update and dance and squirrels and such

Hmmmm.  Where to begin?  It’s been a crazy month life and lately, I haven’t even known what to write or say to do it justice.  It’s hard; it feels terrible.  The end.  However, life continues and so shall I.  In truth, there are just so many things I can not share over a blog.  There are so many things that are not public details and many, many things I am contending with that require I not state them publicly.  I have many mixed and layered emotions about life and to wing something out there without a bigger context could be harmful to many people, including my family and Terry specifically.  So what’s left to write?  Well, (insert long pause) I’m not quite sure.  I would have never opted to start a blog after Terry passed away, but since I have already been doing this for quite some time, closing up shop isn’t such an easy decision.  There may come a point in time when various things in life demand that I stop…my career, my family, etc.  We’ll see how it goes.

For now, I can say that I feel very lost on this journey of life.  I’m not lost in knowing who I am, but I’m not certain how who I am and what my life is fit in to anything.  They don’t fit into the life prior to Reece’s passing or after Reece’s passing.  And honestly, I’m exhausted.  I re-read my posts from months and even years ago and in some sense, it’s as though I can’t identify with the life I lived.  At times, I truly don’t know up from down when I read some of my posts.  However, I know they were written in truth.  I just don’t know what I think of some of my writing at this point.  Some things are encouraging and others seem like platitudes.  Dare I say some of it sounds naïve?

I’ve tried to explain to a few friends that after Reece passed away, at least we had the comfort of each other as our own little family.  We had immediate things we could lean into and rely on and we had each other.  Most importantly, we could rely on ourselves for daily functioning.  This situation has left very little comfort in any sense.  I’m grateful my parents have been willing to step in and incorporate my household into their home.  I’m grateful I have very close and trusted friends and advisors.  I’m grateful for the outpouring of support I’ve received.  I’m grateful that despite the difficult nature of losing a child, I know who I am and how I handle crisis because of it.  I am in a rare class that can honestly say, “I’ve been there before.”  (At least in some sense.)  But the day-to-day is quite raw.

There is no comfort in my marriage or my home.  There is no comfort in hearing things like, “You’ll do it for your kids,” or, “God can do anything.”  My kids feel overwhelming to me.  Yep, I will eventually do it for my kids, because I love them more than anyone on the face of the earth.  But right now, if I don’t do it for me, I absolutely can’t do it for them.  And I know God can do anything.  Anything includes things we also don’t want to have happen but do happen anyway.  I’ve had a lot of that type of “anything” happen, so that also doesn’t feel that great or encouraging.  I know it will get better, but better right now feels theoretical.

I’ve said a lot of swear words lately.  My mind is mush in regard to what I’m going to do going forward.  I have a lot to contemplate and that includes the knee jerk desire to try to fix everything and act from a fear response versus trust in God and His plan.  I know in my heart that he is good, but I’m just not sure how that’s going to turn out in my life.  It would certainly be nice to have some clear direction.  I’m not going to hold my breath.

The kids are doing as well as can be.  They are involved with a few things and I am attempting to keep them in a few of the activities they were in prior to this all happening.  Britta and I had our dance show earlier this month.  I say “our” because we were in a “Mommy-and-Me” class all year.  I took dance lessons as a child and I really thought it would be a fun activity for us to do together over the year.  Other than the times I had to remind her that we were there to dance together and it wasn’t just a class for me to dance and her to goof around, it did prove to be enjoyable.  The parents participated in the year-end show and, under the circumstances, I was not exactly looking forward to getting up on stage.  It turned out to be a fun and fairly normal thing for us to do together.  We danced to “Rubber Ducky” and it turned out to be pretty cute.  Here we are, pre-show, after changing in the car (ahem…every dancer must know this skill).

Dance show! Dance show!


One final thought.  I’m taking some liberties in this post and allowing some pretty raw feelings to come out.  Before you get too depressed and decide to never read the blog again, let me disclose my previous statement, “I know who I am and I know how I handle crisis.” I truly have been here before.  They aren’t the exact same circumstances, but there’s enough overlap.  Had I not walked through those things, I would not be able to confidently state that it will get better.  And it will.  But it is a process and this one, unfortunately, is even messier than the last.  There is more to clean up and it requires perseverance and time.  One I feel short on and the other feels excessive.  I’ll let you decide.  Additionally, there are incredibly uncomfortable feelings of depending on others for just about everything.  But seriously, there are bright spots and they will continue to increase.  It feels totally ridiculous to come out here and say life is wonderful and every day feels better than the next.  It isn’t and it doesn’t.  That’s part of this.  That’s what it is like two months into this process.  That’s why I’m exhausted.  BUT–it will eventually feel a whole lot different.  If the blog stays up, perhaps you’ll feel you can read it long enough to see those bright spots again.  It’ll happen.  If you can’t stick around, that’s fine too.  Regardless, should you happen to run into me somewhere remember–I’m just a normal person like anyone else.  Just a squirrel trying to get a nut.

one long winter

I’m certain I’m not alone in thinking that this has been a loooong winter.  After the first of the year, Terry hit the road for his new job and traveled extensively throughout January and February.  And of all places…to sunny California!  In the midst of his travel, my beloved grandfather passed away (which deserves its own post) and since then, we have battled multiple colds, a bout with a stomach virus (which forced Terry to come back early one week), a household full of strep throat, and one very bad case of diaper rash which required a special trip to the doctor’s office and a prescription for some homemade concoction from the clinic called “poop goop”.  Seriously, those were the words that were printed on the label.  The weather needs no explanation.  With three small kids in tow, there have been many days where I decided it wasn’t worth the risk or the effort to bundle everyone up and go some place.  There was one week in January where all three kids had colds, Jude was up every hour of the night for multiple nights, school was cancelled due to weather so we didn’t leave the house for the entire week and by Thursday afternoon, I managed to fall down the stairs with Scarlett in my arms.  Thankfully, Scarlett was not injured, but I was fairly banged up.  Scarlett was so upset by my own tears after falling and so stir crazy from being cooped up all week that she literally sat on my bed and screamed at Britta and me for 45 minutes.  She capped it all off by heading upstairs and biting (yes, biting) our coffee table out of pure frustration.  At that point, Britta turned to me with a blank look on her face and said, “Maybe Daddy is coming home today.”  To which I replied, “Nope!  Not today.”  All I can say is uff da.  The week ended with Terry missing a flight connection, not getting in until Saturday afternoon and flying out again on Monday.  By the time Terry got home all I could say to him was, “I’m thankful that we will never have to live through January 2014 again and that our kids will never be this young again.”  Yes, it has been one long winter.  I promise I am sharing all this for more than my own need to vent and get sympathy.

It’s been a trying winter and in no small part due to Terry being gone a lot.  We are very thankful for his new opportunity, but I have been out-of-it as far single-parenting while Terry travels.  Truthfully, it’s an entirely different group of kids for me.  He hasn’t traveled like this since prior to Reece’s hospitalization.  Needless to say, I am out of practice.  Not only am I out of practice, but without Reece here as my helper while Dad is on the road, I’m way off.  It certainly makes me miss him even more.  Sure, Britta is nearly the same age as Reece was when Terry was gone before, but it’s just not the same.  The whole scenario has revealed many shortcomings I have as a parent.  And these shortcomings have reminded me over and over again about a post I wrote on Like Olive Shoots entitled 51 Things I Hope I Never Do Again.  That particular post has easily generated the most traffic on the blog other than the posts around the time Reece passed away.  It was written early on in Reece’s transplant as he really started becoming ill from the cord blood.  I remember sitting in the hospital wishing I had the same issues and challenges as I did on any ordinary day of my life.  I remember feeling trapped in such an obscure life place with no way to fix any of it.  Life felt completely out of control.  I promised when we eventually were out of the situation, I’d be a better mother…more loving, more compassionate, more creative, more tolerant…more whatever.  I promised I would remember how hard it was in the hospital and that, no matter what, our challenges at home would not compare.  While they don’t compare, the demands at home are still great.  The day-to-day can still be tough.  And you know what I’ve learned in the last 20 months?  I’m really not any better at parenting than I used to be.  I’m different at some things and I’ve changed quite a bit personally, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t gotten any better at being a mom.  I have strengths and weaknesses just like anyone else.  But I had convinced myself during our time at the U of MN that I would somehow be better at “mom” after going through all of that.  Well, my perspective is now different and I’m still good at some things, but I need a lot of improvement on others.  The “needs work” category has never been more apparent than in these last cold months.

Actually, if anything, I may have gotten worse at the things I need improvement on.  I’ve realized that I’ve been pressed in many ways throughout these last few months and nothing surfaces more in pressure situations than the ugly things.  Or is that just me?  Maybe it’s just me.  When I’m pressed, I’m no sweetheart.  But I’m trying–wow–am I ever trying to work on these things.  In particular, I am trying to work on not having a short fuse with my children.  Most days are just fine but there are a few moments baked into the most random places where I really have to work hard to not lose my temper, with Britta in particular.  One such moment happened about a month ago.  We were having a great day and leaving the gym on yet another very, very cold morning.  Britta was dawdling as we got into the van (getting the kids in and out of the van is no small process with the three kids in car seats).  In my desperation to get her to pay attention and get out of the extreme cold (I could tell she was deliberately trying to disobey me by not getting into the van) I did not handle the situation well.  But even as I was strapping her into her car seat I apologized for losing my temper and told her as hard as I try, I’m not perfect.  I will always tell my children their only perfect parent is Jesus.  Period.  But it just felt yucky.  I felt like I should be past this–I should be beyond this.  I know what if feels like to wish you handled every situation well.  I have certain memories with Reece, in our every day life, that I wish I had handled better. Those memories, at times, torment me.  I know every parent has these moments; I’m not unique in this way.  I’m also not unique in avoiding them–they didn’t magically disappear after Reece passed away.  But I know the feeling of regret over them.  I know the feeling of grief over them.  Nevertheless, I have accepted that my other kids will experience my own faults just like Reece did.

As I got in the driver’s seat of the van I was deeply sorrowful over the way I handled myself with her.  Then the words came to mind, “…and love covers over a multitude of sin.”  Thank-you, God, for that.  And it’s so true.  It doesn’t make sinning any less wrong; I’m still working on many, many things that I need to keep in check.  However, I needed to remember that my loving actions greatly outnumber the not-so-loving ones.  Most importantly, I take those words to mean that Jesus’ love for me and my kids fills in the holes of my parenting gaps.  If nothing else, they will be taught that in my shortcomings, Jesus will never fail them.  I’m not trying to replace God.  That’s a big revelation for me, because it basically lets me off the hook of beating myself up over my failures.  I still grieve my failures with my children, but knowing I can’t be perfect helps.

Here’s the deal–there is blessing in seeing your child live their entire life.  I can speak to a much bigger picture than the average parent (one of the ways I am a different person and different parent than I used to be).  I know in a deeply personal way that Reece was not thinking of my parenting shortcomings before he coded or passed.  His last months with us demonstrated love and commitment and perseverance–both parent and child.  There was no heartache about time-outs or me losing my temper or the things that Terry or I did wrong in our parenting.  Our final exchange of words was tender and loving and that is a gift.  It’s also extended to me as grace in parenting my other kids to know that this Bible verse is true and that I’ve seen it in action.  It’s not worth beating myself up over a single moment in January 2014.  The picture is so much bigger than that; life isn’t lived in a single moment.  That is encouraging to me.  It releases some of the angst I feel over moments I had with Reece and also from the temptation to beat myself over similar moments with my younger three kids.

By the way, I’m so glad that I titled that post “51 Things I Hope I Never Do Again”, versus “51 Things I Promise to Never Do Again”.  Because I’m pretty sure I’ve done nearly all of them since I wrote it and that would just mean I broke 51 promises.  Lord, help me.

Birthday Season is upon us in our household.  Reece’s birthday is in two weeks.  I’m sure I’ll be posting about it soon.  If you think of us, we covet your prayers.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8