Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year! Reflections on 2012

I am sitting here at about 10:30 local time.   Munchkin is long asleep-we celebrated early complete with pizza, video games, movie, grape juice toast and confetti poppers in our yard. 

I have been reflecting a lot on this past year.There has been so much that has happened in the world.  So much tragedy, so much heartache and yet, there were good things as well.   I think that is true of most years, but I always have liked to reflect on the world around me.

  The year started off very rough for us, but in all it was a very good year.  I can see immense growth in the both of us individually and as a family.   I would love to share some of our highlights:

~ Our new house-WHAT a blessing and miracle!!!

~ Munchkin starting kindergarten at the same grade school I went to and having the PERFECT teacher for us!

~Munchkin got to enjoy the Olympics on TV with me and man did we have fun watching and learning!!! 

~While  I am not a fan of the political rhetoric that preceeds elections, I did get to take munchkin to vote with me and explain in simple terms why it is so important for grown ups to vote.  I am hoping that I can instill this sense of duty into him.   I even explained who I was voting for and why-hopefully he will remember the process of being educated on candidates regardless of whom you choose to vote for!

~Many, many family gatherings this year, including some great times with cousins on the beach.  Enjoying sunsets hand in hand with munchkin is such a treat! And on that note, I got to close the cottage with my an entire day of him to myself-don't think that has happened in close to 20 years and it was wonderful!

~ Band was phenomenal for me this year, I actually missed less than 10 rehearsals in the second half of the year---this is a new record :0

~ My writing--this blog and a few others that I guest post on have been a huge blessing to me.  I do write daily, and I still struggle with what to type here as opposed to keeping private in my journals so hopefully I can find a little better balance this coming year. 

~ My immediate siblings and parents have had a great year as well.  We have had many many opportunities to be together and I am grateful for that!

~Taking munchkin to his first Notre Dame Game!  GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO IRISH!

~Munchkin has advanced THREE TaeKwonDo belts and medaled in TWO Tournaments!  I am so grateful for all of his teachers and that he likes to work hard!

~Taking munchkin downtown to enjoy the Christmas decorations and enjoy lunch with his Papa.  It was so much fun to share with him a memory that I treasure from childhood! We used to always go downtown and meet dad for lunch. 

In all, 2012 was a good year.  I can remember back to December 31, 2008 where my simple plea to God was, "Dear God, please, please let 2008 be the worst year of my life-EVER"  In my mind, I did not think that I could endure let alone thrive.  Thus far, it seems as that prayer has been answered!  I am THANKFUL for that each and every day. 

Perfect moment in December


Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

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(Cross-posted on BlogHer.)

1. Feeling Beachie

2. BereavedBlessed

3. Aloha/Thank God

4. Choosing grace

My perfect moment for December was on Christmas morning, As I sat and watched my son open his presents. I was soaking in his joy. He loves Legos and games so everything he got was a hit. He was so excited. I looked around our new house and looked at him and my heart was full of contentment. He opened his stocking and started chomping on candy canes. He even offered me a sticky half of the one he opened. He was in awe at the gifts that Santa left. He was beyond excited to give me the mini treasure chest he picked out all by himself at the Santa Secret workshop at school.

It was cold outside, the Christmas tree was lit, coffee was brewing. We finished and made pancakes together. We ate our breakfast and went to build Legos. I marveled at the fact that I am now relegated to the role of onlooker. He wants me nearby, but doesn't really need the help in assembling the sets. I realize that no matter how much i would like it to, this wont last forever and I marvel at his reading skills!

For those simple moments, it didn't matter that it is only two of us, the car accident didn't matter and my worry about whether I am enough didn't matter. What mattered was that I am present in the moment to experience magic with him--candy cane kisses, sticky hands and all!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas thoughts

This year...we spent it in our new house. Munchkin was sick...strep and flu and breathing treatments every three hours around the clock....starting a week before Christmas. I was a zombie. I still am!

I digress...we had a quiet morning. He got a video game he wanted so after breakfast we went down stairs to play. As I sat there watching munchkin play I thought of the only Christmas that the three of us had together. I thought of how much Robert would have loved to be playing with him. Assembling toys and playing with them first as he was Santa.

It makes my heart ache to know how much he misses out on in life. I know he lives on in heaven but I also know how much he loved being a father and how much he had talked for years about sharing Christmas with our children.

In the end, I decided that I would focus on how blessed we are. Not only this year but all of the time. I choose to look at all we have been given instead of all that we lost that morning so many years ago.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


So this quarter, munchkin has been studying families in school.  They take care in class to recognize that families are different.   I appreciate that-however, I am wondering why on earth they are spending so much time on this topic?

This process has been hard for me...I have taken care to not label us as "different".  I have taken great care to keep us as "normal" as possible.  I answer his questions when he asks them...which up until now, has been sporadic at best. 

Lately, it has been a near daily topic. 

Mommy, I want daddy back.
Munchkin, people can't come back from Heaven
Mommy, but everyone else has a daddy in class, can you go get me a new daddy?
Munchkin, it doesn't work that way. 
Mommy, can you just go back and marry daddy again?
Munchkin, I can't marry daddy again as much as I would like to, he is in Heaven and no matter how much we love and miss him he can't come back.
Mommy, it isn't fair that daddy is an angel.
Munchkin, you are right, it isn't fair, but it will be ok.

uhhh...not sure which is more unsettling as an adult.   The fact that his little heart and brain want Robert back from the dead, or that he thinks a "new daddy"  would make it better.   While my brain knows that he is simply trying to fit us "in" to the mold of his classmates, it doesn't really help. 

What strikes me is that I have to have this conversation with a FIVE YEAR OLD!  When I was five, I recall playing in our play room with my brother, making cookies with my mom and playing in the yard with dad.   I remember preschool and kindergarten--well I mostly remember the cardboard bricks.   I don't remember having any deep conversations with my parents.  We had people in our family die, but not in our immediate family.   I remember being carefree.  

What cuts to the core of my heart, is that my son has an understanding of loss.  He has experienced pain that many people go decades without even considering.  Even if he doen't express it as pain per se, he is learning as he grows how unique we are.

Maybe in my attempt to make him feel like we are normal I have done him a disservice.  Perhaps I am pretending to be normal, to be whole.  Maybe what I should do is embrace our "un-normal" situation.   Really, it is not normal to watch your spouse die in front of you.   It is not a choice that I would expect anyone to make. 

For him it isn't normal for a parent to be widowed.   He has some classmates that have divorced parents--but the kids still have TWO parents on EARTH.  They get to hang out with their dads even if they live with their moms.  He is the only kid in his class that has an angel for a parent and while I realize that it makes us special, for now, in this unit when studying with his peers, it makes him different.  Somehow, it is my job to make different ok. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God whispers

After Robert died, I sold our house and moved home. I needed to reset the foundation of my life that had been shattered into oblivion and I knew that I needed my family. It was crazy to expect them to be there for me 1300 miles away. This was an easy decision for me as we had been talking about leaving Texas for home before munchkin was in preschool anyway. We felt strongly that we wanted him in school where we grew up. I knew it was what we would have done anyway. While that made the decision logical it was not easy to do. I felt as if I was walking away from our life.

We lived with my mom and dad in the house I grew up in for a long time. It was what I needed. I had the blessing of my parents and munchkin got to be spoiled by them. I worked through some of my hardest grief while living there. There are pictures of me for that first two years where my face simply looks haunted, My eyes are glassy and I am obviously still in shock.

We then moved into an apartment. It was what we needed. I needed to solidify our foundation but munchkin was still too young for me to be able to handle a house on my own. I honestly didn't know if I would ever be able to manage a house.

While the condo was good for me, it wasn't the best for munchkin, There was no place to run around. He had to be quiet inside. We adapted. We went to parks everyday. I kept his baseball mitt, soccer ball, scooter and tee in the back of my car.

He couldn't have friends over...we had to be quiet...five year old boys by definition are not quiet...they are bundles of laughter and energy...

In July as we pulled in from the park, he looked at me.
"momma, I am going to ask Santa for a house for Christmas"
I replied "buddy, if Santa said a DS was not in his budget, I'm pretty sure a house is out of the question"
"besides, it would take the elves a long time to build it then they would not have time to make as many toys for everyone!"
"ok, mommy. I will just ask God instead. Nothing is to big for God to do"
"you are right buddy, nothing is too big for God"

Oh boy. I was floored in my tracks. Unbeknown to munchkin, I had applied for and been denied a mortgage. I had decided that it was not in God's plan for us to have a house.

I had no idea what to do. I was proud that munchkin had the understanding that things in this world are not up to us but at the same time, five year olds are not great at patience. I also know that things happen in God's time, not ours. As I lay in bed that night I gave my wish to God and got out of the way. I resolved myself that whatever happened I needed to have faith.

I secretly hoped that munchkin's wish was a phase to be quickly moved through. Such was not the case.

The next week he started telling people that we were moving.

The week after that he announced his new house would have a huge playroom to play with his friends and a big backyard with a "swing house"

Nightly in his bedtime prayers he would ask God to give us a perfect house. I would listen to him and silently pray for my son to not lose faith.

A few weeks later was the first week of school. As we walked with neighborhood friends, he told them God was giving him a house for Christmas. Oh boy! I had no idea how I would make that wish come true. I had nothing to do but put my faith in God as well. Out of that conversation came the PERFECT mortgage broker who got a loan approved for me.

I began searching for a house. I didn't tell munchkin. After six weeks I found one that was perfect for us. The process was maddening. Things kept popping up. I kept saying a prayer and letting it go. I had some very close friends that I engaged in specific prayers for the process and at the end of the day, we moved into our new home.

It is an amazing blessing that I never thought I would have again and I am thankful that munchkin nudged me into believing what I thought was impossible. I am thankful that I was able to stop my doubt and fear and join my child in relying on God to provide for us instead of dismissing his dream as childish or impractical. I am blessed.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thoughts on Newtown Shooting

I was in the air when the shooting happened.   I saw it on the monitors in the airport when we landed.  Hearing the details and seeing the parents and teachers on the news, cut me to my soul. 

I realize that we cannot protect our children from everything, probably more than most.  However, I instituted a "media blackout" in our house this weekend.   First off, I have been wary of any footage of main stream media since 9/11 and I wanted to be the one to control the explanation to munchkin.  This is not unusual for our house, I actually don't usually watch the news with him, we tend to read the newspaper and talk about the world and what is happening, by eliminating the graphic footage that tends to replay on TV. Secondly, I know that watching TV coverage won't help these families.   There is very little I can do other than pray for them.

I really don't know what to say.   I am at a loss for words.  I cannot imagine the pain of the families, teachers and children.  

I did discuss breifly with munchkin that something happened in a school far away and a lot of people were hurt.  We talked about how important it is to listen to his teacher all the time.  I anticipate that his school will have some "lockdown drills" soon and we will talk more about that then. 

As a parent, one of the scariest things for me was simply sending him to school this year.   Starting the year, I knew he would be out of my control, sight and direct influence for 7 hours a day.  Daily I offer prayer that he is safe, happy and working hard.  I pray that his teachers are caring and compassionate.  It is all I can do.   I know that this is opposite of many parents who can't wait for their kids to go to school, but honestly, I think that this stems from the fact I know firsthand that life can and does change in a random instant. 

Friday was a defining moment in his childhood, and I am sure that he won't realize it until many years from now.  I too had a pivotal moment in the late 80's when a similiar situation happened in Winnetka, Il, a suburb not too far from where I grew up.  Until then, schools were not locked.  Parents, babysitters and grandparents came and went, students didn't even need to check in and out with the office.  That changed.  I am not sure what will change for this generation of children, but I know that there will likely be reactive changes. 

This evening, I have caught up on the current theories and evidence surrounding the shooting. I am still at a loss. All I can ask is that all of you take a moment to hold your family tight and offer a prayer, good thoughts or whatever you so choose for those whose lives who have been irreversibly changed. 

Evidence of life?

In one of the previous posts I talked about the method of packing up my house four years criteria was-"If I could not repurchase this when needed and no longer hold this item in my hand, I would be heartbroken...then it gets packed"...everything else was packed sold, or donated.

The methodology made complete sense at the time.  However let's take a look at some of the crazy things I sold:
1. dishes and silverware-I was living with my parents and didn't see a practical need of storing them
2. all of my bakeware (ten years worth of items I purchased to make cakes and candies...)
3. vacuum cleaner
4. household stuff--rakes, shovels, ladders etc
5. furniture
6. patio set
7. 90% of my clothing (we packed up six months after the funeral, and I had lost 50 pounds and moved to a different climate...)

Here is a partial list of the odd stuff that I kept:
1. his laptop computer that was in the accident--literally in a million pieces
2. every CD we ever owned
3. every piece of music we ever owned
4. my wedding dress and flowers (yes FLOWERS from 1999!)
5. a box of pens from drug reps (I have NO IDEA WHY!)
6. fairly certain EVERY piece of his clothing

Now in the grand scheme of things, the stuff we sold, yes I have repurchased over the years, however the items I kept, for the most part stay in blue totes and collect dust until I pull them out to clean them.  Over the years that has become less and less.....but I guess for me it is evidence that he was here...that we were one.  Evidence that his life was not for naught.  Maybe, my heart knows more than my head thinks it does.  Maybe just maybe I will find a use for the tangible things that I have left. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Still Smiling

I am currently on a business trip. My morning started like this.
3:30 am wake up call
Hair dryer did not work in my hotel room
Iron did not work in my hotel room
Called the front desk...his reply was that they had no other hair dryers or irons
Went to check my work email and my blackberry server was down
Spoke to munchkin who wanted hot lunch, even though I didn't send him money-grateful my sister and her husband were kind enough to indulge him.

I donned a "wrinkle free" shirt and pulled my hair into a pony tail and headed down stairs to meet my boss to head to the airport for our 5:30 am flight. While walking to the security line someone ran over my foot (the one I broke last year that has been achy and tender since the weather got cold) with a REALLY heavy suitcase.

We get to the security check point and my boss commented that I must have had a good morning because I was still smiling. I laughed and shared the antics of this particular morning. He looked at me in disbelief. He said "but you are still smiling".

And I am still smiling because in spite of everything...this morning doesn't even rank in the top ten of bad mornings that I have had in my life. I realize that all of this is trivial. It doesn't matter.

What matters is that I get home safely to my precious munchkin. What matters is that I am lucky enough to have a job that lets me support us. What matters is that I remain present in the moment and realize what really matters. So I have a semi wrinkled shirt big deal. I have two flights before my meeting anyway. So my hair is curly in a pony tail...not a big deal.

I guess sometimes it helps me to be reminded that I do have a healthy perspective and outlook on life. To be reminded that I do put emphasis on the things that matter and that's I truly do let everything else go and keep on smiling.

It helps to be reminded that even in all of the true tragedy that it have endured, I have not lost my ability to smile or my ability to laugh about circumstances.

Cheering Section

I think one of the things that is hardest for me in being widowed is the realization that I am truly alone. There is no one on this planet who has me as their number one priority. I am very blessed that I have many people around me that have me in their top five and top ten. But at the end of the day, I am on my own in so many things.

There is no one to ask me how my day was and allow me to have an adult conversation about it. No is there to tell me to go easy on myself. To share my parenting worries. To reassure me that I am enough.

Now, I have been creative in my solutions. I have a five year old munchkin that is great at conversation. At dinner we both talk about our days and we talk to each other just as I envision that we would if Robert were still here.

I have friends and family with kids of similar age to discuss parenting with. I have an amazing family. They are there when I need them and listen.

There is one place in particular that there is not really a good solution. I play in a symphonic band. My brother watches munchkin every week so that I can go to rehearsal. It is my two hours of grown up time that is just for me.

My family does not share my musical passion. Especially when it comes to classical music. It simply isn't their cup of tea. That is fine. What that means is that I usually perform with no one in the audience there for me. It is heartbreaking because if Robert were here, he would be there with munchkin in the audience. Now if I ask, my family will come. My dilemma is whether at my age should I be asking people to give up several hours doing something that they would not do otherwise to make me feel better. Keep in mind I have been playing for 25 years so my family has endured decades of classical concerts and performances. I have concluded over the years that it isn't fair of me to ask. Munchkin is too young to sit by himself for a concert, so he generally stays with Nana and Papa when I perform. I do bring him to my dress rehearsal and he loves it. He sits there and closes his eyes and pretends to conduct. It melts my heart to see him enjoying music so much!

Well, this particular concert, my brother planned months ago to bring munchkin. He picked him up, they rode the train went to dinner and got ice cream and came to see me play. It meant so much to be able to have him there. He cheered me on and had a great time. I could see him from my chair snuggling up on his uncle listening to the music.

My best surprise was that they brought me flowers. I cried tears for joy, it had been over five years since anyone gave me flowers after a performance.

I am not sure why it touched me so. It really did. For just a little this new normal that we live everyday didn't seem horrible and empty. Maybe it was the sheer joy and excitement on munchkin's face. He was so happy to be there and he was so happy to give me the flowers. Maybe it was the peace in my heart that there are people that do put us really really high on their lists of priorities. Maybe it was just the simple fact that this time I got to share my gift of music with people I know. People who chose to be there to listen to ME.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


When Robert was alive, we had a love/hate relationship with math. I loved it, he hated it. I love to manipulate numbers in my head...calculate things and what not, I am the definition of a math nerd and I am proud of it.

I credit my love of numbers and reading to my parents....they made it fun. My dad is an accountant and always made math fun for us. Yesterday munchkin came home with a math paper on which the teacher wrote "future accountant" with a huge star. No one was there to notice the irony with me. He does so many things that are innately Robert's traits, that he would enjoy math as much as I, well I can imagine the conversation between Robert and I!

I'm not quite sure which is worse, not having Robert here to share the story with, or the fact that he has been gone so long that I can have the entire conversation myself? Neither scenario is a natural evolution of marriage and parenting.

My choice is to put the paper on the fridge and a smile on my face and make sure munchkin knows how proud I am.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Yard Sales

After the accident, when I finally went down to Texas to put the house on the market-we had the sale of all yard sales. 

I had decided that it was best for us to be by family, but had only been working for about 6 weeks.  Munchkin was 1, so living with mom and dad was by far our best option.  That being said, it was not practical nor necessary to move my entire house.  So after much thought, prayer and tears, I decided to sell everything that I could.   I was still in shock at  how much the funeral had cost and I was determined to repay my father for the thousands of dollars that he had paid for me.  Literally, he paid everything without a pause.  

So as we walked through the house, the criteria I used was that if it could be replaced, I would replace it when I decided to move from mom and dad's.  At that time, I was pretty sure I would be there forever.  I could not see how I could manage to live on my own and take care of us.  If it had sentimental value, I packed it. 

I remember standing in the middle of my house sobbing.  I could not focus on anything.  I could not bear to go outside and see people picking apart my life---deliberating over pennies.  We sold my dishes, they were a wedding gift.   We sold my craft was a wooden table that had folding leaves and I made beautiful creations on it.  We sold my son's baby clothes--he was not going to get smaller, and I am not going to have another child.  We sold 90% of my clothing, I was living in a different climate.  I no longer wear scrubs to work and flip flops are not year round attire.  We sold out patio set, where we used to cook out and relax.   We sold the contents of my kitchen, all of my bakeware and stuff--I no longer had my own kitchen to create in.  We sold the workbench that we build together.  We sold his car parts-the car was totalled, they were useless reminders to me anyway.   It was heartbreaking.   We sold anything that pretty much was not nailed down and then some. 

What did I pack? Surprisingly a lot of memories.  Most of his t-shirts and sweatshirts-which consisted of every Bears t-shirt known to man! I can picture him in everyone of them.  about 25 different Bears jerseys.  12, count them 12 huge blue plastic totes of music.  Enough for a library.   And while I am a musician, I will never teach middle school band, so about 4 of those got given to a new teacher for her use in her career-but not until this past year.  If I never see a blue tote again, it will be too soon!  Everytime I tried to unpack one, I was floored and paralyzed by the memories. 

So now, as I try and rebuild things, even though yard sales are a great way to get things cheaply, I usually can't bear to even go see them.  I know that my yard sale was a very rare reason, however, to see people's belongings spread over tables and grass, welll, it just reminds me of my own heartache. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Parent Teacher Conference

Last week, I had the first of what I am sure will be many parent teacher conferences.  I was fine getting ready for it.  I know munchkin is doing well and I have had regular contact with the school and his teacher.  

What I was not prepared for was entering the school to so many mother/father couples strolling the hallway.   I don't know why, but I didn't expect it.   Sometimes it is really the unexpected things that hit the hardest.   You expect to see dad's at kids sports, you expect to see complete families at church, for some reason, I did not expect to see fathers at parent teacher conferences. 

Perhaps it is our PTA push to have the dad's involved (THAT is a whole other post for another time) But stolling the halls looking at the kids  creations, it was unexpected. 

His conference went well, very well actually.  His teacher is perfect for him and perfect for us.  She is just what we both needed in this transition to big kid school, and I hope that she is one of those teachers that he remembers forever. 

I am thankful that he has a teacher that is so caring and willing to work with him on his level.  I am thankful that we had the opportunity to move back to my family and take advantage of such an awesome school district.  I am thankful that munchkin loves school and loves to read as much as he does!

I am thankful, that the unexpected doesn't always send me into blubbering tears as it did just a few years ago.  Honestly, 2 years ago, this would have been a very different entry into my journal, and I am thankful that I can see my own personal growth and strength on this journey that no one wants to take. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

His Piano...

For more than four years now, his piano has been mostly silent.  It is one of those objects that has such a strong sense of him, it brings me to tears to touch it.  So I don't play it-not that I ever did very much, but now I don't at all. 

When munchkin was 2 and 3 he took a piano class at his montessori school.  He loved it but it was a group session and did not necessitate practice on the piano.  Now that he is 5, he has discovered his joy of reading and also the joy of the piano. 

He has dug through my filing cabinet of music and taken it upon himself to "read" the music and "play" the piano.  Fortunately, he remembers a striking amount of the basics (finger numbers and note names) so he is doing fairly well. 

It is odd, that something that when Robert was alive brought us such joy, when he died it pierced my heart with just the sound of the keys.   And now, I see our son, gravitate towards it.  I help him and we work together on it.  He absorbs it like a sponge and it is beautiful to see.

When I say it pierced my heart, I mean that in the most literal sense of the word.  That first Christmas, I tried so hard to play Christmas music and to share that with my family.  I physically could not do it, I would sit on the bench paralyzed with greif and cry.  The tears would run down my cheeks and I would silently close the lid and walk away.   The silence of the piano was deafening to me, but I could not bring myself to play it. 

Now, munchkin has been practicing consistently.  He loves it, he reads his work books and plays the notes.  I really should find him a teach besides me, but I fear that any teacher I find, would not live up to the shadow of Robert.   He was by far and hands down the best music teacher that I have ever seen in my life.  I know that I may be biased, however I also know that there are some former students that read this that will confirm.  He was a special soul and he was built for teaching.  

I pray that I can find someone to help munchkin love music as much as Robert and I do!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Grateful Reflections

Today is the fifth time we have celebrated Thanksgiving without Robert.  Saying that out loud seems seems odd, that he is not here.  I will tell you, that man embodied holidays.  They were for nothing more than being with family.  Watching movies or football and enjoying each others company.  He had high expectations....GREAT FOOD and time with us.  :)

So today as I reflect on my life and our love, I am relishing in the blessings in my life. 

I am a mother.  This is by far my favorite thing in the entire world.  I am responsible for bringing up an amazing little boy and teaching him all about the world.  There is nothing that is more soothing to my soul than to look at him learn something new, or give me a big sloppy hug and kiss.  To see his eyes sparkly with joy, fills my heart and I am grateful. 

We have a place to live.

I have a job that allows me to provide for us.

We live in the United States of America.

I have a fantastic family...they are awesome---really really awesome.  Siblings, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins every last one of them.   I know I am lucky beyond belief for that, because there are tons of people out there that never experienced a loving family.  That makes me sad to even think that, but I know that there are. 

Fabulous Friends--really, the kind of friends that drop everything and come to your aid when you finally ask for help.  They know that if you are asking for help--that you really really need it! The kind that even though you don't talk often, you know that you are now and always will be close.   My cirlce of friends has morphed the past few years, and I am grateful!

I am grateful to have a best friend whom I have known more years than I care to publish and that we live relatively close again.  Her family is an extension of my own, her parents literally have always been a second set of parents and I am grateful. 

SO today, I hope that you find a minute to be grateful for something. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Three times this week I had to put air in two of my tires.   I blamed it on the temperature changes.  An annoyance really, but a fact of life for season changes.   I inspected the tires each time and the looked ok.  

Yesterday, I got in my car to go and run some errands with munchkin.  The car was driving funny....felt like I had a flat even though I didn't.   At this point, I figured that maybe I was a moron and wasn't actually putting the right amount of air in my tires.   I remembered my brother telling me that Discount Tire puts air in tires for free.   I headed that way and wend inside.  After waiting in line, I started with telling the guy that he was not allowed to laugh at me-but I needed air in my tires.  He didn't laugh and directed me to where they put in air. 

As I went over there, the guy who was putting air in tires pointed out to me that I had FOUR nails in one of the tire, and two in the other.   Everytime I had put air in the tires, the part that had the nails had apparantly been on the ground so I could not see the cause. 

So, I went back in line, and I got new tires.   I could be really, really annoyed that I had to spend several hundred dollars that I did not plan on spending, or I could be relieved.  

Relieved that I did not experience a blow out in morning rush hour traffic going 55 miles  an hour in bumper to bumper traffic.  Where even if I had controlled the blowout, that other drivers could have reacted, or over-reacted causing someone to get hurt.   I am very grateful that did not happen, becuase it could easily happen. 

So the few hundred dollars for new tires is a very small price to pay for safety. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Have you ever lived through a hurricane? If not, be thankful! I have lived through three including Katrina and Rita in Houston.

A hurricane is unnerving. First of all you know it is coming for days so you prepare. Schools shut down businesses shut down and communities check on each other. You tie up or bring in anything and everything that is loose outside lest it become a projectile and injure someone or break something.

Then you wait and wait. The winds and rain start ahead of the storm and when the hurricane finally comes it is hours upon hours of tornadic winds. You stay inside and listen...the power generally shuts off to lessen the likelihood of fires when things fall on transformers. So you sit there in the middle of your house in the dark holding right to your loved ones and you pray. You pray for lives to be spared knowing property can be replaced. It is terrifying and humbling.

When it is over you go outside and you see the damage. The devastation. The utter destruction and you marvel at the power of God.

Several weeks ago, Sandy hit the east coast. I spoke to a friend of mine. He talked about huddling under a staircase in his house with his wife and son for 18 hours while mother nature destroyed everything in her path.

As we were talking he started telling me of the changes to the channel. The rocky bluffs were gone. Just gone. The topography of the inlets is completely changed. There is a river way that had dried up century ago that the hurricane reopened.

As I heard him speak I got to thinking. Nature cleanses the earth with catastrophe. Hurricanes reshape the land and shores....don't believe me? Google Louisiana shoreline post Katrina. A very large part of the state was reclaimed by the Gulf of Mexico.

Fires cleanse a forest. They remove old trees so that the forest can grow and evolve. The dead brush is removed and the ashes nourish the land for future growth. The animals take cover and the slowly return. The rain and snow soothe the charred earth and life begins anew.

As I was thinking about this, I was thinking about me. Losing Robert was a catastrophic event for me. He was gone in an instant. The aftermath has been years and years of pain tempered with growth. My life will never ever be the same as it was on the morning of March 30, 2008. But I am starting to see new growth in me. I am starting to see how things have changed and how I would not have many things in my life that I do have today if that catastrophic event had not happened.

I am starting to see the positive, the life and the joy. While I still miss him deeply and that will never change, instead of thinking that my life ended on that Sunday morning, I see that that morning was a catastrophe. But that catastrophe is a part of who I am now. It is only a does not consume my world anymore.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Blog Hop...

Nope not a Sock Hop--a Blog Hop....

Being new to this whole published blog world, I am excited to participate.  It still amazes me that there are people that want to read what I have to write...but I digress...

So, I will be participating in the blog hop hosted by Samantha of Crazy Courage

So at the end of this post, you will see a list of people who in spite of surviving unimaginable tragedies, they thrive and have something to say.  They have the courage to share their world with the rest of us and I ask that you take a look at what they have to say. 

Maybe, just maybe you may learn something new, or find a new idea.  You may find some laughter and you may find some tears, but at the end, you will be sharing a glimpse into a world that none of us would like to belong to. 

The details are below:

How to Participate:
1. Visit each of the links below – both hosts and participants – and read their post. Leave them a comment with encouragement, commiseration, community, or however else the post touches you.
Samantha of the Crazy Courage blog
Janine of One Breath At A Time
Rachel of A Little Pink in a World of Camo
Christine of Widow Island
Kiki of Life After Steve
Robin of The Fresh Widow
Ferree of Widow’s Christian Place
Brooke of 2 Peas in the Pod
Paul of Death is an Imposter
Red’s Momma’s Money Matters
Becky’s Choosing Grace Today
Cindy’s Widow’s Pursuits
Tim’s Diary of a Widower
The Official Site of Abel Keogh

2. In the comment section of the hosts’ sites, leave a link to any related post, for example on the day-to-day issues you face, memories you have of your spouse, events you’ve attended, etc. These are things many of us discuss via our blogs anyway, so it likely won’t be out of your realm of experience.

3. It would really help us get the word out about the Widowed Blog Hop if you would tweet, share, and spread the word about the Hop! Please use hashtags #Widowed and #BlogHop.

Did your Daddy vote?

Partisanship aside...I have always understood the importance of voting. So the fact that it was a school day/work day and TaeKwonDo day did not deter me from taking munchkin to vote with me after class. As we drove I explained that all grownups in the USA have the privilege to vote.

They had done a mock vote in class today so he was excited. He was well behaved in line and respectful to the judges and he even managed a piece of chocolate from one that we knew.

As I turned in my ballot, my heart was aching that the first time munchkin will remember going to vote was just the two of us. I put my ballot in the machine and the well meaning sweet lady asked munchkin if he got to go vote with Daddy too.

Too much....the tears flowed, the silent tears I had been holding back just flowed. Munchkin didn't miss a beat..."Daddy lives in heaven" is what he said to the lady. She looked like someone slapped her. Munchkin asked for a sticker and I made a quick escape into the cold drizzle holding tight to munchkin's hand.

We went home had dinner and snuggled to watch the states report their numbers. We talked about what the president does, where he lives and what the house and senate mean. In all I thought it was a great lesson in the privilege of being American citizens even if it did unearth my wounds. Mostly I am glad that munchkin had fun and liked learning about voting.
I only wish that my scars were not so visible to the rest of the world.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween?

Munchkin only had one Halloween with two parents.  I am so blessed that all of the rest of them have been spent with my extended family.  We have trick or treated in our childhood neighborhood with my brother and sister in law and their two munchkins.  We have fun.  We laugh at the kids, we talk about how they are growing.  We have dinner, spend time with Nana and Papa and Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. I historically have gone to bed in tears. 

This year for the first time, I didn't have a kick in the gut at some point.  In past years, there was something that brought me to tears.  Something that reminded me harshly that we are DIFFERENT, that I AM ALONE. This year, not at all.

I had a great time.  Munchkin had a great time.  We saw many friends. Ran in to tons of parents of kids munchkin goes to school with.  He saw many friends that he has made in school this year.  He was happy and I was happy and content to see him that way.  The grown ups chatted and laughed and remembered Halloweens past.    Had dinner with my sister and her husband as well.  She made cupcakes and provided dessert.  The kids trick or treated her block as well.  Everyone knows munchkin and he loves his friends on that block. 

We had a holiday where we were completely happy.  At the end of the evening, snuggling on the couch munchkin told me it was the best Halloween ever!  Now, I realize that from the eyes of a five year old, every Halloween will be the best ever, but hearing that from him made my day.

And for that minute, I felt that maybe just maybe, I am making progress.  That I am enough, that my family is enough.   And for the first time in recent memory on a holiday, I went to bed happy.

I am blessed, and I am grateful. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Only Parent...

Parenting is hard...ask anyone who is a parent.  24/7/365.  I truly think that it is a team sport by design.  You have your spouse to laugh with, cry with and tag team. 

Somehow that gets skewed unfairly when you are widowed.  There isn't anyone there to tell you to take a break, to laugh with, giggle with or remember with.   You can't pass back and forth the "bad guy" your veggies, stop throwing your peas, use your inside voice, do your homework...etc, etc, etc. 

But parenting is fun.  It is my most favorite thing about my life.  I love being a mom.  I love reading with munchkin.   He reminds me to enjoy every day by showing me his awe and wonder in the world around him.   Focusing on his needs helps me to keep everything in perspective.  To not dwell on the losses that we have endured. 

For the most part, we do great.   We work together as a family and we rock!  We have our routines, we have our rules and it works. 

Then there are other taking him to the doctor and him having to get blood drawn.  Toss in a phlebotomist who was not used to kids and needed me to hold him down while she took 20 minutes to stick him and draw the blood (thankfully she did it in one stick!!) but I am left as the ONLY parent having to hold down my terrified screaming little boy.  SO. NOT. FAIR.  I am the MOMMY.  I am his ONLY PARENT--I always have to be the "bad guy" and there is no one there to tell me that it will be ok. 

I put a smile on my face and wipe his tears, kiss his nose and snuggle-make sure he gets a Spiderman bandaid and swallow my own tears.   Knowing that tomorrow all will be forgiven and we will have a new day to explore and enjoy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Circle of Life

Almost two and a half years ago, Munchkin started begging for a fish.  I held out, stalled, stammered and after much research I finally gave in.

After much debate and discussion, I settled on a Beta, he picked out a pretty blue one and named him FISHY. 

For the past 18 months, munchkin has greeted him good morning, kissed him good night, sang to him, fed him, read to him, redecorated his fish tank, helped change filter.   FISHY would recognize his voice and swim around frantically excited to hear him.   Munchkin thought that was the coolest thing, especially since he wouldn't respond to me.   Munchkin's explanation, "mommy, he hasn't learned that you have to listen to your mommy yet, we will work on it and I am sure FISHY will love you like he loves me!" 

He announced that since he can't have a baby sister that FISHY would be his brother.  Everyone who came to our apartment or as Munchkin calls it "repartment house" was introduced to his brother. 

About 2 weeks ago, FISHY started looking a little sick, kinda just laying on his plants, not really eating....I knew in my heart that FISHY had just about lived out his life.   I seriously debated a bait and switch.  However, I figured out that Munchkin, as observant as he is, would have discovered the deception so I decided to let it run its course and prepped myself for the "circle of life" conversation. 

The other day it happened, we went out for the day, had a fantastic day downtown.  Picked up a new story book that he proceeded to read to me on the train and we simply had fun.  When we got home, Munchkin wanted to read to FISHY.   When he went to his tank to read to him, he was lifeless on the bottom of the tank.  Munchkin started singing to him, FISHY didn't move.  Munchkin started screaming.   No not screaming, shrieking.   "MOMMY!!!!!!!!!!!! MOMMY!!!!!!!!!!! FISHY is DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"   Keep in mind, that I didn't voice any of my suspicions to him. 

The tears started rolling.  The wailing began in earnest.  I scooped up my little man and just held him.   I investigated FISHY and confirmed the sad news. 


OH my!  It hurt me so deeply to see him so hurt.  It hurts me to know that at 5 years old, that he understands loss in such a deep and personal way that many adults have yet to come to terms with.   I was speechless.  How do you give your child answers that you don't have yourself?

In the end, I decided that hugs, kisses and listening were my best option.   I told him that we would send FISHY's body to the sea by flushing him.   BIG MISTAKE! "MOMMY! A SHARK WILL EAT HIM!!!!!!!!" oh my, oh my, thanks DISNEY!

He asked me to say good bye to FISHY, so I took the tank and set it on the floor in front of him.   He knelt on his knees over the tank with tears streaming down his cheeks and big messy sobs making his entire body quiver.  I could do nothing but sit next to him and silently pray. For what seemed like forever he sat and spoke to FISHY's body--
"I love you FISHY"
"you are an awesome friend FISHY"
"I miss you FISHY, GOD please send FISHY back!"
" FISHY can you please say hi to my Daddy in heaven and be his friend?"
"FISHY, will you play with my puppies in heaven and be nice to my Daddy"
"FISHY I hope you turn into a real human brother in heaven and give my Daddy a kiss, maybe play catch with him too"

When he was done sobbing and saying goodbye, we said a prayer.  He asked some more questions about Daddy and told me that he knew Daddy would take care of FISHY.  

While I was very proud of myself for not getting hysterical, I did have the tears on my cheeks and I was drained. 

We ended up cuddling up and watching Scooby Doo together.  

Sometimes, just sometimes, it is best to realize that there is nothing that we can do to change things and all we can do is cling to each other.  

In the past few days, we have only had a few questions and comments.   He made sure to tell Papa and Uncle Joe that FISHY is in heaven with Daddy.  It is still striking to me how he knew without prompting that FISHY was in heaven.  I am not sure if I should be glad that he understands or sad that he has had the opportunity to learn about loss so early.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Little Kisses....

Driving to work this morning, I was admiring the beautiful fall colors.  The Maples turn a beautiful crimson.  The elms are yellow, there is very little green left.  The sun was peeking through the clouds and making the leaves glisten.  GORGEOUS!  Fall is one of my favorite times of year.  I love that the seasons change.   The change of seasons is one of the things that I missed most living in Texas. 

As I was admiring everything, my mind drifted to Robert.  As that happened a song I had never heard came on to the radio and the lyrics struck me. 

Don’t let the night become the day
Don’t take the darkness to the grave
I know pain is just a place
The will has been broken
Don’t let the fear become the hate
Don’t take the sadness to the grave
I know the fight is on the way
When the sides have been chosen

Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown
Open up your eyes
Keep your eyes open
So tell me you’re strong, tell me you see
I need to hear it, can you promise me to
Keep your eyes open, my love
So show me your fire, show me your heart
You know I’ll never let you fall apart if you
Keep your eyes open, my love
NEED TO BREATHE-Keep Your Eyes Open
Hearing this was like hearing someone speak to my soul.  Music is very much like that.  We used to always communicate with music.  We were great at talking but it was not unusual for us to find some obscure lyrics and play or sing songs to each other.  We could spend hours, literally hours doing this, singing, dancing, playing music and generally just plain old being in love.   Man do I miss that! But as I heard the lyrics plain and clear, it was like a little kiss to my soul.   A small reminder that he is still out there in the universe.   For the day it gave me a reminder and a sense of peace...I know it may sound just a little crazy, but really there have been some pretty crazy things that I have experienced in my life.  
So, I revel in the beauty of the world around me and I enjoy the little kisses that I get whatever they may be! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

New Show "Go On" Review

The premise of this is that it is a relatively young widow who lost his wife.   I saw the pilot episode after the Olympics, I wasn't really sure what to think about it. 

Honestly, it has grown on me.  The producers to a decent job of showing the ugly side of grief woven through life.   The end of one episode, he explodes throwing things at a car when someone is texting.  It then comes out in ugly form that his wife died in a car accident while replying to a text. 

This kind of outburst is extremely realistic.  I can remember doing it multiple times the first year or so.  It is exhausting. 

Another thing that sticks in my head was the whole tossing and turning in bed and finally getting up.  I can completely relate to this.   After being married for almost nine years, it took me over 4 years to remember how to sleep alone.   To be able to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up to reality.  What do I mean by that?  Well for years, and sometimes still--I was haunted by flashbacks of the accident.  I would wake up screaming and re-experience the accident.   Living through it once apparently was not good enough for my brain...oh heck no...chronic overachiever here...let's just go and do it daily for over two years!   Well when that was done, I would have pleasant dreams...I would dream of us, our family our life.  Then I would slowly wake--far better then awakening in terror, except this time, I would wake slowly, in that in between state where your dreams still exist, where it seemed like the last few years were the nightmare and that everything was ok.  Until I opened my eyes, Until I fully awoke and realized that the nightmare was real and the dream was just that, a wish for the life we planned. 

Yelling and throwing stuff at a cemetary...BEEN THERE DONE THAT! Not really all that productive, but hey, I'm not going to hurt the feelings of anyone dead right?  Personally at the time, I thought I was being far more productive at yelling at a headstone than an actual real person in front of me with feelings.  Didn't quite occur to me that I may have looked a little crazy....although I probably did! There is a very odd dark humor that many widows have used to survive...and I think the show captures that decently well.

Oh and the giving away of stuff...he gave her sewing machine to someone who needed one, the group cautioned him that he may not want to do that...but he did, and he regretted it.  MAN does that hit home.  Somethings you just can't explain. 

Overall, I think the show does a decent job of intertwining realistic reactions to real situations that widows face every day.   Most things may be so subtle that the average person may not take notice, but I do.  I think the fact that I notice, makes me hope that someone who watches may see something and then see something in real life, and maybe just maybe may think.   HMMM....maybe this person is having a REALLY bad day....maybe they are not crazy after all!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Houston we have a problem....

Still...nearly FIVE years later I can't fly through Houston without getting physically sick.
When I walk through the airport, the memories just play and play.  It doesn't matter that I am rushing through the terminal in a business suit on my way to a meeting.  I see a girl, broken, crying, trying to play with her son. I see people around her looking helpless. I taste the despair...the hopelessness. I taste the bile in my throat. It makes me sick.  I can feel the desperation in the air.

Even as I walk, I will forever be thankful for my family. They traversed the airport with me on many occasions.  While they still do things today to be immensely helpful, they did a lot that in Houston that also plays in my mind.  Mom used to have damp washcloths in a Baggie in her purse to put on my neck when I would inevitably feel faint. I had never fainted before the accident...afterward, it was a pretty regular occurrence.  She would tell me it would be ok, let me cry and get me to eat or drink something. Other times I was with dad who would take munchkin and walk with him and entertain him. He would sit me down with some water and a hug and he would try his best to coax a smile and his eyes would mist over as I could not control my sobs. One time when we were really delayed he leaned over while I was rocking a sleeping munchkin and he wiped my tears jut as he did when I was a little girl.

My aunt was there often as well. She gave up time with her kids to come to me. She saw a shirt and got it for me. "FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION". It is a NASA shirt and I wore it daily for a really long time. She has a quiet determination about her and I was able to lean on her. She would look at me and say "what are you going to do next?". Helping me to see that there were still things that needed to be done and that even though I felt completely lost, I still had deep recesses in my brain that knew the practicality of what needed to be done. She helped me bring that back to the top.

My sister is the travel guru...she could speed us through with practical knowledge of what to do and where to go. She would hug me and make sure that I felt loved. She is awesome. She organized who was coming to stay with me and when.  She dropped everything to help me.  She and her husband walked around the house and just took care of stuff that needed to be done...paid bills, answered phones, cleaned, fed munchkin when I actually did manage to fall asleep...whatever needed to be done, she did, without being asked and without any complaint.   She and my brothers stood at Robert's casket and made a pact to help me and care for me and they do. She has given numerous vacation days to come to my aide provided travel miles and is ALWAYS there. She is a rock. Have I mentioned that she is awesome!

My brother that is the older every time he went to Houston to help me would have some sort of illness requiring an emergency room visit for his kiddos. Anaphylaxis for a 2 year old, another time was some other sort of something, however his wife was home with the 2 year old who needed to go to the ER and a jumped brother in law (see sister paragraph above! to come to her rescue!) ...heck his wife was 8 months pregnant when they drove down after the accident....20 hours in a car with a two year old and being 8 months pregnant...just to come to my aide...SAINT!   God Bless him...he still came and his wife still let him. There is a kindness and softness of their souls that is just amazing and I am glad that munchkin has him to look up to.

This is what goes through my mind when I walk through the airport there. Does not matter how tight my connection is...all the flights home go through the same few gates and it hits me like a ton of bricks and a punch in the gut. I know how broken I was, and I know rhat I have come a very long way. I have worked hard to rebuild my life. To be happy again. I think that the despair I felt there was so utterly complete and consuming that my emotion has forever scarred the airport for me.

I cannot imagine how my family felt to see me like that. My child scapes his knee and is better in five minutes and it catches my heart. I can't imagine seeing him so fully crushed and desolate. The fact that they were all there for me and still are just makes me love them even more.


Football in Texas

Early this summer one of my aunts and I had a fantastic and inspiring conversation at 2 am. The cliff notes version revolved around reframing my perception. I was griping about traveling so much for work and having no time to myself when I do travel. She shared some of her tips for finding some time and some of the amazing things that she has done in her travels. Since then I have tried moderately successfully to include more me time while I am out of town. Luckily my nights out of town have decreased--because really I would rather be home with munchkin!!!

I digress...I am at a conference. On Friday one of my friends called and asked if I wanted to go to the Monday Night Cowboys game...well yes, I would love to go to the Bears game :).

So step one...I said yes...I then spent the next three days stressing. This is the first football I have been to since Robert died and it was an emotional ramp up. I toyed with bringing a jersey, however it would have been Robert's. In the end, I decided on a Bears t-shirt that was his, but I had commandeered long before the funeral.

When I walked up on the stadium it hit me...eyes misted was a beautiful night. He loved Texas...I tolerated it. Until October when I started bitching that I missed seasons and snow...I'm a Chicago girl at heart. But he was made for Texas. He loved living here, he loved everything about Texas. It hit me that had he been alive we would have been at the game together.

As we were winding our way around the stadium admiring it...the Bears fans literally outnumbered the Cowboys fans. I was still misty eyed and texted my brother that I missed Robert knowing he would be missing him too. He said that "maybe we can get a win in his memory". Just then a whole bunch of Bears fans came by chanting the Bears song.

At that moment, I chose to have fun and enjoy the game. I really do like football and here I was with a tremendous opportunity to enjoy a game with some really great friends.

The game was fantastic. The Bears played really well...even the Cowboys seemed to play for the Bears :). We won and it was exhilarating.

I realize how blessed I am to have such great friends and a truly incredible family. I'm lucky to be able to work and still have family that steps up and help me care for munchkin. I'm lucky to have friends who know me well enough and care enough to include me.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Birthday in Heaven

Today Robert would have been 38. This is the fifth time September 21st has come and almost gone. Another reminder that time marches forward.

Today was a wet day one of the first days of fall which will throw us full force into winter before we know it. It was drizzly and dreary all day.

This afternoon I got the picture below from my best friend. We have known each other more years than I care to admit but she always has and always will know me like no one else can. Her text was simple "happy birthday to Robert. Look at the rainbow from heaven". I am blessed that I have such great friends.

I had several other calls and texts and Facebook messages and I am feeling very lucky to have such an amazing group of friends and family that love me.

I miss him. I believe that I always will, but I am thankful for the rainbows that he sends me and the people who stand by my side.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September is Golden

Do you know what a gold ribbon means?  (no not pink) Gold is for Childhood Cancer Awareness and September is designated to promoting awareness of childhood cancer. 

Children are amongst the most vulnerable people on the face of this earth, parents are programmed to protect them at ALL cost.   Sometimes, we cannot protect.  Sometimes, the child teaches the parent things that no parent should have to learn--bravery, courage, hope and grief.

Last September I was introduced to a sweet lady, Mary Tyler Mom.   She lost her precious Donna to cancer and she and her family have chosen to find hope even in their loss.   For the month of September she chronicles Donna's journey through surgeries, treatment and heartbreak and she shares her with us.  Last year a friend showed it to me in the Chicago Tribune.   I was having a hard time and she thought that maybe I could find some solace in the words of wisdom and caring that were being posted.

In the past year since I have been following this family I have been so inspired.  I have seen her share her charm and wit and her sadness with readers all over the word.  Mary Tyler Mom really and truly demonstrates hope and grace everyday.  She is candid and she is caring and awesome. 

In her spare time she raises money for research for pediatric cancer. Dedicated research is underfunded to say the least, and I will save that rant for a later post along with an action of what you can do to help (especially if you live in Illinois!)  She runs fundraisers, she attends races, she runs a foundation "Donna's Good Things" oh and she works full time and cares for her husband and son! In between she shares herself reminding us to CHOOSE HOPE. 

Again this month she is sharing their journey and Donna with us.  This time not in just the Chicago Tribune but she is being featured by the Huffington Post! She chooses to share her precious girl with us and give us a glimpse into their lives.  If you have not yet done so, please mosey on over and take a look.  I promise that you will not regret it and maybe just maybe in reading and sharing Donna's story you can find some hope and witness a whole ton of love.


Sometimes I just take a step back and like to count my blessings.  I have an AMAZING family.  Brothers, Sisters, Parents, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles....they are all awesome.  We laugh, we have fun, we love and we care.   I know that is how it is supposed to be, however I know that isn't how it works out most times in real life. 

I have been so blessed by my family that I cannot put it into words.  We work as a unit, when someone needs help, we are there, we are strong, we are a unit and I am constantly awed and thankful. 

Serioulsy, with everything that we have been through collectively, we would be better than any soap opera out there!  We seriously have won the family lottery.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

God is There

Funny. They say hindsight is 20/20. When you look back over things that have happened to you, you can see things that you didn't realize the importance of at that time. You can see all the ways that God has shown his hand in your life.

The morning of March 30, 2008 was a beautiful, warm Texas morning. The sun was bright, the dew was heavy and the bluebonnets were in full bloom.

We had a leisurely breakfast with friends. We got to visit with people that we rarely got to see. Lots of laughs, hugs, handshakes and prayers. We were full and we were blessed.

One of Robert's childhood friends came all the way from Georgia. Father Paul and he went to the same church when they were children. Msgr Reagan was a mentor for both of them and Padre, as we called him, is currently the pastor of their childhood church. It was a blessing for us to spend what we know now was Robert's last day with him. The two of them shared some very profound conversation and Padre blessed our family.

Before we pulled away, our friend Ray hugged me, rustled munchkin's head, shook Robert's hand and told him "if you run into any problems buddy, I'll be right behind you". He died six months later. Hindsight.

We drove. It was dewy. We stopped for gas, I changed munchkin. I handed munchkin to his father and I went inside. When I came back out, he put his arm around me, and told me I was a wonderful mother. I bent down and out munchkin into his carseat. He was a happy bubbly baby boy. He kissed me softly and told me he loved me. This was how we treated each other every day. I am very blessed for that.

We got in the cars and continued on. A little while later it started to rain. He used the Walkie talkie to say he would take the lead and said "I love you". I said I loved him too.

Not five minutes later, our lives shattered. He was in a head on collision. The debris totaled my car. I had no steering, no brakes and my car was veering toward the ravine. My car stopped perfectly on the side of the road. God did that. Munchkin and I did not have a scratch. My door was crumpled, my dashboard came into my car. I had not a bruise, not a scratch.

Robert died instantly. God spared him from pain and suffering in the final minutes of his life. His last minutes on earth were filled for the love of me. I am blessed.

We were hours from home. I have an aunt and uncle in Dallas that had retired to Florida a year prior. Their house was not sold so they were there in Dallas and came and got us. God was there. Their house sold very quickly after the accident.

Our friends were not with us....God spared them the horror of witnessing that, but had them close enough to get to my side. God was there.

Two cars...we were in two cars. When we had left home days before, we were all in one car. As we backed up, I looked at the car seat. It was not PERFECT in the backseat. I
I asked him to pull back in and literally at the last second we made the decision to be in two cars. God was there. Never in almost nine years of marriage in all of the road trips that we had taken, had we ever taken two cars. This is key. I am here today because God guided me to be in a separate vehicle.

There was an older couple that morning. Instead of going to church the felt called to take a drive and enjoy the bluebonnets. They stopped. They prayed with me for hours....literally hours. When I was allowed to leave they drove us up the road to meet my friends and await my family. That was God. He put faithful people in my path to remind me that he was there. While I was physically and mentally shaken to the the point of barely being able to speak, my faith was not shaken. I am grateful.

In writing this I am hoping that people can see as I do, that literally in the darkest of time, if you look hard enough you can see God's actions.

In the days, weeks, months and years since that fateful day, God has been there at every juncture. I have been shown so much of God's love and God's grace that it is far too much to even list. One of my favorite quotes is "The will of God will not take you to where the Grace of God cannot protect you". That is my mantra. I tell myself that if God has provided for me in the darkest time of my life, then surely if I trust in God with patience in my heart then it will all work out. I also know that God gives us what we need.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Band Season

I have played music since third grade. Music has always been a huge part of my life. It was a passion that we shared.

I have this theory that there are "natural musicians" and "learned musicians" Learned musicians can play whatever is in front of them with work and practice (me). Natural musicians have a direct conduit from the brain to instrument. The music flows effortlessly and beautifully. This was Robert. He is hands down the most gifted musician I have ever seen. He could compose beautifully. We could play music together completely. He wrote pieces for me for clarinet. He arranged for vocals and it was awesome. Our lives and our souls entwined with music. It was ever present in our home.

Fast forward to the months following the accident. I did not have within my being the physical or mental stamina required to touch "his" piano, my clarinet or anything relating to music. It was devastating to me on so many levels.

The fact that on March 29th, 2008 music was like oxygen to my brain and on March 30, 2008 it became a tortuous reminder that my world was sucked away in an instant. To touch "his" piano made me physically ill. I was consumed by the realization that he would NEVER play with me or for me again. His students would never learn from him again and our son would grow up without sharing the piano with him. It was brutal and it was too much to bear. So I avoided it.

That fall, I was invited to play in a community band and although it made my heart hurt to do it alone, I chose to do it. I chose to try and find myself and rediscover the joy in music again. I told myself I had music before him and I would kick myself later if I didn't hold on to music for me.

For four years now, I have been going to rehearsal, playing in concerts and practicing through tears and memories. Literally, there were rehearsals that the silent tears flowed the entire time. The first concert I let the tears stream down my cheeks. I left the stage sobbing so hard I couldn't breathe all because he was not in the audience. He would never be there sitting next to munchkin to cheer me on, and I would never get to sit in an audience with munchkin and cheer him on. That hurt. It took my breath away.

But I came back, and I kept coming back. And I kept pushing through. I have played pieces that I played with him. There was a piece that we played in high school together...I swear I could hear him playing his trumpet. Then we played a piece originally scored for a brass quintet "Saints Hallelujah" by Canadian Brass. Seriously go to you tube and search for it. A medley of the "Hallelujah Chorus" and "When the Saints go Marching In". I didn't know if I could keep it up but I did. I pushed through the tears....more tears than I care to remember.

Each season was filled with a mixture of dread and hope.

Well this week it was different. This time I walked in...I still had the memories and the anticipation. But this time, this time I didn't lose it. Not only did I not have the tears running down my cheeks, but I finally felt a sense of peace about myself. I hope that I have finally found a way to rediscover joy in music. We are playing a full slate including one of my all time favorite pieces.

For that I am thankful. For that I am hopeful.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Today I had a phenomenal conversation with one of my mentors. This person has known Robert and I both since high school.

We were discussing the past four years and all that I have endured. He told me that I was a strong woman and an inspiration. I was floored. I don't see that in myself at all! He went on to say that he has seen me make parenting choices and life choices that most people wouldn't make...and that most people would understand if I didn't make. Again I don't see that.

But it really made me think. I know I am not strong-- really not strong. But I do know that I draw my strength from God. I know when I have nothing left, that he will give me what I need. That is what I know.

I also know that as a parent it is my job to show and teach and spite of my exhaustion or tears or sheer emptiness. I also know that giggles and smiles soothe my heart more than anything that I can think of. So I have made some tough choices...taking a good paying job that requires full time work so that I can provide for by my family even though I have a LONG commute in rush hour spending 3 1/2 to 4 hours a day in the car everyday....this way he gets relationships with my siblings and parents far easier than if we lived an hour away. Tough choices. I choose to find the positive blessings every day...easier now than it was four years ago but still hard some days.

I make decisions for us based on what is best for us and what I want for my child. The opportunities that I want him to have, the experiences I want him to have. I have made and will continue to make those choices. Everyday I will be thankful for what we have and I will pray for the strength to do it again.

Maybe that makes me an inspiration and maybe it doesn't. I sure don't see it. But maybe this was just God's way of trying to show me what I am too close to see.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Wow, fall kicks off again.  Today was an absolutely beautiful day.  Bright blue sky, fluffy white clouds.  Gentle breezes and not too warm.

It was also the home opener for the Chicago Bears.  Now I am a football fan, I follow my Bears, I watch the games, but Robert, now he was the definition of SUPERFAN.  He had more Bears shirts, sweatshirts and jerseys than I can count.  He lived in Bears gear year round, between that and patriotic t-shirts, that was the bulk of his wardrobe.  Munchkin had his first Bears jersey at 3 months old for the season opener of 2007.   Sunday afternoons were dedicated to football--in an almost obsessive way.   I have some pretty awesome memories that revolve around football.

So this morning, I dressed munchkin in a new bears shirt (last years was way too small) and we went about our day.  Sometimes I am just reminded how different our life is now.  If Robert was still here, we would have had an all out party to watch the game...likely would have even tailgated.  It would have been fun, really fun.  But that is not the life we live now. 

We will likely have some parties centered around football complete with uncles and papa, but not today.  I could not fathom being inside when it was so beautiful out--especially knowing that in a few short weeks the falling leaves and mold will keep us inside until we get a hard freeze--so we spent the afternoon at the park and I caught the scores of the game on my phone. 

But, munchkin ran around with glee and abandon--he made new friends and showed off his new found skill of going across the monkey bars at warp speed.  And it was fun, and it was great--really great.  And somehow seeing the joy in munchkin's face above his Bears t-shirt was enough.  For that I am thankful.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beach Glass

Have you ever had the privilege to walk on a beach and collect?  Shells, rocks, drift wood, feathers, it is all there before you.  My personal FAVORITE thing to fine is “beach glass”.   It is beautiful. 

Something was once useful, and quite possibly ordinary. 

Then it was shattered.

Over time the waves, sand and stone take the sharp edges and smooth them, it takes the clear glass and gives it a beautiful opacity that is only apparent when it is dried out of the water.  In time, you have these beautiful ornamental treasures.  Since the glass is manmade, they are few and far between.  Some of the best glass hunting days are the really, really rough days.  For some reason the pounding relentless surf brings the glass up to the surface of the rocks on shore.  It is absolutely fascinating that something so ordinary can become something so beautiful.  But it is hard to spot, the white pieces are translucent in the water…you can easily miss them if you aren’t used to what you are looking for.  They get lost in the rocks.  The pretty green and blue ones are a little easier to spot because the color tends to stick out.

I have heard many times that grief is referred to as waves.  Some even joke about needing scuba gear to catch a breath.   It really is a fitting reference.

I have always loved the beach glass from the time I was a little girl, but now, it just represents so much more to me.  It shows me that once something is shattered, even into a million little pieces that it is not shattered forever.  There is hope for a new day.  Something can be built, it can have reference to the original, but it can be completely different and beautiful all on its own.  It is in the roaring surf that we can become molded into something that is far more beautiful that what we started with.  That the forces of God can take something broken and through the course of life, mold it into a rare and beautiful treasure--if we let it.  We have to be willing to endure the trials of life and give them up to be able to see the beauty that the trials bring to our souls. 

The other positive thing that we have is that once our life is shattered into a million pieces, we GET TO CHOOSE which pieces to pick up and take with us.  We get to decide that there are some things, some people, some situations that are  far better left in the past as a distant memory.  And we are given the opportunity to have a clean slate so to speak…to be able to look at life from a different lens and build something with the benefit of knowing what we know.   Yes, I know that may sound a little crazy to some of you, and trust me it has taken me a long time to be able to think this way, but yes we get to choose what we do. 

I think, this is what I really hope for.  That everything is not for naught.  That there is purpose in the endurance of tragedies presented to us.  That at the end of the day, I can look back and see the changes and see the beauty in spite of picking up the pieces of a shattered life. 


Monday, September 3, 2012

Moving Forward

Moving On

I really have come to despise the phrase "moving on". It implies that you just pick up and move on leaving everything behind.

 Now as much as I would like to obliterate the morning of the accident from my memory, that is just not possible. I will never forget leaving the hotel, driving down the road, stopping for gas. Having him kiss me, tell me he loved me, tell me I was a great mother, now those things I don’t want to forget. What I would like to forget however is the screeching tires, seeing his car spin, seeing debris hit my windshield. The smell of burned rubber, antifreeze, gasoline and blood all mixed together. Yeah, that I wish I could forget. Because really, watching your husband die in front of you…not necessarily a banner day in my life that is for sure. Yes that is what happened to me, to us.

We had taken a long weekend out of town with friends. We took two cars, we NEVER took two cars anywhere. EVER. My mommy impulse kicked in at the last minute and decided that it would be easier to have a 10 month old eat, nurse and nap in the hotel instead of at a car show (shocking to you I know!). So we took two cars. We had a GREAT weekend. Plenty of family time. Munchkin was toddling around everywhere talking away, even said “daddy” for the first time on that Saturday. Sunday morning we left and life changed FOREVER halfway home. He was involved in a head-on collision and the debris from the impact TOTALLED my car as well. I was stranded on the side of the road in the middle of NOWHERE with my son and my husband’s mangled body. I was a babbling idiot…literally….I am not sure I was capable of a coherent sentence for weeks.

 But in spite of all that I have survived. I have found “moving on” doesn’t work for me as a widow. I much prefer moving forward. Moving forward for me means that I recognize that living in the past is not an option. It doesn't mean forgetting Robert or our life or all of the wonderful things about us as a unit. It means recognizing that they are a part of who I am and who I have become in this journey of grief.

I choose to move forward, to get up everyday and to put one foot in front of the other--and at four and a half years later I have done things that at the time seemed insurmountable. Everyday is a choice, this is
true for everyone. I choose to find grace and draw my strength from God. I am thankful that I can rely upon the blessings around me. I choose to find new chapters in my life...moving back to Chicago to be with my family, getting a new job, starting Munchkin in pre-school, and now kindergarten, travelling with a toddler. Getting an apartment, living somewhere where Robert has never been.   Some of these things are hard, and man does reality sometimes slap you in the face.  All of these are necessary. These are all new chapters and even though Robert isn't a main character in the chapter he is still there in thoughts and memories.  Sometimes I swear I can even hear his voice narrate.   I don’t do things the same-actually some things are the exact opposite of what he would have liked (my girly floral bedroom for instance) but I like to think that I know what he would say-what he would do.   But I realize that he is not here to do any of it and that is part of the moving on.  Making choices that are best for our family-the best for us.

So moving on...would mean leaving my memories behind...that isn't an I choose moving forward.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Yesterday sitting around a pig roast with a ton of my family we were having a great time. Laughter. Fun. Giggling children. It was great.

Music was playing and the the song "My Girl" came in the radio and it hit me. Music is such a powerful memory trigger for me. Always has been. But while I had been enjoying the day with little intrusion of memories into my brain, that quickly came to a halt.

However, I realized something. While my life is getting farther and farther away from "our life"- the memories are my reminders of our great love. They quell my nagging fear that I may forget him. I am very blessed to have a wonderful marriage that is worth remembering and to have been married to a man that truly loved me and cared deeply for me.

So I will take the memories and I willr treasure them as blessings in my heart.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Today there is a lot to be grateful for. Beautiful day.
Great schools.
Happy munchkin.
Family reunion and pig roast.

So I will be grateful and I will thank God for all of the blessings in my life.

Sometimes it is very calming to me to step back and focus on all of the things God has blessed me with. If I look at things in a positive light it helps me to focus on what I have been given instead of that which I have lost.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why Grace?

Some of you may be wondering why I picked "choose grace" for my title


1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action:
2. manifestation of favor, especially by a superior: It was only through the dean's grace that I wasn't expelled from school
Elegance or beauty of form...I can choose to survive my circumstances with grace and dignity.  I don't have to let what has happened define me.  I don't have to let it make me bitter and angry, so I CHOOSE GRACE.
Manifestation of Favor...but for the Grace of God I survived the accident.  Not only survived, but walked away without a scratch on me or my son....Now I had a very very strong faith before the accident that has given me a solid foundation to grow in my faith.  I see where God has graced me with blessings in spite of the tragedy that we have endured.  I think that is paramount to our survival. 
I have met women in my life who epitomize grace and even before I was widowed I looked up to those.   I hope that someday someone looks back on me and says "She was so full of grace and strength"