Happy Birthday to My Little Man

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What a difference a day makes.  One day your heart is full of complete sadness and the next it is full of so much happiness.  On this day 8 years ago, my other favorite man came into my life.  Hunter is a mini version of his daddy and was from the moment I first held him.  My first words when he was placed in my arms were, ” Oh my god it’s you!”.

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I have extreme mommy guilt today because I will not be spending his birthday with him.  Ella has a dance competition and so I am with her.  Although he was upset, he then realized he was spending the day with his “brudder” and told me “It’s all good mommy.”

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So to my favorite man….thank you for all the laughs.  I look forward to watching what this next year will bring in your little life. You are growing up way too fast.  You are such a good boy with a heart of gold.  You make me smile every single day.  I am so lucky to have you.  Don’t ever lose your sense of humor or your kind heart.

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I love you to infinity and beyond…xoxo

Up

Four years ago today I lost my best friend, my soul mate.  Every time I watch the movie Up I think of Ryan.  I am sharing the 2 scenes of the movie that, for me, make me miss what we had but most of all what we would have had.  I think that is what hurts the most.  We were cheated of so many years.  But I will forever treasure the adventures we had together.

“Ditto” always and forever~ xoxo

What I have learned…

I have learned so much about myself over the past 4 years but especially the past few days of sharing some of the hardest times I have had so far.

I have learned~

I am strong.

I have 3 amazing kids.

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I loved (still do) an amazing man.

I am human.

I have an amazing support system.

I don’t have all the answers and that’s OK.

People will let you down.

Life is hard.

I make mistakes.

I am enough.

I need to accept help and know it is not a sign of weakness.

I am doing the best I can with what I have at this moment.

I am a good mom.

I can do anything I set my mind to.

It’s OK to let go of people who are not good for you.

It’s OK to still be sad.

I am allowed to cry.

I don’t need everyone’s approval.

I am allowed to be angry.

I still can find joy in my life.

I can still laugh.

I don’t have to be strong for everyone.

I have amazing friends.

I am living but not forgetting.

I had a wonderful marriage and best friend.

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I have so much more ahead of me.

I am blessed.

I may not have wanted this for my life but I am learning as I go through my grief.  I am learning that I am in charge of my life.  I know I am going to get through this and anything else that comes my way.  It may not be today. It may not be a year from now.  But I will get through my grief because I have so much to live for.

With Tragedy Comes Goodness

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I have learned, through my personal experience, that people are there for you in the darkest of times.  I can’t tell you how many people helped me during the months that followed Ryan’s death.  I had perfect strangers make meals and send cards.  All of this happened a few weeks before Easter and I had former co-workers of mine hard boil eggs for my kids to decorate.  They bought candy, baskets, Easter grass, etc all for my children and all for me so it was one less thing I needed to think about.

All the random acts of kindness truly touched me in more ways than they ever knew.  My children and I try our hardest to pay it forward whenever we can because of all the things people have and still do for us. My children may not remember all the little things like coming home and a bag filled with snacks and juice boxes were at our door.  Or how someone replaced all their small outside toys (balls, sidewalk chalk, bubbles) for no reason.  But hopefully my reminders of doing kind things for others will help in some way for them to always want to pay it forward throughout their lives.

So to all the friends and strangers that helped me during those dark months, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Your kindness did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  Because of all of you, my children saw first hand what goodness is.

And to all the wonderful people in our lives who still continue to think about us and help me out without wanting a thank you….words can’t express my gratitude.  I hope all of you know how much we love and appreciate you.  You are there to help me raise my children,  You are there to encourage me when I feel like giving up.  You are there and love us no matter what and expect nothing in return.  My children are learning from all of you how to be good people and how the little things are what bring the most joy.

xoxo

Last Memory

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My last memory of seeing Ryan alive is one I hold very dear in my heart.  It was a crazy morning as usual.  I was feeding the baby, getting Ella ready for kindergarten, and hoping Hunter wasn’t going to get sick again.  Ryan decided to start later.  I should clarify that by later meant when normal people start to work.

It didn’t matter how crazy it was, he always found the time to say good-bye to the kids and actually acknowledge something they would be doing that day.  It was the day before Hunter’s 4th birthday.  He was so excited because for the 1st time he would be having his own birthday party and not sharing it with Ella.  Their birthdays are a month apart so we always celebrated them with family and friends together.  So after saying his goodbyes to the girls, he went over to Hunter and pulled out his wallet.  He handed Hunter money to get a Lightening McQueen Pinata for his party that Saturday. Hunter’s face lit up!  Ryan said “I can’t wait to see your pinata buddy!” and he leaned down and kissed him good-bye.  He ALWAYS kissed them (all of us) good-bye.

We walked him to the door and he leaned in and kissed me good-bye and hit me on my behind.  He gave me the look~the look between a husband and a wife.  It was the look that I was very fortunate to get on a daily basis.  It was a look of love.  It was a look of flirting with me.  It was my favorite look.

He walked out the door.  Got in his car.  Pulled out of the driveway.  As he drove away, he beeped and waved.  That was the last time I saw my husband.

I chose not to view my husband’s body.  Many disagree with my decision.  But I wanted my last memory to be of my husband giving me the look.  The look that I will always remember and always know that he loved me.

No I Lay Me Down to Sleep

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As I have said in a previous post, I have gone to a medium. I know many people are skeptics on this topic.  Is it real?  I can tell you I was a skeptic until my very first interaction with the medium I have seen several times.  My first experience with her was in a public setting…a medium gallery. Basically what happens is you get a number prior to entering the room.  She begins her talk and randomly picks numbers from a basket.  The first one there was no guarantee that your number would be called.  My number was not but a friend’s was and he came through to her.  I decided to attend another one where you were guaranteed to be able to ask one question. He came through immediately.  Those who were with me know what it was like to hear all he said through her to me.  After that experience I contacted her for a private reading so we could discuss privately and in more depth everything I wanted to know.

My experience during my private session was unbelievable.  So many things were validated.  So many things began to make sense. I won’t go into detail what was said because it is personal.  But I remember her saying to me that he does come to me but because I am emotionally too distraught I am not able to see or hear him.  Do you know how frustrating that was to hear? How do you suddenly become less distraught?

They say your loved ones come to you many times in your dreams.  So many people who knew and loved Ryan have had at least one vivid dream.  They remember every detail~his voice, his face, the conversation, etc.  I am the only one who has not had one single dream.  Not one.  It is something I ask for every night before falling asleep.

I AM Good Enough

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The day I buried my husband was the day I knew my relationship with my family was over.  It took 2 sentences to convince me what I and Ryan had seen coming for years.  They were~

We are leaving now because everyone here is for Ryan. We are here if you need anything-just call.

Yes those words were uttered to me as I stood in the corner of my kitchen with a house and a yard filled with people who were here because of one person. I remember watching them and the rest of my family all gather their things and leave.  That was the last time I saw most of my family.  I saw my parents for about 6 months following Ryan’s death and then with the help of my therapist I came to terms with the fact that I needed to cut all ties with them for myself and my children.  There was no way to keep them in my life without damaging myself even more and then it affecting my children.

Without going into too much detail (I am not that type of person) my relationship with my parents, particularly my mom, had always been strained.  I would always try to be the good daughter and do everything she wanted and more.  I was always trying to prove myself to her.  I was always trying to get her approval.  This affected me in all areas of my life….friendships, my marriage, my career, and it was starting to affect my parenting.  My insecurities took over.  On the outside I appeared very confident but on the inside I was full of self-doubt and always felt I was never good enough for anyone or at anything.  I never spoke up for myself.  I allowed people to walk all over me rather than take a stand when I knew what was happening was not right.

Ryan helped me to start seeing myself in a whole new light.  He always encouraged me rather than discouraged me from taking chances.  He encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone in my career.  If it wasn’t for his support and his belief that I could do it, I would have probably never gotten my special education degree or left my position at a Catholic School in the middle of a school year for a part-time position in a public school district.  He was my biggest cheerleader and advocate.  This is one thing I miss terribly.

Once I became a mom, I knew I wanted to be at home to take of my children.  Fortunately, Ryan and I got married later in life, had our careers established so this was able to happen.  I remember several times comments being made about my parenting by my mom.  But it was always said in a passive aggressive manner.  It was hard to stand up and say I didn’t like her telling me I was “too picky” with the clothes my kids wore, or I was “too protective”, etc.  The funny thing was….I was the total opposite. But in my mom’s eyes I was doing things the way I wanted and she didn’t agree.  To her shopping at Children’s Place or Target meant I had “high standards” and was “snobby” with what my kids wore.  She didn’t like to shop period.  But if she did it wasn’t at those stores because at the time they were not close. Being “too protective” in her eyes was that I had a schedule that I stuck to and if there was something in the middle of nap time I wouldn’t come until afterwards. When you have a child who was up at 5:00 am, nap time was your sanity.  But if it affected her, I was too strict.

These comments as well as how structured my mom was (always was even growing up) would affect me to the point that my whole demeanor would change.  I would wake up every Sunday agitated.  Why Sunday?  Because that was “her day” to see my kids.  Not because we set that date but because that was her routine just like every Friday she went grocery shopping and every Saturday out to dinner.  It was who she was and I am not bashing her for that at.  We all have our little quirks.  It was mostly how I was treated during the visit or if I had to cancel a visit.  It was extremely hard for Ryan at times to be around when they would come to visit.  He had to stand back and watch me take abuse and because I wanted to keep the peace, he respected that and would go fishing or run an errand for part of the visit.

When my world fell apart, I thought things would change.  But even during the days after and leading up to Ryan’s funeral she was putting me down to his family and my friends.  Nothing I did was ever good enough.  So when those words and a lot more were said, I knew it was up to me now to stand up for me.  I didn’t want my children to grow up hearing or seeing any of this.  Most importantly I knew how it affected me and it wouldn’t be fair to them.  I stood up and I spoke my peace.  I didn’t do it in a respectful way.  I will own that but I did it because enough was enough.  The blame again was and I believe still is put on me. The only blame I will put on myself was the manner in which it happened and how disrespectful I was to her.  That is not who I am but emotions took over.  Emotions from years and years of always feeling I was not good enough.

My children know I can no longer have a relationship with their grandparents.  I have never uttered one mean word about my parents to my children.  I have never refused them to see my children or my children to see them.  My children know all they have to do is say the word and I will make it happen.  We are going on 3+ years since they have seen their grandparents.  Am I sorry I stood up to them and chose to break all ties?  No.  I feel sorry for them because they are missing out on 3 amazing individuals.  And I feel sorry for other family members who knew how all of this was and instead of speaking up, chose to remain quiet and chose to not find out my side.

All I know is that I AM GOOD ENOUGH.  It might have taken me years to finally believe it myself but I finally do believe I am.

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