Fear of the unknown

Friday I had the privilege of giving Father Keith an early Father’s Day gift – spending most of his day with me. It’s actually the other way around. It was so nice to get to hang out with him without distractions. We spent the day at a conference learning all the ins and outs of the health condition he battles.

Pulling into the parking lot and seeing the sign “Hope starts here” really resonated with me. As I fought back tears realizing I’d soon be face to face with fears of the unknown, I took that sign as not only a sign from God but from my mom. I couldn’t help but think back to her interview with a local news outlet discussing the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition-IA Chapter’s annual Break the Silence Run/Walk. Her message of hope just made me feel like in that moment, on Friday, my dad and I were where we should have been. Together, educating ourselves (and smuggling suckers from the vendor tables). Because all you can do is educate yourself and #sweets4life.

I actually listen to her interview often. I selfishly need to hear her voice and a verbal reminder of hope. And, ironically a couple weekends ago, we attended the Break the Silence run/walk in her honor. It was incredible to see all the people supporting their loved ones. It’s bittersweet attending without her but having her Grandkids and sister participate were a close second best.

How do you handle fears of the unknown? Do you like to be educated or are you stronger when you’re unsure?

Save

Just cancer.

“Your mom just has cancer. Not you.” I’ll never forget those words. When my mom was diagnosed someone told me this after I explained  how my life had changed, my values and priorities had shifted and I’d grown. The comment stopped in me in my tracks.

And while I can’t remember how I responded, I catch myself thinking back to that moment every once in a while. “Your mom has cancer, not you.”

True, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer, the kind that is past the point of easily being cured –  I was by all accounts healthy. But anyone who has lost or seen someone suffer a loss knows that while the patient does carry the heaviest burden – family and loved ones have their own struggles. How do you keep it together when your world is falling apart? You just do the best you can. And some days you have it together and others you don’t, but both are ok.

Some days will be fighting through the fears of the unknown, the questions of whether or not your recent phone call will be the last. Will they feel up to talking with you or having you visit that day? Who is going to talk to your siblings guidance counselors and make sure they don’t miss athletic events they simply cannot miss? How will you give the play-by-play of athletic games you don’t understand? Smiling when you can because you know that’s how they want to see you. Making the hospital or chemo/doctor visits your new place to visit and going for that hour run when you’re way out of shape because they just killed their chemo treatment and want to run.

And that is “just cancer.” It’s your dad sitting at your wedding by himself in a pew that he should be sharing with his fourth grade sweetheart. That is grief, that is loss and that is heartbreak – a different kind of heartbreak. It’s having your world flipped upside down. It’s bittersweet memories…always. It’s being afraid but smiling. It’s crying harder than you’ve ever cried and it’s realizing that you don’t have to keep it together. Things can fall and you can change. There will be good days and there will be hard days. And that is ok.

How do you cope with a the loss or fear of losing a loved one?

Horses and handheld memories

Since it’s almost the one year anniversary of our relocation to Iowa, I decided to put some personal touches throughout the house. I so admire people who are able to breathe life into a room with their style (The Makerista) because I just don’t have that talent.

But Hayden-Keith’s birthday seemed like a great deadline to give him a big boy room. When we moved he rocked transitioning from his crib to a queen bed. We made it seem like the crib didn’t move with us, so he was prepared ahead of Leah’s arrival. There were a few sleepless nights / weeks but he did great.

In my last post you saw the intensity of his love for horses. After one horse ride at a pumpkin patch he was hooked, and “Misty” has been his horse ever since. I’ve followed UrbanWalls for a while and since I didn’t want to commit to painting, their wall decals were perfect. After seeing local Iowa blogger, Nina and Cecilia (amazing) post on them, I decided to get some samples. UrbanWalls customer service was so nice and responsive, they recommend samples as the decals won’t work on heavy textured walls. The samples were sent quickly with no charge. Our walls are a bit textured but the decals held well. They were super easy to apply and they come off no problem. I was sold, placed my order for several sheets of “Misty” —  BUT rookie mistake — measure before ordering (yes they recommend this in the FAQs, but I was super cocky, guessed and now have several extra sheets).

The Small Horse Wall Decal was the missing piece to his unplanned “home on the range, wild west themed room” complete with a teepee. He loves it. To quote the cutie, “mom I love these Misty’s, thank you for hanging them.” Ugggh stay sweet forever please. And, seriously, if you’re considering adding some unique flare to a room, Urban Walls is where it’s at.

 

It’s funny how family heirlooms have a way of molding into a new generation. Growing up I remember my mom having a guitar – I have no idea why she had one. Never heard her play, but I made sure it didn’t get donated when we cleaned up my parents house. I hate getting rid of things, especially handheld memories. The guitar is now next to the teepee and Hayden-Keith thinks Angel Grandma Kristi gave it to him, which she totally did. Between the bald eagle photos, her old picnic basket next to his bed for books and the guitar, my mom is well represented in this room. The photo over his bed is actually a photo of Joel and I on our first trip to Scottsdale AZ, it’s a horrible picture for a canvas but has never made its way to the trash…again, I can find a use for anything.

Any tips for decorating with family heirlooms? Links below if you saw something you can’t live without.

Dresser | Teepee | Horse Decals | Frames | Lamp | Slippers | I’ll Love You Forever Canvas | Buffalo

Save

Save

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today we celebrate the birthday of a beautiful woman who turns 60 in heaven. All day I caught myself wondering how she’d spend her day. We did our best to honor her here on earth. I finally hung decorations in Hayden’s room that have a special tie to her — bald eagle prints, horse decals and an “I’ll love you forever…” print. I couldn’t help but tear up as I was cutting flowers from our “Grandma Kristi” garden thinking how badly I wish I could share life with her. I wish she could see the excitement Hayden has for the bird feeder anytime he catches a visiting bird in his binoculars. Or the way he is so happy and proud to smell our flowers. He loves to play baseball and bake and just live life. I would give anything for her to have a slumber party at our house in Hayden’s teepee then greet Leah in the morning smiling wide-eyed in her crib. We’d take them on a long walk or runs, talk about recent award shows, the news and grill seafood.

I know she’d love sitting with my dad and just watching her Grandkids play and laugh. She’d be right there with them. And while it breaks my heart to think of all the things I don’t get to see her do, I know she does them all in Heaven.

I love you mom. Thank you for every moment you remind me that you are here, never far from my thoughts and always in my heart. Happy 60th.

Save

Due date come and gone.

Turns out I’m not the most consistent at posting and I have gained a whole new respect for dedicated bloggers since starting my own blog.

Today marks a hard day and really a day when I just want to call my mom. Today is the due date from our pregnancy that resulted in miscarriage.  It’s crazy to miss and love someone you have to wait to meet and it’s been comforting to hear of others who have gone through pregnancy loss just sad to know others have felt that same pain. In the sadness that haunts today, I’m blessed to feel the sweet kicks from our newest blessing due in July. Being pregnant after having a miscarriage has brought on a whole new mix of emotions but we continue to pray and remain hopeful as we continue the journey to grow our family.

Music is one of my favorite ways to cope. This song has brought me comfort in our pregnancy loss and especially these hard days when all I want is my mom. How do you get through the hard times?

 

All that you’ve missed but seen


Thank you so much for all the love, thoughts and messages regarding our last post. While our hearts are broken we know it’s not the end of our journey to grow our family and will just see where God takes us.

IMG_6787It’s officially been five years since the last day I got to talk, hug and love my mom in person. And it’s been really hard. It’s been harder than normal and I find myself tearing up really easy, just wishing I could call her. As I do each year, I took the day off to just spend some time with myself and her. I made sure to do things we would have done together or something she would have done in her every day like taking Lou for a run and baking her cut-out cookie recipe. Joel even helped me frost and decorate. Oh and I wore her turtleneck cropped wool sweater which I received compliments on (my sisters won’t believe it). My sister Catie and her manfriend Arlin came over and we ordered “terrible” Chinese. It was great. Continue reading →

Soar on wings like eagles

Eagle_closeupAnyone who knows me knows I love Bald Eagles. Growing up my parents shared their love of this bird, due in part to their hometown, Decorah, IA. It’s a popular area for Bald Eagles and when we would road trip to visit family we would always keep an eye out for one. Dad said we’d get $5 for everyone we saw (still waiting to collect).

I never knew how this bird would become my saving grace in coping with my mother’s cancer. When her hair started to fall out from chemo, mom got together with her sisters to shave her head. She looked amazing. I wish I would have done it with her but my head has a dent in it. Regardless she looked beautiful. One day she was probably asking me to do something and I got sassy with her and called her “Bald Eagle.” She gave me a look but I quickly recovered and let her know it was a symbol of strength and grace. She liked it and the name stuck. Continue reading →

Words to live by

IMG_7943When my mom was diagnosed, it brought on so many emotions. I was in the middle of a quarter-life crisis (it’s a real thing), graduating college, ending a relationship, moving out for the first time, applying for jobs and THEN my best-friend mom was diagnosed with cancer. I needed advice. I wanted someone to tell me it was ok, that she would be alright, I would be alright, my family would be alright and life wouldn’t end.

To cope with the fear of the unknown, I found myself gravitating towards quotes and poems. Whether it was on strength, love, grief or friendship I started saving these in a homemade journal I received from my cousin. I still have it and will write down new quotes whenever I find them. You can find a lot of them on my Pinterest board. Continue reading →

Running for mom

IMG_7883On Saturday, September 12, Hayden Keith, my sister Catie and I attended the annual HOM Teal Strides for ovarian cancer run. The run benefits MOCA, an amazing local non-profit that is a crusader for ovarian cancer awareness. The last time I participated in this event, I was 6 weeks pregnant with Hayden Keith so it was neat to experience the run with him. I try to participate in one ovarian cancer event every year as a way to connect with mom and do my part to raise awareness for such an awful disease. It’s bittersweet to be around so many others who understand the nastiness of ovarian cancer and seeing the teal makes me smile. I wish mom was here to still run with me. Organizers handed out stickers to wear that said whether you were running in honor or memory of someone. I grabbed one for Hayden Keith and me. As I was running, I tried to read who others were running for and it was sad to see so many people my age running for their mom, kids Hayden Keith’s age running for grandma and husbands like my dad running for the wives. This disease is much more treatable in the early stages, there needs to be a better screening process for early detection. Continue reading →

Getting through the hard days.

74bbcd1045617cfdfc240e5a38480681 Some days are hard and some days are even harder. Last night was a really hard one. Over the last month I’ve been trying to cope with loss and understand how and why some experience more loss than others. I know everyone has their own battle(s), but some just seem more obvious than others but regardless loss hurts. It doesn’t make one loss any less than the other. But to some holding onto that loss and grief can be a sign of weakness. As if there is a time frame for grief and “getting over” someone or something. To those people I would say, “it is really easy to say that when you aren’t the one experiencing those emotions.” You don’t have to go through your day seeing people live a life you once knew or you wish you could experience. Logging into social media, you see so much joy (which is great) but on a hard day it can make it even harder. People having babies, spending time with their parents and friends, and it’s easy to start to compare and break yourself down because your life doesn’t live up to that picture. That’s my struggle. Continue reading →