Self Under Construction

Well, I did it. I have officially decided to take time for myself, I have decided to for once to take care of me. This decision has racked me with pain, guilt and many sleepless nights. By all means, the outward appearance that everyone sees is of someone who is smiling, handling life and seems “okay”. The truth is that person has mastered putting on the face of happy deception. In reality, I spend my nights tossing and turning. Crying and screaming into my pillow. I spend my days with headaches and pure exhaustion. On the days that are good for me, there are the moments that fleet across my mind and will have me crying hysterically for a brief second. But that second is enough to leave me just ready for the day to end so I can crawl into the bed with sleepless exhaustion.

I was spending my days taking care of children when I could barely take care of myself. It is hard to put on a smile and fix grill cheese for these innocent faces when you just want to be alone. It has not been fair to them or me. They are not getting the best me they deserve. How do you answer them when they ask why you are crying? Well little child, I am crying because I miss fixing my son peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Or how about I am crying because Richie used to play this game with you and it hurts me now to do it. Not fair at all for them to have this sad mess instead of the MumMum that used to dance with them and sing at the top of my lungs over the littlest things. Not fair at all.

So what do I do when the last child leaves each day. I immediately go into shut down mode. I do not want to deal with life. I do not want to do anything. I want to go to bed at 5:30 and sulk in my own world. This is not fair to my husband or two children living at home with us. Well, Luke and Savannah are grown you may say. They can take care of themselves.Jeff can get his own supper and let you rest you say. Yes, they can and yes at times they do. But is this fair to them. They did not sign up for this grief ride either. I am the Mom. I am to take care of them no matter their age and I am to be the Mom. They do not deserve a Mom that shuts down from life every evening and does not share in their life fully. I should be making meals for us to eat around our table and hearing about their day. Instead they have been getting a Mom that is quick tempered, stressed, red eyed, frazzled and just a teary mess. My husband does not deserve to come home to a wife that tells him she has had a bad day and is going to bed the minute he walks in the door. How many moments have I missed with them that I can’t get back? Have I gone on too long like this that they no longer desire to be around me?

Then there is this….. Jeff and I have no more children we are responsible for. They have been raised, graduated and are off making there way in the world. What do we do now? We have always taken care of them and put them first always. I can’t count how many date nights were spent with a car load of kids and their friends because we didn’t want to leave them. Now what do we do? Are we even still close enough as husband and wife to be us? What if we don’t even like each other? How do we be us with just us? This scares me more than anything. How do we handle being married with just us? We are having to learn each other all over again.

Now the biggest one…. How do I take care of me? I have always taken care of others. My kids, their friends, my husband(s), others people’s kids, my family, my friends and even the daggum hamster! Now how do I take care of me? I have decided to start counseling to work through some of the things that are haunting me.Things that have haunted me since childhood. I have decided to rest. That is the hardest adjustment so far. I cannot sit still from thinking I have to do something. I am going to write, read, cross-stitch, volunteer at church and just take a walk. If I want to stay up all night crying, I will. If I want to scream at 12:34 in the afternoon because I want my son back, I will. If I want to go have lunch with my handsome son Luke, I will. If I want to go rambling with Savannah, I will. If I want to surprise Jeff with a picnic lunch in his office, I will. (I have always wanted to do that) I will do what makes me happy. I will take care of myself. I will for once let the grief out instead of holding it in until everyone else is taken care of. For once in my life, I will be under construction to be a better me for me. Not for others. Please pray for me. Aside from burying my son, this is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.


Tuesdays with Morrie

As I said, this summer I will be spending my time reading. I have now read almost all of Mitch Albom’s books. I wanted kinda of review or say a little something about each one. I do not think it will be so much as a review but as the feelings each book gave me. When you lose a child and then read books that speak of death, afterlife and such, it makes you think beyond the story. Remember this is the view point of a housewife/babysitter that mainly gets to read when in the bath, on the toilet or nap time. If I am lucky during a movie or at bedtime.

So I started with Tuesdays with Morrie. I have heard it referenced in many TV shows and when I found it in goodwill, I picked it up to see what all the fuss was about. I started with reading the inside cover and found that this was a “true story”. It is about his college professor Morrie Schwartz and his battle with ALS. He visits him every Tuesday for weeks until Morrie’s last day. Morrie shares with him the wisdom he has gathered throughout his full life.

The book is filed with pearls of wisdom. On how to deal with living, loving and dying. How to be a decent human being. How to relate to others on an emotional level. I could fill this blog with my favorite quotes from the book but I absolutely recommend that you read it yourself. You will get much more out of the book by reading it than looking at a few lines from it.

This book made me think long after putting it down. What if we knew we were going to die? What would you do? What wisdom would I have to pass on to my loved ones? Have the things I have done in my life mattered enough that someone would want to visit me every Tuesday until I died? It really makes you of the meaning of your life and how you have impacted others thus far. I have sat and thought of the things that I could say to others. I could give advice on parenting in divorce. How not to totally crumble in the death of a child.How to overcome having a loveless Father. How to make the absolute best strawberry cake you will ever eat. But is that enough? Is that what people will want to hear from me? And who would visit me? Will it be a family member childhood friend or someone I met along the way? Have I been the best me I can be to where I would have droves of people wanting to see me one last time?

This book is more than sharing the life lessons from a truly remarkable man. One that I feel like I have missed out on. It is a book that make you think about your life. How you have impacted others. And the biggest of all, have you learned anything of value to pass on to others.

I give this book more than two thumbs up or five stars. I think every school should make the senior class read it and study it. I think every parent should read it and learn from it. I just want everyone to read this book.



My Christmas Wish!

Well, it is getting to be closer and closer to our first Christmas without Richie. Everyone keeps asking me what they can do to make it better. What would I like for Christmas? I really do not want anything for myself except prayers. But I have found something I want and wish for and need your help!
When my son passed away, a fund was started at the local bank to help us with funeral expenses and such. Well, this special young girl was the first one to show up and donate her very own money to our family. She is Richie’s classmate, friend and cousin. Her name is Lauren. Before any other adults gave, she did. Isn’t that something that someone 20 years old would just give so easily? Lauren is a very lovely young lady who works hard at everything she does and always, ALWAYS has a smile on her face. In the small town we live in, gossip travels fast about the kids. I have never heard one word about her other than how sweet, smart and extraordinary she is. She studies nursing at Middle Georgia State College during the week and works as a CNA during the weekend.
Now Lauren has the chance to study abroad in Scotland! How exciting! The trip however is very pricy. She has been working hard to raise the money on her own. Most would start a Fund Me account or whatever they are. Or ask everyone to help. No, Lauren has been asking about doughnut sales and bake sales. I sat down at my computer one morning a few weeks ago and pulled up Facebook and her smiling face was staring at me. Right then I knew to help her! I talked it over with Jeff, Mike and Angie and they agreed! We sent Lauren some money to help her go to Scotland.
So now I am asking each of you to help me fulfill a promise I made to this young lady. I told her that I would help send her to Scotland! She deserves this! When we were at the worst time in our lives, she was the first to help. She never asked for recognition or a thank you. She just did it out of the kindness and love in her heart. It says in the Bible- Luke 6:38 – Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
I ask each of you to dig in the couch cushions, get the change out of the cup holders in your cars and in the bottom of your pocketbooks! I have 803 friends on Facebook. If each one sent her $5 that would be $4,015. That is more than she needs and would even give her some extra money to bring her little sister a souvenir.
I believe that everything we do in life comes full circle. All the good you do, no matter how big or small, will give you greater blessings in return. Lauren blessed us and now I want to show her the same blessing. Now dig deep!

Life Insurance Money & Giving Back

Life insurance. Why do they even call it that? It does not insure anyone that they will have a long life. I guess that is the name it is given to ease the mind. Better than some companies that call it death benefits. Why this name? What are the benefits of death? Aside from organ donation and saving someone else’s life there are none.
I have received both since my son’s passing. Life Insurance and death benefits. Not a lot of money. I was able to pay off the rest of his bills and finish paying for the balance of the funeral expenses. There was even some left over. I have been faced with what to do with this money for months now. People have made many suggestions. Buy a new car. Remodel the house. Go on a vacation or cruise. I just cannot entertain any of these ideas. First off, I didn’t get nearly as much as most thought I did. Second, I just cannot bring my self to use this money to do anything for personal pleasure. This is money that we received because our son died. When we started these accounts it was because we thought the kids could use it if we died. Not because of one of them dying. How could I enjoy what I have so lovingly (insert sarcastic voice) refer to as death money. If I went on that family cruise and looked back at the pictures, who would be missing? My son. I cannot think of one thing that I would want to do with this money that would benefit me that I would have a peace of mind with much less enjoy.
So after months and months of tossing ideas back and forth with Jeff and the kids, we have settled on a decision. We will use that money to help others like us. There are two sets of families like us that will benefit.
The first is families that have lost loved ones in this small town. When a loved one dies, there are people everywhere. Two weeks later, the calm comes and most are left alone. You still have the visitors here and there but for the most part, you are left to sort your grief out alone. I was blessed to have a very good support group of family and friends. But what about the ones that don’t have this? There is no grief counseling here in this town. So what are we grieving to do? Well, hopefully at the beginning of next year, we will be able to have everything in order to start a support group. One where we can get together and just talk, laugh or cry. Share feelings. Help each other. Part of this support will be for us to reach out the minute someone looses someone and stay with them throughout the years. Not just send a plant, card or casserole and leave after the funeral. But to stay with them for the days that get rough. Be there for all the firsts, seconds and always. A group just to show love, support and prayer.
The second is for donor families. Yes, there is a lot of support being offered to us. But I have found that the best support I have is the one on one with other families like ours. Some of my best therapy has come from a special friend I have made who’s son tragically passed just after mine and was an organ donor. There are times when we email each other and talk about things that we would probably never talk about with to our husbands much less anyone else. Sometimes we just email to share something that we read that was inspiring to us. Or to simply share a letter we received from a recipient of our children’s gifts.
I will use the money that was received as a result of a young man’s untimely death to benefit others. He was always giving and caring. Always trying to help others. Always trying to bring a smile to others when they were down and out. So that is what I will do. I will honor the person he always was. A giver, Not a receiver. A light for others. I will be the light for him now.

Giving To Heal The Hurt

Giving. Do you know what it means to you? Everyone translates that one word to mean what suits them best. Whether it be a selfish translation or one of utter selfishness. My translation may be one to surprise you all.

Giving to me is all about my survival right now. Yes, survival. I have always been one to help others or jump when needed. But now, I give even when I am not needed. I give when it is not going to be known to anyone but to me. I give to keep from crashing into the rigged rocks on the shore of grief.

There have times when I get so withdrawn into my grief and sorrow over losing Richie that I would go to dark places in my head. I would just shut down from all family and friends. Then one day, when I was at a low point, I really thought about the feelings. If I was feeling this then certainly some other Mom in grief was too. So I sat down and wrote a note of love to a Mom that I knew was grieving. This one note started a pattern. Now if I am sad, I send a note, email or text of cheer to someone. If I am lonely, I send a random text to a friend wishing them a great day. If I feel ugly, I send a text telling someone else they are beautiful. I will bake someone their favorite cake and take it to them if I simply need to keep myself busy.If I need a laugh, I just snap chat one of my nieces a picture being silly.

You see, this whole life we have been given is not about us as an individual. It is about each other. It is about what we put out n the universe. In Luke 6:38 Jesus says, “Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give to your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” To me, this means that whatever I give out to the world, will surely be given back to me. What does this mean I will be given? Well, it can be something as simple as a smile I was needing when I drop that note in the mailbox. Or it could be the thought of knowing someone later in the day will enjoy a slice of that cake. Maybe I will receive nothing but the fact of knowing I did it. No matter what the reason I did it for or the return I get from it, I know I am being measured by God. He sees the things I do and he is building my rewards that are going to be greater than anything I can get here on Earth. I also like to think that the giving young man that went to heaven is watching what is being done here. I do not think he wants me crying in self-pity but rather wants me doing like he did for us.

So for me, giving is healing. And in healing, I am doing what is expected of me as a child of God. In all the crazy messed up ways the world is now, maybe it would be better if we all tried to heal the world by small acts of giving. Just think if we healed the whole world!!!!