women who really understand me. I am truly looking forward to where this avenue of my life will take me, I will continue to honor Brian for the man he was. An honest, loving, good family man. I hope I make him proud.
Who would have thought we'd go from this to where we are now...
God has a plan, and I believe in it.