It’s a beautiful day :)

This is the most beautiful day.  I opened all of the windows, and watered my flowers, and filled the hummingbird feeder. All of these moments…..I am trying so hard to take them in, and embrace them.

I don’t have many great days, but I have a lot of really great moments, and after this past year, that is something. I am eating healthier, exercising, and doing more fun things with the kiddos…..being more active is uplifting, and makes me feel better inside and out. My kids are always going to try my patience, drain my energy, and these autism meltdowns do break me down, but then I revel in my children’s laughter, encourage them to be outside on days like this, and hug and kiss them as much as humanly possible, even when they are rejecting me.

I feel changed, as if something has switched over in me. Loss, loneliness, bitterness, and exhaustion, have all been my demons, but I am working so tirelessly to  continue changing for the better.  I cannot wrap my mind around it……it feels as if I have missed so much all of these years. I was living in the shadows, and never even knew it. How does that happen?  Is it being the parent of a special needs child, that has taken my drive?  Feeling sorry for myself?  Ross dying suddenly, when he had so much light and positive energy ?

I am sappy, and tearful, and I love and adore my pain in the ass children.  I miss my friends, my family, and I miss having that special connection with someone, yet still being grounded and true to myself. I am a hot emotional mess, and am terrified of someone rushing in and taking away this new light, because everything is so raw still, but I love this feeling, and hope it doesn’t go away again. I am not dwelling on being alone anymore. It takes away the joy from these moments, and that dark place is so haunting and painfully addicting. Besides, what is meant to be, will be, and I have always believed that.  I will carry that with me.

That is all.  I wanted to post something positive for once. Thank you, everyone, for all of your support, prayers, and I love you all like  crazy.

Breaking Point

This morning Bailey didn’t want to go to school, so she took off running in the parking lot, screaming bloody murder, while children flinched and parents cringed for me as I broke out into a full sprint, before my first cup of coffee.  If this had been the first time, then I could write it off as a bad morning, but it was not, and this is my reality now.  Autism sucks, and only intensifies everything else that my little family has endured.

All I wanted to do was come back home and sit in silence, and feel nothing at all, but I have a million things pulling at me, and keeping me up every single night. My head is cluttered with What Ifs, self doubt, and more insecurities than any one person should have. Am I making the right decisions?  How long can I run on empty, when I’ve been depleted of almost everything that made me who I am.  What was it, that took my husband’s life while he slept, and was there anything I could have done, to have prevented this?  Did he die because of me??  Are my children forever scarred with the memory of him, laying there lifeless, as I pounded away on his chest and screamed for him to wake up?  How does life get taken away so suddenly, without warning, leaving you in this small, tight, suffocating bubble of isolation?  I have no answers, and maybe I never will, but I am trying, and surely that counts for something.

Everything is a battle now.  I am fighting to dig my heels into something that resembles a life.  I am fighting to parent our children in a manner that would make Ross proud, and at the same time, give me some peace of mind that they will actually be okay, and live emotionally healthy and productive lives. Fighting to let go of pride, and ask for help, and then fighting to actually get that help. Why all this fighting?  Why does everything have to be push and pull?  Why can’t someone walk up to me, and tell me that everything will be okay, and that good things are coming my way, and why can’t I believe it and embrace it?

A big, huge, and sloppy thank you, goes out to that mother that picked up Bailey’s backpack for me this morning, as I did the walk of shame, taking Bailey into her school, looking straight down at my feet. “You are doing great, mama”, she said, and I busted out into tears, because sometimes, it is all too much, and it builds and builds, until I am volcanic and have no control. And these are never my finest moments, though I can usually hold on to it until the kids are out of my sight.

I am tired of feeling isolated, sad, lost…..I am tired of staying up all night long, and letting these demons beat me down, and take me to dark places. I need more, and I don’t know how to get it. So I am reaching out right now, for any words of encouragement, solace……whatever you can give me, because I will take anything that you have, and I have surpassed my breaking point many moons ago.

#attheendofmyrope #throwmeabone

It’s Time To Let Go

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I am exhausted from all of the goodbyes to those I have loved.  I am exhausted from saying goodbye to my home that held so many dear memories for me and my children.  Tomorrow I will close yet another chapter.

But I am happy that I made my way back home, and that I soaked in all of the love, and all of the laughter, within those walls. I had to pack it all away, though, and take it with me, with my heart in a million broken pieces, as I frantically try to tape it all back together.  All I can do is put on a band-aide, and a smile, and maybe one day, time will have healed…..and this will all be bittersweet, and not raw.

What can you do, though?  Brush yourself off and trudge forward.  Try to search out little glimmers of hope in the smallest moments.  And remember.  Remember all of the glorious sunsets, baby deer peeking in my windows, the peaceful solitude that surrounded me, and all of the treasured stories of my childhood, and then my adulthood, when I fought my way back there, only to say goodbye yet again. Remember those I have lost….my husband, my mother, my Grandpa, and my precious furry babies. My lost friendships and lost “what ifs” and dreams that were too hard to reach.  I will remember how they were when all was beautiful, and life was grand.

So this is it, all bundled up tightly with brutal goodbyes and yesterdays, with only the memories to stew over in the late night hours when sleep won’t take me.

I have my babies, though, and we will find a different happy place, where we feel secure, and free to express our sorrow with abandonment. Laugh with no regrets or guilt. WRECKLESS laughter! Another home, another life, and hopefully, a renewed DIFFERENT happiness, where all three of us can find our own sense of security, and our own pathway to another chapter.

I take solace that another family will love this property as much as we did. They will be staring into the same beautiful evenings in awe, and be living their lives to the fullest, just as we did. I take solace in this goodbye, and though all of these goodbyes haven’t graced me with closure, this one has, and I am grateful for that.

#thereisalwayssomethingtobethankfulfor #herestonewbeginnings

I want popcorn

Here is a weekend morning, where I normally get up and make the kids pancakes, scrambled eggs, chocolate milks, or whatever the flavor is that morning. We appear to be a normal functioning family. But we are not a normal functioning family.

Bailey wants popcorn for breakfast. She hates pancakes today. Bailey is a nine year old girl, and very tall for her age. She is also very strong. She is on the autism spectrum, which changes the game completely, though there are many family members and/or friends who do not agree with how I parent her (or Reagan, for that matter!). And that is fine, because I am not this perfect mother, nor do I want to be the perfect mother, because that would be too much pressure to live up to. I am flawed, broken, and many times, I make decisions by the seat of my pants, instead of contemplating them in advance.

For me, for my family, and only for my family……my kids need a few minutes to collect their thoughts. They need to stew in their own words, and reflect on their behavior, which takes some time and patience. Threats makes them shy away, makes them defiant, and puts them on the fence, which does not sit well with me. I have my own methods that work for me, and that is all there is to it. And yes, I do get hurt often, but I do have a plan in place, and I am getting help, and that is a big deal for me, to accept external help. I have taken that first step in doing so.

If I cannot calmly explain to Bailey, how it is unacceptable to have popcorn for breakfast, and give her other more nutritious choices that she can pick from, then we have a meltdown. The meltdowns  can just be a few minutes of flying toys, and choice words, but they can also be the extreme, with hitting, throwing, and self harming.

Ross was always the one to grab her arms to make her stop swinging. He was always the one to hold her in place. Now that there is only me as the sole parent (not single parent), I have to ensure she isn’t hurting herself or anyone else, though it isn’t always in the cards to be fast enough, or alert enough, to keep her from hurting me. This is something that I have grown accustomed to, and I recognize that I should not have to. I make mistakes, yes, and many times, I fall victim to those mistakes.

Will I always ensure my children’s safely, above anything else? Most definitely. Will I threaten Bailey with no electronics mid-meltdown? No way, Jose.  After a meltdown, yes!

Mid meltdown threats sent her into a frenzy, where she cannot slow herself down, and her arms and legs are out of control. That is not a good place for any of us, and there is only one way to stop it.

Wherever we are…..we lay down, and I hold her arms and her legs the tightest, safest way possible. I let her break out her strongest screams, and squirm until she is absolutely exhausted. After some time, she finally quiets down, and we are both laying there, emotionally spent, and at times, physically sore. This is very consuming for me, as a parent, and I often struggle with the after effects. Families that do not have an autistic child will never understand, or relate, nor are they in any position to place judgments. Honestly, another family with an autistic child, should not place judgments, either.

Every child is different. Every family is different, and there is not ONE WAY to handle a situation. Every child and every family function differently, and they have to function with the dynamics of their bubble, not against their dynamics and bubble.

I did not let Bailey have her popcorn until she ate some bites of her pancakes and drank her milk, but I enforced this AFTER I laid with her, let some stillness pass, and spoke to her gently about how she was feeling, and that she is not allowed to speak to me in such a manner, that her behavior was not acceptable, and would she like to have another chance? Granted, sometimes this is very time consuming, and as a sole parent, my mind is meanwhile racing……I need to get laundry done, I need to pack their lunches, OMG my cookies, etc….but it is what it is, and it is how Ia choose to parent my daughter. She does not respond to threats or physical confrontation during a meltdown, like some children would, in normal functioning families. She does not respond well at all, unless she is in a calming state of acceptance, and this is only after she is held tight and still.

And there you have it, a look into our household, and a look into my daily battles of having a child with autism, and a child that I have tried may different tactics with, only to strike out, and escalate the situation with the wrong decisions. Like all other parents, I have grown and learned, and adapted my responses accordingly, and though it is not always a good outcome, it is the a solution that works for us.

So if I am not answering your texts, your facebook messages, or most importantly, if I am not answering my phone. There is a viable reason for this, and there are bigger matters that I need to attend to. Please do not assume that I am ignoring you, or that I am discounting what you need from me in that moment of your phone call. I am taking care of my children, and I am all they have now. Forgive me….please, if I cannot take care of your needs right then and there. And that sucks many times, believe me, because I love to make others happy and give them what they need, but this is my life now, and it is just how it is. Please be forgiving with me.

Thank you so much for all of your kindness, words of advice, and most of all, thank you so much for your support. It reminds me that I am not alone, and that something that I am very familiar with these days.

All I have learned

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I don’t want to post another sad, hopeless blog, but here we are. I send out my apologies for depressing or bringing anyone down, but this is what I am feeling, and I don’t know what to do with it all. It is bottled up to where I am almost suffocating from it. So here it is, all of it, so brave of me, to put it out there, and subject myself to judgement at every turn. But after all that has happened, maybe I don’t care what others think about me as much anymore? Because really…..being happy is all that matters, and I am hoping to reach that peak, as soon as I know that my kids are okay, and essentially happy.

My grandmother’s house is on the market and has had a million offers. I am not at all surprised, because I always recognized the value, from a sentimental standpoint and from a location, location, location standpoint. The offers came in like wildfire, and sent me stumbling backwards, because it all happened so fast, and I never had a chance to say goodbye to my home.

I haven’t had a chance to say goodbye to anyone, or anything, and yet, here I am, pushing and pulling myself from day to night, night to day, not sleeping or letting myself become too aware of all that has taken place.

Ross was a rock for me, always there and essentially, my best friend. One day he was gone, and it has been a downhill spiral of events for my children and I. And life doesn’t stop or slow down for you, so you have to keep shuffling your feet, no matter where your head or heart stay. And children…..how do they process that they will never see their father again? I don’t know how to protect them, and make them feel confident that I am here, when it is apparent, I could die tomorrow! I have learned from this. I am making plans, so that my children aren’t lost in this vicious cycle of LOSS. I will NEVER have them feel this way…..alone, isolated, and with this cold reality in their hearts, that anyone can die at any given moment. No wonder they are holding on so tight. No wonder they stay close at night, and wander looking for me, when I am up, and I can’t sleep. No wonder they panic if I disappear from their sight. Why haven’t I comprehended their loss to the full extent?  Is this the time to be enforcing strict rules? Maybe, but slowly, and not overnight. And I made lots of mistakes, in my own world of grief, and I owned those mistakes, and I am back pedaling, and trying SO hard to undo any of that damage. My kids are really all that matters, now more than ever, and I can’t imagine putting anyone or anything before them.

When Reagan snaps at me, or is moody when I pick him up from school, I remember……today was Donuts with Dad. When Bailey is in full fledged meltdown mode, and starts swinging and punching out of frustration, I may get hurt, but I remember……her dad isn’t coming home to her, or hugging her and tickling her as he walks in. He is just gone, and Bailey thinks everyone she loves will die now. My heart is broken into a million pieces, because my babies feel this tremendous pain. I would do anything in the world to make that go away for them, but I can’t, and I think that is the hardest part of parenting. Not being able to protect your children from pain.

This downhill spiral of events has come fast and furious, and it has been brutal and unforgiving. My husband DIED. He didn’t leave me, or disappear one day, he DIED. This leaves me with a confusing mess of emotions, but mostly fear and sadness for our children. Is it really true, that he has gone to a better place?  Why is that so hard to understand?  Was it so bad here with his family? I can’t imagine he would have wanted to be away from his children. Never.

And then I have to leave home, which was the right decision, given all the circumstances, though it has been a slow and painful crumbling of everything that I have come to know and love. My Grandpa watched birds and squirrels with his binoculars in the back room. He would water the bird baths every morning in his Gilligan hat. My Grandma would sit outside almost every evening, staring into the sunset. That same sunset that I stared into years later, as I found my way back to this home, as an adult. But every night the sunsets were different, and every night, they spoke different words to me. They brought me peace, solitude, and they brought me to tears, happy and sad, but mostly happy, because I was finally home. I can’t believe that I will never see those sunsets again.

Bailey said her first sentence in this home. SIX words, all at once, and without skipping a beat. I wasn’t prepared for it, and I had to catch my breath and process what had happened. Had she just said, “I had cupcakes, they were yummy”, or was I dreaming?  But she did. She TALKED to me, as if it were nothing, but it was EVERYTHING, because all of the days before, she would get off the bus, and I would take her hand, and tell her that I missed her, and did she have a good day? And she would mumble or smile, sometimes grimace, but she would NEVER tell me about her day. But she did that day, right there in the driveway, and she did from that point on, moving forward. It was the most beautiful day ever.

Reagan had his video games and love of sports. He knew all the players names, and their records, and his dad and him would talk about sports non-stop. Playing video games was their thing, and talking trash to each other. I can hear Reagan’s giggle right now, and the way his dad would taunt him, and sometimes even fall asleep during a game, and still make basketball shots! How?? They laughed so hard during these games, that Reagan would wet his pants. I never made any negative comments about how often it was, these video games, because Reagan was so HAPPY. He doesn’t have anyone to play with now, but an online friend that he never sees in person, and though he laughs with this boy, and they enjoy each other’s company, it will never be the same. All in our home. The video games, laughter, barking, and bonds, all working together in a chaotic manner, but a manner that made sense to us. All of that, gone overnight, and now the kids and I are in another home that is unfamiliar, and though they are acclimating, I cannot leave my home, because it is forever tattooed in my soul……where I lived as a child, and then again, as an adult, for seven wonderful years.

And it was all sentimental, sure. My mother and I had laid in the hammock in the back yard, and shared some memories of when we were together, and it was comforting to have her so close, and for her to be so nurturing towards me. It was pleasant and warm, and just RIGHT, like a real mother and daughter. And that was my last memory of her, in my home. She was on life support after that. My grandpa had died at the VA, and I was curled up in bed with him, despite the looks from the nurses, because they wanted to take his body. I had left home with my Bandit, because she was sick, and I had waited too long to put her to rest, because I was being selfish, and couldn’t let her go. I remember Ross kissing her face, as he fought to not cry, and then he turned away as I walked out the door, because he could bear to see her disappear out the door. That dog was the vain of our existence, and yet we loved her to the ends of the earth.

So many memories. I still cannot register, that I will not be back there. I won’t be feeding the deer and their babies, feeding the stray cat, and all of the wildlife critters that made our house their home. I cannot register that I won’t be sitting next to the pool, watching my children splash, and watching my Cowboy huff and puff in a small circle around the pool, barely making it back to the steps, to catch his breath. I cannot believe that I HAVE to register all of this loss, and yet, those hits kept on coming. There was a terrible dog fight, and my Star was injured to the point of being in shock, and I went racing towards the vet, knowing the whole time, that this was it, and I was having to let her go. Had Ross been there, maybe she would still be alive, and no one would have gotten hurt, but there I was, arms and legs all splayed out, keeping each dog off of one another, not even feeling the teeth on my neck or hands, because it didn’t matter, in all of the frenzied turmoil and my frantic yelling at the kids to close their door. And having to leave my Star’s body in a rush back to the kids, and never really grieving for her, my firstborn dog, that comforted me during some of the saddest points in my life, and stayed with me with such an undying loyalty.

I have learned everything there is know about life, what I want, and how I want to live. I want there to be no doubt, that my children feel protected and loved, and at the same time, feel confident to embrace others with kindness, and to be forgiving with themselves, when they have fallen. I have learned that every single day is a blessing, and every moment should be remembered and appreciated. I have learned that loss is crippling, catastrophic, but you have to take the punches, and push through deafening tears, so that you can find strength for your children, and for a completely different life, that honestly, you are terrified of.

Be grateful, appreciative, and don’t take anyone for granted. Pause, and remember…..hold on tight, because life is so damn fast. It can all be over, literally, in the blink of the eye. Thank GOD I have pictures, blogs, and thank GOD I have MEMORIES. Happy memories. That really is all that matters, is fighting to be happy, and fighting to remember.

 

 

All In A Days Work

It still happens, where I wake up in the mornings, and that coldness hits me hard. I am by myself, all of the weight is on me. I am not home, but in a house. I am not whole, but I am broken. This is my life now.

So I do all that I can, and get up, and start fighting the battles, like so many other parents. I have scars from the loss of a mother, a grandparent, a best friend, and a husband, and it is evident that I am struggling to plant my feet into the ground and hold on to everything that comes my way. It hurts me to the core, that I never related to these women, and men, who have stood alone, with their children looking to them, for consistence, meanwhile the parent gives them every ounce of energy they can muster, until finally, the day is over, and the sky has turned black, and instead of resting their weary bodies, they are awake, and so very aware of the silence.

With the weight of the world, HOW do they push through the days with such an insatiable amount of perseverance and strength? All in a day’s work, they say, but being a parent is the hardest job in the world. A parent that battles workplace drama with long, tedious hours, and comes home to vigorous routines, or those parents who are grieving inside, but pulling together the strength for those watchful eyes. And a parent that has to give even more for their children with special needs, when they are already tapped out emotionally and physically. Parents are expected to honor and embrace parenthood with such an allegiance and loyalty, and just because they don’t have a partner, doesn’t give them a free pass.

For the love of your children. Because you have no choice. Because no one else will. Or maybe it has become a part of who you are, to be needed and wanted, and there is no other way to live. Because it is the right thing to do, and NOT being present for your child is not something that has ever crossed your mind.

I never thought that I would be starting over at age 46. I was already trying to catch my breath, and now I am searching desperately for more oxygen, energy, and sanity, but I am a mother, and I am all that they have. They are all that I have. It is the three of us, in this twisted world of loss and confusion, and we are fumbling with our daily tasks with such a frustration, because we lost a big part of who we were in our former life. We lost our groove, direction, and confidence, and never reclaiming it, but having to remold and recreate it, into something different, foreign, and all at the same time, feeling frightened that we will never be reborn, and we will just disappear one day.

I need my second wind. I  have failed miserably with so many aspects of this grieving process. It was too soon for a vacation, but I forced it on my children. I expected my 9 and 10 year olds to grow up overnight, after I had coddled them to the point of dependence, and I was bitter when my days grew brutal and long. I was wrong, and I will never NOT own up to what I have done, only learn from it, and make tweeks and changes, until my new normal is comfortable and stable. Until I have something that resembles a life. Until my children have clarity and acceptance of their new life, and they can feel that laughter and energy deep down, and they can move forward without hesitation.

My mind wants to push past all of this pain, and be done with it, but I have been doing it all wrong. There is no getting past this, only getting through each hit, taking each blow, and then getting back up again. Because that is LIFE, and life has more challenges than gifts, sadly. And it does get harder to treasure those gifts and moments, and hold them tight, until your knuckles are white, but you do it just the same.

So here I am, blogging all of my insides, open and raw to judgement, and subjected to criticism from others who do not relate, or understand my journey, and struggles to become another person altogether. And I don’t need them to understand, just KNOW that I am TRYING. This is my “counseling”, and every other fiber of my being has been given to my children, who have attached their very existence to me, who take support and emotional welfare from me, and reach for me, when they hopelessly miss their dad. It is where I am supposed to be, and where I am meant to be, and everything else has to wait, and that is okay.

It will all get figured out in time, and I am hoping the days will get easier in time, with all the daily rigorous flows of LIFE and all of it’s unexpected ups and downs. It is when I STOP to take it all in, that it overwhelms me, and takes me to that breaking point, so I don’t stop, and I don’t let it in.

Maybe one day I will wake up with peace in my heart. I will feel grounded, and I will look back and KNOW that I have done a stand up job with my children and have no regrets. If my children are confident, kind, and HAPPY, then I will know I have done everything that I can as a parent. If I find my own happiness along the way, and it is constant and reliable, even better, but I am not looking for it.

I hope that others learn from my experiences. Life can be taken away so brutally, with words unspoken, hidden secrets untold, and life not even liven yet. Take a step back and look at what you have. Please.

Letting Go

Letting go is coming to the realization that something is not what you thought it once was, and letting go of that dream. Letting go is the cold reality of knowing you can never go back to that place of truth again, that moment in time where you felt truly loved, or when you felt truly at home.

I am not a fan of this “letting go”.  I am all for holding on, and riding it out during the worst storms, but there are some things that are not within my control, and that breaks my heart, and it breaks my spirit when I look to my future, and the future of my children, and my children’s children.

My husband died, and I had no control over that. I do not have control over how I grieve when I am alone, but I do have control over how I react when our children are watching me, or when I choose to not show someone how truly broken I am. This constant, exhausting, daily denial that everything is “okay”, as I go about my day, and do everything that is expected of me as a mother, because that is my role, and anything else that I may want, or may want to become, will have to wait. And that is okay, because I will always put my children first.

I had to leave my home. My grandparents raised me in this home. I raised my children in this home, and our family lived and loved in this home.  My grandma looked out into the beautiful sunsets every evening, as I did every evening, and they brought me peace and solace, but mostly, they brought me to tears for so many reasons. I was finally where I was supposed to be. Everything was as it should be. There is only one person in this world, that understood that to the core, and that person would have fought for our home, tooth and nail.

I had to buy another car. I walked away from the car that Ross and I bought together. The car we drove to the beach in, and laughed and joked, and sang stupid songs in. It was a part of us, just like our home, and just like our beautiful children, who are firmly holding on to any piece of their father that they can, but their fingers are slipping and they are panicking. They live in a bubble of disbelief.

I bought a home, and I bought a car, and I have these things, because Ross died. Ross gave me this new life, and I sit here, and I am lost, and still floundering about, not knowing where to go from here. But I have GONE many places, and DONE many things, physically. I took our kids on a cruise to the Bahamas, and though it didn’t feel much like a vacation, it was AWAY, and it was soothing, and it calmed my endless sobbing. At the same time, it revealed to me the realities that I am facing, such as loneliness, trust issues, and feeling like I am not strong or good enough to be a mother and a father. That confidence is dull and blurry some days, and then other days, I am rocking as Mom. The vacation reminded me that I really DID have a great guy, that could be trusted 110%, because I watched this portrael of a loving couple, with two gorgeous daughters, have their own delightful vacation. I was envious, and even a little bit angry. But then the force of it hit me, and this sweet wife wasn’t around, and her arrogant husband was flirting with young, drunk girls, and his daughters were tossed aside and didn’t matter in that moment. That wasn’t a loving couple, but it was a creation, like a fake Facebook profile, but with real pain and real heartbreak. It reminded me of the single life, and it reminded me that I didn’t want it.

It is all gone, but I am NOT letting go.  I can still see Ross, and feel him laughing at me, even mocking me, as he often did, and I can feel him reach for me, when I am hunched over, at my wits end. He is here, and even though it is not the same as having him physically, that is all that I have, and I will take it. I know there are many women out there, that have never felt loved, and I carry that with me, every morning that I wake up with pain in my heart, and every night that I toss and turn in bed, with all the worries rattling in my head. I carry that love with me, because it is all that remains. Love, and Mom, and Reagan and Bailey, and all of our broken pieces, dumped into one big pile, as we stumble and fall, and fight to put those pieces back together, until they appear to some have resemblance of a life.

Stumble, and fall, and fight…..that is what our life has become, and that is how we survive.

 

The Weight of the World

Neither sunless day,

Nor starless night,

Compare’s to pain’s darksome light

 

The still earth’s breath,

What stifling heat,

When all pain and silence come to meet

 

So is it not the tulip’s bloom,

And still the ocean’s tide?

Can one’s soul sadness cause

All others to collide?

 

We are each one single heartbeat,

Just one grain of sand,

Yet the weight of this world,

We are expected to withstand

Cruising Without You

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Dear Ross,
Seventeen years, then suddenly, without warning, you are gone. You aren’t working out of town, and you won’t be texting me, “I am trying to get back, but had to pull over because I was falling asleep”, or pictures of an awesome dinner you feasted on, just so you could laugh at my sarcastic response. Gone are the funny texts throughout the day, the way you backfire snored, the way we both tried on clothes with the same level of frustration, and our secret little lingo when the kids were close, and how we tried to not move our lips so they couldn’t hear us discuss how we wouldn’t drive by Target so Bailey wouldn’t ask for a toy. All of that laughter is gone, and brutally replaced with a raw open wound.

Gone isn’t permanent or even accurate. You didn’t leave. You DIED, and I have only said it out loud twice, and it stung as bad as the day that I lost you. I said it to someone that I would never see again. I was practicing the words, for fear they wouldn’t make it past my lips. Because saying them, makes them real, and I can’t do real yet. I can do moving forward forcefully without hesitation, and not pausing to let myself embrace the cold reality of your passing.
I have guilt. I didn’t show enough love, I didn’t show enough appreciation for how hard you worked, to keep me at home with the kids. I DO love you, and I am over the moon with appreciation for you, and all that you have provided for me, and our children, and I will forever be grateful to you, for taking such good care of us. Such good care, that you worked yourself into an early grave, while it never occurred to me, that such a thing could actually happen. That I possibly downplayed or belittled every little illness…exhaustion…fatigue. Had you known that you were at death’s door, then you would have left your job, taken my warnings more to heart, and cared more about your physical health, for the sake of your children and your family. For YOUR sake!
I can see you, as clear as yesterday, and how you had stumbled backward, and the way you were shivering in your sleep, with flu-like symptoms. You went to sleep on the couch feeling terrible, and I told you that I would leave you alone, and not bicker about household nonsense. And I didn’t. Had I bickered, then maybe I would have noticed that you were in distress at some point during the night, or maybe I wouldn’t have noticed, because maybe you really did pass away peacefully in your sleep. Either way, I was not laying right next to you, and I will never have that closure.
I didn’t know you were already gone, when I fixed breakfast, and went about my morning routine. I do remember thinking, wow, he is really too tired to even snore. And looking back, I can see how that rings painfully true. Your poor tired body gave out, and you didn’t even know it would, because had you known, then you wouldn’t have argued about your eating and sleeping habits, your long hours, or debated with me about taking care of yourself. You never saw it coming. That breaks my heart.  You never would have let this happen, had you seen it coming. The kids would not have lost their dad at such a young age, Tyler would not have lost his best friend, and I would not have lost the only man in my life, that has ever given me security, reassurance, and certainty.
This vacation with the kids have been filled with my saddest days. We are without you, and the only reason why we are here, is because you died, and we are fighting to find some hope, even if it is just a tiny glimmer. I sit here, on a CRUISE, feeling mournful and empty. Everything beautiful makes me want to cry. When Bailey reaches her peak of no return, I want to crumble and break, because there is no one to fall back on. There is no one who truly understands, to the core, how isolating it is, to be the parent of an autistic child. And Reagan……I always know when he has you in his thoughts, and that is quite often, because that same watery-eyed expression crosses over him, and he is a lost little boy, looking for his father.
I don’t know how to go from Married to Widow, from Mrs. to Ms., and I find it difficult to speak in past tense. Speaking in the past tense feels wrong, and you were here, and everything about your spirit and soul mattered. You were an incredible daddy, and you couldn’t STAND to be away from your kids.
Everything about your death feels wrong, as if some terrible mistake was made, and had a slight twist or turn been different, you would still be with us. This isn’t right. This isn’t right, has been echoing in my head, for almost six months now.
And now, in the early morning hours, with the sun barely breaking, and I am in the middle of this big powerful ocean, I look over at your beautiful sleeping children, and my heart aches so badly. They will never see you again, or embrace you again. Never be tickled by you again. How devastating for our son, to try and bring his own father back to life!!  How does a child recover from that? Will our poor, sweet Reagan carry the weight of that forever?
I love you, and I miss you. I am so terribly sad that I didn’t tell you as often as you deserved. I would change so many things, just to have you back. I really would, right this second. I cannot tell you how sorry that I am, over and over, until I have nothing left. I am lost, broken, and I am having such difficulty finding my own path. I carry our children, but find myself displaced, as if my legs have crumbled beneath me, and there is nothing to grab a hold of. It is like drowning, this urgency of loss, as I look out into this dark, angry ocean, in all of its frenzied turmoil. I can relate to others giving up on life, and at the same time, and I can relate to the desperate need to cling to anything that makes you feel grounded.
But I will never find anything more sad, then the lost and hopeless stare of our children’s eyes, and how they don’t know how to move forward, and how they turn to me for every single movement. Every….single….movement. I feel like I have let them down, and have continued to let them down, but I am FIGHTING with everything that I have inside me, to stay focused and strong. Our babies are terrified, unsettled, and now they know, that life can end without warning.
They know, tender to the touch PAIN, at ages 9 and 10, and they should NOT be consumed with grief.
This is not right.

#cruisingwithoutyou

The Afterloss

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Ross emanated such a bright light. That light was so bright, that I didn’t even see it, until he was gone. Everyone felt compelled to follow that light, to soak it in, and to shower themselves in his radiance, his energy, and his capacity to spread joy and laughter. We gravitated towards his warmth, and found our own happy place, when we had lost our way.

That is what he did for me. He knew me better than anyone else. He knew when I felt lost, hopeless, and he knew when I was overwhelmed with parenting, took my cues, and gave me the crutches to help me walk. He gave me permission to feel defeated as a parent, and he was that strength, standing behind me, when I felt like had nothing left.

My friend recently wrote something that has resonated with me. She wrote that, “once someone dies, they become perfect in your eyes”.  It’s true.

Though Ross was hardly perfect. He was disorganized, messy, and honestly,  annoying, lol. He wasn’t very good with finances, and he tended to take the easy way out when it came to disciplining his children. But he was perfect in my eyes, and he was exactly what I needed, and our children needed.

He was a witty, sensitive husband, always putting me first, and making sure I was well taken care of. He knew when I needed laughter, and he knew when I needed time alone, but most of all, he knew that I needed stability. Commitment was foreign to me, and he swooped in, and made me feel secure, worthy, and grounded. He gave me what no other man had.

Ross was extremely playful….like a child…..but he was THERE. He was PRESENT as a husband, and as a father. And that alone, my friends, is HUGE. I think about all of the deadbeat dads that don’t want to spend time with their children, and I have no respect for them as a person. Not even a little bit.

He drove all the way to Hunt, Texas every weekend, and sometimes more, to pick up Tyler, and then he reluctantly drove him back home every Sunday, if he was forced to do so. He had enormous guilt with his firstborn, as if he had intentionally hurt his child, but he would lay down his own life, before he ever did that. He went through a terrible, dark journey, where he lost his wife, son, his family pet, and his home, and he retreated into his own world of solitude. No one had ever seen him in such pain before. I am grateful that he finally came out of that dark place. We all are.

When I was introduced to Ross, I found him to be joyous. He was always making everyone else feel like life “ain’t nothing but a chicken wing”, and there was truly nothing to be stressed or upset about. Everything would work itself out. He brought a great deal of comfort to his friends, family, and his children. He brought me comfort in times when I couldn’t be reached by anyone else. He was a constant aura of encouragement for those who found themselves in turmoil. He had a Godly heart and he was therapeutic.

His happiest role was being a father. It made him complete, and fulfilled him like nothing else did. He would drive all night long, into the morning, just to get to his children, because all was not right, and he always wanted to make it right, when it came to his children. He would never have wanted to be away from them, because that is what mattered, and that was his purpose. And this has been my biggest struggle.

Hearing, “he is in a better place”, “God needed him there”, etc……I can’t come to grips with this quite yet, but I am trying really hard to. I am trying really hard to feel his presence, especially when our children are in distress, and I am cornered to make decisions about their welfare. Suddenly thrown into single parenting, and suddenly taking on different roles that are unfamiliar to me…..it makes me feel very vulnerable, as if I can do nothing right, and that I only mattered with Ross as my husband. I am fighting to reinvent myself, and I am fighting to stay the same. I am a jumbled mess.

His children loved his attentive nature, but they didn’t quite comprehend the VALUE of his presence. He was there, heart and soul, always. He was there when he was beaten, exhausted, and he was there when he was defeated. His children never felt weakness from him, even if he were struggling internally. He carried himself in such a nonchalant manner, that all they saw was his smile and wisecracks, and in the same breath, he made them feel loved and cherished. He WANTED to be around them, to be next to them, and absorb all of what they would give him, and he was grateful for it, and it made him happy and complete. Saying he was a wonderful dad does not do him justice. He was the perfect dad.

It breaks my heart that Reagan and Bailey don’t have their father for the duration of their childhood, and into adulthood. It breaks my heart that Tyler lost his best friend. It breaks my heart that I will never see him again. It breaks my heart that we have lost him, and as unreal as it feels, nothing will ever change that.

So here we are, the kids and I, entering the afterloss, and facing the holidays without Ross. It has been a daily struggle, just pushing forward, but all I can do is to keep pushing.