Grief doesn’t fight fair

Coming on 25 years ago this August, I lay in a hospital bed in the maternity ward. After complications during the end of my pregnancy, I was an 18 year old girl with a new baby who had just had an emergency C-section 2 days earlier. I was still under Doctor’s orders to be on bedrest when this tall, blond lady bound into our shared room with her giant (twice as big as my petite little gal) of a baby.

We spent our time visiting and became fast friends, then best friends and eventually sisters.

We lived through a lot together…a lot.

In a few short weeks, it will be 5 years since I opened my phone and saw that her son, my nephew, had been killed. I can still recall the feeling of my blood as it seemingly drained from my body. I walked out of my office at work in shock and told my coworkers. Many arms outstretched to comfort me. I stepped back.

“Don’t touch me! If you do, I will lose my shit and I have to go tell my daughter her longest and closest friend is gone.”

I got in my car and drove to her work, thoughts ringing loudly in my head. How do I tell her that just a few short days before her wedding she lost this important and irreplaceable treasure?

Five years later it is no easier to understand, to process or to accept.

Sixteen months ago I got a call my daughter was in labor with her first child. The moment I started my car “Still Breathing” by Green Day began to play and it played the entire (short) drive to the hospital. I cried the whole trip….ugly cried.

Today I jumped in my car and a sweet little reminder of my boy was on the radio, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”…Green Day…his favorite band…

I cried, all the way home. Hard cried. Head pounding, eyes swollen, “can’t I have a nap” cried.

Losing a child in your life is hard. My nephew was not sick; this wasn’t expected. He was simply gone. His mom described it best to me; it’s like “a sudden and unexpected amputation”. It truly is and we get to spend the rest of our lives relearning to do things (even simple every day things) without that huge part that has been amputated.

Everyone’s grief looks differently; everyone’s soul “heals” on it’s own terms. Please, don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re grieving wrong (don’t confuse that with choosing an unhealthy way to grieve) or taking too long.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to wrap myself in the sounds of his favorite band and enjoy some sweet memories and I will laugh and I will cry and I may even “ooglay” cry and that’s ok.

‘Cause I’m still breathing
‘Cause I’m still breathing on my own
My head’s above the rain and roses
Making my way away
‘Cause I’m still breathing
‘Cause I’m still breathing on my own
My head’s above the rain and roses
Making my way away
My way to you” – Green Day “Still Breathing”

Slow down

I hope your week was as amazing as ours.

We slowed life down this week, stopped and enjoyed the little things and the discovery of said little things.

We walked barefoot (honestly, such a great way to keep yourself grounded; it is rare to see me in shoes once the weather gets nice, unless I have to be).

We played.

We stopped to watch bug activity.

We were simply mindful in each moment.

On self-care and hiding in the pantry

Mamas (and Dads), raising children is hard. Maybe “hard” is the wrong word. It is beautiful and rewarding and, by far, the best thing I have ever done. Maybe “complex” would be a better choice.

Perhaps it isn’t even raising children….perhaps it is simply the act of parenting. For a group of people who are just winging this and sitting at the parenting version of the prom, hiding in the corner because everyone looks better than we do, we sure cast a shit load of judgment on other parents who are just as lost and just as uncertain as we are.

Natural birth. C-section birth. Home birth. Hospital birth. Breast fed. Formula fed. Jarred baby food. Homemade baby food. Cloth diapers. Disposable diapers. Home school. Public school. Private school. Parent. Step parent. Foster parent. Adopted parent…….the list and options are endless.

In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? All kids, regardless of the choices made in parenting, are going to pick their nose on the playground and become Olympic athletes in eye rolling at your lame jokes.

So, now that I started my thoughts off on a goat trail, let me re-group.

I am a firm believer and proponent of self-care. Honestly, we don’t have time to not make time. Nothing needs to be complicated, costly or timely. Taking even 5 or 10 minutes, on a chaotic day (more when you can) just for you is a necessity. Meditate, walk, yoga, lock yourself in the bathroom or hide in your bedroom closet 🤣. Whatever you do, simply be in that moment and let your thoughts still and your breath energize and heal you.

Can we do that? For real?

Yes, we have to. For our sake. For our family’s sake. Do something for yourself where you are not thinking of next week’s meal plan, tomorrow’s grocery list, when you have to switch over the laundry, whether the dog was walked or the cat fed, if notes are signed or….well, you get the drift.

For me, any time out in nature allows me to re-focus, to still my thoughts and quiet my soul. In a pinch, any “outside” will do but, let’s be real, for myself – a farm girl stuck in the city, being outside of the city is definitely ideal.

I am a toes in the sand, barefoot in the grass, ride the horse bareback through the pasture, smell the soil and the rain on the air, wolf howling in the distance kind of gal.

Growing up, the howls of wolves and coyotes were my lullaby and that howl still has a way of sweetly lulling me into relaxation.

So, get out there! Play in the dirt. Jump in the puddles. Kick off your shoes. Hide in the pantry with the bag of cheetos….whatever! Just go do something for you. You not only deserve it, you need it.

P.S. even if you are not a parent, take care of yourself. If you don’t, who will?

Pass on wisdom not wounds

Far too often it is so easy for us to speak to and about people, not from a place of truth, but from a place of interpretation. I observe this every day.

I am a people watcher. I watch reactions and responses. I watch eye rolls and lowered gazes. I watch how a little innocuous comment can actually be a poison dart careful aimed and fired at an obvious target.

Hard taught lessons in my life have shown me how to see red flags – even red flags that come guised as white flags of surrender. I have learned to respond not to react.

Oh, sometimes a knee-jerk reaction happens. I’m human. Sometimes my “dealt with a narcissist ” quota has been exceeded and, oops, reaction….

My advice to all of us (as much to myself as to anyone else who happens to read this): as a parent, or step-parent, we should pass on wisdom to our children not wounds. When we speak of others in their lives, our children sense the heart and tone in our words. Watch not only the what but the how when you say your words. Insecurities, jealousies, angers and hurts are interpreted by your children – loudly and clearly.