Enjoying my daily Ellen DeGeneres, I caught her with Gayle King who is releasing a book based on her “Note to Self” segment on the CBS morning show. I couldn’t help but reflect on my thirty-one years of life and all that has happened. Would I prepare myself for the present? Yes, but would I have changed anything…no.
Dear Jessica Lynn,
You’re probably playing dress up in your mom’s closet, rearranging/cleaning her room or helping her bake something delicious and I want you to savor every moment with her because they are easily taken for granted. Every time that she asks you to do something…do it. You can still roll your eyes like kids do to their parents, but still do it. If she tells you she’ll call your friends parents when you make plans she doesn’t believe…trust her, she’ll do it. She’s not above following your car, or randomly stopping by the place you say your staying. She isn’t afraid to call you out or let you fail but she loves sitting back and watching you shine. If you’ve already called her at work five times today, go ahead and make it six – she’ll say she’s going to lose her job but she loves it.
When she tells you she loves you always say it back. And don’t always wait for her to say it first. She’ll love hearing it randomly. You won’t always want to hang out with her but when you do it will mean the world to her, especially if you and your sisters don’t fight. There won’t be a ton of family vacations so make the ones you do go on together enjoyable…just for her. It doesn’t matter who sits up front in the vehicle, that has no bearing in life. You decide to go to college where she works because the thought of living far away from her is terrifying and it will be one of the best decisions you make. Unfortunately you get a bit distracted during college but distance will help you figure out your priorities and you’ll make up for any lost time with her BUT it will be under different circumstances…she’ll have cancer. And you won’t like the way it ends but you and her, and your family and friends rally around her in a way that is so beautiful you’ll forget her not beating it is even an option.
I hate to tell you this but you’ll become a mom with her watching from heaven. And it’s going to be really hard but you’re going to revisit all those times with her as if they were a blueprint for motherhood and it was a DAMN good one. And all those times I mentioned before and how you should treat her, you’re going to know exactly how she felt in those moments with you. And there will be times you wished you’d behaved differently, held on a little longer during that hug, chosen to stay in with her instead of going out with friends. Or joined her on one more run or shared another random dance in the living room. Because they’ll be a day when you won’t be able to make new memories with her, you’ll have to rely on all those feelings and strength to get you through. But the good news is you do and she is so proud. You’ll know because you can feel it…even from heaven.
Each day I expected to grieve a little less, be a little more used to my mom not being here. Not being a phone call or hug away. But as I continue my grieving journey I’ve realized that it’s just always going to be here because as life continues new moments will inflict their own feelings.
My mom’s health began to significantly decline when my life was beginning to grow. This was hard for my twenty-four year old self to be okay with. How do I find out who I am without leaving her behind? She passed away two weeks after I started my first full-time job in a new state. I’ll never forget her face and our tears as I hugged her good-bye at my aunts wedding reception. She was reclined in her chair, so frail and sad…so unlike her. I remember walking out in tears because I knew that the mom I grew up with was really never going to be that way again. And looking back, I can still see her eyes and thinking this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.
Why didn’t we get the normal life of weekend visits to my apartment and seeing me live a grown up life? Watching me marry the love of my life, talking me through pregnancy concerns, reminding me to think before I speak and to take care of my self. But we don’t get to pick and this was the hand we were dealt. I know she was angry at the end. She was an extremely positive person but she was angry. She didn’t deserve that ending to her story.
And I think that is why I’m so committed to carrying on her memory every day. Because she deserves that. She deserves Grandkids who understand why we love Bald Eagles, and a memory garden filled with her favorite flowers. She more than deserves to feel our love all the way to heaven.
This rambling post is really because each new memory in life brings up those new feelings. We are expecting our third child and I’m met with a whole new set of emotions wishing she was here. Wanting to ask her how she handled three kids, if she had anxiety or depression during and after pregnancy…and how she did it all?
So ask your mom, or dad or whoever is super special to you these questions because you just never know. I’m left with this sweet card my dad found when he was cleaning out their house. We can’t remember why or when she wrote it, but I love that it’s so simple that a quick look can bring both tears and love.
Happy Birthday to the person I simply cannot live without. The person who accepts all of my flaws, reminds me of them and challenges me to be the best version of myself. You make me want to be the best I can. And, you do that by being an incredible partner, co-parent and driving me crazy at the same time.
You came into my life when I needed you the most but had no idea I did. My heart was in a different place, my head was in another but you helped me piece it all together and come out smiling. So thank you. Thank you for helping me grieve the challenges life has dealt. The loss of my mom, our miscarriage, becoming new parents and everything in between. And while some days it can be so hard to smile, you remind me why I should. Why we should. The support you have provided to me since sending that first email has never wavered. And I love you for it.
You make me laugh and let me cry while just holding me up.
The first song is everything you are to me. And the second is how I will always explain falling in love with you (minute 2:52 I die). I tear up every time I hear them. My life, my smile and my heart are where they are because of you. Ending relationships, starting new ones, moving three times in two years, having two kids in three years, losing a baby, new jobs, family heartache – there is nothing we can’t overcome and that is something you’ve challenged me with since we met. Thank you for always having my heart.
And this blog is your present. You’re welcome, you said not to spend any $$.
I hope your 2016 is off to a great start. Ours has been crazy busy and I took some time to restart and refocus in the new year. We kicked our year off with a trip to Pasadena to cheer on our Hawkeyes. It was a fun, quick trip for Joel and I but we got to spend time with his mom and some of our fellow Hawkeye friends.
Fast-forward to February and one of my favorite months. I LOVE holidays. As I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog, my mom LOVED holidays and she made it so much fun growing up. Decorating the house, baking holiday-themed treats and just taking that extra time to enjoy the day for it’s special reason was always fun. It’s been fun caring this tradition on with Hayden-Keith especially as he has gotten older.
Whether you think Valentine’s Day is just another day is totally up to you. But this year I challenge you to think outside of the usual box of chocolates. Sure, it’s typically a day for lovers but why not make it a day of love. Show whomever you love—yourself, your parents, sibling, spouse, kids, pet or a stranger what it means to love. Stop by your parents house unannounced or honor a lost loved one by doing an activity they loved to do or that you often did with them. I’ll be baking some of my mom’s special Valentine’s Day cookies with Hayden-Keith and loving up on my two human and fur men. We may have kicked off our day with donuts.
In keeping with the love theme, and since we didn’t take Christmas photos, we decided to take Valentine photos to share some exciting news. A huge shout out to my long-time friend, Kate Iverson of Kate Iverson Photography, for capturing these moments for us! You are the best.
We are so excited to be growing our family. In a previous post, I shared the story of our miscarriage. The loss will always be with us, and we know we’ll meet that little one day but we have kept our faith and know that God has a plan for us, and our family. Can’t wait to meet this little one in July.
When 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 →
Life got away from me and I neglected to post this gem but here it is…sorry for the delay dad.
I was born on Father’s Day which I like to think is a gift that keeps on giving. My mom had me at 6:39 am and my dad played in a golf tournament that evening which he ended up winning. Daddy’s good luck charm right here. There was an article in the paper and I love looking back at it and all the things my mom saved over the years. Her hoarding = my treasures.
Living four hours from my dad is hard but it’s especially hard on Father’s Day. I am blessed to have an amazing dad. So much of our childhood was spent attending various running events, laughing, playing, dancing to music on VH1 or the record player and eating sweets. I never realized how much of what I love is because of him. Running, The Eagles and 70s rock in general, SWEETS, being outdoors and the list goes on. I will never forget at my wedding when the song “Already Gone” by The Eagles came on and we turned to look at it each other. Continue reading →