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

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Joy and Sorrow

What a bittersweet time of year... I have always adored this season, with the cooler weather, and the excitement of the upcoming holidays. Lately though, it definitely brings on a different set of emotions and memories. Ones that didn't exist 5 years ago. Now, the first crisp fall weather day, makes it almost impossible not to feel as though I've been transported back in time to 2009. I can't believe its almost been 5 years. Sometimes, September 28, 2009 and the horrible events of that day, feel like yesterday. But, September 27, 2009, the last day we spent together and the last time I saw Brian, feels like a lifetime ago. Weird, I know.
I've been told there is really something unique to experiencing grief in the fifth year after loss, I believe it.
5 whole years.
1,825 days.
It seems like such a vast amount of time, and yet sometimes I feel like it has passed by in the blink of an eye. So many things have changed and happened. I have been so blessed, and have so many things to be thankful for, and so many wonderful memories to lean on. But a part of me feels as though I have been on an emotional roller coaster this past month. I can, and will, cry at the drop of a hat. Although, I'm certain now that there is another little one on the way, these pregnancy hormones aren't helping that aspect.
I really dislike grief being referred to as a "process", to me that means it would consist of a beginning and an end. Not the case. I feel as though its something you learn to live with and carry with you always, and it ebbs and flows. Maybe some would think that after 5 years had passed, it would be easier. Most days it is easier to live with. But some days it's harder. And it's always there.
So, here I sit, almost 5 years after losing Brian, and so many memories, feelings, and emotions are coming back with a vengeance. Only with almost complete clarity of mind. None of the initial shock the body produces to save the mind...
In many ways the grief feels so raw. So intense, just as it did right in those first days.
But its not all bad, it's also been good.
It seems that the feelings of pain and sorrow can come out of nowhere, and knock the wind out of you. Thankfully, also, so can the good memories. Recently, I was having a bad day and felt myself feeling devastated for several senseless officers deaths around the country. I was thrown back into going over September 28th again in my mind. And the days that followed leading to Brian's funeral.
I said several Hail Mary's in my mind, and tried to refocus on September 27th instead. And that last evening we spent together. We were happy and it made me happy.
That's what I have to focus on.
It's been so fun to share more and more little things with Natalie, as she gets older. We've watched old home movies, looked at pictures, talked about things he liked and didn't like. We've been talking a lot more lately about who he was, and his personality. She loves hearing about his love of animals and hunting. His magical ability to get her to go to sleep at night, after I had tried multiple times and failed. I've told her the songs he liked and she will recognize them when they come on the radio. She loves hearing about all of the things he did to aggravate me. She giggles singing "God is great, beer is good, and Mommy is crazy." She and Brian changed the lyrics a bit on that one.
Kate knows who Brian is, and jumps right in the conversation whenever we talk about him.
And I think, what a blessing.
I have all these wonderful memories, a beautiful daughter who will always carry on his legacy, and a growing family who bring me so much joy every single day.
Natalie recently came up with the idea to raise money and make a donation to the zoo, in honor of her Dad's memory. 
"He would really like that, because he loved animals. He used to want to be a vet. Did you know that Mom?" She asked me proudly with a smile.
"Yes, honey. I did know that. And I think you're right, he would love that."
She set her mind on doing something to celebrate his life. And although sometimes my heart is heavy, I am so proud. During the rough patches, that come around this time of year, she helps me to reminisce on the good times.
Life is always full of ups and downs. It was before September 28, 2009. And it is now. But it's all God's plan, and it's all beautiful.
I think back, and I smile. I look at Derek, Natalie, Kate and this new growing life and I smile.
I read something the other day, about not trying to minimize the pain of someone's grief. But instead to validate their feelings. Because it matters. Those feelings of grief matter. The person who is gone, mattered...
I am beyond blessed to have a husband who knows that, and to be surrounded by family and friends whom are there for me, when I don't even have to ask them to be.
Joy and sorrow can co-exist.
And they do.
I'll let the sorrow come and go when it needs. But I choose to live in the joy.

Friday, June 13, 2014

In the moment...

There's a full moon. It's Friday the 13th. It's almost Fathers Day. My anxiety is in overdrive tonight and I have a feeling this post may be all over the place. Please accept my apologies in advance.
I've been trying desperately to collect my thoughts, in some sort of organized manner, for the past week or so. Yet, every time I sit down to type, I feel like I can't make sense of anything inside my head, much less record it down. But I've got to try, it helps me in so many ways. So, I decided I'm just going to start typing. Here goes nothing...
Another May has passed, another month of memorials, another birthday of Natalie's has come and gone. It's always such a bittersweet day for me. But this year was a little different. My youngest daughter, Kate, is just a little over the age that Natalie was when Brian was killed. I look at her, she is so sweet, so very innocent. So trusting and accepting of everyone she knows. So sheltered from any hurt or wrongdoings in this cruel world we live in. It is such a reminder of how little Natalie was at the time. Such a reminder of how much she has grown, how much she has changed and how much Brian has missed.
Attending the police memorials this year had also taken on a bit of a different tone. It was the first time we attended a memorial and Natalie became upset. I don't mean, cry a little because she saw me crying, I mean sobbing, tears running down her face, hard crying. For the first time, she was able to put it all together, to look around and see so many officers, so many families, so many men and women whom all gathered together for one purpose. The honor and respect paid to all fallen officers, the honor and respect paid to her Dad.
What a dagger to the heart. To see my child physically hurting, and to feel so helpless. I remember sitting there for a minute, not knowing how to comfort my own daughter, because at that moment I couldn't comfort myself. All of those horrible feelings of pain, anger, hurt and anguish came flooding back in.
Then, I remembered the best advice I've ever been given....
Live in the moment.
Not too much in the past, not too much in the future, just right now.
At that moment, we were both sad and upset. As expected, and as we should have been. And you know what? That's ok. I hope if I can teach my girls one thing about grief... It's this: It's ok to cry if you need to cry, cry. It's ok if you need to laugh, laugh. It's ok to throw yourself a little pity party, kick and scream if you need to, just don't get stuck there. It' s ok to live for right now, and be happy.
Yes, I realize at times this advice can be much easier said than done, I struggle sometimes. But I try. I try to honor Brian's memory the best I can, by sharing stories and memories about him with Natalie, and with our whole family. Because I vow that he will never be forgotten, but I refuse to put the focus on the terrible events that happened which took him from us. He lived a life of 26 years, full of love, laughter and some trials as well, but wonderful memories were made that I will carry with me always. Natalie will always know the great man and father that Brian was.
And I vow, to do my best, to listen to that amazing woman's great advice and live in the moment. To soak up every moment of this life I've been blessed with, and the loved ones I share it with. As we all know, none of us are promised tomorrow.
This Fathers Day weekend, we will honor Brian's memory as always, and we will live in the moment. I give my thanks and praise to God for having blessed our family with a man whom is truly an amazing man and father. Derek is the most fun loving, ice cream for breakfast eating, always up for a good time, strong faith based man I know. And my girls are beyond blessed to have him for a father.

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Thankful Grieving Heart

It's been a quiet week around here. My poor sweet Kate has been sick, so I've barely left the house, other than to take Natalie to and from school. Life this week has consisted of lots of snuggles and watching movies on the couch with a 2 year old, who usually won't stop moving.
I will be honest, I hate it that she's been sick, it breaks my heart, but I am so thankful for the fact that she doesn't want to be more than 2 feet away from me, and isn't really content unless she's in my arms.... I've been eating that part up. She's finally feeling better, thank goodness. However the weather here is anything but desirable, so we still haven't left the house. Being cooped up can make you a bit stir crazy, but Natalie was out of school today, so we took full advantage of that and spent the whole day doing arts and crafts, which is one of her favorite things to do.  Other than the stress of a sick kiddo, the dreary weather, and feeling a little like you're being held hostage in your own home, things had been going well.
Until I started looking for something this week....
I needed to find some paperwork. I'd been putting it off, but it needed to be completed by the end of the month, so earlier this week I peeled Kate off of me, turned on Toy Story and went to the spot where I keep important paperwork. I just knew in my head exactly where things should be. Until I started looking, and couldn't find what I needed. I'm usually organized. Very, very organized. Anyone who really knows me, knows this to be true. However on the rare occasion, that's not the case.
I started to panic a little, and was angry with myself for procrastinating, which is something I rarely do. But thinking things maybe just got cluttered up a little bit, I started to look through the file box, of "important papers".
It went downhill from there.
Oh, the things I found.
I came across everything from medical records to funeral plans, complete with my scribbled notes on what readings were to be read and what songs to be sung. Funny, because I don't really have much recollection of writing it, and it doesn't look my handwriting, but I know it is. Among these important papers are multiple different birth certificates, and but one death certificate. Prior to 2009, I'd never had a death certificate in my possession. And most certainly not one in my "important papers file folder".
Mind you, I've needed it for several reasons in years past. It's not as if this was the first time I'd seen in awhile. But for some reason it really hit me this time. It hit me as much as it did the first time I held it in my hands. Opening that letter from Kansas Office of Vital Statistics, in my parents dining room, is one of those moments I will never forget. I remember looking it over. Thinking, this piece of paper, that came in the mail, makes it all that much more real. I remember when I saw it on an official document for the first time.
Cause of Death: Homicide.
Homicide. Something that happens in movies, or on TV, or in bad parts of town. Not to my husband. Not to my daughters father. Not to someone I loved more than life itself.
I looked at it again this week. And it hit me, just as hard. I was mad. I was angry.
That's when I came to a realization...  You don't lose someone just once. It doesn't happen for just one day, or one month, or one year. It happens over and over and over again.
It happens when you come across an old picture. A picture that you didn't think was even usable. Because I took it with my first smartphone, on a ride along with Brian, and it didn't have a flash. His face was so dark you could barely see it.
Derek looked at it, and thought he could edit it for me. And he did. God bless him.
When I first looked at it, I thought it was probably one of the best pictures I have of him. Because, it's perfectly him. And in a way, looking at it, for the first time in a long time, made me feel that pain of losing him all over again.
It's not just a one time thing, for someone you loved so much, it's forever.
It happens when your daughter asks you more and more questions, the older she gets. When, amongest the important papers, you find the folder where he saved every UPC code of every appliance or electronic you bought together. When you find the notes he had taken for an interview with the Wichita Police Department, long before he was hired by the Sheriffs Office, complete with bullets and a section on "Why I want to be a Police Officer".
I sat down on the kitchen floor and cried.
And then a little hand grabbed my arm.
"Momma, what's wrong?" Kate asked as she sat down on my lap.
"You crying?"
I wrapped my arms around her and cried even harder, but just for a little bit.
For a moment I was so angry, so upset. There is much truth in the fact that one doesn't go through the stages of grief just once.
But I looked at her and smiled. And she smiled at me.
What an amazing gift from God she is. And I never take her for granted.
I feel that the pain I carry in my heart from the loss of Brian, is somehow, in someway to thank for that.
The pain that is constantly there reminds myself to never take anything for granted. To be thankful for all that God has blessed with me with.
To take every moment, and soak it in.
Because it changes you. And in many ways for the better.
I am so thankful to be able to look back on so many happy memories I made with Brian.
And I am so grateful for the husband and father that I've been blessed with in Derek.
My girls will know nothing but love, and the memories of love. How very indebted I am for that.
Thanks be to God, for both of them, both of my girls and the many abundant blessings in my life.