Category Archives: Grief

I'm certain you would have stolen this off my fridge to hang in your office at work.

Dear Dad,

I'm certain you would have stolen this off my fridge to hang in your office at work.
I’m certain you would have stolen this off my fridge to hang in your office at work.

I’ve been really tired for over a week now, and that makes me super-emotional and weepy. Sad things are happening all over the place, which doesn’t help at all because I tend to feel what the world around me feels. So, my choice of sad topics predominant in my life are:

1) Missing You
2) My baby going off to college next year

I’ve decided to focus on missing you, Dad. Because I’m still in denial about E leaving me.

I spent some time in December with your new grandson. I so wish you could have met him. And of course – C is as amazing of a Dad as we knew he’d be. He’s already putting you and I both to shame as parents. But we expected that, didn’t we?

I wish you could have met his wife. She’s one of those type of people we always talked about admiring so much. You could put her in a room with 10 strangers from 10 different walks of life, and after 30 minutes they would all leave with smiles on their faces from having found a new life-long BFF.

E is about to open his first non-school play in which he has a lead role. When you died, he hadn’t even started performing yet, something that always makes me sad. You would be so impressed with him. His face is on posters around town now, which I find so hysterical. Watching him perform blows my mind because he’s so laid-back about it. He doesn’t seem to have any of the Speaking In Public fears that you and I had.

I have been sticking with running now for almost two years. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been that long because I’ve made so many huge achievements in that time. 2 marathons, 2 50Ks, and so many other races I don’t even keep track anymore. But Saturday? Is a new first: A 12-Hour Run. I start at 6am and I don’t stop until 6pm. It’s 1-mile loops at a state park and my goal is to hit 40. Anything more will be cake. I know you’d think this was crazy because you thought C’s Ironman in 2005 was crazy. You respected these bizarro amibtions of ours, but never pretended to understand them.

Donnie is coaching a triathlon class now. He’s been competing for 3+ years, I guess, and he’s getting faster and more fit every day that passes. He did his first official sub-20 minute 5K a couple of weeks ago. I thought I was going to cry, I was so proud. I remember when you did that 5K with us in 2006 and you beat us both at about 25 minutes! We were both adequately ashamed of that.

I’m tired and weepy and I just miss you so much. I know many people have faith that allows them to believe their loved ones still watch over them, and I sometimes get violently jealous of that. The finality of death for the faithless is a bit depressing at times.

So I carry your memory and tell your stories. I keep you alive by building a love for space and sciene in my children (there are SO MANY YouTube channels that you would LOVE), or memories of hikes in the woods. I told Wes on his first hike that you would have been so proud to see how much he loved it, since I tended to be a whiny brat at that age. We play with the weirdo gadgets you left behind and look at your collection of dirt. We bundle up in the winter and I tell stories of us fighting over the coil heater in our home.

And I miss you every day. But no more than when I’m tired and needing a pick-me-up phone call to you.

I love you, Dad.


Missing Out

charlieblogI’ll be honest – sometimes I make mistakes that I am VERY glad my Dad is not alive to see. Like that one time I backed into the brick retainer wall lining my driveway. Or the time I almost got the utilities cut off because I forgot the pay the utility bill while we were in the middle of a show at E’s school.

Yeah. Those things? Completely fine with him never knowing about.

However – MAN – I wish he could see my oldest child rock the stage these next few months. I’ve always wished he could see E perform, the shows themselves would be amazing enough to wow him. But this year he has lead rolls! I really wish he could see those.

First up, next month? He’s Charlie Bucket in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”! How cool is that? A LEAD! His name IN THE TITLE!

He’s all cool and nonchalant about it – just going to rehearsals and learning his lines and his blocking – like…NBD. Whereas, every day I’m like, “HOW DID IT GO? ARE YOU HAVING FUN? WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY? WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART? HOW ARE THE COSTUMES? DO YOU NEED ME TO READ LINES WITH YOU?”

I…am NOT reserved. Obviously. I’m just screaming, “MY KID IS CHARLIE! AS IN – AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY!” from the rooftops. I’m the most embarrassing theatre Mom ever. Seriously. If you don’t believe me? Ask about my screaming being on the recording of a performance last year. After EVERY SONG you could hear me screaming in the audience. “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

I’m not saying my Dad would be that enthusiastic, but his mind would be blown.

And then…THEN…in March? He’s playing “Young George” in “Our Town” with Theatre Huntsville. His first non-school play! And another good part! I can’t wait for that one either. Although, I’m not a volunteer for that production so I doubt I’ll have the opportunity to embarrass him like I do at the school shows.

I would love for my Dad to see BOTH shows. He wouldn’t embarrass E at all. It would be a good counterbalance to his screaming Mom in the audience every night.

Of course – I’d also love for my Dad to meet his new grandchild, born in November. I’m grateful my kids all got to at least meet him, although Was doesn’t have any memories of him, being 10 months old when he died. But I’m glad I have pictures of them together – and I’m grateful for that, even when I’m simultaneously sad for the other things he’s missing.

That’s just part of life after death, the things we continue doing that the dead can’t see.

But YOU can see it all! If you’re local, come to the shows! Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is next weekend and “Our Town” in March!

(Sorry to end the blog plugging my kid’s shows. Had to lighten things up a bit around here!)


In Lieu of Prayer


I spent my lunch going over the news coming out of Newton, CT and I saw many tweets and Facebook statuses offering prayers to the victim’s families. I love that idea, that we can put out those kind of thoughts into cyberspace. I truly believe there is value to that.

But I don’t really pray like that, so those words coming from me would ring false. And they would carry a meaning I don’t intend.

So I stared at a Twitter box and a Facebook window wondering what to say. How do I convey my thoughts to the universe in hopes that they’ll reach the epicenter of tragedy in some small way.

I vow to spread joy and love in my own community today, and hope the ripples reach those in Connecticut that will need it in the days/weeks/months/years to come. I will not honk at the slow driver or scowl at the confused cashier. I won’t complain about a stranger or gossip about a friend. I vow to promote love and joy in a world darkened by tragedy today. And I will hug my children tight tonight, and count my many blessings.

I ended up writing the above statement on Facebook. (Corrected a typo before putting it here.)

I often feel at a loss without some sort of religious standard to lean on during times of grief. I have a hard time conveying my love and support to friends and family who need and want the soothing prayers of their loved ones. I want them to know I’m thinking about them, and that my heart is with them in their sadness, but the words, “I’m praying for you,” always carry a different (and often false) meaning than I intend. I feel like it’s dishonest and I want nothing but sincerity to go towards the people I’m trying to comfort.

Am I alone in this? I know many of you connected with me over your Spiritual-but-not-Religious status. When you want to send your sympathy, what do you say?

I fell back on my standard. The only thing I ever know to do when I want to say something like, “I’m praying for you.” I told the universe I’d hug my kids tight and be good to my neighbor and hope that the positive energy I create in the process someday reaches them when they need it most.

It’s all I know to do.

And I hope my words don’t ring empty. I hope I can keep them in my heart on my most stressful days. I hope I can think of the parents of the dead children in Connecticut and continue sending love and comfort into my community in hopes that the ripples of joy will some day reach them and warm their hearts a bit.

I’ll smile at the cashier. I’ll wave at the crossing guard. I’ll thank the teachers at my children’s schools and I’ll hug my friends when I see them next. I’ll put up the buggies at the grocery store and throw away the trash on the sidewalk. I’ll buy flowers for a friend and cook dinner for my family. I’ll donate food to the food bank and drop off jackets at the homeless shelter. I’ll do all of these things in the name of the hearts broken in Newtown.

Because – while I don’t have a prayer to offer – I still have a heart filled with love to light the darkness of those entrenched in grief and sadness.


Empty Arms

FLowersThere are many times in many days that my losses will creep up on me. But if it’s slow enough – I can squash it back down with a distraction or a re-direct. Daily, I feel myself thinking things like, “I wish I could go back to thinking about baby names.” But it’s a subtle, slow thought that I can push away before it controls my emotions.

Sometimes my kids do things that make me think of my Dad and I try to react with a smile and a warm memory before the pain in my heart reminds me of how much I miss him.

These slow pop-up moments are easy to process, to deal with, to push away.

But then – sometimes – they just jump up, smack you in the face, and rip out your heart.

Like when Nikki says, “I want to have a little sister some day.”

And I look at her and wonder Does she know? because the timing is so odd. But of course she doesn’t. And then she asks, Do you think you’ll have any more babies, Mom? And the crack in my facade goes deeper and my composure begins to shake. I take a deep breath and I muscle through.

Daddy and I would love to have more babies, Nikki. But it’s hard for my body to have babies. We worked really hard to have you and Wes and if that’s all we have, we’ll feel lucky.

And then I go to take out the half-full garbage. Just for a moment alone.

And of course the kids follow me out the door. Talking about the old sidewalk chalk and the bubbles and wondering when the leaves will be off the trees. All the while the dam in my heart is cracking underneath the pressure of my grief and all I want to do is sit down in my driveway with the bag of garbage in my hand and cry until I can’t cry anymore.

But I muscle on. There’s always plenty of time to cry. I’ve found through my latest foray into insomnia that the nights are long and lonely and offer plenty of room for tears to be shed. So I take a deep breath, I smile at my kids, and I know that I’ll spend time later crying for the children I’ll never hold.

Last night's 5-mile therapy session.

Not Something He Would Recommend.

Last night’s 5-mile therapy session.
I had my D&C one week ago today and I’ve already run 17 miles and have done 3 boot camp sessions.

Everyone keeps asking me what the doctor said about this stuff, running and exercise, and I kinda mumble a lot in the response and just say something like, “He said it was up to me, if I felt good I could head out!”

And that’s true! Kinda. What he really said is that I probably wanted to give myself a week for the bleeding and cramping to subside and then – if the bleeding had subsided – I could head on out.

But – what I told him was this: “I’ve run during my periods before and it really helps with the pain. It won’t hurt me to run if I’m still bleeding, will it?”

“No. But I wouldn’t recommend it.”

And I said, “Thanks” and did it anyway.

Because I know a LOT of times doctors give recommendations based on the “Majority Rules” type of guidelines. Whatever is good for MOST people is what they recommend because they don’t know their patients individually anymore. I love my doctor but he has no idea about my training habits or the shape I’m in. He doesn’t know how much my mental health relies on exercise. He doesn’t know that my sanity was already in a very precarious position after 4 weeks of anxiety with a high-risk pregnancy.

So I did what every good patient should do. I listened to him. I did some research. And in the end I made my OWN decision.

There are tons of good running forums I consult on a regular basis and I found dozens and dozens of stories just like mine. Runner who had a D&C. And every single one of them started back running (and felt better because of it) long before the bleeding stopped. The general rule was that they waited 3-4 days. So that’s what I did. And I don’t regret it.

Sometimes I’m glad I grew up never going to the doctor for anything. I didn’t take my first antibiotic until I was in my 20s. And then not again until 5 or more years later. At this point, I’ve probably still only been on antibiotics less than a dozen times.

It’s not that my Dad didn’t like or believe in doctors. He just grew up in a large family on a farm and they didn’t go to the doctor with every fever or after every puke-filled night.

Of course…that’s probably what kept him from getting his cancer diagnosis until it was much too late, which is why I’m not exactly like him. I mean, I don’t go to the doctor for every fever but if I’m feeling severe bone pain for weeks and months on end? You can bet I’ll stop by for a checkup.

Anyway…my point: I do everything my doctors say about 90% of the time. But this time? I knew I could branch into the zone of Things He Would Not Recommend. I knew it because I knew I needed it. And I knew that the pain and inconvenience I deal with even with my monthly cycle with Endometriosis and fibroids and cysts? Is not much different than what I’m dealing with now. And I’m so glad I’ve gone out because it has helped IMMENSELY. It has helped with the pain. (If I had the stamina to run all day, I would, it helps that much.) It has helped with my emotions. (I’m still a wreck. But I’m not feeling like I need to be medicated anymore! YAY!) It has helped with my grieving. (I really wish I had been a runner when Dad died. That’s for sure.) And if I had waited until tomorrow to get any of those bits of aid in my life? I would not be in a good place.

And I need as good of a place as possible right now.