Life changes in the blink of an eye… or snap of a strap!!

Literally, life changes in the blink of an eye, a tick on a clock, or the snap of a strap!!! We experienced that blink just over two years ago and, again, this past Monday!! Like always, we can take this situation to a worse-case scenario, but it doesn’t always make it feel better.

Monday, my husband and my son’s best friend went to check on the deer stands before any hunting was going to be done from them. Safety first. It was good to see the best buddy of my son and my husband kind of excited to be doing something in which they knew my son would be hovering over them for that is where his spirit lived… in the woods!! Anyone who knew Cody knew his passion was hunting!! That and trucks!! Well, no names, but his friend’s initials are AW so we will go with initials and ‘dad’ throughout the story. AW was the first one up the first stand while dad walked ahead. They say, first one up, first one down. That is correct, just not the way we wanted. Once up, the straps broke and 18-20 feet down came AW, hitting a limb, breaking his fall, and several vertebrae!! 
I have seen adrenaline in action before, but AW saw it first hand in dad!! Dad did everything right, according to ALL medical personnel, to not increase or cause additional injury. To the ER they went after the ordeal of getting AW to the truck!
Long story short, he will be ok. No spinal injury. Hopefully, no permanent damage. But this could have been much worse!! We know that! But, it doesn’t take away from the fact that our dear friend and almost like “son” is hurting!!
As a parent, we would trade places with these kids in a heartbeat! What started out as an adventure and bonding experience could have turned to even more of a tragedy in a heartbeat!! We hurt watching their suffering!! Even though AW says he is glad it was him and not dad, that doesn’t make our anguish disappear. 
Every single day, something happens to open my eyes and my heart to appreciate EVERYTHING and EVERYONE!! It doesn’t matter if your political views differ from mine; if you are a messy person when I  not; if God gave you a different color of skin than mine; or if you don’t like pizza (which should be against the law lol)!! We are human and all lives matter! Respect and appreciate what is right in front of us, every single day!
These kids that came into our lives through the friendship with our son are a part of our lives forever! They are our lifeline to memories and help keep him alive in spirit! I am so glad AW wanted to go into the woods and help dad, with Cody’s spirit in tow. For all I know, Cody was there making sure this situation didn’t become a “worse case scenario!”
Take a minute to thank the Lord for ALL the blessings. Sometimes, we do not appreciate the good until we have experienced the bad. The trials and tribulations will make us stronger and help us to appreciate those less trying times. In a blink, our priorities change. Our focus shifts. Things that mattered before may not come close to a priority.
Please pray for AW, that his healing is swift. May he always know his pain is our pain and we are so thankful he will heal from this! I am so glad his mother didn’t go through more heartache and that dad and I didn’t lose another “son” in a blink of an eye! We love you AW!! May Cody’s spirit help see you through this and, remember, he is with us in every step we take! I am so glad he brought you into our lives!!
#secondchances #someonewaswatching  #blinkofaneye  #thedashinthemiddle

I am not always prepared despite what I think…

I thought I had been through the “first” of everything without my son on this Earth beside us. I was wrong. This weekend, my niece got married. It was a beautiful ceremony and great seeing all the family. All of my siblings were represented. The five of us still living were all there, and the three who have passed were represented by their widows!! I was prepared to see my niece get married and see my family. What I wasn’t prepared for was the “forever in our hearts” table!

I had not thought about it even though this is common at weddings and holds pictures of loved ones of the bride and groom who have passed. Represented of my family lost included the photo of my parents, my three brothers, and… my son! I was not prepared for that table!! Seeing it opened flood gates I could not control and it took me quite a few minutes. The more my family tried to console me, the more I wanted to cry. That’s ok!! I am sure a few of them were emotional, too! Father of the bride decided those photos should be in our family photo!! We each held the photo of the one we lost: my sisters-in-law held the photo of the one they were married to; father of the bride held the photo of our parents; I held the photo of my son! Such a great idea and tribute!

My niece and my son were only a few months apart in age and grew up together. Memories of the two of them were imminent. This table brought a lot more emotions than memories!! One, my son wasn’t there in person to help his cousin celebrate. Two, I won’t get to witness his wedding. It is in these moments I am reminded that my son lives in the hearts and memories of a lot of people! I truly believe that may have been the biggest factor in my flood of tears. I forgot that my niece missed him too on her special day. If I had thought about it ahead of time, I might have braced myself. Unfortunately, it had not crossed my mind until that table caught my eye!

I am so happy for my niece and her new husband. They are starting a beautiful life together and my brother is so blessed! I, too, am blessed and I know it. It just surprises me sometimes when I get caught off guard with something like this, even though I have acknowledged it a thousand times over these past two years!

I have to remind myself there are many things I won’t experience, but there are many things I have! I never want to forget that!! I know my son was watching over my niece today and was there in spirit, as well as my parents and brothers! I am so grateful that my brother and sister-in-law and my niece included him on this very special day!! It meant more to me than they will ever know!!

I also need to remind myself there are times in the future, near and far, when I think I have control when I do not! Times like this when I think I have convinced myself I am strong and have it all together, but I don’t. Times when the smallest of events can trigger a flood! These are the times when I am so grateful I have such a loving family who hugged me, cried with me, and understood I am not always strong and still need them! This will happen for years to come, I have no doubt!

Until I meet up with him again, I will try and brace myself. I will try and stay strong, but acknowledge strength doesn’t mean you don’t cry. I will never forget and know those that loved him, aside from me, won’t forget him either! I also know I won’t always be prepared when something pops up, and it is ok!! As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!

#gonebutnotforgotten #nottheonlyonewhomissescody #familyisforever #mynieceisamrs #thedashinthemiddle

What is life after death…?

Death has been a topic of conversation in my home and among my friends for quite a while now for obvious reasons. Not sure it will change much in the next years’ to come. This weekend, I start year three! This is the third “first” holiday, Labor Day. And still, the question remains… what is life and what is death? What is life after death? I will tell you what I believe it to be, and it is not reincarnation. It is having those left behind after you have gone keeping you alive in spirit!! The one request I have made in the passing of all my family members and loved ones I have lost…remember them in stories!! Especially, stories that will put a smile on your face or laughter in your heart!! It keeps them living for those of us who have lost them and allows those who never met them to feel as if they have!

Life is a precious gift I do not want to abuse. It was something I fought for early in my life before I even knew there was an option. Born prematurely with lungs not quite developed (I know you are all in shock!!!) but I fought and fought hard according to the stories my mom told me. They wisked me away without her even getting to see me after birth and told her the next 24 hours would tell the story. As it turns out, after depriving me of oxygen in the womb for seven months, my twin had to forego the incubator for me. He tells the story now, a half century plus later, how he saved my life! Lol! I love my brother for that!! But what if that episode set some sort of crusade in motion. Do I love life more because of that without even realizing it? Maybe. Guess I will find out when I experience what comes after this life.

With the loss of my parents and siblings, I never really questioned death, other than for my brothers, why did it come so soon? Then again, what is ‘soon?’ Is that a term I made up in my head? I thought 40, 42, and 55 were young until my son passed at 24!! Perspective on the age shifted, yet again! I already know our “dash” is the short-term we get. No one has told me the acceptable age in which the end of life is no longer grieved and we should be “ok” that a person passed away. Is it 70… 80… 100? All those at that age probably have family who will grieve their loss, too. But, eventually, at whatever age, we will at some point no longer be living and breathing this fine air we have become accustomed to.

Here on Earth, we love to live and explore and to just be. All of us will, at some point, leave this Earth! But are we just making memories for others to share when we are gone? Are we living to make life better for those that follow? Maybe not in our current state of affairs in this country, but maybe, somehow, these are all true. Our life has meaning when we live it, but it continues after we are long gone if those who knew us continue to share those stories and memories. Personally, I love to talk about those loved ones and am sad when others are afraid to bring them up in conversation out of fear of how I may respond! Don’t ever be afraid to share memories of anyone! Proof of a life well lived if those memories hold value to someone!! ❤️

Until my last breath, I am going to pray my parents, siblings, and my son, along with so many loved ones, are living the dream in eternity. May we be the best that we can be to guarantee ourselves a spot there too. For now, I will die to live and live to die! Our only guarantee. Cody has a life after death and continues to live on through us, as do the others in my family gone too soon!! I can guess what lies beyond those pearly gates and that there will be life after death in Heaven, too! Until I find out for sure, life after death is up to us still here!! Lost loved ones will continue to live on as long as we keep sharing their lives!! Keep it going strong because ALL lives lost leave someone grieving and missing them! Give all of them life after death! As always, I cry because they are gone, but I smile because they were here!!!

#lifeafterdeath #livingthedream #dietoliveandlivetodie #thedashinthemiddle

Today: not guaranteed, but is a day of learning, remembering, and surviving…

Today… not guaranteed, but is a day of learning, remembering, and surviving what I never thought I could: the funeral of my own child. Two years ago on this date was his funeral. I wrote the following poem that day. 😢💔

Today, I have a family reunion. Two years ago, it was to be held two days after the date of the funeral. My family used the funds for the reunion for the mercy dinner meal and we had no other reunion that year. This year, we are having that reunion, on that funeral date! I know that is just a random coincidence… or is it? It is amazing the strength this family has provided!!

“Today”

Today I laid to rest my son

Something I can’t believe I’ve done

I know it was not my Plan anyway

I also know I will see you again someday

My faith will lead and guide me too

To the path that will bring me back to you

Gone from here, but will live forever

In the hearts of many, never to be severed

My son, I know today was rough

And I know tomorrow is going to be tough

But for now, your memory will lead the way

For us to get through all this today

Tomorrow will be here before I blink

And, once again, I will have to think

How to live with you gone away

When tomorrow again becomes today…

Christina Herold Trueblood

8/24/2017

Everyday, I strive to live the best life possible for those who cannot! This day is no exception. I cry because you are gone, but smile because you were here!! 😘❤️🌈😇🙏😎🎼🕊

#todayisanotherday #familyiseverything #thedashinthemiddle

Second anniversary… two whole years!! Still not celebrating, but I will honor the memory!!!

I have read and reread all the things I have written over the past two years and I have come to a conclusion, burying a child is like starting over as an infant! The first year is learning how to do EVERYTHING (over)!! I cried a lot! Then, I learned to crawl, followed by standing and, then walking. I was able to put a few words together, asked “why?” A LOT!!, and then, eventually formed more coherent sentences.

I spent that first year looking at everything as if I had been seeing it for the first time, scared sometimes, and had a few happy moments. Please do not confuse this situation with a “rebirth.” I was not reborn. I found Jesus a long time ago and he has not moved, nor changed! Still my Savior! I just had a lot of things in common with being born! I was relearning how to do things with a huge void! That void was not there during my first birth umpteen years ago!

Now, I am wrapping up year two. I have put words into complete sentences; learned to walk a little longer and farther; the tears and crying are not all the time; and I am sleeping through the night. With so many similarities to being a baby to a toddler that I have experienced, I fear for those in my path for year three! I remember that “3” was so much worse than the “terrible 2’s” but you’ve been warned!! Lol!! Many things this second year were very similar, just with a “second” in front of it rather than a “first.” I still have my melt-downs, but they aren’t as long and drawn out. I spend more time smiling at the memories, as opposed to feeling cheated for all the things I didn’t get to do or see happen!

One thing is very different this time! I have vowed to LIVE for Cody, instead of dying with him!! If he can’t do things, I must do them for him! This will be living the best life with his memory close to my heart. I want to know he is with me, proud of me, and smiling down knowing “we” are doing these things together! I feel this is the best tribute to him I can offer! Crying with sadness that he is no longer actually in front of me will still be part of the grieving process, but it isn’t the only process! So, to honor his memory, his dad and I went on a “watch this, hold my beer” vacation!! I went zip lining, walked across a bridge on a rope from one side of a mountain to a mountain across from it (wasn’t as far as it sounds, but I did it!), went on a sky tram, AND drank moonshine!! These are ALL things that boy of mine would do if he were here, and I hope he is proud of me for going outside my comfort zone! I’m sure he’s ‘high-five’ing me right now (if I raised my hand!!) 😉 I haven’t gone skydiving yet, but it isn’t off the bucket list yet!!

None of us are meant for this Earth forever, and I know that when I am called home, I don’t want others to stop living their best life either! I want to be living proof that we can continue to honor and keep memories alive of those we have loved so dearly and lost! I don’t want to waste a minute of my life not thinking good thoughts and smiling at good memories, nor do I want to forget about those still here, that loved him and miss him too!

I will continue to make new memories, but will hold onto these ones with Cody in them a little tighter than most. He was my son! I brought him into this world with no guarantees… except one!!! I will love him FOREVER!! As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!

#gonetwoyears #myonlyson #iloveyouforever #thedashinthemiddle

This was the “spark” for www.thedashinthemiddle… This was my post from Facebook one year ago tomorrow!

This is my Facebook post from 8/20/2018. I am sharing it a day early leading up to my two year anniversary. I want to share how far I have come on this journey and the healing process. I can only hope these posts have helped others. Writing has, once again, proven very therapeutic for me!

ONEYEAR AGO: This is a hard day! This is a milestone that I may acknowledge, but will not celebrate! This day marks one year of not having my son, Cody, grace this Earth! How did I get here? I will tell you how I have coped to this point… faith!! My guiding force!! Another guiding force is the strength I gain from my family and friends.

Glenn and I never wanted to be here and deal with losing a child. We know others have been here too, but each situation has its own detail. Knowing this does not make any of them less to deal with in any way, shape, or form! Knowing we are not alone makes us sad but gives us hope that we can, and will survive!

There are several stages of grief: denial; anger; acceptance; and forgiveness. Some situations do not hit all levels, but it will at least hit one. I think I hit three during this first year. Some levels lasted longer than others. Denial hit first… waiting for sounds such as his loud truck pulling up in front of the house, the garage door opening, the tv to come on late at night and be too loud for me to sleep, and his alarm going off in the morning signaling the start of another work day. The denial for me was thinking these would still happen. They had to! It was part of my normal routine. But they did stop much to my dismay.

I think I touched on anger, but it was brief. I wanted to be angry at Cody at first, but when your actions result in the ultimate price paid, what would my anger accomplish? He was by himself in the vehicle (thank you, Lord!) and he was a grown man and knew his actions were his own. I had spoken those words to him many times over the five years prior to that fateful night. We are to blame for our own actions and reactions, but cannot be held accountable for others’ actions and reactions. This made my options for placing blame quite limited. I did get angry that I can’t add new memories or photos. I accepted what has happened and tried to make peace with the fact Cody has gone to a far better place to wait for us. Therefore, forgiveness seemed easy in this situation.

Facing all the “firsts” since that day was hard! The bandaid has been pulled off and the healing has begun. We, as a family, have faced the sadness head-on and with as much grace as possible. This does not guarantee our roller coaster ride is over, but it has made one full lap around the track and allows us to be more prepared for some of the dips and turns in the laps that follow.

I cannot express my appreciation enough to those who have kept us in your thoughts, prayed with us and for us, and spent time reading my journal entries and poems throughout this first year. Writing has been therapy for me for many years, proven even more so during all of this! For all those that knew Cody, please keep his memory alive by never forgetting stories of him and continuing to share. I will not promise they won’t make me cry, but this is another oxy-moron situation: I cry at the sadness these memories may create, but my heart swells with pride that the memories still hold value to those who share! I actually love Facebook for having the memories pop up every now and then! I look at those as a sign.

The strength all of you have provided has encouraged us to get up and face each day this past year. ‘Difficult’ does not begin to describe the emotions involved in this path, but ‘faith’ does! I praise our Lord for being with me and my family and friends as He provided much needed strength every single day!! We will continue to celebrate the life Cody lived and all the wonderful, hair raising, and hair-brained ideas the kid had in the 24 years we were blessed with. His journey will continue on in our hearts, and I know the day we meet again, it will be as if no time has passed. Until then, we count the blessings in front of us, take NOTHING for granted, and thank the Lord for each day we are given for our “dash” between life and death! Our actions will speak volumes after we are gone, make them positive, and continue to find a positive in every day…

Below are the pictures from the beginning and just before his last days with us, both joyous days. His dash in the middle will live on forever through us! I love you, son!! 😢🌈🕊🙏😇❤️🇺🇸

#gonebutnotforgotten #foreverinourhearts #thedashinthemiddle

Anniversaries… not all are to be celebrated…

Anniversaries… not all are meant to be celebrated, but are a huge reminder of what we have been given to celebrate!!

As the two year mark hits the calendar, I am reminded of all the times I need to celebrate, moments that included the LIFE of my son, Cody!! There was a lot of life in his 24-1/2 years!! His dad and I are going on vacation to celebrate his life and do fun things he would enjoy!! We are even going to try a few things that might have started with “watch this, hold my beer!!” I do I believe he coined the phrase!!!

I don’t want to ever forget all the fun times. I know with the ups, there were downs. I want to remember those too!! Those moments make him still seem with me and alive!! Brings the ‘normal’ back into play!!

Emotions are all over the place, but not as bad as last year!! I will always wish he was still with us, and I miss him every day!! People may want to accuse me of “getting over” this loss. I stand here today and acknowledge he is gone, but not one day goes by where I am “over” anything! Faith doesn’t get a person over the loss, it gets me through it!! I have faith that my son is in good hands. That will do for now.

Many times, I miss the things I had hoped to experience! We all have hopes and dreams. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to witness all of them! But, many of my hopes and dreams were realized. I must never forget that!! He has left a mark on many and will live on through stories (I hope) for many years, and even generations to come!! Hopefully, those stories won’t give young kids bad ideas to try. I don’t want their mom’s hair turning gray too early!!

As I head into next week, “anniversary week,” I will still have my emotional days, but bet on days where I am smiling at the things he did get to do and the memories he has left us with! There are many! And, yes, many will cause the gray hairs, but I am so grateful I have them!! I will not refer to this as a “happy anniversary.” It is a mark on the calendar I will acknowledge. It will be filled with memories, recollections, stories, laughter, and tears. It is a day my world changed…forever reminding me to be grateful, and to acknowledge the love you have while you have time!! The opportunity might not be there tomorrow!

Live everyday to its fullest. Laugh as often as possible. Love as if tomorrow is not promised!! As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!

#tomorrowisnotpromised #livelovelaugh #thedashinthemiddle