Sunday, September 11, 2016

More than a mug

December of 1998 he and I were in the Disney store. We were preparing to move in together and getting odds and ends done before our wedding coming up in April.  We both loved coffee and Disney--and Disney mugs are just huge!
I was admiring this burgundy one with Eeyore on it.  We paid for some ornaments and Christmas gifts and went on our way.

Christmas that year was was stressful-trying to get two completely separate traditions merged was a feat and that is putting it lightly.   My family is huge and gets together-loud and joyful and very very IRISH.  Aunts, uncles, cousins--it is a gaggle of joy and love. His family was literally just his mom and dad-his siblings lived far spread and even though my parents invited his parents to Christmas none of the three of them knew what to do amongst the chaos.

Late that night I opened my gift--inside were the two mugs--mine of Eeyore and his of Goofy. Those mugs have followed us and now follow me.  They have been filled with coffee and cocoa and tea-and his with cereal--he liked his cereal in a mug and declared it the perfect size.

Through the years we had two more sets of "normal size" Disney mugs-but one of each of those pairs has broken over time.  His Goofy mug is still in use.  It fits in my hand warm and familiar.  There are times in the wee hours of the morning that holding his mug I swear makes my body remember him.  I can hold it in two hands and look out the window and take a sip of coffee.  I can almost feel his arms around my waist and his warm lips kissing my neck.   When my eyes open, I remember that I will never feel that again--but I can still hold his mug.  It is a poor substitute for him-but for now, for now it will have to do.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


I have started cleaning and decluttering and letting go of "stuff".  I'm tired of having junk everywhere and I'm working hard to find joy...and teach my child that the"stuff" isn't important.

The funny thing about stuff is that it is there for a reason.

I had a shoebox of body sprays in my cabinet in my bathroom.   They were dusty and haven't been touched since I left Houston 8 years ago.   I picked them up one by one and looked at the bottles.   Bath and Body Works doesn't even have the same labels anymore.   I held each one in my hands and then took a breath and remembered my old life.  
The County Apple, Strawberry Lemonade and Japanese Cherry Blossom transported me out of Chicago and back to Houston.

I could see him in my mind and I could almost feel him.  

It still amazes me that so much time has past, but that my sense of smell can still take me back.  

Then it hit me.   I don't really want to be back.   I rather like my life at the moment and I have worked hard to get where I am.   

Don't misunderstand me.  I miss him fiercely.  He was the love of my life and our souls are forever entwined.   He taught me how to be loved-which was no small feat I assure you.   

Missing him doesn't mean I want my old life.   I can still miss him and be happy and with that thought, the "baggage" went into the recycling bin.   It's odd how getting rid of nearly empty bottles has given me a sense of calm.

I feel like getting rid of more clutter...I  wonder what else I have laying around that gathers dust but brings no joy? My memories are in my heart, not in dusty things.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Memories of a Proposal

In the last few weeks, one of my brothers has gotten married and another has gotten engaged. It has been a whirlwind of family and celebrations and I have been soaking up every moment of it!

This past weekend we were together and had the joy of hearing proposal stories.  My soon to be sister in law is a nurse, so when my brother surprised her by getting down on one knee and calling after her as they were walking--her response was "OH NO!" because she thought that he had fallen and was trying to get up--she didn't see the ring in his hand!  We laughed at it and she is actually mortified that it was her response! 

I laughed so hard at that!  The reason I laughed is because we had our own proposal story.  18 year ago yesterday he asked me to marry him.  We were in our favorite gazebo on the campus where I went to school.  What we didn't know what that it had been taken over by hornets, and when he was on one knee--we got SWARMED!  I am very allergic to stings, so we RAN full steam out of that gazebo to the truck--I escaped stings, but he sadly did not.  We laughed about that for years.  I have not thought about it in years, but it was funny for me to rethink.  My soon to be sister in law who never had the pleasure of meeting Robert actually had the kindness to ask me how he proposed.  I was so touched that she asked while she was celebrating her own engagement--there are not words for my gratitude!

She was even kind enough to ask my sister and I to participate in the planning of the wedding, and I am excited to help in any way that she needs! We were searching pintrest for wedding dresses and looking at ways to merge Irish and Italian traditions. 

In all, we had a wonderful weekend of celebrating and I wish both of my brothers very long and happy marriages, I wish that they will get to grow old with their wives and see their children have children.  I pray that they never have to join our widowed club here---but if they do--any of them, well at least there are many in our family who have walked this path.  I just pray they never need our wisdom--I will happily pledge my love and support to their marriages!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Happy Heart

Robert LOVED woodworking.  He learned from his grandfather and used to tell me how sad he was when his grandfather died.  One of his early memories was putting a thing that he made into the coffin at his funeral and then seeing the funeral director remove it and throw it away (he did go rescue it from the trash at the tender age of 6). 

Given his love—I had kept most of his woodworking tools—the power newer ones and the hand tools (mostly his grandfather’s) that he used.  

Munchkin is 8—and wanted to build his own pinewood derby car.  I decided that it was the right time to pull out the tools. 

I hauled the big bins out to the garage—and we looked at what he had.  Munchkin had drawn the model for his car and then carefully marked the cuts. I only had one minor issue that I needed to call my brother to figure out—but other than that everything is still in working order!

Munchkin is big enough to reach the work bench.  I used the scroll saw to make the big cuts and Munchkin carefully and meticulously used the hand tools to shape and sand his car.    He has earned his whittling chip in Scouts so he knows how to safely use tools and cut away from himself.  I was relegated to a space outside of his safety circle. 

I stood there and watched him.  He was careful and smiley and did things the way that he wanted to do them.  He carefully touched the wood to ensure that it was smooth enough and sanded away any rough spots his little finger found.   As I watched, I realized that the connection to Robert is starting to come full circle.  That even though he wasn’t here to teach Munchkin himself, by using his tools and answering his questions, that was connection between them.

It is nearly eight years since the accident, and Munchkin was a baby-so it sometimes hurts my heart on all that they missed together.  Today—instead of hurt, I was able to see the joy of a young boy using his father’s tools.  That joy—that joy makes my heart happy.  

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Family Reunion

This weekend is our family reunion.  Four days of family, food, shenanigans and laughter.   All of my father's living siblings (they are down to 7 out of 10 now...) will be here either themselves or through proxy and most of their cousins too!  We will have mass on Sunday in memory of the family members who have died.  There are "families" within our family that are missing someone for the first time and we will surround them with love and compassion as they walk their road. 

I have four siblings and for the first time since the summer Robert and I were married, we are all at the beach together.  Here is the thing, earlier in the week, I felt an ache--we are all here except Robert.  It took me time to identify the ache. It wasn't a sobbing mess of missing him--that happens so rarely now, I can't remember the last time. 

Last night, Munchkin was in bed watching a movie and my brother shared with him that he was watching one of his daddy's favorite movies, and I realized I am not the only one who remembers. 
We are all feeling it.  But at the same time, the hole in the fabric of our family that was created, is now a part of the family.  It no longer reduces us to tears.  I no longer stare into the dark of night wishing the pain away.  It is just a part of me and a part of all of us. 

The life we live now is NOTHING like the life Robert and I had with Munchkin. 

Munchkin and I have figured out our two person family and it is our normal. I have been "only parenting" so long, I don't remember what it was like to have that extra set of hands. I don't remember what is it like to have someone else to do things--we are just normal now. Part of that normal is enjoying our family and family reunion. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

No Thank You

A week or so ago I was shopping with Munchkin.  He is exceptionally well behaved in the store.   We went to Target and then on to the grocery store.  At the grocery store, he is responsible for label reading---when he asks for foods that aren't an acceptable healthy choice, I task him with reading labels and making a better choice.  This results in him looking at the actual ingredients and content of the food. 

A woman was shopping at the same time and we kept running in to her in aisles.  She observed him in the cereal aisle comparing boxes of cereal before deciding on his peanut butter panda puffs.  She observed him in the dairy aisle comparing processed "cheese" product to real cheese.   We  finished our shopping and went to the checkout lane.   The lady was in line behind us.  Munchkin helped me load the belt and then took the bags from the bagger and lined them up in the cart while I paid.  He was polite to everyone and extremely helpful. 

At this point, this woman was in awe.  She looked at him and looked at me.  She told me she was very impressed that he was so well behaved while shopping. I thanked her for the compliment.   She then looked at him and told him that he should tell me to buy him a candy bar for behaving so nicely. 

WHOA--shut the front door.  I was floored.  I told her kindly, "we don't reward behavior that is expected in our family".   I mean seriously, why on earth should I buy my kid a candy bar for doing what I expect of him.  I expect him to be well behaved and well mannered when we are out in public.   The behavior expectations that I have for him are constant.  When we go out to dinner, I expect that he sits in his seat, orders his meal and speaks softly.   When we go to the playground, he can run amok and be loud and noisy, but he can't push or hurt others and he should treat other kids the way he would want them to treat him.   When we go to a store, he is expected to stay "close enough to touch me", be helpful and not run around or be loud.   This is just the way that it is.   I have these expectations of him because I know that he can do them.

 I am also well aware that there are a lot of 1st graders that simply would not be able to do these things and that is ok too. 

What I cannot understand is why some stranger would think that it is ok to tell a child to "tell their parent" to do something.  Quite frankly, I find that to be one of the things that seems to be wrong with society these days.   It certainly takes a village, but that village should be more focused on manners and safety of everyone rather than demonstrating and encouraging pushy behavior by kids toward their parents.  

Perhaps I am just sensitive, I don't know.  What I do know is that we have expectations in our family and we expect that everyone in our family follow them-myself included. I would never presume to tell a kid to tell their parents to do something.  I may tell them gently to be careful if they are in danger, or even pull them back out of the street if a car is coming (I have done this in the crosswalk on the way to school) What I would never do is intrude on another families values.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Where's My Handbook?

Seven years have passed. A few weeks ago was our wedding anniversary, Then my birthday my birthday and 14 days prior to that the reminder of the day my life shattered. After seven years-I have pretty much figured out "how" to survive and even get out and get more than the basics covered on occasion. I mentally give myself a high five on those days. Other days through a curve ball-or worse keep throwing them and paint the corners. Those days, man those days are now gratefully few and far between but those days I still fumble. For instance-I'm researching some educational things with our son. Robert was a teacher and a music therapist. These curve balls are his wheelhouse. I have even gone so far as to pull out some of his music therapy references to find what questions I want to ask. It is hard. It is draining. I am physically alone. I'm grateful for the friends I have that are educators and know munchkin well-and can be my sounding board. I'm grateful for his pediatrician who sees the whole picture and helps by talking to his school. Even with all of that support around me-I still find myself wishing there was a handbook. We should have a parenting handbook they give you at hospital discharge. A widows handbook you get when your spouse is pronounced dead. An additional parent handbook for when your child is seriously ill-this one should focus on finding members of the healthcare team who won't ask you more than once why your husband isn't at the appointment. So if anyone has found any of these handbooks-please feel free to send them my way-I was never given my copies and I am still taking things as they come! - See more at: