Friday, February 24, 2017

The Supportive Friend

Well I was finally feeling back to my old self and I woke up congested and sounding like Darth Vader again. So if you call my office that is me answering the phone and not my boss Tim. 

Today I was once again reading posts from my loss group. A member had mentioned how she was encouraged by a friend to get over her grief. The friend informed her that others felt uncomfortable reaching out to her because the conversation always turned to the loss of her daughter. This in turn put the friends in an uncomfortable situation and they would rather not have to face that circumstance. My initial reaction was to squint, tilt my head to the side, and say, "What the holy hell?" I probably would have replied, " I am sorry that the loss of my child makes you feel so uncomfortable that you feel you cannot reach out to me." Then again if I step back from the situation and remove myself from the position of a grieving parent could I see the friends point? I guess in a way I could. Grief is complicated and uncomfortable and nothing anyone wants to deal with. The mom didn't want to lose her child and she is suffering horribly. I don't care if it's been 6 months, a year, or 20 years.....she is suffering and no one wants to watch anyone suffer. It's raw, it's nasty, and it's highly uncomfortable for people to see. Not everyone can handle watching someone grieve and not everyone can be a friend through a tragedy. That doesn't make them a bad person it just means they don't have the emotional strength to lend to someone for support. So it's up to grieving parents to decide who can help support them, who cannot, and maybe even those you have to cut ties with. I have always felt like God puts people in your life at particular times for a reason and sometimes he removes them too. That doesn't mean you cannot pick up years later when you have healed some it just means at that time period they are not the right fit in your life. 

I have noticed a trend with grieving parents I know on social media. We all tend to share pictures of our children as memories but rarely do people see the really ugly side of grieving. So I thought I would try to share a little about the raw honest facts surrounding how difficult it is to get through a loss. Grief is hard and physically taxing on your body which could be part of the explanation for this flu I cannot shake. Grief makes you forget things easily and it can sometimes change a persons entire personality. Everyone is different but for me grief feels like a horrible empty ulcer in the bottom of my stomach that hurts and aches. Eventually the ulcer began to feel a little better but it's always there and certain things can irritate that ulcer and make it flare up again with full intensity. Dealing with loss is secretly making your way to the room where you have your child's items stored in boxes. You start ripping open boxes and items just to see if you can catch their scent again then melting into a puddle of tears on the floor. Grieving is walking through a department store and seeing the children's section laced with adorable clothes and you fall apart right there in aisle 9.  Loss has a way of making you not care about what you look like or where you go but finding the strength to make it through the day. It's the knowledge that eclipse shadowing the sun moves away a bit each day that you do make it through. 

I can also say with certainty that grieving parents do not want to listen to the comparison of their grief to the loss of your pet, relationship, or job. Those are all tragic and horrible circumstances but while someone is grieving it's best to dump the negative somewhere else and only put in positive. It may sound selfish but a grieving parent does not have the capability of offering the emotional support I mentioned above. Eventually your grieving loved one will be able to support you and listen again but until that time comes please have patience. 

I am blessed because the majority of people in my life have been extremely supportive and understanding. I have lost a handful of people that couldn't take my posts of Jude's memories or the blog but they were really just acquaintances anyway. I always say I am a rare one. I came out of high school with some of the most amazing best friends a girl could have and I still have them. I also have an amazing family. So when I read that others do not have this support it makes me sad and compels me to write about my experience. I only hope it can help someone in need. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Kisses For Jude

Mike and I had our weekly lunch date today and on the way back to my office we discussed Jude. We have been car pooling each day and I have actually grown fond of our car rides. However this limits my ability to go to the cemetery whenever I want and thus I struggle with some guilt. Although I know that Jude is not in that cemetery I still feel a calling to visit when I can. I told Mike I am beginning to forget how Jude smelled and I don't feel him around as much anymore. I know he had the sweetest little smell and I used to bury my nose deep into his hair to give him big kisses each day. I would breathe in Jude's innocence and he would give me the biggest smile. We sat for hours on that old green couch until we actually left a permanent dent on our little section. 


Sometimes the life we had seems like just yesterday and then at other times it seems so long ago. I looked at the below picture of Mike and Jude and while admiring how adorable they are I also see Jude's feeding tube.


We became proficient at maneuvering around tubes. It only takes once as a special needs parent of ripping out a feeding tube or accidentally setting the feeding pump to fast to learn from it. We could lift and reposition Jude without blinking and never miss a beat. It was a different way of life and a different way of thinking but one we knew very well. Everything was taken into account when making decisions from going out places to staying in the house. Our lives revolved around Jude's care. Mike and I get choked up when we talk to each other about Jude but we do talk and that's a good thing. We are both amazed it's almost been a year and Mike pointed out that it's been a very hard path. In the first days Mike said he wondered how he would make it until the next day, then it became wondering how to get to the next week, then the next month, and now it's almost a year. He said we made it through, we are still together, and we will continue to make it. 

We still miss Jude's nurses but we are able to keep up via social media and in person if we get a chance. We miss seeing Charlotte each morning but she is doing well now. She transitioned into hospice care for adults and seems to be very blessed by the position.  I will never forget that on the day Jude passed nurse Allan stayed at the house while we went to tell Emily. He was wrapping up notes, stayed with the animals, and got everything he could in order.  Allan said he spent hours there because it felt like home and when he finally decided to leave he had to stop and tell the house goodbye. Allan is also doing well and has two new pediatric cases that he is working and he still texts us every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday... "Morning Glory!" 


Monday, February 20, 2017

Our Words and Actions.

Sometimes in life I believe we mean to help someone by offering advice but our advice can create new issues or the advice can make matters worse. I am writing this blog not to point fingers at anyone in particular but to maybe help others regarding communication and maybe help someone feeling down today. So if your reading this please don't take offense in any way and just know I love you. We have all heard the cliche' offerings that are given after a loved one dies. They're in a better place, God needed another angel, God won't give you more than you can handle, and at least they're not suffering. Those sentences just don't really help. Offering a hug or just sitting and crying with the grief stricken will mean far more than words. 

What about words that are said after some time has passed after a loved one dies? In my grief forum I watch people type out information that's been said to them. The statement that it's time to move on, it's time for you to be happy, or it's time for you to work on yourself are top on the list. I had the last line said to me twice last week. "Maybe it's time to work on yourself and start working out." This was said with the very best of intentions by two people that love me VERY much. So I am not upset by the statements at all because again they were said with love.  However it literally STOPPED me in my tracks and made me think, "WAIT do I not look good? Is there something wrong with me?" because I honestly thought I looked just fine.  Maybe not a bombshell but I honestly thought I looked fine before Jude passed and after.  In America we have such a stigma around looking perfect like the perfect weight, height, hair, makeup, and skin. I literally had to step back and evaluate the situation. The people talking to me just want me to be happy and healthy but it still it made me realize how we look others. Why can't we just look at someone and love them just the way they are without any judgment or side conversations? I'll admit I have judged before and wondered how someone gained weight or let themselves go. 

In the recent Miss Universe pageant Miss Canada was widely criticized for her weight. In fact she is STILL being criticized on the pageant forums and by many Americans. 





Her response was, ""While I am first to say I am not as lean as I was when I was 16, 20, or even last year…I am more confident, capable, wise, humble, and passionate than ever before," Bearchell wrote. "As soon as I started to love who I was rather than always trying to fit what I thought society wanted me to be, I gained a whole new side of life." Amen sister! 

I have a treadmill at my house that I like to walk on and watch Netflix. This makes me happy and makes me feel healthy. I don't push myself but when I have time I walk and watch my shows. I have been through hell and if I came out of it a little heavier and sporting a slicked back pony tail then so be it, I came through it. Things like fancy clothes and perfect looks just aren't that important to me anymore. I am doing okay and my marriage is solid so that's what matters. My husband loves me with all his heart regardless of any appearance and I am fine with myself. Do I have a goal to eventually look better, sure but right now I am pretty happy with who I am. I miss Jude and someday's are much harder than others but overall life is being handled in the best manner I know how.  I am surviving each day after the loss of a child and that in itself should be pretty amazing. So if you have someone you know that lost someone they love just remember it takes time. After my mother died I remember my grandmother saying how it took her ten years before she didn't think of my mom's loss every single day. So unless asked for my advice I plan to offer hugs and support for those that need it in the future.  Maybe even go out of my way to smile at someone today and tell them how nice they look. Tell yourself, "I am great just the way I am!" and then smile and mean it. 

On a side note I don't want to make people worry but I thought I would share one of the most prevalent postings I see in my forums regarding loss of children. Many parents lost their children in ATV accidents. So if you have a child that loves riding ATV'S it might be worth investing in a helmet and lessons regarding speed. I guess if this post can save one life then it's worth talking about. 25 percent of people killed on ATV'S are children younger than age 16. 


Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Plague and Emily's Win

I am so sick. I am pretty sure that the flu is the black plague in disguise and it's trying to take out the entire human population! I have been out of work for two days and will be going home early again today. I think I would rather be read to all day long by the "Bueller Bueller" teacher. 




Prior to getting this scathing disease I actually had a nice weekend. I had mentioned in a prior blog that Emily decided to compete one more time in another system for a teen title. For five years Emily had competed in the USA system and we had all pushed her to try America or International. Well she finally decided to try international and guess what..........



Yep she is your new Miss Teen Texas International! She will go on to represent TX in August at the Miss Teen International competition in West Virginia. Emily was thrilled and she had such an amazing time. Their interviewing system is different and Emily had to sit with 5 judges for 5 minutes a piece to explain herself and her platform Emily's Smile Boxes. She said she was rather shocked when she walked into the room and the first judge she sat down with was Nia Sanchez. She was Miss USA 2014 and first runner up with Miss Universe and someone Emily greatly admires. Here is Em and Nia. 



The judging panel was high profile and full of very experienced pageant judges so Emily is beyond humbled with the results. If you want to follow her reign and platform please go like this page: https://www.facebook.com/TeenTexasInternational/

While away this weekend I decided to treat myself to getting my nails done and a pedicure. I haven't really fixed my hair and gotten overly ready since Jude passed. You know what I learned? I love to be pampered but I HATE nails! I cannot text or type with these talons and they're not even that long. My blog looks like a school graders paper marked in red ink with mistypes. Regardless it was worth it and fun. 

Then Valentines day hit. While people were posting lovey pictures or anti lovey pictures I was missing Jude. I was sick in my bed wanting to make a Valentines card box for him or buy him a stuffed animal that he could cuddle. So my best advice is to enjoy each and every Valentines box you make for your kids and cherish each little card they receive because I really miss my littlest Valentine. 



Thursday, February 9, 2017

It's the 9th

In two months it will be one year since we lost Jude and when I say it feels like last month, I mean it feels like last month.  My grief is still very new and it hovers over my family like a shroud of silent pain. I notice the likes on social media have decreased for Jude's pictures and the emails and calls have decreased as well. Some family and friends I don't even see anymore. It's the natural part of life where things move on but the grief stricken are still waiting in the shadows. It's no ones fault it's just how life is, as they reference in Steel Magnolia's life moves on just as it should. 

I don't want to be here for the one year anniversary and very well may find a way to get out of town. I have already scheduled the 10th off of work for a day of rest which I think will be needed. I guess a lot has transpired since Jude's death. We moved, gained lots of animals, Jude's book was published, and Mike got a new job.  We do still love our little house in the woods and it brings us a lot of peace. I had to fill my tax forms out this past week and it's asks you if your child has died within the past twelve months. That one was not easy to fill out and even after you mark yes there are continued questions that follow. So if you haven't lost a close family member the closing of their lives doesn't end with the funeral. 

I find myself still looking at Facebook and wondering about all the unrest in the world and I sometimes wonder how people are not happy with the blessings they have. I wonder why many people rush to judgment and why people make huge deals out of a normal everyday situations. Speaking of, Lady GaGa is not the devil incarnate nor the Anti-Christ. I know some people really want her to be but it was just a performance...........I am currently singing "Let It Go!" You are very welcome for allowing me to plant that musical nugget in your noggin. I had to throw some humor into a blog that's a bit sad. 

Even though we are not whole our family is still a peaceful little unit. We all miss Jude, including Emily. I saw on her snapchat that she had stopped by and visited Jude at the cemetery the other day while she was out on her own. I am sure they have some good talks together just like they used to.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Realization and Bathing Pigs

I always look at my memory feed on Facebook everyday. It's full of memories with Jude over the last 7 plus years. Today I saw a picture and I could tell just by looking at it that he was either starting pneumonia or just recovering. He was very pale and that was always a tale tale sign that he was very sick. He always mustered that smile that spread from eye to eye and it was so extremely infectious to everyone around. 




After I saw the picture I began thinking about all the firsts you have in life. Your first birthday, first Halloween, first Christmas, first day of school, Kindergarten graduation, prom, high school graduation, your first day of college, your wedding, your first baby, and then watching them grow. However no where in the list of firsts did I ever count on burying my child. There shouldn't be a first funeral for a child or any continuation of funerals for children. I have noticed that I start getting rather down around the first of each month. The mind is a complicated subject because it seems my subconscious realized the 9th of each month was coming long before my physical self caught up. Now I get it. Keep on marching on, that's what I do. 

To lighten the mood some here is an adorable picture of Buddy having his first bath last night. I did submit my children's story about Buddy the pig and Ollie the cat, so we will see if anything ever comes from it. My friends and family thought the story was adorable but you never know in a writers market. The competition is fierce but regardless we love our little "farm" and the joy the animals bring to us. I am anxious for warm weather so we can work outside and continue to improve our adorable little homestead. 


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

To Live In Fear Or Not? Emily's big scare!

Yesterday I posted a blog that was very dear to my heart about not living in fear of the world. After I posted this blog I got the following text from my daughter Emily, as you know she is a senior in high school. 

Emily: Mom, we are in internal lockdown and I am not sure what's happening. 

Me: Are you in a safe place? 

no answer

Me: Em? 

Then I realized I should stop texting until I heard from her just in case she needed to be quiet. I was calm and rational and simply waited on a reply. When I didn't get one I took to Facebook to see if any other parents knew what was going on. I finally got a reply that there was a bomb threat. Then I got a text reply from Emily. 

Emily: Yes, I am in a safe place. 
Me: Okay must just be someone in the area because Medlin is on lockdown too
Emily: Oh Okay
(time passes)
Emily: Mom there are police at our school
Me: Emily it's a bomb threat
Emily: At the school??? 
Me: Yes. Just stay put and if you need me to come up I will. I am sure this is just a joke. They will sweep the building and they will leave. It will be fine.
Emily: Okay

Then the texts continued when Emily heard it may be a gunman. She was scared and I assured her she was in the best hiding place. Emily ever the comedian texted me, "Mom, I could really use the OA right now," We have discussed the possible steps to take if she was in an active shooter situation and she took every step. She was locked in the costume closet in the Theater at the school. She spent 4 hours in that dark room with her friends texting me and waiting on information. Here was a picture she took of a friend.




She said the school did a great job of making her feel safe with their announcements and updates. My husband and I both left work and went to the school to wait on her release. While we were on the corner with hundreds of other parents the scene was quite surreal. No one was panicked, no one was crying, no one was yelling, in fact everyone was quiet. We talked in hushed tones among ourselves and my husband turned on his police scanner. Every major city in our area had SWAT, police, fire engines, and ambulance on scene. Then more SWAT showed up with lights flashing as seen below. 




At that point we began to get a little antsy but we still stayed on our little corner anxiously waiting to hear information. Mike continued to listen to the scanner and at times the scanner didn't match the information we were being given. However the school and law enforcement did an amazing job yesterday. We are eternally grateful for their services and prompt response.

The hours stretched on and we kept hearing they were attempting an evacuation. First it was to the football field, then to Wal Mart, then to the middle school. We noticed dozens upon dozens of school buses begin line the dusk filled street. 




More time went by. The FBI pulled in, more police, and then a law enforcement official with a K9 came towards our group. She explained the school would be evacuated floor by floor. Just then Emily texted they were being told to power off all phones and they would be leaving. For informational purposes and because were were not sure what happened I told Emily there could be a reason they were having them turn off their phones. I explained that they may see a scene that could be concerning when they are escorted out or it may just be to move them quickly. I wanted her to be prepared at all costs and she said she was. Emily is always calm and collected and was ever filled with grace as usual. 

The parents waited in two lines parallel to each other in front of the football fields on the way to the buses. The officers kept telling us to grab our children once we saw them, otherwise the students would proceed to the buses. Slowly the kids and teachers started streaming out in a single file line across the field and on to the paved path. Mike and I scanned the crowds for Emily looking at each young girl one by one.  Since Emily left after me in the morning I wasn't sure if she wore her hair up or down. I quickly looked through all the pony tails, buns, and long straight hair. That's when I noticed a single tear was rolling down my cheek. I knew Emily was fine but I thought about the parents who had lost children in school tragedies. How they must have desperately searched each child's face with hope and dread. We were very lucky and thankful. Emily is safe at home and we are counting our blessings. After losing a child recently something like this can seem like a giant mountain eclipsing you in stress. Emily is shaken but she will recover and be just fine. 

There are two stories as to what happened and various news sources are reporting different things. I won't go into details here but I will state one included just a phone call and one an actual suspect in custody. We will wait to hear the full report before believing any rumors of false information. 

My husband did an interview for the new in the midst of the event and I am very proud of him. If you would like to see the piece here it is. http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Lockdown-at-Trophy-Club-Schools-After-Alleged-Bomb-Threat-412200653.html

Mike said he felt like life saw my post yesterday and something evil manifested itself to try to bring fear back into our lives. Not today Satan, not today!