Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Feeling especially grateful this morning.   I got up early and baked what I need to take to Mom and Dad's.   For once it looks like all of my siblings will be present and we will be able to hopefully have a nice meal.  

This year, mom and dad won't be here for Christmas.  They will be spending it across the country, which reminds me that all too soon they will be true snowbirds and it will be dependent upon us to go to them.   Which also means that holidays in my childhood home are limited.  

I remember when each of my parents had to say good bye to their respective childhood homes.  For dad, we did a final walk through and I was a small child--early elementary school.  He showed us the "hiding spots" in the floor boards and I could see him remembering his childhood.   At the time, I didn't understand the melancholy that hung in that attic bedroom that day, however, I now know that time will come soon for my siblings and I. 

For mom, I was in college and her dad was selling the house because he was getting remarried.  To say it was chaotic would be putting it nicely and be an understatement of the world.  There were so many memories in that house, that I even as a teenager knew I would miss.   I learned to read on my grandpa's lap in front of the fire place.   I learned to love science in the basement lab, and I learned how to be prepared for emergencies as my grandmother was diabetic.  

I wonder what Munchkin will remember of the house---will it be living there after Robert died?  That his grandparents provided a safe landing for us in the biggest turmoil of our life?  Will it be the fact that his Nana has taught him to cook in her big kitchen?  Will it be reading with them in the den?  Watching football and baseball with Papa? 

At any rate, whatever his memories of my childhood house hold, I hope that they are happy ones, and I am grateful that he has so many experiences with my family.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dialing the phone

For the past several years in my career, I have been on teams where I was flat out told to not let people know that I am smarter than them.   Literally, I was expected to not answer questions because 60 year old men don't like to be reminded that a younger woman could be smarter than they.

Talk about irritating,   I resented it, however being that my industry is dominated by old men...I played along.  

Ultimately that was one of the driving factors off me leaving my old job.   As we speak I am on a plane returning from the first conference that I have been to in a long time.    I am in the same industry-new company.  This time was so different, I was actually applauded and encouraged for my intelligence.    I had potential clients come to our booth for the express purpose of debating policy or data analytics with me.  

I spent an entire dinner debating statistical analysis and predictive modeling to refine a project for a client.   The person three levels above that person came to me this morning to thank me for my insights and tell my boss that I was brilliant and a true asset to the company. 

I'm on such a high right now it is unbelievable.   There were so many great things that happened this conference.   As I was getting on my flight I just wanted to share with someone.   

I actually dialed Robert's cell phone number and almost hit send before I caught myself.    He has been dead over six years and my instinct is still to call him first.   It was a sucker punch to the gut. I mean-I can't remember to take out the trash but I remember a phone number I haven't dialed in six years?!?!  What kind of joke is that? mothers radar must have been going off because she tested me asking about my trip.  I called her back and we chatted and shared everything.   She was excited for me and I was excited to share!  

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Right after Robert died, I lost a lot of our common friends.  I know this isn't something that I only went through, but seems to be a common thing with people who have gone through loss.   I mourned Robert and then I mourned the loss of people who were staples in our lives for years.   Some of these people who disappeared, I know that the did it for their own self preservation...I am a reminder that bad things happen.  At the time, I didn't get that.  I do now, although for me it was hard fought understanding.  

Don't get me wrong, not everyone left.  Some came from the shadows and took bigger roles and my Best Friend and her entire family filled along with my entire family filled out our needs.  I have written many times on how grateful I am for my family.  This is something different.  Something more subtle, that I didn't quite notice at first. 

Time has given me perspective that I did not see right away.   In my effort to get up everyday and function and rebuild a life for myself and preserve and defend childhood for Munchkin, people have come in droves.   Many were curious--how did he die?  how did you live?  I learned to deal with those people with a silent grace.  I politely answered questions and moved on.   At first it seemed like I did a lot of that.  Answer and move forward.  After time, I realized I didn't have to answer.  

There are new people.  People that I didn't know, many who never knew Robert. 

They have carefully planted themselves in our lives and are sticking around.   The ones who call or text just to say hi.  The ones who are really getting to know us.  Some of them have kids around Munchkin's age, other's don't. 

Some began as Robert's friends and have found their way into my inner circle.  They help me keep his memory alive and talk about him often.  Some of them even share stores with Munchkin.   Those that knew me before and after---they are special.   But this isn't really about them.  

This is about the unexpected friends---the ones that have made themselves more like family, and when they say you can count on them--they mean it. 

Our Taekwondo family is many of the parents and instructors---I cannot even begin to describe my gratitude for everything that they have given us.  From providing fantastic non-family male role models, to teaching Munchkin qualities of character.  They are there---they are there when he or I am sick and if we need anything, there are many of them that are a text away.  

One of these Taekwondo instructors has become one of my closest friends.  She is there to laugh, cry, hang out or whatever.  With or without kids.   She steps up and listens and she is just an amazing woman.  She loves my Munchkin as one of her own and we get along very is hard to imagine that I have only known her a few years--our friendship is natural and easy and I am grateful. 

There is another woman---one who over time has shown that we have very similar values and attitudes toward a lot of things.  She is sweet, kind and funny and I could not love her three boys more.   Our son's get along well and she is just such a positive calming influence.  I treasure her friendship.  

There are so many more...but the common theme here is that I would not have connected with these people if my life hadn't taken such a drastic turn.   Time has given me the ability to find *my friends* instead of our friends. 

So for those friends both old and new--thank you for being a part of our life. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independance Day and Missing Robert

It is the Fourth again.  A time for families and reflection and celebration of our country.   I will celebrate today with Munchkin but today, the void that is always there stings just a bit more than usual. 

The world is missing a great Patriot.   Robert was one of those men who loved his country to his core.  He took his responsibilities as a citizen of our nation to heart.   He voted in every election and made sure that he was informed on the issues and candidates.  He knew in his core that he loved his country and that the principals that the USA was founded on are far bigger than any one person, office or season of politics.  That at the end of the day, the country was designed to allow change by the people via means of an election.  It is idealistic, but that was him. 

Many people don't know this, but one of his dreams was to be the Conductor of the President's Own Marine Band.  That was what he wanted to do with his career--however, he was ineligible for the military.  Given that, he never passed an opportunity to play in or conduct an ensemble that played patriotic music.   I wish that I had more video and recordings of him playing.    

I am not sure why I share these details other than I think it is important for his dreams to be known to someone other than me. 

I loved hearing him play his trumpet and his piano when he played anything, but honestly his rendition of the Star Spangled Banner on trumpet always gave me chills.  It saddens me that his trumpet has been silenced way before it ever should have been.  I do take it out and polish it because the thought of it being marred by tarnish is far too much for me to even entertain in my brain.

I am finding that words are failing to do justice for me that end, enjoy your celebration today and I will do my best to teach Munchkin all the reverence and respect for our Country that Robert and I would have done together.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Top Ten Experiences of Being Widowed

Six years ago, I could not see the light of day.  I could not fathom that I could accomplish anything by myself.  I depended on my family for a sounding board for EVERY little decision that had to be made.  Seriously, I was paralyzed in my grief and I put up with a lot from the world around me that I should not have. 
I have learned and grown over time, but honestly there are some things that still suck.  So being the positive person that I am-here are 10 things that I have learned in the last 6 years. (Yep, a little tongue in cheek here, but bear with me.)
10. You get to care for your house all yourself--in addition to a "girly" master bedroom that you don't have to compromise on, you also get all of the bills, repairs and manual labor that goes with a house
9. Eat whatever you want--just know that you are usually doing it alone
8. Parenting choices are not up for debate-piano lessons--done, not playing tackle football--done and done, however, know that you are on the sidelines by yourself amongst other traditional family units and it is isolating and suffocating all at once
7. No one steals the covers in the middle of the night--but there also isn't anyone else to check out the noises in the middle of the night, or change batteries on smoke alarms that go haywire, or shovel the snow "one last time" before bed.
6. Sleep in as late as you wish--as long as you are up before the kiddos and dog, because there is no one else to corral them into something more useful than making "squirrel soup" in the kitchen while you snooze (seriously, don't's far worse than it sounds, I promise!)
5. Schedule parent teacher conferences to accommodate only one schedule--although there isn't another person to help you remain sane while dealing with a bureaucratic system that is failing your child (and the majority of kids in that classroom) I strongly suggest calming techniques that don't look passive aggressive, don't cross your arms or clench your jaw...let me know if you find something useful!
4. Your brothers step up and do things with you and your kiddo--but then they get mistaken for your husband--AKWARD!
3. Vacation wherever you want-provided that you can afford it on one salary and it takes you to a place that feels "safe" for a woman and child by themselves, and that you can schlep all of the luggage that you need by yourself and still manage to keep a free hand to hold onto your small child because the thought of letting go of the hand of a five year old in an airport is enough to make your heart stop!
2. Pick the redbox movies, DVR settings and shows to watch all on your own-all the time-know that death/dying/visits from the grave are very "en vogue" right now and will remind you that life is not fair 
1.  You don't have to share cuddle or movie time with your kiddo-but know that there is a big void where there once was three and now there are two. It is an icy elephant in the room that you and your kiddo both feel at times
Ok, maybe most of these things aren't so great---but hey, we all have to try and find the positive at times right? What I can tell you is that even though it is horribly unfair and lonely to walk this path alone, there are bright spots--you just have to focus on finding them and hold on to them for dear life.
- See more at:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Memories and Maps

This weekend my cousin and his family posted that they were at a restaurant.  The map showed up in my Facebook feed and it stopped me in my tracks.   They were a few miles from the accident site. 

After all these years, seeing the coordinates on the map still caused my heart to stop.  All I could think of was how close their beautiful family was to the site that shattered my family.  It was a Sunday midmorning.  They were out as a family.   I knew in the rational part of my brain that the similarities ended there--but my mind played the "WHAT IF" game.  And as if that wasn't torture enough for me, I started having flashbacks of the accident. 

I texted them to have safe travels home--I am sure that they probably knew why--all of my family knows where the accident happened.  

I spent the rest of the day telling myself that everything would be fine for them.  I knew that lightening doesn't strike twice in the same place so to speak.   In all honesty, I think it was just seeing the street name after all these years.  It isn't like I have forgotten-but sometimes the reminders just reach up and grab me.

The accident played through my mind for the better part of the day.  It took all of my concentration to focus on today, on the here and now.  I did but this time it was harder and I am not quite sure why.  I know that it is ok and I know that there are  some things will always be hard--perhaps I should just learn to expect the hard every once in a while.   

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Family Trip

I am packing us up to head out of town for spring break.  It has been a rough two weeks with Munchkin being sick and work being busy. oh and me having a broken wrist...makes typing kind of hard to do efficiently!  I honestly haven't had time to really plan or pack. 

I realized tonight as I was running through my lists in my head, that exactly six years ago to the day, the three of us were packing up and heading out of town for our first family weekend.  We were excited to be a family of three taking a trip for the first time.   If you are following me, you likely know that it didn't end well at all...(see here)

There are times where it still seems surreal everything that happened.  Then there are times where I feel like I am in a dream.  Like tonight, getting ready and realizing that I really am in this alone.  We are a family of two. 

I am having a hard time putting my feelings into words.   In ways it feels like the crash was eons ago and happened to someone else.  Some poor girl had her life shattered on the side of the road.  When I look at how far I have come, it really feels like it was someone other than me. 

I remember the broken feelings and I remember how much they hurt, and I take a breath and focus on my life now.   My life is not bad, in fact it is far better than I imagined that it would be.   There are parts of my heart that are still broken and shattered, but they are overshadowed by the parts of me that are grateful. 

So, as I approach the "angel-versary" as it is commonly called, I will focus on the positive and the grateful.  I will focus on the fact that I was loved well and that Munchkin was cherished by two parents even though I am the only one here.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Donna Day-Childhood Cancer Happens, you can help!

Several years ago a friend of mine emailed me the story of a woman that was choosing hope every day.  She took the time to write the story of her daughter's life.  Many of us chose to read.  Many of us cried.  Sometimes Donna's story was hard to read, but read it I did.  Later that year, I was listening to the Lurie Children's telethon waiting to hear another family friend speak, and I head Jeremy and Sheila.  

Donna Hornik's Storysong

Today all over the web bloggers are coming together to write about Donna and ask you to help fund childhood cancer research.   Many people would lay down in the face of tragedy.  Not Mary Tyler Mom!  This family continues to do amazing things even though they lost their child.   Their family chooses hope everyday. 

I can't imagine, nor do I want to even consider what losing a child looks like.  Tragedy can touch anyone at anytime, that lesson fate has taught me well.  What I haven't learned is how to reach out to others in loss, this is a lesson that MTM can teach me and I am all ears!  (Actually, MTM is one of the people who encouraged me to write my blog--so for all 6 of you that read my words--thank her and Laura!)

The Donna's Good Things St Baldrick's fundraiser is coming! 
Donna's Good Things St Baldricks March 29th

Oh and What is Donna's Good Things?
An organization that honors a CHILD by doing good things that 4 year old Donna never had the chance to do.   It is amazing and is a labor of love!  

So what can you do to help a family "parent" a child who has died? Well for this family, they are looking for donations.  The money you donate to specific pediatric cancer research could help someone you love. 

So, in that respect please:

  1. Donate in support of the Donna's Good Things head shaving event for St. Baldrick's. Click here for details or to donate.
  2. Purchase a St. Baldrick's "Super Heroes Save Lives" t-shirt featuring Marvel characters Iron Man, Spider Man, Captain America, Thor, and The Hulk. All t-shirts sold through February 28 are credited as support from Donna's Good Things. The t-shirts can be seen and purchased here.

Piano Teacher

Robert was a piano teacher.  I can remember the little kids and their parents coming through our door to meet him.  The families would interview him, but he was also interviewing the family.  He would ask to make sure that the child had a genuine interest in music.  He wanted to instill a lifelong love of music in his students.  To him, it didn't matter if they took piano for one year or ten as long as they loved music.  He was not one of those teachers that demanded hours of practice each week-although ironically, most of his students did practice a lot.  They flourished under him.  I saw timid small children develop stage presence and confidence. 

Since he died, his piano has sat silent.  It haunts me, I don't play it because every time that I do, I end up in tears.  Munchkin however, has free reign.  He can play it whenever he wants.  I have taught him to not bang or kick on it when he was very little so he sits on the bench and plays the keys.  He loves to explore the sounds that the keys make.  He is absolutely intrigued by the tuning process and will sit and watch the piano tuner when he comes.   My heart aches with the things that Robert misses on seeing.  Keep in mind as soon as he could sit up, Robert had him on the piano bench next to him.  Robert would play and Munchkin would imitate him at four months old!

When Munchkin was 2 and 3 he took group piano classes in his Montessori school.  He loved it and did very well.  He was reading already so he mastered things much faster than other kids.  He was young so I didn't push him right away into a teacher, but for 3 years I have been on a quest for the "perfect" teacher for us. 

I have interviewed more than I can count.  Some use a method that I just don't care for-and since he reads very well, isn't necessary.  Others won't take a kid until a certain age, regardless of the innate desire of the child...nope that rigidity isn't what I was looking for.

One of the biggest obstacles is finding someone who doesn't have any preconceived notion of Munchkin in that he is our child.  Do I expect that he will have a love and talent for music, ABSOLUTELY!  Do I wish that to be held over him and have him held to a different standard than his age peers...NO WAY!  Why is this an issue--we live in a very small town, many of the music teachers that are well known taught either my husband or myself OR took lessons from my husband 20 years ago.  That is a mighty high wall for a six year old! Couple that with my desire to not drive 45 minutes round trip to one of the colleges and it is difficult to say the least.

After years of talking and interviewing, I found a person who has no associations with the local schools and therefore didn't know us.  She is FABULOUS!  She and I exchanged email questions for a few weeks.   We spoke on the phone for over an hour.  She uses a method series that I was unfamiliar with, but was kind enough to lend me the books so that I could review it myself (it is new to the market after Robert's death, but I really do like it! I also like the fact that Munchkin won't be reusing any of "daddy's music" and will have his own books--hopefully holding his own identity in music!)  We were on a waiting list for a spot to open up.  I had been on that list for several months.   One day, Munchkin asked if he could learn piano again, and she happened to call me that day to say she had an opening!

He started lessons with him a month or so ago.  He loves it.  Every Friday night he gets to go and "play games" while I listen.  He responds well to her and she just loves him.  I can see how well she treats and stretches her students to learn.  It is comforting for me to see him flourish!  I am glad that instead of bringing heartache for the both of us, it is something that Munchkin is thoroughly enjoying. 

She teaches to HIS style, which is something ROBERT was always doing and clearly differentiated him in the marketplace.  Munchkin's teacher has figured out that he loves creativity and he is learning the fundamentals through improv and games.   I could not have picked a better fit for him!   I am grateful that this woman was placed in our lives and will hopefully help me to help Munchkin develop his own love of music!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Looking for the Beauty

We are having a record breaking winter in terms of snow fall. 

I LOVE SNOW.  Seriously, I used to gripe and complain and tell Robert every year how much I missed snow.  I love the looking at a snow globe out the window. 

Now that I work at home, I don't have to worry about driving in it, or more specifically, I don't have to worry about who was driving next to me or around me. 

When I look at my facebook feed, it is full of moaning and groaning about mother nature, winter, snow and ice. 

I get it.   People are tired and want to fast forward to spring. 

Here I am still enjoying the snow.   I have taken a different approach.  I have been taking this opportunity to admire the beauty of snow. 

In the past I had seen pictures of single snowflakes and I always admired the beauty of them.

This year I have started taking the opportunity of all of the snow to start snapping pictures of snowflakes. 

I am taking the time to capture the beauty of my circumstance.  I can't change the seasons, so I am working to find the beauty exactly where I am.  I am not complaining or wishing away the snow and cold.  I am deliberately taking the time to stop and look around.  

I am by no means a "good" photographer, however, I am pretty happy with the way the pictures that have turned out.    As I was sorting through my pictures this morning,  I was reflecting on this.  

Perhaps the secret to being content in any situation is to find the beauty around you.   Children are good at this.  My Munchkin is an expert at it.  I have him to thank for helping me to find beauty around me.  I am more observant because of him.

My challenge to you is to stop for just a minute and find the beauty around you.  I promise that it will not be wasted.  

Charlie Brown....

Robert had a signature song....whenever anyone asked him to demonstrate his piano "chops" he would break out into a rendition of "Linus and Lucy" it was one of his favorites to play and people usually knew the tune.  He would play it daily claiming that it made for a good "warm up" on the piano.  For years, that song has brought me to my knees in tears for no reason and I have been quick to shut it off.  It was too much.

Charlie Brown Christmas was on TV.  I watched it with Munchkin.  He loved it.  He did think that Lucy was very mean to Charlie Brown and he thought that Charlie should have told her to stop being a bully-but he loved the show.

On Friday night we had valentine's dinner at my parent's house.   As my dad flipped through the channels, I heard the soundtrack and I inhaled sharply.  Munchkin let out a "STOP THERE PAPA" and he was hooked all over again.   He watched everyone skip Charlie Brown when it came time for valentines and declared that the kids he went to school with were mean.   If he was there he would be Charlie's friend.  

One of the strangest things for me is that I get to watch Munchkin find joy in something that Robert and I used to.  He has such a deep belly laugh and I love to see him smile.   It reminds me of Roberts grin and it brings me joy.  For a fleeting moment, it feels as if my life is coming full circle.  The only thing missing is Robert.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Last night we were having one of our nightly conversations.  We were talking about the 10 Commandments as God's rules for our lives.   I paraphrased a few of them into things that Munchkin could understand and my translation of adultery was that "God says we can only be married to one person". 

Munchkin looked perplexed..."But mama, what if God wants you to get married again?" 


My head filled with a million thoughts...
-what if I want to be married again?
-would I ever have anyone as special as Robert again?
-Why am I even having this conversation with a 6 year old?
-Why on earth do I even have to explain how people are technically married, but not really married when someone dies?

My head was spinning with the speed and depth of my thoughts.  

I took a breath and answered him as best as I know how. 
"If God puts someone in our lives then there are things that mommy could do in the church to get married again and it would be ok"

Thankfully, for the moment he was satisfied with that answer, because honestly, I am not sure that I am up to discussing a Catholic annulment with him!

He went to bed without further exploration of the topic.

I however, was still reeling.   I am sometimes silenced by the thoughtful questions that he has for me, and I remind myself that I am his first and best teacher and I answer him in ways that do my best to nurture his curiosity and make him feel safe and valued for his questions.  My hope is that when he is a teenager, I can still be his source of information instead of having him get answers from the media. 

I realize that as painful as his questions sometimes are, that his curiosity is normal.  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Bravest Moment

I entered the following essay in a contest, while I didn't win, I really enjoyed writing it.  It gave me the perspective of how far I have come and examining my choices was actually helpful for me in the present moment.  While most of this story is not new to those of you who have been following me, I still think that it is powerful in and of itself.


In an Instant.

In April 2008, I made the impossible choice to move.   At the surface, moving doesn’t really sound impossible or brave, but brace yourself.   March 30, 2008, started as an ordinary and perfect morning.  We had been in the Hill Country of Texas for the long weekend.  We said goodbye to our friends and hit the road.   The sun was shining and it wasn't yet oppressively hot.

An hour or so later, my husband was killed in a car accident. In front of me.  I was in my car with our child by the Grace of God.   The accident decimated his car, and my car was totaled as well.  The sounds, smells and images of that morning are permanently ingrained into my brain.   I remember it like a choppy movie.  Some pieces I don’t remember.  Some pieces I wish I could forget.  

I remember screaming when I knew he was dead-long before anyone actually told me. I remember my car being assaulted by flying objects before I lost control.  I remember willing my car to stop and not go into the ravine.  I remember my brakes not working.  I remember seeing Robert’s car in my driver’s side mirror hanging shattered from the door of my car.   I remember looking back at Munchkin and seeing him hold his foot with one hand and waving with the other saying “bye-bye daddy, bye-bye daddy” while he smiled and laughed oblivious to the carnage that had just happened.  I remember not being able to get out of my car.  I remember getting out and pulling munchkin’s car seat and taking cover off of the road so that we didn't get hit by flying tires, front grills, transaxles, spraying gas and oil that other cars were driving through before emergency personnel were able to close the street.  I remember looking at the responding officer and thinking he looked like a child as he gingerly cleaned my husband’s blood and shattered glass from his wallet before he handed it back to me.    I do remember a friend being let through the barricade to stand by my side.  I remember praying.   I don’t remember crying, at least not then.  I remember feeding my child, on the side of the road overlooking my husband’s mangled car and body.   I was hours from home in the middle of nowhere with two totaled cars.  Most of my family was 1400 miles away.  Luckily my aunt and uncle were only a few hours away-they came and retrieve us. 

In the following hours, days and weeks, I did insurmountable things.  I donated my husband’s organs.   I made phone calls to tell people that Robert was dead.   I planned a funeral. I planned a wake.  I chose to ignore people who were being mean and spiteful.

I slept alone for the first time in 9 years.

I unlocked the door to our house realizing that Robert would never be there again.  EVER.  I marked my 32nd birthday and our wedding anniversary.   I marked Munchkin’s first cupcake, the first meeting with my siblings and aunts and uncles and cousins-without Robert by my side.  I stood in a funeral home surrounded by chaos and sobbed.   I fainted in my kitchen.  Fairly certain I passed out at the wake, although I don’t remember much.   Well, except my 11 month old son trying to jump out of my arms and into the casket saying daddy, daddy over and over again.  All he wanted to do at the end of the wake was jump into there with Robert.  He looked at him quizzically, I am sure he thought that he was just asleep or playing a game.  That qualifies up there near the top of the most heartbreaking things I have even endured.  

None of those things, while they took fortitude were inherently brave.  They were things that simply needed to be done.  While they were hard, and heartbreaking and traumatizing each in their own way, they don’t hold a candle to brave. 

My bravest moment came weeks later.   I stood in our living room.  My eyes traveled to Robert’s chair.   I looked at the curio cabinet that he had given me filled with angel statues.   I rocked my son in my arms and I looked at our picture wall.   The wall held pictures of memories and snippets of time that were so happy.   I could see that the life I had planned was no longer.  With the screech of tires and shattering of glass, the planned future in our house was ripped from me.  There was no going back.  I would never lead the life that we PLANNED to have.   I would never grow old with him.  I would grow old, but he will forever be 33 years old.  I looked at the kitchen and saw the tile that we installed ourselves.   I glimpsed around and saw where he SHOULD have been.   

I decided then and there, that I would pick myself up and move forward.  I would do everything in my power to provide a life for my child and I would do it in spite of tragedy.  In that moment, I made the decision to go back home.   

Days later, I got on a plane with a one way ticket and headed home.  I took what I could carry and surrounded myself with family.   It was quite possibly the one of the hardest things that I did.  I made the choice to leave our house, the place where we built our married life.  The place that we had called home for nearly ten years-I chose to walk away and rebuild on the other side of the country.  I knew if I stayed, that it would be much harder for me to dig myself out of the depths of despair.    Now it hasn't been easy at all, but I do think that it was one of the key points in my journey. 

That decision was pivotal for me.   Being able to be in close proximity to my family afforded me the support that I would need to rebuild my life.   There were plenty of memories of us here as well.  We both went to school here and lived here before we moved to Texas.  In the following months, I would get a job, and list my house for sale.  

Even though I had already made the decision to leave and sell our house, actually doing it was another story.  It took me several months to draw the courage to head down there to pack up.  Mom and Dad stayed behind with Munchkin, but my siblings, they came, and they brought spouses and friends.  And my Godmother, she left her child home and came too.  Eight of us worked for a week straight cleaning and packing.  Whatever couldn't be packed-was sold.  I sold off our life, because I wouldn't have a house anymore, I didn't need stuff.  While that sounds logical, I assure you it was heart wrenching.   I walked around my house and sobbed, often uncontrollably.  I knew in my heart that I would never again have a place that both of us would call home.   I sold our bed.  I sold his clothes, I sold our furniture.  Essentially, I took what fit into two pods.  The criteria was-if I would be heartbroken because something could not be replaced then it got packed.  If I could go buy another one if and when I ever bought a house again, it was sold.  

I fought through nights of no sleep, followed by flashbacks of the accident on the rare occasion that I did fall asleep after my son’s midnight feeding.   It got to the point where I could only fall asleep with the TV on…it was pathetic-but at 6 am when I got up teary and bleary eyed to go to work, I could have breakfast with my father.  If I needed to go to the cemetery and scream and yell and cry on the way home, my mom or dad would pick Munchkin up from day care.   I fought HARD to put the memories of the accident behind me.  I focused on our time together and happy memories and creating a happy life for Munchkin and myself.   I sought solace in the sand and waves of my parent’s beach house for that summer.   I chased Munchkin on the beach and took long walks with him.   As I watched the waves wash over the sand, I could feel them soothe my broken soul.   In the coming years, I would excel at my job, learn to live on our own again and now I have purchased my own house.  

In spite of the tragedy of losing my husband, best friend and soul mate, I have been able to pick up pieces and put our life back together.   If I hadn't made the choice to cut the ties to a house that was no longer ours, I don’t think that I would be where I am today.   

Monday, January 6, 2014


It is FRIGID here.  I mean really, really cold.  Setting record lows for the thermometer before we even talk about the wind chill. 

Yes, I know it is winter in the Midwest.   And yes, I actually like winter. 

What I haven't liked for the last several years is the necessity of taking my kiddo out in the cold to daycare or somewhere and then having to go into work. 

Well, now, I can sit at my desk in my office and Munchkin can play in the toy room in his jammies.  We are relatively toasty and we don't have to subject his lungs to the frigid air! 

School has been cancelled for two days which means an extended Christmas Vacation.  It also means that I didn't have to take him out to have someone else watch him.  In fact, I am not sure he has been out of jammies in a few days...he has a strange aversion to socks but likes footie jammies--therefore I know he is nice and toasty warm. 

Our heat is BARELY keeping the house tolerable...the thermometer read -17 today and the windchill was -47.  Yes I meant to post negative numbers.   Can you imagine taking a child outside in those temps? Previously I would not have had a choice.  If I was still at my old job today, I would not have had a choice-they didn't close even though the state of Illinois was declared a disaster area.  

I cannot explain the gratitude that I have for our circumstances.  

I really thought that I would never be so fortunate.  I am grateful.  

Growing Older

Many people in this world bemoan their birthdays.   Some pretend that they are turning 21 or an anniversary of some other lower number.   I must confess, I never really understood it-even before Robert died.  

Now however, it irritates the crap out if me.   In my mind you are lucky to be here to celebrate a birthday!  You have been given the gift of another day, week, month, year with your family and from where I sit, that is not to be squandered. 

Several weeks ago, Munchkin was on a kick of figuring out how old everyone was.  He was asking about years people were born in and doing the math of their birthdays for both 2013 and 2014.  It was cute-at least until he wanted to calculate how old Daddy would have been.   It was a sucker punch that I was unprepared for. 

Robert would have been 39. I should be well on my way to planning a BiG 4-0 party for him.  I should be having loads of fun ribbing him about his hair getting grayer. That's what we should be planning for this year.  

Instead, he will forever remain 33.  Frozen in time and denied those years with us.  He misses out on so much around here.  He never got to see munchkin write, or go to school, or sing, or navigate friendships.   He never got to see me with gray hair...although I have quite I bit that I swear showed up on the morning of the accident.   He isn't here to cheer on his boy in sports or academics or scouting or anything else.   He isn't here to cheer me on at all.  Nope, he didn't have he chance to celebrate another birthday.  

For the rest of the world that does have he joy of living another year, please don't pick me to complain to about it-quite frankly I don't want to hear it.   Please just be grateful for the one you have. Be thankful that you don't have my perspective.  I'm too busy trying to explain the inexicable to a child.   

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Acts of Kindness...

For those that don't watch the news, Chicago is experiencing a huge winter system.  While it is winter in the Midwest, and we should expect snow, this has been going steady for three days! 

My house sits on a corner lot, which means I have a lot of sidewalk to clear (and man am I glad I didn't get the other house I was looking at that had a driveway three times as long as mine!!!)  Last winter my snow blower bit the dust.  It was old and it came with the house and it couldn't handle more than an inch anyway.   I figured that I would get a new one, but I never got around to it.  I have been shoveling.  

Well, yesterday, my neighbor up the block literally came and cleared the entire block with his snow blower.  I was shocked and elated!  That meant that I only had to clear my driveway (and my parents house because they are out of town!)

I cannot tell you how much it means to find that people do little things for others.   It is a concept that I have been trying to teach Munchkin.  That you should do things that are nice for others and not expect anything in return. 

Fast forward to today, and I just went out to shovel and he cleared them AGAIN!  That means that even though it has snowed well over a foot today, I have not had to do my main sidewalks but once. 

To say that I am grateful isn't enough.  I am humbled to be a recipient of such kindness. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Perspective on Blessings

2013 was an interesting year for started out with Munchkin very sick and spending a week in the hospital in January.  Frozen pipes, broken snowblower, massive flooding, water in the basement and a myriad of other things.   It continued with major challenges at my job relative to family balance.  I was working way too much and traveling far more than I needed to be with a small child.   I prayed for guidance and direction.  I prayed daily--sometimes hourly.

I was at a NYE party last night and reflecting on this year.   There are a lot of people that had bad years.
Here is the thing, when I compare my current bad times, I have not found anything that can hold a candle to the trials that I endured in 2008.  There is not much on par with watching your husband die in front of you.

Time has given me the gift of perspective.   In years past, I probably would have been focused on all of the bad things that happened, I would have been bidding farewell to an expensive and exhausting year.

This time,  I am focused on all of our blessings.

1. I now work from home for a company that appreciates my work
2. Munchkin is much healthier and is growing a ton!
3. I have a house...something that I thought would be impossible after Robert died
4. My family is relatively healthy and I got to spend a ton of time with them this year
5. We got to take a week long vacation...just Nate and was amazing!

Several years ago, I could not fathom being able to say many of these things.  I am grateful.  I am very very blessed.

Life is not perfect by any means, but it is good and we are happy.   I still have days where I miss Robert dearly, but we have found hope and peace in our life.  I have found a way to move forward and for the first time I see myself as so much more than a widow.