Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Updates and Mass Shootings

This may be a long blog with lots of updates and my very unsolicited opinions. As I stated before I obtained a new boss in September.  I feel like this was a Godsend and something that was really needed in my life. I feel like I have a purpose again and I am able to get out in the field and market to obtain new business.  When I hurt my back the new boss paid to have a massage, he comes in and talks with me each day, and just seems truly interested in his employees well being. I think I needed this little push because I was so sad and lost without Jude. I still am but at least I now feel I have a reason to get up and keep going each day. I have been taking better care of myself and enjoying my time with my family too.

I do still have nightmares and anxiety, which is normal. Last night I dreamt the house caught on fire and I was trying to get home. By the time I got there all our animals were lost and then I saw Emily's car and she wasn't supposed to be home so I just started bawling. Typical dream of being afraid of losing others in my life. I still miss Jude every single day and sometimes I just let the tears flow but I know he is always near.

So let's move on to the controversial debates regarding mass shootings. Gosh my heart goes out to the family and friends of the victims in Florida. I cannot imagine burying my child because someone else took their life in a violent act. Last year, while Emily was completing her senior year at Byron Nelson High school in Trophy Club Emily, texted me the unthinkable. "Mom, there is an active shooter at my school. I am hiding in the theater closet behind clothes. I wanted you to know I am safe."  This was not long after we lost Jude. I remember looking at my phone and trying to comprehend what she was telling me. I slowly got up from my desk, walked to my bosses office, and let him know I was leaving. I text my husband and then left. My husband called the office and my boss seemed perplexed I left. My husband replied, "All I know is if your wife tells you there is an active shooter at your child's school and to go to the school you leave and go to the school." We sat on the corner in front of the school and watched every major SWAT team and bomb squad from the metroplex area pull into my daughter's school. Emily would sporadically text updates,

"They're saying its bombs and a shooter"
"Mom, I am scared"
"Mom if something happens to me I want you to know how much I love you"
"We are hearing the shooter is in the athletic haul"
"They're making us turn off our phones"

We were listening to the police scanner outside the school the entire time. We saw a few of the squad's drive around to the athletic haul. They began screaming BREACH BREACH BREACH and inside they went. Finally, after 9pm that night lines of kids began emerging from the building without their backpacks, without purses, without anything, and with their hands up. We scanned all the lines of children until we finally saw Emily's face and we all hugged for a very long time. We found out later a student inside the school was texting exact locations to someone outside the school so they could call the policy and inform them of movement of the fictional shooter/bomber. However, Emily still swears something else went on in that school.

It was ridiculous! It was a situation I had talked to Emily about and the school had practiced shooter drills. I had always told Emily if you cannot get out get hidden and the theater would be great. Sure enough, she found that little dark closet that locked. Our kids should NOT have to think about this. I truly believe Eric Harris (don't know him look him up) was the devil and started this mass chain reaction.

I know many will react to this blog but I really hope that everyone takes a second no matter what side of the debate you are on and just think things through for a moment. Not everything in life is black and white, there is a whole lot of gray! I feel like the two sides of the gun issues are so passionate about their stance that they cannot listen to compromise or focus on realistic solutions. I don't know the exact way to stop these massive tragic losses but I know it's time to do something. I am well aware there are other situations going on in America like abortion, Chicago, suicide at schools, etc but I am not talking about those situations right now. I am addressing mass shootings. I am addressing something that should never happen and that our children shouldn't worry about. My child should never have been cowering in a dark closet for hours fearing for her life.

So my ideas? They would take work and I understand they may seem a bit irrational but I believe this can be done.

1. Ban backpacks - Emily's school started a trend like this. No lockers and no large backpacks. All textbooks are kept in class and used there. I would take it a step further and ramp up the rule to match local stadiums. No purses or bags larger than a specific size. Atheltic bags stay in the athletic dept and musical instruments stay in the band hall.

2. Metal Detectors with a central point of entry. Yes, I know.......how do I expect schools to pay for this? I don't know the answer but I do believe if districts can afford massive multi-million dollar stadiums they can afford a few metal detectors with security guards in the morning or rotate teachers. If they aren't a big district then possibly the government could help, local citizens, or even make it a community service project for major sports teams. Somehow some way if your child was in a shooting you would find a way.

3. Follow Texas in the Protect Texas Children Act of 2013 and actively train and arm teachers. The Senate passed act allows 1 teacher per 400 children to be armed. The teachers go through 80 hours of intense training and screening. The schools then display signs (Look up Argyle ISD armed) that say "Our teachers are armed and will take any means necessary to protect our students." AMEN! The argument here is, what if the teacher snaps, what if a student gets the gun, and we cannot even afford pencils. My favorite ridiculous argument is the last one. First Argyle and many others have been fully armed since 2013 and not ONE of these districts has had an incident. It is psychologically proven that a criminal that wants a victim will rarely walk into a situation where he knows HE can be the victim. Therefore the signs are a huge deterrent because the armed shooter will know he could quickly be taken down before ever taking action. The only high school mass shooter situation stopped in the midst of the situation was the Pearl HS shootings. The VP ran to his vehicle and obtained his own personal weapon and held the shooter captive until police arrived.

4. Oh people are going to hate this one and I want you to know I come from a gun-toting, military, bad ass family. I believe we should ban AR-15's and other high caliber rifles. Before anyone starts in I know exactly what an AR-15 is. I know AR does not stand for Assault Rifle but Armalite because the rifle was named after the company that made them. I know it was first used in the Vietnam war because the M14 they were using was just too heavy and cumbersome. Put the M14 up against an AK47 and there was just no match. So it originally came out as the M16 and fully automated the AR15 is the civilian version that is semiautomatic. Now here is what I want you to think on, the AR can fire dozens of rounds in seconds and is a more accurate shot than many military weapons. It can also be customized, which we have all learned. I just see ZERO need for the weapons. Again keep in mind I am pro-gun and my family is armed and any gun family, if being truthful, will tell you an AR-15 is a killing machine. That's what it's built for. I can see maybe hunting hogs but besides that zero need for sports hunting..........unless hunting humans. I believe I can adequately protect my family without one of these weapons. However, I would also be okay with heavy regulation of these weapons. Did you know in Florida you can buy this weapon if you are 18 and have a clean record? There is absolutely no wait? I believe we pro-gun families should lead the way in making sure only responsible, evaluated, screened people have access to weapons.

So let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Will they ever ban these weapons, I highly doubt it. Will they ever ban guns and repeal our 2nd amendment, no way ever. It's just NOT going to happen and there are many responsible gun owners. I think we look at other solutions like I listed in numbers 1-3. Regardless we can argue all we want in America but the fact is these students and others are being slain.

I want you to think hard about what happened to these kids in Florida. We can point out the size of bullets used in the AR or other pointless information that if not combined with the total facts is useless. The smaller bullets and high velocity equal a bad outcome. These kids were assaulted, their bodies ripped by bullet holes, and their friends forced to watch. The school is soaked in blood, bullet holes through computers, and lives scarred forever. These parents are having to decide as they sit in a shock at a funeral home if they're going to cremate or bury their child. I have been in that seat and trust me it's a horrible decision to make! I know this is graphic but I believe it's going to take graphic to make a change. Come on AMERICA! Do something! It's time.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Jude's Unconditional Love

"Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations, or love without conditions. This term is sometimes associated with other terms such as true altruism or complete love." Wikipedia. 

What is unconditional love to you? It's something I have thought over this past week as I guide myself through another thorny path in life. I mulled over all the times and situations in my life that would fall under unconditional love. I think we parents have a true understanding of the definition listed above and that we find this love in our marriages too. 

When Jude was so sick he would vomit on a regular basis. There were very late nights and early morning that I spent beside his bed wiping vomit up, changing sheets, and changing his pajamas. His medications would cause Jude to have very bad diapers as well so there was pretty much always a cleanup factory going at my house. Despite the messes and the lack of sleep my love for Jude was stronger than anything we would encounter. I would just stroke his hair, kiss him on the cheek (possibly get thrown up on), and get him cleaned up. This would repeat on a regular basis leaving me exhausted for work, but he was worth it. Jude was just pure innocence and anything he did he always had a smile on his face. He also loved everyone in his family with his entire heart. You could just see in his eyes how much he loved you! 

So when there are days that I may not agree with someone I love, I feel alone, or I am not sure my future I remember his big bright smile. I remember his unconditional love for me because I am sure I was very difficult sometimes. There may have been nights that I was so stressed that Jude was wondering what in the world I was doing but he still kept that smile. Jude never uttered mean words, he never questioned my love for him, and he was basically the type of person I would love to be. 

He is a reminder to me to not give up on those I love and to always give one hundred percent of my heart. That as trying as life can be sometimes there is always a suction to suck away what makes you choke, a light to help you see in the dark, and someone there to help you clean your mess.  There is always someone who will kiss your cheek when you are down, raise you up when you are low, and speak reasoning when there is no reason to find. 

Thank you Jude. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Adoption Update

On Wednesday the care worker came and met with our family regarding the adoption. She interviewed me, Mike, and Emily in detail. She then looked at the house and met our zoo of animals. As the animals were coming through the door to meet her she paused and said, "Is that a PIG?" We all had a bit of a chuckle and then laughed again when she pointed out his bed next to our bed. From here we have to complete our CPR training which is tomorrow, 10 more classes and complete our final home study. Everyone is asking what the process is so I thought I would share via the blog. After these steps are completed we will be a licensed foster care home. 

So then this is what happens. Our agency contact will then try to match the best child or children with us. She will call and explain their age, situation, and any trauma we then decide if we would like to take the placement. We have requested only children who have already had their rights terminated which would make them adoptable after 6 months. Mike and I have this feeling that the right match will make their way to us. 

Of course, this is not without some emotional times. I think anyone who says it's not emotional isn't being factual. While asking her interview questions the agency worker would ask us questions like, "what makes your marriage strong?", "can you handle adoption?", and "how do you handle new normals?" Literally, almost all of our answered focused on the fact we cared for a beautiful boy with a highly complex case that took lots of patience, strength, and determination. We have been through one of the toughest situations imaginable so we feel we can make it through anything. 

This week my car radio kept changing stations for no reason, my headset at work keeps raising and lowering without me pressing my button, and I keep smelling an overpowering amount of roses. I would say Jude is sending me some signs. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

You Will Want To Read This Update

I have been so busy at work I haven't been able to blog very much or even talk very much. I have a bit of a break today so I thought I would share a lot of items that are running through my constantly moving mind. Some of which some may find surprising and others exciting. 

First off I explained on my prior blog that Emily has transferred home. She started TWU this week and is going to spend a semester there before deciding to pursue her nursing degree at TWU or another TX.  Who know she may even return to Alabama. I won't get into too much detail because everyone deserves their privacy but Emily has hit that stage in life where she is trying to find herself. We have all been there and we can all appreciate the struggle that lies before her. Luckily we all know with time life plays out before our eyes and lays the path we are set to follow. Luckily she and Dan the man are doing great and he is a huge pillar of emotional support for her. We even included Mr. Dan in our Christmas cards this year. 

We also included Jude in our own special way. 

So before Jude left us Mike and I on multiple occasions talked about having another baby. I decided I didn't want to risk a child having another stroke so then we talked about adoption. We did a lot of research on the subject but in the end I made the difficult decision that although I wanted to expand our family it just wasn't right at the time. Jude's life was complicated and Emily already had enough time taken away from her. So we felt Emily and Jude needed to be our primary concern and we left out family the way it was. After Jude passed the subject came up again but I just wasn't ready. I struggled with the feeling I was "replacing" Jude even though I knew I wasn't going to be doing that because Jude is irreplaceable.  However I also knew we wanted more children and siblings for Emily.  Finally after long discussions and research our family has made the decision to adopt! It's exciting, scary, thrilling, and emotional all at the same time. With just our family knowing we have gone through the background checks, finger printing, financial checks, and more. We are now to the class stages and we even have the great Argyle Fire dept volunteering to help us with CPR classes and inspections.  We will look at children who have had their rights terminated so we will not endure court battles. This was a plan we have thought out and planned for awhile now. I wasn't sure the reactions I would receive so today I started making phone calls and I met with extremely happy and emotional "HOORAY'S" and tears. It was reassuring! We also received the most heartfelt amazing letter from Jude's neurologist that he sent as a reference. I was so touched I cried whale tears! So you guys will get to follow another journey through our blog. One that we feel compelled to participate in and help make a difference in the world. I feel Jude is guiding us and holding our hands along this path. It seems any time I need reassurance we are heading in the right direction I look up and see a picture of his smiling face. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

What I learned from Pageants and Jude

Well that's an odd combination of a title isn't it? However I was thinking recently how much I have learned from running a pageant system, being involved with Emily in pageants, and Jude's life. So in honor of Miss Texas USA (live this weekend online) here we go.

1. These situations were at times extremely chaotic but I learned that stress can cause a manageable situation to become unmanageable very quickly. So to keep myself in check I realized the world is not black and white that there are a lot of grey answers. So when I felt myself spinning out of control I would sit down and list the solutions for the problem at hand. Many times I would find there wasn't just one solution but multiple possibilities that could be implemented. This would temper my stress because I would realize this would work out and everything would be okay.

2. To be kind to everyone you meet. The old saying that everyone is fighting a battle is true. Some people have battles they are fighting like keeping a very sick child alive. Some are struggling with money, others with weight, some with depression, others anxiety, and many other situations. No battle is larger than any other battle. Plus you never know who you are dealing with so don't make assumptions. The person you may think is annoying may turn out to be a huge ally and have a heart of gold. The beggar you ridicule may be a millionaire just wanting to help someone else in need. While working pageants I reminded myself that the moms just want the best for their daughters and that many times their efforts to help are true and genuine.

3. Patience is a virtue.The car racing home really isn't going to save any time but only put others in danger so is the danger worth not having the patience?  Sitting in a doctors office for hours on end without any answers or reasons can exhaust a person physically and mentally. So this is where you have to get creative with patience. I constantly hear, "Your phone is HUGE!" I have an Iphone 6 plus. I generally just laugh to myself and refer to the line above about not making assumptions. If they only knew I purchased it so Jude and I could watch movies together in ICU.

Remember to have patiences with a child and this will prevent regrets later in life when you look back on your words and actions. Again I will reference an old saying that people may forget what you did but they will never forget what you said and how you made them feel.

4. If someone offers to help LET THEM! It took me awhile but I began accepting offers when people offered to cook for us, clean up, and help with laundry when Jude was so ill. It increased the quality of our lives. In addition one of the best oiled machines of the pageant industry (in my opinion) is the Miss Dallas USA system. The director has mastered the skill of utilizing the help of former winners, mother of winners, past contestants, and friends to make sure his pageant runs smoothly. Even having someone manage a simple job like selling program books can be helpful. When an event in life or on stage runs like a well played song it generally is with the help of many caring and interested parties. This kindness is given in return for your kindness and hard work that shows throughout your business and life. It's a true give and receive situation that is never ending

5. Don't sweat the small stuff. Seriously I cannot stress this enough. Those minimal little issues that will soon be remedied don't deserve the extra stress and sweat. I encourage others to stop when you feel upset and evaluate the situation. Is this truly something that deserves your tears, time, and trouble. If not move through it quickly and keep going. With Jude most everything was a HUGE deal but we quickly found that when something didn't need our worry it didn't get our stress. This applies to pageants too. Pageants are a form of sport and entertainment. They are there to better yourself and enjoy your time in life. If Emily lost or didn't place how she wanted I used to always give her time to be disappointing in our hotel room. Then I would tell her "Dust yourself off, congratulate the winner, thank the director, and decide if you want to try again. That's really all there is to it because once you walk out that door you don't dwell on it again." I feel this rule applies to many aspect of our life. We cannot always win everything and we cannot always be successful but if you try that's what matters.
Your commitment to a project in my opinion far exceeds the possibility of winning.

6. Stop nagging yourself and others. Whether it's a special needs parent with a nurse, your family, or a pageant director stop nagging. There are ways to express your thoughts in a clear and precise manner and a nice way to express them. This will make you happier and those around you much happier too. It will also motivate others to listen to you and product a more positive outcome. I now stop myself and ask myself if the situation is truly worth nagging or berating someone or can the situation be settled amicably and nicely. Can you leave the person you are talking with feeling better than when the conversation started? If so then why not choose that route. 

Other ways I found to improve my life when it was so chaotic is to not live in fear, push out the negative, gravitate to the positive, eliminate people that aren't nice, and try to add value to someone else's life. I know this seems like an odd combination and topic but hopefully you got something positive out of it today!

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas Review

Christmas overall was nice. In tradition we had people over for Christmas Eve just like we did when Jude was with us. It's turned into our way of remembering Jude with friends and family through stories and just being together. We lit a large candle in the middle of our table for him that everyone sat around while we talked and ate our traditional food. 

Christmas day we started the morning with Emily and her boyfriend by opening gifts and eating a yummy baked french toast casserole. I then went back to sleep because my insomnia is horrible. It's something I have dealt with when Jude was alive and even more when he has passed. Jude used to get up every morning about 3-4 am needing to be turned and generally vomiting. We didn't have a nurse until the last year of his life so my body is just programmed to wake up at that particular time. So I slept for several hours before getting up to bake the lasagna to take to my family's home. It was refreshing and my body felt better overall. 

We held up pretty well overall during the holiday but on the way home last night I couldn't stop the tears. I realized that no matter how many holidays pass I will never go home on Christmas again to see nurse Allan's shiny smile and Jude's sweet face. I will never open the door the day after Christmas with sleep still in my eyes to nurse Charlotte waiting to see Jude. So I cried. That's really all you can do is just express your emotion through tears or anger. I choose to let my emotions flow freely through the tears that I mostly conceal but Mike generally catches the tears and understands. 

I guess it's rather normal to realize the holiday's will never truly be the same but I also understand they never really were after Jude was born. Jude could never run down the stairs to see what Santa had brought him and buying him gifts were sometimes a struggle. Jude would mostly receive two piece pajama's to accommodate his feeding tube and bright shiny toys with pretty lights. However Christmas was still precious to us and Emily always enjoys the holidays. So we have learned to be grateful for the blessings we have in what God has bestowed upon us. However there are times I lay in bed and wonder what it would be like to be the one that isn't strong anymore. To just have a freak out and say, I cannot life for awhile. I don't want to leave my house or participate in any facet of holidays, birthdays, work, or anything else that requires my full attention. I know this isn't me though so I have realized that PTSD doesn't go away. I still wake up ALL the time because Jude was up so much. I comfort with wine sometimes and I shut myself off to the world and I cannot stand overly crowded noisy rooms.. I can walk through a store and see two piece boy pajama's and I have to beeline behind a shelf while the tears fall freely. I freak OUT on highways and would rather take the scenic route. I have no idea the cause of the last situation except that the grief counselor said Jude's death triggered PTSD from a horrible car wreck Emily and I were in. So as much as people think I am superwoman I do have my issues. Mike said all women have issues you just choose which ones you can live with, lol! So I figure that parents of child loss don't ever truly overcome the PTSD they just learn to cope and live with it. The better I cope with it the better life is overall. 

I think I have learned what works best for my family and what doesn't. Sometimes we push the boundaries but overall I have gotten pretty good and navigating the emotional field of grief. If I don't think attending an event is in our best interest then we don't go. I have said before we tend to go to events that are close to home so we can bow out gracefully if need be and that's okay. If people cannot deal with it they tend to fall out of our lives and we have had multiple situations like that. It's sad but I understand sometimes people cannot handle our situation and that's allowable and understandable. 

I am not quite sure what 2018 holds for our family. Mike and I are still searching a bit for our purpose like we have been. We have talked more about adoption and we would also like to travel some. Regardless 2018 will have the same emotional holidays that we will tackle with love and hope. We pray for Emily's health and wisdom and for peace to all we love and those we have lost. 

After writing this blog I found a precious picture on me memory feed. One that seems to say, "In the midst of a storm you still have to smile." 

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Hard Holidays

Christmas is fast approaching and although our hearts are full of joy they are also laced with lots of hurt. The pain of Jude's loss does not diminish and it seems to become heavier as the holiday looms around the corner. A simple song, a pair of pajamas, a child's giggle, or a sighting of Santa can immediately caused tears to well in our eyes. I don't get the urge to scream like many people do after their tragic losses but I do get the urge to escape into a bath tub of warm water to shed many tears. I have heard people say they put on a mask each day to get up and just life. I fluctuate between feeling I have a mask on and realizing I am just learning to live without my child. It's just yet another new normal we have had to conquer and a cruel education on how to continue to function. So for the most part we are making each day work. I do however still get very irritated by those who are worried about what seems to be things in life that are just truly not that important. 

Loss does make you truly appreciate all those around you though. Despite how anyone may anger you at times death makes you realize you have to let go of that feeling fairly quickly. It also teaches you to be very grateful for each day with your loved ones you have and I am afraid it also makes you wonder when the next shoe will drop. Emily is home and has been experiencing times when her hands and fingers turn blue.........like BLUE! Not brrrrr I am cold but like her hands were dyed blue. The doctor today seems to think it's just a circulation issue but they have requested she see her primary doctor so I am working on that appointment. I can promise this situation sent Mike and I for a JOLT this weekend and does have me worried. Although I do know the parameters and my first questions were: 

1. Are you dizzy - no
2. Are you short of breath - no
3. Have you had a cough - yes. 
4. Are you cold? Not really. 

So who knows but I don't think it's anything pressing and we will get her in to get looked at by the additional doctor.  Emily has also (drumroll) made the decision to come home to Texas. She did OUTSTANDNING academically at the University Of Alabama and has ended the semester with a 3.48 GPA. That's based on her calculation but she is waiting to hear the final grade and still still hoping for the Dean's list. She has not excelled emotionally due to multiple circumstances including the great loss she has endured over the last year. So she will be transferring to TWU into their nursing program which is ranked 4th in TX. I have no doubt where ever she will go she will strive and this was a great lesson in learning to do what makes you happy in life not what people expect you to do.  She may stay there or transfer again but she will do what's best for her and what makes her happy. I am very proud of her for that! Emily will be making an announcement about this in the next few weeks but I knew my friends would be wondering what was going on. 

I still have a desire to be as honest and raw through my blog and actions as possible. I think it's important for people to understand the depth of grief and pain people can feel and that it's okay to have those feelings. Around holidays parents that have lost children can be short tempered, tired, sleepless, angry, erratic, forgetful, and they can be overly emotional. So just remember to extend a little patience if you know someone in this situation and to know as much as you want them to get better this can last a lifetime. They just need your patience, love, and understanding. I guess we all really need that in life and if we all took a moment to extend it the world would be a better place.