Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dear Robert...

Dear Robert,
Today marks five years since that morning.  I still miss you, but more than that, I hope that you really can see us from Heaven.  I hope that you can see just how far we have come.  I hope that you know that even though I don't cry every day that I still love you and I still miss you.   

I hope that you can see how much you have shaped me as a person.  I am not the same young girl that you married, and I am not the same woman who buried you.  I have tried very hard to make sure that losing you did not make me old and bitter.   That losing you gave me the opportunity to acknowledge your love for me and for Munchkin.  

I look around myself and I still see pieces of you everywhere.  Today, they make me smile more than cry and I am glad that I did hold on to some of your things.   I have your piano, your trumpet.  In the back of my closet I have one of your bears is tattered, but it reminds me of you.  I sitll have "Conductor Bear" and your bottle of cologne  I can pick it out anywhere!   The other day I came across one of your written compositions of piano music.   It reminded me of all of the time that we had spent together in the studio. 

Well, I finally have a music room again, and Munchkin and I spend time together making music. 

Honestly, I didn't think that I would have come this far.  I hope that you can see all of my new friends and that you see the friends of ours who stood by my side and helped me.   Because, really at the beginning, there were days where it was almost insurmountable to put my feet on the floor and get out of bad, missing you hurt me that badly.   I think for many of our friends, it was too much for them to see me so broken. 

But many friends stood by me.  I had friends and family that were there.  They helped me see the light and to remember you when it was too hard to even bear.  Some kicked my butt when I needed it, some dried my tears and others just listened when I needed to talk about you.   For a long time, I felt that I was losing you over and over again daily.   Our friends helped me to see that was not the case. I hope that you can see them too!

My sister and my brothers, they miss you too.  More than they talk about.   I know that they do.  Munchkin peppers them and me with questions about you.  It is sweet to see how they answer him.  Mom and Dad miss you too.    They worry about me and about Munchkin but I think that they finally believe that we will be ok. 

Oh, and our baby boy, he isn't so much a baby anymore.  He is a vibrant happy boy.  We play baseball, ride bikes and play catch.  I think of you, and I hope you can see us being happy.  Really, more than anything, I hope you see us happy.  I hope you know that happiness is possible again only because I know that you loved me so completely.  I know that you would want me to be happy.  I know that it broke your heart anytime I would cry, so to honor your memory I look for and seek out the happiness. 

I try and teach that to Munchkin as well.   I hope you can see what a good heart he has and how hard he works at everything that he does.   He does many things that you used to do.   He uses many of your hand gestures and definitely has your daredevil sense of adventure!  (He does however have my sarcasm and quick wit!) 

What I really hope that you know is that you are a part of me and you always will be.  I was changed because of losing you, but my biggest blessings and changes have come from knowing you and being your wife.  

Love Always,
Your IrishPrincess

Monday, March 25, 2013


I have written before how much Robert LOVED the Chicago Bears...I mean REALLY LOVED the CHICAGO BEARS.

This past week, #54 entered free agency and is no longer a Bear. WOW, I am having a hard time wrapping my head around how Robert would have reacted to that. 

While I know that the world has moved on the past few years, sometimes it feels as if it is moving at warp speed. 

Let's just take a look at a few things that have really changed:
--Brian Urlacher is no longer a Bear
--Packers have a new quarterback
--We have had 2 presidential elections (although they were full of mudslinging so I guess that isn't all that new!)
--I have had 2 apartments and now a house that he was not a part of in anyway shape or form
--Munchkin is in elementary school!!! (can't really believe that myself)
--The place where we had our wedding reception is now a CVS
--The gazebo where he asked me to marry him, is now demolished
--ND went to the championship (and lost pitifully, but that is a whole other story!)

I guess my point is sometimes we have to admit that the rest of the world is moving on, even when we can't admit it to ourselves.   Sometimes it takes noticing the changes around us to realize the changes that are slowly happening inside of us. 

I no longer cry myself to sleep every day.  I find joy where ever I can spot it and I hold on to it for dear life.   Flashbacks of the accident have subsided for the most part.  I can catch a glimpse here and there of my former self, however I see the new me daily.  The me who stands up and does what needs to be done for my family.   And I am proud of me, and I know Robert is too!


The other day, I had the privelege of volunteering in Munchkin's classroom.  It is a lot of fun for both of us.  The result is that I get a day off of work, and we have more then 15 minutes to get in the door and get dinner on the table. 

We decided to play in our yard.  It was glorious.  Munchkin started by riding his bike and scooter, while I busied myself with pulling out his outdoor sports toys and putting them into an easy to access corner of the garage. 

I pulled out his bat and ball and he came running!  I put out the tee and he started hitting.  Graduated quickly to me pitching to him.

It hit me, we were playing baseball in our own backyard.  Spending time together just playing.  Baseball is my all time favorite sport to play.   I pitched, he hit, I caught the ball.   I worked with him just  a little bit on his stance and with a few minor adjustments of his feet, he was hitting like a champ!

All was fun and games, until I explained to him that every time I caught the ball on a fly, that he was actually "out" instead of hitting a home run.  I know, I know, silly mommy, actually trying to explain to the boy the way the world really works. 

He told me-"Mommy, just don't catch it!" to which I replied, "well, hit it harder and away from me!"  Essentially, trying to teach him that if you want to get better at somehting, you need to do better.  While showing up is important, it isn't everything!  We need to actually put forth effort to excel!

You know, those same lessons that my father taught me while playing baseball and catch in our yard!

going back in time

This weekend, a friend had a surprise birthday party near NIU where I went to college.  My last year there was filled with Robert.  We made so many memories on that campus, I cannot even begin to put them into words.  It really is a beautiful campus.   I told Munchkin that we would go see a castle and gargoyles.  I brought my camera and I wanted to take some portraits of him there as well.

It was on that very same campus where we spent a first date flying kites, and when the wind took them away from us, Robert ran like the dickens after the dollar store kites to bring them back triumphantly to me.  We used to walk to that field every time he came to visit.  We spent hours upon hours walking and talking the length of then entire campus.  

There is a particular spot by the castle that looks like I choir loft-well I always thought that it did anyway.  Other music majors thought I was nutty.   The first time I took Robert there he saw the loft immediately.  

Later in time he even proposed to me on that campus.   There was a beautiful stone gazebo.  He drove me out to campus under the guise of meeting friends for lunch and took me to our  gazebo.   He got down on one knee and asked me to give him the honor of being his wife.  I began to cry and said yes.  We were immediately chased out of there by some angry wasps who did not appreciate the noise underneath their hive! 

So my thoughts for last weekend were to take Munchkin to campus, take a bunch of portraits, take him to the gazebo and then go to the surprise party.  

We had a blast exploring around the castle.  I showed him where I used to live.  The music building, the science building.  We found the gargoyle to now be headless...there are now Huskies around the campus.  It was a ton of fun. 

When I headed over to the gazebo for more pictures, I found a pile of rocks. 

Literally, the gazebo was a pile of rubble.  There are not words to express the shock to my core.  It was as if someone had pulled the rug from beneath my feet.   I had prepared myself mentally to relive his proposal because I thought it would be neat to have pictures of Munchkin there.  Never in my dreams would I have imagined that this gazebo would have been demolished.  

I know that our story lives on in my heart, however, I really want to be able to share pieces of our story with Munchkin and I am cruelly reminded that life moves forward even if we are not quite ready, it will still barrel ahead at warp speed.   Sometimes our only solace in the fast pace of life, is to stop and cherish the joy that is in front of us.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Right Place....Right Time

Today I was on the phone at work. I was trying to find time to fit in an evening teleconference with a west coast colleague. I mentioned....we'll tonight is PTA, tomorrow is TaeKwonDo....the lady jokes..."we live in the same world". I laughed and let my flippant side out.
"we are in no way in the same world"
She replied, "why is that?"
"I'm widowed"
She paused and said she was sorry. She then told me her husband was just diagnosed with end stage pancreatic cancer.

We were both weeping. I apologized to her. Me and my big mouth!

But I told her that it would be ok. She asked me to tell her that her kids would be ok. I assured her that they would. I also said that it isn't easy and it would not be ok for a while and that was ok too, but that yes it will be ok.

Not today, not tomorrow but eventually it will be ok. I know that is very hard to fathom, but just take one thing at a time. I went through months where I had to remind myself to breathe. But a few weeks after the accident a very sweet woman who was widowed and remarried, took me for coffee and told me those same words.

To hear someone has survived and to see them be ok is what fed my hope. It made me find my inner strength to realize that someday it would get better.

Today, I happened to be able to pay that dose of hope forward.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Conversations and Memories

Yesterday was a crazy day...Munchkin had a tournament that went all day...he did awesome and cheered on his friends who also did VERY well.  Late in the afternoon, the parents decided we would all go out for some dinner.  The kids all entertained each other.  They are really great friends, and the grown ups sat around talking.  It was nice and simple.

For one of the first times, I did not feel out of place at all.  My widowed-ness didn't burn through my body.  I actually sat back and enjoyed myself.  We swapped stories of wild climbing boys...discussed parenting and laughed that all of our kids do just about the same stuff!

At one point the conversation drifted-the question came up-WHAT is the best year of your life?  Hmmmm....well one couple said the decade they are in now.   A father said his 30's...his kids were here, a little younger and he had more time. 

My answer was most of the year I turned 30.  Munchkin was born a few weeks after my 30th birthday.  The following ten months, although wrought with struggles, were bliss.  We were a family, there was three of us.  Even though Robert had MAJOR back surgery when munchkin was 3 months old, and it was hard.  When I say hard...I mean HARD.  He couldn't take care of himself, and there was no way he could take care of Munchkin either.  He had virtually no mobility in his back brace.  I ended up taking a leave of absence to care for him when he got home.  We spent months together, just the three of us.  We figured it out and it was great.

My sister got married that year and in retrospect, it was the LAST time that my family was all together in one place.   We literally didn't know until the day before whether Robert was going to be able to fly with us-by the Grace of God he was able to go.  We had a fantastic time.

Now, even though there were great things that happened, the year I was 30, I was also widowed.  I watched Robert die in front of my and my life has been forever changed. 

So in the span of less than twelve short months, my son was placed into my arms, and Robert left this earth.

If someone had told me even 2 days before the accident that Robert would die-I would not have changed one thing about how we spent our time.  That was the year that I really learned to be present and to enjoy what was in front of me.  I think that is what set that year apart for me.   The majority of the year was so memorable, because I was busy taking in the joy of being a mother and being a family of three that I decided to let everything else fall away. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013


This week, two separate people whom I have met in the last five years took the time to call me up and just say hello.   Neither of these people ever knew Robert or the "old" me.  They have only known me AFTER the accident. 

One called to say-"Hey I can't imagine, but I am figuring March is a rough month for you, just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you!"

I am so grateful to call her a friend.  She is so sweet and sincere and I am happy to know her.

Another one sent me a text "He I was thinking about you, and I wanted you to know that even though I never met Robert, I am sure he was a wonderful person"

Again, a true and sincere woman whom I am happy to claim as a friend.

I guess maybe now 5 years later, I have come out of my soul crushing sadness enough to let my love shine so much that people who never met Robert are willing to reach out to me with encouragement and friendship. 

I am feeling very very blessed for that-especially since for the longest time, I could not see the light  at the end of the tunnel and I was pretty much convinced that I would never have another joyful moment.  

I am very blessed to have some lifelong friends who have stuck by my side, in thick and thin as well as some new friends who are showing me that it is OKAY to let people into our lives. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013


I am blessed with an enormous family.  Dad is one of TED kids, Mom is one of FIVE.  I am the oldest of FIVE.  Yes we are catholic ;)

I digress...the result of this is that I have more cousins than I can count on most days and we are all close.  When Robert joind our family, he was floored by the sheer number in the "clan" and then completely taken by surprise at our welcoming nature.   He grew up in a small family and this was a generally foriegn concept to him.   Over the years he became even more in awe of just how close we were.   When Munchkin was born, my heart ached that we were so far away from everyone.  So much that before Robert died, we had actually decided that we would move back to Chicago before he started school. 

Tonight and tomorrow night, my brother's kids are sleeping over.   The boys will race their pinewood derby cars tomorrow and we will generally frolic and have a ton of fun.   As I listened to the boys play while I painted Princess's nails, well, I could literally hear the joy in their giggles.  They are currently snuggled up with their pillow pets on the floor talking about the big race in the morning. 

I am so grateful that he will grow as close to his cousins as I did, becuase honestly, I have no idea where I would be today had I not been blessed with the family that I have. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Soft Smiles

The other day, Munchkin and I got in the car after sledding.   When I turned the key, the song hit me...

I'll be your dream
I'll be your wish I'll be your fantasy
I'll be your hope I'll be your love
Be everything that you need
I'll love you more with every breath
Truly, madly, deeply do
I will be strong I will be faithful
'cause I'm counting on
A new beginning
A reason for living
A deeper meaning, yeah

Wow, what a slap in the face.  I was immediately transported back to one of our dates.  It was a snowy day and we were down at the Naperville River Walk.  We had been walking hand in hand admiring the snow.  Robert had picked up a snowball and thrown it into the river.  All of the geese dove for it thinking it was food and we just laughed and laughed at that. 

When we got in his truck, this song was on and he started to serenade me.   This became one of our songs. 

As I let a soft smile spread across my lips, the second verse came on.

And when the stars are shining
brightly in the velvet sky,
I'll make a wish send it to heaven
Then make you want to cry
The tears of joy for all the
pleasure and the certainty
That we're surrounded by the
comfort and protection of
The highest powers
In lonely hours
The tears devour you

I could not help myself.  It was as if I was hearing that verse clearly for the very first time.   I silent tear slid down my cheek.   Who would have known that 16 years later that those words would ring so true for us and for our love.  "I'll make a wish send it to heaven then make you want to cry"  "That we're surrounded by the comfort and protection of the highest powers, in lonely hours, the tears devour you".   I never would have imagined that snowy day 16 years ago, that I would listen to this same song 16 years later and have it touch my heart so poignantly.  

Munchkin who had not yet buckled his seat belt, leaned forward.
"Mommy, you have water on your cheek!" He said as he wiped away my tear. 
"Mommy, that isn't water, why are you crying?"

I told him that I missed Daddy.  His answer, "Mommy, just forget about him, he loves us from Heaven!"
Wow, such simple words and so simply put.   A few years ago, this would have torn through my heart.  Today, however, I can see that Munchkin simply wanted me to be happy, to be present with him instead of stuck in the longing of what we have lost.   Today, I can hear him loud and clear and understand his desire.   I am grateful that I can see his perspective and even more grateful that I want the same thing.   I want to be present for him.  I want to be here for my child and I want to be happy.   I know that it won't change how much I miss Robert, it won't change any of the facts, that he is gone, that he died.   What it does change is ME.  My choice, my perspective, my attitude.  

And back to the song....
Oh can you see it baby?
You don't have to close your eyes
'Cause it's standing right
before you
All that you need will surely come

Sometimes the words of a child and simple lyrics of a song can mean just what your heart needs to hear.  

**All Lyrics are from "Truly, Madly, Deeply"  by Savage Garden, they retain their original copyrights***