I am the storm…

Devil, you got nothing!! I have been to hell and back and it is not for me. I choose Heaven and to follow my Lord through anything. Hell had nothing to soothe the pain I felt and have endured these last couple of years. The devil once whispered that I could not withstand the storm. I reminded the devil, I am the storm!! Here I am, and I am still standing…

During this Lenten season, do not let this corona virus (or as my son would have called it, the “beer flu”) let you think our God does not exist or that He would ever leave you alone and helpless. Not going to happen. We are strong and we are still standing. No man-made virus will destroy us or our faith.

Every day I wake up and get out of bed is a good day. Whether I am quarantined or not, it is a good day if I am alive. Since the loss of my son, I realize every day is a gift. I do not want to disrespect God by thinking otherwise. We all know we are going to die someday. We don’t necessarily get to choose that path. If you are choosing to disobey the guidelines in place to protect you during this pandemic, you are not only making a choice, you could be forcing that choice on innocent bystanders. Unless you are front line workers, follow all precautions. Please.

For those going through this pandemic from the front line, I applaud you!! I have braved this from the comfort of my own home. I know a large percentage of us will be exposed, but I sure don’t want to be one who gives it to another! Stay home and stay safe if you can! But do so knowing others took the front line for us! Sounds very familiar and biblical! God bless them!

For those who have lost a loved one during this outbreak, my heart hurts for you. You are now experiencing a version of my hell. For that, I am sorry. Please do not give up on your faith. I have found my way through this is to be the person my son would want me to be, that he would be proud of. Never give up and know you are the storm and you are not alone!!

Stay safe and out of harm’s way if you are able. Your life is important and so is that of others in our paths. To the front line and first responders, you are true heroes!! Thank you! Together, let’s be the storm that wipes out this devil! The world can come together, even though we are physically apart!

God bless!

#coronavirussucks #hearthunters #standingtogetherwhilestayingapart #thedashinthemiddle

Living the dream…

I sit in the dark… a lot! Sometimes, I think I am trying to make myself believe none of the things that happened actually happened. It is similar to an out-of-body experience. I see myself, but it is different. Almost make believe. But, it did happen. And, here I am… living the dream! Not in the context I would like…

How did I get here? Am I doing what is “normal” according to others? Is there a normal? I have been told I handled my situation (ie the loss of my son) with much grace. Not sure how true that is. I think there are times I pretend. I do this so I can get up and go to work each day, or hug my daughter and still be able to let go and let her leave my home. Maybe I do so I can play with my grandkids and not see how much he would have influenced his niece and nephew.

I am sure there is a coping mechanism that I cannot analyze, or need to analyze. Bottom line, I have to exist. In whatever form I take or methods that take over, I have to find reason to get out of bed every day. If not, I will die with my son. So, I choose life and memories.

Memories are something no one can take from you. We have ALL had bad things happen, misfortunes, loss. How we deal with those define us. No, we are not all weak, strong, or incapable. We are ALL survivors… of whatever misfortune was bestowed upon us. Trust me when I say this is not an overnight transition. It has been two and a half years plus for me and I am still trying to find my way. I am also hoping I am helping lead others to the path of “moving forward.”

I use that term kind of loosely “move forward.” We do not, and cannot, move on. We move forward. The child I lost is always ever-present in my life. I think that I needed to write this out to gain that perspective. I kept feeling like I was living outside my body and the motions I was going through were just that, motions. Feeling a little better calling it a “coping mechanism.” Still feels a little like a dream or, for a better word, “not real.”

Repeating what I have said in all of my posts, death will not change the love I have for my son. It will not take all the good things that happened while he was alive. It will not overshadow all the good things I have in my life. I miss him every single day. I hurt for the things I did not get to witness. Those things were never a guarantee. They were a wish. A dream. A hope. I have to learn to live with the fact they didn’t happen. But I can dream. I can close my eyes and think about what might have been. Had he lived. Had he gotten married. Had he had children. But those are just wishful dreams…

My real dream was that I had a son. A good son. A wild son. A redneck son. A son who liked beer. A son who liked music. A son who loved to sing in the shower. A son who did sing with a famous person onstage. A son who was a phenomenal mechanic. A son who took apart every vehicle he owned and left half the parts in the yard. A son who came home late and blared the tv. A son who slept at least eight hours a day, usually during daylight hours. But he was my son. My reality. He may be a memory to a lot of people, but in my heart, he is still my son. His heart will beat within me until mine stops beating.

Therapy. This is therapy. My out of body experience is a dream. Or a memory. I choose to not stop dreaming if this is the case. If this keeps my son alive in my heart and mind, so be it! You will catch me living this dream for a long time (I hope). As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here. Thank you for sharing my dream…

#livinthedeam #outofsightnotoutofmind #mysonlivesinme #thedashinthemiddle

It’s ok to laugh… and it’s ok to cry!

When faced with an emotional situation, our minds are overwhelmed trying figure out what is ok, or not ok! We think we have to be strong in front of others. I say, “don’t hold back!” It’s ok to laugh, and it’s ok to cry! I think there is a Patty Loveless song in there somewhere. Grief is an odd duck! It comes in waves, and we try to control it. That is a very hard thing to do! The stance we take of showing a brave face is painful!! I write my way through it!!

Survivor’s guilt can jump in on good days. Good things are going to happen in life after the loss of a loved one. We can’t stop the good anymore than we can stop the bad from happening, nor should we want to! It’s bad enough we guilt ourselves for smiling or laughing. It’s a whole other story when we blame others for having good moments, or God forbid , someone tries to make a grieving parent feel bad for having a good moment. I’ve witnessed it. It didn’t happen to me personally. If it had, trust me when I say that person would have gotten an earful, and then some. What people don’t understand of a grieving parent is that we are fighting internal battles constantly, and no one should ever pass judgement, especially on those grieving!

I have encouraged those grieving (by the way, that never stops) to write down a positive thing that happens every day. It’s therapeutic and life -changing! We need to acknowledge the good that continues! It is in those moments when we will start seeing a common thread. I like to think they are signs from our loved one to let us know it will be ok. Call me quirky!!

Flip side, some people want to hold back their tears when they are sad. Why? Tears are not a bad thing and there is no shame in shedding them. Don’t let people guilt you if you cry anymore than they should if you smile or laugh. We all have emotions and it makes me sad to think we criticize a person, man or woman, who has emotions they need to express.

People are complicated, yet not. Some people read. Some of us tend to write. Some people put themselves into those words. I know several have been though similar events I write about. I had someone tell me recently that she cries when she reads what I write. I want you to know I am touched by the fact she told me and it is possible to feel the emotions of my words. I hope the tears are healing and therapeutic for those readers. They are for me.

I have written for my own therapy for many, many years. I actually cry, and sometimes laugh, at what I wrote. The emotions are still there for me too!! Words are what gets me through tough situations. I can go back and reread them when I feel compelled. Don’t misunderstand. I enjoy therapeutic conversations too, but unless they are recorded, I may not retain ALL the wonderful advice and conversations shared. That does not mean I don’t want to talk about situations. Trust me! I am never at a loss for words!! Ask my family. Lol!

Whatever is therapeutic (and legal!) should not be disputed or lessened for those who have things they need to deal with or expressions they wish to convey!! You have all heard the expression “laughter is the best medicine.’ It is very healing, but so is letting go of the tears. Tears are not a sign of weakness. A good cry can calm the emotions just as much as a good laugh!

I encourage those who feel overwhelmed to seek outside help. Some try to be so strong around certain people, maybe an outside person can be your sounding board. This could be the best of both worlds. Bottom line, you are never alone! Talk, cry, write, whatever, it is ok to laugh and it is ok to cry!

I am finding as time goes forward, we all have very different coping mechanisms. I never want to forget those who have gone before me, especially my own son! I will continue to write, talk, speak his name, laugh at some of the stories he left us with, and cry at the void that will forever remain! And guess what, it’s ok! I don’t ask you to agree with me. I ask that we respect those grieving, in whatever coping methods that will allow them to get up each day.

#itsoktolaugh #gonebutnotforgotten #thedashinthemiddle

I am a witness…

As we head into the Lenten season, we are once again reminded of the sacrifices made on our behalf. We relive Mother Mary seeing her son die before her. I can relate. There is a spiritual feeling in me when I think of my son up there in Heaven standing next to our Heavenly Father in all His glory. I will survive this knowing he is safe. It will all make sense later. I can’t try and figure it out. I won’t get the answers down here. Until then, I will remain a witness in life.

Please note, I have, at no time in my life, ever wished to have my child die before me nor do I wish that for any parent!! The statistics from 2017 were 19% of parents will have a child die before them!! Those statistics compute to almost one of five parents. That may have changed, but if it did, it only went up!! How do we get passed the stigma that it will never be us? How do we say, “enjoy our children now!!” Tomorrow is not guaranteed!! Bereaved parents find this out the hard way.

I view my situation as that I didn’t lose my child. I know where he is. What I lost was a future with him, seeing him get married, have children, and seeing the person I knew he could be. That makes me sad all by itself. I cannot say that it should’ve been me. I can only wish it had been. To say you are not supposed to bury your child gives me guilt. Why? Because I did have a child die before me and now I have to live with that just as Mother Mary did! Continually reminding me of the fact just makes the pain an endless heartache. I would rather be grateful for the time I was blessed with and hold tight to the memories rather than continually remind myself of the things I will not get to experience. It just extends my heartache.

I think we perpetuate the sadness we feel when we convince ourselves we should be above surviving our children. As I have said a thousand times, our only guarantee is that we will die. We don’t get to choose the order sometimes!! When I say we perpetuate the sadness, I am referring to the statement that we convince ourselves it will never be us, and then it is!! Every time we remind ourselves it was us, and that it should not have been, we are sad all over again! It seems unfair, but then again, we all know life is unfair!

So how do we get over repeating our sadness. We don’t. We get through it knowing we will meet again! That is what the Lenten season is all about!! It is my guiding force. We should all focus on enjoying the love of those in our lives now. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. None of us.

I have convinced myself that my son is still with me: in my heart; in my actions; in my life. He just happens to be in a room I am not allowed to enter yet. Our gracious and loving God will tell me when it is my turn. I have offered the care of my son up to Him until then. That gives me great peace!

I don’t want to perpetuate the heartache and relive it every day. I need to know my son is alive in my heart and I had a great life with him! I miss his presence, but he is with me in more ways than I can count. My actions are enhanced with the love I had for my child going forward with each breath, step, and action. I want the love I still have in my heart to be reverberated in the life I live from now on. And that applies to both my children. I still have a child alive who is watching me, no matter her age. I LIVE for her and my grandchildren too! They are my witness.

I know I have repeated myself several times. I don’t want to be reminded of what I don’t have. I want to remember what I experienced and was blessed with! This time of year hits me right in the heart, literally. The prodigal son has returned home. I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here. I am a witness to the Glory He provides.

#lentenseason #iamawitness #iwillseeyouagain #thedashinthemiddle

It’s your birthday, son…

It’s your birthday, son! On this day, 27 years ago, it was quite a joyous celebration!! The 24-1/2 years that followed weren’t too bad either!! You gave your dad and I a run for our money during the last five years you were on this Earth, but I wouldn’t trade the time I had with you for all the money in the world!!

Saw a gift that would have been perfect for you this past weekend! Actually, the entire event reminded me of you! It was the Whitetails Unlimited event! Everything was guns, camouflage, or an American flag!! I just walked by and smiled knowing you would have been eyeing it all!!! You were so easy to buy for without a doubt!!

There are a lot of people who still miss your everyday presence!! I am at the top of that list, but I am so grateful for the years I did have! I don’t want to ever forget them, or have them overshadowed by the grief I have with you gone! I want to relish in the wonderful memories and stories you left us with!! A lot of those memories still make my hair change color, but they were a part of you, therefore, a forever part of me!

I must say, it has been quite a year already! I see so much of you in your niece! She is so spirited and funny!! She absolutely loves music!! ALL music!! This fact proves you are an influence on her!! You were our human radio and she is right in tow!! Not only your love of music, but her expressions!! Love every one of them! You would be such an awesome uncle!! Your nephew still remembers you quite fondly and loves knowing all the things around the house that were yours!! Melts my heart!!

One of your dearest brothers from another mother gave us quite a scare when he and your dad went to make sure the deer stands were safe and secure for hunting season!! Up the first deer stand and he came crashing down!! Luckily, your dad took great care of him, but the emotions were hard to contain! He came so close to permanent, if not fatal, injuries!! Luckily, he healed from the fractures he suffered in his back!! I thought he had an angel looking out for him. He thought maybe you pushed him!! Wink wink!! We know better!!

I know you have more company with you this year than you had last year! I am saddened one of your hunting buddies has joined you!! His parents need to know you are watching out for him and guiding him around up in Heaven! I need that too! All his buddies (and a lot of yours) gave him a great send off with another truck run. I hope it is not a trend that is repeated anytime soon! I want it to be many, many years before anymore of your friends join you!!

After the truck run, those kids all got together to toast their lost friend! I must say, there were a couple that looked like you! One in particular kind of freaked your sister out a bit!! He was tall, had your thinning hair and scruffy beard-like hair on his face! He knew of you and said he had been told by several people that he resembled you!! Another one that resembles you is one of your friends that you did hang with! He also had been told he looked like you, but he wasn’t losing his hair as quickly!! He mumbled like you though!! I did enjoy listening to him! It was like you were there with us, but I already knew you were!! That was just another sign proving it!!

As I send this letter up to you, know my heart is heavy knowing I cannot hug you and wish you birthday wishes in person!! I can’t say “happy birthday!” It isn’t that I don’t want to. I know every day in Heaven must be happy! At least, I hope so! I am sending birthday wishes galore though!! I celebrate today for you and because of you, my son!! I am better because you graced my life!! I am proud to be your mom!! Death can not change that!! You and your sister were my greatest accomplishments!!

For those other parents in this boat, I hope they, too, know that with the grace of God, our kids are happy and taken care of. Most of all, we know you are safe in His loving arms!

I will celebrate the life you lived today with stories and music! I know your friends are all thinking of you!! It makes me happy that they still smile when they speak of you!! They still honk as they drive by!! Smoke stacks on a diesel truck still bring back fond memories as well as burning rubber!! Today, we raise our glasses and beers in toast of a short life that was full!! We miss you and love you!! May God wrap you in His arms for me and hug you in a way I wish I could! Until we meet again… I cry because you are gone, but I celebrate because you were here!!!

Love,

Mom

#itsyourbirthday #rainbowbabyangelbaby #lifeisshort #thedashinthemiddle

I interrupt this regularly scheduled program called… life!

Mass this weekend was very interesting. The homily gave me a new way of thinking about those out-of-the-ordinary moments in our life. When something happens; good, bad, or indifferent, who do you turn to? Who do you talk to? Who do you ask questions to? If your answer was “God,” your answer matched mine. For those that don’t have faith, this won’t make a lot of sense. If you have faith in our Lord, you, too, know there is a Plan we know nothing about, but hopefully can accept with grace.

Many people having this interruption, whatever it is, will look up and ask God “why?” It is not something we may get an answer to right away. It may not be anything God had a hand in creating, but He will be there to see us through. Remember, the devil walks among us! We need to trust that our actions from there will lead us to the best possible outcome. Sometimes, we have to walk the line and have faith that there is a reason at the end of our walk, wherever that leads us!!

We question our own actions to see if we are partly to blame. We ask if there was anything different we could have done to stop whatever events happened in our path. We want to blame others if we think it could have been avoided. There are many reactions, but the most important reaction is to look up and commit, “give me the strength and guidance to get through whatever happens from here.”

Prayer is a very powerful thing. Trust is also powerful! Having trust in someone or something means you will accept things that may not be easy.

Sometimes, the message is very clear when things happen. Don’t mess with fire. Don’t drink and drive. Safety first. To a lot of young kids, that sounds boring. I have threatened to wrap up all of my son’s friends in bubble wrap to avoid the thought of their parents going through my situation. My interruption was outside my control, and I don’t regret that my son lived life to the fullest!!

When something out of the ordinary happens, we don’t always stop and appreciate all the times things went right. Maybe this is an underlying message as well. We don’t know why things happen; why cancer exists; why accidents happen; why people feel the need to take out a slew of complete strangers before ending their own life; why planes crash; why famous people seem to be held up and expected to never have bad things happen. It’s called life and we are all subject to its misfortunes.

I, too, had all the above- mentioned questions. I just look up and ask “what do I do with this newfound situation? How do I turn it into a positive?” Writing is how I try to contribute. I hope it helps others. The loss of my son is not my only “interruption” in this program called “Life.” This one just hit a lot harder. I have found some positives to pull from it. I still wish it had not happened and hope that is not how that statement is portrayed. I lived to see another day. There is a reason for that even though I felt like part of me died that day!!

When your regularly scheduled life hits an interruption, step back, look up, ask for help and guidance. It is not a sign of weakness. Prayer, as I stated, is very powerful. Remember, the devil preys on our weaknesses. Do not succumb to his level. Have faith. The sun will shine another day and whatever hell we are going through on this Earth, we are not alone. The answers will come in due time, and maybe not while we are on this Earth, but is part of the Plan we know nothing about.

You may now proceed to your regularly scheduled program…

#thingcalledlife #lifeinterrupted #thedashinthemiddle

It’s like a time warp…

Watching another family go through the loss of a child is difficult, knowing I know what they are thinking, feeling, and have to expect going forward!! And, just as in the case with my son, the send off was a room full of young persons blended into a big blob of camouflage!!

I never want someone who has not been through the loss of a child to ever really try to put themself in that position. If you have never lost a child, thank God right now, where you stand!! Seriously!! I would not wish this on my worst enemy!!! It is similar to being stuck in a sad time warp! This past weekend, the wormhole opened up again at the loss of one of my son’s friend!!

Those who have tried to empathize have compared this loss to their child leaving, for whatever reason. There is quite a difference between leaving the homestead and dying. Some parents think they feel some similarities, but the difference is more like a Grand Canyon. When a child drives alone for the first time, leaves for college, or moves out on their own, some of those anxieties parents experience might be very similar, but ours are permanent. Our child won’t be driving back home after their trip, or moving all their crap back in when money gets tight, or packing up a dorm room after graduation. As a parent, we choke back tears, have fears and anxiety about the child not being at home anymore, but those feelings are laced with a layer of hope that a bereaved parent won’t feel. Our feelings are them leaving and remaining stuck in an endless time warp of never being able to return, but us not wanting them to feel gone.

I will continue to share my stories because that allows me to talk about my son. It won’t bring him back, but it allows him to still be present in my life that way. I hope the new members of this unfortunate club feel that way too! So many people are afraid to bring up his name for fear it will make me cry. I am okay with that! Crying is, and will always be, part of this process! The tears don’t stop, but we still smile too! Those conversations and stories are important! Don’t hold back. If we are in a position or frame of mind that is different, we will let you know. For the record, I haven’t asked one person yet to not ask me about my son!!

As we lay another person to rest today, know it isn’t about the age or the things they won’t get to do, it’s about the life lived! Remember the dash in the middle of those two dates, beginning and end, are the story! How we live when we are alive will tell the stories after we are gone! Share often and never forget!

Brandon, our newest angel, now with his buddy, we will cry because you are gone, but smile because you were here!! Rest easy. The hard part for you is over. Just help the rest of us now…

#resteasyupthere #youngagebutbiglife #flyhighonthatmountain #thedashinthemiddle

Welcome home!! It’s not final, but it can feel like it…

Give me strength!! We are about to attend the funeral of another young person in our lives. It is always hard because they seem so final. But it isn’t always the finale. During these moments, I draw on the strength that has gotten me to here… my faith!!

Even though it has been nearly two and a half years since I lost my son, the void is still like a crater. I fill that crater with memories, stories, pictures, and prayers! The void will always be there, but so will all those things I have to remember him. I just don’t get “new” stories, memories, and photos to go with them. That has to be the hardest part.

The first thing I realized is nothing can replace my son. From there, I had to learn a new normal without him. The new members of this unwanted club will have to learn that too, as hard as it is. I hope they, too, will draw on the strength of their faith to get there. We have to know they are in a good place. As a parent, that is always the hope for our children. We want to know they are ok!

I have repeatedly said that our only guarantee in life is that we will die. We don’t always know when or how. We don’t know if we will suffer horribly or go peacefully. We also can’t guarantee that our children will outlive us, as many of us have found out the hard way!!

As we start the day tomorrow, say a prayer for the family saying goodbye to their son, brother, nephew, and friend and hello to their new angel. May the Lord wrap them in his loving care not only tomorrow, but also for the road ahead of them, knowing that his suffering is over and he is in his forever home with those who have gone before him. This is not the final step, and he awaits us with open arms. Now, many more understand how we cry because they are gone, but smile because they were here!!!

#gonetoosoonforus #inHislovingcare #newangelamongus #thedashinthemiddle

I’ve been there, and am still there… and am not alone!

As I sit here, thoughts are rampant!! One of my son’s buddies was killed last night in an ATV accident. He was 20 years old. My heart hurts… for many reasons!! For those of you who have lost a child, when another passes, it is like repeating your own loss all over again!! We know exactly what that family is going through… step by step by step!! 😢

To those that are new to this unfortunate club, my heart aches for you and I have no easy words. I wish there was something I could say that takes away the pain of your loss. The only thing I can tell you is I am here for you!! I will stay quiet in a corner if needed. I will hold your hand. I will get you more Kleenex. I will listen to you and do whatever is needed. But I can’t take away the pain!!

I can tell you I will continue to talk about your son. I will share stories to remember the life he lived! I will look at pictures over and over and over. I know his life had meaning, and will continue to have meaning!! He was here for a reason and has changed the lives of many!

I know the first of everything you experience without him will bring tears: first holiday; first birthday, of his or anyone; the first day you don’t get a call or card of condolence; and so many more. I can tell you there will be triggers you cannot prepare yourself for. They will hit you out of nowhere! You might be driving down the road, folding laundry, cleaning up a mess, buying groceries, or watching tv. No prepping yourself. Just know on those days, I will be praying for you!

Grief is not something you will get over, especially the loss of your child! It is different than any other loss you will have. This does not mean you don’t love others you have lost. This loss doesn’t make you a widow(er) or an orphan. This loss makes you incomplete. You may never feel whole again. You will not get over this loss, but you will get through it! Hold on tight for the bumpy ride ahead. Through all of it, know many of us are here still praying! That won’t stop!! Ever!!

I want to sugarcoat it but I can’t. I can only stress to not lose yourself and your purpose. You are now living for your son as well. Live the best life possible. You will find joy in the things around you. Give yourself time to heal and some of that beauty will return. You will never stop missing your child, but he will continue to give you purpose! He will be shining down on you and give you signs right when he knows you need them. Keep the faith and know he is in good hands!

This is an ongoing process you will go through. Do not feel alone or that you have to do this alone! Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. You have many here to help along the way. As with my son, I know you will cry because he is gone, but I want you to smile because he was here!

#gonetoosoon #neverforgotten #buddiesinheaven #thedashinthemiddle

Another New Year is coming…

It’s the end of another year. I have mixed emotions at this time of the year. Every person hopes your next year is your best year yet! My year may be better than my last, but it will never be my “best” year ever! I have peaked for the “best” years’ ever and I wish I had known it then. I may have treated those years better and respected my time more. I know I would have been a lot more thankful!! Those “best” years were when I had both my children to hold and hug and touch!!!

What happens after the worst year ever? That was 2017 for me! Leaving 2017 and heading into 2018 was rough. I felt like I was losing my son all over again. I had him alive in 2017 for a lot of it. Closing that year was facing an entire year without him. It was a mindset I could not change. I have done better since, but the feeling of desertion was hard to shake. It was a cold reality.

I will still have good years, maybe even great. I will still make great memories, but they will never come close to what I had! I had always appreciated my children and I know they knew (and know) they are loved! Any years that follow 2017 may be described as great (hopefully!) but they will never be the “best” year!! The really great news here is that does not mean I will stop trying to live my best life!

The first year, 2018, was spent trying to redefine “normal ” and move forward. We all know you don’t “get over” the loss of a child. You get through it. I have finally lost all the weight that came with my depression in 2018. I also started this blog to help others as well as myself. This is my therapy! 2019 was spent trying to move forward and in a very positive direction. Hitting 2019 came with personal changes and constant ways of trying to honor my son’s memory! I feel I have accomplished that!

As I head into the year 2020, I am continuing the positive attitude! I will strive to live the best life possible and continue to honor the memory of my son. My husband and I plan on doing a trip every year near the anniversary date and do things that would make him proud and do things he would have enjoyed, too! I still want people to drive by and honk! Share funny stories! Smile when you think of him! Those are the best ways to keep his spirit alive and thriving…never forget! As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!

May all of you enjoy your holiday. Be safe! I won’t wish for the best year yet, but may you live your best life possible in the year to come!!

#happynewyear #memoriesliveforever #thedashinthemiddle

Went by to see you today…

For all those grieving a loss this holiday season, know you are not alone. Our hearts are always heavier during the festive times because their absence is much more evident. My prayers to you and your families.

I went by to see you today…

Went by to see you today, it’s getting close to Christmas

Wanted to fill you in, tell you what’s happening with us.

I talked about the kids a bit, my job and all that stuff

Went on and on about money, how there never seems enough.

It’s getting cold outside so the conversation was shorter than wished

But I wanted you to know how much you are loved and missed

I knelt down to brush the dirt and leaves away off the stone’s hearth

And to once again say “it’s lonely without you here on Earth”

The holidays are a time of year that is heavier on our heart

And reminds us ever so gently that we are far apart

As the families gather and celebrate this holiday

Know I miss you, I love you, and think of you every day!

Christina Herold Trueblood

12/16/11

#alwaysinourhearts #forevermissed #thedashinthemiddle

Be positive… no matter what!!

I have spent the last two+ years trying to find a positive in a very not-positive situation. I want to feel the good and am very saddened by how people are responding to things just because they have a different opinion, especially on social media! I give presentations and tell my audience to THINK before posting anything on social media. This stands for True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind!! I would love it if everyone did that!!

It’s December and with so many reasons to be grateful and kind, I am amazed at how many cling to the negative! They believe fake news because they want it to be true and disrespect people for no other reason than their point of view! I am not referring to defending yourself or your beliefs, which validates my point of there being so much negative out there. I am referring to the negative connotations of peoples’ actions and words!! It’s sad! Spin the positive, people!! If you don’t like someone or something, focus on the things you do like and leave the rest alone!

Just the other day, I watched an episode of “Hot Bench” with a lawsuit over a Facebook post! Guess what!!?!! The plaintiff won! The defendant had slandered his name and made false accusations in the comments of a post on Facebook!! It doesn’t matter who you are, what you put out on social media can hurt people! Facebook does not have a privacy button. What others see and read on there is not an invasion of privacy and can be shared and/or seen by many. It can be a very helpful and useful tool, but can also destroy a person.

One of my biggest pet peeves is the one who loves to spread bad news. Some thrive on it. I don’t get that. It’s one thing to let people know someone has died or is hurt. I believe in the power of prayer. That gives us a chance to pray for them. This is why my original Facebook post about the passing of my son being shared 400 times and laced with over 1000 emojis of thumbs up/hearts/sad faces did not bother me but actually gave me strength. Those emojis included thoughts and prayers. Nothing malicious about it. But an article with fake news that is not investigated, challenged, or corrected and is shared 100,000x because people want to believe it because it validates their negatives thoughts can be dangerous, if not destructive.

I wish we could go back to how we treated each other in the days that followed 9-11-01. We were a united nation. We didn’t look at religion, race, or political choice as a deciding factor of whether we would help our neighbor. We spoke to strangers in the store. We cried for those we had never met and rallied together. No bias. No political divide. Why do we have to go through a major thing like a terrorist attack to be nice to each other. Think of where we would be today if we had maintained that same attitude and respect over the last 18 years!!

It’s almost Christmas. I am trying to find the positives. I am trying to be happy for all those that still get to take family photos without missing family members. I am trying to remember past Christmas’ where we wished strangers shopping a “very Merry Christmas” as we left a store. We cannot get back yesterday any more than we can take back harsh words once they have been spoken. T-H-I-N-K before you speak, share an article or news item if you don’t know its truth, and before you post anything negative. It is one thing to be informed. It is another to spread misinformation or promote a negative vibe.

For many, Christmas is the hardest holiday to get through. Spin the positives! Share good things! Speak to strangers. Pray for our country, leaders, and those who are struggling. We have much to be grateful for that we overlook constantly until we no longer have it in our grasps. Be kind! We all have battles others know nothing about.

As I remember Christmas’ past, I look to the future and remember that first Christmas after I lost my son, thinking this is the darkest I had ever felt, and the ray of sunshine that came through when my daughter told me she was expecting another child! It really was a Christmas miracle and proof that life will move forward. I am spinning the positives knowing I still have family, here next to me and in Heaven!! I have been blessed!! As always, I cry because they are gone, but I smile because they were here!!

#itsalmostchristmas #spinthepositives #iamnotperfect #thedashinthemiddle

Speaking from the heart…

I have a lot of moments that are like light bulbs going on! Not all are epiphanies. Some are just common sense. Some are wishful thinking. The ‘lucky’ ones reading these get to relish in those moments. It just helps me to write it out. I hope it helps those who read them. If they don’t help you, I hope they are helping someone. It is me speaking from the heart…

We never know what we have until it is gone. And now that I know, I get very upset when I see what I can’t cherish being neglected, abused, taken for granted, and assumed! Don’t take tomorrow for granted or assume any promised experiences! You can’t get that time back or turn back any clocks to relive life. We take every day for granted until, one day, the choice is not ours to make. When someone tells you to “live – love – laugh” they know what they are talking about!! They know what vacancy is left when you don’t have tomorrow!!

Just recently, I met a divorced waitress with two boys. It sounds as if she had quite a tumultuous relationship with her ex. That being said, it still produced two sons. I know I only heard one side of the story, but my message to both sides is, “Your boys are here! Enjoy your creation!” This should not be an epiphany to them, but for me, the epiphany was this: I am so jealous that this mom and dad have a son(s) you can wrap your arms around and I don’t!! Don’t waste your dash in the middle placing blame and/or neglecting those boys. They are a precious gift!!! Treat them as such!! My only notation here is to know these boys have parents in different homes and it sounded a bit estranged, which makes me sad.

I lost a classmate just recently who was killed in a very similar fashion as my son. He left a wife and three small children behind!! Those kids won’t get a future with their dad! A flip side of my previous story. Instead of a dad who isn’t, it is a dad who can’t!! I pray for their family and hope those children were blessed with great memories and that the surviving family members share as many stories so they never forget their dad!!

Families divided by divorce or distance in miles can still have a great relationship and make great memories. I don’t want to ever say again, “I wish I would have…!” I want to say “I did…!” Life is not going to wait for you to get your heads out of your a**!!! Enjoy your family, friends, good food, good wine, and talk to each other!! Take pictures!! Most of all, let go of the bad, negative, and unhappy moments and overshadow those moments with loving thoughts! Not one of us is perfect, but we can be imperfect together!! Live!! Love!!! Laugh!!! Repeat!!! Life is short! Hearts have a hard time mending if treated wrongly. Some people don’t have do-overs!!! Make each moment and memory count!! Have no regrets!!

As we come near the end of another year, I continue to cry because they are gone, but I smile because they were here!!!

#livelovelaugh #makenemories #randomthoughts #liveeveryday

I don’t want to ever forget…

The other day, someone tagged my son in a heartfelt post. It had me sobbing, remembering the moment she was referring to in that memory! At first, I was wondering why it caused tears. Then, I thought to myself, “don’t ever forget why you still cry!” The revelation hit me, I hope I cry for those endearing moments for as long as I live!
Then, a few nights after, I was on the phone with a long time friend, and the same sentiment was referred to: don’t ever stop crying! Trust me, I won’t! I also won’t stop praying for my son! It is in those moments I am closest to him.
As Christmas approaches, it seems I do a lot of both, crying and praying! As I put up my Christmas tree with all my ornaments of Christmas’ past, the tears were in full force. I have stories behind a lot of them and some were made by my children. Some are dated. Some have pictures of my child the year they were made. Some were definitely made by a child, but they hang proudly on my tree. I enjoy those memories, even though they make me cry.
We never really lose anyone. We lose out on someone, but those moments we lose were never guaranteed anyway. Hold onto the memories. Remember the times that made you laugh. And never refrain from the tears that will follow!! Those tears are heart-shaped and full of the love you still have within you!!
I pray for my son every day. I pray he is proud of his family and friends. I believe those friends he had still honor his memory. They do that every time they tag him in their hunting photos or share stories around the camp fires. Also, every time they drive by the house and honk!! I am pretty sure they still share drinking stories!!😳 I know they still leave mementoes at the scene.
Memories are all that I have of my son, but I continue to make new memories to go along with them. He would want me to. Sometimes, I catch myself wishing he were making these new memories with me, but then I realize, he is! As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!
#christmasishard  #memoriesofchristmaspast  #angelsamongus #thedashinthemiddle

Another date on the calendar to remember, but not celebrate…

Today, November 24, is not just a date on a calendar. To many, it is Sunday. It could be an early celebration of Thanksgiving. To me and my family, it is a day we remember our brothers, plural! This date in 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the loss of my oldest brother, Mike. It also marks the 17th anniversary of the loss of our brother, Pat.  Eight years apart. What are the odds? I believe dates play a huge part in our loss and not all of them are coincidence.
The fact these two brothers died on the same date is an act of God. Our mother was still alive and this gave her one day to mourn the loss of her boys. Now that I am in that club of “parents who have lost a child,” I am grateful she only had one day to recall these losses. I know several who have lost more than one child and this is not the case. I pray for them to find some peace on those days of remembering.
This could have also been my brother Mike leading Pat “home.” Pat told me Mike had been next to his bed all night one night the weekend he passed from cancer. He said our father was outside his room during that time. Both our father and Mike had been gone for years. Mike had been gone for eight and our father had died twelve years earlier. Pat’s statement that they had both been there gave me chills and comfort at the same time.
I know there is a plan we have no control over, for the most part. Some of the actions are a result of free will but I am sure God is taking care of those as well. He is a forgiving God, I have no doubt. It was a reminder today at mass while discussing the choices we have that could have a lasting affect on our future. What we don’t realize is the affect it has on everyone else!
Today, I choose to remember all the good times and moments those brothers left us with. I know they are not alone in Heaven and are at peace and well. The things that were not good with their health have been healed. The pain they suffered is gone. 
I wrote this poem after Pat died. 
God’s Great Plan
Here we are again, a time for sharing and giving
And, as years past, this is a sad Thanksgiving
We are suppose to reflect as if this year were our best
As I lay another sibling down to rest
I don’t understand the plan our Lord has for us here
Because I’ve buried two people I hold very dear
In my eyes, at least, both were too young 
To the rest of the world, their lives had just begun
As I spend this time of reflection to pray
To my Lord, my maker, I have only this to say
Lord, I’ve seen your work, and try to comprehend 
What this suffering will produce on the other end
May the pain we’ve experienced over the years
Help all to understand and overcome their fears
Help them know this great “plan” of yours
Will lead them through much greater doors
It will make us strong and appreciate
What lies ahead for us through Your Heavenly Gate
As I look to Heaven with a heavy sigh
I know we are guarded by our angels on high
May they watch over us and help us to understand
So we, too, can be at peace with God’s Great Plan!!
Christina Herold Trueblood
11/24/2002
As always, I cry because they are gone, but I smile because they were here.
#gonebutnotforgotten  #angelsamongus  #samedategone  #thedashinthemiddle

Perspective: How I deal with grief…

It is All Souls Day and a time to remember and pray for those we have lost. It is sad that I have a list!! We all grieve differently for those who have passed. It doesn’t matter where they fall in the family hierarchy. A loss is a loss. People have told me they think I have dealt with my grief involving the loss of my son with much grace. Well, I am not always sure that is true. I proved that again in conversation just the other day. I still have my moments. I also know we are all born with one guarantee… that we will, at some point, die. The in-between is up to us. Losing my son has been the hardest thing I have had to deal with by far. I thought I couldn’t fathom anything worse for a parent. But there is. Of that, I am sure . I have lost several brothers and both my parents. I knew at an early age this was a possibility being the baby born into a large family. Death is not the worst thing life has to offer, and that is my perspective! 
Definition—Perspective: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view. It’s a half full or half empty way of looking at situations. 
I remember when my husband used to call me every morning at 6:30a to make sure I was awake. He worked third shift. I complained to a friend that I was bothered a little with him thinking I could not get myself up on time. She quickly fired back, “I wish my husband was thinking enough of me every morning to call!” That changed my perspective of his morning call quickly!! Someone sees a “6” and you see a “9”. The object didn’t change, but the way we looked it changed our perception of what we were seeing. Some are sad the day is over when the sun sets. Others are happy to have made it through another day. Perspective.
In retrospect in regards to my loss, I can go another step or two!! What if my son had suffered horribly? That is worse! Watching someone suffer is a very hard thing to do, far worse than death sometimes. Ask anyone who has had a family member suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s!! That has got to be one of the worst!! What about a family member doing everything possible to extend their life due to cancer!! Chemo sucks the life right out of people and might even be worse than the illness itself!! I saw that first hand with my brother who was only 40 years old!! We take life’s situations and can ALWAYS take it one step further. Sometimes, death is NOT that one step further. Death can be relief and/or peace for those suffering… and those watching!!
I did not accept my son’s death with grace. I accepted it as a part of “life,” part of the “plan.” I have faith!! I miss him every single day. I have a lot of wonderful memories in my heart to keep him alive in spirit. Those memories will have to sustain me until I meet up with him in Heaven!! I still cry as I mow the lawn listening to every sad song that reminds me of him. I still dream that it didn’t happen. I still yell down the steps to the basement and tell him to come get his stuff off of the dryer! But, I didn’t helplessly watch him suffer, knowing there was absolutely nothing I could do to ease his pain as my mother did with my brother. For that, I am grateful. I didn’t get here overnight. Trust me! Again, I could take this to a worse-case scenario, but for now, I am where I am!
I am sure if Cody were to answer that question of immediate death or suffering, he would agree. If he were to have lived through what the police told me happened, he would have been in very, very bad shape. Death might have been the result either way, but this way, I know he did not suffer. The knowledge of that is peaceful. Sad to hear, but peaceful to know. Some may not know, but I didn’t get to see my son after he died. I saw him walk away from the house to go fishing and that is my last vision. The next time I saw him, he was in an urn. Could it have been an act of God that I didn’t see him or the wreckage …? Maybe!! I feel the void of this image was Cody’s gift to me and his father. I will not know for sure until I get to Heaven!! Perspective!
I will continue to have my days that pull me back a step or two, but until then, I don’t want to miss the beauty in front of me! Part of me died the day my son died, but the rest of me is trying to live for him and on his behalf!! Roses smell twice as sweet because I smell them for both of us!!l! I choose to live the best of life in honor of all of those who didn’t get to live as long as I wish they could have!! Just my perspective!! Love like there is no tomorrow!! Enjoy those around you! In an instant, they might not be! Don’t waste the moment!! As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!!
#livelovelaugh  #livelifetothefullest  #changeyourperspective  #thedashinthemiddle

I still see you…

Just when God knew I needed to feel your presence, a glimpse of you appears. I am not always looking for those signs, but when I come upon them, it takes my breath away!

Yesterday, this happened through an ornery expression on the face of your 15-month old niece  born after you left our Earthly presence and entered your Heavenly abode. I saw so much of you in her expressions, I laughed and cried at the same time!

You will never be gone, for many reasons! I will never stop talking about you, for one. Those who have never met you feel as if they have. You left a mark on so many that will never be forgotten! I will continue to feel your presence through those around us. I am so grateful for the years we were blessed with! Until we meet again, I will keep you close in my heart, speak of you often, and love and miss you every single day!! I cry because you are gone, but I smile because you were here!! 🌈🕊😇🙏🎼😘❤️.

I Still See You

 

I cried the day you left us

And thought you left nothing behind

But, at that moment, I didn’t see

For my grief had left me blind

Blind to all the memories,

The stories that make us smile

There is a hole deep in our hearts

And will remain for quite a while

I was sad you had no children

To carry on your legacy

But that is another story

And yet a different kind of vacancy

But, amazingly so, I saw you today

In the beautiful eyes of your niece

And all I thought at that moment

Was “Thank you, God, for that little piece”

It was a reflection of you in her face

An amazing glimpse of love

A reminder that you are still with us

Still shining brightly from above….

Christina Herold Trueblood

10/22/2019.

#foreverinourhearts  #signsamongus  #youliveinthruothers

 #thedashinthemiddle

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