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

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

He Didn't Have to Be

It's been a minute..... or two.
Because kids. 
And work. 
And life. 

Anyway... I'm back, for those who care to partake into some sub-optimal writing, here it goes....

I'll have some more in the upcoming months.

For now, here it is....
This is short, but it's sweet.

Ok, I might have stolen the title from a country song. But it was fitting. I couldn't resist. 

This blog post may be a little different than others. 
But I need to give some props to the man that has held me up for almost the entirety of a decade. 

Because..... He didn't have to. 

He didn't have to fall in love with someone with so much baggage.... and see me through some of my absolute darkest times while standing by my side none the less. 

He didn't have to raise a child that wasn't his own flesh and blood, but if you know our family, then you'd never know the difference between any of our kids. 

Derek is one of a kind. 

The fun loving kind. The always the life of the party kind. The master of all practical jokes kind. The eternal optimist kind. The always funny guy kind.

But he's also another kind...

The voice of reason, when I'm stuck in the grasp of anxiety's strong hold. 
The fun loving parent, whom let's them just be kids.
The one who tells me to take it down a notch when I'm stressing about something silly. 
The kind who holds me when I'm down at my lowest and tells me "You got this." 

He's the kind of person that always puts others first.
The kind that doesn't just do the easy thing, but the right thing. And teaches our kids to always do the same, no matter how hard. 

He's the kind that will practice late into the night, with our daughter who desperately wants to be a better softball player. 

Of course, he's not perfect. But he's ours, and to us, he is. 

He loves his kids all the same. He loves me, despite all my shortcomings. He loves life and it shows. 

Thank you, Derek..... For being all that you are. All that we love you for. And all you didn't have to be. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

What I would have told my naive self.... If only she would have listened

It's been a minute.
Or two.
I have truly been meaning to get back to my thoughts but, you know... Kids. Work. Life. And so forth...
Anyway, a couple weeks ago a friend sent me some (really) old photos I'd never seen.
And earlier today, I came across a status that proved to remind me that 9 years ago today was my last day at Wesley. Coincidentally, today, 9 years later, was my last day of full time orientation after making a comeback to the job I used to call mine, so many moons ago. 
9 years ago I was scared, I was lost, I was a hollow shell. 
My husband had died and every aspect of my life had changed. 
NOTHING was the same.
I tried to retunr to work in hopes that it would be a constant in my life. 
It was. 
But not the right kind. 
It was a constant reminder of changes that were out of my control. 
If only, I could go back, I'd tell the old me this . . . 
   I know you're scared. But, hang on. I know you feel like it will never get better. Hang on. I know you can't find yourself right now. That's ok. You have SO much beautiful life ahead of you. An amazing husband, and 3 more kids that will rock your world. Yes, I said 3 more. Yes, I know that equals 4 kids total. Don't worry, you got this. I know you look around, and he's gone. Unfortunately, that won't ever change. And, unfortunately, that won't ever get better. But live your life my dear. Cherish yesterday, love today, and have hope for tomorrow. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

A decade.... feels like a day

Everyone says, that time heals all wounds.
I know, I know, I've said this before, but bear with me... It's a complete lie.
Ten years ago, tonight, I can tell you exactly what I was doing. I'm sure most mothers could. Because it wasn't any ordinary day. It was the day before Natalie was born. My dad and Brian were off buying my parent's first boat and my mom and I went out to dinner together at the Outback.
The next day was such a special one. We had a rough start, but, Natalie came into the world and made us parents.
Seeing the look on Brian's face when he held her was priceless.
He was so proud.
Little did we know then, they would have such a very short time together.
2 years. 4 months. And 5 days. To be exact.
It was a wonderful 2 years, 4 months and well, 4 of those days.
He was an excellent father.
I have memories of him, taking her out into the garage after he returned from a hunting trip to show her all of his geese and laughing as she said "honk, honk."
And, I remember him sitting outside her bedroom door, exhausted, when I was leaving to go work night shift and she had learned how to climb out of her crib.
But even more than all of the the memories, I remember one thing.
I remember his love.
His love for her was unfailing.
He loved her more than life itself.
And that is why this is so hard.
I can't stop thinking that she will turn 10 tomorrow, and has lived almost 8 years without her dad.
This is why I believe, that in some ways, grief gets worse the longer you live without your loved one. Because you start to realize everything they have missed.
You actually, KNOW, what living without them feels like.
In the beginning you can only imagine. And the imagining stinks. But the reality is harder.
When people tell me "He sees her. He is with her with her everyday."
I know they mean well. And I do agree.... But it kind of feels like rubbing salt in the wound. Honestly, I know he does see her.
But here's the thing, and it may sound selfish.
I don't get to see him see her. I don't see the proud look on his face to see the girl she is growing up to be. I don't get to see him laugh, at the funny things she says and does.
And it hurts.
And I'm sad.
At the local police memorial this year, Officer David Kenyon's daughter spoke. At first I was heartbroken to hear her share memories that had been shared with her, since she was only 3 years old when her father was killed.
Then, I was filled with hope, since he was killed in the line of duty in 1962. And in 2017, here she was.
Still attending memorials in her father's honor.
So here's where the focus needs to be, for me.
I am so thankful for the time Natalie and Brian had together, albeit, very short.
I am blessed by the memories I have of him, with her, and witnessing his love for her first hand.
I am thankful for my daughter, that she is a well rounded, smart individual, loving life, a good friend and steward of her faith.
I am SO thankful that when they made a family chain at school, she said to her teacher "Can I have two spots for both of my dads."
I will make sure she always knows her father. And his love for her.
She is my living piece of him. And I am so proud of her.
I know, that he would be too.
I may never understand God's plan. But I giving Him thanks for it.
Thanks for my life before, thanks for my life now, thanks for my life to come.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The In Between

This is probably similar to subjects that I've blogged on before, but I'm too tired to go back and read through everything, and it's on my heart tonight. So, bear with me, if you will...
Today, December 2nd, would have been Brian's 34th birthday. Instead, he will forever be 26 years old, as the wrinkles around my eyes get deeper and my age continues to carry on.
He celebrated his birthday in heaven this year.
For the 8th time.
And, we, celebrated his life, down here on earth.
It was a pretty normal day as far as our routine goes around here. I got up with Natalie, and helped her off to school, the only difference was having to help her with her clothes and hair, since she broke her arm two days ago. Same went with Kate, she was off to school and Charli and I went to the YMCA.
Kate helped me to bake some chocolate cupcakes in honor of Natalie's Daddy Brian's birthday. She picked the recipe with a chocolate ganache frosting, nice choice kid. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't shoving one of those bad boys in my mouth right now as I type this.
But today, I wasn't really sad. Of course I knew it was his birthday and of course I thought about the fact that we always attended a Kansas City Chiefs football game, as a celebration for both of our birthdays. Which game would we have gone to this year? Would it have been their last game? Probably not, since it was in Denver, but who knows? If so, he would have loved that one....
Anyway, I was doing pretty well until we got to the cemetery. We always decorate for Christmas time on his birthday, but Natalie made a point to say we needed a Happy Birthday sign this year.
Fair enough.
Kate insisted it be sparkly and glittery.
Ok, done.
It was when I was trying to shove the wooden post into the hard, cold, ground and I nearly broke the darn thing in half, that I looked over at the packaging..... "cake topper" it said.
This decorative item was supposed to be on the top of a cake, not in the ground, in front of a grave stone.
I just about lost it.
But I didn't. I swallowed my tears and laughed at my girls who were giggling, and nibbling bites out of their cupcakes, even though I specifically said they couldn't eat them until we sang happy birthday.
I'll be damned if I didn't get that "cake topper" into the ground. Just where Natalie wanted it. And as I was sitting there, in the freezing cold, I was looking at the dates etched in stone.
Today is the day his life started. And September 28th, 2009, was when it tragically ended.
But that dash in between.... is so much more.
It's full of memories, and so many good days. So many specific moments in time, and laughs, and milestones.  And of course some bad ones too.
But that's just it, that's life.
Your life is not defined by the two dates they put on your head stone.
It's all about the in between.
And that's what makes grief such a unique and personal situation. It's the days when you are thinking, I should be sad.... it's an important day. And the days that are your average, ordinary, run of the mill days, but a thousand memories flood in, and out of nowhere you are a sobbing mess and have to pull yourself together.
Grief is an individual as a fingerprint. No two people are the same. Nor should they be.
One of the best memories I have, was an impromptu day trip to Kansas City. I think it was during the late summer of 2009. We were driving back home and out of nowhere Brian grabbed my hand, and said "You know I love you? You are my everything."
I have no idea what day this event occurred on. But I remember it like it was yesterday. And I know one thing for sure.... it wasn't on December 2 or September 28th.
It was somewhere else.
Somewhere in between.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

It isn't perfect... It isn't pretty.

It's been awhile....  I wasn't going to post anything about today. Things didn't really go as planned. But then I decided something, I'm all about sharing the reality of grief, the good, the bad and the ugly. Because if it will help one person, then so be it. It's worth it. So here it goes.
Today, was a bit on the ugly side.
Ok, a lot on the ugly side.
The embarrassing side.
The side of grief that you desperately try to avoid, to keep locked up inside.
But sometimes, sometimes you just can't.
I took a Conceal Carry Class this weekend. I've been wanting to do it for awhile now. I always used the excuse for not wanting to carry a handgun, being that I wasn't comfortable, didn't know enough about the mechanics, etc. I've never been afraid of guns. Just never knowledgeable or comfortable with them either.
Then, a fantastic, too good to pass up, class became available, so it was time. I was excited. It was intriguing to learn about the basics, and empowering, thinking I could learn to protect myself.
Then the time came for qualifications, at the range.
I thought I'd be just fine.
The guy next to me started shooting. Every shot, every casing falling to the floor, shook me to the core. I couldn't stop it, and I couldn't suppress it. Almost 8 years later, the thought of that sound, and my husband Brian fighting for his life, took me right back.
I couldn't hold it in. And I started crying. Not the pretty kind of "tears rolling down your cheek" crying. But the sobbing, blood shot eyes, mascara running, UGLY crying.
And then I got mad. I got mad that I couldn't control my emotions. I couldn't hide my grief, I couldn't stay strong.
But you know what.... Where there once was great love, there is great grief. I've forgotten who quoted the original statement, so please forgive me, but it couldn't be more true.
I was so mad. So angry that there are terrible people out there, who want to harm someone, purely because of the uniform they wear.
I was beat down. Mentally defeated. And I wanted to quit, I wanted nothing more that to leave. To say.... I'm sorry, but I can't do this.
But then, all of a sudden I could feel Brian, I could feel him smile and roll his eyes and say "Sarah, get yourself together, are you kidding me??? You CAN do this!"
So, I pulled myself together, and I finished.
And I passed.
It wasn't perfect, and it wasn't pretty.
But you know what? Life isn't either.
My target kind of looks like shit (sorry for the language).... but I'm still learning.
And, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't pretending that it was the person who killed my husband, so that seems about appropriate now doesn't it?
Here's the real deal... grief sucks. Grief comes out of nowhere, and it slaps you in the face when you least expect it. But it's also a reminder of great love and a great person.
And for that, I'll take it whenever, wherever. Because he's worth it...  Always, and forever.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

When You Remember....

This post may be a little different than the ones before. But it's something that has been weighing heavily on my heart and mind lately.
My first husband Brian, and my first true love, has been gone now for almost 6 years.
In those almost 6 years, not one single day has passed that I haven't remembered him, missed him, or thought of him.
Just because time moves on, and the days go by and everything changes, doesn't mean the hole in my heart has closed.
And I think I can speak for anyone who has lost someone very close to them, especially a spouse, when I say, thank you for remembering.
Thank you for remembering that on occasion, days can be hard. Not just the anniversary days or the birthdays. But the normal, run of the mill, everyday kind of days.
Thank you for remembering that even happy times, such as another first day of school, or milestone that our daughter achieves, is a source of joy for me, but also sadness for the one who is missing it.
Thank you for being there, even if you didn't know what to say, but for just being there. Your presence and support means more to me than you'll ever know.
Please don't be afraid to mention his name to me.
You won't make me sad, I promise.
You'll make me smile, because you remembered him. Because you reminded me of a memory, or his smile, or his laugh.
Thank you for understanding that I will speak of him often, even to people who didn't know him. I will always carry his memory with me and sometimes I just need nothing more than to share who he was with the world, thank you for listening.
If you didn't know him, thank you for asking me about him. It saddens me, that so many people never had the privilege or honor to know him and his quiet, revered, stoic personality.
But if you ask me, I'll tell you.
His name is an everyday name in our household. And our daughter does things that remind me of him daily. I thank God for her everyday, she is my living piece of him. She will carry on his legacy. She is proud of her Dad, and that makes me proud.
Thank you for knowing, that I am truly happy again, and for sharing in my happiness.
Yes, I still have times when I hurt and there will always be a piece of me that is missing.
But thank you for not treating me like I'm broken.
Because I'm not.
I'm the same person I was before, in many ways, and a different person, in many ways too.
Because the loss changed me, a part of me went with him. A part of me that will never come back.
But believe it or not, I gained something....
I gained the ability to enjoy life to the fullest. I have a new found respect for life. And for the blessing of my husband Derek and all 3 of my children. I appreciate every minute God has given me with them.
My faith is deeper because I know this is all bigger than me, much bigger.
I may never understand why things that have happened, did happen, but I realize that's just it, I'm not supposed to.
I gained the ability to find great peace in the memories I hold deep in my heart, and the ability to live in the moment, and make new memories with those I love.
I've learned not to live in the past, or worry about the future, but instead to live in the present. Life is complete when you appreciate all aspects of it equally.
I'm not perfect. I never have been, never will be. But I am happy, and I am thankful. I appreciate the past, I enjoy the present, and I look forward to the future.
Sometimes when the cards I've been dealt cause my heart to feel heavy and moments are difficult, and I am sad for the loss I've suffered...
I remember Brian, because that's the easy part.
Thank you, for remembering, too.

Monday, May 4, 2015

what Really matters...

Fourteen years ago tonight, Brian asked me out on a date. For the first time. He picked me up in his moms car and took me to the Outback Steakhouse. I still remember what he was wearing, the booth we sat in, what we ordered and what CD he was playing on the drive there. Fourteen years ago. It seems like yesterday, and a lifetime ago, all at the same time.
It's impossible for me not to reflect back on so many things this time of year. Or, to look at the present and the future and realize how many events in our life are different now. Different now because of the absence of one person. A very important person. Whose life mattered.
As my 3 year old newly diagnosed diabetic daughter will tell you, at times, when we have to check her blood sugar or give her insulin.... it's not fair.
And I have to say, I agree with her, it's not fair. Because I miss him.
Sometimes life's not fair.
It's not fair that he wasn't here to see Natalie make her first communion this past weekend. She was so excited. And part of me would have given anything if he could have shared in her joy with her.
It's not fair that he won't be here this upcoming summer to see his beautiful little sister get married.
I could go on and on with the pity party.
But I won't. I refuse to do that.
Instead, I feel like it is my responsibility to share his memory, most importantly with our daughter Natalie, but also with the rest of the world.
I'm sick of the crap in Baltimore, quite frankly its disgusting. But it is, yet once again, a reminder of a life that was taken from us all to soon. And of course a lack of outrage because the tables were turned. I'm not even going to get started on that... I could write a book.
But the more I think about it, I don't want Brian to be remembered just for that. I want him to be remembered for the man he was.
Brian wanted nothing more than to be a Deputy, so that he could help people. And that's exactly what he was trying to do that day in September. Trying to help someone who he thought was the victim of a crime, and instead became the victim of one himself. "Not fair," doesn't even cut it.
He's not here with us anymore, but who he was mattered. His life MATTERED.
He was a loyal, dedicated family man. He was quiet, but he was funny. He was sometimes sarcastic, and never took himself too seriously.
He was a fantastic cook. He loved BBQ sauce, and beer.
He was very intelligent and graduated from WSU with honors.
He was a huge fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, and loved cold weather. We made it to a game every year, despite the temperature. Those are some of my most favorite memories.
Christmas was his favorite holiday.
His idea of the perfect vacation was a trip to the lake.
He had seen every episode of Seinfeld and could quote the entire movie Dumb and Dumber.
He loved to hunt. But, I know he loved Natalie and me more than anything in the world, even hunting.
It deeply saddens me to think of all the people whom never had the privilege of knowing him, and never will have that opportunity.
But you can spend your life focusing on a myriad of what has gone wrong, or might go wrong...
OR, you can focus on what has gone right. I am forever grateful that I was one of the privileged people who did really know Brian. How blessed I was that God chose me for Brian's wife and the mother of his child. I feel honored that I can be the one to teach our daughter all about the man he was.
How very thankful I am for all the memories.
People have often told me, "God doesn't give you more than you handle." However, recently, I read, "God helps you handle all that you are given." ...that's more like it.
So even when life seems unfair and the daily struggles are overwhelming, or the pain in my heart is over flowing... I can handle it. It may not be easy, or fair, but I can handle it.
I know, by the grace of God, I feel Brian with me every step of the way, and nothing could ever convince me differently.
So here we are, fourteen years later. I'll share, with Natalie, some funny memories I have of that first date... and I'll tell Kate and Charlotte about him too... really, anyone who will listen.  I will keep his memory alive.